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Add Another Number To the Score


Today I opened up another stenographer book to see what I was listening to during mid-November 1988. [Apologies, this page was very faded, and I had to do some heavy color editing.] Looking at this list of songs, I can tell I was still heavily listening to new wave or what it was known as in the late 80s, Modern Rock. My favorite station WLIR went off the air in December 1987, so this was greatly influenced selection by its pale replacement, WDRE. Twenty songs here won’t make the Top 40, and ten won’t chart on the Hot 100.

George Michael & the Pet Shop Boys have two songs a piece, so I would get beat up in any bar Ricky Bobby was hanging out in. I really (still do) loved PSB. They were the best at making great club songs with catchy pop choruses. Introspective was their third album and was released in the Fall of 88, spawning my #1 hit (#18 Pop), I’m Not Scared (posting at #21), and my favorite, the disco throwback Left To My Own Devices.

I took a look at the Billboard Top 40 from the week of November 12th, 1988. Looks like we only agree on fourteen out of forty. I was surprised I had already kicked Anita Baker’s Giving You the Best That I Got off my charts after peaking at #35. That’s one I appreciate more with age. The same goes for INXS’ Never Tear Us Apart, nationally at #10 but off my pages having only reached #31. On the flip side, I have that New Edition cut in my Top 10 while it debuts on the Hot 100 at #100. And Yazz is my leaving book two weeks before it debuts at #99.

I also noticed I wrote something up at the upper right next to the date. It’s so tiny that I had to blow it up.

This must be my “bubbling under.” I loved Art Of Noise’s cover of Kiss with Tom Jones singing lead; so creative, so cheesy, and fun (nice Steely Dan sample in there too.) I don’t remember that Level 42 track and the Curiosity Killed The Cat tunes are from a one-year-old album that I was still heavily spinning. All six tracks will debut in my 50 next week.

If I had to switch out one track on my chart for a tune in the Top 40 during that week, I would’ve swapped that Rick Astley (which somehow had re-entered my pages) for Ivan Neville’s Not Just Another Girl.

One week after the chart, I would visit Asheville, NC, for the first time and spend Thanksgiving there. My life would never be the same, and I’m very thankful.


The One Good Thing I’ve Got


(my own personal Top 50, October 15th, 1990)

Here’s another personal Top 50 that I pulled out from mid-October 1990. For a comparison of what was popular nationally during the week of October 13th, 1990, you can peep here. Wow, was I heavy into current R&B back then. Considering I also loved rap, I’m surprised there aren’t more representations of that outside of LL Cool J, Vanilla Ice, MC Hammer, and Candyman. I’m also trying to figure out how I knew about all these songs, especially since there were no stations in Asheville playing them. There was a great soul station in Greenville, SC, but I could only hear if I was there rather than up the mountain in Asheville. MTV still didn’t play much, and hip-hop was related to YO! MTV Raps. I assume I relied on reading Billboard and listening to Joel Denver’s Future Hits every Sunday.

I don’t see any glam metal here, and hardly any rock shows up, but I was ready to embrace grunge a year from now. The closest I got to teen pop was Mariah Carey (did I actually used to like that song?) The closest I got to any hard rock was Faith No More and Living Colour. No Nelson. No James Ingram. I fully eschewed the Righteous Brothers’ comeback. I had lots of love for Quincy Jones as I was still rocking singles from his year-old album, Back On the Block, and I even liked the new track from his Listen Up project.

And sitting at #1 was one of my favorite songs of the year – George Michael’s Freedom ’90. I kept it at #1 on my charts for six straight weeks. It had yet to be released as a single, and when it did, it would reach #8 by Christmas.

I loved Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1. On the Tuesday it came out, I bought the CD. I found an empty parking lot, parked, rolled down my windows, and reclined my driver’s seat back. I put the disc in my Sony Discman, closed my eyes, and listened to the album from start to finish while the warm September breezes blew through my Chevy Cavalier. There was another song besides Freedom ’90 that I immediately liked, and I included a new  “bubbling under” feature on the other side of the page. (Again, this was all for me and my musical fantasy world, which contained one citizen)

I added another fifteen spots and started including songs that weren’t singles but had (re)discovered and played a lot, hence the Curiosity Killed The Cat track from 1989 and the Level 42 songs from their 1981 debut. My 2022 self is cringing that I misspelled the Tevin Campbell tune. No other big surprises except for the Soup Dragons song. That meant I was slowly still getting into the acid house scene, although my musical choices only.

Also, I noticed I wrote this in pencil. I made that change pretty early on because I changed my mind often. Again, I have no idea about my criteria and never showed this to anyone, so I’m still unsure of my motivation. Maybe it was just a way to organize my musical mind on paper. I was a young boy then and still didn’t know what I wanted to be.

Trying To Bring Out the Fabulous

(Please indulge me in a non-music post today.)

I am a lifelong Mets fan (unpack that how you’d like). And I just wanted to celebrate and state how much I enjoyed watching the team this year. It was great on multiple occasions to have something to distract my ever-worrying mind. Not only were the games fun, but I also got to share them for the first time with my kids, who not only got to learn about everyone on the team but could refer to them by their nicknames. Francisco Lindor became their favorite player.

