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Biggest Artists 1981

The UK's Top 20 best-performing artists in 1981 are listed below. Adam And The Ants storm the Top 40 charts, including two No. 1s and four Top 10 hits. John Lennon has fourth posthumous hits, headed by two No. 1s. Shakin' Stevens has a good year, and will end up as one of the most successful artists of the Golden Years (1977-85). Electronic music is well represented by The Human League, Ultravox, Soft Cell and OMD. Rock by numbers specialists Status Quo make their second and final appearance on these year-end charts.

Artists are ranked by their Chart-Measured Performance (CHAMP) totals for the year. Singles are listed per artist in chronological order (from left to right) with a symbol denoting peak position. Key to icons: ★No. 1 ●Top Ten ○Top 40 (all on official chart) ☆Unofficial No. 1 (i.e. No. 1 only on NME Chart)
WKS: total weeks spent on the official Top 40

1 ADAM AND THE ANTS●Ant Music  ●Young Parisians  ○Car Trouble  ●Kings Of The Wild Frontier  ★Stand And Deliver  ★Prince Charming  ●Ant Rap 64 6,127
2 JOHN LENNON1●Happy Xmas (War Is Over)  ★Imagine  ★Woman  ○Watching The Wheels 39 4,481
3 SHAKIN' STEVENS★This Ole House  ●You Drive Me Crazy  ★Green Door  ●It’s Raining 38 4,226
4 THE HUMAN LEAGUE○The Sound Of The Crowd  ●Love Action (I Believe In Love)  ●Open Your Heart  ★Don’t You Want Me 37 3,552
5 ULTRAVOX☆Vienna  ○Slow Motion  ●All Stood Still  ○The Thin Wall  ○The Voice 34 2,800
6 TOYAH●It's A Mystery2  ●I Want To Be Free  ●Thunder In The Mountains  ○Good Morning Universe3 35 2,561
7 STEVIE WONDER●I Ain’t Gonna Stand For it  ●Lately  ☆Happy Birthday 25 2,402
8 CLIFF RICHARD○A Little In Love  ●Wired For Sound  ●Daddy's Home 26 2,312
9 SOFT CELL★Tainted Love  ●Bedsitter 22 2,274
10 BAD MANNERS○Lorraine  ○Just A Feeling  ●Can Can  ●Walkin’ In The Sunshine  ○Buena Serra (Don’t Be Angry) 41 2,272
11 KIM WILDE●Kids In America  ●Chequered Love  ○Water On Glass  ○Cambodia 32 2,264
12 THE POLICE●Invisible Sun  ★Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic  ○Spirits In The Material World 21 2,093
13 BUCKS FIZZ★Making Your Mind Up  ●Piece Of The Action  ○One Of Those Nights 25 1,942
14 MADNESS●The Return Of The Los Palmas Seven  ●Grey Day  ●Shut Up 23 1,907
15 IMAGINATION●Body Talk  ○In And Out Of Love  ○Flashback 28 1,721
16 SPANDAU BALLET○The Freeze  ●Muscle Bound/Glow  ☆Chant No. 1  ○Paint Me Down 24 1,714
17 DURAN DURAN○Planet Earth  ○Careless Memories  ●Girls On Film  ○My Own Way 29 1,700
18 STATUS QUO○Lies/Don’t Drive My Car  ●Something About You Baby I Like  ●Rock ‘n’ Roll 24 1,594
19 ORCHESTRAL MANOEUVRES IN THE DARK●Souvenir  ●Joan Of Arc 17 1,542
20 GODLEY AND CREME●Under Your Thumb  ●Wedding Bells 18 1,515

Chart © Wow Vinyl 2024

★No.1 ●Top Ten ○Top 40 (all on official chart) ☆Unofficial No. 1 (i.e. No. 1 only on NME Chart)

TOP 40: total weeks spent on the official Top 40

Part of the chart run was in 1980 or 1982, which has been included in calculating the CHAMP score

1 Happy Xmas (War Is Over) and Imagine include chart runs in 1972 and 1975 respectively – more info

2 Lead track on Four From Toyah EP which also included Revelations, War Boys and Angels And Demons

3 Lead track on Four More From Toyah EP which also included Urban Tribesman, In The Fairground and The Furious Futures