Hope They Never End This Song

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Most of the songs on this countdown from September 27th, 1980 feel like a carry over from that Summer of watching the New York Cosmos, doctors appointments, hospital visits and long stretches left alone at the Sunrise Mall to watch movies. I was framing my changing world to a Top 40 soundtrack in order to cope with my life. I didn’t know it then but this period of life would inform by thorough immersion into WestCoast music many year later. Music was my medicine and so, here’s the first twenty doses.

[I also added a new abbreviation to the key called PD as in previously discussed, so you can click the link to see what I originally talked about regarding the song.]

40. Irene Cara – Out Here On My Own

Here’s the first of two songs in the Top 40 from the Fame soundtrack, both sung by Irene Cara. If someone was doing a vocal recital in the  early 80s, chances are they sang this song.

39. Elton John – Sartorial Eloquence (Don’t Ya Wanna Play This Game No More?)

21 At 33 was the album that featured songs with lyrics by four different songwriters. The words on this one are written by new wave artist Tom Robinson known for the songs 2-4-6-8 Motorway and Glad to Be Gay, an early LGBT anthem. This one is at its peak this week.

38. Charlie Daniels Band – The Legend Of Wooley Swamp

Charlie’s at it again with another countrified tale that doing well on the Pop charts, eventually scaring itself up to #31. The legend is that a trio of rednecks kill an old man for his mason jars full of money, dump him in the swamp and then they die in quicksand. But what happened to the money? No one knows.

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

PD – Billy’s first #1 song takes me back to those of days of my first swimming lessons during that 1980 Summer. Damn that water was cold. We would also learn that Billy doesn’t know how to deliver a metaphor subtly. It would get worse as the decade worn on, but his Glass Houses album cover is a great early example. And yes, that’s his house.

36. Jackson Browne – Boulevard

This former Top 20 single finds a member of one generation singing down to the lost kids of a younger generation with lines like no one owes you nothin’ and nobody hands you any guarantee without even asking them what they want or what they’re looking for. Punk was not created to kill disco. Disco had its own power and was an inclusive movement. Punk was created to kill this.

35. Willie Nelson – On The Road Again

After his turn as Wendell Hickson in 1979’s The Electric Horseman, Sweet Willie headlined his first film in 1980 called Honeysuckle Rose. The producer needed Willie to cough up a theme song for the movie so he wrote one on the back of an airplane barf bag. It will be his 6th #1 Country hit and a future Top 20, his first.

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

OHW, PD – This Atlanta R&B band used to be called Santa Monica for no apparent reason. Maybe it was due to the popularity of WestCoast music in the late 70s but this isn’t a jam you drunk Riunite on ice to. You should be sweaty after this is over.

33. Larsen Feiten Band – Who’ll Be The Fool Tonight

OHW – Session musicians Neil Larsen & Buzz Feiten formed a band in New York called Full Moon and released an album in 1972. Eventually they both headed out West and teamed up again in 1980 forming the Larsen Feiten Band. This classic Westcoast album featured this jazzy laid-back horn laden single which will sashay up to #29. And just to confuse anyone following along, their 1982 LP was called Full Moon featuring Neil Larsen & Buzz Feiten.

32. Cliff Richard – Dreaming

Cliff was in the middle of his only fruitful time in the US during the late 70s/ early 80s. He leaps twenty notches into the Top 40 with a song co-written by Leo Sayer. This will be his third and last Top 10 hit.

31. Al Stewart – Midnight Rocks

It’s funny to think of any Al Stewart song using the word “rocks” in the title unless you think of a hammock and how it rocks in a gentle breeze. But then we are weeks away from Neil Diamond using it as well. It is on its way to a #24 high and will be Al’s final Top 40 song.

30. Donna Summer – The Wanderer

The disco backlash did not kill the Queen of disco. It only made her stronger. Her big switch from Casablanca to the newly formed Geffen Records will be celebrated by this future #3 smash, though less widely remembered compared to her other hits. And it has nothing to do with Dion.

29. Benny Mardones – Into The Night

OHW, PD – Are you a one hit wonder if you have a hit twice with the same song? I think in Benny’s case, we just need to call him a repeat offender.

28. Amy Holland – How Do I Survive

OHW – Here’s another Westcoast singer who was nominated for a Best New Artist Grammy in 1981. This future #22 track, produced by her future husband Michael McDonald, was originally recorded by the Bliss Band from Atlanta.

27. Olivia Newton-John – Magic

PD – The former #1 is holding tight at #27 for another week, cause we couldn’t get enough of roller skatin’ Liv, which also features producer & songwriter John Farrar playing all of the keyboards and guitars. He was also about to release his first solo album, which you can read more about here.

26. Christopher Cross – Sailing

PDSailing is the first number one pop song to be recorded digitally. That’s why it sounds so good.

25. Dionne Warwick – No Night So Long

If some dude is bothering Dionne at the bar. this is what she tells them – No night. So long! Otherwise this doesn’t make any sense.

24. Rolling Stones – Emotional Rescue

PD – This is falling from its top of #3. How did it get up so high? Even the Stones were perplexed. They didn’t play the song live for decades until just a few years ago. At least Mick’s vocals inspired a few tracks on the New Radicals album…

23. Boz Scaggs – Look What You’ve Done To Me

PFK, RAR – Is there a more Westcoast song on this countdown? Check out this lineup: Toto’s Steve Lukather on guitar, Mike Porcaro on bass and Jeff Porcaro on drums, then the Eagles’ Don Felder on guitar, Glenn Frey, Don Henley & Timothy B. Schmit on backing vocals plus David Foster on keyboards and production.

And depending on when you bought your 45, it will either list Boz as the sole writer or Boz & David Foster. One more thing: the backing vocals on the Urban Cowboy version are by women not Eagles: Venetta Fields, Paulette Brown and Julia Waters.

22. Carly Simon – Jesse

Dick Clark: “OK we’re back on the $50,000 Pyramid. Our returning champ, Brandi will try to move up the pyramid. Her partner McLean Stevenson will receive. And here’s your first clue.”

Brandi: “Cut fresh flowers. Make the wine cold. Change the sheets. Put on cologne.

McLean: “Things Carly Simon won’t do for Jesse.” [ugly buzzer sound] “Oh, things Carly Simon will always do for Jesse.” [ugly buzzer sound] “Ok, pass.

21. Natalie Cole – Someone That I Used To Love

This was Natalie’s first Top 40 in almost three years, since Our Love charted. This is at its high of #21 and it would be another seven years before her next Top 40.

KEY

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

A Concept or A Plan

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Twenty-Ten Favorite

The revival of WestCoast music began bubbling around the world in the late 90s and was in full throttle by the new Millenium. The Nordic countries have produced a lot of great NuCoast acts over the last two decades and the Norwegian Fords are one of the best. This duo from Norway, featuring keyboardist and singer Eric Enzo and guitarist Paul Call, released two solid albums, one in 2008 and their second, Somewhere Down the Road You’ll Listen in 2011, which was mixed by studio veteran Bill Schnee.

The opening track is a near-perfect pop song that encapsulates everything this band is about: tight production, witty lyrics, jazzy chords, and a big pop hook.

We’re down the road. It’s time to listen.

 

A Craze You’d Endorse

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Here’s the Top 20 for the week of September 17th, 1988. It’s not as bad as I thought.

20. Bobby Brown – Don’t Be Cruel

I think if suitor purchases fancy cars and diamond rings for someone and they cannot even be bothered to clink their champagne flute during a toast with said purchaser, that’s not cruel. It’s just bad taste, per Emily Post.

