From New Orleans to Detroit City, Dallas to Pittsburgh, PA, here’s the Top 20 hits from March 1, 1986:
20. That’s What Friends Are For-Dionne & Friends
This was a song originally recorded by Rod Stewart for the Nightshift soundtrack in 1982 and written by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager. Dionne assembled her ‘friends’ to record this and donated the proceeds to AIDS research, so the fact that this was a #1 hit on the Pop, Soul and AC charts meant all different types of people supported this cause and contributed to an over 3 million dollar donation to a help cure a disease that many did not understand and most feared. Plus you had 4 superstars singing together which was historic in itself. Between them, they are responsible for 157 Top 40 hits.
19. Nikita-Elton John
Elton is back to back with himself and his first Top 10 in almost two years. This is a very Russian Top 20 and the music reflects the challenges of our relationship with the USSR. Nikita uses our chilly relations as a backdrop for a romance that will never be with George Michael vamping at the end.
18. Day By Day-The Hooters
Really? The Hooters? That’s the name you guys decided on? Nina Blackwood claims that they named themselves after a nickname for a melodica. But guys, there’s a chain of restaurants with that name. Who are you foolin’? You knew what you were doing, which makes the famous quote from Bob Geldof – “Who are the fucking Hooters?” – even funnier.
Eric Bazilian, Rob Hyman and producer Rick Chertoff released two well-crafted albums of progressive pop under the name Baby Grand in the late 70s, if that’s your thing. It sure is mine.
17. R.O.C.K. In The U.S.A.-John Cougar Mellencamp
JCM is on name change #2 for his group of Scarecrow hits. This was the closest he’d get to another #1 hit, peaking at #2 behind Rock Me Amadeus, the only other time in the 80s that we picked German over American outside of car choice. Also, JCM tells us to ‘don’t forget James Brown‘. We won’t. He’s in the Top 5.
Russian song #2 – Sting addresses the threat of a possible nuclear war and our growing feeling of hysteria by pointing out that maybe the Russians love their children too. We’re all the same you know, except for the people pushing the button. Three years after this was a hit, they tore down the Berlin Wall as Sting was in the middle of some mindblowingly chill tantric sex.
15. Conga-Miami Sound Machine
Done being scared? Time to do the Conga, even if you’re not at a wedding reception. Miami Sound Machine was the answer to what happens when Rico & Lola start a band at the Copacabana.
14. Burning Heart-Survivor
The higher up the chart, the less patience we have for those Ruskie bastards. I like to call this one Eye of the Siberian Tiger. Did you know that the lead singer on this song is different than on Eye of the Tiger? Did you know that when Survivor spoofed themselves singing a version of Eye Of the Tiger in a Starbucks commercial they used the wrong lead singer?
13. Tarzan Boy-Baltimora
OHW – I get the feeling that this song was written after a late-night round of Pitfall on Baltimora’s Atari 2600. This song almost made the Top 40 again in 1993 after its release on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III soundtrack. And if this song sounds like it should be selling mouthwash, it eventually did.
12. King For A Day-Thompson Twins
One of my favorite bands of this era. The Thompson Twins were 7 members full on their debut album in 1981. Here’s To Future Days was the last as a trio before they became two, still not twins. King For A Day was their second Top 10 single from this LP, produced by Nile Rodgers. Tom Bailey put out his first proper solo album in 2018 and it’s definitely worth a listen.
11. A Love Bizarre-Sheila E.
What’s lost to history is how much of an influence Sheila Escovedo was on Prince. Because if all you knew of her music was The Glamorous Life and this jam, both written by the Purple One, you might lump her in the same group as Vanity & Appolonia. But she was playing with George Duke and jamming with her father, Pete, way before Prince ever bought a Polymoog and high heels.
10. These Dreams-Heart
Heart would eventually get their first #1 song with this one and would do it with Nancy Wilson on vocals, which is probably what prompted Ann to blow the doors off on their second #1, Alone.
9. Secret Lovers-Atlantic Starr
Cheating songs will always have a place in music. I don’t know why. What couple is buying this single? Is there such a thing as illicit 45 listening get-togethers? When would it be appropriate to slow dance to this?
This song is equal parts sad – the woman is at home waiting for the guy to call. Girl, turn on Oprah while you’re waiting – and funny, with the line “in the middle of making love, we notice the time” No one has ever thought of checking a clock while they’re getting it on unless they are super bored of each other. Or they are the stealthiest cuckolds this side of White Plains.
8. Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground)-Mike + The Mechanics
The first non-Phil member of Genesis to hit the top 40 with the ubiquitous Paul Carrack on lead vocals. This #6 song was from a movie called On Dangerous Ground but more likely was about the 1972 film, Silent Running, both of which no one saw except Roman DeBeers. Oh wait, he’s into hard sci-fi.
7. Life In A Northern Town-Dream Academy
Is this what the Mod Squad would sound like recording Sgt Pepper? Or maybe look like? Produced by David Gilmour of Pink Floyd this is the song that sends me right back to the winter of 85/86. Did they borrow something from She’s Leaving Home because that 3rd verse leading into the chorus gets me every time, just like the Beatles did.
6. When The Going Get Tough, The Tough Get Going- Billy Ocean
Michael Douglas. Kathleen Turner. Danny DeVito. Billy Ocean. Magic.
5. The Sweetest Taboo-Sade
In the past 35 years, Sade has only released 6 studio albums but the band has sold over 75 million worldwide. That is primo bang for the buck. But if they released much more music then we would have population explosions all over the world cause it grooves so hard and we’re already overpopulated. So is Sade the greenest band in the world?
4. Living In America-James Brown
Alan Hunter says that it’s been a decade since JB has had a Top 40 hit. Actually, it’s almost 12 years since Papa Don’t Take No Mess reached #31. Written by Dan Hartman & Charlie Midnight this was JB’s Top 40 swansong, wrapping up the funk with an “I feel good!” And it gets a good spoof by Weird Al to boot.
There was so much talk about what a piece of shit We Built This City was that people forget Starship followed that up this gentle mid-tempo ballad that wasn’t half-bad. At least you can enjoy the confusing video that begins with Mickey Thomas dreaming about his girlfriend Rebecca DeMornay and his mom dying in a tornado. Ah, sweet fantasy.
2. How Will I Know-Whitney Houston
A rare dance hit from Whitney as she keeps the vocals fairly under control. Written by the same folks who would write I Wanna Dance With Somebody, those seemed like simpler times when Whitney was collecting #1s in a barrel and was one step closer to Bobby Brown.
1. Kyrie-Mr. Mister
And on the first day of March, the Lord sayeth I will give you mercy. And the prayers of the Los Angeles quartet, Mr. Mister were answered. The only song title in Latin to hit #1, I believe. I’m not a Celtics fan but please tell me they play this every time Irving dunks.
And there you have it, the Red Dawn Top 40.