THE TOP 500 POP
SONGS OF THE 1980S
THIS WEEK’S FEATURED SONG
Right Here Waiting by Richard Marx - Song #109
This song was a worldwide hit, topping the charts in the United States, Australia, Canada, Ireland, and New Zealand. Billboard magazine ranked it the 11th most popular song of 1989 in the U.S. It was also a hit in Belgium, Sweden, Spain, France, Norway, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, the U.K., and the Netherlands.
Right Here Waiting is Richard Marx’s best-selling and most recognizable song. He wrote this song for his first wife, actress Cynthia Rhodes, who appears in the ‘80s films Flashdance, Staying Alive, and Dirty Dancing. He said, “I wrote the song for my wife Cynthia, who was in South Africa shooting for a film. We were not married then, and I wanted to meet her because I had not seen her for a few months. But my visa application was rejected, and when I came back, I wrote this song, which was more of a letter from me to her. It was the fastest song I wrote, in barely 20 minutes. And this was the time when there was no Skype and social networking, so I had to ship the track to her. The song was very personal and was not intended to go public. But my friends pursued me to record it.” He had pitched the song to American singer Barbra Streisand: “She called and said, ‘I love this music. This melody is gorgeous, but if I’m going to record it, I’m going to need you to rewrite the lyrics because I’m not going to be right here waiting for anybody.’”
Richard Noel Marx is an American pop/rock singer, songwriter, and producer. He plays guitar, keyboards, organ, piano, and bass guitar. He began his musical career singing commercial jingles at the age of five. In 1980, when he was 17, he sent recordings of his original songs to American singer/songwriter Lionel Richie (who has seven songs on this list of THE TOP 500 POP SONGS OF THE 1980S). At that time, Lionel Richie was still with The Commodores; he left the group in 1982 to begin a solo career. Richard Marx met Lionel Richie in 1981, and worked for him as a studio musician, providing backing vocals on some of Lionel Richie’s biggest hits, including All Night Long (All Night) and You Are, songs #68 and #377, respectively, on this list. Richard Marx’s session work was extensive in the ‘80s. He played various instruments and provided backing vocals for many artists. He plays guitar and provides backing vocals on two of Whitney Houston’s biggest hits: Saving All My Love For You (#120) and Greatest Love Of All (#138). He also provides backing vocals for Barbra Streisand on her 1987 album One Voice.
Since 1987, Richard Marx has released 12 studio albums; his most recent album Limitless was released in February 2020. He has also released 12 compilation albums, three live albums, and 54 singles. Of those 54 singles, 14 were U.S. Billboard Top 40 hits, and the first seven of them are his biggest hits. In fact, Richard Marx is the first solo artist to have his first seven singles hit the Top 5 on the U.S. Billboard Top 40. He is also the first solo male artist to have four singles from a debut album reach the Top 3. From his first album (self-titled Richard Marx), both Don’t Mean Nothing and Should’ve Known Better peaked at #3, Endless Summer Nights peaked at #2, and Hold On to the Nights (song #311 on this list) was his first #1 song.
In 1989, with his second album Repeat Offender, he hit #1 a second time with Satisfied, and a third time with Right Here Waiting. His final hit from the ‘80s was Angelia, which peaked at #4. Only Right Here Waiting and Hold On To the Nights are on this list of THE TOP 500 POP SONGS OF THE 1980S, but three of his songs came close: Endless Summer Nights is song #520, Don’t Mean Nothing is song #600, and Satisfied is song #693. His U.S. hits from the ‘90s are Too Late to Say Goodbye, Children of the Night, Keep Coming Back, Hazard, Take This Heart, Now and Forever, and The Way She Loves Me. He also had an adult contemporary hit with Welsh pop singer Donna Lewis, At the Beginning, for the soundtrack to the 1997 animated film Anastasia.
Richard Marx has composed hit songs for other artists, including 1989’s Edge Of a Broken Heart by all-female hard rock band Vixen, 2000’s This I Promise You by American pop group NSYNC, and three hit songs for Australian country music singer Keith Urban: 2005’s Better Life, 2007’s Everybody, and 2011’s Long Hot Summer. He also worked with American country singer Kenny Rogers in 1984; they co-wrote Crazy, which hit #1 on the Billboard Country chart; and they collaborated on What About Me?, also featuring singers Kim Carnes and James Ingram, which reached #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart.
Right Here Waiting has been covered by an astonishing number of music artists from all over the world: English instrumental rock group The Shadows in 1990 (click here), German composer/organist Franz Lambert in 1994 (click here), American pop singer Gary Puckett n 1997 (click here), American guitarist Michael Chapdelaine in 1997 (click here), American R&B singer Monica with American R&B quartet 112 in 1998 (click here), Romanian pan flute musician Gheorghe Zamfir in 1999 (click here), Italian singer Paola Turci in 2000 (click here), German electronic/trance artists Full Gainer featuring DJ Scotty in 2002 (click here), Singaporean singer A-do in 2002 (click here), Welsh pop singer Bonnie Tyler in 2003 (click here), German electronic/trance group Lightforce in 2003 (click here), American pop singer Donny Osmond in 2004 (click here), Irish pop singer Chris Doran in 2004 (click here), Chinese-American phenomenon William Hung in 2005 (click here), British electronic musician DJ Kambel in 2005 (click here), American pop singer Clay Aiken in 2006 (click here), Spanish pop singer Julio Iglesias in 2006 (click here), German pop music duo Lemon Ice in 2006 (click here), Filipino-American singer/actor Sam Milby in 2007 (click here), Filipino-American pop singer Martin Nievera in 2007 (click here), American R&B singer Alexander O’Neal in 2008 (click here), Scottish-American singer John Barrowman in 2008 (click here), Swedish electronic music group Ultrabeat in 2008 (click here), American pop singer Barry Manilow in 2008 (click here), Philippine pop singer Sarah Geronimo in 2009 (click here), American Christian metal/electronica band And Then There Were None in 2009 (click here), American/Filipino R&B singers Kris Lawrence featuring Jay-R in 2009 (click here), Korean-American pop singer Nicky Lee in 2010 (click here), Australian pop singer Jason Donovan in 2010 (click here), British pop singer Cliff Richard in 2001 (click here), Jamaican reggae singer Sanchez in 2011 (click here), English actress/singer Twiggy in 2011, featuring duet vocals with Richard Marx himself (click here), American pop musician Kurt Schneider in 2012 (click here), Taiwanese singer Van Fan in 2013 (click here), and South Korean guitarist Sungha Jung in 2019 (click here). Right Here Waiting was satirized with different lyrics by Christian parody band ApologetiX in the 2016 song Nightmare Waiting.
