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

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Poll Closing Date: Monday, 18 February 2019 00:00 (in 1 day)

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

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


Loud guitars shit all over "Bette Davis Eyes" (NYCNative), Monday, 4 February 2019 06:22 (one week ago) Permalink

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 (one week ago) Permalink

^ display name solves the tie for #4

an incoherent crustacean (MatthewK), Monday, 4 February 2019 06:27 (one week ago) Permalink

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 (one week ago) Permalink

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

Mark G, Monday, 4 February 2019 06:59 (one week ago) Permalink

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 (one week ago) Permalink

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 (one week ago) Permalink

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 (one week ago) Permalink

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

velko, Monday, 4 February 2019 07:11 (one week ago) Permalink

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 (one week ago) Permalink

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 (one week ago) Permalink

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 (one week ago) Permalink

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

dyl, Monday, 4 February 2019 08:01 (one week ago) Permalink

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 (one week ago) Permalink

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 (one week ago) Permalink

Increasingly racist?”

Timothée Charalambides (cryptosicko), Monday, 4 February 2019 13:58 (one week ago) Permalink

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 (one week ago) Permalink

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 (one week ago) Permalink

“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 (one week ago) Permalink

walk the dog is my favorite out of these 3

billstevejim, Monday, 4 February 2019 19:16 (one week ago) Permalink

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 (one week ago) Permalink

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.

a man often referred to in the news media as the Duke of Saxony (tipsy mothra), Monday, 4 February 2019 20:23 (one week ago) Permalink

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 (one week ago) Permalink

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 (one week ago) Permalink

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

mfktz (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Monday, 4 February 2019 21:00 (one week ago) Permalink

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

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Monday, 4 February 2019 21:53 (one week ago) Permalink

now imagine Jagger singing "O Superman."

Your sweetie-pie-coo-coo I love ya (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 4 February 2019 21:55 (one week ago) Permalink

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 (one week ago) Permalink

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 (one week ago) Permalink

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 (one week ago) Permalink

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 (one week ago) Permalink

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 (one week ago) Permalink

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

dyl, Monday, 4 February 2019 22:28 (one week ago) Permalink

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 (one week ago) Permalink

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 (one week ago) Permalink

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 (one week ago) Permalink

'Start Me Up'

Le Baton Rose (Turrican), Tuesday, 5 February 2019 15:44 (one week ago) Permalink


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