When Joe Jackson’s debut came out in 1979 we barely had any time to digest the full awesomeness of it before he released his 2nd LP later that year. Here’s an article I wrote that’s posted at Culture Sonar on my top Joe Jackson songs from his first two albums: Look Sharp & I’m The Man.
Get out your bowling balls and let’s knock down the last 10.
10. You’re Not Alone – Chicago
There’s a reason why one of the most successful American bands in rock history was kept out of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for so long, beyond the fact that Jan Wenner & Rolling Stone magazine have always had hatred for the band (and anything resembling horn rock) It’s the fact that they abandoned their signature sound in the 80s for treacly ballads like this one to pad their 401Ks.
9. Roni – Bobby Brown
Roni, short for tenderoni, was Bobby’s 3rd straight Top 10 from his smash album, Don’t Be Cruel. What should have been a promising career turned out to be one disaster after another. And if ever there were two people that shouldn’t have gotten together, it was he and Whitney. But like Ralph once said, “If I like the girl, who cares who you like?”
8. Walk The Dinosaur – Was (Not Was)
NAOHW – The answer to how do you write a song about The Flintstones without mentioning Fred or Barney. This may be the only band with parenthesis in their name to hit the Top 10. How did a song with a bridge about Elvis landing in a rocketship and healing some lepers sung by a homeless drunk get this far?
Was (Not Was) was definitely a quirky ensemble mixing rock, jazz, new wave and funk fronted by two distinct R&B singers with some far-out conceptual lyrics and collaborations as wide-ranging as Mel Torme and Ozzy Osborne.
7. She Drives Me Crazy – Fine Young Cannibals
When the English Beat split, Dave Wakeling & Ranking Roger formed General Public. The other 2 members, Andy Cox & David Steele put together the Fine Young Cannibals, recruiting singer Roland Gift who sounds like a mashup of Michael McDonald and Charlie Brown’s teacher funneled through a wah-wah pedal. Their debut didn’t do well in the States, but their 2nd album The Raw & the Cooked hit #1 and spawned 2 #1 singles, Good Thing and this one. And then, poof, they disappeared, never to be heard from again.
6. Lost In Your Eyes – Debbie Gibson
You can discuss whether Alanis Morrissette’s Jagged Little Pill is a great album or whether it still holds up. But it was a tremendous upgrade over irritating babysitter pop like this. We should be hunting down the person who gave little Debbie the keys to a recording studio because we are the real victims. Also, see the movie Welcome To The Dollhouse.
5. My Heart Can’t Tell You No – Rod Stewart
Robert Palmer was offered this song but rather than record it himself, passed it on to his mate, Rod thinking he would be perfect for him. He was right. It was Rod’s first Top 10 in three years and tenth to that point. Meanwhile, Robert never had another Top 10 hit again.
4. The Look – Roxette
We all love Swedish pop but after ABBA broke up, we didn’t know where to get our fix. Then before the 80s ended, Roxette showed up. How much did we like them? Between 1989 and 1991, we helped to push 4 of their songs to #1 and two of them to #2. As they started fading like a flower in 1992, we didn’t know what to do. And that’s when Ace of Base came in. And on it goes. Uff da!
3. Girl You Know It’s True – Milli Vanilli
Milli Vanilli ended up having 5 Top Ten hits from “their” debut, 3 of them reaching #1. This was the first, which hit #2. Everyone knows their story of fortune and fraud, so let me turn your attention to who wrote and released the original version of the song. Because while it may have ended the careers of Rob & Fab, it propelled others.
In 1987, a Baltimore, MD group of rappers & DJs called NuMarx released a 12′ single called Girl You Know It’s True, written by the group and including the keyboardist for Starpoint. It was a regional hit but eventually found its way over to Europe, specifically to Germany where Milli Vanilli producer Frank Farian heard it.