19. UB40 – Red, Red Wine

STA – UB40 released an album of covers called Labour Of Love in 1983. And on that LP was a version of an obscure Neil Diamond song through the artist Tony Tribe. It reached #34 in early 1984. Jump to 1988 and UB40 has a new album, but radio is playing this song including Astro’s toast like they’ve never heard before. It is currently zooming up the charts and will reach #1 in the Fall. UB40 will continue to just record covers for the rest of their career.

SXMFU – On the Big 80s countdown, they call this UB40’s biggest hit. Wrong. That would be their cover of Can’t Help Falling In Love which stayed at #1 for 7 weeks in 1993.

18. New Kids On The Block – Please Don’t Go Girl

Do you know who Jamie Kelly is? He’s the Pete Best of NKOTB. His Ringo was Little Joe. I imagine him being wicked pissed from this point in his life in 1988 to whenever Walhburgers files for bankruptcy.

17. DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince – A Nightmare On My Street

We’re still in the period where hip-hop was not going to cross over unless there was a novelty to it. Just for context, these were some of the classic rap albums released at the time this was climbing the charts: Eric B & Rakim’s Follow The Leader, Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back, EPMDs’ Strictly Business and NWA’s Straight Outta Compton.

16. Tracy Chapman – Fast Car

THW – This song and album came out of nowhere and saved music as far as I’m concerned. Because I think its success helped widen the narrow-minded visions of record company executives that were only trying to create the next Madonna or Whitney. Having it come from an African American woman playing folk music helped to open the doors for a genre-varied 90s female music revolution.

15. Cheap Trick – Don’t Be Cruel

Back in May, I wrote a post about how rare it was for two songs with the same title to be in the Top 40 at the same time. You guys schooled me and gave me some other instances. Here’s Victor’s chance to shine with this countdown in which two songs called Don’t Be Cruel are hanging in the Top 20 together, 5 spaces apart.

14. Joan Jett & the Blackhearts – I Hate Myself For Loving You

Good to see Pat Benatar and Joan Jett kicking ass in the dance-heavy, reverb-laden late 80s. Joan’s gonna take this up to #8 for her first Top 10 in six years. But more importantly, in 2006 she lent this song to the NFL [and they bastardized the hell out of it] for the Sunday Night Football theme. In 2019, they actually let her sing it with Carrie Underwood, which is way better of a public relations attempt than the trainwreck Meghan Trainor was.

13. George Michael – Monkey

The forgotten #1 hit from George Michael’s Faith LP also hit the Top on the R&B charts due to the Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis single remix. The song is so oddly constructed that it benefits greatly from their help. For some reason, I was so into this back then that I copied his black & white look from the video, minus the stubble when my band (playing modern rock covers) made their debut at a night club.

12. Michael Jackson – Another Part Of Me

I got to see the Francis Ford Copolla-directed short film, Captain EO at Epcot in July of 1987. I remember it being pretty hokey especially the special effects. But it featured two new songs from Michael. This was one of them and it broke his Top 10 streak (I don’t count the re-release of Farewell My Summer Love) of 13 in a row by peaking at #11. He’d start a new one with Smooth Criminal.

11. Peter Cetera – One Good Woman

Eric Cartman Peter Cetera is besting his former band Chicago as this cruises up the charts destined to be his third Top 10 solo hit. At least this one has a little more bite than his 1986 chart-toppers, Glory Of Love & The Next Time I Fall.

10. Rick Astley – It Would Take A Strong Strong Man

WPWFU – True soul music is not determined by skin color or ethnicity. It’s about knowing who you are, where you came from and using your body as a vessel to let it naturally flow through you. This is why most soul music when sung by white people sounds so forced because we are wrapped so tight. And Rick’s a prime example. But if the only good thing he accidentally contributes to the world is Rickrolling, I forgive him.

9. Def Leppard – Love Bites

This future and only #1 from Dep Leppard tells you all you need to know about it in the title. This version is way better.

8. Kenny Loggins – Nobody’s Fool

Movie Kenny! If it worked for the first Caddyshack film, bring him back for the sequel. This will be Kenny’s last Top 40 hit and it’s sitting at its peak this week.

7. New Edition – If It Isn’t Love

Former member Bobby Brown is at #20 and protegees NKOTB are at #17. But New Edition is reigning supreme this week with their second Top 10 hit. Unfortunately, that would be it for a while as the band began to splinter into solo and side projects, But between all of those entities they would rack up 11 Top 40 in the early 90s before regrouping again in 1996. That’s called divide and conquer.

6. Van Halen – When It’s Love

After 1984, Van Halen just became a vehicle for Eddie to try out his new synthesizers and come up with album titles that six-year-olds would enjoy. Eddie uses a Yamaha KX88 on their second single from OU812 and it’s one notch off its peak of #5.

5. Taylor Dayne – I’ll Always Love You

WPWFU – You can see that we f’d up a lot more with songs like this as the decade wore on. Thankfully R&B and hip hop were about to explode and send us back to our listening stations.

4. Bobby McFerrin – Don’t Worry, Be Happy

OHW – This song might have gotten on people’s nerves after a while and I understand that, due to its childlike simplicity. But Bobby is an incredibly talented musician and this is a very difficult song to pull off in its arrangement and vocalization. It will hit #1 in a few weeks.

3. Huey Lewis & The News – Perfect World

Huey’s former bandmate in Clover, Alex Call wrote this #3 hit for the band, which had matured into a tight unit even as their success began to wane. It would be their last Top 10 hit.

2. Robert Palmer – Simply Irresistible

This song has all the subtlety of a piledriver with a plodding rhyme scheme lifted from The Logical Song, but give this to me 100 times over the rest of the Top 10.

1. Guns ‘N’ Roses – Sweet Child O’ Mine (2 wks at #1)

What started as a guitar exercise for Slash ended up as GNR’s signature hit. Axl wrote the lyrics about his then-girlfriend and future wife Erin Everly who he’d eventually abuse. Think about that the next time you hear the line I’d hate to look into those eyes and see an ounce of pain.

Enjoy this instead.

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

When Words Get Broken

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I hate 1988. Most of the Top 40 throughout this year absolutely sucks and I don’t feel a connection to any of it. There’s a good reason for that. It wasn’t created for me. The music was either sub-teenybopper dreck aimed at prepubescent kids, mostly female or 60s & 70s artists making music for their boomer fans (my parents). This is why you can hear most of this September 17th, 1988 countdown today at your local drug store. Because the original fans of these songs are always in line at a CVS buying the opioid du jour in between doses of Cialis. ENJOY!

40. Kylie Minogue – The Loco-Motion

If you had some extra babysitting money after buying Tiffany’s debut LP you might have splurged on this. By the way Kylie Minogue is the best selling female artist in Australian history, but she hasn’t done much in the States to earn her the “princess of pop” title. Her cover of this Little Eva #1 hit (OK, Grand Funk, too) will be her biggest in the US reaching #3. After one more minor hit, she won’t even chart on the Hot 100 for another 12 years. She’ll have two more Top 40 hits and then nothing else.

39. Steve Winwood – Roll With It

Steve builds upon his huge baby boomer-fueled comeback with the first of two singles from his Roll With It album. The title track spent a full month at the top. Not bad for a 40-year old dude who plays everything on the record except for the horns. This song also made the R&B Top 40, probably due to its soulful laidback vibe. Or the fact that it ripped off Jr. Walker’s (I’m A) Road Runner. The team of Holland-Dozier-Holland eventually got a songwriting credit for it.

38. Whitney Houston – Love Will Save The Day

Whitney breaks her #1 streak with a uptempo house track produced by Jellybean Benitez. It also features a vibe solo from jazz fusion legend, Roy Ayers.

37. Gloria Estefan & the Miami Sound Machine – 1-2-3

Radio continually worked the fruitful 1987 Let It Loose album and squeezed it til there was no more juice left. This was the fifth single which has already peaked at #3.

