A Bell To Ring The Changes


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?


  • 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


2 Replies to “A Bell To Ring The Changes”

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