Learning That Life Is OK

aha

A few days after Christmas in 1985, my dad was offered two tickets to the Giants game. It was their first home playoff game in decades, my first NFL game and it was against one of the best teams in the NFC, the 49ers. The Giants defense smothered Joe Montana & Roger Craig. It was an awesome victory on a great wintry Sunday. But since it meant we’d be driving through the city, all I cared about was the opportunity of getting the new Billboard magazine. I made my dad stop endless times on Manhattan street corners to ask newspaper salesman for a copy but to no avail. I decided right then to ask my parents for the money, gradually paying them back for that subscription. The issues started coming in the mail a few weeks later. Life would be OK.

Why am I bringing that up? Because most of these songs remind me of that time as they were in the Top 40 that day. My dad and I listened to Casey count them down on our way to the Meadowlands.

Now here’s the Top 20 from November 16th, 1985.

20. Loverboy – Lovin’ Every Minute Of It

If you close your eyes, focus and listen to this song, can you tell the difference between this and Pour Some Sugar On Me?

19. ZZ Top – Sleeping Bag

Once ZZ Top made the transition to drum machines towards a New Wave sound with Eliminator, it was interesting to see where they would take it with their new album, Afterburner. The answer? Nowhere. Hell, they even called the follow-up, Recycler.

This is on its way up to #8, matching the peak of Legs. Lyrically it’s hard to know if the song is a metaphor for condoms or an advertisement for Coleman.

18. Arcadia – Election Day

THW – Ever wonder what Duran Duran would sound like without any guitar edge or funky bass? Well then, here you go with this future Top 10. And what great timing – it was in the Top 40 during the week of Election Day here in the US. Unfortunately, there was nothing important for us to vote on.

17. Tina Turner – One Of The Living

One year ago, Tina capped off an incredible comeback with a #1. Since that time, she continued to build a successful solo career in entertainment including a starring role in the third Mad Max film, Beyond Thunderdome. This was her second single from the soundtrack and it’s two spots away from its high. It would win Tina a Best Female Rock Grammy and features one of the most hilarious sax solos I’ve ever heard.

16. Bryan Adams – One Night Love Affair

Bradams had six Top 20 hits from Reckless, such as this one dropping from #13. But so many of them sounded the same, they rarely get heard on radio anymore. One track usually covers it all.

15. David Foster – Love Theme From St. Elmo’s Fire (Instrumental)

OHW – Here’s a dude who first hit the Top 40 as the keyboardist in the band Skylark who had a #9 hit in 1973 called Wildflower. Since that time he became a well respected and successful producer, mostly with the band Chicago. This is his only Top 40 hit as a solo artist, a single released from the Brat Pack whinefest, St. Elmo’s Fire.

14. Whitney Houston – Saving All My Love For You

PD – I wonder how many couples played this at their wedding without realizing it was a cheating song. And when the line you got your family and they need you there comes up, is that when the newlyweds freeze on the dancefloor and have the DJ quickly change it to Every Breath You Take?

13. A-Ha – Take On Me

THW, PD – Who would have thought that the most enduring song in 2019 from this countdown would be Take On Me? It has been used in countless movies and TV shows and its video is approaching one billion views on YouTube. Maybe it’s the mine diamonds? [listen at your own peril]

12. Freddie Jackson – You Are My Lady

Now this is a newlywed first dance with no hidden agenda, just a lot of love and female appreciation from Mr. Freddie Jackson. It will be his biggest pop hit, currently resting at its zenith.

11. Aretha Franklin – Who’s Zoomin’ Who

I thought who’s on first. The Queen is about to get her second Top 10 hit with the title track from her 1985 LP.

10. Thompson Twins – Lay Your Hands On Me

This song was over a year old before it hit the US Top 10. How old was the song? It was recorded at the same time that Foreigner was recording I Want To Know What Love Is, which is why Tom Bailey sings backup on that track. Possibly inspired by their song, Tom and gang hired their own gospel choir for the re-recording of the album version when Nile Rodgers came onboard to produce.

9. ABC – Be Near Me

Half of this Top 10 features future, current or former #1s. This is not one of them but it’s the first Top 10 hit for ABC and a great rebound for the band. For some reason, their 1983 LP Beauty Stab bombed out. So they took some extra time to recharge, changed out some band members and voila- the biggest hit of their career, to date.

8. Heart – Never

Here’s another Holly Knight-penned track (also #17) which they will take up to #5 toning down the guitars and upping the synths chimes.

7. Mr. Mister – Broken Wings

The story goes that Richard Page, writer of this #1 hit, was sitting in a bar and someone played this song on the jukebox. The man, sitting next to Page was a few drinks in and says aloud, “Hey this song is a rip off of The Beatles’ song Blackbird. How dare they steal from the masters. Boy if I could ever meet the person who wrote this piece of crap….” wherein Richard turns to the guy and says, “What did you want to tell me?”

6. Phil Collins & Marilyn Martin – Separate Lives

This will go to #1 by the end of November. The song, written by Phil’s pal Stephen Bishop has an overblown dramatic 80s production. If you listen to Stephen sing it with just a guitar, his performance gets to the heart of that bittersweet feeling knowing someone you once loved has moved on from you when you have not.

5. Stevie Wonder – Part-Time Lover

This was Stevie’s last #1 to date with Luther Vandross on backing vocals. Another cheating song that relies on telephone signals before star 69, smartphones and do-not-call lists.

