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The Top 10 Songs of 1982 in the UK

Updated on December 7, 2019
Dexy's Midnight Runners
Dexy's Midnight Runners | Source

1. Come On Eileen: Dexy's Midnight Runners

The best selling song of the year was Dexy's ninth single and second UK Number 1, following Geno in 1980.

Unlike much of the band's output, Come On Eileen became an international hit, not only reaching the top of the charts at home, but also in the United States during April, 1983.

It remains the group's only hit there, allowing it to top the list of the 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders of the 80s.

Dexy's Midnight Runners on Video

2. Fame: Irene Cara

Taken from the movie soundtrack of the same name, Fame preceded Dexy's Midnight Runners as the UK Number 1 song during 1982, but could only sell enough copies to put it in the runners-up position.

Released in the UK two years after its American release date, sales were buoyed by the simultaneous transmission of the very successful television spin-off from the movie.

Irene Cara, however, would appear only one more time in the UK charts when she peaked at Number 2 during early 1983 with another movie theme: Flashdance...What A Feeling.

Irene Cara on Video

3. Eye of the Tiger: Survivor

Another movie-related song ended up at Number 3 on the countdown of the year, this one courtesy of American rockers, Survivor.

Eye of the Tiger was included in Sylvester Stallone's Rocky lll and four years later in a movie of the same name.

Such has been the popularity of the song - reaching Number 1 in many territories worldwide - it is now in the Top 40 best selling singles of all time.

However, Survivor would only return to the UK Top 10 on one further occasion, when Burning Heart (from the Rocky lV soundtrack) peaked at Number 5 in 1985.

Survivor on Video

4. Do You Really Want to Hurt Me: Culture Club

For a four-year period during the 1980s, Culture Club was one of the biggest selling and most popular bands on the planet. Their commercial success began with Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?, the first of two Number 1 songs in the UK.

In fact, Culture Club got lucky. If it wasn't for the fact that another act dropped out of appearing on the UK's biggest pop television show, Top of the Pops, the group would never have generated all of the publicity it received from its appearance. Of course, that surrounded the somewhat androgynous image presented by lead singer, Boy George.

America took the band to its heart as well, sending the song to Number 2 when it was released there later in 1982.

Culture Club on Video

5. The Lion Sleeps Tonight: Tight Fit

Originally a hit for The Tokens in 1961, studio group Tight Fit covered The Lion Sleeps Tonight and took it all the way to the top of the British charts for three weeks in March 1982.

Not a hit in the US, the song nevertheless saw chart action across Europe, eventually selling more than a million copies in the UK alone.

While the voices on the track are not supplied by the group, hastily created to promote the song, it seems that the three members reunited in 2008 for performance purposes and went into the studio to record material for an album in 2010.

Tight Fit on Video

6. Pass the Dutchie: Musical Youth

Securing the Number 1 position in the UK during October 1982 was British reggae group Musical Youth with the very catchy Pass the Dutchie.

It was the young band's second single and made a major impact worldwide, hitting the Top 10 in the US upon its release there and capturing the Number 1 position across Europe.

Sadly, the boys were not able to replicate the enormous success of this song, even though two more Top 20 singles followed at home. The original group eventually split in 1985.

Musical Youth on Video

7. I Don't Wanna Dance: Eddy Grant

Formerly a member of The Equals, a group which took the song Baby Come Back to a UK Number 1 in 1968, Eddy Grant repeated the feat with I Don't Wanna Dance in mid-November 1982.

Staying at the top of the charts for three weeks, it sold sufficient copies to land at Number 7 in the year end countdown. It was also one of three back to back Number 1 hits with a reggae flavouring to top the UK charts during the year, following both Culture Club and Musical Youth.

Eddy Grant would return to the top of the British listing later in the decade with the single Gimme Hope Jo'anna.

Eddy Grant on Video

8. Seven Tears: Goombay Dance Band

The Goombay Dance Band was one of those acts that occasionally appear in the UK music charts, if not similar charts around the world: record a song that appeals to a substantial number of record buyers and then disappear forever.

