For fifty weeks this year, we’re celebrating the music of a specific year every Saturday on WXPN. We’ll be choosing the years randomly; for this week’s #XPN5050, Robert Drake is putting the musical spotlight on the year 1983.
In the third year of the eighth decade of the twentieth century, the new wave of Talking Heads’ Speaking in Tongues walked arm in arm with the bookish college rock of R.E.M.’s Murmur. David Bowie demanded Let’s Dance, and The B-52s gave us plenty of fodder to do so with Whammy!. Donna Summer showed how she works hard for the money, Herbie Hancock blew minds with “Rockit,” and New Edition introduced themselves to us and “Candy Girl.” And let’s not forget War, the third studio album and commercial breakthrough from U2.
On television, Cheers and Knight Rider were going strong, M*A*S*H said its goodbye, and the hysterical capers of The A-Team made their debut.
On the big screen, the Star Wars saga wrapped up (for time being) with Return of the Jedi, while Tom Cruise got kinky in Risky Business, Al Pacino vacuumed up all the cocaine in Scarface, Richard Pryor teamed up with Christopher Reeves in Superman III, and Jennifer Beals was a maniac in Flashdance.
Listen to a Spotify playlist of songs from 1983 below.