4. Tears For Fears – Head Over Heels

TFF slips from last week’s high of #3, a track from Songs From The Big Chair that I always crank when I hear it. A seemingly simple romantic song that goes incredibly south with the line it’s hard to be a man when there’s a gun in your hand. It makes you go back and ask why he wanted to be with you alone. Talk about the weather? Eh, it might be time to shout.

3. Jan Hammer – Miami Vice Theme

OHW – The man known as the synth whiz of the Mahavishnu Orchestra falls out of the top spot with the theme from Miami Vice. It’s an odd hit for an instrumental because it has no discernible melody to it. It’s all just substance and style…oh wait, now I get it.

2. Glenn Frey – You Belong To The City

Another track from the Miami Vice soundtrack and another solo track of Glenn’s that will just miss the top. If it makes him feel any better, Henley never made it this high.

1. Starship – We Built This City (1 wk at #1) 

And jumping up from #5, here’s Starship’s first #1, Jefferson or not. It’s also one of the most reviled hits from the 80s. The song truly benefitted from lots of MTV airtime. But why would a hip music channel play a song from rock dinosaurs? Because the DJ on the song was Les Garland, an executive at MTV, who then turned around and gave Grace Slick’s daughter, China Kantner a job as a VJ. Cause we built this city on favors and nepotism.

KEY

  • OHW – One-Hit-Wonder
  • THW – Two-Hit-Wonder
  • ML – Misheard Lyrics
  • PD – Previously Discussed
  • PFK – Perfect for Karaoke
  • RAR – Rite-Aid Rock
  • SXMFU – A Sirius XM mistake
  • STA – Second Time Around

Exchange The Experience

kb

Somewhere during this time, I became obsessed with Billboard magazine. It wasn’t easy to buy one anywhere near where I lived. I had to go to the local library and they were usually behind a week, sometimes maybe two. During an architecture class I took in junior high, we had a substitute for a week and somehow it came up during our musical discussions that her brother worked for Billboard. In the next class, she brought in a stack of back issues. I spent the next few weeks reading them from cover to cover over and over. That was it. I was going to get a subscription. I needed one. Even though it was going to cost over $100, I was gonna figure out a way to swing it.

Here’s the first twenty of the 40 biggest hits from November 16th, 1985.

40. Dire Straits – Walk Of Life

This will be the second Top 10 hit from the multi-platinum Brothers In Arms LP. And it comes with two videos – one which is a band performance and one with sports bloopers. The latter was played to the delight of many a baseball crowd especially if your stadium had a Jumbotron.

39. John Cougar Mellencamp – Lonely Ol’ Night

PD – JCM is pulling a deuce off the Top 40 deck. This is a former Top 10 hit for him, while his next one enters at #36.

38. The Cars – Tonight She Comes

Originally intended for a Ric Ocasek solo album, it was instead recorded by the Cars and included on their first great Hits compilation. It’s about as straightforward a pop song as you’ll ever hear from them and it will drive itself up to #7.

37. Starpoint – Object Of My Desire

OHW – It wouldn’t be too long in the 80s before all dance music was made by producers. But until then here’s the Maryland sextet with a single from their seventh album which finally crossed over into the Top 40. It will flat line at #25.

36. John Cougar Mellencamp – Small Town

He’s from a small town, lives in one, gonna die in one. And that’s OK with him. In reality, he has multiple homes so who knows where he’s gonna die. And wouldn’t you know it? He married an L.A. doll and took her to his small town.

35. Kate Bush – Running Up That Hill

OHW – Kate’s one and only US Top 40 will run up and stop at #30. This song just grabs me by the chest and flings me around like a trailer ina hurricane until I end up on some island far from where I started.

For those like me who think she should be in the RARHOF, it will never happen. But it absolutely should. Here are a few fun facts about Kate:

  1. She had a #1 hit in England with a song she wrote called Wuthering Heights. She was only 19.
  2. She only performed on one tour back in 1979, in which she created all of the costumes, dance choreography, and set design. It necessitated her crew to rig a wireless mic for performance before they even existed.
  3. She was one of the first musicians to record with a Fairlight Synthesizer, which cost at the time over $10000.
  4. She influenced almost an entire generation of singer/songwriters that came after her, not just Tori Amos. Prince and Johnny Rotten were publicly big fans of hers as well.
  5. She is incredibly kick-ass.

34. Ray Parker Jr. – Girls Are More Fun

For those of you who weren’t sure if Ray Parker was homophobic, look no further than this song. Granted most of us were still trying to understand how to be accepting towards the gay community as well as what AIDS was, but most of us weren’t trying to make money from our ignorance. This was his last Top 40 hit.

33. Elton John – Wrap Her Up

And then there’s the flip side, where we have two guys still trying to put uphold a straight male image, even to the extreme where they treat women as gifts that you buy. We’ll blame those stupid lyrics on Bernie Taupin, who was too coked out to be worth a damn by this time. [spoiler alert – he has another poorly worded tune further up the charts].

At least it sounds like George Michael & Elton are having fun, especially as they do a call out to some of the great ladies of the day. George gets two callbacks – one for Doris Day, who he mentions in Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go and Kiki Dee, who sang Don’t Go Breaking My Heart with Elton in 1976. And she sings back up on this song too. Elton gets a nice callback with Billie Jean King. He wrote Philadelphia Freedom with her tennis team in mind and tribute to.

Probably no one in the US knew who Samantha Fox was and that’s a dubious callout, George. The full group of ladies is mentioned on the album version and might be the only song ever to include shout outs to Linda Lovelace, Superwoman and Nancy Reagan.

32. Lionel Richie – Say You Say Me

RAR – You know, I had a dream once. An awesome one. But it’s probably too explicit to talk about, though it did include playing games in the dark. This single from the film White Nights, which will not be on the soundtrack for some reason, will spend a month at #1 and win a Best Song Oscar.

