An unstoppable Motown ballad that made its transatlantic conquest in March, 1984, caught up and topped the American pop chart on 12 May that year. Lionel Richie’s ‘Hello,’ written by the former Commodores lead singer with James Anthony Carmichael, started a two-week run atop the Hot 100, after a six-week run at the UK summit.
The song also enjoyed a three-week reign on the Billboard R&B chart and six on the adult contemporary list, during a period when Richie could do no wrong. Not bad for a composition which Richie had decided not to use on his first, self-titled solo album — and was thinking of passing up for the second, Can’t Slow Down, until his wife Brenda insisted he include it.
After debuting in the UK at No. 25 and then racing to No. 5, ‘Hello’ raced to No. 1 on the 24 March 1984 chart, unseating Nena’s ’99 Red Balloons.’ Richie thus consolidated his position as Motown’s hottest star of the mid-1980s, but he wasn’t the label’s only artist with an international hit at the time: Rockwell, the son of Motown founder Berry Gordy, was also in the UK charts with ‘Somebody’s Watching Me,’ which featured vocals by both Michael and Jermaine Jackson.
For all Richie’s enduring success around the world over some 40 years, ‘Hello’ remains his only solo UK chart-topping single, and Can’t Slow Down his only No. 1 studio album. But he did achieve another British bestseller in 1992, with the Back To Front compilation — and then in July 2015, his Definitive Collection with the Commodores raced to the top in the wake of Lionel's Glastonbury Festival performance, nearly 12 years after it first charted.
‘Hello’ was the seventh-bestselling single of the UK chart year, and Can’t Slow Down the No. 1 album. The ballad also topped the charts in several other European countries, including Holland, Switzerland and Ireland, and made No. 1 in Australia. In the US, it took over at the Hot 100 peak from Phil Collins' 'Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now).'
Purchase ‘Hello’ on the album Can't Slow Down.
Follow the 80s Classic Hits playlist.