My son, Theo, played Little League baseball this Spring, coinciding with the Mets’ strong play out of the gate and a long stint in first place. After having a season when his team won the championship, Theo was selected for his first All-Star team. He & I would view games together, going over hitter stances and watching amazing defensive plays and strange mishaps. I started a family tradition called Mets Highlights, where my son, daughter, and I would watch a three-minute condensed version of the previous day’s game, fitting them in before driving off to school, camp, or whatever was scheduled. The more we did it, the more they would ask for it, always shielding their eyes from the MLB home screen so they could be surprised by the score. [I rarely showed them a loss unless it was very close or there was a fantastic play made by either team.]

Deciding this was the perfect year to go to New York, to Citi Field, and watch a live game together, I originally scheduled a trip in June and bought tickets for a Mets/ Marlins matchup. But when Theo made the All-Star team, I lamented my bad timing since he would miss all of his games. My wife & I had serious discussions about it, and money be damned, we rescheduled our flight plans, changed the trip dates, and bought new tickets, this time for the Mets/Braves showdown in early August.

My son had been to a Rockies game when he was 6, but my daughter, Lucy, had yet to attend a professional game. This would be a new experience for all of us. And none of us had ever been to Citi Field. Theo had it in his head that he would be able to meet Lindor and get his ball signed by him. I tried to research ways to possibly do that and postpone the inevitable letdown.

After being in New York for four days, I decided to spontaneously buy Theo and me two tickets to the series opener, assuming that it would be our best chance to see batting practice and maybe get a signed ball. We got to the stadium two hours early and, after arriving inside, tried to figure out a way to walk down to the field seats. Slipping past an usher heavily discussing Mets folklore, we traveled down the open corridor on the first base path where other kids were lined up. I stood in the 95-degree sun, shading my son while rivers of sweat cascaded down my body for nearly two hours. ( I don’t think I stopped actively sweating that day until about 1 AM.) When I wasn’t partaking myself, I was trying to figure out how to handle my son’s massive disappointment over his lofty expectations, which he had built up for months.

And then he walked out. There he was. Francisco Lindor. My son’s hero, stretching out his body and getting ready to play catch with Luis (Louie-Louie-loo-wee) Guillorme. Of all players who could have (or did) come out on the field – what luck. Maybe we have a shot, I told Theo. But the game starts in 15 minutes, so I didn’t see it happening. Shoot, we didn’t even have a Sharpie with us.

Then, out of the blue, he walked over to the group lined up on the opposite sides of our seats. Theo saw his opportunity and asked if he could go try to get an autograph. He had crawled over five rows of seats before I could even get a ‘be polite’ out of my mouth. Actually, I didn’t know what to say. His fearlessness and initiative were so impressive I was speechless. He disappeared into a scrum of fans, and I eagerly stared at the mass of people, waiting to rescue him or for him to reappear. It seemed like thirty minutes, but it was probably only thirty seconds before he emerged, climbing over the empty seats, clasping each back with his gloved left hand and holding his baseball high up with his right.

“I got it. I got it”, he yelled. I was in disbelief. What? “I met him. He was so nice. There was a man who helped me too. I asked him if I could borrow his pen, and he helped me meet Lindor.” Theo was out of breath, but I scooped him up and quickly moved out of the line, with the game starting in minutes and a long trek ahead to our upper deck spots. [Lindor would go on to break the Mets record for HRs and RBIs in a season by a shortstop this year.]

The Mets won that night, and as we left the park, my son got to be a part of Let’s Go Mets chants in the dark and sweaty stairwells that I remembered hearing when I was his age. They won again two days later when all four of us went, with the Mets eventually taking four of five from Atlanta. We had a memorable time, and it was indeed a special season. More importantly, I got to officially share my love of baseball with my kids, just like my dad did with me.

As much as I have relished each victory, it’s been sad to hear and read the anxious posts and angry rants by Mets ‘fans’ and pundits with each loss. I have listened to folks lionize then villainize just about every player and coach, sometimes within minutes of each other. It’s been heartbreaking to realize that many folks still have difficulty enjoying life or are afraid to give themselves permission to have fun and let go. I wish them well. There’s no glory in agony.

I am looking forward to watching the Mets in the playoffs this weekend with no expectations. Maybe even flip on some Mets highlights the following day.

And here’s a little music – one of our favorites songs this Summer:


My Own Personal Top 40


                                                My first Top 50, dated 9-22-86

After dutifully following the American Top 40 for years, I created my own “Top 40”, actually 50, current songs that were my favorites at the time. The reasons I did it are still unclear and buried deep in my mind.  Coming across these old stenographer notebooks, I perused the pages trying to figure out what compelled me,  what were the rules I held for ranking, and, holy shit, what kind of nerd I was. I did this for five-plus years every week and never shared these with anyone.

Nevertheless, I thought to post it here, and maybe by doing that, I’d learn a little about myself. I already have a lot of unanswered questions. The Mets had clinched the division by now, and I was obsessed with watching them daily as it would be my first time to see them in the playoffs. But how much more extra time did I have back then?

And why did I think Don Johnson sang my third favorite song that week? Maybe deep down, I was just a Wendy Waldman fan and didn’t realize it?

I still cringe at my #14 through #16. Was this a product of unrequited or lost love? At least I put Chaka in the Top 10 with a song that would eventually peak at #53, for what that’s worth. And I’m proud to have two B-52s songs on the chart, especially when pop radio fully gave on them.

Take a peak, have a few chuckles, and feel free to have a go at me in the comments.

The Earth Rotates To Our Dictates

We’re back with the second half review of the Billboard Top 40 from July 23rd, 1988. Were you making any memories to these tunes?

