How did we deal with Ted Koppel interviewing Yasser Arafat on Nightline while all the planets lined up on the same side of the sun? By checking out and tuning in to this Top 40 countdown from March 13, 1982.
How did we deal with Ted Koppel interviewing Yasser Arafat on Nightline while all the planets lined up on the same side of the sun? By checking out and tuning in to this Top 40 countdown from March 13, 1982.
Strange days indeed, but a fairly solid top 20 for this countdown of March 10, 1984, with most of these songs acting as a great representation of 1980s music.
19. Joanna-Kool & The Gang
This was Kool & the Gang’s biggest hit after Celebration, peaking at #2 and kept off the top of the mountain by Culture Club. So who is Joanna? Who knows? It was actually written about one of the band member’s mom and since Toto had a #2 with Rosanna, they figured they could have a #2 hit as well. Anyone wanna try Susanna?
18. An Innocent Man-Billy Joel
An Innocent Man, the album, was a tribute to songs and artists from Billy’s youth. An Innocent Man, the song, was a tribute to folks like Ben E. King from the Drifters and was Billy’s 3rd straight Top 10 from his LP. I sure wish they would replace The Longest Time on oldies stations with this one.
17. Adult Education-Daryl Hall & John Oates
Daryl wasn’t sure which was the correct pronunciation of adult so it sang it both ways – ah-dult & uh-dult. Were we supposed to tell him which one was right?
16. The Language Of Love-Dan Fogelberg
Danny, you’re out of your element.
15. Automatic-Pointer Sisters
Ruth Pointer does her best Barry White impression on this Top 5 smash co-written by Mark Goldenberg formerly of the Cretones, from their album Break Out, which they certainly did.
14. Got A Hold On Me-Christine McVie
Another member of Fleetwood Mac got to join the solo party. This was actually Christine’s 2nd solo album, but the first released under her married name of Christine McVie. With backing vocals & synth work by Steve Winwood, this track sailed up to #10.
13. Let The Music Play-Shannon
OHW – No No Nooooo…..and her one hit reached #8, with the distinction of being a great song to club or breakdance to.
12. New Moon On Monday-Duran Duran
My least favorite DD song, if you must know. Just doesn’t do it for me, not enough John Taylor funk. But I think at this point DD could have released a recording of them farting in a box and it would have made the Top 10.
11. Wrapped Around Your Finger-The Police
The last hit for the Police was another Top 10 single from Synchronicity, but all I can think of when I hear this song is who is going to clean up all that wax?
10. Karma Chameleon–Culture Club
“I’m a man who doesn’t know how to sell the contradiction.” Oh, that cheeky George. This was a Culture Club’s only #1 hit and you can tell by listening to the way it was produced it was made for pop radio – short, succinct, catchy. The video is hysterical as it’s supposed to take place in Mississippi in the late 1800s so while everyone is costumed for that time period George is still Boy George. Plus later in the video, you can see parts of London’s tall buildings in the distance. Nice job, editor.
Fun fact – James Taylor sued them for plagiarism because he said they ripped off his song Handy Man…which he didn’t write.
9. Footloose-Kenny Loggins
People like to talk about the split personalities of Kenny Loggins: Movie Kenny and Yacht Rock Kenny. But there wouldn’t be a Movie Kenny if it weren’t for Yacht Rock Kenny. And Yacht Rock Kenny couldn’t keep going without Movie Kenny. Movie Kenny is at the height of his powers with this #1 track, which means in 1985 everyone will get some Yacht Rock Kenny.
8. Here Comes The Rain Again-Eurythmics
Annie Lennox – it’s so amazing when true talent breaks through. And Dave’s no slouch either. But what sells this band for me is hearing Annie’s voice – moody, ethereal, bluesy – like a dream that you don’t want to wake from. The lead single from the Eurythmics 3rd album, Touch, climbed up to #4 and proved that this duo was far from a new wave fad and more of a talented force to be reckoned with.
7. I Want A New Drug-Huey Lewis & The News
According to Huey Lewis, this was the original version of Ghostbusters and he let the courts know it. Perfect song for Yuppies to misinterpret.
