'80s Remakes of Previous No. 1 Pop Songs That Also Became Top Hits

British pop group Bananarama in 1987 at the Montreux Pop Festival (l to r Sara Dallin, Keren Woodward and Siobhan Fahey).
Suzie Gibbons/Redferns/Getty Images

If you're a truly serious fan of '80s music (or baseball, for that matter), you may find yourself musing on occasion about the statistical oddities of your chosen area of interest. While considering '80s music history a while back, I happened upon the following question: "Which '80s remakes of No. 1 pop songs also became top hits?" Did such a thing happen even once?

As suspected, this particular phenomenon has indeed rarely happened in pop music, but somehow the '80s managed to produce three occurrences within a two-year span. In fact, only nine times in the history of Billboard's pop charts have separate artists recorded versions of the same song that each managed to peak there. And just who are the groundbreaking artists that completed this feat during the '80s? Why, that would be Bananarama, Club Nouveau and Kim Wilde, of course! So, which exactly are the three '80s songs (remade in 1986 and 1987) that hold the distinction of hitting number one in two versions by different artists?

Despite a general lack of connectedness between pop music of the '60s and '70s and the newly successful '80s MTV era, the most successful remakes of the '80s drew heavily from R&B and early rock and roll styles. Maybe it's not terribly surprising that one of these singular tunes originally came from the Motown machine, but an obscure Dutch band seems like an especially unlikely source for such persistently popular material. Nevertheless, Shocking Blue took "Venus" to No. 1 on the Billboard pop charts in 1970, and then in 1986 female British trio Bananarama equaled the feat with its slightly flashier reinterpretation of this classic ear candy. It was appropriate for this tune to be sung by an all-female group anyway, as who but the fairer sex would be better qualified to sing about the wiles of the Goddess of Love?

Bill Withers' gentle soul classic "Lean on Me" was nearly perfect in its initial 1972 chart-topping incarnation, so it's probably a good thing that Club Nouveau reinterpreted it rather drastically to reach No. 1 in 1987. With the addition of hip-hop rhythms and a synth-heavy production, the group manages to tap into the simple essence of the song even while fitting it into an entirely separate era. The original remains quintessential, of course, but the later version probably helped expand the audience for a deserving composition.

British pop singer Kim Wilde was certainly not the first (or last) to remake the 1966 Supremes classic "You Keep Me Hangin' On," but she was most successful, at least on the pop charts. Taking a Motown track and maximizing its appeal for a post-new wave pop audience may seem like a stretch of sorts, but Wilde's modern bubble-gum approach works remarkably well in her version. Once again, new audiences can provide a major boost to pop remakes, but that alone can't explain how these three re-recordings managed to achieve such a rare feat. Oh well, I suppose the magic of the '80s will always be somewhat mysterious and inexplicable.