Find Out Just How Good It Is

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If you were a baseball loving kid like me in the Summer of 1981, you may have been excited that the strike was over and that games began again, only to realize that the whole season was completely destroyed by the MLB’s stupid playoff rules. The Dodgers tanked in the second half and still went on the win the World Series with strong teams like the Cardinals & Reds not even eligible for the playoffs. It was also the only season when the Montreal Expos made the postseason and they needed a strike and some poorly thought out decisons by the MLB to make that happen. If you were one of the few that attended games that Summer, you may have been treated to some of these Top 20 songs from August 22, 1981 in between innings.

20. Greg Kihn Band – The Breakup Song (They Don’t Write ‘Em)

SXMFU – I do not understand why SXM constantly plays the wrong version of a song on the countdown. You can go on Amazon and buy the original single version released in 1981 that Greg and the band is selling for $.99, digitally remastered.  I don’t want to hear a crappy re-recorded version where Greg can barely hit the notes. Get your shit together Sirius.

Also this was a hit before Jeopardy, not after as they mention on the Big 80s countdown.

19. Phil Collins – In The Air Tonight

I love that an urban legend sprang up around this song about how Phil the Shill saw a guy drowning in a lake and the person close to him refused to help him. And then Phil saw him at a concert and pointed him out to the audience. The first time I heard that story was from a friend of mine in the 8th grade. Don’t know where he heard it, but it sounded legit to me. And I think we can all agree that as much as the drum fill is iconic, it’s also pretty lame.

18. Pablo Cruise – Cool Love

The good ship Pablo is pulling in to the Top 20 dock on its way to a #13 mooring. It would be the last Top 40 hit for them. Founder Cory Lerios would go on to a second career in TV scoring, including writing the theme to Baywatch. Ka-ching!

17. Billy Squier – The Stroke

This is Billy’s first Top 40 hit resting at its peak this week. It was also a Top 10 in Australia, so in exchange the Aussies sent us Men At Work. We made out on that deal.

16. Carpenters – Touch Me When We’re Dancing

The Carpenters career came unnailed towards the end of the 70s as the album they were recording for a 1978 release took an additional three years. While Richard was battling a pill addiction, Karen was battling anorexia. Unfortunaltely we know how that ended two years after this, their last hit.

Fun fact: This was originally recorded and released by a band called Bama in 1979. Then the band Alabama recorded it in 1986. To this date, no one named Ala has a version out there.

15. Foreigner – Urgent

Foreigner 4′s popularity started off with this single, Urgent on its way up into the Top 10, Musically the song is fine, a tight little rocker with synth touches by Thomas Dolby and a sax solo by Jr. Walker. Lyrically, Foreigner sticks to what they know best, writing about fast, shallow love with crazy girls that have insane desires who love to get around.

14. John Schneider – It’s Now Or Never

OHW – How about never, Bo Duke? Just put the guitar down and slide back over the General Lee into your seat while Roscoe calls you a dipstick.

13. Oak Ridge Boys – Elvira

THW, PFK – Man this song hung around for a long time. It’s finally falling out of the Top 10. It will always remind me of a dude name Jojo who got up to sing this at a karaoke bar and sang my heart’s on fi-ra for El-vira. He also passed out drunk on stage before he finished the song.

12. Marty Balin – Hearts

THW – I hate the irony of a singer having a hit with a song whose chorus goes hearts can be that way who ends up having open heart surgery. And when he complained of chest pains, what’s the first thing that you suppose someone asked him?

11. Journey – Who’s Crying Now

Journey quickly knocked out their LP, Escape and ended up having their first major success as a band. This track is heading up to #4 as the first of three straight Top 10s while Atari was prepping the legendary video game for the 2600 called Journey Escape. It included this awesome premise which I will share with you:

You’re on the road with Journey, one of the world’s hottest rock groups. A spectacular performance has just ended. Now it’s up to you to guide each Journey Band Member past hordes of Love-Crazed Groupies, Sneaky Photographers, and Shifty-Eyed Promoters to the safety of the Journey Escape Vehicle in time to make the next concert. Your mighty manager and loyal roadies are there to help, but the escape is up to you!

10. Commodores – Lady (You Bring Me Up)

In late August 1981, it was Lionel Richie’s world and we were all living in it. The man was responsible for three different songs in this week’s Top 10. How do you like your Lionel? If you like him funky, you will dig this one, the second song he wrote called Lady to make the Top 10.

9. Ronnie Milsap – (There’s) No Gettin’ Over Me

The Top 10 is one-third Country this week. Here’s a guy that’s been charting since the mid 60s getting his first Top 10 Pop hit at the same time it becomes his 18th Country #1. Of course anything mellow with a smooth sax solo was going to be a hit in 1981.

8. Juice Newton – Queen Of Hearts

Even though Juice was considered a Country artist, most of her songs did better on the Pop chart. This one is on an interesting ride. It’s been stuck at #9 for the past three weeks. Maybe it likes the Beatles’ White album. It will eventually deal itself up to #2.

7. Manhattan Transfer – Boy From New York City

There have been vocal jazz groups in the rock era before the Manhattan Transfer as well as after, no doubt influenced by them. But none were as successful as they were and I believe it was all about timing. They snuck this one in before MTV’s influence told hold of radio playlists. This Jay Graydon-produced ditty is at its zenith.

6. Stevie Nicks with Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around

This 45 takes a fifteen notch leap into the Top 10 poised to become the first #1 for each artist. Alas it would only move three more spots up to #3 before it fell back down the charts. Neither Hall of Fame artist would record a #1 pop record. [although Stevie wrote and sang one for Fleetwood Mac.]

Fun fact: As the Heartbreakers were in between bass players, Donald “Duck” Dunn is filling out the bottom here.

5. Rick Springfield – Jessie’s Girl

This is just about the best thing Rick ever did, so it’s nice that it aligned with the record reaching #1. Guess we all thought the same.

4. Pointer Sisters – Slow Hand

The Pointer Sisters made this song sound sexy. Conway Twitty make it sound so damn sleezy, he should have been arrested. Maybe he was.

3. Kenny Rogers – I Don’t Need You

If you like your Lionel countrified, look no further than Kenny’s denial fest produced by Lionel, which is peaking at #3. I hope he fired people from his Roasters franchises by coming into the restaurant to sing this to them. That would be the best exit interview ever.

2. Joey Scarbury – The Theme From “The Greatest American Hero”

OHW – Three artists in this Top 10 also had hits on the Hot 100 ten years previous. I’m sure you’d guess Diana Ross, who had four. And maybe you’d guess Kenny Rogers with the First Edition who had one. But would you guess that Joey Scarbury was the third? He had a single chart called Mixed Up Guy which reached #73 in 1971. Then ten years later his second charted hit was a monster and should have been #1, except for…

1. Diana Ross & Lionel Richie – Endless Love (2 wks at #1)

And here are two Motown artists having the biggest hit of their lives, in the middle of a nine week run at the top. Lionel would use all of this to springboard into his solo career and Diana would be back in the Top 10 in just a few months on the RCA label, leaving Motown behind after 20 plus years.

Also this song sucks. To call this song sappy is an insult to maple trees. It’s like one big suck-your-cheeks-in deep breath in and one long obnoxious deep breath out. And when it’s over you forgot it was even there. The movie it’s from blows too.

KEY

  • OHW – One-Hit-Wonder
  • THW – Two-Hit-Wonder
  • ML – Misheard Lyrics
  • PFK – Perfect for Karaoke
  • RAR – Rite-Aid Rock
  • RFW – Ripped from Wikipedia
  • SXMFU – A Sirius XM mistake
  • STA – Second Time Around

The Debris & The Dust of Memories

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There’s a scene in an early Seinfeld episode where Kramer, Jerry and Newman are on a stakeout. Kramer thinks it feels like a Tuesday, to which Newman replies, “Tuesday has no feel.” That’s how I think of 1981. It has no feel to me. It started and twelve months later, it ended. The Top 40 was all over the place, but that doesn’t mean that there weren’t some great or at least entertaining tunes during the week of August 22nd, 1981.

