If you had Sirius XM in the late 2000s you might have caught an airing of an old 80s American Top 40 countdown with Casey Kasem on the 80s on 8 channel. At some point, they were discontinued and only the 70s channel aired AT40s. The 80s channel instead rebranded the AT40 as the Big 40 countdown referencing the same Billboard Pop charts that Casey used. It was and still is hosted by MTV’s former original DJs Mark Goodman, Nina Blackwood & Alan Hunter [Martha Quinn was involved early on but dropped out.].
In some ways, this newer countdown is superior to Casey’s. For example, since they are not pressed for time the way Casey was nor do they have to stop for commercials, they will use the full single or sometimes the album versions of songs. They will also add in some interesting stories about the artists and/or songs that I have never heard before.
And just like AT40 they will also make an occasional mistake, like the name-checking the wrong album and listing incorrect facts among other slipups. But in this day and age of simple fact-checking as opposed to the endless research the AT40 staff had to perform, I find these errors are sloppy and ridiculous. Nevertheless, the show is entertaining and I will listen to it multiple times to my families delight, horror and the delight again.
This week they played the Top 40 hits from February 20, 1988. Let’s dig into the first six:
40. Live My Life-Boy George
From a movie no one saw (Hiding Out) comes George’s first solo Top 40 single. It never climbs any higher. He’d hit the Top 40 again in 1993 with another soundtrack song, The Crying Game. Produced by the Pet Shop Boys, it reached #15 in the Spring of 1993.
39. Tell It To My Heart-Taylor Dayne
We were entering a new phase of very very white people trying to sound very very black. To me, this is interesting programmed synth pop, dance music that no one danced to. Taylor and this sound were ubiquitous on the radio during the late 80s. Lucky us.
38. I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man-Prince
The 3rd Top 10 from Prince’s Sign ‘O’ The Times LP is sliding down the charts. I honestly was amazed this pop rocker was a hit. Not one of my favorites, but I love Prince and can’t say anything bad about the dude. And if this song kept Poison out of the Top 40, then it’s all good to me. Oh, and Hot Thang was the B-side. BTW he was still in his 20’s when he recorded this album. Unbelievable.
37. The Way You Make Me Feel-Michael Jackson
This is the 3rd of 5 straight #1s from this album. I was so let down by the Bad album. It sounded overproduced and watered down til there was hardly any soul left in it. People say Thriller killed Michael but it was really Bad. I often wonder what the world would be like if Michael retired after that Victory tour.
36. Got My Mind Set On You-George Harrison
A former #1 from George’s last LP. While it was good to see George get the spotlight again in 1987/1988, I always thought this song was a hokey piece of crap. Time has led me to soften my stance a bit to a silly piece of fluff. In a countdown with Tiffany and Debbie Gibson, this is by far the whitest thing on it.
35. Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car-Billy Ocean
Speaking of former Beatles, Alan Hunter talks about Ringo Starr and how creepy You’re Sixteen sounds in 2019 [True, among others…]. And that Billy Ocean stole his title from that song. [Actually, the lines in You’re Sixteen are “You walked out of my dreams and into my arms.” which is close.] He does steal “Your non-stop miracle. I’m your man.” from the Roman Holiday song One Foot In Your Back Door.
I prefer Ocean Billy.