Every No. 1 Country Single of the Eighties: Introduction

In many ways, country music in the eighties is the mirror image of country music in the nineties.

In the nineties, the Billboard charts had longer runs at No. 1 while labels worked to manipulate the Radio & Records chart.  In the eighties, longer runs were the norm on the Radio & Records chart while the Billboard chart had as many as 50 No. 1 singles in a calendar year.

In the nineties, new traditionalists dominated the early part of the decade, with crossover pop country becoming more prevalent in the second half of the decade.  The eighties begins with the height of the Urban Cowboy crossover era, with a pivot back to more traditional sounds later in the decade. New artists overwhelmed the charts in the early nineties, a trend that began in the latter half of the eighties.

Much like the nineties feature did, I expect that a full review of the No. 1 singles of the eighties will bring the historical record into sharper relief, with forgotten artists rediscovered and neat and tidy narratives disrupted, key among them being that the early eighties produced a lot of classic records that are just as essential as the signature hits of the Class of 1986 and beyond.

Since this feature has now been expanded to include other decades, one change from the previous decade covered is the discontinuation of “The Road to No. 1” and “The Road From No. 1.”  Eventually, all decades will be covered, so expect brief biographies incorporated into the review text of artists that are earning their first or final No. 1 singles with that particular record.  Beyond that, the format will be the same as a standard single review, accompanied by the relevant chart information.

These reviews will be covered sequentially.  Generally speaking, songs peaked on Radio & Records earlier than on Billboard.  To make the dates easier to follow this time around, the chart with the earlier No. 1 peak will be listed first.  We start with the first single to peak at No. 1 for the first time in 1980, so some spillover songs from the end of 1979 will be covered when we do a seventies retrospective.

You can follow all of the No. 1 Country Singles of the Eighties by using this tag for visiting the index page.



  1. I’m so pumped for this series. It might be my favorite thing on the internet. The late 90’s early 2000’s are where my country music wheelhouse is (I’m 30). I think every decade has goldmines worth of classics and also it’s share of bad songs but it’ll be interesting to see the first half of the 80’s in this series. A lot of people look down on the early 80’s due to the Urban Cowboy movement. I’m not in that camp but let’s gooooooooo. *I can’t hide my excitement i’m sorry *

  2. Thank you for doing this with the 80s. I know it’s quit the undertaking with so many number ones but it’s the 2nd best decade in country imo. I’m hoping to discover a few songs I don’t know or have forgotten!

  3. I first began listening to country music in the eighties. I was born in 1974. The songs from this decade are all about emotional connections and nostalgia for me. I admittedly was more of a sponge than much of a discerning listener while falling in love with country music during these ten years. It will be interesting to see how successfully I am able to revisit these hits with a critical ear and an eye to their significance beyond just my personal associations with them and memories of first hearing them. A tremendous task!

  4. Really excited about this feature. The 90s feature was amazing and 90s country is still my favorite but I love 1986-89 so I get that to look forward to. Less familiar with the early 80s but it’s going to be fun to see a decade where country trends not towards more pop but towards more country sounding! Pumped

  5. Apologies didn’t read the introduction and now know why some songs didn’t start first. Thanks again for this feature.

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