Also why wasn’t it called 1-2-3-4? There was already a Len Barry hit called 1-2-3. Ah, who cares? [Feist cares. Maybe Elmo.]

36. Escape Club – Wild, Wild West

This may be one of the worst songs to hit #1 in the 80s ever. It’s a third rate rip off of Elvis Costello’s Pump It Up. It’s filled with annoying sound effects, like gun shots that sound like they’re from a Speedy Gonzales cartoon. And it has one of the shittiest ragga rap toasts from some white pseudo trust-funder who probably learned about reggae in his hacky sack club. Also The Escape Club was from England but never had any hits in the UK.

35. Breathe – Hands To Heaven

RAR – A late 80s ballad by a band’s singer who understands the importance of vocal dynamics. They would take this up to #2 kept off the mountain by the Winwood express. This may be the most tender farewell to hotel groupie sex since Supertramp’s Goodbye Stranger.

34. Pat Benatar – All Fired Up

The late 80s Australian music invasion was so potent, it even had Americans recording covers of their songs, such as this one written and recorded by the country rock group, Rattling Sabres. Pat would take this up to #19 for her final Top 40 hit.

33. INXS – Never Tear Us Apart

Four singles from Kick. Four Top 10s. It’s rare that INXS would record a ballad like this and it ends up as one of the best songs they’ve ever recorded IMO.

32. Erasure – Chains Of Love

THW – Andy Bell’s plea to accept love in all its forms ascends to climactic heights behind Vince Clarke’s muti-synth arrangement. I was a big fan of Erasure and was rooting for their success when their third album, The Innocents was released. It’s a solid synthpop collection of catchy singles, but when their first release Ship of Fools went nowhere, I thought this was doomed to a cult audience. To my surprise Chains of Love got radio airplay and will eventually make the Top 20.

31. Phil Collins – Groovy Kind Of Love

RAR – Phil the Shill took a working vacation to come up with the idea that he should star in a movie. Hence the film, Buster, based on the events of the Great Train Robbery of 1963. Because the film takes place during the 60s, Phil thought it would be cool to record a maudlin cover of the Mindbenders hit, which was popular in 1966. Plus, he knew he’d put himself through a few more weddings, and knew he needed something new to dance to. It will hit #1, blah blah blah.

30. Rod Stewart – Forever Young

While Rod was writing songs for his next album, Out Of Order, he and two band mates wrote a song called Forever Young. Somehow not realizing there was a Bob Dylan song with the same title that sounded very similar, Rod was told to send it to Bob to see what he thought. The end result was that Dylan is now credited with writing two songs called Forever Young that sound very much like each other and Rod got to keep his royalty checks.

29. Brenda K. Starr – What You See Is What You Get

THW – Not the comic strip character but then again I’m not sure – Brenda follows up her #13 hit I Still Believe with some raucous free style on its way up to #24.

Fun Fact: Brenda helped her background singer get a recording contract with Columbia. Her name was Mariah Carey.

Fun Fact #2: Brenda’s dad was Harvey Kaplan, who played organ in the band Spiral Starecase. They had a Top 20 hit in 1969 called More Today Than Yesterday that kicks ass over all these songs.

Fun Fact #3: Brenda’s daughter, Gianna was on American Idol in 2016 and made the Top 10. This is all rigged, folks.

28. Glenn Frey – True Love

RAR – Glenn’s seventh and final Top 40 hit as a solo artist is climbing the charts en route to its #13 high. It will also hit #2 on the AC charts which explains why you might hear this in the background at your next dental cleaning.

27. Steve Winwood – Don’t You Know What The Night Can Do?

RAR – More than ten years after Lou Rawls sang weekends are made for Michelob, Steve was accused of selling out by letting that urine beer company use this song in their ads. Hey these tour expenses aren’t gonna pay themselves, people.

26. Debbie Gibson – Staying Together

I cannot believe Debbie Gibson had five Top 40 hits from her debut. I can’t believe this one will reach #22. How did anyone delude themselves into thinking this was good or even entertaining. Debbie sings at one level at all times: obnoxious brat. This was someone who obviously was never told no, and so she was empowered to unleash this pain on our ears. I swear this is why Casey quit his show.

25. REO Speedwagon – Here With Me

After this snoozefest, we finally impounded the speedwagon. Pitbull tried to steal it from the impound yard, but it’s hard to drive around with a boot on it.

24. Elton John – I Don’t Wanna Go On With You Like That

This was Elton’s highest charting single of the 80s, making it all the way to #2. It’s hard to believe because it’s rarely played by 80s or classic rock stations. His buddy George Michael kept him out of the top spot with Monkey.

23. Chicago – I Don’t Wanna Live Without Your Love

Written by Albert Hammond and Diane Warren, it’s another sappy ballad saved only by the vocals of Bill Champlin. Songs like this hardly sound like the Chicago who gave us 25 or 6 To 4 and Beginnings. But since they were following advice from their financial advisor, David Foster, they recorded it and thus a #3 hit ensued, as well as a  padded 401K and a longer path to the Rock & Roll HOF.

22. Information Society – What’s On Your Mind (Pure Energy)

Finally some great dance music. And it’s from Minneapolis, but doesn’t sound like Prince. It’s most notable for its Star Trek samples, especially Dr. Spock saying pure energy. Produced by Fred Maher, drummer of Scritti Politti, it will reach #3 in the Fall.

Fun Fact: They were part of the ill-fated Club MTV tour in 1989.

21. Poison – Fallen Angel

It’s sad to think that the band passed this off as their own song, rather than one written by CC Deville’s old band, Kid Rockers because they couldn’t write anything this good.

This is neither boomer rock or babysitter pop. I don’t know who it’s for, definitely not me. This is why Nirvana had to happen.

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

 

 

Love In Stereo

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A warm September day is a bonus, especially knowing that the chill is just around the corner. These songs from the Top 20 on September 10th, 1983 are a reminder that summer’s gone and the heat won’t hang around for anyone.

20. Laura Branigan – How Am I Supposed To Live Without You

WPWFU – If you’re a Michael Bolton superfan, you can point to this song as the spark that lit his path to success aflame. [And if your name’s Michael Bolton, I’m sure you really like this song.] Hyerbole aside, it will cry itself up to #12. In seven years, we will be treated to Michael’s howling version which will replace Phil the Shill’s Another Day In Paradise at #1.

19. Naked Eyes – Promises, Promises

Pete Byrne and Rob Fisher follow up their hit debut Always Something There To Remind Me, with a less synthy, more Chic-ish track that will just miss the Top 10 peaking at #11.

Fun Fact: Bacharach & David who wrote Always… also wrote a song called Promises, Promises. Both were recorded by Dionne Warwick.

18. Rick Springfield – Human Touch

While this song is at its high this week, it’s worth noting that this is Rick’s only Top 40 hit in the UK. I guess that under Thatcher they needed something to freeze the thaw.

17. Frank Stallone – Far From Over

OHW – As Jack Black would say in School of Rock, little nepotis. And that’s what happens when your brother is a directing a film and he needs a song for the soundtrack.

16. Men At Work – It’s A Mistake

Men At Work racked up four straight Top 10s within a year. Then they went on strike and Reagan laid them off.

15. Air Supply – Making Love Out Of Nothing At All

Jim Steinman considers himself to be a rock GOD, at least when it comes to songwriting. Once he lifted up (then dumped) Meat Loaf, he went out searching for more Coup Devilles hiding in a Cracker Jacks box. Air Supply was about to put out a greatest hits LP and they enjoyed testing their fans’ patience so it seemed like a match made in heaven between the two parties.

This will peak at #2 while the song at #8 is #1, with both songs pretty much featuring the same backing band.

