Your Favorite Foreign Movie

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Twenty-Ten Favorite

After three EPs, Garden City Movement, an electronic dance-pop trio from Tel Aviv released the single, She’s So Untouchable in late 2016  as a precursor to a new full-length album. Mixing moody chillwave with shades of Westcoast smooth (and a nod to Steely Dan) this single was eventually left off of their 2018 LP, Apollonia, mostly because it’s an entity all to its own. This is what you play on Saturday evening before going out or on the ride home on a late Summer night.

Follow Me, Stereo Jungle Child

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Summer, it turns me upside down. Summer, summer, summer, like a merry-go-round. So sang Ric Ocasek on this week’s Top 40 countdown from July 28th, 1984. 35 years ago, as I write this, I was visiting relatives in a small town in West Germany, an hour south of Frankfurt. There was an American army base stationed there and during that week they held a Midsummer carnival that anyone could attend. It was an interesting mix of American & German cultures. I went there each night, staying for long periods of time as it was light out almost until 10 PM. As I played the carnival games and spun around on the tilt-a-whirl, these were some of the tunes I heard playing from carny stereos and tinny transistors.

40. Robin Gibb –  Boys Do Fall In Love

THW – Robin took a hiatus from the Bee Gees and concentrated on his solo career. The first single from his second of three mid-80s released albums, Secret Agent yielded him his second Top 40 single, which peaked at #37 last week. His first Top 40 was a cover of The Beatles’ Oh Darling in late 1978 from the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band soundtrack.

39. Cyndi Lauper- She Bop

Cyndi replaces herself in the Top 40. As Time After Time drops out, her third single She Bop screams in. And somewhere down in Tennessee, a woman is getting hot and bothered as her husband stares out the window and frets about acid rain.

38. 10-9-8 –  Face To Face

OHW – Here’s the Boston quintet, Face To Face with their only Top 40 hit at its peak, a slice of dramatic and moody New Wave pop that their fellow Mass mates, Til Tuesday would do better with the following year. The band would also act as Ellen Aim and The Attackers in the film Streets of Fire with singer Laurie Sargent providing Diane Lane’s vocals.

37. Scandal Featuring Patty Smyth – The Warrior

OHW – Here’s an 80s band that had a handful of radio hits but only one official Top 40. Written by Holly Knight and Nick “Hot In the City” Gilder, it will eventually reach #7 later in the Summer. When Scandal broke up, Patty embarked on a solo career in which she became a two-hit-wonder in 1992 with Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough & No Mistakes.

36. Sheila E. – The Glamourous Life

I’d like to use this space to remind you that Sheila E. was an influence on Prince. That he had the fortunate opportunity to write and record a hit for her as well as have her play drums on the Sign O The Times tour must have been an absolute thrill for him.

The track is sashaying up to a high of #7, but her live version of TGL on the American Music Awards in 1985 really shows what a badass Sheila is. You can hear the Prince demo of this song which was released in 2019.

Also, without love, it ain’t much.

35. Huey Lewis & the News – If This Is It

Another future Top 10 hit from the juggernaut known as Sports. The Big 80’s Countdown intros this song by recanting a tale in which the band’s record label gave them an ultimatum to have a big hit or else and that everything up unto that point had been only minor successes. That seems like a made-up story to me, especially given the fact that their second album, Picture This hit the Top 20 and yielded the Top 10, Do You Believe In Love just the year beforebut I guess it makes for good (if untrue) copy.

If you’d like to enjoy the video that was played over and over on MTV even though it contained brief nudity, enjoy.

34. Peter Wolf – Lights Out

Peter Wolf left the J. Geils Band and rode some of the Centerfold momentum snaring a few Top 40 hits on his own. This was his first, and although it would hit the Top 20, it has unfairly disappeared from classic playlists, even as Peter continues to play live and record. It’s an underrated pop song that should be heard more often, IMO.

Between this and She Bop we really into partying with ourselves in private in 1984. [Dancing In the Dark is later on in the countdown.] Guess that’s what happens when the conservatives take over.

33. The Go-Gos – Turn To You

This was the fifth and final Top 40 hit for all-female quintet, one spot away from its #32 peak. It was also one of many songs included the jukebox musical Head Over Heels which appeared on Broadway in late 2018.

32. Billy Squier – Rock Me Tonight

Billy can blame MTV or this video’s director about how it killed his career until he’s blue in the face and his pink Flashdance-style shirt falls off his shoulders. Or, maybe people got tired of listening to his formulaic corporate rock songs.

31. Sergio Mendes – Alibis

RAR – This is definitive Rite-Aid rock, the kinda tune I heard in line at drug stores for years but could never quite figure out what it was. There is absolutely nothing here to give you a clue that it’s Sergio Mendes. And though singer Joe Pizzulo (that’s two uncredited Top 40 hits for him.) screams out your alibis are watertight, I had it in my mind that this song was called Slippin’ Away until Joel Whitburn cured me of that.

On the flip side, spice up your Yacht Rock playlist with one less Air Supply spin and add this.

Also, this.

30. Glenn Frey – Sexy Girl

The first single from The Allnighter was another piece of evidence that Glenn had not yet matured from his Eagles party days. This future Top 20 was Glenn’s creepy fantasy about his new next-door neighbor doing him a “favor” by screwing him, y’know, cause she’s sexy and sexy girls do that. Then he follows it up by saying any one of us guys would do the same. I think you’re misunderstanding the term “welcome wagon”.

29. John Waite – Missing You

Every Time I Think Of You was a 1979 Top 20 hit for The Babys, of which John was the lead singer. It’s also the first line of this song which will head all the way up to #1.

28. Jefferson Starship – No Way Out

I always thought it would have sounded better for the band to be called Jeffstar or Sonship rather than plain ol’ Starship. People would have had lower expectations of the band and shrugged when minor hits like this one top out at #23 rather than decide to heap decades of scorn on them for We Built This City like they completely let them down. Jeffstar wouldn’t dare to build anything except a cult fanbase.

27. Huey Lewis & the News – The Heart of Rock N Roll

Do you enjoy your irony with callouts to your favorite American cities? Then enjoy this former Top 10 from Huey & the guys as they use a drum fill instead of saying the word “ass” while they talk about a music genre named after a euphemism for sex.

