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1981 In Numbers

19 Chart Toppers

Nineteen singles climbed to the top spot on the official chart during the calendar year.

Title Artist Weeks No.1
Imagine John Lennon 4
Woman John Lennon 2
Shaddup You Face Joe Dolce Music Theatre 3
Jealous Guy Roxy Music 2
This Ole House Shakin' Stevens 4
Making Your Mind Up Bucks Fizz 2
Stand And Deliver Adam & The Ants 5
Being With You Smokey Robinson 2
One Day In Your Life Michael Jackson 2
Ghost Town The Specials 3
Green Door Shakin' Stevens 4
Japanese Boy Aneka 1
Tainted Love Soft Cell 2
Prince Charming Adam & The Ants 4
It's My Party Dave Stewart With Barbara Gaskin 4
Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic The Police 1
Under Pressure Queen And David Bowie 2
Begin The Beguine (Volver A Empezar) Julio Iglesias 1
Don't You Want Me The Human League 5
Includes two weeks in 1982
Source:Official Charts logo

8 Unofficial No. 1s

Eight songs topped the NME chart but not the official one used by the BBC, the highest number during The Golden Years (1977-85).

Title Artist BBC Chart
In The Air Tonight Phil Collins 2
Vienna Ultravox 2
Chi Mai Ennio Morricone 2
Stars On 45 (Volume 2) Starsound 2
Chant No. 1 (Don’t Need This Pressure On) Spandau Ballet 3
Happy Birthday Stevie Wonder 2
Happy Birthday Altered Images 2
One Of Us ABBA 3
One Of Us peaked in the official chart in December 1981 but reached No. 1 on the NME chart in the first week of January 1982.

18 Near misses

Eighteen songs peaked at No. 2 for a total of 33 weeks. Vienna by Ultravox was the biggest No. 2 hit of the year (see Biggest Singles ’81).

Title Artist Weeks No.2
Happy Xmas (War Is Over) John Lennon 1
Ant Music Adam And The Ants 2
In The Air Tonight Phil Collins 1
Vienna Ultravox 3
Kings Of The Wild Frontier Adam And The Ants 1
Kids In America Kim Wilde 2
Chi Mai Ennio Morricone 2
Stars On 45 Starsound 1
You Drive Me Crazy Shakin’ Stevens 4
More Than In Love Kate Robbins And Beyond 1
Stars On 45 (Volume 2) Starsound 2
Happy Birthday Stevie Wonder 1
Hooked On Classics Royal Philharmonic Orchestra 2
Invisible Sun The Police 1
The Birdie Song (Birdie Dance) The Tweets 2
O Superman Laurie Anderson 1
Happy Birthday Altered Images 2
Daddy’s Home Cliff Richard 4
Includes one week in 1982
Source:Official Charts logo

77M Singles Shifted

Sales of singles were virtually unchanged from the previous year. It was the fourth highest number of singles sold in the UK to date.

Source: BPI

3 Million Sellers

Three singles sold a million copies during their chart run this year.

Title Artist
Imagine John Lennon
Don’t You Want Me The Human League
Tainted Love Soft Cell

134 Top 10 Hits

In 1981, 134 singles reached the official Top 10. The longest run in the Top 10 was eight weeks, a feat achieved by four singles.

321 Top 40 Hits

A total of 321 singles peaked inside the official Top 40 during the calendar year. May was the busiest month when 33 records entered the Top 40 and 37 reached their peak positions.

27 With A Hit

In January, a song by Mac Davis (the writer of In The Ghetto and A Little Less Conversation for Elvis Presley) peaked at No. 27 - the first time a single had done this in almost three years. A bizarre and totally useless fact we stumbled across and had to share.

65 New Acts On TOTP

Acts appearing for the first time on Top Of The Pops this year included Dire Straits, Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, Soft Cell, U2, Japan, Heaven 17 and ABC.

1 Single Only

Elephant’s Graveyard by The Boomtown Rats was unique in that it was the only single to peak at No. 26 during the entire year. Another oddity we thought we would throw in. Sorry.