Billboard‘s Hot Soul Singles chart featured a whopping 520 R&B singles — as well as a handful of rap cuts. Bountiful is the first word that comes to mind. After narrowing the favourites down to 40, it was obvious that far too much brilliance was left out, so monthly charts were made. It was tough to eliminate several selections, such as Pointer Sisters’ “He’s So Shy” (an August debut), from those countdowns. Classics came from many corners, both stylistically and geographically, including chunky synth-funk, sophisticated roller-skating jams, weightless ballads, Italian disco, and Japanese electro-pop. Young Prince got dirty, while Luther Vandross, front and centre in number 14, emerged from extensive session work and a fledgling solo career. We also got the final album from Minnie Riperton, whose life was taken the previous July by cancer, as well as two great albums from Teena Marie — the first of which was made with Riperton’s grieving widower, Richard Rudolph.

The year’s most progressive music was put together by Leon Sylvers III, who had recently graduated from writing and producing for his own group — the Sylvers — to being the in-house producer for Dick Griffey’s Solar label. His slick, sparkling sound is epitomized by the Whispers’ “And the Beat Goes On” and Shalamar‘s “Right in the Socket.” Sylvers also took on work for other labels, such as Chocolate City, whose 7th Wonder appears in the September chart. That man’s presence and aftershocks will be felt in the next several R&B 40s.

Forty favourite R&B singles that touched Billboard‘s Hot Soul Singles chart in 1980

Yarbrough & Peoples – “Don’t Stop the Music”
Teena Marie – “I Need Your Lovin'”
Zapp – “More Bounce to the Ounce”
George Benson – “Give Me the Night”
Michael Jackson – “Off the Wall”
Slave – “Watching You”
The Whispers – “And the Beat Goes On”
Diana Ross – “Upside Down”
George Benson – “Love X Love”
Twennynine f/ Lenny White – “Best of Friends”

Mtume – “So You Wanna Be a Star”
Rick James – “Big Time”
The Invisible Man’s Band – “All Night Thing”
Change – “The Glow of Love”
The Brothers Johnson – “Stomp!”
Mtume – “Give It on Up (If You Want To)”
Zingara – “Love’s Calling”
Prince – “Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?”
Kleeer – “Open Your Mind”
Maze f/ Frankie Beverly – “Southern Girl”

Shalamar – “Right in the Socket”
Teena Marie – “Behind the Groove”
Chaka Khan – “Clouds”
Teddy Pendergrass – “Love TKO”
Jermaine Jackson – “Let’s Get Serious”
The Gap Band – “Burn Rubber on Me (Why You Wanna Hurt Me)”
Patrice Rushen – “Look Up!”
The Isley Brothers – “Don’t Say Goodnight (It’s Time for Love)”
Kano – “I’m Ready”
Vaughan Mason & Crew – “Bounce, Rock, Skate, Roll”

Delegation – “Heartache No. 9”
Prince – “Uptown”
The S.O.S. Band – “Take Your Time (Do It Right)”
The Isley Brothers – “Here We Go Again”
Brenda Russell – “Way Back When”
Minnie Riperton – “Here We Go”
Herbie Hancock – “Stars in Your Eyes”
Sister Sledge – “Reach Your Peak”
Curtis Mayfield – “Love Me, Love Me Now”
Brides of Funkenstein – “Never Buy Texas from a Cowboy”