26. Eddy Grant – Romancing The Stone

THW – This was recorded and released as if the producers of the movie would use this as the title song for the film, Romancing The Stone. Instead, they cut it out of the movie and off the soundtrack. Eddy pulled a toke and let it go. He would still have a hit with it and this week it’s at its zenith.

Hits that the Robert Zemeckis-directed film’s soundtrack yielded – nada.

25. Journey – She’s Mine

I’m not much of a Journey fan but when I hear songs like this future #21 off of Steve Perry’s solo album, Street Talk, I realize how much the band took a cue from its success when recording their followup Raised On Radio. I guess the tension between everyone made it fall apart after that.

It does feature a clean but tasty guitar solo by studio musician Michael Landau. Rather than play Oh Sherrie, 80s stations need to dig this one back up.

24. Wang Chung – Dance Hall Days

This #1 Dance smash is cooling on craze and slowly falling from #16. Quick poll: If you took your baby by the heel, what would be the next thing that you feet like doing?

23. Ratt – Round And Round

THW – Here’s some early L.A. glam metal from the band that got some help from Uncle Miltie. It will nibble its way up to #12. Fun fact if you play this song backward, they still sing round and round.

22. Kenny Loggins – I’m Free (Heaven Helps The Man)

Movie Kenny! Ken-Lo double dips on the Footloose soundtrack and comes up with the second of his two Top 40 hits, although this one won’t climb any higher.

21. Duran Duran – The Reflex

The former #1 with a Nile Rodgers remix got kicked off the mountian by Prince and has been tumbling down since, question marks and all. They will call on Nile again to produce their one-off single, The Wild Boys later in the year.

KEY

OHW – One-Hit-Wonder

THW – Two-Hit-Wonder

ML – Misheard Lyrics

PFK – Perfect for Karaoke

RAR – Rite-Aid Rock

RFW – Ripped from Wikipedia

STA – Second Time Around

The Explorers Club – Run Run Run (2012)

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Twenty-Ten Favorite

Here’s something from Grand Hotel, the second album recorded by the quintet originally formed in Charleston, SC called the Explorers Club. While their sound is heavily influenced by bands such as the Beach Boys, the Zombies and the Byrds, to name a few, they were not just merely keeping the 60s alive, but reminding folks what made pop music so much fun during that decade in the first place.

Run Run Run is all about Fun to the third power – an exciting sonic burst featuring young lovers wanting more of that good stuff while musically they mix Burt Bacharach chord stylings with British Invasion energy.

This is the version that was released on the album with a fun video to match.

As Easy As A Nuclear War

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Here’s more intense listening for me on the lounge chair in the backyard of a distant relative. But the other strong memory form that Summer was being on a swim team with my brother. We were pretty good too, or at least competitive. Those bus rides to different ice-cold pools were filled with fun music, a lot of it from this July 9th, 1983 countdown. [Also, a Whopper tastes really after a day of swimming in the sun.]

20. Eurythmics – Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)

Yes, they are. This is the music of my dreams. I want to put that 12 bars of ooh that comes between the chorus and hold your head up on repeat forever. It’s on its way up to #1.

19. Rod Stewart – Baby Jane

Once Rod committed to disco in late 78, he traded in his rock cred for synths & a sax, and in the process had lots of 80s pop hits, enough to string him along until he decided to win back his original fans in the 90s. From that time period comes one of his better and catchier tunes strutting its way to a #14 peak. It would be his final #1 hit in the UK, as of 2019.

18. Donna Summer – She Works Hard For The Money

Somehow Donna owed the fledgling Casablanca record label another album, so she shunned Geffen records and diligently fulfilled her contract, giving them her best 1980s offering with this track. It will hit #3 Pop and #1 Soul, the best showings on the chart for her during the decade.

And it’s a great song to light candles to.

17. Debarge – All This Love

When a song starts off with I had some problems, you know it’s gotta be the Debarge family. The chronic lawbreakers finally broke into something good in 1983 – the Pop Top 20.  I’m a sucker for these Debarge ballads and El really shows off how influential Marvin Gaye was to his singing style. It also features a nice acoustic guitar solo by Jose Feliciano.

16, Tubes – She’s A Beauty

THW – Who would have thought that in 1983 the Tubes would have a Top 10 smash? That’s the power of MTV and the potent combination of talent from David Foster & Steve Lukather who co-wrote this with lead singer Fee Waybill. It was played quite often on straight-up rock stations that Summer and eventually was a #1 hit on the Mainstream Rock charts.

15, Prince – 1999

I talked about Human League’s Fascination being the Sly & the Family Stone of New Wave, but Prince & the Revolution were truly the full embodiment of Sly’s earlier breakthrough and legacy, carrying the torch forward by many leaps.

Prince must have been pissed off that this song didn’t make the Top 40 in 1982. What the hell were we all thinking? It took the success of Little Red Corvette as well as the constant airing of that video for us to finally embrace the ultimate 80s party song and it still only made it to #12. But it would not be denied and for added measure, it hit the Top 40 in 1999 as well as in 2016, which I think makes it the only non-Christmas song to hit the Top 40 three different times. Judges?

14. Stevie Nicks – Stand Back

And here’s more Prince via Stevie Nicks, who was so inspired by Little Red Corvette she wrote this song and then had Prince play a simple-as-hell synth lick on the chorus, but potent enough to get a co-writing credit.

13. Duran Duran – Is There Something I Should Know?

After DD broke out with two big singles from the second album Rio, Capitol Records said Hey you forgot about this one! and released a single from their debut. It promptly became another big hit for the group and it’s stomping its way up into the Top 10.

12. Elton John – I’m Still Standing

This is an Elton John standard but it won’t place any higher than it is this week. My son loves this song as he first heard it through the Sing soundtrack. Guess who sings it? Taron Egerton, the guy who would play Elton in Rocketman three years after Sing.

PFK – For years I heard the line your blood like Winter freezes just like ice as your brother might win a freezer just like ice.

11. Daryl Hall & John Oates – Family Man

SXMFU – The Big 80s countdown gets a little sloppy by playing a bumper during the intro this song which starts on the one. That’s how you know SXM 1) programs the whole thing on a computer with no editing process and 2) doesn’t care.