20. Billy Ocean – The Color Of Love

I have no idea what the hell Billy is talking about. But he has been married for 42 years and counting, so he must know something about love.

19. Rod Stewart – Lost In You

PD – Rod’s tune about missing his family while he’s on the road is at turns sweet and affecting. Until the last line, when he yelps, “when I come home, I’m gonna love you like fifteen men.” Not sure what he means by that, but I’ve seen films, and it gets quite messy.

18. Chicago – I Don’t Wanna Live Without Your Love

PD – Well, OK then.

17. The Contours – Do You Love Me

STA – The Dirty Dancing revival tour is still in full swing with the second soundtrack album release called More Dirty Dancing. It features this early Motown cut which initially hit #3 in 1962, even before the Temps and Supremes had hits. It could be jarring at times when they played this on the radio between Bon Jovi and George Michael or even the Fat Boys record. But it will still sashay up to #11.  Like Benny Mardones’ Into The Night, The Contours are a one-hit wonder with the same song twice.

16. Sade – Paradise

I used to put on Sade’s music at night, thinking it was the best time to listen to it after hours. But a sinewy groove like this works even better during a warm Summer day. It’s one of the few songs that take me right back to 1988 with my girlfriend, washing the sand off the shore and feeling fine. This was Sade’s only #1 hit on the Soul charts, and it’s at its peak here.

15. Johnny Kemp – Just Got Paid

THW – Damn, I forgot what a jam this was. This early New Jack stomper was written by Teddy Riley and Keith Sweat for Keith’s debut but was ultimately rejected. If you listen hard, you can hear the seeds of I Want Her in there. Johnny recorded a ‘scratch” vocal on a demo to they could shop it around. Instead, it became a Top 10 hit as is, going to #1 on the R&B and Dance Club charts and garnering Kemp a Grammy nomination.

14. Elton John – I Don’t Wanna Go On With You Like That

PD – Why does it sound like Elton had The Name Game on his mind when he came up with the chorus? You can easily substitute anna-banna-bo banna instead of the title. Try it next time.

13. Al B. Sure! – Nite And Day

PD, OHW – Al would nab a Top 10 with this track and a #1 Soul album with five R&B hits. Even though he’s a one-hit wonder, he did score one as the writer of Jodeci’s Forever My Lady in 1991.

12. DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince – Parents Just Don’t Understand

The reason why the hip-hop community dissed the Fresh Prince wasn’t that his stuff was jokey. His storytelling was wack, and usually, it never made any sense. Case in point – what Mall was selling 70s clothes in 1988? If I could have dressed u like Greg Brady in high school, I definitely would have. Also, don’t get me started on the scenario where he stole his mom’s (cause Dad had one too?) Porsche, picks up an underage hitchhiker and takes her to McDonald’s, eventually getting physically abused for the offense by his parents.

11. Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine – 1-2-3


10. Jane Wieldlin – Rush Hour

OHW – Belinda Carlisle wasn’t the only Go-Go with a Top 10 single in 1988. Guitarist Wiedlin spun this out as the lead single from her second solo album, Fur. It’s one spot away from its peak.

9. Terence Trent D’arby – Sign Your Name

If your Sade album wasn’t setting the mood, maybe this sultry ballad would do the trick. It’s the third single from TTD’s debut and his second Top 10 single.

Also, pour a little out for D’arby, who died in 2001 (his words), and say hello to Sananda Maitreya, who turns 21 this October.

8. Pebbles – Mercedes Boy


7. Eric Carmen – Make Me Lose Control

RAR – Who had former Raspberries lead singer will have two Top 10 singles in 1988 on their bingo card? You did? Please enter and win the Megamillions; why doncha?

6. Breathe – Hands to Heaven

PD, RAR – Raise those hands up cause the devil coming for you, sinners. Oops, look like he did already.

5. Cheap Trick – The Flame

PD – I love Cheap Trick, but I pass on this one. I also don’t blame them for finding a hit song to relaunch their career, as most of their 80s singles fell short of the 40. This former #1 track will also reach the top in Australia and Canada.

4. Steve Winwood – Roll With It

PD – I love Steve Winwood, but because this exists, we didn’t need this song. Unless Boomers were looking for another slogan to sing while they slowly raped our future?

3. INXS – New Sensation

PD – Live baby live, no matter what kind of weird stuff you’re into.

2. Def Leppard – Pour Some Sugar On Me

PD, PFK – It’s a short walk from this to Man! I Feel Like A Woman.

1. Richard Marx – Hold On To The Nights

This was the fourth single from Marx’s debut and his first #1 record, jumping up from #5 last week. Richard has acquired a second career, albeit virtual, as a guy who loves to take down douchebags on social media.
  • OHW – One-Hit-Wonder
  • THW – Two-Hit-Wonder
  • PFK – Perfect for Karaoke
  • RAR – Rite-Aid Rock
  • RFW – Ripped from Wikipedia
  • STA – Second Time Around

Waiting For Our Happily Ever After


I haven’t done one of these in a while, mainly because they end up being in-betweeners, which means that many of the songs have been listed on Top 40 posts before or after the current date. But after I heard the countdown last weekend, it brought up some fond memories during the Summer of 1988. Maybe I’ll share a few as I discuss the Top 40 during the week of July 23rd.