One songwriter, DJ Spen aka Sean Spencer joined the Basement Boys who were heavy players in the house music scene of the 90s and produced and/or remixed hits for Michael Jackson, Paula Abdul, Crystal Waters and Erykah Badu. Bill Petteway ended up writing songs for Sweet Sensation, Starpoint and Linear. I don’t how much if anything the writers received but I hope it was ample.
One of the original vocalists on the Milli Vanilli track was Charles Shaw who was supposedly paid $6000 for his “rap”.
2. Eternal Flame – Bangles
This number one song, The Bangles’ second, kept the other Girl as a bridesmaid when it hit the top. They were the first non-Motown girl group to have multiple #1s in the US. The song was also a big hit in Sweden as part of our Bangles-Roxette international music ambassador series.
1. The Living Years – Mike + The Mechanics
And now we’ve finally risen to the top because it truly sucks up here. The other Genesis spin-off not named Phil Collins to score themselves a number one hit, one I’m sure is not played much in June. Isn’t there a rule against church choirs in pop songs? There’s definitely a rule against an album credit for a choirmaster in your liner notes. I’m not sure anyone asked God to borrow them and you know he hates devil music like this. That’s probably why Mike & The Mechanics would never have another hit after this one, at least thus far in their living years.
Oh well, now that the final pin is down I’m gonna lay down in the gutter. We’ll see if 1987 picks me up next week and buys me a Caucasian.
OHW – One-Hit-Wonder
NAOHW – Not A One-Hit-Wonder
PFK – Perfect for karaoke
RAR – Rite-Aid Rock
From Seattle, Florida to Miami, Washington, these are the biggest hits of the land chosen by balding neophytes who’ll be in the pharmaceutical business within the next 5 years. So let’s get right to it:
25. Like A Prayer – Madonna
Madonna made everyone her bitch by the end of the decade, always thinking one step beyond her audience. And she knew it wouldn’t take much to freak people out – a video featuring a stigmata, kissing a black Jesus and oh yeah, dancing in front of burning crosses. I wasn’t sure about that one, but once the video aired and controversy ensued, Pepsi canceled her ad campaign but let her keep the money. What a boss!
24. Heaven Help Me – Deon Estus
OHW – and a song you’d hear waiting in line at a drug store, so I’m gonna label it Rite-Aid Rock (RAR). Deon was a bass player from Detroit who got some primo music lessons from the Funk Brother James Jamerson. He parlayed that into a gig with Harvey Mason, singing on his album M.V.P. in 1981 and singing lead on his first recorded version of the song Spell. After he traveled to Europe hooking up with a new pop group called Wham! UK, he became their secret ingredient anchoring their marshmallow pop with a funky bottom. When it came time to record his debut, his pal, George (Michael) not only co-wrote but also produced and sang on the Top 5 Heaven Help Me, as well as giving Deon an opening slot on his Faith tour.
23. Straight Up – Paula Abdul
Paula Abdul’s debut album was a flop in 1988. The first two singles didn’t go anywhere. But then as 88 became 89, she had a miraculous turnaround with some rare record support making this song the first of 4 #1 singles. Her boyfriend, Arsenio, made a cameo in the video too.
22. Cryin’ – Vixen
What the Bangles were to pop, Vixen was to hard rock. An all-girl band is rare enough but to find one in the boys club of hair metal was like finding a record needle in a haystack (or the lead singer’s hair.)
21. More Than You Know – Martika
Kids Incorporated was a music kid’s show that aired from 1984-1994, but I have yet to meet someone who watched it. It was a launching ground for singers Fergie, Rahsaan Patterson and Marta Marrero aka Martika. Her debut yielded 3 Top 40 hits with this one as the first, reaching the top 20 in the US & UK.
20. Your Mama Don’t Dance – Poison
I get the feeling the only reason they covered this song was that someone awoke from their cocaine stupor and heard “Outta the car, long hair” while a tow truck backed their car out of aisle 4 of a Travelodge pool. Again.