14. Stray Cats – (She’s) Sexy +17

Dave Edmunds is back for prodcution duties on the Cats’ Rant N Rave LP. The leadoff single will strut its way up to #5. I always thought that the swing/ rockabily phase that came around again in the late 90s was just a nostaglic goof on the early 80s rather than real tribute to the 50s, but what do I know. I also don’t wear tank tops under my shirts.

Also, no one has a problem with a bunch of adults singing about underage girls they find sexy and obscene?

13. Jackson Browne – Lawyers In Love

Sitting at its high this week, Jackson Browne writes one of the best lines for 2019 in 1983:

I hear the U.S.S.R will be open soon as vacation land for lawyers in love.

It was only two weeks prior than the USSR admitted to “mistakenly” shooting down a Korean Air Lines airplane carrying 269 passengers. That incident is why you have GPS on your phone. Look it up.

12. Human League – (Keep Feeling) Fascination

One of my faves to this day, is sliding down from its top of #8. The band had a color coding system to differentiate whether it was a pop single [blue] or a dance single [red]. What was the color if it was both? Purple? Whoa….I get it now. Prince was a genius.

11. Asia – Don’t Cry

The supergroup Asia had four Top 40 singles. This was one of two that made the Top 10. So tell that to the snickering guy in the frame shop.

10. Culture Club – I’ll Tumble 4 Ya

My first thought when I saw this title was Prince is gonna be pissed. Then I realized that we were still a year awy from I Would Die 4 U. Boy George should be pissed.

9. Michael Jackson – Human Nature

This is the second song on the countdown written by a Toto keyboardist, this time it’s Steve Porcaro. You can hear the story of how it ended up on one of the biggest selling albums of all time here. It is Michael’s fifth Top 10 from that LP with P.Y.T. right around the corner.

Fun fact: Swiss metal band Killer released an album a few months before MJ’s called Thriller. It yielded no hits.

8. Bonnie Tyler – Total Eclipse Of The Heart

I took a social studies class with a teacher named Mr. Steinman when this song was popular. So I brought in the 45 from home [yes. I had it] and decided to spread a rumor that he wrote this song for his daughter who was blind. That was a fun few days.

7. Donna Summer – She Works Hard For The Money

You know who works hard for the money? Nadeen at the Burger Castle. But sometimes she works too hard and needs to relax. She also likes the album that this song is on but she prefers to catalog it last name first.

6. Police – Every Breath You Take

Half of the Top 10 is populated with past or future #1s. The Police gummed up the works at the top for two months but they ain’t going anywhere. They’re gonna be at #6 next week too. By time they fall out King Of Pain will be right there to replace it

5. Billy Joel – Tell Her About It

Billy poured everything he had into his last good album, An Innocent Man [the movie features Tom Selleck] paying homage to all the great music in grew up with. This future #1 is supposed to be his tribute to Motown, complete with a video that shows Billy as a musical guest on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1963 while folks dressed like it’s the late 70s watch him on a TV in a bar, suggesting that Billy’s biggest influence was Billy Joel. And that he has African-American fans.

4. Taco – Puttin’ On The Ritz

OHW – So so bad, it’s good (kinda). Don’t believe me? Try listening to anything else on Taco’s After Eight LP without laughing or cringing. The “funky” synth coda at the end of this cover is so dorky. I imagine this guy doing a mime routine in a park and after a dozen or so ass-kickings, he decided to become a singer. It is nice to see Irving Berlin get a hit in the MTV era though.

3. Men Without Hats – The Safety Dance

THW – It’s the countdown that has Men At Work and Men Without Hats, who finally combine forces to form Men Without Work. Also, the single mix blows. Go for the extended version.

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

The Eurythmics sat at #2 for a full month before they knocked offf the Police. And then they had the indignity of getting pushed out after only one week by…

1. Michael Sembello – Maniac (1 wk at #1)

THW – The second charttopper from the Flashdance soundtrack (guess it really was safe ta dance) only got to film producers by accident. It seems that Michael’s wife mistakenly sent a song to Paramount Pictures that he had written for a slasher film rather than the new tracks he was working on. The folks at Paramount loved it, probably because they were coked out of their mind, and asked Michael to rework the lyrics a bit to match the character of a steelworker who struggles to be a dancer. And she was nifty on her pins.

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

Pull Out Your Party Piece

fixx

No one hit wonders. No two hit wonders. It’s an almost perfect collection of iconic 80s artists and songs during the week of September 10th, 1983 in this first twenty with a few exceptions. [We’ve covered a few songs in this Top 40 a few months back right here.]

40. Paul Anka – Hold Me Til The Morning Comes

OK, exception #1. You might be wondering, like most people what Paul Anka is doing here. But within the Yacht Rock vibe of the early 80s, all you needed to do was chill with David Foster, which Paul did, to write this ballad. Then you get his buddy Peter Cetera to come in and sing the chorus [Every time it starts, I feel like Peter wants to sing Hard To Say I’m Sorry instead] and voila – you get Paul’s fourth straight decade with a Top 40 hit. It would be his last as well.

Fun fact: He was also colloborating with Michael jackson at this time but the fruit of that labor would not be released until the This Is It documentary.

39. Journey – After The Fall

Here’s the third single from the album Frontiers cascading from its peak of #23. It was also featured in the Tom Cruise movie Risky Business which was in theaters at the time.

38. The Fixx – One Thing Leads To Another

The second single from the LP Reach The Beach will be the Fixx’s most successful US track, eventually reaching #4. The video also uses a set that I believe was recycled from a Six Million Dollar Man episode. I remember seeing it on a Universal Studios tour.

ML – I always heard the line communicate, pull out your party piece as communicate or let your body be.

37. Sheena Easton – Telefone (Long Distance Love Affair) 

Sheena dials up another hit entering the Top 40 this week on her way up to #9. It will be her fourth Top 10 single to date.

36. Peabo Bryson & Roberta Flack – Tonight, I Celebrate My Love

Peabo was kicking round the R&B charts for years without any crossover success. So for his ninth LP, he decided to do a studio duets album with Roberta Flack. They recorded this Michael Masser/Gerry Goffin tune and will take it up to #16. Was there a wedding in the 80s that did not play this song?

Fun fact: Peabo & Roberta grew up only 60 miles from each other in Greenville, SC  and Asheville, NC respectively.

35. Little River Band – You’re Driving Me Out Of My Mind

Original lead singer, Glenn Shorrock left the band in 1981 and was replaced by John Farnham. Immediately LRB had their first hit with their new frontman, The Other Guy released from their 1982 greatest hits collection. They also racked up two more from their 1983 album, The Net and then their US run was over. This funky pop track is at its peak this week.

34. Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton – Islands In The Stream

PFK – The Bee Gees became persona non grata in the 80s, but in name only. Their music still lived on and thrived through the voice of others such as Barbra Streisand, Dionne Warwick and Kenny Rogers, who enters the Top 40 on a path to #1. It will be his & Dolly’s second.

Also, I have a question about what the hell this song means. Beause there is someone in between you if you’re an island in a stream. It’s called water. And water just messes shit up. So is it a love song or song about two lovers who can’t seem to get together?

33. Talking Heads –  Burning Down The House

The Heads decided to mix some funk into their new wave stew and came up with the biggest single of their career. This track will heat up the charts all the way to #9. On the recording the keyboards are played by Wally Badarou but the band decided to up the funk factor and invited Parliament’s Bernie Worrell to play with them on the Stop Making Sense tour.

32. Robert Plant – Big Log

I used to find songs like this boring as hell as a kid. I have rightly come to appreciate them, even find them oddly comforting – the airy guitar strums and Plant’s mellow crooning of taillights dissolving into the night. Although I have no idea why it’s called Big Log, my theory is that it refers to the weight on Robert after John Bonham died and Led Zeppelin broke up.