31. Eurythmics & Aretha Franklin – Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves

PFK – This will be the first of three duets that Aretha will record with White British artists and have success within the 80s. It was offered to Tina Turner who was unavailable, so the Queen graced the song with her presence instead. It also features three Heartbreakers as the band – Mike Campbell, Stan Lynch & Benmont Tench. And it will strut its way up to #18 as well as top out at #9 in the UK.

30. The Hooters – And We Danced

Coming off of a Live Aid performance watched by millions, The Hooters finally started to have some chart success as their first Top 40 single is doing the Carlton all the way up to #21.

29. Ready For The World – Oh Sheila

PD – I think it’s hilarious that people used to or still think this former #1 is a Prince song. Do you think in a million years he would write a lyric such as I want to di a di da li, a di da li da loo? Prince burped songs like this out daily and he probably didn’t even record most of them.

28. Sting – Fortress Around Your Heart

Gordo is about to have another Top 10 with this track from The Dream Of Blue Turtles, supposedly inspired by the breakup of his first marriage. It’s also one of my favorites of his. Sting has had a longer second marriage, presumably because he’s learned to touch her during sex.

He’s a hard man to find. But not hard enough.

27. Paul Young – I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down

Paul’s playhouse is tumbling down the charts after a high of #13. His 80s re-working of the Ann Peebles Hi-Records recording is very different from the original. Graham Parker & the Rumour also recorded a version on their 1977 LP, Stick To Me. The UK band Stone Foundation recorded it earlier this year as a duet with Graham Parker with Paul Weller on piano. I love em all!

26. Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – So In Love

OMD finally crosses into the Top 40 with the first of four US hits for them, though it’s at its peak this week. The song’s success paved the way for the band to record a song for the next John Hughes movie called Pretty In PinkIf You Leave became their biggest charting hit.

I wore out the album Crush on my Walkman. I even tried to pass off Woman III as my own in poetry class until some new wave punk outed me. At least he had good taste. Also, the song 88 Seconds in Greensboro is worth a revisit during our current political climate.

25. Scritti Politti – Perfect Way

OHW – More synth-pop that deserves its post, so one is forthcoming.

24. Eddie Murphy – Party All The Time

THW – Scoff all you want at this Rick James-produced hit. If this recording session never happens, then neither does this.

23. Klymaxx – I Miss You

RAR – Klymaxx was the first all-female, all African-American band to play their own instruments to hit the Top 40. That they did it with a sappy ballad from their fourth album is not the point. It’s just amazing that it happened at all. Don’t think so? Name the second band to achieve this feat.

22. Simple Minds – Alive & Kicking

Here’s another band who benefitted from a John Hughes movie soundtrack. They used it to springboard them into further prosperity. The first single from Once Upon A Time, another cassette I wore down to the nubs, is climbing up to a #3 zenith. Also, it’s pronounced sample moynds.

21. Olivia Newton-John – Soul Kiss

Livvy took four years to record a studio follow-up to her Physical LP. If you thought that album was forward, this one is like soft porn. Did the album come with a cigarette for afterward? This will be her last Top 40 hit.

Fun fact: Katey Sagal, at the time, still trying to pursue a music career sings back up. Within a year and a half from this song’s peak, she’ll begin a ten-year career playing Peg Bundy on Married…With Children.

KEY

  • OHW – One-Hit-Wonder
  • THW – Two-Hit-Wonder
  • ML – Misheard Lyrics
  • PD – Previously Discussed
  • PFK – Perfect for Karaoke
  • RAR – Rite-Aid Rock
  • SXMFU – A Sirius XM mistake
  • STA – Second Time Around

 

 

When Explanations Make No Sense

sos

From November 7th, 1987, here are the Top 20 songs that they say we were listening to most.

20. Sting – We’ll Be Together

After proving he could be a successful solo star, Sting-a-ling-a-ding-dong started to wear cable-knit sweaters and crawl up his own butt. I’m assuming it’s a tantric position. He still kept me as a fan, because he made such instantly catchy tracks like this one on its way up to the Top 10.

19. Poison – I Won’t Forget You

I prefer Goodbye Stranger. Cause if you’re gonna bullshit me, make it sound good.

18. R.E.M. – The One I Love

The first songs I ever learned to play on a guitar were R.E.M. songs – Driver 8So. Central Rain and this one. It was simple chord driven rock, perfect to throw in an amateur band’s playlist. But simple does not mean easy nor does it mean shallow and it took me years to figure out how screwed up this future Top 10 hit was.

17. Prince – U Got The Look

PD – This is the second collaboration with Sheena Easton to result in a Top 10 hit, with the first being Sugar Walls. Although this is a duet, she is not credited as such on the artist title. Maybe it was a record company thing, but it’s a glaring omission.

16. Cutting Crew – I’ve Been In Love Before

Any time I see an Asplundh truck coming down my street, I break into I just died in your arms tonight. But they had another Top 10 hit and this mellow number is slicing its way up to #9.

15. Kenny G – Don’t Make Me Wait For Love

STA – I’m not gonna crap on Kenny G. You either like his sound or not. I don’t care for it, but the dude is talented. I mean he played with the Love Unlimited Orchestra when he was still a teenager. When he has vocalists, such as Tower Of Power’s Lenny Williams sing on his songs, it helps to minimize the saxiness. This was the first single from Duotones which flamed out at #77 on the Soul charts. On its re-release, it will get to #17 and #15 pop, where it peaks this week.

