In 1981, Pazz & Jop Voters had a tie for the best single. It is up to us, the ILM collective, to break this tie between "O Superman" and "Start Me Up" once and for all

Message Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed

Top 10 Singles of 1981

1. (Tie) Laurie Anderson: “O Superman”/”Walk the Dog” (One, Ten, Warner Bros.)
Rolling Stones: “Start Me Up” (Rolling Stones)

3. Grandmaster Flash: “The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel” (Sugarhill)
4. (Tie) Kim Carnes: “Bette Davis Eyes” (EMI America)
Yoko Ono: “Walking on Thin Ice” (Geffen)
6. Tom Tom Club: “Genius of Love” (Sire)
7. (Tie) Pete Shelley: “Homosapien” (Genetic import)
Soft Cell: “Tainted Love”/”Where Did Our Love Go?” (Sire)
9. Funky Four Plus One: “That’s the Joint” (Sugarhill)
10. Prince: “Controversy” (Warner Bros.)

— From the February 2, 1982, issue

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6ImFRdNG0A
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGN5nt0dNXs

Poll Results

OptionVotes
Laurie Anderson: “O Superman”/”Walk the Dog” 81
Rolling Stones: “Start Me Up” 22


Loud guitars shit all over "Bette Davis Eyes" (NYCNative), Monday, 4 February 2019 06:22 (six months ago) link

I do not know why the B-Side is included for Laurie Anderson and not for the Rolling Stones but for the record, here's the B-Side to "Start Me Up."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77f1TlFGOJ0

Loud guitars shit all over "Bette Davis Eyes" (NYCNative), Monday, 4 February 2019 06:26 (six months ago) link

^ display name solves the tie for #4

an incoherent crustacean (MatthewK), Monday, 4 February 2019 06:27 (six months ago) link

the terribleness of "start me up" kept me away from the stones for several years, during my teens. eventually i figured out what the heck what was going on with this group of rockers and grew to really like "start me up". 'o superman' is one of the best singles of all time though so that

Karl Malone, Monday, 4 February 2019 06:37 (six months ago) link

Pete Shelley? Blimey, I knew it was a well regarded track..

Mark G, Monday, 4 February 2019 06:59 (six months ago) link

I feel like I need one of those explainer pamphlets they mail out for local elections so I can properly weigh in on “Start Me Up” - like, I think my bafflement over its tied #1 placement might disqualify me as a voter.
It’s good, I guess? Was there some bit of the Stones metanarrative in 1981 that made it seem more important than that?

You can't see it but I had an epiphany (Champiness), Monday, 4 February 2019 07:05 (six months ago) link

Lol at Pazz & Jop having the inarguable greatest single of, like, all time land in their lap, and being unable to give it the outright win because the Stones are back, or something

imago, Monday, 4 February 2019 07:07 (six months ago) link

I mean, “O Superman” is clearly better, but “Start Me Up” is still a jam, come on

ebro the letter (Whiney G. Weingarten), Monday, 4 February 2019 07:09 (six months ago) link

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8CtWUY7nvg

velko, Monday, 4 February 2019 07:11 (six months ago) link

during the years that p&j listed b-sides, the b-side would get listed if voters were explicitly listing it on their ballots (either on its own or with the a-side). the tabulators would also combine votes for two songs into one placement if there was any issued single configuration that included both songs -- "we are family" and "he's the greatest dancer" got listed together on the '79 poll b/c they were both on a disco 12", and it was for that very same reason that ian dury won the singles category that year. (i guess this rule didn't apply to single-sided 12-inchers with two songs mixed -- if it had, it could be argued that "hot stuff"/"bad girls" actually should have won that year.)

as for the question at hand, gah it's hard to say. they're both kinda great in their way. the suggestion that "start me up" is terrible is plainly wrong. but i think i will throw my vote behind "o superman"

dyl, Monday, 4 February 2019 07:34 (six months ago) link

i'd be curious to read what was being said/written about "o superman" at the time rather than retrospectively. i've just found this from billboard, anything else readily accessible?

dyl, Monday, 4 February 2019 07:42 (six months ago) link

The fact that a sizable group of music critics decided that fucking Start Me Up was the best single of 1981 is exhibit A for the case against Rockism

mfktz (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Monday, 4 February 2019 07:44 (six months ago) link

oh i like that the village voice site is posting scans from the original issues now

dyl, Monday, 4 February 2019 08:01 (six months ago) link

Re O Superman, was just reading that Postcard records were in the running to license the track for UK release, but lost out to Warners. Who signed her to a multi-album deal and so on..

