Backwards Bullets: This Week In Charts 1982

Tony Mahoney
Men at Work

'WHO' WAS NO. 1?: This week in 1982, Australia's Men at Work, fronted by singer/songwriter Colin Hay, topped the Billboard Hot 100 with their first U.S. single, "Who Can It Be Now?" In the print issue of Billboard dated Oct. 30, 1982, Chart Beat noted that the song was the first debut single by an act on Columbia Records to reach the summit since the Byrds' "Mr. Tambourine Man" in 1965.

"Who Can It Be Now?" spurred another inquiry in Chart Beat: how many Hot 100 No. 1s had contained questions in their titles? Men at Work's song was the 12th. Here is a look at the Hot 100 titles to pose questions in the last 27 years (22 such songs have now reigned, dating to the first, Frankie Avalon's "Why," in 1959):

"Who Can It Be Now?," Men at Work, 1982
"How Will I Know," Whitney Houston, 1986
"Who's That Girl," Madonna, 1987
"Didn't We Almost Have It All," Whitney Houston, 1987
"Where Do Broken Hearts Go," Whitney Houston, 1988
"How Am I Supposed to Live Without You," Michael Bolton, 1990
"How Do You Talk to an Angel," the Heights, 1992
"Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?," Bryan Adams, 1995
"How Do U Want It," 2Pac featuring K-Ci & JoJo, 1996
"Have You Ever?," Brandy, 1999
"Do I Make You Proud," Taylor Hicks, 2006

Men at Work, winners of the 1982 Best New Artist Grammy Award, followed "Who Can It Be Now?" with their second No. 1 on the Hot 100, "Down Under." The group's debut album, "Business as Usual," locked down the top spot on the Billboard 200 for 15 weeks.

The act split in 1986 but has since reunited for occasional performances.

Hay released his newest solo album, "American Sunshine," in August. On his official web site, he sums up his varied storied career, which also includes an impressive acting resume.

"Success becomes a point where everything you work on converges. I equate it to a boxer in a match. It's very difficult to knock someone out with one punch - it's usually a series of combinations over fifteen rounds that wins the fight."

'GIRL' POWER: While this week sports the landmark release of Michael Jackson's concert film and album, "This Is It," the latter of which can be streamed free on, a Billboard Single Review 27 years ago this week only hinted at the phenomenon that "Thriller" would become.

Read the review of "The Girl Is Mine," "the first single from (Jackson's) forthcoming album teams the wunderkind with Paul McCartney in a breezy, lighthearted love song capped by some playful banter at the tag."

Billboard correctly predicted a "fast break" for the song. "The Girl Is Mine" debuted at No. 45 on the Billboard Hot 100 the following week and peaked at No. 2 for three weeks in January 1983.

UP WHERE THEY BELONGED: While Men at Work commanded the Billboard Hot 100 this week in 1982, several songs that would go on to become well-loved, evergreen hits debuted.

Don Henley bowed at No. 73 with "Dirty Laundry," which stands as his highest-peaking solo smash (No. 3). Toto's future No. 1 "Africa" arrived at No. 75, and two modern pop/R&B classics followed: Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing" (No. 78) and Prince's "1999" (No. 81).

Here are the top 10 titles on the Hot 100 this week 27 years ago:

No. 1, "Who Can It Be Now?," Men at Work
No. 2, "Jack and Diane," John Cougar
No. 3, "Eye in the Sky," The Alan Parsons Project
No. 4, "I Keep Forgettin' (Every Time You're Near)," Michael McDonald
No. 5, "Up Where We Belong," Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes
No. 6, "Heart Attack," Olivia Newton-John
No. 7, "Somebody's Baby," Jackson Browne
No. 8, "You Can Do Magic," America
No. 9, "I Ran," A Flock of Seagulls
No. 10, "Heartlight," Neil Diamond