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Top Air Supply Songs of the '80s

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During the early '80s it was difficult for pop listeners to escape the soft rock ballads of the Australian duo Air Supply, as the pair of Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock racked up seven straight Top 5 pop hits and added one more before petering out by the mid-'80s. Critics, hipsters and rock music fans never gave the duo much attention that wasn't negative, but there was clearly an audience for Air Supply's theatrical love songs. Here's a look at some of the best of these ballads, presented in chronological order.

1. "Lost in Love"

Single Cover Image Courtesy of Arista
Many of the core principles of Air Supply's sweeping early-'80s appeal apply here, as Russell's gentle acoustic guitar sets the stage for a love song but tones things down enough so that Hitchcock's sappy arrival doesn't push things completely over the line. Both of Air Supply's huge early hits feature ample orchestration and sweet backing harmonies, but in both cases the flawless song structures carry the day. Ultimately, Russell is a gifted songwriter, and even if his lyrics display extreme earnestness, he has a deft enough touch to prevent engagement of the gag reflex. As listeners would come to learn, that's generally Hitchcock's department.

2. "All Out of Love"

Single Cover Image Courtesy of Arista
As a lifelong fan of hard rock (and, most recently, a full-tilt punk rock convert), I know I'm not supposed to love this song with fierce devotion, but dammit, I just can't help it. Actually, the reasons why this is Air Supply's best song and one of the best of the '80s are many, but the main thing, I think, is the balance provided by the shared lead vocals between Russell and Hitchcock. Russell's acoustic guitar and folk-inflected vocal style serve as the perfect foil for Hitchcock's squeaky-clean, cloying tenor, and as a result the song itself is able to shine through as the pop masterpiece it is.

3. "The One That You Love"

Single Cover Image Courtesy of Arista
Although my primary memory of this song seems to revolve around early-'80s forced trips to the shoe store or discount store with my mom, it's still an undeniably catchy, successfully melancholy take on romance. Perhaps it feels so sappy because Hitchcock takes over lead vocals completely, but it definitely seems to be a decline from the first two worthy selections on this list. Of course, music buyers must not have agreed with that assessment, helping the song to become the duo's only No. 1 hit on the Billboard pop charts in 1981.

4. "Sweet Dreams"

Album Cover Image Courtesy of Arista
This is Air Supply's lone stab at a power ballad, soaring in on a sweeping chorus and bolstered by twin-guitar fills, of all things. The tune may also be the duo's least over-the-top and most straightforward offering, which is a credit to Russell's firm songwriting sense and a reduction in heavy orchestration. We're still in the midst of a sweet love song here (is Air Supply capable of anything else?), but at least the boys can be credited for leaving the word "love" out of the title, a bold move indeed.

5. "Even the Nights Are Better"

Album Cover Image Courtesy of Arista Records

I suppose it can never be said with a straight face that Air Supply ever possessed much of an edge musically or lyrically, but if the duo ever did, any semblance of it was long gone by 1982. Of course, it didn't help that at this point the pair began to rely upon outside songwriters, despite Russell's proven pedigree for pumping out hits. It's no surprise that as Air Supply's sound became ever more teeth-gratingly easy listening that Hitchcock would be the focal point vocally. Even so, the duo's heavy orchestration reached a new level here, making some music fans reach for the snooze button.

6. "Making Love Out of Nothing at All"

Single Cover Image Courtesy of Arista
Outside professional songwriting again fuels this 1983 hit, but at least it's difficult for over-the-top love songs to fail when they come from the pen of former Meat Loaf collaborator Jim Steinman. The composer of the sublime classic "Total Eclipse of the Heart," Steinman here offers a product that certainly resembles that smash hit from the same year, mostly through the undeniable style of the songwriter's flashy balladry. Hitchcock's vocals are appropriate enough, I suppose, but it is hard to take him seriously when he claims an ability to "make all the stadiums rock." Nonetheless, a solid ballad.
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