[I’ve covered some of these songs once before June 20th, 1981 here, here and here.]

40. Jim Steinman – Rock ‘N Roll Dreams Come Through

OHW – When Meat Loaf was recording his follow-up to Bat Out Of Hell in the late 70s, his  voice gave out, he couldn’t sing and he went on the DL. [Just kidding, there’s no DL in the music business.] So rather than wait for Meat to rest his voice, writer Jim Steinman decided to record an sing the songs himself, which is why we have this travesty – all of the bombast, none of the fun.

The song is friggin’ painful, and it has so many fake endings, you just want to reach into  the speakers and strangle him.

39. Frankie Smith – Double Dutch Bus

OHW – The fizun has returned with this monster R&B track (#1 for 4 weeks) which has already peaked at #30 but has been certified Gold for the 7 & 12″ singles. More than that, it became a very influential song in hip=hop. Snoop built his whole career on the “iz” slang that’s featured here, a kind of urban pig latin if you will.

Frankie passed away earlier this year and although his resume said he wrote songs for the Spinners & the O’Jays, I can’t find any recorded examples. He did write for Philadelphia International Records with songs recorded by Archie Bell, The Futures and Billy Paul.

38. Kim Carnes – Bette Davis Eyes

How does a song like this stay at #1 for seven weeks? Not much competition. Spoiler alert: another example is at #1 this week.

37. Alan Parsons Project – Time

This was the first of four straight APP Top 10 hits on the Adult Contemporary chart, which in turn influenced Alan to continue to soften the edges as well as provide the soundtrack to your next cavity filling.

36. Balance – Breaking Away

OHW – Peppy Castro, formerly of Blues Magoos and Barnaby Bye teamed up with Kiss sidemen, Bruce Kulick & Doug Katsaros to form Balance. From their debut, this track will eventually bounce up to #22.

This what I call aggressive pop with a sugary compression filter, and when the two combine, it settles nicely into a radio friendly track that might also make it on an aerobics compilation.

35. Sheena Easton – For Your Eyes Only

PFK, RFW – The Big 80s countdown gets lazy with this song and intros this song with text from Wikipedia [SXM, did you check to make sure it was correct?]. This is on its way up into the Top 5, co-written by Bill Conti rather than usual Bond composer John Barry.

34. Lulu – I Could Never Miss You (More Than I Do)

STA – Lulu is back into the Top 40 for the first time in eleven years with a song that was originally released almost two and half years previous from her 1979 Rocket Records LP, Don’t Take Love For Granted. The song was then recorded by Melba Moore and Bobbi Walker, both in 1980. But when Japanese label, Alfa, bought her Rocket catalogue, they re-released this and suprisingly had a US hit with it. It’s going to zoom up to #18 and be one of those Top 20 hits that has been lost to radio ever since.

The Music of My Life blog talked about the Rhino compilation series, Radio Daze back in May and if they ever released a Volume 6 and could secure the rights, this would surely be on it, along with #36, #32, #27, #26 and #21.

33. Air Supply – The One That You Love

I’ve talked before about how my brother and I would beat each other up to the Dimensions comp by K-tel. Here’s the short story on why we had that 8-track in the first place.

My mom was obsessed with this song, latching on to it when her sister passed away earlier in the year. As we were leaving the Sunrise Mall, my mom handed me some money and asked me to run into Sam Goody’s to get the album by Air Supply on 8-track so she could play it in the car. I went back in the store but was distracted by the K-Tel section. I found the comp Dimensions and not only did it have this song but it also had Stars On 45, which my mom loved as well. More bang for the buck, I said.

When I came out to the parking lot and explained to her the genius of my purchase, she got pissed off that I didn’t do what she said. She played it once in the car and threw it on the floor. My brother and I took and kept it down in the basement for years. And yes I still have it.

32. Rex Smith/Rachel Sweet – Everlasting Love

THW/OHW – Rex had a Top 10 hit in 1979 called You Take My Breath Away. Rachel only ended up with this one, although she was definitely the better talent with a great array of retro pop singles. Rex oversings the hell out of it like it’s Les Miserables and Rachel does her best to reel him back in and remind him it’s a duet.

This was the third time that this song hit the Top 40, which included versions by Robert Knight in 1967 and Carl Carlton in 1974. U2 recorded and released a version in 1989 as the B-side to All I Want Is You.

31. The Moody Blues – The Voice

As a kid, this one spoke to me through the radio. I had no idea back then who this was or that the title was The Voice, since they bury it in the verses, so when I found out it was the Moody Blues I was pretty surprised. Also, this song isn’t shit without Patrick Moraz’s synth wizardry and the fact that the band has erased his tenure with the band pisses me off.

30. The Beach Boys – The Beach Boys Medley

Capitol Records was always looking for new ways to make money off the Beach Boys catalog. After Stars on 45, they used that as an excuse to create this medley of Beach Boys 60s hits, which will give current Top 40 stations a reason to play oldies. Tied together with tambourines and hand claps rather than a lame disco beat, this medley will reach #12 and will do nothing but help Brian pay off Dr. Landy’s bills and reduce the band’s image to its surfer themed hits.

29. Stacy Lattisaw – Love On A Two Way Street

Stacy was only 15 when she released her third album, With You, which featured her cover of the Moments’ 1970 hit. It is her second Top 40 and will creep up a few more spots to #26.

Also, is love on a two way street a good thing? Doesn’t that mean the love is going is two totally different directions?

28. Electric Light Orchestra – Hold On Tight

ML – I always thought Jeff Lynne was saying hold on tight to your drink, not dream. That seemed to make more sense to me. I don’t want to lose my drink. Drinks become more important than dreams as you get older.

27. Franke & The Knockouts – You’re My Girl

Franke & the Knockouts are the kinda band that could only have existed and had hits in 1981, just before MTV or any trendy genre took hold. When both of those eventually happened, these guys were sent packing but not before they collected three Top 40 hits. IMO this one is the best out of the pack.

26. Robbie Patton – Don’t Give It Up

OHW – This song will not go any further than #26, but it had plenty of support from the Fleetwood Mac camp. It was produced by Christine McVie and Ken Caillat and it features three different eras of F. Mac guitarists: Lindsey Buckingham, Bob Weston & Bob Welch.

25. Ray Parker Jr. & Raydio – That Old Song

The follow-up to A Woman Needs Love is going to stall at #21. Bu that’s cool with Ray, who was in the midst of packing up his things and heading out the door for a solo career.

Also, in the immortal words of Ray: A good song and a love affair go hand in hand together. Jeez, he just can’t help himself, can he? Ladies, I urge you to please stay away.

24. Alabama – Feels So Right

Alabama was in the middle of their early 80s Pop crossover with this, their first Top 20. This is kind of a lame-o Country ballad that I never remembered hearing on Pop radio. What impresses me more is the fact that the band was in the middle of a streak of twenty-one consecutive Country #1s.

23. Eddie Rabbitt – Step By Step

This was the kind of Country music I heard more of in New York. Maybe it’s because Eddie was from New Jersey. Or maybe because it didn’t pander as much as Country artists are wont to do. It’s Eddie fifth Top 40 and will be his third straight Top 5.

22. Pat Benatar – Fire And Ice

The rock Queen of Long Island had her only #1 album with her third release, Precious Time. While I dig the title track, this single is still one of her best and earned her a Grammy for Best Rock Female. Who exactly was even her competition back then? And why the hell is she not in Cleveland?