19. I Beg Your Pardon – Kon Kan
Can con is short for Canadian content, which assures Canadian artists that they have a 60% chance of getting their music played on Canadian radio, which is why we’ve heard of the Barenaked Ladies. Also Kon Kan, who mash up an original retro disco track with a sample of Lynn Anderson’s Rose Garden. It will reach #15. They also get some points for adding the hard to find National Lampoon sample, “Do you want to Hustle? Do you want to salsa?”
18. You Got It (The Right Stuff) – New Kids On The Block
I dated a girl in high school who loved these guys. She was 17 at the time. I told her she was a little too old for that teeny bopper stuff. She told me that I reminded her of Donnie. I think of that every time I watch The Sixth Sense.
17. Superwoman – Karyn White
Karyn White had a boatload of hits in the late 80s and early 90s. Then by the end of the 90s, she dropped out of the music scene and is now a SuperRealtor – *finger snaps*
16. You Got It – Roy Orbison
Roy had been a big star in the early 60s but became a casualty of the incoming British Invasion even as some of those bands idolized him. His worthy late 80s resurgence as a Traveling Wilbury and his classic Mystery Girl album saw Roy get his last Top 10 hit, 23 years after his last one. Sadly, he didn’t get to experience that as he passed away in December 1988.
15. Just Because – Anita Baker
We needed Anita. We need more Anitas. We almost didn’t get her. Her mother abandoned Anita as a toddler and her foster parent died when she was 12. She struggled her entire life just to survive, so the fact that she eventually “made it” was remarkable, due not only to her talent and perseverance but fulfilling her destiny.
Anita was one of only 5 Black female artists in the 80s with a #1 album as Giving You The Best That I Got spent 4 weeks in late 1988 on top.
14. Stand – R.E.M.
R.E.M. didn’t want to be a cult band with college rock cred. They wanted to sell out arenas. So they created very simple, sometimes incredible dumb songs, usually one per album to get some radio airplay, hence this track and eventually Shiny Happy People.
13. Don’t Tell Me Lies – Breathe
Here are some facts about the band, Breathe that you may not know. Their debut album spun off 3 Top 10 songs, this one being the third. They had two more Top 40 hits from their 2nd album, Peace of Mind. David Glasper was being groomed for a solo career but he nor the band ever released any more material. [Correction – David self-released a CD in 2014.]
12. Dreamin’ – Vanessa Williams
RAR – might even hear this walking through a casino buffet line. Vanessa was the first Black woman to win the Miss America crown, so of course, we all looked at our watch counting the minutes before someone took it away. Vanessa would eventually resign, not because of the death threats and hate mail, but because of nude photographs of her and another woman posed together. Gasp, I know, especially because that sounds like a Nicki Minaj album cover.
Vanessa would shoot down the haters and enjoy a successful career in acting, fashion designing and music. This would be her first Top 40 hit reaching #10.
Fun fact – One of the Miss America 1984 judges was Rod McKuen who wrote Seasons In the Sun. Make your own joke up here.
11. Paradise City – Guns N’ Roses
“Take me down to the paradise city where the grass is green and the girls are pretty.” That’s not a long walk from here to Kid Rock. How interesting that in 1989 utopia consisted of hot chicks and quality landscaping.
Are you feeling like Bill Murray lugging the pastor’s clubs in the rain? Don’t worry the storm is almost over…
OHW – One-Hit-Wonder
NAOHW – Not A One-Hit-Wonder
PFK – Perfect for karaoke
RAR – Rite-Aid Rock
Happy Spring. Rejuvenation. Rebirth. Everything’s blooming. All that crap. Let’s check out what
we you were into on March 25, 1989
40. One – Metallica
Wow! Who would have thought in 1988 that Metallica would be in the Top 40. That was the power of MTV back then because this video was the most popular on the channel for months on end and it obviously helped get the song noticed. It was truly a big deal.
But as I listen to it today, it makes me laugh. I can’t take it seriously because it sounds like a parody of speed metal. The production on it is surprisingly bad and very dated. Many believe Master of Puppets is a definitive thrash metal album, but And Justice For All which features One is just the band’s first big step away from the genre into the mainstream hard rock of their “black album” in 1991.