14. Richard Marx – Should’ve Known Better

If you don’t like Richard Marx music, then at least read his Twitter feed. It’s very entertaining and only lasts 2-3 seconds at a clip.

13. U2 – Where The Streets Have No Name

The third single from The Joshua Tree is at its high this week. And if you enjoy this song, you’ll be surprised to know that the album version is made up of edits from various takes because it was so hard to get one perfect continuous recording. Even though I had the album, I bought the 45 because it had two killer B-sides: Silver & Gold and Sweetest Thing, both of which got significant airplay on WLIR in New York.

Pet Shop Boys did a medley of this and Frankie Valli’s Can’t Take My Eyes Off You in 1991.

12. Levert – Casanova

OHW, PD – This falls out of the Top 10 this week after a peak of #5. This New Jack beat would be ripped off many times for songs such as Paula Abdul’s Straight Up and Donny Somond’s Soldier Of Love.

11. Belinda Carlisle – Heaven Is A Place On Earth

Belinda Carlisle’s ode to atheism will be a future number one. Also, do I know what what’s worth?

10. Pet Shop Boys – It’s A Sin

Pet Shop Boys’ ode to the uselessness of Catholicism is on its way to #9. It will be their third Top 10 in just about a year and a half’s time.

Also, DJ, child molester and general piece of shit, Jonathan King accused PSB of ripping off Cat Stevens’ Wild World on this song. He went as far as recording Wild World with a synth arrangement to prove his point, debasing both tunes in the process. PSB sued him, won and donated the money to charity.

9. Expose – Let Me Be The One

PD – Fine, you’re the one. Now come go with me to the point of no return before the seasons change.

8. Bruce Springsteen – Brilliant Disguise

After the ridiculous success of Born in The USA, Bruce was now set up to do the exact kind of music he wanted for the rest of his life – personal, unflinching looks at life in chaos and repair. This isn’t quite Nebraska, but he was on his way with this #5 gem.

7. Swing Out Sister – Breakout

THW, RAR – This song had already made the UK Top 10 a year previous to its US Top 10 appearance. It will eventually top out at #6. It’s another song that I was rocking during the Summer when radio is still too slow in picking up new artists. One of the reasons this song still gets heard besides its very pleasant and uplifting vibe is the fact that it was #1 on the AC charts.

6. Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes – I’ve Had The Time Of My Life

This will be #1 by Thanksgiving. I still can’t believe this B-movie and music were successful. They’re both so hackneyed and cheesy, way more than anything the real Borscht Belt could have ever produced. But somehow the public ate this up. The song will even win an Oscar the following year.

One weekend when I was traveling to Lake Lure, I stumbled upon a Dirty Dancing festival, as this was where the film was primarily shot. I peaked into a room of about 12-15 senior citizens shagging to this song at full volume. Nobody put anything in the corner.

5. Michael Jackson – Bad

By the time this album came out, no one was saying bad as in good anymore. Even white folk like Huey Lewis was clarifying that bad is bad as to not be confused with good, back in 1983. Even though MJ would rack up five #1s, including this one, it started to feel like he was behind the curve rather than innovating anymore.

Also, who could forget this? You ain’t nothin’!

4. Fleetwood Mac – Little Lies

RAR – F Mac settled in nicely to their new role as adult contemporaries with the Tango In The Night LP and Christine McVie-sung track which will be their last Top 10 hit in the US, although they will continue to have AC hits into the early 2000s.

3. Billy Idol – Mony Mony

I’ve always hated Billy’s cover of this song which was one of the first things he recorded in 1981. It bombed back then, but I guess enough people were playing it at parties that he thought to release a live version in 1987. It will go to #1 in two weeks, completing the rare feat of swapping one Tommy James cover for another. Get laid. Get f—d!

2. Madonna – Causing A Commotion

Only Madonna can pull off the rare accomplishment of having songs that almost went to #1 be forgotten by most of the public. Maybe it’s because’s it’s never been released on any of her greatest hits collections. And maybe Madonna has tried to pretend this song doesn’t exist because it reminds her of her volatile and violent relationship with Sean Penn.

1. Tiffany – I Think We’re Alone Now (1 wk at #1)

Children be-haaaave. And start saving up your babysitting money. Because Tiffany’s is appearing this Saturday just outside of the Jeans Junction next to the Ah!Nuts! kiosk at the Valley View Mall in Sunny Grove. She’ll be butchering your favorite 60s classics from the Beatles and Tommy James & the Shondells. No one over eleven will be allowed at this event.

KEY

  • OHW – One-Hit-Wonder
  • THW – Two-Hit-Wonder
  • PD – Previously Discussed
  • PFK – Perfect for Karaoke
  • RAR – Rite-Aid Rock
  • STA – Second Time Around
  • WPWFU – White People, We F(_)cked Up

 

Like Jazz On A Summer Day

swv

Was the Billboard Top 40 a reflection of our likes and tastes? Or was the Top 40 a boardroom concoction by the record industry and us their faithful slaves? I ask that because many times I see songs that were “hits” but were never heard on the radio nor were they listened to by anyone I knew. Are you telling me there were enough pre-teens and I assume various creeps that bought and supported Tiffany & Debbie Gibson enough for them to have longer careers over Terence Trent D’Arby or Neneh Cherry? This chart seems so arbitrary. I wonder how accurate the data truly was.

My point being is this is someone’s Top 40, but it ain’t mine. It is not a reflection of what I or any of my friends were listening to in late 87 and we liked pop music. We listened to the radio. We lived and died by our favorite stations. They said more about us than anything else we did. We were consumers, hungry for new material. We bought what we loved and we wore out the grooves. Where are those songs?