6. Nobody Told Me-John Lennon
Recorded during the Double Fantasy sessions but left off the final album, this was eventually rediscovered by Yoko when she compiled Milk & Honey, an album of mostly finished tracks John had recorded in 1980. I wonder whether this would have been a hit had John still been alive. Then again would he have released it, buried it or changed it so significantly that it wasn’t any good? Maybe we just wanted to hear John’s voice on the radio one more time, which might explain Julian’s success later in the year.
5. Somebody’s Watching Me-Rockwell
Ken Gordy is climbing the charts. Actually, the son of Berry Gordy didn’t want anyone to think his dad gave him a job (even though he did). So he changed his name and hired the most famous singer in the world to sing the chorus. Rockwell followed this slab of paranoia with an obsession over an obscene phone caller. His later release, Why Is This Water Wet? did not chart.
4. Thriller-Michael Jackson
We have back to back perennial Halloween classics with Michael Jackson vocals, peaking in early March, at least for their first go-round. This was the 7th Top 10 hit from the LP, Thriller, which had been released 68 weeks prior to this countdown.
3. 99 Luftballons-Nena
The Berlin band, Nena was the most popular German artist in America during its jingoistic heyday and on the Top 40, this song reached #2. Although if your red-white-and-blue-Chevy-truck-driving machismo couldn’t handle it, you could flip the 45 over to hear the English version called 99 Red Balloons. FYI – Luft is not German for red.
2. Girls Just Want To Have Fun-Cyndi Lauper
It’s hard to believe that Cyndi was in her early 30’s when she released her debut album, but she had been working at it for a long time. This track would stay at #2 behind Van Halen but has endured as a pop classic for all time. Turn this on if you want to see every woman in the room start dancing. Quite funny for a song written by a guy (Robert Hazard). In the video Cyndi’s mom is played by her real mom, Catrine and her boyfriend in the tux is Steve Forbert, trying to bring her some Southern kisses to her room.
1. Jump-Van Halen (3rd Week at #1)
Eddie buys a new Oberheim synth and voila! – peak Van Halen. Their only #1 hit and it was all downhill from here. In one year’s time, we’d be putting up with David Lee Roth’s Vegas act and then settling for new vocalist Sammy Hagar, which relieved all creative tension within the band and thus all interesting aspects of their music and performance.
Did Edwin Moses use this song as motivation for his gold medals? Or did he wait on the Pointer Sisters? Regardless we can all agree that Roth was an innovator when it came to yoga pants.
The numbers trickle down and your taxes go higher. Let’s continue reviewing the Top 40 from March 10, 1984:
29. Runner-Manfred Mann’s Earth Band
This is a cover of an Iam Thomas song from an album that also had the original version of Hold On, a hit by Santana. It should have been peaking on the charts during July & August while the Summer Olympics were in full swing in Los Angeles minus the Russians. So I’m calling it (gun shot) – False Start!
28. Back Where You Belong-.38 Special
It’s NRA’s favorite band. But seriously, .38 Special did fill a niche in the 80s as there was almost no Southern rock on the charts anymore. A straight up pop rocker with barely any roots showing it was their 3rd Top 20 hit.
27. Miss Me Blind-Culture Club
The first of two CC hits on the countdown. I think this was a band that MTV hurt rather than helped. Boy George’s image was so strong and recognizable, it overshadowed the fact that were a talented pop group with a knack for catchy songs with George’s smooth soulful vocals like sweet icing on the cake.
26. The Politics Of Dancing-Re-Flex
“The politicians are now DJs.” Thankfully, no. Would anyone want to hear the Mondale & Ferraro morning zoo each weekday at 7 AM? Most people would never get out of bed. I digress, great new wave dance song.
25. Almost Over You-Sheena Easton
At the beginning of 1984, Sheena was still pining away for a lost love. By the end of the year, she reinvented herself and was strutting around, calling the shots, and stomping all over the dude with her high heels.
24. Hold Me Now-Thompson Twins
By their 3rd album, Into the Gap, the Thompson Twins found the perfect balance of humanity within synthesized music, resulting in their biggest hit. And it’s got some killer xylophone.
23. This Woman-Kenny Rogers
There was a major backlash against the name Bee Gees in the 80s, but not the music. Because the Gibbs continued making music for other artists under their names and still had hits, like this one, the follow-up to Islands In The Stream, which is sitting at its peak of #23.