[Note – I have previously discussed (PD) some of these songs in posts before,  but I’ll try to add something else if I can.]

40. Corey Hart – In Your Soul

CanCon legend Corey Hart racked up nine US Top 40 hits, but he’s forever known as the Sunglasses at Night dude. That’s a shame because his later hits are worth a listen, including this wistful ditty which will top out at #38. Ruby Turner sings backing vocals, though they’re mixed too high.

39. Taylor Dayne – I’ll Always Love You

PD, PFK – This song reminds me of every Long Island wedding I attended in the late 80s and early 90s. And that’s where it should stay.

38. The Moody Blues – I Know You’re Out There Somewhere

RAR – Here’s the breezy sequel to the Moody Blues Top 10 smash of 1986, Your Wildest Dreams. It will only climb to #30 but reach the Top 10 of the AC & Mainstream Rock charts. At this point, the band was mostly Justin Hayward singing lead and keyboardist Patrick Moraz, which probably angered the rest of the band. Moraz was fired in 1991, and the Moodies spent the rest of the decade shafting him on royalties. They will never reach the Top 40 again.

37. Kylie Minogue – I Should Be So Lucky

After scoring a role on the Australian soap Neighbours, in 1986, Kylie decided to expand her career into singing. She hired the buzz-SAW machine of Stock-Aiken-Waterman, who crapped out this bland product to international success. A #1 hit in eight countries, including the UK, we stopped it dead in its tracks at #28.

Kylie’s music improved as she continued, and her 2001 Fever is considered a Euro-disco classic.

36. Huey Lewis & The News – Perfect World

PD – If there ain’t no living in a perfect world, cause there ain’t no perfect world anyway, then why should I waste my time dreaming about one? Shouldn’t I spend my time actually trying to make the world better? Asking for a friend.

35. Van Halen – When It’s Love

PD – Sammy Hagar continues to pulverize all the fun out of the band into a mystery liquor that no one gets drunk on but himself.

34. Guns N Roses – Sweet Child O’ Mine

PD, PFK – Axl Rose let everyone know from day one that he was a garbage person. And now he looks like your aunt.

33. Brenda K. Starr – I Still Believe 


32. Robert Palmer – Simply Irresistible


31. Bruce Hornsby & The Range – The Valley Road

PD, RAR -The lead single from the band’s second album, Scenes From the Southside, will reach #5 and be #1 on the AC & Mainstream rock charts. Sounds like a particular age group is trying to have it both ways.

Also, I never realized this song was about a woman who got pregnant and was sent away to “take care of it.”

30. Michael Jackson – Dirty Diana

PD – That Summer, I had a girlfriend named Diana. She hated the song. I would sing it to her often. We didn’t make it past August.

29. The Jets – Make It Real

PD – I recommend watching Unsung: The Jets to folks whenever possible. It’s a tragic mess.

28. Aerosmith – Rag Doll

PFK – The third Top 40 single from Permanent Vacation will rise to #17 and only #12 on the Rock charts. Yes, Mainstream Rock radio in 1988 preferred Moody Blues & Bruce Hornsby to this. Jim Vallance and Holly Knight helped out with the lyrics.

27. Tracy Chapman – Fast Car

PD, THW – I think most people can relate to the feeling of being trapped in a life they don’t want and the rush of adrenaline and desperation when a chance to leave comes along. The sadness comes from knowing that some don’t even get that opportunity and ‘live and die this way.’

26. Whitney Houston – Love Will Save the Day

PD – Whitney came around during the time. She was saddled with sappy, overblown ballads when we all know she would have been a hell of a disco diva.

25. Poison – Nothin’ But A Good Time


24. Climie Fisher – Love Changes (Everything)

OHW – Rob Fisher netted four Top 40 hits as part of the duo Naked Eyes. He gets another as part of this twosome with Simon Climie, who wrote the #1 smash I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me) last year with Dennis Morgan. This 45 is one notch away from its zenith.

23. Debbie Gibson – Foolish Beat

PD – Just because you and I like different music doesn’t mean either of us is right or wrong. That said, this song blows.

22. Fat Boys – The Twist

THW – After the Disco 3 hit the top 20 with a rap cover of Wipeout, the trio debase themselves further with this rendition of The Twist. And Chubby Checker’s back in the mix, too, for his 258th remake of the tune. Just stick to All You Can Eat.

21. George Michael – Monkey

PD – Boy, George has a lotta gall telling me to set my monkey free. George needed to set his own monkey free. Then he did set his monkey free, went outside, and lived happily ever after.

Didn’t really share a lot of memories, did I? Maybe there’s more to come when I visit the Top 20. Look for that soon.


  • OHW – One-Hit-Wonder
  • THW – Two-Hit-Wonder
  • PFK – Perfect for Karaoke
  • RAR – Rite-Aid Rock
  • RFW – Ripped from Wikipedia
  • STA – Second Time Around

Top 40 Metrics: The Jackson Family – 1988-1989


We’re looking at the Top 40 metrics of The Jackson family to analyze their influence during the 1980s.  As we wrap up our five-part review, it’s down to only Michael and Janet, who will trade off popular albums while racking up a ton more hits for the next decade plus.


Michael Jackson – The Way You Make Me Feel [#1 (1 wk), 13 wks]

Here’s the third chart-topper from Bad, and probably one of MJ’s most enduring of the lot. The video was nominated for Best Choreography at the MTV Music Awards but lost to sister Janet for The Pleasure Principle. When Michael passed away in 2009, this song entered the Billboard Digital singles chart and reached #6.