39. Feels So Good – Van Halen
This was the 4th Top 40 Single from 1988’s OU812, which makes it their most successful singles album. That is the most interesting about it. I imagine that Cabo Wabo shots were passed around in the recording studio.
38. Wild Thing – Tone Loc
This is the first of two songs by one of the worst representatives of rap. Tone’s flow absolutely sucks. The beats are pretty weak, produced for girls dancing in cages and frat boys spraying Natty light at them. This is coming down from its height of #2 kept off the top by Paula Abdul. Also, we’re hearing back to back Van Halen because they are using a sample of Jamie’s Cryin’ for which the band had to sue Tone to get some money. To this day they are not listed as co-songwriters.
37. The Love In Your Eyes – Eddie Money
Eddie had a rebirth in the late 80s with the surprise hit, Take Me Home Tonight. From that point, he had 6 more Top 40 songs between 1987 and 1992, each one less distinctive than the next. This one was somewhere in that streak. Considering how many other great songs could have filled these positions, it’s really a crime.
36. Orinoco Flow (Sail Away) – Enya
NAOHW – Ok, so we’ve had metal, corporate rock, rap and now…new age? Good for you 1989. Enya’s success marked the end of the first wave of new age music. Now that a viable market for the genre had emerged, record companies starting looking for ways to exploit it. Is it really cool or kinda scary that the entire song is pretty much Enya and a Roland D-50?
35. She Won’t Talk To Me – Luther Vandross
Luther worked so hard in the music business to have success and after 15+ years he only had 4 Top hits to show for it, with this one only reaching #30. Thankfully the 90s were kinder to him, but the man died in 2006 at age 54 with so much more to give.
34. The Lover In Me – Sheena Easton
Did anyone think Sheena would have hits on R&B radio after she sang the vanilla Morning Train? But this one would go Top 5 on the Pop & Soul charts, her 3rd Top 20 on the latter listing. Co-written by Babyface who would soon take over the pop charts in the early 90s, this was his 3rd fruitful songwriting venture for a female artist after Pebbles & Karyn White, but the first for an established singer.
33. Sincerely Yours – Sweet Sensation
Another group in the Latin Supremes mold who had hits in the late 80s/early 90s which everyone forgets about.
32. Thinking Of You – Sa-Fire
OHW – Sa-Fire was having none of that sharing the spotlight with two other ladies. She could have a hit and be forgotten all on her own.
31. Rocket – Def Leppard
The LP Hysteria had some full utters cause they milked this hard for a year and a half. This was the 6th Top 40 hit from that album and we were beginning to get Lep-Lash. Their next album came out 5 years after this one and I swear it had the same songs on it with different titles.
30. Room To Move – Animotion
In some sort of Trading Places-like bet, a few record execs wondered “what if we replace the faces and founding members of a band? Would anyone notice? Would anyone care?” So they held on to the “name”, got rid of most of the members and hired two new lead singers, keeping the guitarist and the keyboard player, probably the quietest ones. No drums, no bass – to keep costs down, I’m sure.
And it worked. They pushed this song all the way up to the Top 10 led by the former lead singer from Device and Penny from Dirty Dancing. After the record company cashed their checks, they broke up their band before any former members crashed their Christmas party.
29. Surrender To Me – Ann Wilson & Robin Zander
Heart & Cheap Trick are both in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. But their respective lead singers have never been in the Top 40 by themselves. Ann shared a duet with Mike Reno in 1984 and for Robin Zander, this was it. From a Michelle Pfeiffer/ Mel Gibson movie that no one saw, I have no recollection of this Top 10 song even after I hear it.
28. Second Chance – .38 Special
Y’all we need some hits. That probably came from someone left in the band when the band’s lead singer Don Barnes left in 1987. Do you even know that he left? Couldn’t tell – I had no clue. Did you know Donnie Van Zant doesn’t play with them either? What was it all for?