21. Gary Wright – Really Wanna Know You

The dream weaver returns to the Top 40 after a five-year absence with a track he co-wrote with Ali “Take a Little Rhythm” Thomson. It’s on its way up to #16. They also included it on the K-Tel Dimensions comp. My brother and I would goof on it, but we always let it play through.

KEY

  • OHW – One-Hit-Wonder
  • THW – Two-Hit-Wonder
  • PFK – Perfect for Karaoke
  • RAR – Rite-Aid Rock
  • RFW – Ripped from Wikipedia
  • STA – Second Time Around

Addicted to the Sound

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Twenty-Ten Favorite

BC Camplight is the nom de plume of Brian Christinzio who released two solid and promising albums in the mid to late 2000s. Then he seemingly disappeared and was not heard from for quite some time. Then, after a move to Manchester, England. the native New Jersey singer-songwriter emerged in 2015 with his best record yet, How To Die In the North, released on the Bella Union label. Recorded over many years, this album lyrical displays in detail the struggles Brian had been working through over the past eight years, all the while wearing his power-pop influences on his sleeve. While the music was coated in layers of dark low-fi production, Brian’s guitar and falsetto still cut a path like a morning sun through the thick fog.

The opening track from this album, You Should’ve Gone To School is one of my favorites, sounding at once ominous and buoyant. It even features a video with Felix The Cat.

Find Your Own Way To Stay

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The Top 20 from August 19th, 1989 has a few gems. Very few. So buckle in. We’re about to hit a rough patch.

20. Skid Row – 18 and Life

THW – One of the main reasons I never liked pop metal from the late 80s and early 90s was that it was such an obvious con. These bands had such a disdain for their audience that they barely even pandered to them. Here’s a song supposed to be about a kid who accidentally kills a friend with a gun he didn’t think was loaded and then they proceed to blame that “accident” on the kid’s upbringing. But there’s no understanding about what happened, no insight or empathy for either kid, so the song just comes off as exploitation. They figured their fans were too stupid for anything with depth.

Sebastian Bach makes Axl Rose seem like Kurt Vonnegut.

19. Winger – Headed For A Heartbreak

THW – Here’s another band that just plugged themselves into the hair metal club with a recommendation letter from Alice Cooper because Kip played bass for him. That and a case of Aqua Net got them two Top 20 hits. But as soon as they were discovered to be metal frauds, they were banished for life onto this t-shirt.

18. Bon Jovi – Lay Your Hands On Me

Speaking of disdain for your audience….I still can’t believe folks deemed them worthy for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame over folks like Todd Rundgren, Kate Bush, King Crimson or even Iron Maiden (the list goes on…)

17. Surface – Shower Me With Your Love

That’s your title? Really? How hard did the producer laugh when you told them the name of your new song? Has anyone found the mystery tape?

16. Martika – Toy Soldiers

I mentioned some fun facts about this song back in my June 17 post, so I’ll mention this instead. I never understood why the snare drum hits on the two and the and before the four. I would think that toy soldiers would fall one by one making them hit each other on the beat rather than off of it. Because once you’re off the beat, you’ll never get back on it. Am I thinking too much about this?

15. Soul II Soul – Keep On Movin’

THW – Hell yeah. Thank God for this song or 1989 would have been hell. Just a casual listen transports me in a bubble back to life covered in yellow sun rays. There was nothing that sounded like this on the radio back then.

Nelle Hooper and Jazz B were soon all over the place after this broke big. It was huge all over the world, reaching #1 on the Soul charts but somehow will only peak at #11 on the pop charts.

14. Donny Osmond – Sacred Emotion

In 1989 we were feeling the Blizzard of Os. It took us over as if it was 1971 all over again. At least Donny was gentle about it doing his best version of a Mormon soul brother, preaching his way up to a #13 high.

13. The Jeff Healy Band – Angel Eyes

OHW – Blues guitarist released his debut, See The Light in the Fall of 1988. But it wasn’t until this single’s inclusion in the Partick Swayze redneck revenge fest, Road House, that it became a hit reaching #5 in early September 1989.

12. Jody Watley with Eric B. and Rakim – Friends

Bless you, Jody Watley for having Rakim, one of the best MCs of all time, rap on your song thereby exposing him to millions of new fans. Also, don’t let the title of this future Top 10 fool you. Jody isn’t talking about friends that will be there for you. She’s basically making the point that friends suck. You too, Ross.

11. Don Henley – The End of The Innocence

Don Henley had to find a way to followup the success to his 1985 LP, Building The Perfect Beast. So his solution was to surgically remove all joy from his life. Because if he was super serious, we would all take him super seriously. This isn’t fun folks. It’s a job.

Also, Bruce Hornsby co-wrote and played piano on this Top 10. Stop smiling.

10. Love and Rockets – So Alive

OHW – OK breathe out and relax. L&R got you covered. You can even move a bit if you want. This made it to #3? Praise Jesus.

9. Karyn White – Secret Rendezvous

In the late 80s, Babyface & L.A. Reid started to turn out one earworm after another and before you knew it, we were living in the musical world they created. This was Karyn’s third straight Top 10 pop smash.

8. Prince – Batdance

The first single from Prince’s Batman soundtrack hit #1 on the Pop, Soul and dance charts and is one of the oddest tunes in his catalog (and that’s saying something.) It starts off with a fast electro-disco beat before breaking down a la The Payback into a jerky funk groove full of movie snippets and musical collages from other songs on the soundtrack. It also showcases Prince’s humor as when he sings Ooh yeah, I wanna bust that body, he follows it up with Batman saying I’d like to.

I wonder if Michael Keaton ever thought he’d be on a #1 record.

7. Dino – I Like It

We’ve already had That’s The Way on the countdown. Now here’s I Like It, which is fitting because this song is plainly just a rewrite of KC’s disco #1, even with some uh-huh, uh-huhs thrown in. Plus I like the way he was always excited to see Fred when he came home.

6. New Kids On The Block – Hangin’ Tough

There’s no way I would ever be able to fight my way out of a 5 on 1 situation. Except if I ever encountered these pussies chilling in Cape Cawd eatin’ a Wahlburga.

5. Great White – Once Bitten Twice Shy

THW – I would feel bad for Ian Hunter that a band like Great White got the big hit with a song he wrote. But then I remember he let Drew Carey use Cleveland Rocks for his show, so I’m sure he would be wiping his tears with Franklins.

4. Gloria Estefan – Don’t Wanna Lose You

Gloria finally Mellancamped the Miami Sound Machine and went out of her own. Even though this song is at #4 it will still take her another month to hit #1.

3. Paula Abdul – Cold Hearted

Paula Abdul in 1988: failure.

Paula Abdul in 1989: biggest selling artist on Virgin Records (still holds that record to this day).

I don’t care much for the song but big props for the Fosse tribute in the video.

2. Bobby Brown – On Our Own (From “Ghostbusters II”)

More Babyface And LA. What did I tell you? Those guys were everywhere. They might have written the theme song to my wedding for all I know. Or in Bobby’s case, post-wedding.

1. Richard Marx – Right Here Waiting (3 wks at #1)

I’m sure this got played at a lot of proms, which is why it has been sitting at the top for three weeks now. How many Seniors played this for their partner before they embarked on a long-distance relationship? Hate to tell you, they ain’t coming back. See #3.

KEY

  • OHW – One-Hit-Wonder
  • THW – Two-Hit-Wonder
  • PFK – Perfect for Karaoke
  • RAR – Rite-Aid Rock
  • RFW – Ripped from Wikipedia
  • STA – Second Time Around

A Bell To Ring The Changes

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I almost bailed on writing about this countdown until I saw the list and listened to the songs. These Top 40 hits from August 19, 1989 aren’t all that bad, and truth be told, they triggered a bit of nostalgia for me. This would be the week I would move from New York to North Carolina, a big life change that would and still does impact me in a multitude of ways.