An oddity happened on the charts around the same when a duet with Stevie Wonder called Get It stalled at #80, even though it reached the R&B Top 5 – one of the poorest showings for either legendary artist in a long while.

Michael Jackson – Man In The Mirror [#1 (2 wks), 13 wks]

Here’s the fourth #1 hit – a song written with the best intentions but rife with irony as the years wore on. Even though it was penned by Glen Ballard & Siedah Garrett, the line “look at yourself and make a change‘” became prophetic as Michael’s face and skin morphed and changed many times over the years.

Michael Jackson – Dirty Diana [#1 (1 wk), 11 wks]

This song tries to be Michael’s Beat It (in sound/ Billie Jean (in tone)  moment on the album, but it is truly bordering on parody. Taking on a tougher, sexier style, he fails at both, with the production and arrangement doing him no favors. And holy God, Steve Stevens whining guitar slides might work for a posturing Billy Idol but here they sound like a thirteen-year-old adjusting his amp for the first time.

MJ was planning to perform this during his comeback concert in 2009. Choreographer Kenny Ortega was quoted as saying, “The set up for the song would include an expert pole dancer who would lure Jackson onto a giant steel bed on which she performed acrobatic feats.” Yikes!

Michael Jackson – Another Part Of Me [#11, 8 wks]

Here is one of the two songs from Captain EO and one of my faves from the album. It came and went quickly, but I’m surprised it missed the Top 10. The week it peaked at #11, it was leapfrogged by Bobby McFerrin & Kenny Loggins. Change was in the air.

This was also around when the film Moonwalker with Joe Pesci was released, but I have yet to meet anyone who has seen it. But it leads to…


Michael Jackson – Smooth Criminal [#7, 11 wks]

…My favorite track on Bad, which was also on the centerpieces of the film mentioned above. It’s also one of his best-known videos, famous for the dancer’s gravity-defying lean. I also learned that the “Annie, are you OK?” hook comes from a CPR practice doll called Resusci Anne. Emergency trainees are told to recite that while resuscitating the medical simulator. It’s not about a coquettish red-headed orphan, in case you wondered.

Micheal ended up with seven Top 40 hits from back-to-back albums. He could have netted an eighth if he released Leave Me Alone as a single in the US, which received considerable video airplay. It will climb to #2 in the UK and #1 in Greece and Ireland. I prefer it to most of the other hit singles.  It also kept Bad in the spotlight two years after its release. But it doesn’t stop there.

He released a ninth single Liberian Girl, which climbed to #13 in the UK. It’s almost as if he was stretching the Jackson until sis was ready.

Janet Jackson – Miss You Much [#1 (4 wks), 13 wks]

And was she ever. That Fall, Janet released her fourth and biggest album, Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814., produced again by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. It will spawn seven Top 5 singles, four of them reaching the top, extending her success into 1991. Her first single will be the biggest on the album spending four weeks on the mountaintop and upping the ante on Michael.

Her second single, Rhythm Nation, will enter the Top 40 on 11/18/89. By the end of the year, it would reach #4, peaking at #2 in early 1990. And then the decade would be hers.

The 80s were filled with a non-stop barrage of great music by the Jackson family, starting with Michael in the Top 5 and ending with Janet taking his place. They were omnipresent, and no other family came close to entertaining us as they did during the decade.


Top 40 Metrics: The Jackson Family – 1986-1987


We’re looking at the Top 40 metrics of The Jackson family to analyze their influence during the 1980s. During the last post, we reviewed 1984 &  1985, the Thriller aftermath.

Michael was the top dog in the family, but Jermaine held steady at #2. Not too shabby, especially in a large family such as the Jacksons. As 1986 began, this would have been when Jermaine consoled himself with ‘well, at least I’m the second most talented Jackson.’ That was about to go out the window.


Jermaine Jackson – I Think It’s Love [#16, 9 wks]

JJ has another Top 20 hit, making it his fifth during the 80s. It was the debut single from his eleventh studio album, Precious Moments, and was co-written by Stevie Wonder. Jermaine had charted twice in the year previous with soundtrack tunes, a duet with Pai Zadora (why?) called When the Rain begins To Fall and (Closest Thing to) Perfect from the film, Perfect. They both bombed, so this was a good pick-me-up.  Jermaine would never hit the Top 40 again.

In fact, this is the point when, going forward,  the music-buying public decided to give their complete devotion to only two Jacksons and no more. Because…

Janet Jackson – What Have You Done For Me Lately [#4, 13 wks]

After two underwhelming albums, Janet broke free from Poppa Joe and hired two dudes from the Time, who were looking for their own breakthrough. Convincing her to record in Minneapolis, the trio released Control, a groundbreaking soulful dance album whose influence musically and lyrically is still being felt in pop music. This was the debut single, and it entered the Top 40 one week after Jermaine’s single on March 22nd, 1986. She would leapfrog him on April 5th and never look back. It will be the first of many #1 R&B and Dance Singles for her.

It’s worth noting that we had grown up with Janet on TV shows Good Times, Diff’rent Strokes, and Fame. So when a powerful album like this merged with her new defiant image, we willingly went for the ride.