22. That’s All- Genesis
Phil got his first Top 10 in early 1983 with You Can’t Hurry Love which probably help Genesis get their first one a year later. Philgenecollinsis is spreading!
21. Yah Mo B There-James Ingram (with Michael McDonald)
I don’t care for exclusivity in the term “yacht rock” [it’s actually called Westcoast music all around the world], but if I had to pick a song to explain YR to someone, this would be it. This Grammy-winning track produced by Quincy Jones and co-written by Q & Rod Temperton is at once funky and smooth, where Ingram’s wolf-like howl pairs beautifully with McDonald’s gruff tenor. A gem off of Ingram’s excellent It’s Your Night LP,
20. Give It Up-KC
Let’s not mince words – disco music died off in the US in the early 80s because of two factors – homophobia/racism or some of the artists partied too hard and burned themselves out. KC & the Sunshine Band as well as 99% of the other disco artists fell victim to the former. Even though KC saw the writng on the wall and recorded two ballads – Please Don’t Go & Yes, I’m Ready with Teri Desario – which hit #1 & #2, respectively as the 80s decade dawned, the mere name of his band closed the doors to any further radio airplay, even as the band continued to make good but not outstanding albums. Also KC was in a bad car accident in 1981 and had to rehab for 6 months learning how to walk and play keyboards again.
KC’s 3rd album of the 1980’s, All In A Night’s Work dropped in 1982 and featured Give It Up which became a #1 hit in the UK in the Summer of 1983. When Epic Records refused to release it stateside, KC left the label, released it himself and it became a Top 20 hit.
Does the rest of the countdown prep up for more Olympic jams? Or will it revel in aits own jingoism? Check back later this week to find out.
For all of you folks born on March 10, 1984, Happy 35th Birthday. These are the songs that “we” collectively agreed were the most popular that week:
40. Don’t Let Go-Wang Chung
The band formerly known as Huang Chung released an album in 1982. When they released how stupid that name was they changed it to…Wang Chung. Their 2nd single from Points on The Curve was this one and was their first Top 40 single reaching #38.
39. Owner Of A Lonely Heart-Yes
Much better than a owner of a broken heart, so saith Yes, grammatical errors and all. But is it really much better to be alone than to have lost and lost? The verses say no but the chorus says yes. Ha ha ha…now go jump off a building.
38. Girls-Dwight Twilley
NAOHW …and Twilley don’t mind. Cause he traded in his old partner, Phil Seymour for a new friend named Tom Petty who helps out on the chorus with Dwight, probably a factor in it reaching #16. Now when was the last time you heard this one on the radio?
37. Hello-Lionel Richie
From the Grammy-winning Album of the Year, Can’t Slow Down, this track was one of 5 Top 10 singles that the album spawned, and one of two #1s. Considering that the album spent the entire year of 1984 in the Top 10, this should have been as big as Thriller was. But unfortunately his videos weren’t as good as Michael’s and so all we remember are ones like Hello where some blind chick makes a clay bust of Lionel that looks more like Ron Perlman in his Beast makeup.
36. Talking In Your Sleep-The Romantics
It took 4 albums for The Romantics to finally have a Top 40 hit with this track which was sliding down from its #3 peak, though What I Like About You has endured a lot longer. [and that only reached #49…what the hell?] This song is packed it tight like 4 guys in black leather suits and was produced by Pete Solley, a former member of Procol Harum & Whitesnake (nice resume).
35. Radio Ga-Ga-Queen
The last original US Top 40 song for Queen, which just isn’t right. It’s the first US hit written by Roger Taylor, so finally, each member of the band had written a Top 40 hit.
34. Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)-Phil Collins
This week as Genesis is coming down Phil is going up and when he hit #1 the floodgates opened and the hits didn’t stop for another 10 years. First Phil then Genesis. Then Genesis then Phil. Until they morphed into Philgenecollinsis, which everyone ran to get a vaccine for. By the way, I’m sure that Phil’s divorce to his first wife was painful, but kudos to him for wringing a bunch of hits out of it.