Mark G, Monday, 4 February 2019 11:15 (six months ago) link

from Christgau's P&J essay:

Laurie Anderson's "O Superman," one half of a dead heat for top single, was the pop event of the year--or rather, the other pop event of the year (what we counterculture pros call the alternative). Billed as an EP because its two sides run 8:12 and 5:55 (here at P&J we define as singles all discs comprising two songs, aural performances, or whatever), "O Superman" came out initially on One Ten, whose chief endeavor is an exhaustive new wave discography called Volume, and was already a phenomenon when John Peel and Rough Trade turned it into a British chart-smasher. After that Warners completed its pursuit of performance art's pride and took the record over. A real new wave fairy tale, and stay tuned for the sequel. But novelty records either get you or they don't, and though I'll take Anderson's paranoid whimsy over Napoleon XIV or Little Roger & the Goosebumps, it so happens that I prefer "Double Dutch Bus" and "Ode to Billie Joe." In fact, I also prefer its other half. The Rolling Stones' greatest anthem in a decade, "Start Me Up" is truer and braver than the increasingly rhetorical "Jumping Jack Flash" or the increasingly self-serving "It's Only Rock 'n Roll," not to mention the increasingly racist "Brown Sugar." But this is true not least because its central conceit--Mick as sex machine, complete with pushbutton--explains why the album it starts up never transcends hand-tooled excellence except when Sonny Rollins, uncredited, invades the Stones' space. Though it's as good in its way as "Street Fighting Man," how much you care about it depends entirely on how much you care about the Stones' technical difficulties. So I found myself rooting for "O Superman." "Start Me Up" may have been the more compelling aural performance. But "O Superman" was the more compelling pop event of the year.

Your sweetie-pie-coo-coo I love ya (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 4 February 2019 12:32 (six months ago) link

Increasingly racist?”

Timothée Charalambides (cryptosicko), Monday, 4 February 2019 13:58 (six months ago) link

say what you will about "start me up", it does a fantastic job at capturing the excitement and thrills of booting up a windows 95 computer

The Elvis of Nationalism and Amoral Patriotism (rushomancy), Monday, 4 February 2019 14:12 (six months ago) link

In his interview in the most recent issue of TapeOp, Bob Clearmountain claims it was originally called Start It Up, and was allegedly about - or the central metaphor was supposed to be about - a motorcycle, and that Clearmountain suggested to Mick that it should be Start Me Up.

Josh in Chicago, Monday, 4 February 2019 14:15 (six months ago) link

“Increasingly racist?”

― Timothée Charalambides (cryptosicko), Monday, 4 February 2019 13:58 (one hour ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

The fourth verse is more racist than the first.

Mark G, Monday, 4 February 2019 15:14 (six months ago) link

walk the dog is my favorite out of these 3

billstevejim, Monday, 4 February 2019 19:16 (six months ago) link

Sick to death of "Start Me Up," "O Superman" not really my kind of thing...Was that the only Pazz & Jop tie at the top?

clemenza, Monday, 4 February 2019 20:13 (six months ago) link

Was there some bit of the Stones metanarrative in 1981 that made it seem more important than that?

Yeah, Tattoo You had a real event vibe to it. The stadium tour was huge, there was a lot of hype about "greatest rock band in the world" and this sense that even though the album was in no way New Wave that the Stones had arrived in the '80s fully hip and modern and MTV-ready.

i'd be very surprised if "o superman" did not win this by a landslide. "start me up" isn't bad per se, it is a typical rolling stones stomper, not quite as classic as satisfaction but a return to form. "o superman" is on a totally different level though. about 5 million light years away.

Ich bin kein Berliner (alex in mainhattan), Monday, 4 February 2019 20:28 (six months ago) link

A tip for anyone doing a 1981 set- O Superman mixes perfectly into It Must Be Live by Madness.

mfktz (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Monday, 4 February 2019 20:33 (six months ago) link

That's not what it's called, autocorrect.

mfktz (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Monday, 4 February 2019 21:00 (six months ago) link

I'd have voted "Genius of Love" if allowed to.

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Monday, 4 February 2019 21:53 (six months ago) link

now imagine Jagger singing "O Superman."