Janet Jackson – Nasty [#3, 11 wks]

This is the penultimate Janet. She’s recorded a lot of great music, but this one set the table for the rest of her career. No one else can do this swaggering synth-funk strut better than her. I mean, this isn’t a woman asking for respect. She’s demanding it. The video, which features choreographer Paula Abdul, backs it up. Listening to her vocals, I believe her every word.

Janet Jackson – When I Think Of You [#1 (2 wks), 13 wks]

Now that she had your attention, it was the perfect time to release something sweet like this track, her first Pop #1. It’s just the same two chords over and over against a simple dance beat, hypnotizing and sucking you in.

Janet had 5 #1 Soul singles from Control, but this one only reached #3 on the R&B charts.

Three singles made the Top 5, with one #1, spending a total of 37 weeks in the Top 40, not to mention countless years since on radio.


Janet Jackson – Control [#5, 13 wks]

We’re three singles in, and Janet finally releases the title track, which outlines who she got here and how she had to take  “control” of her life. It’s one of the album’s best dance tunes and will hit #1 on Club charts.

The video has a nice call back to her Good Times era, as Janet Du’Bois plays her mom again, looking a little too much like her real mom, Katherine. I wonder who the dad is supposed to be?

Janet Jackson – Let’s Wait Awhile [#2, 11 wks]

And now, Janet showcases her tender side with a ballad that ended up as an anthem for abstinence, embraced during the height of the confusing AIDS era. It was kept off the top of the mountain by Club Nouveau’s Lean On Me.

Also, it sounded a hell of a lot like this America song. I would say it’s a coincidence, except that we know Prince and his crew loved the band, or maybe America’s Greatest Hits. Didn’t Purple Rain come from Ventura Highway, a song that Janet would sample on Someone To Call My Lover from 2001’s All For You? Hmmm…

Herb Alpert – Diamonds [#5, 12 wks]

Give some credit to Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss for keeping Janet on the label after she bombed twice. Now that she was a superstar, Herb wanted in on that action. Why not? He’s the boss. He hired Jam & Lewis to produce four songs on his 27th album, Keep Your Eye On Me, including this one on which Janet sings lead. It might as well have been a Control cut with Herb noodling around on trumpet behind them. Regardless, the Damit Jo bandwagon will help it climb to #5 and #1 on the R&B and Dance Club charts.

Janet Jackson – The Pleasure Principle [#14, 10 wks]

This was the sixth and final single from the Control album. Written by Tim keyboardist Monte Moir, it’s my favorite of the singles released, and I love blasting this with my windows down.

Also, Prince and his crew were big Joni Mitchell fans, and so was Janet. The Purple one mentions her on The Ballad of Dorothy Parker from his Sign O The Times album. Janet’s first clue was on this 45, singing about a “big yellow taxi,” a tune she would sample fifteen years later.

Back to Michael – While planning his next album and constantly avoiding tabloid rumors, MJ hooked up with Francis Ford Coppola to produce the 17-minute 3-D film, Captain Eo. It began showing in 1986 exclusively at Disneyland and Epcot, where I saw it in July 1987. It was one of the biggest attractions at the Florida park until it closed in 1994.

Michael Jackson – I Just Can’t Stop Loving You [#1 (1 wk), 11 wks]

Depending on how old you are, Bad may be your Thriller. It was a highly anticipated release, produced again by Quincy Jones. It was prefaced one month earlier with this single, a duet with singer Siedah Garrett. [Rumor is that MJ asked Streisand and Whitney first, but they declined.] It will reach #1 at the beginning of September after hitting the zenith in the UK two weeks before.

It also has an unintentionally creepy (then and now) spoken word intro on the album version, which features these awkward lines – “A lot of people misunderstand me. That’s because they don’t know me at all. I just want to touch you and hold you.

Herb Alpert – Making Love In The Rain [#35, 3 wks]

This was the follow-up to Diamonds, and although Lisa Keith sings lead vocals, Janet’s backing vocals are featured prominently in the chorus. I’m counting it.

Michael Jackson – Bad [#1 (2 wks), 11 wks]

I know this word was slang for good, and MJ was the King of Pop. But during the pre-90s “irony” context,  he was only inviting criticism and mockery with this title, a song that wants to sound tougher than it is. Also, “your butt is mine?” At least there’s a sweet organ solo by jazz great Jimmy Smith.

At least there was the video, an 18-minute short film directed by Martin Scorsese, starring a young Wesley Snipes. Not quite the hype that thrill received, but definitely worth a watch.

Janet: Five Top 40 songs, four of them were Top 20, three of them were Top five, a total of 49 weeks in the Top 40

Michael: Two #1 songs, 22 weeks in the Top 40, and he’s just getting started again….

Top 40 Metrics: The Jackson Family – 1984-1985


As  1983 turned into 1984, Michael Jackson was the most prominent artist in the U.S. and, soon, the world. He became known as the King of Pop – a title he kept until his early death in June 2009, two weeks before a scheduled concert in London. Anything that had to do with Michael was now front-page news. But now that Michael was on top, everyone wanted a piece of him, including his family. Jermaine returned to the fold earlier in 1983 for the Motown 25 special. By the end of the year, all six brothers decided to record an album and go out on tour together.

The Victory Tour was launched in July 1984 and became the highest-grossing tour at that time. Though financially successful for the family and promoter Don King,  the group played a lot of half-full arenas due to prohibitively expensive ticket costs. Pepsi broke the bank, getting them for promotions and commercials, almost burning Michael to death in the process. It also caused Michael so much stress that he announced his permanent split from the group by the tour’s end, and he would never perform as part of the Jacksons again.

