Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Billboard Top Hits--1984 [Rhino, 1992]
With '80s nostalgia as certain as Lloyd Bentsen, I tested the Carly Simon Principle by snapping all five of Joel Whitburn's 1980-84 samplers into the changer. If Carly could get lucky on the radio, why not Rick Springfield, Air Supply, Journey? But for four years it was ugh, yuck, and pee-yew, with occasional relief from Blondie rapping and skanking, "Bette Davis Eyes" and "Maniac" staggering under the dreck, Men at Work's gift from Oz. Then all of a sudden CHR dawns--and after four Brits and Eddy Grant in two years, we get five black artists, five U.K. artists, and "Talking in Your Sleep." It didn't mean much--this was also the year of Reagan rampant, with "Karma Chameleon" the only vaguely progressive moment. But give two cheers for formal evolution, the mass marketplace, the pleasures of false consciousness, and England swinging like a pendulum do. A