27. I’ll Be There For You – Bon Jovi
If you buy an album called New Jersey then you get what you paid for. Even Springsteen knew to abbreviate the state cause NJ could mean anything to your imagination. Nice Jacket. Never Joking. Naked Janet. It could go on…
26. Funky Cold Medina – Tone Loc
Another song that paved the way for watered-down Top 40 hip-hop from folks like Vanilla Ice. This reached #3? My Lord, were we that desperate for a raspy rapper that we fell in love with this one too? There were legendary rap albums being released at this time – Eric B & Rakim’s Follow The Leader, Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back, Jungle Brothers’ Straight Outta The Jungle – but we were enamored with and preferred a guy putting Spanish fly in ladies’ drinks. Then, of course, add in the childish gag of Tone going home with a woman and it turns out to be a MAN. Jesus, I’m not into banning music, but if we’re going to take songs out of the library, make this one of them.
Let’s hope that justice is not napping and the next 15 kick it up a notch.
OHW – One-Hit-Wonder
NAOHW – Not A One-Hit-Wonder
PFK – Perfect for karaoke
Before we review the Top 10 from March 13, 1982, I noticed something strange that usually only happens over the Christmas break. 9 out of the 10 songs are in the same position that they were in last week with the only new entry at #7.
Dan wrote this tribute to his dad, Lawrence, a former bandleader. It peaked at #9 just months before Fogelberg Sr. passed away. One of the very few hit songs that praise the dad for once. Now I don’t mean to disparage the man but I often wonder what kind of a guy he was when I hear lines like: “He earned his love through discipline, a thundering velvet hand.” I can’t help but think of that band instructor in Whiplash. Maybe Dan had a few cymbals thrown his way.
Also, this is the second song from The Innocent Age where Dan passive aggressively complains about being a musician. He already bitched about the road being “hell” in Same Old Lang Syne. Now we get the “And I’m in Colorado when I’m not in some hotel living out this life I’ve chose…” as he explains where all the “leader’s” kids live. Living out, like a prison sentence? Boo-hoo, Dan. That reminds me of the old joke – How many hookers can fit into a hotel room? Depends on your album sales.
The lead single from Freeze Frame is finishing off its last week of a 6 week run at #1. The band had finally reached massive mainstream success, only to have everything begin to fall apart. After a follow-up live album, Peter Wolf left the band for a solo career which he maintains to this day. The band put out one more studio album in 1984 and then broke up, never to record again.
I can’t help thinking of this song without imagining my shaky ass roller skating in circles to it. I got a sweet pair of royal blue leather skates with a red and white stripe that Christmas and would look forward to Saturday afternoons, where I would go to the Levittown Arena and skate with my cousins. When this song came on, I made sure I was out there waiting for the 1-2-3-4, pretending I was drumming into a snare full of milk. Then I’d usually fall, but I didn’t care. I was hoping we’d finish up with a Kitchen Sink sundae at nearby Jahn’s Ice Cream parlor.
They closed the arena but part of that building is still there, converted to a Goodwill. I went in there to shop about 15 years ago and in the corner near the dressing rooms, I notice a piece of linoleum that had lifted off. And there it was, lying underneath it – a piece of that warped wood skating floor.
Next week I’ll be thinking about March 1989 with a far off stare and some PTSD.
20. I Can’t Go For That – Daryl Hall & John Oates
Being twice as nice. Repeating the same old lines. That.
Things Daryl Hall doesn’t go for!
Congratulations you just won the $20,000 Pyramid. Man, that Dick Van Patten was always a good partner.
How did we deal with Ted Koppel interviewing Yasser Arafat on Nightline while all the planets lined up on the same side of the sun? By checking out and tuning in to this Top 40 countdown from March 13, 1982.
Strange days indeed, but a fairly solid top 20 for this countdown of March 10, 1984, with most of these songs a great representation of 1980s music.
