If you were like me during the week of June 6, 1987, then you were voraciously listening to the radio and buying up every new 45 that was out. Because you were a Top 40 music fan and you finally had money. Unfortunately, the Top 40 was in the midst of slipping into a coma of formulaic songs from which it would never recover. As I was about to enter my last fully soaked musical Summer, there were still lots of hits I could love and share with the populous, such as:
40. Heart & Soul – T’Pau
OHW – There are six one-hit wonders (artists that made the Top 40 only once) on this countdown. Half of them have been forgotten but not this one. With a title as common as an eight-year old’s piano recital and a band named after a Star Trek villain, most folks can still hear this one on 80s classics channels, no doubt due to lead singer Carol Decker’s aggressive yet emotive vocals. It’s on its way up into the Top 5.
39. Soul City – Partland Brothers
OHW – Here’s a forgotten gem from Canadians Chris & G.P. Partland that they will move all the way up to #27. Listening to this pop duo, their vocals owed more to the Righteous Brothers than to Hall & Oates. I didn’t grab their LP, Electric Honey but I bought this 45 when it came out.
38. Europe – Rock The Night
There was a girl in my class named Jennifer who looked exactly like lead singer Joey Tempest. That’s what I think of when I hear Europe. These Swedes are doing their best to fit in with American rock cliches thus the title and the hilarious triplet bass drum fills after each chorus.
37. Restless Heart – I’ll Still Be Loving You
NAOHW – Country music stopped crossing over by 1985. I do not know why unless it was a concerted effort by Nashville. This was the only Country artist to have a Top 40 hit in the late 80s. It’s a very well constructed and sung ballad that I would be happy to play at anyone’s wedding, unlike a few others on this countdown. The next time a Country artist would cross over again would be…Restless Heart in 1993 who would have a bigger hit with When She Cries.
36. Pseudo Echo – Funkytown
OHW – I bought this band’s album Love An Adventure in late 1986 after hearing their song, Living In A Dream, which would eventually peak at #57. At that point, the album was already a year old. Around that time, they recorded a cover of Lipps Inc’s Funkytown which went #1 around the world and would hit #6 in the U.S. RCA scrambled to re-release the album with that track on it but couldn’t gain any further Stateside momentum with the band.
The reason why you never hear this on an 80s station is that if you had to play one version of Funkytown, why wouldn’t you play the original?
35. Billy Idol – Sweet Sixteen
What the hell is with this? We were all OK with a grown man singing about a marrying sixteen-year-old runaway? Someone filled in her candy brain? This is even creepier than Ringo and a kazoo.
34. Eddie Money – Endless Nights
If this song just disappeared would anyone ever notice? Even Eddie Money?
33. Bruce Hornsby & The Range – Every Little Kiss
RAR – It feels like I always hear this song in a drug store or at least in a supermarket, especially if I’m in there for a long time. No matter where or when I hear it, it makes me feel good.
This was the first single from their debut album, The Way It Is, but it only reached #72 in the Summer of 1986. It was re-released in the Spring of 1987 and would reach #14 as the third hit from that album.
32. Paul Simon – You Can Call Me Al
STA – Here’s another track that missed the Top 40 on its first try but got there the second time around. So I will now dub thee songs like this STAs (Second Time Around). The first time it only hit #44, but on its re-release and due to the fact that they played the video on VH-1 every hour, it came back up and hit #23. It would be Paul’s last Top 40 hit. His landmark album, Graceland is extraordinary but it inspired a lot of crappy bands, such as Vampire Weekend.
31. Bob Seger – Shakedown
Bob finally hit #1 with the un-Seger sounding Shakedown from the Beverly Hills Cop 2 soundtrack. It was co-written with Harold Faltermeyer who performed Axel F from the first film.
30. Crowded House – Something So Strong
It’s not surprising that Crowded House had two Top 10s, this one eventfully becoming number two. It’s more surprising that they never returned to the Top 40 as they put out one great release after another. They would continue for another ten years before splitting up. The band would reunite in 2006 after drummer Paul Hester’s death for a few more releases.
29. Expose – Point Of No Return
I was not a big fan of the Latin girl group freestyle movement that seemed to take over New York radio in the late 80s. But I kinda like this one. It had been a Club hit in 1985 with a different vocalist, Alejandra Lorenzo, but was re-recorded for Expose’s debut album by Jeanette Jurado eventually reaching #5.
28. David Bowie – Day In Day Out
Man do I remember critics slamming Bowie when this album came out as if the dude is supposed to create Ziggy Stardust every time. Why couldn’t he just release a solid rock album which is what this is? It was also the end of his commercial period as it was one of his last songs to make the Top 40 falling from last week’s high of #21.
27. Poison – Talk Dirty To Me
This was the glam metal rockers first Top 40 hit eventually peaking at #9. The song is a wall of noise and the only interesting thing about it is that members of the band Kid Rockers which Poison guitarist C.C. Deville was a member of, sued Poison saying they wrote this and a few other of their crappy hit songs. And so when does Kid Rock get sued for stealing their name?
26. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Jammin’ Me
This Top 20 hit probably doesn’t get as much 80s classic play on the radio as it should. Maybe it does on classic rock stations. Petty co-wrote the lyrics with Bob Dylan supposedly picking up bits off the radio and newspaper to illustrate how the media was beginning to become overwhelming. Guess these guys were bugged by too many Lean Cuisine commercials in between reruns of 1983 SNL episodes.
25. Madonna – La Isla Bonita
Beautiful Island would become Madonna’s 11th straight Top 5 five. She was en fuente.
24. Company B – Fascinated
OHW – Ish is back and this time he’s going after some of that Expose money by forming his version of a freestyle trio of ladies featuring his wife Lori. This number one dance track is on its way up to a #21 peak.
23. The System – Don’t Disturb This Groove
OHW – If a wedding couple picked this as their first song to dance to, man I would know we were about to get down. The System put on three albums of sweet electro-funk before dialing it down a notch and crossing over to the Pop charts. When you hear Mic Murphy’s smooth vocals over David Frank’s percolating MiniMoog bass, you’re listening to a song that has been aptly named.
22. Cutting Crew – (I Just) Died In Your Arms
This former international number one hit is gasping for breath as it slowly slides down the charts. Must have been something I said.
21. Level 42 – Lessons In Love
NAOHW – After World Machine, I was ready for some new Level 42. So I got very excited to hear this single in 1986 and to my surprise, watched it climb into the Top 15 during the Spring of 1987. The album Running In The Family was polished even more than their previous and produced five international hits. But the band’s musical change in direction caused the Gould Brothers, Boon & Phil to leave the band at the end of the year. Even though Level 42 continues to this day, the original lineup never played or recorded together again.
OHW – One-Hit-Wonder
NAOHW – Not A One-Hit-Wonder
PFK – Perfect for Karaoke
RAR – Rite-Aid Rock
RFW – Ripped from Wikipedia
ML – Misheard Lyrics
STA – Second Time Around