The third single from H2O is the only Top 10 single that Hall & Oates did not write as this was a cover of a Mike Oldfield song sung by Maggie Reilly.

10. Madness – Our House

PFK – Oh yes. My jam! This is the Summer of 1983 to me. Playing air guitar with a tennis racket. Finding something deep and loud to smack after singing our house. They toned down the ska and will have soon hit #7. Madness had a ton of UK hits into the late 2000s.

I do have a confession though. I was confused about having a house in the middle of the street. I really thought that the house was in the road. My dense ass didn’t realize that what they meant was that the house was halfway down a street in between two intersections.

9. Styx – Don’t Let It End

What is this doing here? A leftover remnant of the 70s that has not aged very well. We did not need another ballad by these killjoys, (kill-joys. kill-joys) especially since this song has about three fake endings to boot.

8. Kinks – Come Dancing

Another one of my favorites that Summer and some more 60s nostalgia wrapped in 50s nostalgia. It was the first Top 10 for the Kinks in the US since Lola in 1970. I don’t understand the lack of big success between these two hits as they continued to tour and record albums. In fact, 1983’s State of Confusion was their twelfth since 1970.

The song was written about and in tribute to Ray Davies’s sister, Rene who had died during a night of dancing due to a weak heart. The part where Ray recalls his sister keeping his mom up after late nights at the local pally with a myriad of boyfriends was mostly made up since Ray was 18 years younger than her. Nevertheless, it’s a 100% British sweet swinging tune, about the loss of innocence, how things change over time and how they come back around again. And I bet Ray would love to take his sister dancing one more time.

7. Culture Club – Time (Clock Of The Heart)

Boy George and the gang are here with their second #2 hit tumbling down the charts 4 ya. Just about half of the countdown is British, 19 out of the 40 and between them and the Durannies it was a footrace to see who’d be the biggest by the decade’s end.

6. Michael Jackson – Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’

The fourth single from Thriller is inching up in the Top 10. Will it be another number one? (spoiler – it will peak at #5). To me, this is the burner off that album. It’s the opener and sets the tone for the whole LP, so I’m not sure why they waited to release it. There’s no video release either.

Shout out to Manu Dibango who finally sued Michael in 2009 for stealing that mama-say-mama-sah-mama-makossa bit. Michael settled just months before he died.

5. Kajagoogoo – Too Shy

OHW – This is the only one-hit wonder is the countdown this week, produced by #13’s keyboard player, Nick Rhodes. Moody, catchy, simple – a New Wave synthpop prototype, right down to the stupid hairstyles and name. The video features a model named Carolyn Espley, who would eventually become the wife of Dennis Miller.

And isn’t that the quasi indifference of the soul-sucking strategem with just a sous sans of the proverbial kettle calling Dean Martin an alcoholic. I mean really babe….

4. Sergio Mendes – Never Gonna Let You Go

More 60s nostalgia but in name only. Gone is the Brasil ’66. Gone is the bossa nova. All that’s left are an electric piano and two uncredited singers, Joe Pizzulo and Leza Miller. (Mr. Sajak, is there a Z?)

3. Irene Cara – Flashdance… What A Feeling

After six weeks at the top, Coco loses a little fame and falls to three. Irene would win the Oscar for Best Movie Song. She would extend her career with a few more hits and always gets some crazy love whenever she rides in Tyrone Bywater’s cab.

2. Eddy Grant – Electric Avenue

THW – Eddy was a member of the Equals when they had a Top 40 hit in 1968 called Baby Come Back. But since the early 70s, Eddy refocused his career on production and some solo projects. This was written in response to the 1981 Brixton riots and was released in the UK becoming a #2 hit in January of 1983. When MTV started playing more African-American artists, such as Michael Jackson & Prince, Eddy became a direct benefactor (even though he was African-British. He was from Guyana, then moved to the UK. [Is that the right term?]) Me and my friends thought this song was the shit back in the day. Now all I think about when I hear it is Montgomery Ward.

BOY!

Unfortunately, Eddy stayed at #2 for five weeks behind the juggernaut of Flashdance and our next song…

1. Police – Every Breath You Take

…who will begin a run of eight weeks at #1. So between them and Irene, they hogged the top spot for almost four months. It’s not quite Old Town Road but for 1983 it was pretty close. The band would split up on top, put their horsies in the back and ride off to solo careers

OHW – One-Hit-Wonder

THW – Two-Hit-Wonder

ML – Misheard Lyrics

PFK – Perfect for Karaoke

RFW – Ripped from Wikipedia

STA – Second Time Around

Whistle Your Favorite Tune

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I said before that 1985 was a great Summer, but this one comes close. This July 9th, 1983 countdown is tattooed in my mind. I remember having to go to a boring relative’s house and all I did for hours on end was sitting on a lounge chair with a borrowed radio listening to Z100 which was a new Top station in New York. I tuned out the adults as they played just about every song in this Top 40.

40. Champaign – Try Again

THW – Champaign popped the cork on another Top 40 hit this time reaching only #23. It’s spending its last week in the Top 40 before it goes flat.

39. E.L.O. – Rock & Roll Is King

Since the Moody Blues were trying to sound like ELO, Jeff Lynne decided to move the band in different musical directions with this track sounding like electronic rockabilly, even as they added a violin solo. It will clank its way up to #19 in a handful of weeks.

38. David Bowie – China Girl

This is the first of two Bowie tracks from his Let’s Dance LP, which let all the New Romantics know who was truly in charge. Drawing on his mid-70s Soul phase, he refocused his soulful efforts and with Nile Rodgers producing, came up with the biggest selling album of his career. He also introduced New Wavers to blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughn who plays the guitar solo on this Bowie/Iggy Pop co-write. And it gave Bowie consecutive Top 10 singles.

37. Journey – Faithfully

Is this the power ballad to top all other power ballads? Or is this just the soundtrack to a mulleted wedding reception?

36. Billy Idol – White Wedding

For such an iconic 80s song you would have thought it would have peaked higher than #36. But we were only just getting used to that sneer.

35. The Hollies – Stop In The Name Of Love

In 1983, The Hollies reunited with Graham Nash. Hooray! Then they released this unnecessary cover of a Supremes chart-topper. Boo! It still made it up to #29. Graham Nash and/or The Hollies never sniffed the Top 40 again.