Your sweetie-pie-coo-coo I love ya (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 4 February 2019 21:55 (six months ago) link

I love "Start Me Up," always have, and probably will never tire of it! By contrast, I feel like I've heard "O Superman" enuff times.

i stan corrected (morrisp), Monday, 4 February 2019 21:56 (six months ago) link

I'd have voted "Genius of Love" if allowed to.

― Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Monday, February 4, 2019 4:53 PM (one minute ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

foh with this over "That’s the Joint”

ebro the letter (Whiney G. Weingarten), Monday, 4 February 2019 21:57 (six months ago) link

Surprised at no 'Once In A Lifetime' in the top 25 even if it is from an album released the year before - or was it a late 1980 single in the US (too late for the 1980 tracks list even)?

nashwan, Monday, 4 February 2019 22:01 (six months ago) link

generally speaking the whole list is my favorite P&J singles list ever

Your sweetie-pie-coo-coo I love ya (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 4 February 2019 22:10 (six months ago) link

it was issued as a single in early 1981 in just about every territory, mostly in january according to a brief perusal of 45cat

Was that the only Pazz & Jop tie at the top?

yes, as far as the big categories (albums, singles) go. there were a couple other ties at #1 for the smaller, now-retired categories (music videos in 1990, reissues in 1999)

dyl, Monday, 4 February 2019 22:28 (six months ago) link

first part of that post is xp'd re: "once in a lifetime"

dyl, Monday, 4 February 2019 22:28 (six months ago) link

speaking of this poll are they still planning to release results for last year? maybe i am remembering wrong but i seem to remember they would usually have results out at some time in january

dyl, Monday, 4 February 2019 22:30 (six months ago) link

i guess it's hard to put it out as quickly when you are hoping to make full ballots available but only have a small staff available to work on it

dyl, Monday, 4 February 2019 22:31 (six months ago) link

The original e-mail says "early February ahead of the Grammy Awards." The Grammys are close, I think, so should be any day. (But who knows? Maybe the response wasn't enough to justify going forward.)

clemenza, Tuesday, 5 February 2019 12:40 (six months ago) link

'Start Me Up'

Le Baton Rose (Turrican), Tuesday, 5 February 2019 15:44 (six months ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Sunday, 17 February 2019 00:01 (six months ago) link

O Superman and Walking on Thin Ice may be difficult. This is just a walkover.

Lemon Kitten (Dan.S.), Sunday, 17 February 2019 11:49 (six months ago) link

only one of these songs is brave enough to endorse necrophilia and it’s not ‘o superman’

a surprise challenge that ended with a gunging (bizarro gazzara), Sunday, 17 February 2019 13:21 (six months ago) link

In a sense the last 40 years of The Rolling Stones has all been one big celebration of necropbilia.

mfktz (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Sunday, 17 February 2019 13:23 (six months ago) link

makes u think

a surprise challenge that ended with a gunging (bizarro gazzara), Sunday, 17 February 2019 13:24 (six months ago) link

That's one hell of a strong top ten. Two of my favorite singles ever (Homosapien, Bette Davis Eyes), a handful of stone cold classics (Tainted Love, Genius of Love, Wheels of Steel), and the top two are ok I guess.

NoTimeBeforeTime, Sunday, 17 February 2019 20:23 (six months ago) link

Well, one of the top two is. (And 9, and 10.)

dorsalstop, Sunday, 17 February 2019 20:25 (six months ago) link

Am I the only one that finds nothing remarkable about “That’s the Joint”? Sounds like every other old-school rap hit to me.

Mr. Snrub, Sunday, 17 February 2019 22:52 (six months ago) link

It sounds at least two years ahead of its time to me

dorsalstop, Sunday, 17 February 2019 23:32 (six months ago) link

You make a dead man poll

calstars, Sunday, 17 February 2019 23:59 (six months ago) link

But these days I’ll take Bette Davis eyes overall

calstars, Monday, 18 February 2019 00:00 (six months ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll's results are now in.

System, Monday, 18 February 2019 00:01 (six months ago) link

'That's the Joint' is the joint, u mad.

A functioning gazebo made of Candlebox cassingles (Old Lunch), Monday, 18 February 2019 00:03 (six months ago) link

Laurie over Mick? I’m leaving Ilx, that’s the last straw

calstars, Monday, 18 February 2019 00:06 (six months ago) link

LOL — 59 of y’all are straight trolling

yuh yuh (morrisp), Monday, 18 February 2019 00:18 (six months ago) link

No doubt

calstars, Monday, 18 February 2019 00:21 (six months ago) link

Well done, ILM.