40. Eddie Murphy – Put Your Mouth On Me

THW – Because Eddie had success with Party All The Time, no one dissuaded him from recording a follow-up. And when this Narada Michael Walden-produced song had some success, even if it only hit #27, he then never stopped making fans take him seriously as a singer, even to this day. How he was able to get any radio station to play such an obvious song about oral sex while he pretended to be El DeBarge channeling James Brown with appendicitis is beyond me? Even his laugh at the end of this song makes me think he was the only one in on this joke.

39. Roxette – Dressed For Success

Somehow in 1989, Roxette wheedled their way into our pop hearts and didn’t leave until they amassed nine Top 40 hits within a three year period, two of them were #2, four of them were #1. This former #14 hit was just the beginning of the ride.

38. Milli Vanilli – Baby Don’t Forget My Number

What did it matter if those two guys sang or did not sing these songs? The music still sucks.  Instead, listen to this Weird Al parody mashup.

37. Madonna – Cherish

Madonna’s third single from Like A Prayer debuts on the Hot 100 at #37, but this 60s inspired pop ditty will only go as far as #2. Madonna also slyly references the Association song, Cherish, with the line cherish is the word I use to remind me of your love.

Fun fact: Kool & the Gang also had a song called Cherish which only reached #2.

36. Madonna – Express Yourself

A double dose of Madonna shows just how far she’d had come in a few years in creating solid catchy dance-pop that stands the test of time.

35. Katrina and the Waves – That’s The Way

It ain’t only about sunshine for this band. They mixed up their sound in the late 80s and ended up with another Top 20 which is now completely lost in time. This hard-rocking blues-pop number will strut all the way up to #16.

34. Howard Jones – The Prisoner

HoJo follows up Everlasting Love with a moody mid-tempo tune that will escape up to #30 and sounds reminiscent of early Tears For Fears. In fact, it was produced and performed by TFF collaborators Ian Stanley & Chris Hughes.

33. Michael Damian – Cover of Love

This song is just an absolute mess and is a great example of coked-out 80s production gone mad, just tons of different sounds that don’t fit together and lyrics that do not make much sense. The fact that this got up to #31 while blocking a song like Trouble Me by 10000 Maniacs from getting into the Top 40 makes me seriously question if fans ever had any influence on chart listings.

32. Neneh Cherry – Kisses on the Wind

THW – Two Top 40 hits for Miss Cherry? That’s all we get? This game is fixed. I forget that this will be a Top 10 hit just like Buffalo Stance. But that jam casts such a large shadow, I feel like this one is lost back, way back, back into time.

31. Michael Bolton – Soul Provider

WPWFU – We should have said no when he destroyed the Otis Redding classic (Sittin’ On) the Dock of the Bay. Had we rejected him then, we would not have had to endure the wreckage of other well-known songs nor would I have to even think about crap songs like this. He may be the nicest guy in the world. Don’t care, but I even doubt that fact, especially when he has the balls to say he’s gonna be someone’s provider of soul. You need soul to give soul. But hey, you don’t understand the full intent of this arrogant ass clown’s plans. This song should be renamed A Soul Provider.

30. Bee Gees – One

At least the #31 didn’t keep tracks like this from climbing the charts and getting into our ears. The Bee Gees finally cracked the 80s ban with this slick funk-pop single. Maybe it was because folks felt sympathy towards the Brothers Gibb after Andy died the year previous. Or maybe program directors took the antenna out of their ass and took a shot on it. Thankfully they did and it would be their first Top 10 since Love You Inside Out in 1979. It would also be their last.

29. Grayson Hugh – Talk it Over

OHW, RAR – Sandy Linzer & Irwin Levine were both songwriters who wrote a handful of songs separately for artists such as Tony Orlando & Dawn and others, yet they hadn’t written much together. This is one of their first co-writes, originally recorded by Olivia Newton-John and titled Can’t We Just Talk It Over In Bed. Grayson got a hold of it, shortened the title and with a sparse soulful arrangement had a Top 20 hit. His follow-up Bring It On Back only hit #87, but I feel like that was played just as much as his hit.

28. Milli Vanilli – Girl I’m Gonna Miss You

See #38.

27. Henry Lee Summer – Hey Baby

THW – If John Cougar is too intense for you, may I present Henry Lee Summer. He breaks the monotony of dance-pop with this light rocker that peaked at #18 a few weeks ago. If you’re ever in Terre Haute, you can visit the Wabash Valley Musicians Hall of Fame to find a picture of Henry on the wall.

26. Debbie Gibson – No More Rhyme

In 1989 she shared the ASCAP Songwriter of the Year Award with Bruce Springsteen. Let that sink in for a minute and when you’re done screaming, move on to #25.

25. Simply Red – If You Don’t Know Me By Now

RAR – Some may think it’s sacrilege to try and cover something that Teddy Pendergrass once sang, but Mick Hucknall’s working-class blue-eyed soul delivery works just enough to justify this cover. Also this former #1 put Gamble & Huff back at the top of the charts during a very soulless 80s period.

24. Sweet Sensation – Hooked On You

I’ll just assume that you are what the kids are calling crack these days.

23. L.L. Cool J – I’m That Type of Guy

James Todd seemed to be the only rapper to have consistent pop success in the late 80s and early 90s, but unfortunately, that also led others in the hip-hop community to spray him with hater juice. Nevertheless, this track stalked its way up to #15. Now I’m not going to fully break down the lyrics but I am left scratching my head at a line like I’m the type of guy that loves a dedicated lady. Umm, she’s cheating on her man, with you. That’s not what I would call dedication.

Props to the Big 80s countdown for playing the unedited album version, though I don’t want to hear anyone talking about someone biting their chunk.

22. Warrant – Heaven

Warrant tries to rewrite the Boston song, Amanda and replace the lyrics with one cliche after another. Sadly, it worked and it will only be kept out of the top spot by Milli Vanilli. At that point, heaven felt like a ten zillion light years away.

21. Cher – If I Could Turn Back Time

We all remember Cher, scantily clad and strutting on a ship surrounded by sailors belting this song out in the video. What’s forgotten about this future #3 smash is that the songwriter Diane Warren had to beg her to record it. The story goes that Cher absolutely hated it. So does that mean she was fine with Half Breed & Dark Lady?

KEY

  • OHW – One-Hit-Wonder
  • THW – Two-Hit-Wonder
  • PFK – Perfect for Karaoke
  • RAR – Rite-Aid Rock
  • RFW – Ripped from Wikipedia
  • STA – Second Time Around
  • WPWFU – White People, We F(_)cked Up

 

You Never Know Who May Be Listening To You

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We were still season ticket holders to the New York Cosmos in 1982, even though the NASL was struggling. Man, they had such a stacked team I can’t believe they ever lost to anyone. As the Summer turned to August I watched them beat the Montreal Manic 3 to 2 at Giants Stadium in front of almost 40,000 people as the loudspeakers pumped up the crowd with some of these August 7th, 1982 Top 20 hits.

20. Stevie Wonder – Do I Do

This was one of four new tracks that Stevie recorded for his greatest hits package, Original Musiquarium, Part 1. [yes, there was no part 2. Or everything else is part two. It depends on how you look at it.] This one is a mutha of a jam, just those guitar lines during the chorus give me chills and that’s only one of the many top-notch players on this track. Stevie wouldn’t record many more multi-musician jams after this, preferring to work by himself on a synth workstation.

Mark from the Big 80s countdown intros this by mentioning that we’re not gonna hear Stevie’s improved rap or the Dizzy Gillespie (!) solo, but we do. They actually play all 10 minutes of it, even the Earl’s playin’ by himself, man break down.

