1982: First quarter review

Seeing as March is all gone I think it is time for our first quarterly review: Jan-March, 1982.  What have we learned about New Zealand in 1982 so far in our exhaustive piecemeal study of culture from the first three months of that time 30 years ago?

Well, I actually sat down and calculated how much popularity top five songs had over the first eleven weeks of the year in New Zealand, and here is the top ten for January-March, 1982.

  1. How Great Thou Art – Howard Morrison (32 points)
  2. Down Under – Men at Work (39)
  3. Hands Up – Ottawan (43)
  4. It’s My Party – Barbara Gaskin and Dave Stewart (48)
  5. Trouble – Lindsay Buckingham (54)
  6. Physical – Olivia Newton John (56)
  7. Girls on Film – Duran Duran (56)
  8. Tainted Love – Soft Cell (56)
  9. I Can’t Go For That – Hall and Oates (57)
  10. Good Thing Going – Sugar Minott (61)

Let’s turn these songs into facts about New Zealand. 

Popular in New Zealand in Jan-March, 1982:

  1. Sucking up to Britain/Maori/God/Wearing white
  2. Vegemite/Australia/Reggae
  3. Inanity/Synthesisers
  4. Synthesisers
  5. Old fashioned rock
  6. Fitness Gear/Sweat bands/Pastels
  7. Sexism/New Romantics/Girly boys
  8. Girly boys/Synthesisers/Wearing white
  9. Synthesisers/Pastel suits
  10. Reggae

Which can be represented this way:

Or this way:

Child: Daddy, what was the start of 1982 like in New Zealand?

Father: It was a time when we thought synthesisers sounded cool, and we liked to wear pastels, be sexist, and a lot of dudes looked a bit like girls.  It was the age of awkward suck up songs to God/the Queen that simultaneously advanced and embarrassed Maori culture, while a lot of white people pretended they were Australian.

Child: What?

Or this way:

Which I think means that it was fairly important to have a lot of volume in your hair on the top of your head, and not too much happening on the sides (“pile me up like a meringue”).

Or this way:

Of course there is some controversy about how you define good and bad love.  Let’s look at the songs again.

1. How Great Thou Art: Loving God = Good (traditionally)

2. Down Under: Being Australian

3. Hands Up: Love me or I’ll shoot you = Good (traditionally)

4. It’s My Party: Ex comes to party with new girlfriend but I am still single = Bad Love

5. Trouble: I’m in love I think I better do a runner = Bad Love

6. Physical: Let’s talk horizontally = worst chat up line ever = Bad Love

7. Girls on Film: Watching porn = “solo love” = one of the many, many bad kinds of love

8. Tainted Love: It’s love, but it’s tainted = Bad Love

9. I Can’t Go For That: Male prostitute draws line at giving soul to customer = Bad Love

10. Good Thing Going: Love is exciting = Good Love

Summary: New Zealand was into love, but had a pessimistic outlook on the emotion(unless you were brown – brown people appeared to be a lot more upbeat about love than white people in 1982).

3 thoughts on “1982: First quarter review”

  1. I love me some Duran Duran but I hate me some Girls on Film. I’d like to say it’s because I’m so above the sexism of it all. But really it’s just not a good song. Remove the lyrics from the equation and it’s like listening to a song my 2-year-old might’ve written on his toy piano. Insert the lyrics back into the equation and it’s like listening to a song my daughter wrote while watching Disney Princess DVDs.

    This was an interesting read with such very insightful visual aids. I don’t know how I feel about 1982 anymore. Maybe I was better off sitting in a darkened theater watching Yentl with my mom.

  2. LOL I loved Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin’s cover… actually, that’s another song that makes me think of the Pleiades LOL

    My mind works in mysterious ways…

  3. I am class of ’82 myself. I remember most of these songs as hits here in the U.S. as well. Though my friends and I were much more heavily into early Springsteen at that point.

    How Great Thou Art, was never big on the radio over here.

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