Sometimes it’s undeniable why something wasn’t a hit. Listen to some of The Other Sixty from the eighth chart week of the year in 1987, 1988, and 1989, and you’ll probably hear why.
February 28th, 1987
Motown Records had no idea what they were doing in the late 80s. This is third-rate Prince at its best if they couldn’t push it past #58 in a dance-heavy market, then no one could.
The Cover Girls debut came at the beginning of the freestyle dance revolution. Between them and Expose, the template was three girls, drum machines, and upbeat computer-driven music with high pitched vocals. The freestyle twist was the Latin element that was inserted into the mix to give it a spicy street feel. They played songs like this on NY radio so much, I felt like my ears would split open. It should have been left in the clubs. A #44 peak.
Patty’s debut was almost another Scandal album, but they broke up while she was recording. She ended up with rob & Eric from the Hooters playing on most of the tracks with Rick Chertoff producing. That combo worked for Cyndi Lauper, but for some reason this album didn’t click at pop radio. It’s too bad because it’s a solid offering, and the first single, the title track, will only climb to #61. It was initially recorded by Baby Grand, Eric & Rob’s first band, but with some significant lyrical & musical arrangement differences.
Herb watched Janet Jackson’s success on his record label and said, “Damn, I want some of that for my career.” So he hired Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis and Janet and released his LP, Keep Your Eye On Me. The first single was the title track, a funky fusion instrumental that’s all beats, noises, and Herb farting around on the trumpet. It will see its way up to #46, his highest Top 100 showing in five years. And Diamonds is right around the corner.
Here’s an obscure synth-rock band from Australia, who tried to break into the States with this track a few times. By early 1987 it finally charted but only reached #88. They broke up two years later. So much for love.
February 27th, 1988
This block of four songs is so light and fluffy that I better tie them to a weight, lest they float away. Stacey Q had her moment in the sun, but since she still had some of Atlantic Records money she pressed on. They were too coked out to notice anyway. Nothing ear is as catchy as Two of Hearts, and the first single, although a Top 5 dance hit, will joke around up to #66.
When the intro of a song features toy keyboard sounds (and it’s not Men Without Hats), then you must immediately shut if off, especially if you’ve already gone through puberty. This song is not for you. I don’t know who it’s for. I guess anyone who wants to “save themself” for the right “guy,” so they can be married and divorced before their 30. This lightweight dance track will hit its zenith at #50.
Anyone remember this theme outside maybe Dan Jansen’s mom or Hidy & Howdy. If we were going to do an 80s musical parody, this is what we would be making fun of. They actually released this as a single, and it skated up to #85 before falling.
No, this is not a Steppenwolf remake. I wish it was that good. This is what happens when you photocopy Stacey Q three times. The track is virtually see-through, as in I can see an A&R guy laughing his head off with his coke dealer, showing him a copy of Billboard the week this song peaked at #81.
February 25th, 1989
I’m not sure why The Fixx has such sporadic success. How does a song like Secret Separation become a Top 20 and a single like Driven Out, which is just as good if not better peter out at #55 even as it becomes a #1 record at rock radio? They’ll have another Top 40 single in 1991 with How Much Is Enough? but that will be it for them.
Ivan Neville’s debut sounds like it was recorded for a Tom Cruise movie sequence where he stares off into the distance after screwing up yet another relationship. So he gets into his car, hits the steering wheel a few times, and drives through the desert with his hand on his head. This “duet” with Bonnie Raitt is debuting at its peak.
This is listed as a duet, but Kiara is two people, so really, this is a three-way. That’s the most interesting thing I can say about this ballad. It will hit #2 on the R&B charts as it crosses over to #78 Pop showing. Shanice is gonna love your smile in 1992, so keep brushing your teeth.
If you’re looking for some barely memorable easy dance-pop with house music influences, then you are in the right place my friend. This one did the sprinkler up to #78 before getting kicked of the Club MTV tour.
Fun fact: Gina co-wrote What Comes Naturally, a Top 20 hit for Sheena Easton in 1991 and Downtown for SWV, the B-side to Right Here (Human Nature Remix).
Here’s a track that jumped out of your radio speakers, even though I think that the first time I heard was on VH-1. Produced by Pete Wingfield, it’s a funky organic groove with soulful harmonies on top as they pay tribute to Soul greats of the pasts. It may have been too strange for radio in 1989 as you couldn’t transition in and out of it (their thinking, not mine). Five years later, it would have worked perfectly. It was a Top 10 in the UK and on the US Soul charts, but only #52 pop.