19. Karla Bonoff – Personally

OHW – Singer-songwriter Karla Bonoff debuted with her first album in 1977, just at the time that Linda Ronstadt was at the height of her powers. Which is why Karla was always in Linda’s shadow. Then even shared a lot of the same session players (Andrew Gold, Waddy Wachtel) and sang some of the same songs (Someone To Watch Over Me), but the comparisons were unfair. It wasn’t until 1982 and third album that she had some success that was her own, kinda.

See, Glenn Frey loved obscure soul and found a song written by Paul Kelly recorded by Jackie Moore called Personally. He thought it would be a great one for Bonnie Raitt to record, but somehow it ended up in Karla’s hands, who took it out of obscurity and into the Top 20. Here’s Karla’s video and yeah, she’s still hanging with Andrew.

18. Juice Newton – Love’s Been A Little Hard On Me

Juice is embracing a little synth work in her Country pop and continues to have success. The #7 song is tumbling hard and fast, but not as hard as Juice who gets beat up by her dorky boyfriend in her video, which was made for $18. Anyone ever remember seeing this? At least she has a good sense of humor, which she alternates by looking like a psycho.

17. Soft Cell – Tainted Love

OHW – Even tough this New Wave classic has already peaked at #8 it’s going to hang in the top 40 for the rest of August and a total of 43 weeks on the Hot 100.

16. Donna Summer – Love Is In Control (Finger On The Trigger)

Geffen Records treated Donna like shit. It’s hard to imagine the thought process in which you sign one of the biggest artists on the 70s and then shelve her second album, I’m a Rainbow. I’ve heard it. They’re idiots. They ten teamed Donna up with Quincy Jones who was really getting hot as an R&B producer for her 1982 Donna Summer LP. Q & Rod Temperton came up with this burner which would get Donna back into the Top 10 in a few weeks. Considering one of the most iconic artists of the disco era could still have hits in the early 80s, they should have bowed down to her success.

15. Melissa Manchester – You Should Hear How She Talks About You

Melissa was enjoying a long successful career, but it wouldn’t be until her tenth album, Hey Ricky, that she would collect her biggest hit. On its way up to #5, here’s a track that Charlie “Pilot of the Airwaves” Dore first recorded in 1981 that would open up Melissa to the world of aerobic dance soundtracks. And it even features one of those Shamayalan twists at the end a la Chuck E’s In Love.

14. Paul McCartney – Take It Away

After John Lennon’s murder in December 1980, Paul felt lost and returned to the only thing that gave him solace: music. He went down to Montserrat in early 1981 to record with Sir George Martin & Stevie Wonder. After officially breaking up WIngs he continued to write and record more tracks for what would become his third solo album, Tug Of War. Because he had so many big hits in the early 80s, I feel this one gets continually overlooked, but it’s one of my favorites from that period.

With twin drum legends, Ringo & Steve Gadd in each ear, he had wife Linda and new collaborator Eric Stewart from 10cc record an ode to the thrills of music. Every time I listen to it, it sounds like Paul is telling himself to keep going, keep playing. The audience wants it. You love it. And you never know who may be listening to you.

13. Dazz Band – Let It Whip

OHW – We’re not gonna get funkier than this as we move up the charts, so have big fun and let it whip before the Dazz Band fall off the charts. If you want to work on your breakdancing chops, whip out the Joystick.

12. The Go-Go’s – Vacation

The lead single to the Go-Go’s new album is going to get them another Top 10 hit, eventually hitting #8. And there’s a cheesy video to go with it.

11. Crosby, Stills & Nash – Wasted On The Way

The label may say CSN, but don’t be fooled. This is a Stephen Stills/ Graham Nash product with Crosby’s name forced on it so that those two wouldn’t have to pay out of pocket for the recording of it. Kinda sounds like a healthcare plan, doesn’t it? This future #9 track is actually Stills, Nash & (Timothy B.) Schmit. No Croz at all.

10. The Human League – Don’t You Want Me

This track was ruling over the Summer of 1982. I talked about it before back in May and here it is still in the Top 10. A definitive 80s smash and a signal that pop was gonna more synthy.

9. The Motels – Only The Lonely

The Motels finally break into the Top 10 and leave a light on for you, especially if you’re all alone. Lonely in a motel – that’s why they created pay-per-view.

8. REO Speedwagon – Keep The Fire Burnin’

This was the lead single of REO’s tenth album, Good Trouble, which I find is a snoozefest. But I guess their momentum was strong enough to propel this into the Top 10. And as long as you’re drowsy…

7. Air Supply – Even The Nights Are Better

….go ahead and get yourself a blanket and pillow. You’ll be out like a light within three minutes and fifty-seven seconds. But you may be jarred awake if you hear this.

6. Toto – Rosanna

Toto almost had a #1 hit but couldn’t quite topple the league of humans or the tiger’s eye. That’s OK though since they won 158 Grammys for this song. One of the few hits that have Steve Lukather singing vocals. And is it need you all the way or meet you all the way? I’m not looking it up.

5. Chicago – Hard To Say I’m Sorry

Cetera unleashes his inner Cartman for a future #1 hit from the movie, Summer Lovers. This makes If You Leave Me Now sound like In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. Didn’t Chicago used to have horns? Caution: do not listen if you are a diabetic.

4. Fleetwood Mac – Hold Me

This song has a very unique distinction. It’s in the middle of a seven-week run at #4. If that’s not a record then it’s just an incredible frustrating stretch for the band.

Also, I’d love to slide into a sandpit full of guitars.

3. The Steve Miller Band – Abracadabra

In 1977 SMB got into a box on stage, they spun it around and disappeared. Then with a flick of the wand, they said the magic words – Abracadabra – and poof, they reappeared into the Top 10 on the way to #1, the band’s third and final.

Fun fact: In 1976 SMB kicked Chicago out of #1 with Rock N Me. In 1982 SMB kicked Chicago out again with this one.

And for you stoners, there’s this.

2. John Cougar – Hurts So Good

JC moves up a notch, politely trying to infuse pain on the band at the top. But they won’t feel it, cause they are survivors.

1. Survivor – Eye Of The Tiger (3 wks at #1)

PFK – Do you know why this song even exists? Stallone was filming Rocky III and wanted to use Queen’s Another One Bites The Dust during the training sequences. But they declined. Somehow Sly got hooked up with Jim Peterik the keyboardist for the struggling band and commissioned him to write it. It will spend six weeks at the top, give the band a career and endless lawsuit settlements as republicans keep using this song without permission.

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

If It Feels Good, Put It On

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How addicted were you to watching E.T. that Summer? I can’t think of another movie I saw more in the theatres. I also don’t think I could watch it again. My adult brain can’t handle the logic, or lack thereof. I was also excited that we were getting finally getting MTV. Even though it had only been around for a year, people were hyping it up as highly influential. Maybe that’s hindsight, cause this Top 40 countdown from August 7th, 1982 is just beginning to shows signs of that. There’s plenty of folks on here that were radio-only stars.

40. The Gap Band – Early In The Morning

THW – Let’s get you started with something from the nexus of Greenwood, Archer & Pine in Tulsa, OK. The cowboy funkateers are in Top 40 for the second and last time from their album Gap Band IV. They are falling from their high #24 last week.

39. Journey – Still They Ride

Another track that’s about to tumble out of the 40 is Journey’s fourth Top 40 hit from their breakout LP, Escape. The ride slides down twenty notches from its peak of #19.

38. Herb Alpert – Route 101

Holy crap. Herb Alpert’s in the Top 40! With another instrumental? How does this guy do it? After two albums with middling success following the #1 Rise, Herb’s Fandango album unleashed the smoothest ode to the Western coastline highway anyone’s ever known. Seriously, who bought this track?  And yes, there’s a video.