33. Livin’ In Desperate Times -Olivia Newton-John
ONJ was riding those pop charts hard in the late 70s and early 80s, but here is where you can start to see the wheels coming off. This cocaine jitter of a song was the 2nd release from the soundtrack to the movie Grease Two (of A Kind), which kept Travolta in his professional freefall but dragged poor Sandy down with him. [Should have talked the family into staying in Australia.]
32. Come Back And Stay-Paul Young
Between MTV and our 2nd British Invasion, there were a lot of Brits making the pop chart in the 80s. We’re at #32 and this is Brit #5 – newcomer Paul Young, not to be confused with Sad Cafe’s Paul Young, who would eventually be Mike & The Mechanics’ Paul Young.
31. New Song-Howard Jones
I have always been a big Howard Jones fan. Although he’s had some success in the U.S. I felt that his songwriting took a critical hit because he was a synth artist. Now isn’t everyone these days? [Don’t know if that’s good, though]. Also not sure why Peter Gabriel didn’t try to get a cut from this one.
30. Let’s Stay Together- Tina Turner
The comeback story of Tina Turner in 1984 is the best one in rock history as far as I’m concerned. Imagine having a big career in R&B music, and then forced to risk everything, having to leave a very abusive relationship, start completely over with nothing to your name. Then imagine trying to reinvent yourself as an African-American woman in rock. It was a long road of 8 years after she left Ike but she got her first Top 40 hit with her melancholy cover of Al Green’s classic sprinkled with just enough new wave flourishes, provided by Heaven 17’s Martyn Ware, to sound modern. She’d finish the decade with 11 more Top 40 hits and the title of biggest bad-ass.
From New Orleans to Detroit City, Dallas to Pittsburgh, PA, here’s the Top 20 hits from March 1, 1986:
20. That’s What Friends Are For-Dionne & Friends
This was a song originally recorded by Rod Stewart for the Nightshift soundtrack in 1982 and written by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager. Dionne assembled her ‘friends’ to record this and donated the proceeds to AIDS research, so the fact that this was a #1 hit on the Pop, Soul and AC charts meant all different types of people supported this cause and contributed to an over 3 million dollar donation to a help cure a disease that many did not understand and most feared. Plus you had 4 superstars singing together which was historic in itself. Between them, they are responsible for 157 Top 40 hits.
19. Nikita-Elton John
Elton is back to back with himself and his first Top 10 in almost two years. This is a very Russian Top 20 and the music reflects the challenges of our relationship with the USSR. Nikita uses our chilly relations as a backdrop for a romance that will never be with George Michael vamping at the end.
18. Day By Day-The Hooters
Really? The Hooters? That’s the name you guys decided on? Nina Blackwood claims that they named themselves after a nickname for a melodica. But guys, there’s a chain of restaurants with that name. Who are you foolin’? You knew what you were doing, which makes the famous quote from Bob Geldof – “Who are the fucking Hooters?” – even funnier.
Eric Bazilian, Rob Hyman and producer Rick Chertoff released two well-crafted albums of progressive pop under the name Baby Grand in the late 70s, if that’s your thing. It sure is mine.
17. R.O.C.K. In The U.S.A.-John Cougar Mellencamp
JCM is on name change #2 for his group of Scarecrow hits. This was the closest he’d get to another #1 hit, peaking at #2 behind Rock Me Amadeus, the only other time in the 80s that we picked German over American outside of car choice. Also, JCM tells us to ‘don’t forget James Brown‘. We won’t. He’s in the Top 5.
Russian song #2 – Sting addresses the threat of a possible nuclear war and our growing feeling of hysteria by pointing out that maybe the Russians love their children too. We’re all the same you know, except for the people pushing the button. Three years after this was a hit, they tore down the Berlin Wall as Sting was in the middle of some mindblowingly chill tantric sex.
15. Conga-Miami Sound Machine
Done being scared? Time to do the Conga, even if you’re not at a wedding reception. Miami Sound Machine was the answer to what happens when Rico & Lola start a band at the Copacabana.
14. Burning Heart-Survivor
The higher up the chart, the less patience we have for those Ruskie bastards. I like to call this one Eye of the Siberian Tiger. Did you know that the lead singer on this song is different than on Eye of the Tiger? Did you know that when Survivor spoofed themselves singing a version of Eye Of the Tiger in a Starbucks commercial they used the wrong lead singer?