34. Def Leppard – Rock Of Ages

The second single from Pyromania enters the Top 40 on its way to #16. Not sure why Joe Elliot added the lines “it’s better to burn out than to fade away” during the intro. Not sure if Neil Young was cool with it either. And then imagine the detective who picked up Kurt Cobain’s suicide note only to wonder if he was a big Def Leppard fan.

33. Naked Eyes –  Always Something There To Remind Me

1983 was the year that you could see traces of 1960s (read: Baby Boomer) nostalgia trending in the mainstream. The Big Chill was just two months from opening in theatres and we just heard the Graham Nash-led Hollies doing a Motown cover. Now here comes the duo Naked Eyes with a Bacharach/David cover first recorded by Dionne Warwick and later charted by Lou Johnson in 1964. The first Top 40 version was by R.B. Greaves in 1970 but this one was the most successful and it already hit its peak at #8 a few weeks ago.

32. Men At Work – It’s A Mistake

It was going to be an impossible task to follow up their debut, Business As Usual, but the Australian quintet led by Colin Hay was up for the task. Even if it wasn’t as financially successful as the first album, I feel that Cargo was definitely a more consistent and pleasurable offering. This ode to the folly of war and the growing possibility of a nuclear accident will be the band’s second Top 10 hit from that album eventually hitting #6. [Chernobyl was less than three years away.]

31. David Bowie – Let’s Dance

As much as you’d like to credit Bowie with creating this masterful piece of dance pop, all props have to go to Nile Rodgers who found an upbeat funk song inside a Bowie’s dark folk rock. And what a masterstroke to add those aaahs during the intro that build that song up into a frenzy. Damn, Nile’s good! It was David’s second #1 single.

Nile also used that stereo phase guitar trick on the title track to Chic’s 1983 album Believer.

30. The Fixx – Saved By Zero

The highest-debuting song in the Top 40 and the anthem for all computer programmers during Y2K.

29. Quarterflash – Take Me To Heart

Quarterflash’s first single from their new album, Take Another Picture, will be their third and final Top 20 single. As of today, Marv & Rindy Ross are still together playing live and releasing albums.

28. Human League – (Keep Feeling) Fascination

The New Wave version of Sly & the Family Stone, down to Phil Oakey’s hey-heyey-hey-heys copping Larry Graham’s deep bass bottom. I was obsessed with this one during that Summer and loved singing it in pools underwater for some reason. It will be the band’s second Top 10 hit reaching #8. And if you find that synth lick annoying, go pound sand.

27. Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band – Roll Me Away

Bob decides to look forward for once and writes a kick ass biker tune about an adventure to find peace away from the chaos. And if sounds like a Springsteen-y, it might be because of Roy Bittan’s piano playing. It was the third Top 40 hit from The Distance and it’s sitting at its peak this week.

26. A Flock Of Seagulls – Wishing (If I Had a Photograph Of You)

Another one resting at its zenith, and its the third and final Top 40 hit from the stylishly coiffed English quartet and one of Jules Winfield’s favorite bands.

25. Michael Sembello –  Maniac

THW – This is the first of two songs from the Flashdance soundtrack and will also be its second #1. The soundtrack garnered him a Grammy and he was also nominated for an Oscar. Not bad for a throwaway tune about a horror movie slasher. [He had to change those lyrics to fit with someone repetitively thumping in legwarmers.]

Alright enough of Maniac, check out Michael’s far superior guitar work with Stevie Wonder.

24. Michael Jackson – Beat It

What else can be said about this classic? Here’s one. The famous bong-bong intro was taken from a demo record for the Synclavier II released by New England Digital in 1981.

RFW – Also the Big 80s Countdown reads this verbatim from Wikipedia: The engineers were shocked during the recording of Van Halen’s solo to discover that the sound of his guitar had caused the monitor speaker in the control room to catch fire, causing one to exclaim, “This must be really good!”

23. Loverboy – Hot Girls In Love

PFK – Mike Reno and the boys are turning on the heat moving up 12 spots to an eventual #11 high. And don’t tell me these guys didn’t write some great lyrics. Check this out:

She likes her tapes on ten and it’s the same as her anatomy.
She’s on a rainbow cruise, all the way to my room.

Yeah! Awesome. Are you not amped up? Actually, I think I’d rather have a hot girl in lust but to each his own.

22. Bryan Adams – Cuts Like A Knife

Another big mover for Bry – the title track to his 1983 album would slice all the way up to #15. This makes me want to get wet and dive into an empty pool.

Cuts like a knife, but it feels so right. That has to be Bryan’s epitaph one day.

21. Rick Springfield – Affair Of The Heart

A former Top 10 from Dr. Noah Drake and the first single from his ninth album, Living In Oz.  I have a vinyl copy of this album and I found this fan club mailer inside. The yearly fan club fee was $6.

RS Living In OZ 83 promo

OHW – One-Hit-Wonder

THW – Two-Hit-Wonder

ML – Misheard Lyrics

PFK – Perfect for Karaoke

RFW – Ripped from Wikipedia

STA – Second Time Around

 

Frobeck – Pull Our Stuff Together (2015)

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Twenty-Ten Favorite

From Northern California, here’s the band Frobeck, a funk-rock octet and obvious modern heir to Bay-area horn rock bands from the 60s & 70s, such as Tower of Power and Sons of Champlin. In fact, each of those groups has endorsed the band as well as their 5th album, Sea Of Truth, which was released in the Fall of 2015. Even though Frobeck split up and got back together as The Big Fit, this release has many solid cuts, including Pull Our Stuff Together.

I dare you not to move.

The Sun’s Still Warm In The Shade

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Twenty-Ten Favorite

As we wind down on the twenty-tens, I’ve been looking back at the last ten years and I’m amazed at how many of my favorites have been recently released. I think the Naughts have the potential to be one of the richest decades of pop music we’ve had in a very long time. The technology has advanced to the point where beautifully crafted and sonically superior music can be crafted in one’s home. Singer, songwriters, and instrumentalists have the ability to mine from and be inspired by the last 60 years of musical history and knowledge. And with the advent of so many streaming services and artist-friendly online stores, the path to creating one’s art is firmly in the control of the creator.