This would be Robert’s only US Top 20 as a solo artist.

Fun fact: Phil Collins not only plays drums on this song, he played drums on Robert’s 1983 Principle of Moments US tour. And now you know why Phil sat in with them at Live Aid.

31. Juice Newton – Tell Her No

This sounds like the record company told Juice, “We need more hits. And fast. Just do a 60s cover. Now!” This is ill-advised Zombies remake features an obnoixous synth riff and Juice’s singing through clenched teeth vocals, yet it will still move four more notches up to #27. Although it was her last Top 40 hit, Juice still racked up a few more #1s on the Country chart.

30. George Benson – Lady Love Me (One More Time)

Now here’s a jam that’s unfortunately not gonna sail any higher than where it is this week. And it will be George’s last Top 40 hit. What the hell folks.? This thing cooks. It was co-written by Toto’s David Paich who also plays keyboards along with Jeff Poracro on drums and Nathan East on bass. That’s soild West Coast soul.

29. Loverboy – Hot Girls In Love

I have to hand it to Loverboy. These guys have continued playing together ever since they formed in 1979. To this day you can hear the original lineup live, minus bassist Scott Smith who passed away in 2000. Hopefully they’ve acquired some serious 401k portfolios or they spend their mornings sneaking into Days Inn breakfast bars to fill up ice cube bags for their daily meals. Either way, songs like this former #11 rocker should have at least got them some comped bearclaws in Vancouver.

28. Elton John – Kiss The Bride

You wanna kiss the bride? Really? Just be lucky you’re still standing. How about we put the eight ball down and just walk away? You can take the extra time on your hands and write about sad songs or something.

27. Jeffrey Osborne – Don’t You Get So Mad

Jeff, this is a smooth groove my friend. This is the kind of early 80s soul I really dig. But also, this song is why Aimee Mann had to write Voices Carry.

26. Quarterflash – Take Me To Heart

The Pride of Portland’s third Top 20 is falling from its peak of #14, tumbling onto the rocky shores of Oregon and landing the band back into the smoky hippie bars from whence they started.

25. Shalamar – Dead Giveaway

The Look was the sixth Shalamar album produced by Leon Sylvers III and the last to feature Howard Hewitt and Jody Watley, who would both move on to successful solo careers. It will only creep up to #22 but will be their fourth UK Top 10.

24. Stevie Nicks – Stand Back

My daughter likes to play with shawls and scarves. I like to play Stevie Nicks in the house. You see where this is going, don’t you?

23. David Bowie – China Girl

Only David Bowie can sing the word swastikas in a pop song and no one bats an eye.

22. Spandau Ballet – True

PFK – By the time of their third album, Spandau Ballet took out their seaside arms and perfected the first New Wave ballad, True, as an almost-tribute to Marvin Gaye. It will crack the Top 10 in the Fall and hit #4. Then in 1991, it will be awesomely sampled by PM Dawn on their song Set Adrift On Memory’s Bliss, which will reach #1.

21. The Police – King Of Pain

How can a band follow up a mammoth hit about a psycho stalker which was misunderstood as a wedding love song? With a song featuring dead salmon, shredded foxes and a paralyzed seagull. The Police rule!

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

 

 

Elegance in Eloquence

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Nothing can trigger cellular memory like a song. As I listen to the Top 20 from the week of September 5th, 1987, the physical sensations I felt then caught between freedom and school’s return ripple back as these songs play clustered in context. The sun’s afternoon shadows faling on the dark green of the trees are the same as they were 32 years ago, as is the feeling of the late Summer heat with faints hints of coolness in the breezes.And yet my emotional indifference to most of this music is second only to my amazement of my body’s  reaction to it.

20. Jellybean featuring Elisa Fiorillo – Who Found Who

You may think this dance tune is about sour grapes between John “Jellybean” Benetez and his former girlfriend, Madonna. But this song is actually written by Paul Gurvitz, who was in the Baker Gurvitz Army with his brother Adrian. It’s on it way up to #16.

19. George Michael – I Want Your Sex

Has anyone ever asked someone for their sex, unless they’re filling out an applciation to join the military? It sounds like something someone would ask if they barely spoke or understood English. Read the title in your best Borat accent and tell me if you don’t agree.

18. LL Cool J – I Need Love

Even though LL gets credit for the first rap ballad, I ain’t buying it. Can you really take a guy seriously who writes songs like I’m That Type Of Guy and Big Ole Butt?

17. Bananarama – I Heard A Rumour

This is the third and final Top 40 hit for the female UK trio whispering its way up to #4. The Stock Aiken Waterman machine was still cranking out the hits, but inspiration must have been pretty low if they felt the need to rip off this obscure Italian dance song for this track.

16. Fat Boys & Beach Boys – Wipe Out

The Fat Boys decided to use some Baby Boomer sauce to crossover to the pop charts. For their first Top 40 hit, they stopped focusing on the fat jokes and pumped out this crazy wack cover of Wipeout with some half-assed version of the Beach Boys. It will climb another 4 notches to #12. The trio was in the midst of starring in their first movie, the horrible unfunny Disordelies, which contained this song and #17.

15. Grateful Dead – Touch Of Grey

OHW – I was sheltered from the cult of Deadheads until the Summer of 1987 when my college age bosses at the beach concession stand would lock themselves in their office, smoke weed and listen to In the Dark over and over. I feel as if this band’s legacy has been unfairly dictated by its fans, all the while overshadowing their influence as psychedelic rock pioneers. For all of the jam bands created in their wake and the fan base who listen to them and only them multiple times, I am very suspect of their musical taste.

Supposedly this song had been played live for years before it was recorded and it ended up being their only Top 40 hit.

SXMFU – On the Big 80s Countdown, Nina Blackwood back annouces this song and then mentions the U2 song at #25 that fell eleven places. Does anyone review the copy or the recording over at SXM?

14. Starship – It’s Not Over (Til It’s Over)

Here’s a fellow Frisco band who took a very different path to success, fully embracing the corporate band model including a catchier brand name as well as tired musical formulas. This one is a Robbie Nevil co-write perfect suited for a Nike commercial.

13. Suzanne Vega – Luka

Suzanne Vega scored a fluke Top 40 hit in 1987 from her second LP, Solitude Standing which helped to kickstart a new female singer-songwriter revoution culminating in the late 90s with the Lilith Fair. With backing vocals from Shawn Colvin who’d have her own big hit in 1997 called Sunny Came Home, this song about child abuse plaintively sung from the kid’s point of view somehow cut through all of the Yamaha DX7 ballads and formalaic dance pop on the radio to reach #3.

12. Dionne Warwick and Jeffrey Osborne – Love Power

Wow, this is about as Soft rock as it gets. A Bacharach/Sager tune with David Foster on keyboards and Kenny G blowing the sax solo. I do like the jazzy airy feeling on the song, how the vocals just breeze in and out with no real structure or strict chord change. It is sitting at its peak and would be the last Top 40 hit for both artists.

11. ABC – When Smokey Sings

Back at #24, we heard the Miracle man, Smokey Robinson. Up at #11 here are fanboys ABC with thier paean to the smooth and debonair singer and how his voice makes them forget everything including the girl who just walked out on them. This will be their most successful US single when it reaches #5 and their last.

10. Huey Lewis & The News – Doing It All For My Baby

Huey & the fellas rack up their fifth Top 10 hit from the album Fore! They are in the middle of a seven straight Top 10s from 1985’s The Power Of Love to 1988’s Perfect World. And hey guys I know this is a ballad but loosen up a bit on those drums a bit. I wanna dance with my wife without looking like Frankenstein.