This was Kool & the Gang’s biggest hit after Celebration, peaking at #2 and kept off the top of the mountain by Culture Club. So who is Joanna? Who knows? It was actually written about one of the band member’s mom and since Toto had a #2 with Rosanna, they figured they could have a #2 hit as well. Anyone wanna try Susanna?
An Innocent Man, the album, was a tribute to songs and artists from Billy’s youth. An Innocent Man, the song, was a tribute to folks like Ben E. King from the Drifters and was Billy’s 3rd straight Top 10 from his LP. I sure wish they would replace The Longest Time on oldies stations with this one.
Daryl wasn’t sure which was the correct pronunciation of adult so it sang it both ways – ah-dult & uh-dult. Were we supposed to tell him which one was right?
Danny, you’re out of your element.
Ruth Pointer does her best Barry White impression on this Top 5 smash co-written by Mark Goldenberg formerly of the Cretones, from their album Break Out, which they certainly did.
Another member of Fleetwood Mac got to join the solo party. This was actually Christine’s 2nd solo album, but the first released under her married name of Christine McVie. With backing vocals & synth work by Steve Winwood, this track sailed up to #10 and #1 on the AC charts.
OHW – No No No Nooooo…..and her only Top 40 hit reached #8, with the distinction of being a great song to club or breakdance to.
My least favorite DD song, if you must know. Just doesn’t do it for me, not enough John Taylor funk. But I think at this point DD could have released a recording of them farting in a box and it would have made the Top 10.
The last hit for the Police was another Top 10 single from Synchronicity, but all I can think of when I hear this song is who is going to clean up all that wax?
“I’m a man who doesn’t know how to sell the contradiction.” Oh, that cheeky George. This was a Culture Club’s only #1 hit and you can tell by listening to the way it was produced it was made for pop radio – short, succinct, catchy. The video is hysterical as it’s supposed to take place in Mississippi in the late 1800s so while everyone is costumed for that time period George is still Boy George. Plus later in the video, you can see parts of London’s tall buildings in the distance. Nice job, editor.
Fun fact – James Taylor sued them for plagiarism because he said they ripped off his song Handy Man…which he himself didn’t write.
People like to talk about the split personalities of Kenny Loggins: Movie Kenny and Yacht Rock Kenny. But there wouldn’t be a Movie Kenny, if it weren’t for Yacht Rock Kenny. And Yacht Rock Kenny couldn’t keep going without Movie Kenny. Movie Kenny is at the height of his powers with this #1 track, which means in 1985 everyone will get some Yacht Rock Kenny.
Annie Lennox – it’s so amazing when true talent breaks through. And Dave’s no slouch either. But what sells this band for me is hearing Annie’s voice – moody, ethereal, bluesy – like a dream that you don’t want to wake from. The lead single from the Eurythmics 3rd album, Touch, climbed up to #4 and proved that this duo was far from a new wave fad and more of a talented force to be reckoned with.
According to Huey Lewis, this was the original version of Ghostbusters and he let the courts know it. Perfect song for Yuppies to misinterpret.
Recorded during the Double Fantasy sessions but left off the final album, this was eventually rediscovered by Yoko when she compiled Milk & Honey, an album of mostly finished tracks John had recorded in 1980. I wonder whether this would have been a hit had John still been alive. Then again would he have released it, buried it, or changed it so significantly that it wasn’t any good? Maybe we just wanted to hear John’s voice on the radio one more time, which might explain Julian’s success later in the year.
Ken Gordy is climbing the charts. Actually, the son of Berry Gordy didn’t want anyone to think his dad gave him a job (even though he did). So he changed his name and hired the most famous singer in the world to sing the chorus. Rockwell followed this slab of paranoia with an obsession over an obscene phone caller. His later release, Why Is This Water Wet? did not chart.
We have back-to-back perennial Halloween classics with Michael Jackson vocals, peaking in early March, at least for their first go-round. This was the 7th Top 10 hit from the LP, Thriller, which had been released 68 weeks prior to this countdown.