This chart is a lie. It never existed, not this way unless it was on an A&R rep’s balance sheet.

Anyhoo, here are the first twenty of the top 40 songs that were forced upon us during the week of November 7th, 1987.

40. Michael Bolton – That’s What Love Is All About

WPWFU – This was Michael’s first Top 40 hit and it will climb up to #19. It was produced by Keith Diamond who had his hand in some of Billy Ocean’s hits such as Suddenly.

39. Heart – Who Will You Run To?

PD – Heart’ second Top 10, written by Diane Warren from Bad Animals is just about out of juice. It’s their sixth Top 10 hit within a two year period, which is amazing considering they only garnered two during the first ten years of their career.

38. Whitney Houston – So Emotional

Here’s another future Whitney #1 comin’ atcha, which will be her sixth in a row. And here’s another fun stat – this song is written by Billy Steinberg & Tom Kelly who had at least one song hit #1 for five straight years between 1985-1989.

37. Yes – Love Will Find A Way

It’s been four years since 90215 and Yes is back in the Top 40 with the first single from Big Generator. It was written by Trevor Rabin with Stevie Nicks in mind to record it for her next album.

36. Wa Wa Nee – Sugar Free

OHW – No one is going to mistake this song for Prince, but his influence is mighty strong on this slab of decent funk-pop from Australia. It will inch up one more notch before going into insulin shock and falling off the charts.

35. Stevie Winwood – Valerie

STA, RAR – Originally released as a single off of Talking Back To The Night in 1982, it only climbed to #70. In 1987 it got the Tom Lord-Alge remix treatment and now on its way into the Top 10 and a #9 show. The Valerie in question was singer Valerie Carter who was Will Jennings’ inspiration when he wrote this.

34. Europe – Carrie

PD – Even though this song is over thirty years old, I have yet to run into someone named Carrie that’s under 35. Or Valerie, for that matter.

33. The Cars – You Are The Girl

This is the last week of the last Top 40 song for The Cars. It peaked at #17 a few weeks ago and it’s the rare Cars song that features both Ric Ocasek and Benjamin Orr on lead vocals.

Fun fact: John Waters directed the video.

32. Stevie Wonder – Skeletons

This is the answer to the trivia question – What was Stevie Wonder’s last Top 40 hit? It will reach the Top 20, peaking at #19, but will hit #1 on the R&B charts.

31. REO Speedwagon – In My Dreams

In my dreams, this four minutes of boredom is replaced by Terence Trent D’arby’s If You Let Me Stay or Donna Summer’s Dinner With Gershwin both of which languished under the Top 40 which this one took up oxygen above it.

30. Whitesnake – Is This Love

A song originally written with Tina Turner in mind becomes the band’s second big hit. The video also featured more Tawny Kitaen, this time in lingerie. She will marry David Coverdale in 1989.

Fun fact: Ever wonder who the musicians are in this video? They were just stand-ins with shadows on their faces because the original band members who recorded the album were all fired just before it was released. Man, that’s gotta hurt.

29. Pretty Poison – Catch Me (I’m Falling)

THW – The band Poison is further up the charts, but the Pretty version is right here. It’s falling its way up to its zenith of #8. The song was originally released as a single from the soundtrack to the Jon Cryer film, Hiding Out, in which he plays a NY stockbroker who “hides out ‘ from the mafia in North Carolina as a high school student named Maxwell Hauser. It’s as bad as it sounds.

28. Whitesnake – Here I Go Again

PD – Whitesnake is double-dipping this week with a future #2 and this, a former #1.

27. George Michael – Faith

If you grew up in New York in the 70s & 80s, it was always a question of who was the bigger George Michael – the man back-announcing disco tracks on WABC and giving color commentary for the Islanders games? Or was it the singer from Wham!? After this song hits the top for a full month, the Sports Machine would always rank #2.

26. Jody Watley – Don’t You Want Me

After Jody’s second single, Still A Thrill (her best on an album of great dance singles) failed to make the Top 40, you’d be remiss to think she lost her momentum. Instead, she would have two more Top 10 smashes from her debut with this one climbing the charts for an eventual #6 posting.

25. Timothy B. Schmit – Boys Night Out

OHW – After a career singing lead and playing bass for Poco and the Eagles, this will be Timmy’s only Top 40 hit, sitting at its high this week. It’s the second Will Jennings co-write in the Top 40.

24. Debbie Gibson – Shake Your Love

The single says that Debbie wrote this herself and sure, I believe it. I have little kids and they come up with songs like this every day. I also have the restraint and good taste not to drag them into a recording studio and force the public to listen and buy them.

23. Squeeze – Hourglass

THW – This will be the highest-charting song in the US by Squeeze, one of my favorite bands. It will eventually reach #15 with a Dali-inspired video to match. I had purchased the 12″ as a UK import in July and played the hell out of it all Summer. And I was surprised and delighted that pop radio spun it and others dug it too.

22. Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam – Lost In Emotion

PD – After reaching the top, LL has been tossed down to #22. And unfortunately, they will never have a song chart as high as this one is ever again.

21. Los Lobos – Come On, Let’s Go

THW – Los Lobos’ cover of Richie Valens’ Come On Let’s Go fared much better than the original which is sitting at its peak this week. Richie’s version only made it to #42 back in 1958. Both Richie and the Wolves are two-hit wonders.