Fun Fact: The man who wrote this track, Juan Carlos Calderon, also wrote Eres Tu (Touch The Wind, a Top 10 track for Spanish singing group Mocedades in 1974.

37. Haircut One Hundred – Love Plus One

OHW – If it has a dumb name, it must be an 80s New Wave band. Their debut included a lot of great songs including Favourite Shirts, which hit #101 and this one which is at its height this week. Nick Heyward left the band in 1983 and has gone on to have a solid solo recording career and I would definitely recommend checking out Woodland Echoes, his last album released in 2017.

36. Billy Idol – Hot In The City

Here’s where the sneer meets the career, as we have Billy’s first Top 40 hit. It will eventually climb up to #23. Billy will needlessly remix and release a new version in 1987 which only hit #48, but also features a stupidly fun new video with his girlfriend attached to a crucifix.

35. .38 Special – Caught Up In You

The pride of Jacksonville is still smokin’ with this former #10. It’s also worth watching the video to see how these guys have yet to let the 70s go or even their second drummer. Also, the comments are hilarious.

A handful of these songs in the Top 40, such as this one, have been discussed before. You can check those out here.

34. Daryl Hall & John Oates – Your Imagination

The fourth Top 40 single from one of Hall & Oates best LPs, Private Eyes is inching up and only one spot away from its best showing. It will also hit #45 on the Soul charts. These two were starting to write smashs in their sleep and even though it’s not as well known as their others, I still really dig it.

33. John Cougar – Jack and Diane

This is the first of two John Cougar tunes which are both going up the charts at the same time. This little ditty will be John’s only #1 hit, but it will stay atop for a month. Honestly I can take or leave this song. I understand its quirky appeal and anthemic lyrics but what I really like is Kenny Aranoff’s drum beats starting at 2:53, which I think is a lost hip-hop sample. I just want that on a loop. If some rapper grabbed it, please tell me who.

32. Genesis – Paperlate

Here’s where you can really see the lines between Genesis & Phil Collins blur. This could be I Missed Again or No Reply It All. Do you know who did what? This sure isn’t your older brother’s Genesis.

From Three Sides Live, that must mean the fourth one is pre-recorded. And thus we have this track which is at its peak. All of us dorky kids with thin blue pens would sing paper-mate, paper may-ate.

31. Glenn Frey – I Found Somebody

When Glenn recorded his first solo album, he wanted to show the world that he was the reason the Eagles were one of the biggest bands in the world during the 70s. This was the first release from No Fun Aloud, which has one of the cheesiest looking album covers I’ve ever seen. This single showcases Glenn’s soulful romantic side, though it wouldn’t get any higher than its showing this week. And while it’s a fine song, it’s no Dirty Laundry.

30. Leslie Pearl – If The Love Fits Wear It

OHW – Leslie recorded an album with her sister Deborah called Pearl in 1977. For the next five years, she spent time writing songs and singing backup until she had a chance to record a solo album. And from that disc comes this missed opportunity by the Trojan company. JK, although I wonder how many of these songs she was writing with Meatloaf in mind, with titles like There Is Nothing So Expensive As A Woman Who’s Free For The Night and You’re The First Thing I Want But The Last Thing I Need. 

in 1984 Leslie wrote the jingle, the best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup, and said Bye Felicia to the music industry.

29. Jennifer Holliday – And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going

OHW, PFK – Since the mid-70s it’s been rare for a song from a Broadway musical to hit the Top 40, though it has happened once in a blue moon. This track is the Act I closer from Dreamgirls, sung by Jennifer Holliday who originated and played the role of Effie White for four years on stage, winning a Tony and a Grammy, all by the time she was 22.

You know, good for Jennifer Hudson, who later won an Oscar for the movie role of Effie, but damn, Holliday owns this song.

28. The Alan Parsons Project – Eye In The Sky

We’re gonna pretend this is the single version, so no Sirius prelude. Jordan ain’t coming out of the locker room. I want to focus on how APP’s songs sound so deceptively simple but are expertly layered and tricky as hell to sing. Eric Woolfson is not a master vocalist, but he knows what the song needs and gives it just enough. It almost feels like he’s above you when he sings it or at least staring down on you like a manager in a warehouse from an upper floor.

It would be their biggest hit ever, eventually reaching #3.

27. Men At Work – Who Can It Be Now?

Even though this song was recorded and released in the Summer of 1981 in Australia, it wouldn’t enter the US Top 40 until this week coming in at #27. With one foot in the WestCoast style and the other in New Wave, in retrospect, it was a perfect single to be huge in 1982 as it will hit #1 for one week around Halloween.

26. Kim Wilde – Kids In America

THW – Kim debuted this song in England on January 1981, but sometimes you have to wait for good things, like almost a year and a half. This song tapped into the New Wave craze that we didn’t understand was already here. A quick geography question – where in East California is the New Wave coming to? Are we thinking Needles? Barstow? San Bernadino?

RFW – the Big 80s Countdown intros this song by pretty much reading its Wikipedia feed under 1980 version.

25. Pointer Sisters – American Music

June, Anita & Ruth were in their soft rock Westcoast phase when they released another 80s hit that few remember. This song features jazz legend Lee Ritenour on guitar. It’s hard to imagine that this peaked 14 spots higher than the original release of I’m So Excited, but there you have the US vibe under Reagan’s first term.

24. Eddie Money – Think I’m In Love

This future #16 hit brought Money some extra dividends after being cashed out of the Top 40 for three years. But it wasn’t until his 1986 comeback where Ed started making some consistent bank.

23. Gary U.S Bonds – Out of Work

This guy again. Bruce throws Gary another bone with a #21 track that the Boss wrote and produced. This would be Gary’s final Top 40 before he was unemployed again, by Billboard’s standards. And there you have the US vibe under Reagan’s first term.

22. Kenny Rogers – Love Will Turn You Around

Someone thought Kenny was a 5-tool talent and started putting him in movies such as the 1982 stinker and played-every-five-hours-on-HBO, Six Pack. Even though this would be another #1 Country and Adult Contempo hit [#13 pop], it feels like Kenny wrote and recorded this between takes on the race track.

21. Rick Springfield – What Kind of Fool Am I

Rick’s follow-up to Don’t Talk To Strangers is sitting on the ladder not knowing if it should go up or down. Spoiler alert – it goes down next week, for good.

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

Where The City Lights The Sky

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Twenty-Ten Favorite

The resurgence of WestCoast music [NuCoast] by international artists had already begun in the late 2000s. By 2010, musicians from countries sporting cold beaches and nary a palm tree began to build brand new Aja-like audio scapes filled with a world where each day is an afternoon drive on the Pacific Coast Highway in an open coupe in 1979.

In 2010, Swedish buddies Daniel Andersson [vocals and guitar] and Stefan Olofsson [Leyboards and bass] formed State Cows, which evolved out of a Steely Dan tribute band. Their debut album features lots of solid production and arrangements, top-notch performances and pop hooks galore. They were able to get producer/songwriter/ guitarist extraordinaire Jay Graydon to play the solo on New York Town, bridging the old school with the new and started on off a mutual admiration society between 70s & 80s WestCoast rockers and the NuCoasters who were heavily influenced by them.

 

This Amusement Never Ends

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As a lifelong Mets fan, one of the best things about the Summer of 86 was watching them beat up on teams, figurately and literally, for the first time. I had always followed the team through the year and they usually sucked hard. 1985 was a lot of fun, but 86 was another level. And I had no idea what awaited me in October. Each day I would turn the game on in the living room and go outside between innings with the radio blaring, so roughly 17 or 18 times. I’m sure the radio was playing some version of this Top 20 from August 2nd, 1986. [also, by this time the Mets were up 17 games in the division.]