13. Tarzan Boy-Baltimora
OHW – I get the feeling that this song was written after a late-night round of Pitfall on Baltimora’s Atari 2600. This song almost made the Top 40 again in 1993 after its release on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III soundtrack. And if this song sounds like it should be selling mouthwash, it eventually did.
12. King For A Day-Thompson Twins
One of my favorite bands of this era. The Thompson Twins were 7 members full on their debut album in 1981. Here’s To Future Days was the last as a trio before they became two, still not twins. King For A Day was their second Top 10 single from this LP, produced by Nile Rodgers. Tom Bailey put out his first proper solo album in 2018 and it’s definitely worth a listen.
11. A Love Bizarre-Sheila E.
What’s lost to history is how much of an influence Sheila Escovedo was on Prince. Because if all you knew of her music was The Glamorous Life and this jam, both written by the Purple One, you might lump her in the same group as Vanity & Appolonia. But she was playing with George Duke and jamming with her father, Pete, way before Prince ever bought a Polymoog and high heels.
10. These Dreams-Heart
Heart would eventually get their first #1 song with this one and would do it with Nancy Wilson on vocals, which is probably what prompted Ann to blow the doors off on their second #1, Alone.
9. Secret Lovers-Atlantic Starr
Cheating songs will always have a place in music. I don’t know why. What couple is buying this single? Is there such a thing as illicit 45 listening get-togethers? When would it be appropriate to slow dance to this?
This song is equal parts sad – the woman is at home waiting for the guy to call. Girl, turn on Oprah while you’re waiting – and funny, with the line “in the middle of making love, we notice the time” No one has ever thought of checking a clock while they’re getting it on unless they are super bored of each other. Or they are the stealthiest cuckolds this side of White Plains.
8. Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground)-Mike + The Mechanics
The first non-Phil member of Genesis to hit the top 40 with the ubiquitous Paul Carrack on lead vocals. This #6 song was from a movie called On Dangerous Ground but more likely was about the 1972 film, Silent Running, both of which no one saw except Roman DeBeers. Oh wait, he’s into hard sci-fi.
7. Life In A Northern Town-Dream Academy
Is this what the Mod Squad would sound like recording Sgt Pepper? Or maybe look like? Produced by David Gilmour of Pink Floyd this is the song that sends me right back to the winter of 85/86. Did they borrow something from She’s Leaving Home because that 3rd verse leading into the chorus gets me every time, just like the Beatles did.
6. When The Going Get Tough, The Tough Get Going- Billy Ocean
Michael Douglas. Kathleen Turner. Danny DeVito. Billy Ocean. Magic.
5. The Sweetest Taboo-Sade
In the past 35 years, Sade has only released 6 studio albums but the band has sold over 75 million worldwide. That is primo bang for the buck. But if they released much more music then we would have population explosions all over the world cause it grooves so hard and we’re already overpopulated. So is Sade the greenest band in the world?
4. Living In America-James Brown
Alan Hunter says that it’s been a decade since JB has had a Top 40 hit. Actually, it’s almost 12 years since Papa Don’t Take No Mess reached #31. Written by Dan Hartman & Charlie Midnight this was JB’s Top 40 swansong, wrapping up the funk with an “I feel good!” And it gets a good spoof by Weird Al to boot.
There was so much talk about what a piece of shit We Built This City was that people forget Starship followed that up this gentle mid-tempo ballad that wasn’t half-bad. At least you can enjoy the confusing video that begins with Mickey Thomas dreaming about his girlfriend Rebecca DeMornay and his mom dying in a tornado. Ah, sweet fantasy.
2. How Will I Know-Whitney Houston
A rare dance hit from Whitney as she keeps the vocals fairly under control. Written by the same folks who would write I Wanna Dance With Somebody, those seemed like simpler times when Whitney was collecting #1s in a barrel and was one step closer to Bobby Brown.
1. Kyrie-Mr. Mister
And on the first day of March, the Lord sayeth I will give you mercy. And the prayers of the Los Angeles quartet, Mr. Mister were answered. The only song title in Latin to hit #1, I believe. I’m not a Celtics fan but please tell me they play this every time Irving dunks.