9. The Whispers – Rock Steady

It took eighteen albums for the Whispers to finally crossover to the Pop Top 10 with this early Babyface/ LA Reid dance track. This week it falls from its high of #7. And remember when I talked about the SAW machine lazily building their empire at #17? Check out this Kylie Minogue track from her 1988 debut which rips off this song and Madonna’s Into the Groove.

8. Whitesnake – Here I Go Again

PFK – Whitesnake finally had some true success slipping in through the glam metal door. But really they were just hard rockers with teased hair and leather pants. This is on a path to #1, aided no doubt by the video in which actress Tawny Kitaen does the splits on a Jaguar.

7. Dan Hill with Vonda Shepard – Can’t We Try

THW, OHW – Nine years after Dan’s Sometimes When We Touch single hit #3, he came back with an accomplice and made it back into the Top 10. This week he’s one spot away from its zenith. Hearing this duet again reminds of just how painful it is. It’s supposed to be a conversational duet which is hard to pull off but made much worse with lines like Vonda singing Are you listening? to which tone deaf Dan replies Please listen to me girl. I’m not sure why Vonda’s expending any energy on this especially when they can’t even spell her name right.

6. Richard Marx – Don’t Mean Nothing

Even though Richard Marx’s debut is falling from #3, fear not as he’s embarking on a string of seven consecutive Top 5 singles. Richard has been quoted before saying that this song was good enough to be on the Eagles’ The Long Run album. Thu,s he hired Randy Meisner and Timothy B Schmit to sing back up and Joe Walsh to play slide guitar on the track. [Spoiler alert: only two of those Eagles were on The Long Run.]

5. Whitney Houston – Didn’t We Almost Have It All

It’s as if Barry Manilow handed his career over to Whitney. Clive Davis, thoughts?

4. Debbie Gibson – Only In My Dreams

It would have been fine, not great, if this was all we ever had to hear from Miss Gibson. Unfortantely this was the begiinning of a string of hit singles which made everyone question if we were all living in hell on earth. But, you may say, she was only fourteen when she wrote this. Really? No shit. It sounds like something my babysitter would have spit out after getting cranked up on pop rocks and Mountain Dew.

3. Madonna – Who’s That Girl

This was Madonna’s sixth #1 while she was in the midst of a string of 17 Top 10 singles in a row. The song is fine but not her best and feels like a placeholder in her musical highlight reel while she works on a film career. It’s often forgotten by casual Madonna fans most likely due to the fact it was left off her Immaculate Collection greatest hits compilation three years later.

2. Michael Jackson with Siedah Garrett – I Just Can’t Stop Loving You

Michael’s first new music since Thriller was a highly anticipated affair and he started everyone off with a ballad. I was definitely underwhelmed at the time, but I’ve come to really like this MJ tune, even though it’s mostly lost in his canon and Siedah’s vocals are indistinguishable from MJ’s. Obviously my expectations were too high.

Give the single another listen but whatever you do don’t play the album version unless you want to hear Michael creepily whisper “I just want to lay next to you for a while. You look so beautiful tonight. A lot of people misunderstand me. That’s because they don’t know me at all. I just want to touch you and hold you.” Ladies, if a guy says this to you while you’re lying in bed with him, run as fast as you can. He’s gonna eat you while you sleep with a plate of fava beans.

Fun fact: Siedah co-wrote Man In the Mirror and mucho bucks from it over the years.

Another fun fact: Back up singer Sheryl Crow would sing this duet with him live on his Bad tour.

1. Los Lobos – La Bamba (2 wks at #1)

The success of the biopic La Bamba did two great things. For one, it showed Hispanic music’s rightful legacy as an early influence on rock & roll. And second, it gave the L.A. band, Los Lobos, a big commerical boost to their career. They have been around since the early 70s and still play and record today with 3 of their 5 original members. Conrad Lozano joined in 1974 and Steve Berlin joined in 1984. Steve, Conrad and those 3 originals, David Hidalgo, Luois Perez, Conrad Lozano and Cesar Rosas have been playing music together for the last 4 decades. Go see them live when you can!

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

 

Give The Tree A Shake

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In late 1984, Ted Turner decided to launch an all music video channel to challenge MTV because he’s a megalomaniac. The plan didn’t work and the channel lost tons of money eventually selling its assets to Warner Entertainment, MTV’s parent company. They used that empty cable space to launch a companion video channel called Video Hits One or VH-1 in early 1985, which played more R&B, jazz and adult contemporary artists. And just like it took almost two years for MTV’s influence to be felt on the charts, so too with VH-1. Thus we have a very VH-1 influenced countdown from September 5th, 1987. The higher up we go, the lighter the air is.

40. Alexander O’Neal – Fake

Alexander O’Neal could been known as the lead singer of The Time had he not pissed off Prince. Instead he’s known as the guy who sings songs with Cherelle. This track was his only Top 40 hit without her. It’s got a nasty Jam/Lewis groove, but it loses lots of points for being part of that “women are money grabbin, back stabbin’ liars” trend that grew in popularity in the late 80s.  JK – it was just a new way to keep women down.

SXMFU –  On the Big 40 Countdown show Nina Blackwood intros this song by saying the artist racked up 14 Top 40s in the 80s & 90s. Nope. Way off. He had 3 Top 40 hits on the Pop charts, and 11 on the Soul charts. Where did you get that info?

39. David Bowie – Never Let Me Down

This is one of my favorite Bowie songs, which brings me lots of flack from his devotees. David’s vocals felt intimate and genuine, as if all of the stage personas just faded away and he finally shared something real with us. I also dig the guitar hits during the chorus which seem to be a call back to Let’s Dance. Many years later, I read that he wrote this song about his relationship with his longtime assistant Coco Schwab.

It will only make it up to #26 and will be the last Top 40 hit until the song Lazarus hit #40 the week he passed away in 2016.

38. The Jets – Cross My Broken Heart

The Jets were in between albums but stayed hot on the charts thanks to this Beverly Hills Cop 2 soundtrack release which is now sliding down from its high of #7. They will also get the opportunity to sing the national anthem at a Twins game during Game 7 of the World Series in October.

SXMFU – At the beginning of the Big 40 Countdown show Nina Blackwood mentions that the Twins won the Series, four games to two, but again, there was a Game 7, so….no.

37. Steve Winwood – Back In The High Life Again

Steve’s fourth Top 40 hit is the title track to his 1986 album which made it up to #13 a few weeks ago. It also features some nice mandolin work from Steve and ‘can’t miss it if you tried’ background vocals from James Taylor. Also I heard it’s great music to own a yacht to.

36. Expose – Let Me Be The One

Expose mixes it up a bit with a mid-tempo ballad which will be their third straight Top 10 hit. The lead vocals were by Gioia Bruno who would go on to have several solo hits on the US Club/ Dance charts in the 2000s.

35. Herb Alpert – Making Love In The Rain

The second single from Keep Your Eye On Me, produced by Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis is at its peak this week, but it would make the R&B Top 10 as well as the AC charts. Featuring lead vocals by Lisa Keith it would be the last Top 40 hit for Herb Alpert whose charting streak stretched back to 1962’s The Lonely Bull.

34. Levert – Casanova

OHW, PFK – From the progeny of the O’Jays Eddie Levert comes a new generation of R&B legends. With lead vocals from Gerald Levert and a proto-New Jack beat, this future Top 10 tells the story of a guy who’s not really a Casanova, but still needs his advice to win the heart of a woman whom he swears he won’t be a casanova with. Make sense?

33. Sammy Hagar – Give To Live

Even though Sammy was the new lead singer of Van Halen, he still wanted the freedom to rock out on his own when inspiration struck. Listening to this #23 song, all that took was some Cabo Wabo shots and free studio time.

32. John Cougar Mellencamp – Paper In Fire

Ever watch a cigarette burn in an ashtray? Ever think someone should write a song about it? Well here it is anyway.