[side note: The father-son owners of the New England Patriots lost a ton of money on the tour and had to sell the team to a dude who sold shaving products.]

For all of us who didn’t already own a copy of Thriller, there was a good chance your grandma tried (successfully, if they had them) to score you one during the past Christmas. But there was a good chance you bought up anything MJ-related in the coming year.

[Note: Each song is listed with its peak position and number of weeks spent in the Top 40]


Michael Jackson – Thriller [#4, 9 wks]

This video debuted on MTV, and as discussed in the previous post, it was a significant event.  It became the record-setting seventh Top 10 single from Thriller, only to be broken by the Boss with the Born In the USA album within two years. Sister Janet would match it with her Rhythm Nation 1814 release.

Rockwell – Somebody’s Watching Me [#2, 14 wks]

Not an MJ song, but easily mistaken as one. Berry Gordy’s son, Kennedy, was one of Michael’s childhood friends. When he became Rockwell, Mike paid him a favor and sang the chorus on this synth funk-pop jam, which sat at #2 for three weeks. Both singles spent three weeks in the Top 10 together in early Spring ’84, furthering MJ-Mania. Funny that they are now both perennial Halloween tunes.

Michael Jackson – Farewell My Summer Love [#38, 3 wks]

Speaking of Berry, I’m sure he was proud of Michael’s success and pissed that he couldn’t reap the rewards. This is why Motown released a collection of unreleased recordings from October 1973 to capitalize on his fame. A lot of the songs, including this 45, used Micheal’s vocals with new overdubbed performances. I kinda like it, as it displays an innocent MJ in final vocal form and absent of grunts and squeals. Surprised it didn’t climb any further than #38.

Jermaine Jackson – Dynamite [#15, 10 wks]

While the Jacksons were recording their next album, Jermaine tried to get his solo career back on track. And he knew that swimming in Michael’s wake was the best way to do it. He left Motown for Arista and released this single,  a superb, high-energy dance track that brought him back into the R&B Top 10 and the Pop Top 20. Unfortunately, the video would showcase Jermaine as a Micheal-knockoff.

The Jacksons w/ Mick Jagger – State Of Shock [#3, 11 wks]

Musically, this is the point where everything starts sliding down the mountain. The first new Jackson track feels like it was written and recorded in five minutes. It’s as if they knew that anything they fed the public, they’d eat it up. And they brought along Mick to cross them over to the “rock” side. Jagger has always been one to seek out the trends and reap the benefits, from country rock to disco to New Wave and now, Michael’s fame. Plus, he was looking to jumpstart his own solo career. This would be the Jacksons’ first Pop Top 10 in five years and their last.

The Jacksons – Torture [#17, 8 wks]

Not as bad as the title suggests and way better than their lead single. The video is unintentionally hilarious and “adds” Michael into the group through some editing trickery.

Rebbie Jackson – Centipede [#24, 8 wks]

Older sister Rebbie released her debut in 1984 at age 34. Written and produced by Michael (he also added backing vocals along with the Weather Girls), it was an ode to one of his favorite video games. I guess the timing was the best it could have been as the title track charted. Even though it stalled at #24, the single went Gold.

Weird Al Yankovic – Eat It [#12,  7 wks]

Folks may have heard of or seen Weird Al Yankovic in the early 80s, but his parody of Michael’s #1 smash broke him into the mainstream as a pop music lampooner. We loved the original and MJ so much that we also made this 45 go Gold.


Jermaine Jackson – Do What You Do [ #13, 12 wks]

JJ has his second Top 20 hit from his album, Dynamite, the first and only time he was able to do that on the pop charts. It was a lovely tender ballad, but the B-side, a duet with Jermaine & Michael called Tell Me I’m Not Dreamin’, really mattered. This was definitely a lost opportunity for a smash hit, but Arista & Epic Records couldn’t get it together. It never charted on the Hot 100 but topped the Dance charts for three weeks.

Footnote: Iman was the Godfather-ripoff video for Do What You Do, and she would later show up in Michael’s Remember The Time short. Both times she had the hots for a Jackson. Hope they took the cannolis.

USA for Africa – We Are The World [#1 (4 wks), 12 wks]

Now that Michael was finally free from his brothers’ and father’s control, he could focus on more charitable efforts such as this project. Harry Belafonte asked MJ & Lionel Richie to come up with a tune to heal the world. They wrote this instead, but for a moment in the Spring of 1985, it was the biggest deal in the music industry, eventually raising more than 63 million (number differ) for aid to Africa. It will end #1 in over twenty different countries. Also, Randy, Jackie, Tito, Marlon, and LaToya sang back-up.

Michael spent the rest of 1985 bidding on the Beatles catalog, which he would purchase for nearly 48 million in August. While he spent the rest of the mid-80s trying to discredit one tabloid story after the next, inheriting the nickname, Wacko Jacko (man, can things flip quickly or what?), his younger sister was planning her strategy for control.


Top 40 Metrics: The Jackson Family 1982-1983

We’re looking at the Top 40 metrics of The Jackson family to analyze their influence during the 1980s. During the last post, we reviewed 1980 and 1981, when Michael and Jermaine had successful breakthrough albums. But the best was yet to come.