And there you have it, the Red Dawn Top 40.
What were you doing on the precipice of Spring 1986? Did any of these 45s enter your bag at Record World’s check out? Let’s peruse the Top 40 from March 1, 1986, and find out.
40. Calling America-Electric Light Orchestra
Electric Light Orchestra had quite a run on the Pop charts with this their 20th & final Top 40 hit, eventually reaching #18. Had Jeff Lynne not split them up to become a future Wilbury, there’s no telling how many more hits they might have had.
39. Tender Love-Force MDs
OHW – From the soundtrack to Krush Groove, here’s a Top 10 slow jam from a former hip hop turned doo-wop vocal group called Force MDs. Written by Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis the song is effectually over in two minutes but somehow they stretch that piano riff out for another two. Someone please explain why.
38. No Easy Way Out-Robert Tepper
One of the more stereotypical 80s sounding hits from the Rocky IV soundtrack. Just by listening to this song you can imagine those revenge training montages. Robert also co-wrote the Benny Mardones hit, Into The Night, so is that two strikes?
37. Needles & Pins-Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers & Stevie Nicks
Stevie is an honorary Heartbreaker in more ways that one and she donned the scarves again joining Petty and the band on stage during their Southern Accents tour for a live duet cover from the other Liverpool band, The Searchers. Needles & Pins was originally a hit in 1964 and in 1979 they recorded a Tom Petty track, Lost In Her Eyes, so this was life coming full circle.
36. Goodbye Is Forever-Arcadia
Duran Duran was so big that even their offshoots had multiple hits. Between the studio albums Seven & the Ragged Tiger & Notorious, there racked up a total of 7 Top 40 hits from Arcadia (the most Duran-sounding) along with the Power Station, and John & Andy Taylor solo. That doesn’t count the 3 Duran Duran releases that were hits too. This was the 2nd Top 40 hit from So Red The Rose peaking at #33.
35. He’ll Never Love You (Like I Do)-Freddie Jackson
The most successful Jackson on the Soul charts after Michael was Freddie racking up 8 #1s between 1985-1988. That only translated to minimal crossover action for the former Mystic Merlin singer as this rare upbeat jam was FJ’s 3rd Top 40 out of a total of 4.
34. Night Moves-Marilyn Martin
Marilyn Martin’s career was red hot as the year turned to 1986. She was coming off of a duet with Phil Collins called Separate Lives which hit #1. She sang backup on Stevie Nicks’ newly released LP, Rock A Little, including I Can’t Wait which was one week away from entering the Top 40. Plus Marilyn had her first solo Top 40, a song she co-wrote with John Parr & Jon Astley, which would peak at #28. Bu then the fickle record industry cast her aside replacing her with far less talented substitutes, though she’d team up again with Stevie singing on her 24 Carat Gold world tour in 2016.
33. Manic Monday-The Bangles
The story goes that Prince saw this band play in L.A. after the release of their first album, went home, wrote this song and offered it to them, which became their first hit, topping out at #2 while Prince’s Kiss was #1. Who’s the boss? Although I can’t imagine Prince ever had a scenario where he had to worry about being late to anything. The man knew no time. I’m sure 9AM on Monday felt the same to him as 3AM on Thursday.
32. The Sun Always Shines On TV-A-Ha
NAOHW – It’s the favorite Norwegian band of the old white guy who hangs out at My-T-Sharp barber shop in Queens.
31. Another Night-Aretha Franklin
What amazed me about the 60’s nostalgia in the 80s, the music always seemed to favor the soul artists, starting with The Big Chill soundtrack. The week features James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Dionne Warwick and Miss Aretha Franklin in the midst of her glorious 80s comeback delivering her 4th Top 40 single from Freeway of Love.
30. Let’s Go All The Way-Sly Fox
A rare blast of 70’s inspired P-Funk in 1986 mixed in with some old school hip-hop, courtesy of the Boogie Boys. Damn, how did that happen?