Right Here Waiting has been performed and featured numerous times on reality competition shows such as American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance. Richard Marx performed the song himself in a 2018 episode of The Bachelorette (click here). In a 2018 episode of the fantasy comedy The Good Place, the song is used as a joke. The show features a demon who requests “something deeply terrible” to inspire the demons to commit evil acts, and Right Here Waiting starts playing, to which the demon responds, “Ah, yeah, that’s the stuff.” The show’s producers had contacted Richard Marx for his approval. He said, “I emailed back the guy who handles the clearances for my songs and said, ‘Go for it.’ A few minutes later my manager...called me. ‘Dude, what the f*ck?! You can’t let them use your song that way!!!’ We went back and forth and I said, ‘Look, this song will be 30 years old next year. Tens of millions of people have bought it, sung it, learned to play it on the piano... I’ve had widows of soldiers tell me it was ‘Their Song’ between them and their deceased husband, and on and on. Do you really think some fictional character on a TV show making a joke about it affects that?’” He also said, “I have a huge sense of humor about myself, so I thought, “F*ck it. Maybe some kid watching this show will hear it and go look it up on YouTube and end up loving it. That song is immensely bigger than a 10-second gag on a sitcom.”
In 1986, Richard Marx won a Grammy as part of the team of musicians who worked on the soundtrack for the film St. Elmo’s Fire when it won Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion Picture; Richard Marx provides background vocals on John Parr’s St. Elmo’s Fire (Man In Motion), song #133 on this list. In 1988, Richard Marx was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance for Don’t Mean Nothing. He lost to Bruce Springsteen for Tunnel of Love (song #589 on this list). The other nominees were Bob Seger for Shakedown (#335), Tina Turner for Better Be Good to Me (#401), and Joe Cocker for Unchain My Heart. In 1990, Richard Marx was nominated for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for Right Here Waiting, but he lost to Michael Bolton for How Am I Supposed to Live Without You (song #468 on this list). The other nominees were Billy Joel for We Didn’t Start the Fire (#318), Roy Orbison for You Got It (#445), and Prince’s 11th studio album Batman (in this Grammy category, a song or an entire album may be nominated). Richard Marx won a Grammy award in 2004: Song of the Year, for American R&B singer Luther Vandross’ Dance with My Father which they wrote and composed together. Luther Vandross was too ill to perform the song at the award show (he died the following year); Canadian singer Celine Dion sang the song accompanied by Richard Marx on piano (click here).
In 2015, Richard Marx married model/actress/TV host Daisy Fuentes, who has become a successful business mogul. He is still touring globally and recording music. His 12th studio album (his 36th album overall) was released in February 2020. Richard Marx and Daisy Fuentes are very active on social media, and often post about their healthy lifestyle as physically active vegans, to encourage others to enact positive changes in their lives. The couple is also very involved in philanthropy and activism, including breast cancer awareness, childhood illness and poverty, and animal rights.
Using the TABLE below, you may sort the list of THE TOP 500 POP SONGS OF THE 1980S by rank, title, artist, and year.
When sorting song titles or artists in the table, they will be alphabetized. (The four songs that begin with a parenthesis will be listed first, followed by the four songs that begin with numbers.)
Songs and artists that begin with A or The are alphabetized that way. (For example, you’ll find The Police and The Pretenders with the letter T, and A Flock Of Seagulls with the letter A.)
Solo artists are alphabetized by their first names. (For example, Bryan Adams is with the letter B, and Richard Marx is with the letter R.)
To see all of an artist’s songs ranked in order, enter the artist’s name in the search box, and then, to sort the results by rank, click on the # at the top of the first column.
THE SEARCH BOX
The SEARCH BOX is in the top right corner of the table. When you type a word or words into the SEARCH BOX, the table will collapse, revealing the search results, which you may then sort by clicking on the table headers. (NOTE: To get back to the full list of 500 songs after doing a search, you must clear the search box.)
SORTING BY YEAR
To see songs from a specific year ranked in order, enter an apostrophe and the year (for example: ‘84) in the search box, and then sort the results by rank. The year listed is the year that the song entered the United States Billboard Top 40.
DETAILS ABOUT THE SONGS & ARTISTS
For more information and interesting facts about the songs and the artists, plus other great ‘80s songs that didn’t make this TOP 500 list, and much more, check out PAGE 2: THE MUSIC.
WHO HAS THE MOST SONGS?
Who has the most songs on the list – Madonna, Prince, George Michael, Whitney Houston, or Michael Jackson? Click HERE to find out.
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