20. Moody Blues – Your Wildest Dreams

This prog-rock ensemble slimmed the core group down to a quartet and posted their first Top 10 hit since Nights in White Satin in 1972. The timing must have been right for some 60s nostalgia. Of course, the band played into that as well with their video. [Look for keyboardist Patrick Moraz in the flashback hippie scenes of the band. He didn’t join until 1978.]

19. Lionel Richie – Dancing On The Ceiling

The perfect song for your coked-up Yuppie party. It’s just sad that it’s Lionel doing it. “You’re once…..twice….three times in rehab….”

18. Michael McDonald – Sweet Freedom 

Another track from Running Scared – this will take Michael into the Top 10, but will unfairly be his last Top 40 hit. For a guy who’s presence and iconic voice are so representative of an era, it’s still hard to believe that radio would just turn their back on him. He continues to record a lot of great music. And this song sounds awesome live.

This was and still is one of my 86 faves. I just love that build up from the second verse into the chorus. Well, at least he left on a high note with a fun video to boot, although I just can’t imagine him as an ex-Chicago cop.

17. Jeffrey Osborne – You Should Be Mine (The Woo Woo Song)

Can you woo woo woo? Can I? Is woo woo woo the quiet storm version of yada yada yada? Then yes, I probably can.

16. Wham! – The Edge Of Heaven

When I saw Eddie Murphy’s Raw the following year and he made fun of white people dancing, I could never copy exactly how he did that. All I needed to do was put this track on. My body can’t dance any other way to Wham!. I could do the Carlton all day to it.

15. Bananarama – Venus

This UK female trio has their second Top 40 with a cover of the #1 1970 hit from the Dutch group the Shocking Blue, Actually it also hit #1 in 1981 as part of Stars on 45. So when Bananarama eventually take this to the top, that would be three. Throw in Frankie Avalon’s smash, Venus (different song) and now that four #1 Venuses. Or is it Veni?

14. Blow Monkeys – Digging Your Scene

OHW – Fitting somewhere in between the UK Soul-Jazz scene and quirky NEw Wave, the Blow Monkeys popped through in 86 with this track that’s peaking this week. Another fave of mine at the time.

When I actually read the lyrics, I realized that I misunderstood them as they were delivered in Dr. Robert’s smooth cabaret-style. How did I miss a chorus that goes “tell me why am I digging your scene? I know I’ll die.“? They introduced a world where people had friends dying of a disease at a rapid rate that no one knew how to cure or at least slow down. To be an AIDS survivor most likely meant you were also an AIDS griever. That’s not even to mention the social stigma of homosexuality and its burden of fear that most troglodytes needlessly ramped up.

13. Timex Social Club – Rumors

OHW – It was kind of wild in 1986 for a proto-hip-hop track on an independent West Coast label to hit the pop Top 10 as well as #1 on the Soul charts. I bought this 12″ back in the day. And I know this is considered to be early new jack, but this song sounds so dated, especially the lyrics. Hiding behind the “rumors’ premise they start to spread new ones that I hadn’t heard, such as Tina Turner being a slut and Susan Anton being a dominatrix. Susan Anton? Were these guys binge-watching Cannonball Run II?

The producers ended up having more success. Jay King broke up the band and reformed it as Club Nouveau, who had a #1 hit with a cover of Bill Withers’ Lean On Me. Denzil Foster teamed up with his buddy Thomas McElroy and had a bunch of 90s new jack hits with En Vogue, Tony Toni Tone, and Alexander O’Neal, to name a few.

12. Steve Winwood – Higher Love

Steve with a little help from Chaka Khan & Nile Rodgers is having his biggest hit in over five years with the lead single from Back In The High Life LP. But he will take it higher, reaching #1 in a few weeks. It’s interesting how many veteran artists in their late 30’s were having huge pop hits in the mid to late 80s. And there’s a bunch of them in this Top 20.

11. Billy Joel – Modern Woman 

Billy isn’t taking his own advice and telling her about it. Instead, he’s telling us all about all of the anxiety living with a “modern” woman, like for one, they don’t put up with any bullshit. Dude, you were way out of your league with Brinkley. You should have broken it off after An Innocent Man. Instead we have to sit through irritating Woody Allen fits of paranoia set to unimaginative loops of white boy synth-funk. It’s a mess. You will never recover. Go fishing.

Also found on the soundtrack to another mess, Ruthless People.

10. Pet Shop Boys – Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots Of Money)

Imagine two rednecks plotting and scheming about getting rich in the middle of the day as they watch Jerry Springer. Now lay that on a musical bed of synths and drum machines. Voila!

PSB followed up the massive success of West End Girls with this, another Top 10 single from Please, which is at its resting place this week.

9. Jermaine Stewart – We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off

THW – Tips for having a good time

  1. Dance all night
  2. Party all night
  3. Drink some cherry wine

Getting naked: optional

8. Janet Jackson – Nasty

We all consider Thriller an important album because it unified all walks of life as everyone had a copy.  But for some reason, no one discusses Janet’s Control album in the manner and I’m sure we all know why. The big difference between the two albums is that Control had to be made. It was important that it existed, that a female African-American R&B performer was telling other women to respect themselves, be strong and lead your life that you want to not the way someone thinks it should be.

Fun fact: Way before Dennis Franz was showing his nasty butt on ABC, he was poorly dancing and lipsynching in this video.

7. Rod Stewart – Love Touch 

There are 9 songs from soundtracks on this countdown. This one is from the movie Legal Eagles, a much-hyped little-seen Robert Redford/ Debra Winger romantic comedy. This was written by Device buddies Holly Knight & Gene Black. Couldn’t they have come up with something better and less skeevy than Rod singing ooh you’re gonna get a big love touch? This is sexual harassment dressed up like a pop song, the Blurred Lines of 1986.

6. Belinda Carlisle – Mad About You

When the Go-Gos exploded, Belinda was out to prove that she was no disposable pop star. She had charm. She had charisma. She was here to stay. She signed to IRS and turned to one of the biggest producers in the biz, Michael Lloyd, the man responsible for making Shaun Cassidy, Leif Garrett and the Osmonds into stars.

The song will hit #3 and features a guitar solo by the artist at #24.

5. Genesis – Invisible Touch

So to recap, we have had:

Mike Rutherford – #38, Phil Collins – #37, Steve Hackett – #32. We now have Mike, Phil & Tony Banks. And at #2, we’ll have Peter Gabriel. That’s all of the members of Genesis in the Top 40 this week except Anthony Phillips. [Technically they were a few others in the 60s, but they pretty much quit music.]

4. Madonna – Papa Don’t Preach

Because Madonna was so popular in the mainstream for so long, it’s easy to forget what a punk she was. She had no problem standing up to authority, especially male and telling them that their thinking was misguided. And no one could be such a thorn in the side of the Catholic church than her, except for the Boston Globe. This song, which was actually written by Westcoast singer-songwriter Brian Elliot,  is about a young girl who bravely tells her dad that’s she pregnant. And even though she knows he’s going to be upset, she’s keeping it. That’s hardcore for a pop song.

Even though preach is in the title, Madonna does anything but and delivers such a sincere tender vocal reading of these lyrics. Casting tough yet tender actor Danny Aiello as the dad in the video was a brilliant touch. And I still see women rocking Madonna’s look today.

3. Kenny Loggins – Danger Zone

Movie Kenny takes the long dramatic highway to the danger zone, just missing out on another #1. Another single from the soundtrack to Top Gun will rise to the top instead.

2. Peter Gabriel – Sledgehammer

Who would have guessed that Peter Gabriel could have a #1 single in the US? But he did, for one glorious week at the end of July in 1986. I still don’t believe it’s about sex.