29. Rock Me Amadeus-Falco
Our 80s obsession with Mozart culminated with this Austrian rap “rock” hybrid tribute from Falco whose Der Kommisar was a hit for After The Fire 3 years previous. Depending on which side of the 45 you played, you either got the German rap with the ‘Ama-deus, Ama-deus‘ chorus or some mildly interested narrator giving a quick biography on Amadeus’ life. This went to #1 for 3 weeks and no doubt led to countless Baby Mozart CDs all of whose importance in making children smarter has been debunked.
28. Digital Display-Ready For The World
The pride of Flint, MI (and they need some) followed up their #1 hit Oh Sheila with this ode to a full figured girlfriend, whose digital display they were fond of playing with. What the hell does that even mean? Actually, I’m feeling some of that pride disappear.
27. (How To Be A) Millionaire-ABC
A Top 20 hit during and for one of the greediest decades. A little over a decade later we had a game show that answered this question.
26. Beat’s So Lonely-Charlie Sexton
This Top 20 song has been lost to time, even sounding out of place in 1986. Charlie, looking a cross between Matt Dillon & Edward Scissorhands, released his debut album, Pictures For Pleasure, when he was only 17. Beat’s So Lonely was his only charted Hot 100 hit.
25. This Could Be The Night-Loverboy
After releasing lots of high energy rock at the beginning of the decade, Loverboy starting slowing down, releasing more ballads and with every one it made you wish that this was your last night.
24. I’m Your Man-Wham!
Wham! kept up their string of Top 10’s with 45 release of the Motown stomp I’m Your Man. Then topped off its success with a George Michael solo record and an announcement that they were splitting up. We’ll also hear George later sing backup on Elton John’s Nikita.
23. What You Need-INXS
I was surprised when this song hit the top 40, not because it wasn’t good but because US radio had been ignoring some of the better singles of theirs, like Original Sin and This Time, the lead release from Listen Like Thieves.
22. Stages-ZZ Top
A forgotten Top 40 for a set on cruise control, writing and recording the same song over and over in the 80s. It might be about being on tour. It might be about an everchanging relationship. It might be about their portfolio growth. At least they were 30 years ahead of their time on beard grooming.
21. Sanctify Yourself-Simple Minds
Every time I heard a priest say the word sanctify in church, I immediately starting singing this song in my head. By the time I was done, so was church. Halleluiah!
So we end the first 20 with some blessings from above. Will there be more divine intervention in the final 20? I’ll write about that later in the week.
The hits get bigger while your patience gets smaller. We’re halfway up the mountain of popularity for the week of February 20, 1988.
20. Endless Summer Nights-Richard Marx
Pop radio was morphing into two factions as the 80s wore on – pop dance and pop AC. You had to pick a side to get some play and Richard was happy to pick the softer group.
19. Push It-Salt N Pepa
Otherwise known as the Bullshit song. This ‘remix’ of the original comes off as more of a club song than a rap record. It barely shows what Salt and/or Pepa can bring to the table. Luckily they had more opportunities to show us in the 90s.
18. Just Like Paradise-David Lee Roth
The fact that the bulk of Van Halen fans hung on to Van Hager proves how thin David Lee Roth’s act became. On his new album, Skyscraper, he’s a rock climber. Get the metaphor? How witty. This song still made the Top 10 and most people forget it exists.
17. Everywhere-Fleetwood Mac
See #20. Get in where you fit in. Tango In The Night was the true sequel to Rumours, where the lies and bitterness are soothed by mountains of money.
16. I Found Someone-Cher
A song co-written by Michael Bolton and once recorded by Laura Branigan was resurrected by Cher. I’ll watch Cher act in just about anything (well, anything before the surgeries) but her music career and song choices, while highly successful over many decades, is bafflingly horrible.
15. Hazy Shade Of Winter-The Bangles
For a band so influenced by 60s pop, this was inevitable and the inspired choice of an obscure Simon & Garfunkel cover was recorded for the soundtrack to Less Than Zero. They would have one more year of chart success before they split and, regardless of their many reunions, would never hit the charts again.
14. Need You Tonight-INXS
I was a big fan of INXS but with Listen Like Thieves, I saw the writing on the wall. Cut to Kick and this track, their only #1 sounded like the thinnest song in the world. The band is hardly even there. Why wasn’t this just a Michael Hutchence solo record?
