Number 11s: Ten Songs That Just Missed The Top 10 In The 1980s

Number 11s: Ten Songs That Just Missed The Top 10 In The 1980s

stevie nicks 1980
Stevie Nicks performing with Fleetwood Mac, 1980 (Photo by Paul Natkin/Getty Images)

Reaching the top 10 on the chart has long been the aim for most musicians (except those who don’t care about anything as troublesome as mainstream success). Obviously not every song can become a top 10 hit, but it must be especially frustrating to have a single peak at number 11, just outside the chart’s most important section.

Here are 10 singles that peaked at number 11 on the Australian singles chart – all of them songs you might have expected to have done better.

“Sara” by Fleetwood Mac

Year: 1980

Despite countless classic tunes in their back catalogue, Fleetwood Mac have only ever achieved one top 10 single in Australia – 1979’s “Tusk” – but this follow-up came awfully close. The second single from Tusk, “Sara” was written and sung by Stevie Nicks.

“Vienna” by Ultravox

Year: 1981

In the UK, this synthpop ballad was famously blocked from number 1 by “Shaddup You Face” for three of its four weeks stuck at number 2. In Australia, Midge Ure and co. had a similarly frustrating experience, with “Vienna” spending four non-consecutive weeks at number 11.

“Back On The Chain Gang” by The Pretenders

Year: 1982

The Pretenders were having a difficult time following up the top 10 success of “Brass In Pocket”, which reached number 2 in 1980. “Message Of Love” had faltered at number 15 and this new single, featuring only Chrissie Hynde and drummer Martin Chambers from the original line-up, peaked one place short.

“Jeopardy” by The Greg Kihn Band

Year: 1983

Another band who had a hard time breaching the top 10, The Greg Kihn Band had reached number 14 with 1981’s “The Breakup Song (They Don’t Write ’Em)” and edged closer with this track which shared its name with the TV quiz show. The band also had a habit of releasing albums with terrible puns as titles – “Jeopardy” was taken from Kihnspiracy.

“Saturday Night” by Cold Chisel

Year: 1984

Cold Chisel had reached the top 10 before – twice (with “Forever Now” and “Cheap Wine”) – but couldn’t manage it with this song released just ahead of their farewell (for the time being) album, Twentieth Century, and just after they’d broken up.

“Pleasure and Pain” by Divinyls

Year: 1985

The song that put Divinyls back on track in terms of chart success after a couple of years of their records failing to connect, “Pleasure And Pain” was swiftly followed by their long gestating second studio album, What A Life!. The song was their biggest hit since their debut, “Boys In Town”, reached number 8 in 1981.

“Walk Of Life” by Dire Straits

Year: 1986

This Brothers In Arms track visited the ARIA chart on two occasions – firstly as the double A-side of the album’s lead single, “So Far Away”, and then as a single in its own right, when it almost made the top 10 despite the album having spent copious weeks at number 1 by that stage. “Walk Of Life” becoming a hit helped push Brothers In Arms back to the top for a further 11-week stint in early 1986.

“Real Wild Child (Wild One)” by Iggy Pop

Year: 1987

A song that’s never gone away in Australia thanks to its use in the theme for ABC music show Rage, Iggy Pop’s cover of Johnny O’Keefe’s rock classic was his first substantial hit in Australia, having never risen higher than number 50 previously. The remake, and indeed the whole of Iggy’s Blah-Blah-Blah album, was co-produced by David Bowie.

“Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns n’ Roses

Year: 1988

It wasn’t their debut single, but this Appetite For Destruction track was the first to take off for Guns n’ Roses, spending two weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 and just missing out on a spot in the ARIA top 10. The band would end up reaching the top 10 locally, with four of the many singles lifted from the Use Your Illusion albums.

“Another Day In Paradise” by Phil Collins

Year: 1989

After his strike rate throughout the ’80s, you might have expected the lead single from Phil Collins’ first studio album in four-and-a-half years to give him a eighth solo top 10 hit in Australia. But this first release from …But Seriously had to make do with its number 11 peak. (The album made up for it by spending three weeks at number 1.)

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