KEY

  • OHW – One-Hit-Wonder
  • THW – Two-Hit-Wonder
  • PD – Previously Discussed
  • PFK – Perfect for Karaoke
  • RAR – Rite-Aid Rock
  • STA – Second Time Around
  • WPWFU – White People, We F(_)cked Up

 

 

Bring Your Jukebox Money

b52s

I’ve discussed the first twenty songs from November 4th, 1989, so I feel like I shouldn’t keep you hanging with the next twenty. Here it is in all its glory, which isn’t much. Also, we’re only two months away from the release of Iron John. There has to be a connection here somewhere.

20. Soul II Soul featuring Caron Wheeler – Back To Life

THW – Soul II Soul followed up their big hit Keep On Movin’ with an even bigger smash. Caron Wheeler does the vocals on this one as well. Featuring the Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra and that familiar Jazzy B shuffle, this will make it into the Top 5 and win a Grammy for Best R&B Group Performance.

Fun fact: Caron Wheeler was a member of Afrodiziak, a trip of women who performed backing vocals on hits such as Howard Jones’ Things Can Only Get Better and Elvis Costello’s Everyday I Write The Book along with other New Wave classics such as The Jam’s Beat Surrender and the Special AKA’s Free Nelson Mandela.

19. Babyface – It’s No Crime

Kenny Edmunds aka Babyface gave his solo career another try with his second album, Tender Lover. This time its first single made the Top 10 climbing to #7 as well as #1 Soul. It would spawn four Top 40 hits including another Top 10 in 1990 called Whip Appeal.

18. Poco – Call It Love

The commercial Breakthrough of 1978’s Legend did not last long into the 80s and the lineup continued to shuffle. After a five year hiatus, the original band of Richie Furay, Randy Meisner, Rusty Young, George Grantham, and Jim Messina got together one more time and recorded Legend, which featured two Top 40 hits, including this one that sits at its peak. After this album, these five guys would never record or tour live again.

17. Alice Cooper – Poison

Alice spent most of the 80s trying to get his personal life together. He started recording again towards the end of the decade and scored this surprise Desmond Child-produced hit in 1989 which will rise to #7. It was a great reminder that AC was doing better higher quality glam metal way before the second copy that ate up a lot of MTV bandwidth in the late 80s.

Also, remember that time when people were shocked to see that Alice Cooper plays golf?

16. Richard Marx – Angelia

This will be Marx’s seventh Top 5 hit in a row when this reaches #4. Do you know any 30-year olds with that name?

15. Tina Turner – The Best

Shouldn’t a song that’s called The Best be number one for like 72 weeks? If if it’s not, is it a disappointment or at least false advertising? Cause this one isn’t gonna go any farther than where it is now, even with an Edgar Winter sax solo.

Fun fact: Bonnie Tyler recorded and released this first in 1988 and it bombed. I’m sure someone enjoyed the irony of that.

14. Elton John – Healing Hands

Elton records them. We buy them. That’s the deal we made with him a long time ago, regardless if he’s writing jingles for Jergen’s lotion.

13. New Kids On The Block – Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind)

WPWFU, STA –  There’s a reason why this bombed out in 1986. It is absolutely horrible. It’s why dick-in-a-box is so funny. A bunch of white wannabe street kids from South Bahston should go nowhere near this Delfonics classic. If we need another version, leave it to the professionals.

12. Milli Vanilli – Blame It On The Rain

This song, written by Diane Warren, will eventually become their third number one in 1989. I drove my car into the front window of a carpet store once. When the manager came out and shouted at me, I shrugged and calmly replied, “The rain. It was the rain.” That didn’t work, so there’s one more Milli Vanilli lie to throw on the fire.

11. Young MC – Bust A Move

THW – Marvin Young is a rapper with adequate flow, but his strength is his ability to find a pop hook. He co-wrote two big hits for Tone Loc, Wild Thing & Funky Cold Medina and with live bass by Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers and a sweet sample from Ballin’Jack, he had his first and only Top 10 hit.

10. The B-52’s – Love Shack

If you see a faded sign by the side of the road that says 15 miles to the…wedding reception, turn your car around.

9. Paula Abdul – (It’s Just) The Way You Love Me

STA – A cold Paula couldn’t get this one up any higher than 88 in 1988. A hot Paula took it up to #3 in 1989.

Fun fact: The song was one of the first videos produced by David Fincher, director of Seven. I forgot, what’s in the box?

8. Motley Crue – Dr. Feelgood

I’m not a Crue fan by any means, but even I can’t deny the funky backbeat on this one.

7. Bobby Brown – Rock Wit’Cha

Bobby Beeeee’s Don’t Be Cruel album is still churning out the hits. As it peaks this week, it becomes BB’s fifth Top 10 from the aforementioned LP and his sixth within a year.

6. Aerosmith – Love In An Elevator

How long is an average elevator ride? 15 seconds? 30 seconds tops? Doesn’t say much for Steven Tyler’s prowess, does it?

5. Bad English – When I See You Smile

Folks if you love sap so much, go plant your own maple tree.

4. Tears For Fears – Sowing The Seeds Of Love

This song deserved a more in-depth look, so here it is. Also, SXM played the single version on their Big 40 Countdown. WHY? No need to shave off two minutes on a non-commercial station. Play the whole song.

3. Janet Jackson – Miss You Much

Janet falls from the top spot but before securing a full month up there making it the song to garner the most #1 weeks of 1989.

2. New Kids On The Block – Cover Girl

WPWFU – How did we (not me, you) think this was the second-best song in the country one week after we (me, not you) think that about Tears For Fears?

Also, they were one of six acts to have multiple number ones this year: Phil Collins, Fine Young Cannibals, Milli Vanilli, Paula Abdul and…

1. Roxette – Listen To Your Heart

There’s nothing bad about this song but I don’t ever need to hear it again. Just flush this entire year down the toilet, even if a few good ones go down with it.

