On this past week’s Top 40 countdown from 1986, something occurred which stands a rarity as two different songs with the same title, I Can’t Wait, appeared. It started on April 5th when Nu Shooz debuted at #39 while Stevie Nicks’s song climbed into the Top 20. This continued for the full month of April before Stevie fell out of the Top 40 beginning in May as Nu Shooz continued their climb.
I did some exhaustive research could not find this ever happening again. (Full discretion – my research wasn’t as exhaustive as I reached this decade, but still couldn’t find one.) There have been instances of this happening within a calendar year, for example, The Carpenters & Murray Head both had Top 40 hits in 1971 with a song titled Superstar. And we know that over time artists have had big hits with different songs but the same title. Some examples of both songs hitting number one would be:
Venus – Frankie Avalon & Shocking Blue (Bananarama hit #1 too, but that a Shocking Blue cover)
Best Of My Love – The Eagles & The Emotions
Big Girls Don’t Cry – The Four Seasons & Fergie
Jump – Van Halen & Kris Kross
We’ve also had “opposite” songs, such as in February 1985 when Billy Ocean’s Loverboy was in the Top 40 along with Teena Marie’s Lovergirl.
But I have yet to find another instance like April 1986 and there’s probably a good reason for that. Record companies are very careful not to release a song that’s going to get confused with another artist’s. in 1981 when Sheena Easton was getting ready to release her debut song in the U.S. called 9 To 5, EMI records thought it was probably better to retitle it Morning Train so it wouldn’t get confused with Dolly Parton’s emerging hit, 9 To 5 from the film she co-starred in at the time. Both would hit #1 so it was a good strategy. What happened in April 1986 could not have been predicted and some good luck and fortune had to come to the Portland band led by Valerie Day & John Smith in order to even be at the same place in time as Stevie Nicks.
Stevie’s record company chose I Can’t Wait as the follow-up single to Talk To Me in early 1986 from her 1985 album Rock A Little. Nu Shooz original version of I Can’t Wait was recorded in late 1984, and was self-released on the band’s own label, Poolside Recordings in early 1985. The “Dutch” mix remixed by Peter Slaghuis and produced by the Drone Bros was released in the Netherlands in the Fall of 1985. No one could have expected that to take off, let alone garner the band a record contract from Atlantic Records complete with distribution and promotion. Even more surprising was how quickly the single took off after its February 1986 release and by the start of April, it was already in the Top 40 as Stevie’s song was getting ready to peak at #16. [It’s also worth noting that Nu Shooz and Stevie Nicks also spent time together on the Dance charts with Nu beating Nicks there by a full two months.]
By the way, Stevie’s song was released on Modern Records a subsidiary of, you guessed it, Atlantic Records.
Two different songs. Same title. Same time.