The hits get bigger while your patience gets smaller. We’re halfway up the mountain of popularity for the week of February 20, 1988.
20. Endless Summer Nights-Richard Marx
Pop radio was morphing into two factions as the 80s wore on – pop dance and pop AC. You had to pick a side to get some play and Richard was happy to pick the softer group.
19. Push It-Salt N Pepa
Otherwise known as the Bullshit song. This ‘remix’ of the original comes off as more of a club song than a rap record. It barely shows what Salt and/or Pepa can bring to the table. Luckily they had more opportunities to show us in the 90s.
18. Just Like Paradise-David Lee Roth
The fact that the bulk of Van Halen fans hung on to Van Hager proves how thin David Lee Roth’s act became. On his new album, Skyscraper, he’s a rock climber. Get the metaphor? How witty. This song still made the Top 10 and most people forget it exists.
17. Everywhere-Fleetwood Mac
See #20. Get in where you fit in. Tango In The Night was the true sequel to Rumours, where the lies and bitterness are soothed by mountains of money.
16. I Found Someone-Cher
A song co-written by Michael Bolton and once recorded by Laura Branigan was resurrected by Cher. I’ll watch Cher act in just about anything (well, anything before the surgeries) but her music career and song choices, while highly successful over many decades, is bafflingly horrible.
15. Hazy Shade Of Winter-The Bangles
For a band so influenced by 60s pop, this was inevitable and the inspired choice of an obscure Simon & Garfunkel cover was recorded for the soundtrack to Less Than Zero. They would have one more year of chart success before they split and, regardless of their many reunions, would never hit the charts again.
14. Need You Tonight-INXS
I was a big fan of INXS but with Listen Like Thieves, I saw the writing on the wall. Cut to Kick and this track, their only #1 sounded like the thinnest song in the world. The band is hardly even there. Why wasn’t this just a Michael Hutchence solo record?
13. Pump Up The Volume-M/A/R/R/S
Novelty hits were rare commodities in the late 80s, but no one could deny the power of this funky jam. Born out of a collaboration between members of A.R. Kane and Colourbox, it was highly influential in the early UK house scene and notable for a barrage of samples from James Brown, Kool & The Gang, Rakim & Chuck D as well as the Bar-Kays Holy Ghost and Ofra Haza’s Im Nin Alu. Plus the first breakdown [the before “watch me, yeah, do it”] is super fresh.
12. I Get Weak-Belinda Carlisle
It’s all in the title.
11. Can’t Stay Away From You-Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine
Every year this same group of folks would release an LP with a new band name. First Miami Sound Machine then Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine and then just Gloria Estefan so, less jarring than the John Cougar evolution, less coy than the Sergio Mendes conglomerates. A Latin band that had too many ballads.
10. I Want To Be Your Man-Roger
The only Top 40 success that Roger and/or Zapp had, save for California Love with Dr Dre & Tupac in 1996. What exactly was thinking behind a ballad with this much talkbox on it? How do you get someone in the mood blowing through a spit filled tube while your teeth are rattling out of your mouth?
9. Don’t Shed a Tear-Paul Carrack
The man who played with Ace, Squeeze, Nick Lowe, Roxy Music and Mike & the Mechanics gets his one and only Top 10 hit here, sitting at its peak. He should have had more big hits until we heard The Living Years and we banished him for life.
8. Never Gonna Give You Up-Rick Astley
See #39 or get Rick-rolled.
7. She’s Like The Wind-Patrick Swayze
The Dirty Dancing soundtrack was in full swing and was such a chart monster that they starting releasing the album filler which became hits too.
“Feel your breath in my face, your body close to me. Can’t look in your eyes. You’re out of my league.” Now think about a guy in his 30’s singing that to your 17-year-old.
6. Say You Will -Foreigner
Foreigner had one speed from 1977-1979: horndog. From 1981-1988 they had 2 speeds: horndog and tender horndog. This is from the latter.
5. Hungry Eyes-Eric Carmen
Believe it or not Eric’s last Top 40 hit was only 3 years previous to this one, but it felt like he’d been gone for a decade. Another predatory Dirty Dancing entry, but for Eric Carmen, if it made a new generation ask “Who are The Raspberries?” then so be it.
4. Father Figure-George Michael
George Michael was one talented dude. I was a fan of Wham! and all of his solo ventures. He had the world at his feet with the ability to create some deep and beautiful music that might blow our minds one day but instead, he turned away from that opportunity. That’s a story for another day.
Father Figure is a fucked up song, maybe even a cry for help, but definitely one we need to retire from public airplay. People have tried to rationalize or talk away the creepiness factor, but calling yourself a father figure to someone, wanting to be naked at their side and singing in the sexiest voice possible opens yourself up to this kind of criticism. Remember he’s not asking to be one, he’s telling and he refers to the other person repeatedly as baby, with tiny hands and the eyes of a child. The video where he plays a taxi driver stalking a model doesn’t assuage this icky feeling.
Read the lyrics and tell me what you think, because just when you think it couldn’t be about one thing his choice of words negate that. And words matter.
3. Could’ve Been-Tiffany
Just because a mall spawned her does not lessen the fact that what goes for Debbie goes for Tiffany.
2. What Have I Done To Deserve This?-Pet Shop Boys with Dusty Springfield
Something good in the Top 3. This was written for Dusty while they recorded their first album, but she passed. After the album’s success and a second plea, she accepted. Supposedly she was living in some fleabag motel after nearly a decade and a half of recording with no success in England or in the U.S. She knew that soul came from the heart, not the throat (hear that, Michael?) which is why her voice sounded so honest and true. The compliment to Neil Tennant’s near-deadpan singing style and lush production made this jump out on the radio every time it was played. I could listen to Dusty vamping, as she does at the end, forever.
1. Seasons Change-Expose
Seasons change. People change. That apathetic sentiment is not even good enough to go on a $1 Trader Joes greeting card. This was the most popular song of the week? For this to be #1 is like Geraldo opening Al Capone’s vault – all buildup, full letdown.