Soundslike, Monday, 18 February 2019 00:29 (six months ago) link

Was gonna say that the only real leg up the Stones have here is the shreds video but heck this isn't too far off:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJBZifZ4TIc

A functioning gazebo made of Candlebox cassingles (Old Lunch), Monday, 18 February 2019 02:15 (six months ago) link

Shreds, shmeds... the “Start Me Up” video itself is all-time!

I dunno why ILM has some challops-y vendetta against what is clearly one of the greatest rock hits (and I’m not even much of a Stones fan).

yuh yuh (morrisp), Monday, 18 February 2019 03:18 (six months ago) link

eh I don't really like "o superman". "start me up" is good, sounds better hearing it blasting out of a truck's mediocre FM stereo

brimstead, Monday, 18 February 2019 03:20 (six months ago) link

Dont "genius of love" fans totally cringe at the 'James brown' part? Was there ever an instrumental mix? The vocals suck!!

brimstead, Monday, 18 February 2019 03:23 (six months ago) link

xxp it doesn't seem like a vendetta against one of the great rock hits to me, just how can it compete with O Superman

Dan S, Monday, 18 February 2019 03:24 (six months ago) link

I’ve seen “Start Me Up” trashed on here before recently (I think one of those “dad rock” threads).

Who needs to hear “O Superman” more like twice in their life? Honestly!

yuh yuh (morrisp), Monday, 18 February 2019 03:35 (six months ago) link

I mean it’s fine. It’s crushed by the Liquid Sky soundtrack

yuh yuh (morrisp), Monday, 18 February 2019 03:35 (six months ago) link

I like Laurie Anderson up to a point, so perhaps my thinking Strange Angels the loveliest, most ethereal, and most realized of her albums is contrarian. I've head "O Superman" once in the last decade; when I play that debut, I liner on "From the Air."

a Stalin Stale Ale for me, please (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 18 February 2019 03:47 (six months ago) link

Correct winner

zama roma ding dong (Eric H.), Monday, 18 February 2019 03:49 (six months ago) link

O Superman is the greatest song of all time. Start Me Up is a song.

frame casual (dog latin), Monday, 18 February 2019 14:23 (six months ago) link

Am I the only one that finds nothing remarkable about “That’s the Joint”? Sounds like every other old-school rap hit to me.

― Mr. Snrub, Sunday, 17 February 2019 22:52 (yesterday) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

Wind that back..

Mark G, Monday, 18 February 2019 14:43 (six months ago) link

I dunno why ILM has some challops-y vendetta against what is clearly one of the greatest rock hits (and I’m not even much of a Stones fan).

I didn't vote but I was actually surprised that the choice was so easy for so many people. I'm not the biggest Stones fan either but I've always really liked "Start Me Up". "O Superman" is cool too, though.

silent as a seashell Julia (Sund4r), Monday, 18 February 2019 14:56 (six months ago) link

omg the totp performance

dyl, Monday, 18 February 2019 16:25 (six months ago) link

I am not surprised at the result but I am pleased that over 100 ILXors voted.

Loud guitars shit all over "Bette Davis Eyes" (NYCNative), Monday, 18 February 2019 17:07 (six months ago) link

O Superman is the greatest song of all time. Start Me Up is a song.

― frame casual (dog latin)

otm

sleeve, Monday, 18 February 2019 17:11 (six months ago) link

LOL — 59 of y’all are straight trolling


...this isn’t how those numbers work

A funny tinge happened on the way to the forum (wins), Monday, 18 February 2019 17:12 (six months ago) link

I'm not surprised at the result either, as wrong as it is. I appreciate 'O Superman' as a piece of art, but morrisp hit the nail on the head. 'Start Me Up' retains its potency for me as an essential slab of classic rock after hundreds of plays. I've heard 'O Superman' in full perhaps a fraction of that and I don't need to hear it again. You can always count on ILM to vote for the artiest choice, though, lest their music snob friends make fun of 'em for listening to and liking something that rawks.

Le Baton Rose (Turrican), Monday, 18 February 2019 17:15 (six months ago) link

Ha, I was trying to work that one out. xp

silent as a seashell Julia (Sund4r), Monday, 18 February 2019 17:17 (six months ago) link

lol at the idea of a Some Girls outtake being remotely on the same level as one of the 20th century's greatest artistic achievements

I own both, btw

sleeve, Monday, 18 February 2019 17:21 (six months ago) link

I would have paid Laurie Anderson to cover "Start Me Up," complete with video projection of Lou Reed so she can mumble, "You make a dead man come."

a Stalin Stale Ale for me, please (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 18 February 2019 17:24 (six months ago) link

The projection being footage of the Ecstasy sleeve shoot, I assume.