So I’ll be selecting a few of my favorite songs and/or albums from the 2010s each week to post for your pleasure. Hopefully, I can turn you on to some new music. If you’ve heard it before, pass it along to someone else who might enjoy it. And as always, please support the artists who produced it.

I’m gonna start with a soul singer from Washington state named Allen Stone. His second album, Allen Stone was released in the Fall of 2011 and although Allen may look like a hippified Warren Zevon, this is laidback soul at its finest. It was even a Top 40 album on the R&B/Hip Hop Albums charts.

I chose the following because this seemed like the obvious choice at a potential hit, but there’s not one skippable song on this album. Enjoy!

 

The Fears Of Youth

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So much was changing around me. Even when I thought I was settling in, I didn’t realize I was actually floating aimlessly through the days. The Top 20 songs from the July 5th, 1980 countdown were the only anchor I had, and knowing I could return to these songs time and again quelled the fears in me before they arose.

20. In America – Charlie Daniels Band

There are five Country songs on the countdown, but only four of them charted in the Country Top 40. This one is the highest at #20, and it will still move up another nine places. A song from a time when uniting the country still seemed like a reality, and it’s us vs. them meant the people vs. the government.

19. Should’ve Never Let You Go – Neil Sedaka & Dara Sedaka

No No No No! Neil, what are you doing? That’s your daughter. You’re singing a love song to your daughter. When you sing, Why did I have to write this song?, we say we have no idea and frankly don’t want to know.

The song was initially written and recorded as Should’ve Never Let Her Go on Neil’s 1978 LP All You Need Is The Music. He should have left it there, but Neil wanted to help his daughter out with her singing career, and thus, you get this. The vocals sound like they were taught by a junior high chorus teacher.

This ended up being Neil’s final Top 40 hit, and it didn’t help out Dara either. When she recorded and released her David Foster-produced debut album I’m Your Girlfriend in 1982,  it didn’t even get a US release. And that’s a shame because there’s some great WestCoast pop on there performed by some heavy studio hitters, such as Steve Porcaro, Richard Page & Steve Lukather.

And again…

18. I’m Alive – Electric Light Orchestra

The soundtrack to Xanadu gave Urban Cowboy some competition that Summer, and here’s the first of two songs from that film. This was on the E.L.O. side, and if we’re comparing the two films based on music alone, I’m gonna favor this as an ELO & ONJ (and Tubes) fan.

17. Cars – Gary Numan

OHW – Gary was at the forefront of the New Wave synth movement. Recording a track like this in 1979 meant that you had to know your way around temperamental analog keyboards and have the knack for a catchy pop hook. It was bizarre to hear this on the countdown in 1980, but looking back on it, it’s weirder that it took so long for everyone else to catch up.

16. One Fine Day – Carole King

This was Carole’s first Top 40 hit since 1977’s Hard Rock Cafe and the only one in the 80s. It was written with her then-husband Gerry Goffin, and the Chiffons had the first hit recording of it reaching #5 in 1963. Carole’s version would hit #12.

Fun fact: Neil Sedaka and Carole dated in high school. He should’ve never let…..

15. Tired Of Toein’ The Line – Rocky Burnette

OHW – It’s the son of rock & Roll, or so sayeth Rocky, as he is the progeny of Johnny Burnette. This is a prime example of a forgotten 45 in which this rockabilly meets new wave stomper would eventually reach #8 but has disappeared not only from 80s classic stations but 80s reissue compilations as well.

14. Magic – Olivia Newton-John

The first single from the Xanadu soundtrack is still climbing the charts on its eventual path to the top, where it will stay there for a whole month. It also received high praise from John Lennon.

I remember being left alone for hours at a multiplex in the mall by myself. And while I was waiting for whatever movie my mom bought for me, I snuck into the theatre to see parts of Xanadu. I saw a good chunk of that movie and missed most of the other one. This was a piece of what I saw. After I got past the why is Andy Gibb in this film? thought, I saw Olivia roller skating to this song and just melted into my seat.

13. She’s Out Of My Life – Michael Jackson

The fourth single from Off The Wall is falling from its high of #10 last week. This was the first true ballad Michael had released since 1972’s Ben, but he was eight years older, and his maturity was evident in his singing. Listen to how perfectly he sings the phrasing of the lyrics and at the same time evokes deep emotion from his voice.

And..Tito, get me some tissue.

12. Shining Star – Manhattans

SXMFU – Big 80s on 8 starts to talk about the history of the Manhattans and mentions that their last hit was in 1975, Kiss & Say Goodbye. Ooops. That song was a #1 hit in the Summer of 1976. It will hit #4 later in the Summer and won an R&B Grammy for the group. No song brings back memories of that time more than this one.

Just take three minutes and forty seconds and bask in this sweet glory.

11. Let Me Love You Tonight – Pure Prarie League

PPL was toast by 1977, with members leaving, retiring, or just getting the hell away from the band. The bass player Michael Reilley decided to find new members and start over. His best replacement was their new lead singer and banjo player named Vince Gill. With Vince’s smooth vocal twang and a sax solo by David Sanborn, they took this soft rock track up to #10 on the pop charts and #1 on the AC charts.

10. Let’s Get Serious – Jermaine Jackson

Produced and written by Stevie Wonder, this was Jermaine Jackson’s biggest single as a solo artist. It was a Top 10 hit here in the States and in the UK. It spent six weeks at the top of the R&B charts making it the number one Soul song of 1980, better than his brother’s Rock With You.

9. Biggest Part Of Me – Ambrosia

The story goes that David Pack was sitting in the car waiting for his family to get their stuff together so that they could enjoy a pleasant 4th of July vacation. Being impatient, he went into his studio, started playing the piano, and the song just began to pour out of him. He finished it when he got back, and exactly one year later, he & his band Ambrosia have another Top 10 hit. It would also become their hugest smash, peaking at #3 and the biggest part of their setlist.

8. Cupid/I’ve Loved You For A Long Time – Spinners

If a medley worked the first time, why not try again? This time the Spinners mash-up Sam Cooke’s Cupid with a Michael Zager-penned I’ve Loved You For A Long Time. It was an across-the-board smash reaching #4 on the Pop charts. This was their last Top 40 hit.