KEY

  • OHW – One-Hit-Wonder
  • THW – Two-Hit-Wonder
  • PD – Previously Discussed
  • PFK – Perfect for Karaoke
  • RAR – Rite-Aid Rock
  • STA – Second Time Around
  • WPWFU – White People, We F(_)cked Up

 

Time To Eat All Your Words

tff

The dearth of good pop(ular) music in the late 80s really increased during 1988, so when 1989 rolled around and we were subjected to Milli Vanilli and New Kids On the Block ruling the charts, my ship of expectations ran aground and sank. Then out of nowhere, this happened:

Using The Beatles’ I Am the Walrus as the keyboard template, slow but building repetitive drum fills give way to a burst of anger, regret and desperation before the chorus reveals a “but…” – an inspirational message of hope. Anything is possible when you’re sowing the seeds of love. 

Tears For Fears debuted their first new music to the public in four years with this beautiful pop pathway filled with aural sunflowers. And what a long road it was to get here. I mean, how do you follow-up a mega-smash like Songs From the Big Chair? I don’t know. I guess neither did they as it took multiple recording attempts to produce this and the album they wrote and recorded previously was scrapped. They’d have to start over. Get back to the farm and figure out a new crop.

They put their hands back in the soil and came up with The Seeds of Love. It would be a Top 10 platinum album and its first single Sowing The Seeds of Love, written in response to the re-election of Margaret Thatcher, would hit #2, held out of the top spot by Janet Jackson’s Miss You Much.

Unfortunately, success would come at a price. The record company overextended itself financially in allowing the band to rack up huge recording costs. This would cause friction between Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith, causing the latter to leave the band after this tour. They would not record together again for over a decade.

So I’m thankful this record even exists as it restored my faith that good much can be successful too. The album grew through many multiple musician jam sessions in the studio that the band would later edit into finished songs. Not very efficient, but very effective. And isn’t that the point? How many attempts do you think it would take to get your band to naturally swing like that at the 3:29 mark of STSOL? Amazingly, the record company allowed them the time and money to make this.

I got to see the band live for the first time in 2010 with my wife as she was very pregnant with our daughter. The goosebumps have yet to settle down on my arms. Thirty years later I think about read it in the books in the crannies and the nooks, there are books to read and I shudder at its current poignancy. But then again I wonder if lines like an end to need and the politics of greed somehow made it into my little girl’s baby head and I begin to feel hopeful again.

Side note: The line kick out the Style, bring back the Jam might have been lost on the American audience. They were referring to Paul Weller’s first two bands – the Jam, simmering political post-punk and the Style Council, the seemingly bourgeois samba-loving jet setters. Using them as metaphors they hinted that we should aspire to be the Jam, standing up for our rights rather than the Style Council, who seemed to emulate the 1%. But even fans of both bands would agree that the Style Council was the more socially attune and politically aware of the two, as the cardigans and loafers were more of a send-up than an actual lifestyle.

Consider the opening lines of the Style Council’s 1985 UK 10, Walls Come Tumbling Down:

You don’t have to take this crap. You don’t have to sit back and relax. 

You can actually try changing things.

Does that sentiment sound familiar?

High time, we made a stand and shook up the views of the common man.

Another side note: In listening to TFF’s music, I’ve often remarked on how orchestral it sounds. I have always wanted to do a classical interpretation with a full orchestra, band, and chorus with guitar, bass, and lead vocals. If I ever do, this song would be my finale.

 

My Appetite Is Love

2lc

I can’t believe Taylor Swift wrote an album in tribute to 1989. But then again she didn’t have to experience it firsthand. I’m sure she barely remembers the two weeks she was alive during this year. In fact, her mom was still carrying her during the week of November 4th, 1989. Was she listening to pop radio? Did any of these songs get through to her? Which of these tracks made her want to Shake It Off?

Full disclosure on the record sleeve: the lyrics to most of the first 20 songs are so bland and formulaic, that this 2 Live Crew song sounds like purple prose in comparison, which is why I reference it. Also the “clean” version makes even less sense than the dirty version to the point of absurdity. Thirty years later, I have to mute the stereo when this comes on, lest my kids repeat the title over and over.

40. Eurythmics – Don’t Ask Me Why

The first single from the Eurythmics new album, We Too Are One, jumps into the Top 40 this week. Next week it will fall out and the duo will never have another Top 40 single again, though in a few years Annie Lennox will kick off a successful solo career.

39. Sybil – Don’t Make Me Over

OHW – From her second album, Sybil, the most successful version of this Bacharach/ David composition was sung by Sybil, though probably not the definitive one, which I feel is Dionne Warwick’s. It will reach #20 before year’s end.

Fun fact: Caron Wheeler, who’s in the Top 20 with Soul II Soul, will sample this song for a 1992 single, I Adore You.

38. Madonna – Cherish

PD, RAR – Isn’t it interesting that cherish rhymes with perish? I think whoever invented the English language created this on purpose. And isn’t that why Madonna compares her love to Romeo & Juliet?

37. Cher – If I Could Turn Back Time

PD – Cher is still hanging out in the Top 40 if only to remind us to set out clocks back.

36. Warrant – Heaven

PD – Warrant is hanging around as well to remind us that hell is also an option.

35. Taylor Dayne – With Every Beat Of My Heart

Taylor Dayne’s back with a new album and more songs to over-sing. This will be her fifth Top 10 hit in a row. The song is co-written by Tommy Faragher of the Faragher Brothers, who would go on to produce other songs, such as Paul Young’s What Becomes of The Broken Hearted?