13. Pump Up The Volume-M/A/R/R/S
Novelty hits were rare commodities in the late 80s, but no one could deny the power of this funky jam. Born out of a collaboration between members of A.R. Kane and Colourbox, it was highly influential in the early UK house scene and notable for a barrage of samples from James Brown, Kool & The Gang, Rakim & Chuck D as well as the Bar-Kays Holy Ghost and Ofra Haza’s Im Nin Alu. Plus the first breakdown [the before “watch me, yeah, do it”] is super fresh.
12. I Get Weak-Belinda Carlisle
It’s all in the title.
11. Can’t Stay Away From You-Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine
Every year this same group of folks would release an LP with a new band name. First Miami Sound Machine then Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine and then just Gloria Estefan so, less jarring than the John Cougar evolution, less coy than the Sergio Mendes conglomerates. A Latin band that had too many ballads.
10. I Want To Be Your Man-Roger
The only Top 40 success that Roger and/or Zapp had, save for California Love with Dr Dre & Tupac in 1996. What exactly was thinking behind a ballad with this much talkbox on it? How do you get someone in the mood blowing through a spit filled tube while your teeth are rattling out of your mouth?
9. Don’t Shed a Tear-Paul Carrack
The man who played with Ace, Squeeze, Nick Lowe, Roxy Music and Mike & the Mechanics gets his one and only Top 10 hit here, sitting at its peak. He should have had more big hits until we heard The Living Years and we banished him for life.
8. Never Gonna Give You Up-Rick Astley
See #39 or get Rick-rolled.
7. She’s Like The Wind-Patrick Swayze
The Dirty Dancing soundtrack was in full swing and was such a chart monster that they starting releasing the album filler which became hits too.
“Feel your breath in my face, your body close to me. Can’t look in your eyes. You’re out of my league.” Now think about a guy in his 30’s singing that to your 17-year-old.
6. Say You Will -Foreigner
Foreigner had one speed from 1977-1979: horndog. From 1981-1988 they had 2 speeds: horndog and tender horndog. This is from the latter.
5. Hungry Eyes-Eric Carmen
Believe it or not Eric’s last Top 40 hit was only 3 years previous to this one, but it felt like he’d been gone for a decade. Another predatory Dirty Dancing entry, but for Eric Carmen, if it made a new generation ask “Who are The Raspberries?” then so be it.
4. Father Figure-George Michael
George Michael was one talented dude. I was a fan of Wham! and all of his solo ventures. He had the world at his feet with the ability to create some deep and beautiful music that might blow our minds one day but instead, he turned away from that opportunity. That’s a story for another day.
Father Figure is a fucked up song, maybe even a cry for help, but definitely one we need to retire from public airplay. People have tried to rationalize or talk away the creepiness factor, but calling yourself a father figure to someone, wanting to be naked at their side and singing in the sexiest voice possible opens yourself up to this kind of criticism. Remember he’s not asking to be one, he’s telling and he refers to the other person repeatedly as baby, with tiny hands and the eyes of a child. The video where he plays a taxi driver stalking a model doesn’t assuage this icky feeling.
Read the lyrics and tell me what you think, because just when you think it couldn’t be about one thing his choice of words negate that. And words matter.
3. Could’ve Been-Tiffany
Just because a mall spawned her does not lessen the fact that what goes for Debbie goes for Tiffany.
2. What Have I Done To Deserve This?-Pet Shop Boys with Dusty Springfield
Something good in the Top 3. This was written for Dusty while they recorded their first album, but she passed. After the album’s success and a second plea, she accepted. Supposedly she was living in some fleabag motel after nearly a decade and a half of recording with no success in England or in the U.S. She knew that soul came from the heart, not the throat (hear that, Michael?) which is why her voice sounded so honest and true. The compliment to Neil Tennant’s near-deadpan singing style and lush production made this jump out on the radio every time it was played. I could listen to Dusty vamping, as she does at the end, forever.
1. Seasons Change-Expose
Seasons change. People change. That apathetic sentiment is not even good enough to go on a $1 Trader Joes greeting card. This was the most popular song of the week? For this to be #1 is like Geraldo opening Al Capone’s vault – all buildup, full letdown.