Le Baton Rose (Turrican), Monday, 18 February 2019 17:26 (six months ago) link

'Start Me Up' is far more entertaining.

(xxpost)

Le Baton Rose (Turrican), Monday, 18 February 2019 17:27 (six months ago) link

Well sure, how could you not be entertained by a middle-aged man strutting about in that little outfit.

A functioning gazebo made of Candlebox cassingles (Old Lunch), Monday, 18 February 2019 17:34 (six months ago) link

The dude was (somewhat incredibly) four years younger than I am now!

...this isn’t how those numbers work

Haha, maybe not... but the math at least told me how many posters I could expect to be ticked off by my ‘tude

yuh yuh (morrisp), Monday, 18 February 2019 17:46 (six months ago) link

(...I think I’m still getting the math wrong!! XP)

yuh yuh (morrisp), Monday, 18 February 2019 17:48 (six months ago) link

Start Me Up is a totally ok song, but it’s to the Stones as My Way is to Sinatra.

omar little, Monday, 18 February 2019 17:51 (six months ago) link

Dont "genius of love" fans totally cringe at the 'James brown' part? Was there ever an instrumental mix? The vocals suck!!

― brimstead, Sunday, February 17, 2019 7:23 PM (yesterday) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

no we yell along with it!

Get Me Bodied (Extended Mix), Monday, 18 February 2019 18:35 (six months ago) link

otm, james brooown is the best part

we're far from the challops now (voodoo chili), Monday, 18 February 2019 18:40 (six months ago) link

Ehhhhhhh, let's back up there just a bit

A functioning gazebo made of Candlebox cassingles (Old Lunch), Monday, 18 February 2019 19:05 (six months ago) link

fine, i'll back it up ten seconds and say 'bohannon bohannon' is the best part

we're far from the challops now (voodoo chili), Monday, 18 February 2019 19:11 (six months ago) link

Trying hard not to troll but you Superman supporters are smoking some wild shit

calstars, Monday, 18 February 2019 20:32 (six months ago) link

i have never inhaled the devil's lettuce so i say this with the full strength of sobriety that "o superman" is masterful and the rolling stones are overrated af

you know who deserves sitewide mod privileges? (m bison), Monday, 18 February 2019 22:46 (six months ago) link

So sorry to hear that

calstars, Monday, 18 February 2019 22:59 (six months ago) link

'Start Me Up' more like wake me up when ur done boring me with your dancing granddad

A functioning gazebo made of Candlebox cassingles (Old Lunch), Monday, 18 February 2019 23:37 (six months ago) link

lol

calstars, Monday, 18 February 2019 23:51 (six months ago) link

Oh, Superman
Oh, poll
Oh, ILM

yuh yuh (morrisp), Monday, 18 February 2019 23:54 (six months ago) link

ILM

You can't see it but I had an epiphany (Champiness), Tuesday, 19 February 2019 01:00 (six months ago) link

I'm not surprised at the result either, as wrong as it is. I appreciate 'O Superman' as a piece of art, but morrisp hit the nail on the head. 'Start Me Up' retains its potency for me as an essential slab of classic rock after hundreds of plays. I've heard 'O Superman' in full perhaps a fraction of that and I don't need to hear it again. You can always count on ILM to vote for the artiest choice, though, lest their music snob friends make fun of 'em for listening to and liking something that rawks.
And yet among all the snobby posts in this thread, that was possibly the snobbiest.

Contrarian, heal thyself.

Loud guitars shit all over "Bette Davis Eyes" (NYCNative), Tuesday, 19 February 2019 01:27 (six months ago) link

I'm way more into the wheels of steel, that track still jacks me up

brimstead, Tuesday, 19 February 2019 01:39 (six months ago) link

uh uh uh uh uh uh uh uh uh uh uh uh uh uh

yuh yuh (morrisp), Tuesday, 19 February 2019 01:47 (six months ago) link

Hi

Mark G, Wednesday, 20 February 2019 07:26 (six months ago) link

ah, ah, ah, ah, ah-CHOO!!!

Mr. Snrub, Wednesday, 20 February 2019 12:12 (six months ago) link


You must be logged in to post. Please either login here, or if you are not registered, you may register here.