31. Heart – Who Will You Run To?

Here’s another future Top 10 hit from Heart’s multi-platinum LP, Bad Animals, their sixth in two years, although this does not get the classic airplay it deserves. I’d rather hear this than Never for the millionth time.

30. Natalie Cole – Jump Start

Natalie is back in the Top 40 for her first time since 1980 and it would begin a mini-comeback for her in the late 80s and early 90s. This will reach #13 and is the second single written by Midnight Star’s Reggie Calloway in this week’s 40. [#34 was the first.]

29. Prince – U Got The Look

PFK – Prince’s fascination with Sheena Easton continues as she duets (uncredited) on the second Top 10 hit from Sign O’ The Times and third Top 40 hit for Prince with “U” in the title. This song peaked at #2 during the week that Prince’s hometown baseball team, the Minnesota Twins, played in their first World Series. Game 7, which they would win, should have started out with this song’s intro blasting over the speakers with Prince whispering ‘here we are folks. the dream we all dream of, boy versus girl in the World Series of love.’

28. T’Pau – Heart & Soul

OHW – Wow, this song is still hanging around? It hit #4 last month after entering the Top 40 in early June. Funny that its US success prompted the single to be re-released in the UK where it initially did not live long and prosper. It would hit #4 over there on its second go round.

27. Jonathan Butler – Lies

OHW – JB had been singing and recording in his native South Africa since the mid-70s. Cut to a decade later and he’s enjoying a Top 40 single in the US. He’s the first South African artist in the Top 40 since Hugh Masekela with Grazing In The Grass in 1968. Lies is lying at its peak this week.

26. Living In A Box – Living In A Box

OHW – From the album Living In A Box, it’s Living In A Box with Living In A Box. It’s like a crate of Wiley E. Coyote’s Acme dynamite came to life to taunt the homeless to a disco beat. In four years it will be Crystal Waters’ turn.

25. U2 – I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For

U2’s second #1 from The Joshua Tree is searching for the exit from the charts as it continues to rattle and hum down while Bono hugs random strangers on the streets of Vegas.

24. Smokey Robinson – One Heartbeat

1987 was a great year for Smokey. He was inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. He had two Top 10 hits, with this track being his second. And a New Wave band from England paid tribute to him in a song we’ll hear about further up the charts.

23. Danny Wilson – Mary’s Wilson

OHW – This is one of the best songs of the year, IMO but it’s at its zenith this week, never to climb any higher. This Scottish band’s leader Gary Clark would go on to write songs for many artists such as Demi Lovato and Liz Phair. I highly recommend the 2016 movie Sing Street, on which he co-wrote and performed the music.

22. Europe – Carrie

The power ballad, as done by pseudo-metal Swedes, Europe. It will be their biggest US hit eventually hitting #3 but not the song they’ll forever be remembered by.

21. Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam – Lost In Emotion

This will be Lisa Double’s second #1 from Spanish Fly and it will also hit the top on the R&B charts. Even though they cut Full Force loose from their name, that entity not only wrote but produced this Mary Wells-inspired track. A little Motown for the boomers was enough to turn them on and have two generations dig this song at the same time.

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

 

Everybody Needs A Thrill

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There are no one-hit wonders in this Top 20, so you are gonna get a lot of iconic 80s artists here during the week of August 31st, 1985. [Some of these songs were previously discussed here and here.]

20. Howard Jones – Life In One Day

I mentioned Godley & Creme gaining notoriety for their video production when Cry came up in the first 20. They also created videos for two other songs in this week’s Top 20 and here’s one of them.

19. Paul Young – Everytime You Go Away

Paul, this is no so such word as everytime. It doesn’t mean anything. It sounds like it does, but it doesn’t There’s everywhere, everyone, but no everytime. Oh, hold on, sorry about that. Daryl, there is no such word….

18. Sting – If You Love Somebody Set Them Free

Godley & Creme – part 2. [There’s also a Godley & Creme parody(?) in the video for #11]

17. Mötley Crüe – Smokin’ In The Boys Room

The Crue’s first Top 40 hit is a cover of Brownsville Station’s 1973 #3 smash, who were, according to them, smoking in a boy’s room. Should have stayed in school gentlemen. Also, it’s nice to know that all proceeds of Motley’s song went towards keeping Vince Neil out of jail.

16. Pointer Sisters – Dare Me

Here’s a #1 Dance track co-written by Dave Innis, a founding member of the Country band, Restless Heart. It will courageously make it up to #11 but will be the Pointer Sisters last Top 20 hit.

15. Heart – What About Love

Falling down from #10, it’s Heart’s first Top 10 in over four years. To this point, they only had three Top 10s. They would triple that number in the next five years.

14. Wham! – Freedom

When George Michael died on Christmas 2016, I remember reading an article that focused on the sadness behind their sunshiny pop songs. Now everytime, I mean every time (just checking to see if you’re paying attention) I listen to one of their songs I can hear it so clearly. Freedom is a great example of an upbeat Motown-y pop song just marinating in pain, resonating with each chorus that George pleads I don’t want your free-dom.

This will be the fourth Top 10 from Make It Big.

13. Prince & The Revolution – Pop Life

This is my jam. And no video needed to sell one of my favorite Prince songs, on its way up to #7. Recorded during the Purple Rain sessions, it was held back because Prince had already decided to move into a new musical direction and he wanted this song to be a part of it. And the boxing bell and crowd noise at the end? I remember being told it was Prince and his band being booed as the opening act on a 1981 Rolling Stones tour. Not true. It’s just stock sound effects audio. But man, imagine seeing Prince & the Stones in 81?

12. Pat Benatar – Invincible (Theme From The Legend Of Billie Jean)

This future Top 10 is the theme to a Helen Slater-led flick called The Legend Of Billie Jean, not the bartender turned Philadelphia Eagles player movie. Alas, no one in the film finds if the kid was or wasn’t Michael Jackson’s son.

11. Phil Collins – Don’t Lose My Number

Another future Top 5 for Phil the Shill, writing another song that he lyrically improvised with no meaning whatsoever. All that means is that he was churning them out so fast he didn’t even have time figure out what they meant.

Also – Great. Great sandwich!

10. Dire Straits – Money For Nothing

Dire Straits are in the Top 10 for the second time, the first in six years. Not sure if this song hits #1 for three weeks without that classic video or not. Also, I have yet to any reasonable excuse or defense for the use of the word faggot in this song. Know why? There isn’t one.

9. Billy Joel – You’re Only Human (Second Wind)

Billy Joel used up every last idea he had on An Innocent Man and started to peruse suicide prevention booklets for inspiration, racking up another Top 10 in the process. Shame, cause I loved listening to the Greatest Hits Vol. 1 & 2, the compilation that this single was recorded for, but I always bristled at this song. Plus my mom was always turning it up whenever it came on.  If I wasn’t thinking about killing myself then, I was by the end of the song.

8. Kool & The Gang – Cherish

Although the band had done ballads before, none were as geared towards the wedding floor as this one. After you were done with your celebration, it was time to cherish the love you had. Snooze. Just gimme the funk.

7. Corey Hart – Never Surrender

More Canadian melodrama from Corey Hart, who just peaked at #3 last week. It would be his most successful US hit.

6. Tears For Fears – Shout

Another big hit on its way down, this one from the top of the mountain. It was up there for three weeks. I wonder if the duo realized that they were writing a quintessential 80s hit when they composed this little song about political protesting.

5. Bryan Adams – Summer Of ‘69

It’s not about the year. Yeah, I know. Let’s move on.