The Berlin band, Nena was the most popular German artist in America during its jingoistic heyday and on the Top 40, this song reached #2. Although if your red-white-and-blue-Chevy-truck-driving machismo couldn’t handle it, you could flip the 45 over to hear the English version called 99 Red Balloons. FYI – Luft is not German for red.
It’s hard to believe that Cyndi was in her early 30’s when she released her debut album, but she had been working at it for a long time. This track would stay at #2 behind Van Halen but has endured as a pop classic for all time. Turn this on if you want to see every woman in the room start dancing. Quite funny for a song written by a guy (Robert Hazard). In the video Cyndi’s mom is played by her real mom, Catrine and her boyfriend in the tux is Steve Forbert, trying to bring her some Southern kisses to her room.
1. Van Halen – Jump (3rd Week at #1)
Eddie buys a new Oberheim synth and voila! – peak Van Halen. Their only #1 hit and it was all downhill from here. In one year’s time, we’d be putting up with David Lee Roth’s Vegas act and then settling for new vocalist Sammy Hagar, which relieved all creative tension within the band and thus all interesting aspects of their music and performance.
Did Edwin Moses use this song as motivation for his gold medals? Or did he wait on the Pointer Sisters? Regardless we can all agree that Roth was an innovator when it came to yoga pants.
The numbers trickle down and your taxes go higher. Let’s continue reviewing the Top 40 from March 10, 1984:
This is a cover of an Ian Thomas song from an album that also had the original version of Hold On, a hit by Santana. It should have been peaking on the charts during July & August while the Summer Olympics were in full swing in Los Angeles minus the Russians. So I’m calling it (gunshot) – False Start!
It’s NRA’s favorite band. But seriously, .38 Special did fill a niche in the 80s as there was almost no Southern rock on the charts anymore. A straight-up pop-rocker with barely any roots showing it was their 3rd Top 20 hit.
The first of two CC hits on the countdown. I think this was a band that MTV hurt rather than helped. Boy George’s image was so strong and recognizable, it overshadowed the fact that they were a talented pop group with a knack for catchy songs with George’s smooth soulful vocals like sweet icing on the cake.
“The politicians are now DJs.” Thankfully, no. Would anyone want to hear the Mondale & Ferraro morning zoo each weekday at 7 AM? Most people would never get out of bed. I digress, a great new wave dance song.
At the beginning of 1984, Sheena was still pining away for a lost love. By the end of the year, she reinvented herself and was strutting around, calling the shots, and stomping all over the dude with her high heels.
By their 3rd album, Into the Gap, the Thompson Twins found the perfect balance of humanity and warmth within synthesized music, resulting in their biggest hit. And it’s got some killer xylophone.
There was a major backlash against the name Bee Gees in the 80s, but not so for the music. Because the Gibbs continued turning out great tunes with their signature sound for other artists and still had hits, such as this one, the follow-up to Islands In The Stream, which is sitting at its peak of #23.
Phil got his first Top 10 in early 1983 with You Can’t Hurry Love which probably helped Genesis get their first one a year later. Philgenecollinsis is spreading!
I don’t care for exclusivity in the term “yacht rock” [it’s actually called Westcoast music all around the world], but if I had to pick a song to explain YR to someone, this would be it. This Grammy-winning track produced by Quincy Jones and co-written by Q & Rod Temperton is at once funky and smooth, where Ingram’s wolf-like howl pairs beautifully with McDonald’s gruff tenor. A gem off of Ingram’s excellent It’s Your Night LP
20. KC – Give It Up
Let’s not mince words – disco music died off in the US in the early 80s because of two factors – homophobia/racism or the fact that some of the artists partied too hard and burned themselves out. KC & the Sunshine Band, as well as 99% of the other disco artists, fell victim to the former. Even though KC saw the writing on the wall and recorded two ballads – Please Don’t Go & Yes, I’m Ready with Teri Desario – which hit #1 & #2, respectively as the 80s decade dawned, the mere name of his band closed the doors to any further radio airplay, even as the band continued to make good but not outstanding albums. Also, KC was in a bad car accident in 1981 and had to rehab for 6 months learning how to walk and play keyboards again.