[Note: Each song is listed with its peak position and number of weeks spent in the Top 40]


Jermaine Jackson – Let Me Tickle Your Fancy [#18, 7 wks in the Top 40]

JJ is back in the Top 40 with the title track to his latest album, an adventurous affair that steps into the world of New Wave synth-funk. It even features Gerald Casale & Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo de-evolving the chorus into a monotone request. (FYI – they were NOT the backup group, as JJ says. )

This single and LP release piggybacked an appearance on The Facts of Life, wherein Tootie loses her shit that she missed the chance to roller skate her way into his heart at a local show. FYI – Mrs. Garrett sucks.

And then, one month after this single peaked, Michael released his new single and first in over two years.


Michael Jackson & Paul McCartney – The Girl Is Mine [#2, 14 wks]

Did folks know he was recording with the former Beatle in 1982? I was certainly shocked. And yet two had been collaborating for a year with no releases to show for it. It was odd to showcase MJ’s new album with something so mellow. But maybe his plan was to get the grannies and hedge fund boomers invested early in the album. It will climb to #3 by the end of 1982, then climb one notch higher to #2 at the beginning of the year, kept out of the top spot by Hall & Oates’ Maneater and Men At Work’s Down Under. That’s right; they were held down by The Man. [FYI – MJ will get his revenge on H&O later]

This song is essentially Paul & Michael singing with Toto as the backing band. So it’s the 60s, 70s, and 80s wrapped up in one. [Toto had just broken through with Toto IV, which will net them six Grammys a month after this peaks.]

Michael Jackson – Billie Jean [#1 (7 wks), 17 wks]

And now, world, meet Michael Jackson plus visuals. After a decade-plus of performing,  he became the firmament of pop culture. This wasn’t about songs on the radio anymore. This was about watching Michael in your own living room home.

Every time Bille Jean showed up on MTV, it was an event. It’s not like he hadn’t filmed videos before, but they were cheesy green-screen episodes. And this was different. How many of us tried to stand on the tips of our shoes or try to make everything we touched light up after we saw this. It took a while for the public to have the ability to enjoy it, as MTV didn’t air the video when it was released. With pressure from multiple (disputed) sources, it finally showed up on the channel on March 10th, 1983, AFTER the song hit #1. MTV didn’t make Michael Jackson. MJ made MTV.

By the way, that’s Louis “Thunderthumbs” Johnson on the bass line. Yeah, that cat is bad.

Supposedly Michael told Daryl Hall that he swiped this bass line from I Can’t Go For That. Don’t know if Madonna ever owned up to her heist for Like A Virgin.

Michael Jackson – Beat It [#1 (3 wks), 18 wks]

Another iconic song and video released right on the heels of Billie Jean. The rock sound and presence of Eddie Van Halen helped spread the mass appeal of the album, and soon everyone would have a copy. When this hit #1, it replaced Toto’s Africa, which had replaced Billie Jean. But the real story is how the master recording got accidentally erased after Eddie’s solo, and Steve Lukather, Jeff Porcaro, and Steve Porcaro had to recreate the track to preserve it. It’s all in Luke’s autobiography, which I highly recommend.

Michael Jackson – Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ [#5, 11 wks]

Thriller would only yield MJ two #1s, but it was the first album to generate seven Top 10 singles. In the breakdown, Jackson incorporates some of Manu Dibango’s Soul Makossa, creating the bridge from 70s disco to 80s synth-driven dance music.

Michael Jackson – Human Nature [#7, 11 wks]

The fifth single takes Michael to the quiet storm format, a track initially discovered by Quincy Jones on the b-side of a demo cassette recorded by Steve Porcaro. Steve had the title, and Q loved it. He asked for lyrical help from John Bettis, who had written several Carpenters hits, such as Top of The World and Only Yesterday. Boom – hit #5.

This song has shown up as a sample in many tunes, such as SWV’s Right Here (Remix), and it also received a “backstory” courtesy of the guys from the Yacht Rock episode series. (watch at your own discretion)

Michael Jackson – P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) [#10, 9 wks]

This one is probably my favorite on the album. Written mainly by James Ingram with some assistance from Q, it will peak at #10 while the song below was still climbing at #2. Also, Janet and LaToya are singing back-up, which signifies their best chart showing on a single to date [Question – Which one of them would show up on a #1 song first?] Rumor has it that Natalie from The Facts of Life sings back-up too, deepening the Jackson family connection to the fictional Eastland Academy.

Paul McCartney & Michael Jackson – Say Say Say [#1 (6 wks), 18 wks]

I listed this last because it was the final song of 1983 to reach its peak, hitting #1 on December 10th, knocking off Lionel Richie’s All Night Long. [This song will also spend four weeks at #2, meaning it was one of the top two most popular songs for almost three months.] This will be MJ’s seventh Top 10 single for the year. Incredible. The video played on MTV round the clock that holiday season, even giving LaToya a little cameo. I could probably recite Paul & Michael’s Mac N Jac pitch scheme verbatim as I watched it so much.

He also got his H&O revenge by keeping Say It Isn’t So at #2 for four weeks.

The album Thriller had reportedly sold 32 million copies by the end of 1983. If he never did anything else, MJ was now a part of the pop culture forever. But he wasn’t done, not by a long shot. A groundbreaking video directed by John Landis was released as a significant pop culture event on December 3rd, 1983. The dance sequence and his red jacket turned MJ into an icon.

And now his family was ready to cash in. In the next post, we’ll take a peek at what the top looks like for the Jackson family and how it sounds when things get diluted.