1. Peter Cetera – Glory Of Love (Theme From The Karate Kid Part II)

The week that Peter replaced Peter, the first time artists with the same first name switched spots at the top. I made note of that and sent a letter into American Top 40. They sent me an awesome reply letter back on AT40 letterhead. I proudly showed my parents. They laughed. I am clearly adopted.

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

Every Word Can Be Recreated

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During the Summer I used to go to an ice skating rink and hang out. Sometimes we skated but mostly we chilled. One of the guys in charge of playing music asked if I’d make a would make mixtapes to play for the skaters, something that had a lot of current hits. One of the tapes I gave him that July made up a bulk of this countdown from August 2nd, 1986.

40. Klymaxx – Man Size Love

This Top 40 is bookended with soundtrack songs. Here’s the first of two from the Gregory Hines/ Billy Crystal buddy cop flick Running Scared by an all-female R&B act from Los Angeles. They were coming off of their first Top hit, I Miss You which peaked at #5 earlier in the year. This Rod Temperton track would rise all the way up to #15.

39. Device – Hanging On A Heart Attack 

OHW – This is the second one-hit-wonder that features Singer/songwriter Holly Knight on lead vocals, the first being Spider’s New Romance back in 1980. Her she teams up with Paul Engemann who will take over lead duties in Animotion and have a Top 10 in 1989. This one is four spots away from its peak. Holly & third member Gene Black wrote another song that’s further up the chart.

Fun fact: Paul recorded a song with his sister Shawn called For Your Love which peaked at #91 in 1975. Shawn would eventually be one of Larry King’s last wives. They got married at a hospital in L.A. while Larry was hanging on a heart attack. Bada-bing!

38. Mike & the Mechanics – Taken In

Mike Rutherford did not dig the solo career lifestyle like his buddy Phil the Shill did. But he still yearned to write and record mellower music than Genesis in a collaborative way. So he formed the Mechanics as a quietly subversive supergroup hiring Sad Cafe’s Paul Young and everyone’s favorite utility player Paul Carrack to provide lead vocals as well as former Van Morrison drummer Peter Van Hooke. The results were pleasing if not quite challenging fare such as this one. Their third Top 40 single will top out at #32. I love taking a Summer nap to this song.

37. Howard Jones – No One Is To Blame

Inspired by a car accident in a no-fault insurance state, Phil the Shill produced and plays drums on this song that HoJo fought to salvage from his Dream Into Action LP. It would be his biggest international hit.

36. The Monkees – That Was Then, This Is Now

It is ironic that a video channel heavily inspired by Mike Nesmith’s company Pacific Arts would be responsible for reigniting Monkeemania in 1986, to the point that they rereleased a new greatest hit collection and a new recording. Too bad this song was a hunk of crap and only featured 50% of the group. Had they waited, got all four together and teamed them up with good writers and producers you might have a better, more interesting recording such as Good Times! the one they released in 2015.

35. John Cougar Mellencamp – Rumbleseat

That Scarecrow LP was still churning our singles in the Summer of 86 with this as number five. Was everyone missing Springsteen that much?

34. David Lee Roth – Yankee Rose

David shows the world that he still hasn’t grown up and is still the funniest guy you’ve ever met. From his hilarious album cover where he dresses up like a Native American to the album name, which is the slogan of a racist candy company in South Dakota. Oh, don’t worry he’s got your sexism and ethnic stereotypes covered too. It’s all packed into the first minute of the video to his third Top 40 hit, Yankee Rose, an ode to getting it on with the Statue of Liberty and watching her rockets glare..

33. Miami Sound Machine – Words Get In The Way

The Miami Sound Machine formula works like this. They have two tempos – too fast to dance to, and too slow to dance to. This is in camp number two. If the word didn’t get in the way, the narcolepsy would.

32. GTR – When The Heart Rules The Mind

OHW – Can you believe it? A prog-rock supergroup with a Top 40 in 1986. Well,  when you xerox Yes and then xerox Asia which is a xerox of Yes, you get GTR with a lead singer that wishes he was Jon Anderson and guitarist Steve Howe, who played in both of the former groups and wishes he didn’t invest all of his money in Wacky Packages futures. You also have guitarist Steve Hackett which makes the third appearance in this Top 40 of former or current Genesis member. Wonder if there will be any more?

31. Gloria Loring & Carl Anderson – Friends And Lovers

OHW – Soap operas should never spawn pop music. Ever.

30. Regina – Baby Love

OHW – Supposedly this song was written for Madonna, but she passed. If that’s true, I know why she declined it. She didn’t want to repeat her debut over and over. She’s up at #4 with a more mature version of baby love. Instead, she threw the scraps to the co-writer Regina Richards who sang it and became a one-hit-wonder with an unoriginal sound.

I bought Regina’s Curiosity CD at a Woolworth’s in 1990 for a dollar in a sealed longbox. To this day, the album and the song Baby Love are unavailable digitally.

[UPDATE: Spotify and ITunes recently made Curiosity avalaible to stream/download. CD is still out of print.]

29. Billy Ocean – There’ll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry)

Billy trivia – He had three #1 songs. Each had eight words in the title. This is one of them. Next.

28. Gavin Christopher – One Step Closer To You

OHW – I was really into this 45 from the first time I heard it. To me, it sounds like the spiritual heir of the Manhattans’ Shining Star. The singer in that song becomes the protagonist in this one where he realizes how much he screwed up the relationship but was meant to put that shining star back in his arms. I also think Gavin sounds a lot like Gerald Alston.

This would shuffle its way up to #22 and never get one more step closer.

27. El Debarge – Who’s Johnny

OHW – Another soundtrack song, this one from Short Circuit which is what happened to everyone’s career who was involved with it, including El who never had another Top 40 hit, solo or with Debarge. [Sorry, Quincy Jones’ The Secret Garden doesn’t count.]

If you are El fan, check out 1992’s In The Storm, his retro ode to early 70s soul and funk.

26. The Outfield – All The Love In The World

The Outfield was a British band with no UK success whatsoever. Nice to see the reverse happen every now and then. That’s probably because they tried their hardest to sound as American as they could [or at least like the Police.] Their second Top hit will make the Top 20 in a few weeks. Nice to see they have some love saved up for Josie for when she gets back from her faraway vacation. [Actually, I heard they’re just gonna put it in the mail and get back to using some of your love tonight.]

25. The Fixx – Secret Separation

A secret Fixx song, meaning it doesn’t get into the 80s classic rotation even though it reached #19, so not many remember it. The Music of My Life elaborated on it last month.

24. Andy Taylor – Take It Easy

OHW – [all pretentious British accents] “I’m Andy Taylor. I’m done with Duran Duran and Power Station. Time to be a star and do my own thing.”

OK, Andy what do you have for us.

This. [starts playing Take It Easy.]

Ummm that’s Bang A Gong. By T-Rex. You covered that already.

Right. Hit record, mate.

From the soundtrack to American Anthem featuring gymnast Mitch Gaylord, this one-hit-wonder track is peaking this week at #24.

23. Berlin – Take My Breath Away

THW – Here’s the first of two songs from the Top Gun soundtrack produced by Giorgio Moroder. We’ll hear the other one later, but this will be the bigger of the two, on its way to #1.

22. Simply Red – Holding Back The Years

PFK – I was and still am a big Simply Red, but for the life of me I couldn’t figure this out back then, what it was that made it so popular, enough to go all the way to the top. But as I got older it started to make a lot more sense and then sadness became soothing.

21. Journey – Suzanne

I think Journey benefitted from Steve Perry’s success with his first solo album. His collaborations with Jonathan Cain & Neil Schon are stronger and catchier on Raised on Radio and this is a good example. This future #17 is climbing up and features Randy Jackson on bass. Yes that Randy Jackson, the guy who signed Brennan’s samurai sword.

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