7. Steal Away – Robbie Dupree

THW, SXMFU – Mark Goodman tries to be funny and sing What A Fool Believes during the outro alluding to its similarity, then messes up and says that the Doobie Brothers song he just sang would be released two years after Steal Away. Good job.

Note To Sirius XM, if you need a part-time copy editor, please send me an email. I’m sure I can proof the written and recorded copy quickly and efficiently but mostly correctly.

6. Against The Wind – Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band

Back in the day when Bob Seger released a new single, I figured it was just his thing to always write songs about his youth. Now I realize it was more than that. He was really trying to capture a feeling he had in the past and figured that if he kept writing the same song over and over, attacking it from different angles, polishing it, and reforming it, that one day he would perfect it. I feel like he finally did it with Like A Rock, but he comes very close here.

5. Little Jeannie – Elton John

There was a family who moved into the house across the street from us in the late 70s. They had two daughters, the oldest a few years younger than me and her sister, a toddler. Sometimes we would go into their backyard when they had a babysitter and sit on their swing set talking and playing games.

One night the mom came running over to our house screaming with her two kids, her face puffy and bloodied. Between her choked tears, she swore she’s was never going back home. I had never witnessed anything like that, and my logical brain could not comprehend what I was seeing or hearing.

Her name was Jeannie, and I think of her just about every time I hear this song and wonder if she made it out alive.

4. It’s Still Rock And Roll To Me – Billy Joel

The top four songs are in the same position as last week, with Billy poised to rocket to the top and get his first number one.

Now I love some Billy Joel. But I cannot defend his defensiveness, and I’m not sure which side he stands on. He tries to say that music’s all the same and that nothing is new, even as he classifies it differently. He chides those who want to learn or just spend money on better stereo equipment. Basically, what the ignorant call today “elitists.” If there was a more straightforward, less threatening intention there, it’s lost in the delivery.

I thought white males were afraid of disco. What they were terrified of was newer versions of themselves.

3. The Rose – Bette Midler

The Rose was written by a cabaret singer and actress named Amanda McBroom. I looked her up to see what else she wrote, and there’s not much else. It looks like the bulk of the hundreds of composition credits she’s accrued over time have been from different versions of this song. I wonder how much money she makes annually for writing it.

Although not well known, Amanda had an interesting career. Not only did she act on an episode of Taxi, M*A*S*H and Magnum P.I., to name a few, but she was also a musical guest on the Tonight Show in 1983.

2. Funkytown – Lipps Inc.

OHW – I remember being driven to soccer practice by a friend’s mom, and this song came on the radio. She cranked it up and started singing as loud as she could Won’t you take me to…..funky… towwwwwn? We thought it was hilarious. Not because of her singing but that an adult knew the song existed. I was so insular in my thinking that it never occurred to me that a grown-up would like anything popular.

1. Coming Up – Paul McCartney and Wings (2 wks at #1)

Paul McCartney has had #1 hits with the Beatles, Wings, Paul McCartney & Wings, Paul & Linda McCartney, Paul & Stevie Wonder, and Paul & Michael Jackson. Paul has never had a US number one hit credited to himself alone. Even when he tried to, as he did with this single, radio flipped it and preferred Paul with the band.

KEY

OHW – One-Hit-Wonder

THW – Two-Hit-Wonder

PFK – Perfect for karaoke

RAR – Rite-Aid Rock

RFW – Ripped from Wikipedia

SXMFU – Sirius XM Mistake

Find The Joy Of Innocence Again

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The Summer of 1980 still lingers in my mind with two big memories – long days visiting my mom in the hospital and late nights watching the Cosmos in Giants Stadium. I filled those days escaping the only way I knew how as a kid – into a radio. Those nights were filled with driving through Manhattan close to midnight with the whole world lit up, a city that truly never went to sleep. These songs from the July 5th, 1980 countdown were my soundtrack.

{Some of these songs have been mentioned on an early countdown here & here, though I try to add something new to them.]

40. Clones – Alice Cooper

Remember that time that you saw Alice Cooper on a golf course, and you were like, Alice Cooper plays golf? Wow, that’s so weird. C’mon, he’s just a regular guy who had some early 70s success “shocking” people with his stage antics during the glam rock era. From that point on, he chased every musical trend out there, trying to stay relevant. Thus you have this song, which sounds like a guy who plays golf trying to create a new wave record.

39. Atomic – Blondie

And now a band that only not only represented early New Wave but transcended the genre. This one is at its peak and is the second Top 40 hit from Eat To The Beat. [They had a monster in between the two that you’ll hear about later.] It seems odd that Blondie either had a #1 record or barely made the Top 40.

38. Walks Like A Lady – Journey

Journey was three albums deep with their new lead singer Steve Perry and started to accrue some minor Top 40 hits, like this one which will peak at #32. They hadn’t broken out yet, and that might be because they still hadn’t fully gelled or completely agreed on a musical direction. This track has more of a jazzy laid back feel with a walking bass line under some soulful organ licks rather than powerhouse straight-ahead rock. Escape was still one year away when the doors would blow open, and radio stations played just about everything Journey gave them.

37. Ashes By Now – Rodney Crowell

OHW – For an artist so associated with Country music, it’s amazing that he crossed over to the Top 40 Pop charts before he even had a Country Top 40 hit. In fact, it wouldn’t be until 1988 when he had five Country #1s in a row that he finally firmly established himself as a Nashville superstar. His wife at the time, Rosanne Cash, would have a bigger pop hit in 1981, Seven Year Ache, which hit #22, while Rodney’s crossover wouldn’t get past its stay at #37.

36. Theme From New York, New York – Frank Sinatra

There’s a lot to unpack with this song, but I’ll just hit the highlights and save the dissertation for another time.

