The year 1981 in music kicked off on a somber note, as John Lennon's shocking murder in late 1980 continued to propel his "(Just Like) Starting Over" to Billboard's No. 1. But hits like Blondie's "The Tide Is High" and Kool & the Gang's "Celebration" stepped in to brighten things up, setting off a year that would bring us upbeat pop tracks like Olivia Newton-John's iconic "Physical" and Stars On 45's 10-minute-long disco marathon "Medley."
Later in the year, Lionel Richie and Diana Ross became a radio station favorite with the simpering duet "Endless Love," and Rick Springfield slowly climbed to No. 1 with "Jessie's Girl." Despite high unemployment rates, work was a popular theme this year—Dolly Parton and Sheena Easton both topped Billboard charts with tracks referencing the "nine-to-five" workday.
Turn up the volume and scroll on for the full list of tracks that snagged Billboard's No. 1 spot in 1981, including tunes from REO Speedwagon, Kim Carnes, and Daryl Hall & John Oates.
John Lennon, "(Just Like) Starting Over"
Blondie, "The Tide Is High"
Kool & The Gang, "Celebration"
Eddie Rabbitt, "I Love A Rainy Night"
REO Speedwagon, "Keep On Loving You"
Daryl Hall & John Oates, "Kiss On My List"
Sheena Easton, "Morning Train (Nine To Five)"
Kim Carnes, "Bette Davis Eyes"
Air Supply, "The One That You Love"
Rick Springfield, "Jessie's Girl"
Diana Ross & Lionel Richie, "Endless Love"
Christopher Cross, "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)"
Daryl Hall & John Oates, "Private Eyes"
Olivia Newton-John, "Physical"