KC’s third album of the 1980s, All In A Night’s Work dropped in 1982 and featured Give It Up which became a #1 hit in the UK in the Summer of 1983. When Epic Records refused to release it stateside, KC left the label, released it himself and it became a Top 20 hit.
Does the rest of the countdown prep up for more Olympic jams? Or will it revel in its own jingoism? Check back later this week to find out.
For all of you folks born on March 10, 1984, Happy 35th Birthday. These are the songs that “we” collectively agreed were the most popular that week:
The band formerly known as Huang Chung released an album in 1982. When they released how stupid that name was they changed it to…Wang Chung. Their 2nd single from Points on The Curve was this one and it became their first Top 40 single reaching #38.
Much better than an owner of a broken heart, so saith Yes, grammatical errors and all. But is it really much better to be alone than to have lost and lost? The verses say no but the chorus says yes. Ha ha ha…now go jump off a building.
NAOHW …and Twilley don’t mind. Cause he traded in his old partner, Phil Seymour for a new friend named Tom Petty who helps out on the chorus with Dwight, probably a factor in it reaching #16. Now when was the last time you heard this one on the radio?
From the Grammy-winning Album of the Year, Can’t Slow Down, this track was one of 5 Top 10 singles that the album spawned, and one of two #1s. Considering that the album spent the entire year of 1984 in the Top 10, this should have been as big as Thriller was. But unfortunately, his videos weren’t as good as Michael’s and so all we remember are ones like Hello where some blind chick makes a clay bust of Lionel that looks more like Ron Perlman in his Beast makeup.
It took four albums for The Romantics to finally have a Top 40 hit with this track which was sliding down from its #3 peak, though What I Like About You has endured a lot longer. [and that only reached #49…what the hell?] This song is packed tight like four guys in black leather suits and was produced by Pete Solley, a former member of Procol Harum & Whitesnake (nice resume).
The last original US Top 40 song for Queen, which just isn’t right. It’s the first US hit written by Roger Taylor, so finally, each member of the band had written a Top 40 hit.
This week as Genesis is coming down Phil is going up. And when he hit #1 the floodgates opened and the hits didn’t stop for another 10 years. First Phil then Genesis. Then Genesis then Phil. Until they morphed into Philgenecollinsis, which everyone ran to get a vaccine for. By the way, I’m sure that Phil’s divorce to his first wife was painful, but kudos to him for wringing a bunch of hits out of it.
ONJ was riding those pop charts hard in the late 70s and early 80s, but here is where you can start to see the wheels coming off. This cocaine jitter of a song was the second release from the soundtrack to the movie, Grease Two (of A Kind), which kept Travolta in his professional freefall but dragged poor Sandy down with him. [Should have talked the family into staying in Australia.]
Between MTV and our second British Invasion, there were a lot of Brits making the pop chart in the 80s. We’re at #32 and this is Brit #5 – newcomer Paul Young, not to be confused with Sad Cafe’s Paul Young, who would eventually be Mike & The Mechanics’ Paul Young.
I have always been a big Howard Jones fan. Although he’s had some success in the U.S. I felt that his songwriting took a critical hit because he was a synth artist. Now isn’t everyone these days? [Don’t know if that’s good, though]. Also not sure why Peter Gabriel didn’t try to get a cut from this one.
The comeback story of Tina Turner in 1984 is the best one in rock history as far as I’m concerned. Imagine having a big career in R&B music, and then forced to risk everything, having to leave a very abusive relationship, and start completely over with nothing to your name. Then imagine trying to reinvent yourself as an African-American woman in rock. It was a long road of eight years after she left Ike, but she got her first Top 40 hit with her melancholy cover of Al Green’s classic sprinkled with just enough new wave flourishes, provided by Heaven 17’s Martyn Ware, to sound modern. She’ll finish the decade with eleven more Top 40 hits and the title of biggest bad-ass.