4. Tina Turner – We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)

Tina built upon her 1984 comeback with a starring role as Aunty Entity in the sequel to The Road Warrior. Naturally, she sang the film’s theme which will make it up to #2. She will also win a Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

3. Aretha Franklin – Freeway Of Love

Aretha was back and turning on a new generation to her soulful awesomeness and this song was a great vehicle for her voice. What better way to pay homage to her and the auto industry than with a groove copped from 2648 West Grand Boulevard, Detroit, MI.

2. John Parr – St. Elmo’s Fire (Man In Motion)

THW – John Parr was asked to write a song about a film full of self-absorbed yuppies. Instead, he wrote one about a paraplegic wheeling his way across Canada. It will be #1 next week, knocking off…

1. Huey Lewis & The News – The Power Of Love

Back to the Future ruled that Summer. So naturally, a song for the film would hit #1 as well. This holds the rare feat of being a hit on the Pop, Rock, AC & Dance charts.

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

How To Play The Game

gnc

In between my time in Summer camp at USDAN and my retreat back to school, there were a few weeks where I could sit and watch MTV all day long or at least until the Mets were on. Here’s the first half of the Top 40 from the week of Aug 31, 1985

40. Michael McDonald – No Looking Back

Michael should have had a longer career at Top 40 radio. But a three-year gap between his first two albums greatly slowed down his momentum. This track enters the Top 40 and will only climb up six more spots, although it features contributions from David Pack and Jeff Porcaro.

39. John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band – C-I-T-Y

The second single from this Rhode Island bar band will eventually reach the Top 20. I have no idea why.

38. Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam with Full Force – I Wonder If I Take You Home

If you lived in NY during the mid-80s then you heard this song approximately two jillion times a day. Even if you didn’t listen to the radio, it was always playing somewhere – from a car, boombox, bodega, you name it. So the fact that this is sliding down from a high of #34 baffles me. It was also certified Gold.

37. John Waite – Every Step Of The Way

John Waite has hit the Top 40 three different ways – as a solo artist and with the bands, the Babys and Bad English. He’s had at least three hits with each entity, which means that if John is on your record odds are you’re gonna have a hit.

36. REO Speedwagon – Live Every Moment

This is what I call a momentum hit, meaning that the only way this made the Top 40 was it was riding the success wave of previous big songs from REO’s album and radio stations just love to glom onto more of the same artist. Unfortunately, this song is blander than Kevin Cronin’s perm solution. Does anyone who goes to see them live care if they play this or not? Nobody bought this single. And what’s worse it kept a better song out of the Top 40, such as Hanging On A String by Loose Ends, which only made it to #43.

35. Cock Robin – When Your Heart Is Weak

OHW – I’m not a prude nor am I a twelve-year-old boy. But seriously, why would a band specifically put the word ‘cock’ in their name? Do you think it was easy for the Brothers Johnson? Dick Hyman? Those were their real names. Also, this was an American band, not British like I assumed, so there are no excuses.

Does anyone remember this song? How did it get in the Top 40? I don’t remember the video or any radio stations playing it. Even at the time in 1985, I looked at the charts and wondered who the hell is Cock Robin. Then I giggled.

34. Rick Springfield – State Of The Heart

Rick had 16 Top 40 hits in the 1980s, but how many do you really know? Jessie’s Girl? Don’t Talk to Strangers? Maybe Love Somebody? Most of his hits that made the Top 40 are largely forgotten. Doesn’t mean they are not good. Just means that Rick racked up the stats but not the legend status. He’s like the Rafael Palmeiro of rock.

33. Freddie Jackson – Rock Me Tonight (For Old Times Sake)

Freddie Jackson seemed to come out of nowhere in 1985 and absolutely crush it on the R&B charts, racking up eight #1s on the Soul chart before the decade ended. Although his debut single peaked on the pop charts at #18, it would stay up at the top of the Soul charts for six weeks becoming the #1 Soul song of 1985.

Also, Freddie sang lead vocals with the band, Mystic Merlin on their third album, Full Moon in 1982.

32. Bruce Springsteen – Glory Days

Yeah, yeah, they’ll pass you by. Next.

31. Whitney Houston – Saving All My Love For You

Whitney was not yet Whitney when the second solo single from her debut was heading up the charts. But this will be the first of seven #1s in a row for her. Also, this was originally recorded by Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr. in 1978.

30. John Cougar Mellencamp – Lonely Ol’ Night

I know there are lots of JCM fans out there. I’m just not one of them. I would think a song about two people living on those in betweens sharing a night full of loneliness would inspire some sort of emotion in me. But it doesn’t make me feel anything and that’s OK. It obviously touched enough people to make it another JCM Top 10 hit.

29. Godley & Creme – Cry

OHW – This is what I would choose to play on a lonely old night. What a bizarro hit in 1985 and it’s from an album that’s part remix, part compilation, and part new material. I get the feeling the G&C recorded new material just to try out some video ideas as the duo were becoming more known for their music video production that their musical output by the mid-80s. Their stark black and video for the song is a just a bunch of people, including Godley, Creme, and producer Trevor Horn lip-syncing to this song, but the face morphing technique was considered revolutionary at the time. The video for King Crimson’s 1982 song Heartbeat showcases an early version of this.

28. A-Ha – Take On Me

THW- A-ha’s first recording of this song reach the Top 5 in Norway in 1984. But when it failed to chart anywhere else, Warner Bros teamed them up with Cliff Richard’s producer, Alan Tarney and re-recorded the song, the version we all know and love. Paired up with a new video which eventually took MTV by storm, this trio ended up having an international smash and an enduring 80s classic. It will hit #1 in the US in the late Fall 1985.

27. Eurythmics – There Must Be An Angel (Playing With My Heart)

The second single from Be Yourself Tonight pulls back on the harder rock edge a bit with a little more synth and a lot more soul including a harmonica solo by Stevie Wonder. It will peak at #22 and will be their only UK #1 hit to date.

26. Ready For The Sheila – Oh Sheila

As much as this sounds like a Prince clone, this band was not from Minneapolis, but from Flint, Michigan. And the Sheila they were referring to was not Sheila E. It was all just a coincidence but one that got them on the radio and an eventual #1 hit. I’m confused by the British accent though unless they were covering their bases hoping that New Wave stations would play them too.

25. The Motels – Shame

This is the fourth and final Top 40 hit for the LA band led by Martha Davis. It will move four more steps in embarrassment to its #21 high. Whenever I hear this song I think of Jimmy Iovine in the Tom Petty documentary questioning the band’s work ethic saying something like ‘Do you want to be the Motels? Fine by me.” and I understand what he means.

24. Billy Ocean – Mystery Lady

Billy’s fourth single from Suddenly is at its peak this week providing some gentle soul-funk, which is what he put out for years before focusing more on ballads.

23. Madonna – Dress You Up

Madonnamania was in full swing in 1985, so album filler like this was getting released and rocketing up the charts on its way to the Top 5. At least we get to hear a rare guitar solo by Nile Rodgers. Also, this was considered a filthy song by the PMRC, a group of bored prudish white Washington housewives. PMRC, next time stand up for a cause that actually means something, like climate change.

22. Dead Or Alive – You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)

THW – Just to show you that record companies have no idea what a hit is or will be, Dead or Alive’s label, Epic Records hated this song to the point that the band had to fund their recording of it. When that was completed Epic still didn’t like it, so the band funded the video production as well. It has now peaked at #11, has become a Top 10 dance track and a #1 UK smash, where it was certified Gold. Also, the band had to sue Epic in order to get their royalties.

21. DeBarge – Who’s Holding Donna Now

PFK – This has been a fairly Caucasian Top 40 thus far. Only four of these songs were R&B hits and three of those were ballads, including this former Top 10 Pop, Soul & AC track. That’s how it was in 1985, a year in which Sting, Wham! and Sheena Easton all had Top 20 hits on the Soul charts.

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