  • Liza Minnelli first recorded the song for the 1977 Martin Scorsese film, New York, New York. Her version bubbled under the Hot 100 at #104.
  • Ol’ Blue Eyes recorded his version for his 3 LP set called Trilogy: Past Present Future. It was featured on the Present record, but you should really listen to the Future set. Frank is totally out there.
  • This was his first Top 40 hit since 1969’s My Way, which hit #27, proving that chart positions rarely determine a song’s status as a classic.
  • Frank’s last Top 40 hit reached #32 during the same year that he released his last film, The First Deadly Sin.
  • He’s the only artist to have a Top 40 hit in the 1930s and the 1980s.
  • This song is played after many NY sporting events. But the most amazing stat is that it will start getting played after Yankees games in July 1980 while the song is still on the Hot 100, and that tradition continues to this day.
  • This song was also recorded [but never released] by Queen for the movie Highlander.

35. Let My Love Open The Door – Pete Townshend

THW – From Pete’s third solo album, Empty Glass comes his first Top 40 hit, coincidentally the same year Roger Daltrey had his first and only. It jumps fifteen places into the Top 40 this week and will eventually hit #9. Also, Pete must have fallen in love with this song because he rewrote it for The Who the following year.

Fun fact: The Who has had as many US Top 10 singles as Pete did as a solo act.

34. Sailing – Christopher Cross

RAR – Chris was riding high on his first single Ride Like The Wind momentum when he breezed in with this WestCoast classic and future #1. It would also win Grammys for Record & Song of The Year and made me want a pet pink flamingo.

33. Emotional Rescue – Rolling Stones

Entering the Hot 100 at #33, we have this hot mess of a song by the Stones, which would eventually hit #3. It was fine when they added a smidge of disco and came up with Miss You. But when Mick extracted all the forgettable and formulaic parts of that genre, exaggerating them to the point of parody, you ended up with this helium-induced vocal spaz fest with unironically spoken lines like I am your knight in shining armor. And was a fine Arab charger referencing a horse or a gas-guzzling El Dorado?

They righted the ship next year with Tattoo You, but for a while, it looked like they were quickly sinking.

32. Stand By Me – Mickey Gilley

OHW – The double LP soundtrack to Urban Cowboy was a tremendous success, with three singles from the album in this week’s Top 40 with three more to come. This was Country singer Mickey Gilley’s only crossover hit, a cover of the Lieber & Stoller classic, last heard in the Top 40  by John Lennon. The film takes place at Gilley’s, a honky-tonk that Mickey opened in 1971 in Pasadena, Texas, years before his first Country Top 40. I wanna ride that bull.

31. Misunderstanding – Genesis

Phil Collins’ divorce from his first wife was a devastating event in his life, so much so it inspired lots of personal songwriting. But you see, when life gave Phil lemons, he squeezed them into his tea and wrote hits like this one, Genesis’ first Top 20 smash on its way up to #14.

Whenever I hear this song, I like to sing the chorus of Hot Fun In The Summertime over the verses as my own personal mash-up. It actually hit #1 in Canada – big Sly Stone fans up North.

30. Two Places At The Same Time – Ray Parker Jr. & Raydio

This was the first time that the lead single from a Raydio album wasn’t a Top 10 pop hit, as this is chilling at its apex this week. Maybe it was the band name change. Or maybe it was the fact that this song was creepy as hell.

I wanna be two places at the same time,
Inside you and inside your mind.

What the hell does that even mean? That sounds like the leader of some perverted cult. Ladies, you should probably stay away from Ray.

29. Empire Strikes Back – Meco

In 1977, the Pop charts’ battle between John Williams’ movie scores and Meco’s disco interpretations waged its final battle in 1980 as Meco crushed John into submission with this Top 20 version of the Empire Strikes Back theme. Although not as iconic as the Star Wars theme, it still holds a place in the heart of Yoda lovers everywhere.

28. Stomp! – The Brothers Johnson

Louis & George Johnson, and for that matter, Quincy Jones, did not give a shit that morons from the Chicago area got excited about blowing up disco records the year previous. That just made Thunder Thumbs and Lightning Licks double down and lay the funk on thicker. From its high of #7, this is sliding down the charts slowly like ketchup from a new bottle.

27. Don’t Fall In Love With A Dreamer – Kenny Rogers with Kim Carnes

PFK – Kenny Rogers & Kim Carnes are two of three artists with double entries in the Top 40. This former Top 5 Pop & Country hit is the perfect duet for you and a true karaoke professional (or someone who’s four bourbons deep).

Caution – unless you’re Bonnie Tyler, please don’t try to sing like Kim does.

26. Call Me – Blondie

This single from American Gigolo spent the bulk of April and most of May at the top of the charts. It was also a #1 hit in the UK and the #1 song of 1980 here in the States.

25. All Night Long – Joe Walsh

Here’s another hit from the Urban Cowboy soundtrack. It’s Joe Walsh taking a break from the Eagles to do his Joe Walsh thing. Not a true Country song but rednecky enough for someone who works at an oil refinery and lives in a trailer with Debra Winger. It’ll make the Top 20 in a few weeks and will be included on the Eagles Live album at the end of the year.

24. Love The World Away – Kenny Rogers

Kenny was money in 1980, a virtual cash printing machine. And he hadn’t even peaked yet. That would come soon enough when he hooked up with Lionel Richie & the Bee Gees. [sounds weird, I know] This one is on its way up to #14. Grab your honey and slowly sway with them on the straw-covered dance floor.

23. Take Your Time (Do It Right) – S.O.S. Band

OHW – The only, and I mean only, good thing about the Disco Demolition night was that it scared enough of the disco posers, charlatans, and bandwagon record execs away and let the professionals do their work and rescue the genre. Here’s a great example. I mean, this is a jam- #1 Soul, #1 Disco, and it will rise to #3 on the Pop charts. The S.O.S. Band should have had more crossover hits. If they were worth it for Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis to stick their necks out and risk Prince firing them from the Time, they had to be good.

Note: Prince did fire them in 1983, but then we were treated to this.

22. Gimme Some Lovin’ – Blues Brothers

The Blues Brothers was an odd SNL sketch. I was never sure whether to laugh at the schtick or appreciate them as performers. Their 1979 album Briefcase Full Of Blues went #1, which meant there was real money to be made. And then thankfully came the movie, which is a hilarious comedy classic. Just the car chase scene alone where they tear up the Dixie Square Mall is enough to make me roll around and slap the couch cushions. This track, a Spencer Davis Group cover that had nothing to do with Chicago blues, is on the soundtrack and will make it up to #18.