This is exactly what happened with this German-based Caribbean vocal group, when it topped the listing towards the end of March for three weeks with Seven Tears. Although they achieved other hits in their homeland and in other territories, little more was heard about them in the UK.

Goombay Dance Band on Video

9. Ebony & Ivory: Paul McCartney & Stevie Wonder

The pooling of the talents of two of the biggest names in rock history may have produced one of the most commercially successful songs of all time in Ebony and Ivory, but not all of the accolades were positive.

In some quarters, the track has been described as one of the worst songs of all time, and to enforce that sentiment further, it has also been voted as the worst duet ever.

Nevertheless, a lot of people liked it. Enough to push it to the top of both the British and American charts, selling millions of copies in the process.

McCartney/Wonder on Video

10. Town Called Malice/Precious: The Jam

1982 proved to be The Jam's swansong year and in the UK this double A-sided single was the first of two Number 1 songs for them during the year.

Written by lead singer Paul Weller, Town Called Malice is apparently about Woking in Surrey, his hometown, which is only a few miles away from me.

As with most of The Jam's output, it has a chunky bassline provided by guitarist Bruce Foxton and even more of a 1960s funk/soul feel to it than usual.

Just three more chart singles followed this one and then Weller called it a day and the band split.

The Jam on Video

The 1982 Poll

Of these songs, which is your favourite?

See results

Meanwhile, in the United States...

1. Olivia Newton-John
2. Survivor
Eye Of The Tiger
3. Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
I Love Rock 'n' Roll
4. Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder
Ebony and Ivory
5. J. Geils Band
6. Human League
Don't You Want Me?
7. John Cougar
Jack And Diane
8. John Cougar
Hurts So Good
9. Steve Miller Band
10. Chicago
Hard To Say I'm Sorry

The Top 10 Best Selling Songs in the USA: 1982

© 2014 Richard

Your Thoughts on the 1980s...

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    • MarshFish profile image

      Marshall Fish 

      12 months ago

      Nice Hub, Richard. It's fun to see that list of 1982 hits, along with the videos.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      5 years ago from Oklahoma

      A real walk down memory lane.

      Great hub!

    • Adventuretravels profile image


      6 years ago from UK

      Wow I'd forgotten most of these - but I do love the Jam - don't you!!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I remember so many of these songs! Boy George and Culture Club was always a favorite. Great list!

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 

      6 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      The early 80s were a blur for me and I don't really remember many of these songs!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I love 80s music. This hub makes me feel nostalic. :)

    • oldiesmusic profile image


      6 years ago from United States

      Haven't heard some of these songs for years. My favorite would be "A Town Called Malice" or "Come on Eileen," but the others are great too. Feeling nostalgic here, thanks for bringing back some of the memories.

    • profile image

      Donna Cook 

      6 years ago

      Hard to believe it's over 30 years ago. Everything since Led Zep seems like new music to me.

    • BrianRS profile image

      Brian Stephens 

      6 years ago from France

      Brings back a lot of memories. Some great tracks as well. Nice Hub

    • FanfrelucheHubs profile image

      Nathalie Roy 

      6 years ago from France (Canadian expat)

      Fame would be my favorite

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 

      6 years ago from New Zealand

      Nice Hub. I remember a few of them but I haven't heard all of them. That was a very busy year for me with 5 teenage children, most likely not enough time to listen to the radio.

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 

      6 years ago from USA

      You don't think of these songs as being global, but they are. Haven't heard some of them for years. Thanks for the memories.

    • GypsyOwl profile image

      Deb Bryan 

      6 years ago from Chico California

      My thoughts about the 1980s... I enjoyed them and had toddlers in the house. Most of the music we listened to was on children's shows.

      I do remember Eye of The Tiger! :-)

    • Paul Ward profile image


      6 years ago from Liverpool, England

      Nice hub, mixed music :)

    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 

      6 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      It was a strange decade. I've never been attracted to the music produced at that time although I spent many, many hours bopping away in smoky clubs and pubs to that same music

    • Richard-H profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Surrey, United Kingdom

      Thanks, Ann!

    • annmackiemiller profile image


      6 years ago from Bingley Yorkshire England

      nicely done Richard


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