34. Rolling Stones – Mixed Emotions

This former #5 hit was a great example of the Stones on fumes and a great case for them to hang it up. [Spoiler alert: they didn’t.] Steel Wheels will be Bill Wyman’s last album with the band.

33. Thompson Twins – Sugar Daddy

T2 is glazing the charts with their latest single which will eventually stall at #28. I just recently watched a This Is Life documentary about sugar babies and sugar daddies in which women try to find a wealthy guy to finance their dreams and be their mentor. It sure sounds like both parties are trying to legitimize prostitution, but hey, to each is own.

32. Bon Jovi – Living In Sin

Bon Jovi singles are like Michael Keaton copies in Multiplicity. Each one gets increasing dumber and more unstable. This single would be the equivalent of the Keaton copy who answers every question with “I want pizza”.

31. Milli Vanilli – Girl I’m Gonna Miss You

PD – Just to be clear, I did not know anyone who thought these guys were actually singing these lyrics, way before they were busted for lip-syncing, which let’s be honest was a common decades-old practice with pop artists. The more they spoke, the more you realized it was an act. What got Rob & Fab in trouble was that wile everyone already knew the truth, they kept on denying. And when they won a Best New Artist Grammy over folks like Neneh Cherry & the Indigo Girls, people started to pull out their torches and pitchforks.

30. Belinda Carlisle – Leave A Light On

The first single from Belinda’s Runaway Horses LP will gallop up to #11. Her supporting tour will be sponsored by Motel 6.

29. The 2 Live Crew – Me So Horny

THW, WPWFU – Luther Campbell was a successful African-American record producer in Miami, so it was just a matter of time before someone decided that we can’t have that in America. Also while I would like to live in a society where we all evolve and treat each other with love and respect, I do not want to do that at the expense of free speech.

In case you didn’t know, the title is sampled from a line spoken by a Vietnamese hooker in the Stanley Kubrick film, Full Metal Jacket. The beats and bass line were sampled from the song Firecracker by Mass Production.

28. Kevin Paige – Don’t Shut Me Out

THW – It was inevitable that we would get a few George Michael clones by 1989. To fill the void while George was in between albums, we have this pop-rock dance track that’s on its way to #18 and I bet you have never heard it. The success of this track earned Kevin an opening spot on Debbie Gibson’s tour, which is probably why he began recording Christian music soon after.

27. Linda Ronstadt featuring Aaron Neville – Don’t Know Much

RAR – Linda experimented with lots of different musical genres in the 80s, from big band to country to Mexican folk songs. She returned to pop before the decade was over with an album called Cry Like A Rainstorm, Howl Like The Wind which featured four duets with Aaron Neville, including this one written by Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil. When this song reaches #2 it will be Linda’s first Top 10 hit since Hurt So Bad in 1980 and Aaron’s first since Tell It Like It Is in 1967.

26. Kix – Don’t Close Your Eyes

OHW – Kix had been releasing albums all decade but it wasn’t until their fourth release, Blow Your Fuse, and the rise of MTV glam metal that the band found a little bit of success. This will somehow climb to #11 and I find this power ballad utterly unintentionally hilarious.

25. Dino – Sunshine

Fred’s favorite dinosaur is barking up the charts with his second Top 40 hit on its way to a #23 peak. The piano solo is performed by fusion keyboardist Jeff Lorber.

24. Gloria Estefan – Get On Your Feet

Ballad, uptempo. Slow one, fast one. That’s how Gloria Estefan, now unshackled from the Miami Sound Machine, releases her music and keeps everyone off-balance. Since she had fans that were unsure of the process, she wrote this song to tell them what to do. I’m still waiting for her next release, Sit The Hell Down, Shut Up And Listen. followed by Now Get Up. Are Your Legs Broken? My Spine Was and Look At Me. No Excuses!.

Fun fact: Since 2009 when Gloria became a part owner of the Miami Dolphins, they have posted a record of 73 – 95, with one winning season. [BTW – not her fault, but bad investment.]

23. Expose – When I Looked At Him

This ballad is sliding down the charts from its high of #10 a few weeks ago. It would be the last of six Top 10 hits in a row for the freestyle trio.  I miss dopey songs like this. JK.

22. The Cure – Love Song

The only thing keeping The Cure from having a #1 song was Janet Jackson’s Miss You Much. That is crazy. She must have been going through a goth phase herself cause there’s not a stitch of colorful clothes between these two artists.

21. Billy Joel – We Didn’t Start The Fire

The ultimate Baby Boomer song. Billy absolves an entire generation of their sins. “Not our fault that things are messed up. They were before and they will be tomorrow. Just the way it is.” Of course this will go to #1. I like how BJ just lists a bunch of things as if they all have the same weight and importance. Check out this uplifting line – Starkweather, homicide, children of thalidomide – surrounded by other events such as California baseball and Buddy Holly. Just one big shrug.

But when he gets to Rock and roller cola wars, Billy flips his shit. Here he’s at his angriest during a song where he sings about AIDS and Adolf Eichmann with far less urgency or disgust. Coke vs Pepsi is an injustice that he will tolerate, probably because neither company offered him a commercial or tour sponsorship.

KEY

  • OHW – One-Hit-Wonder
  • THW – Two-Hit-Wonder
  • PD – Previously Discussed
  • PFK – Perfect for Karaoke
  • RAR – Rite-Aid Rock
  • STA – Second Time Around
  • WPWFU – White People, We F(_)cked Up
Create your website at WordPress.com
Get started