21. More Love – Kim Carnes

RAR – For her 1980 album Romance Dance, Kim embraced a more modern synth sound. That would suit her well in 1981, but for now, we have her version of a Smokey Robinson & the Miracles hit. While Smokey & the gang only took theirs up to #23, Kim will beat them with a #10 showing.

There’s also a charmingly clunky video for the song as well.

KEY

OHW – One-Hit-Wonder

THW – Two-Hit-Wonder

PFK – Perfect for karaoke

RAR – Rite-Aid Rock

RFW – Ripped from Wikipedia

Wouldn’t Change A Stroke

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We were still a week away from Back To The Future appearing theatres, so we kept the radio on and preferred these songs as the Top 12 from June 29th, 1985.

12. ‘Til Tuesday – Voices Carry

THW – I talked a little about this song in my 9/28/18 post. One thing that I did not mention was that it was originally written from the perspective of a woman to her girlfriend But because this was 1985, the height of the AIDS hysteria, the record company pressured Mann into changing the song into a man/woman dynamic, which was reinforced with the abusive video. Listen to the song without the visual reference, flip the pronouns and think about how the song changes.

I was definitely not the only one enchanted by this haunting pop song as it would crawl into the U.S. Top 10 peaking at #8.

11. Katrina & The Waves – Walking On Sunshine

Katrina is falling from her #9 apex of last week. It was also a Top 10 UK single and charted on the AC, Rock and Dance charts as well. We just couldn’t get enough.

And then Dolly kicked it up a notch.

10. Mary Jane Girls – In My House

OHW – Rick James was an asshole. A talented one, for sure. But an asshole, nonetheless. While his behavior was played for comic effect on Chappelles Show, it also reinforced the fact that he was a narcissistic ego-driven disrespectful drug-adled nutjob. That’s what I think about when I hear this song by the Mary Jane Girls. The stories of how he treated the foursome, how we harassed them, stiffed them of any real money and dropped them on the curb when they began to speak up and asked for their money.

Still it’s a funky dance song that fills the floors and the Big 80s Countdown plays the longer album version.

9. Howard Jones – Thing Can Only Get Better

ML – HoJo had his biggest smash to date when it hit #5 a few weeks back. From his solid Dream Into Action album, of which I ran the cassette tape transparent.

I had a completely different take on the second verse and even though I have read what the correct lyrics are, I still can’t change them in my head when I listen to it. Take a listen yourself and tell me what he’s saying.

8. Eurythmics – Would I Lie To You?

1985 is when Dave & Annie both stepped out of their musical comfort zones, with Dave expanding his production horizons and Annie fully embracing her soul inspirations. The change in sound from synth to throwback rock & soul kicked everyone in the ass and let them know they needed to be on their game while the Eurythmics were around. The Heartbreakers’ Benmont Tench plays organ on this soon to be #5 hit.

7. Tears For Fears – Everybody Wants To Rule The World

I got my first portable radio in 1985 as a gift, a single cassette model from Sears. I just couldn’t get into how small it was and how little power it had so I traded it in to The Wiz for a sleek black Magnavox dual cassette model with red trim. That’s what I think of when I hear this former #1 Tears For Fears track because that anthemic shuffle sounded so good coming out of those speakers

6. Survivor – The Search Is Over

PFK – The late Jimi Jameson replaced Dave “Eye of the Tiger” Bickler as lead singer in 1984 and the first album he recorded and released with the band was Vital Signs. It was a big success spawning three Top 20 singles. This was the third and most successful hit, eventually topping out at #4 as well as #1 on the AC charts.

It’s about some dumbass who can’t figure out that his dream girl is actually his best friend. Heard that one before? It’s approx 40% of all rom-com storylines…and Friends.

5. Madonna – Angel

The Chic-Madonna-Duran Duran triangle is leaning to the left on two sides with Nile Rodgers producing another track from the Like A Virgin LP with Chic keyboardist Rob Sabino on synths and synth bass. I get the feeling that this was an album filler track with no intention of ever releasing it as a single. They never even bothered to make a video for it. But as Madonna’s success exponentially grew in 1985 they figured what the hell, let’s see if the song could ride that momentum. And it did, into the Top 5.

4. Prince & The Revolution – Raspberry Beret

Prince was a superstar by the beginning of 1985. Everyone was ready to see what he would do next and almost exactly a year after he released When Doves Cry, Prince dropped this track. A seemingingly simple and straight forward pop rock track, it is bursting at the seems with details – classical string arrangements, exotic instrumentation and a pop hook for the ages making this three and a half minute multi-layrered ode to losing one’s virginity the best single he’s ever done, IMO. The B-side, She’s Always In My Hair rocks too and more than worth the price of the 45. I’m still astounded that this only hit #2. When Prince passed away in 2016, this single was played and streamed so much, it re-entered the Top 40, peaking at #33.

3. Duran Duran – A View To Kill

The Chic-Madonna-Duran Duran triangle pops up again with Bernard Edwards of Chic producing DD’s only 1985 single, the title track to the James Bond film, A View To A Kill. It remains the most successful Bond theme to this day. It would also be the last recording with the five orignal members until they got back together in the early 2000s. It will hit #1 in two weeks.

2. Phil Collins – Sussudio

And this will hit #1 next week. Even though this track gives the impression of a full band recording, the song is just David Frank [of The System] playing the synths and that funky MiniMoog bass, some rhythm guitar, the Earth Wind & Fire horn section and a drum machine. Phil doesn’t even play drums on this. Weirdly, it will also hit the Top 10 Soul charts. Parick Bateman’s favorite Phil Collins song.

I liked this song the first time I heard it when it was this.

1. Bryan Adams – Heaven

What began as an album track on a failed 1983 film becomes Bryan Adams’ first number one hit two years later. Supposedly it was inspired by Journey’s Faithfully and coincentally Journey’s drummer played on this track because the originally scheduled skinslapper had to bolt. But more improtantly the keyboards were played by Rob Sabino, which gives him two songs in the Top 5 this week. Way to go, Rob!

KEY

OHW – One-Hit-Wonder

THW – Two-Hit-Wonder

ML – Misheard Lyrics

PFK – Perfect for Karaoke

RFW – Ripped from Wikipedia

STA – Second Time Around