Looking Through Time: 1982
With the anniversaries of culturally important albums sprouting up each and every year, the CommRadio Arts department will be diving into albums from select years and breaking down their impact. Here are the albums from 1982.
Michael Jackson – Thriller
The “King of Pop” Michael Jackson shattered all known expectations for what an album could do sales wise when he released Thriller in 1982. With hits “Beat It,” “Billie Jean,” “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)” and the title track, there was no shortage of groundbreaking tracks. To this day the album is estimated to have sold 66 million copies globally, although Sony and the Michael Jackson estate both claim that number is closer to 100 million copies. From start to finish, Thriller excites the listener and remains the absolute gold standard for pop music. All seven of the singles from the album reached the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and in 1984 the album won a record eight Grammy awards. On top of all of that, Rolling Stones ranked the album at number 20 on their “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time” list. Michael Jackson was the “King of Pop” before Thriller, but the album firmly cemented that title for the rest of time. – David Arroyo
Prince – 1999
American singer/songwriter Prince is no doubt best known for his critically acclaimed and most successful album Purple Rain which released in 1984. It’s simply an iconic album in the singer’s career. However, released 2 years prior, was Prince’s most successful album in terms of breaking through the musical atmosphere and making his name known. On October 27, 1982, 1999 released. This was Prince’s first top ten album to break into the Billboard 200 chart at number nine, peaking at number seven after his death in 2016. It was the fifth best-selling album of 1983 and eventually became a certified platinum.
Prince gained immense popularity from the album's title track. It is credited as one of Prince’s most well-known songs, along with “Purple Rain” and “When Doves Cry.” It originally peaked at 44 on the Billboard Hot 100, but after its re-release in July of 1983, it rose to number 12. Also on the album was another massively favored song, “Little Red Corvette,” which placed at number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 at the time of its release. The album has an amazing mixture of appealing songs to numerous types of audiences. Elements of funk are prominent with his use of synthesizers and drum machines, Prince appeals to the rock genre with “Little Red Corvette” and breaks through the social norm of music by having a heavy sexual theme in “Automatic.”
In 2003, the album was ranked 163 on the Rolling Stone’s “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time” and the album was placed at 49 on the VH1 network greatest albums of all time. Just five years later it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of fame and the album was included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. – Lilly Adams
Iron Maiden – The Number of the Beast
If Black Sabbath invented heavy metal, then Iron Maiden perfected it. While not as critically acclaimed as their 1984 release Powerslave, The Number of the Beast stroke a balance between the intricate metal passages and hard rock sensibilities that gave it more mainstream success. And with this success came claims and accusations of the band as being Satanists, with public burnings of the band's record taking place across the U.S. Though not the first band to receive these criticisms, the prominent imagery and explicit subject matter of hellish acts gave social conservatives plenty to raise their own hell over.
But for those that connected with the music, they found themselves placed into fantastical settings and journeys. From the opening riffs of “Invaders,” the album fills the listener with a sense rising action. The pummeling forward motion of the drums bass licks give guitarists Dave Murray and Adrian Smith plenty of room to work in to create complex song structures that still maintain a high energy. Standouts like “Children of the Damned,” “The Number of The Beast” and “Run to the Hills” slowly evolve over the course of their runtime from small bursts of catchy riffs to face melting blasts of musical carnage.
While the trend setters in the various genres of metal have shifted away from Iron Maiden’s more melodic and energetic approach, the progress The Number of the Beast made for heavy metal is still present. Iron Maiden took the mood and atmosphere metal had become revered for and proved that so much more lay hidden under the apocalyptic sound. While their contemporaries such as Metallica at the time would go on to achieve even wider mainstream appeal, The Number of the Beast remained, and continues to remain, a beacon of creativity in the genre. – Chandler Copenheaver
Richard and Linda Thompson – Shoot Out the Lights
In late 1980, husband and wife duo Richard and Linda Thompson began recording what would be the career-saving album Shoot Out the Lights. By the time the album was released in March of 1982, their marriage was over.
Shoot Out the Lights is an incredible act of emotion. It’s clear that themes of anger, sadness and the realization of a marriage in tatters are prevalent. In just eight songs, Richard and Linda Thompson gave the world their finest work.
The Thompsons split vocal contributions on this album, as Richard sings lead on five of the eight tracks while Linda sings the other three. The first tune is the only single released from the album, the fast-paced opener “Don’t Renege on Our Love.” It’s followed by Linda’s beautiful ballad “Walking on a Wire,” which describes her deteriorating marriage with her husband. “Man in Need” is the first of three upbeat tracks on the record. The final song of the album’s first side is the slow and sweeping “Just the Motion,” sure to bring a tear to your eye. The second side opens with the title track, perhaps one of the greatest guitar songs ever performed. Next is the rolling “Back Street Slide,” followed by “Did She Just or Was She Pushed?,” a somber piece filled with stark imagery. Finally, the album closes with the oddly cheery “Wall of Death.”
The last hurrah of the Richard and Linda Thompson marriage would prove to be their best-selling record to date. Rolling Stone lists the album as the ninth best of the 1980s. That rank is well-deserved. Shoot Out the Lights is a fantastic finale to their partnership and it would serve as the spark that jump-started Richard Thompson’s solo career. Without a doubt, Shoot Out the Lights is a masterpiece. – DJ Bauer
Rush – Signals
35 years later, Signals by Rush proves to be an interesting and monumental album in both the band’s history and progressive rock in general. Consisting of a trio made of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart, Rush had created an album that expands upon the use of synthesizers and story-driven lyrics. Subdivisions is not only an example of those two areas — it is a staple of what was to come from the band for future albums. The sounds of Geddy’s synth, Alex’s guitar and Neil’s drumming are accompanying the album throughout its duration, making a fun and unique sound by an iconic group. – Jack Grossman
David Arroyo is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
Lilly Adams is a freshman majoring in film/video. To contact her, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chandler Copenheaver is a senior majoring in public relations. To contact him, email email@example.com.
DJ Bauer is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jack Grossman is a sophomore majoring in telecommunications. To contact him, email email@example.com.
About the Contributors
Senior / Broadcast Journalism
Senior / Public Relations