I can’t believe Taylor Swift wrote an album in tribute to 1989. But then again she didn’t have to experience it firsthand. I’m sure she barely remembers the two weeks she was alive during this year. In fact, her mom was still carrying her during the week of November 4th, 1989. Was she listening to pop radio? Did any of these songs get through to her? Which of these tracks made her want to Shake It Off?
Full disclosure on the record sleeve: the lyrics to most of the first 20 songs are so bland and formulaic, that this 2 Live Crew song sounds like purple prose in comparison, which is why I reference it. Also the “clean” version makes even less sense than the dirty version to the point of absurdity. Thirty years later, I have to mute the stereo when this comes on, lest my kids repeat the title over and over.
40. Eurythmics – Don’t Ask Me Why
The first single from the Eurythmics new album, We Too Are One, jumps into the Top 40 this week. Next week it will fall out and the duo will never have another Top 40 single again, though in a few years Annie Lennox will kick off a successful solo career.
39. Sybil – Don’t Make Me Over
OHW – From her second album, Sybil, the most successful version of this Bacharach/ David composition was sung by Sybil, though probably not the definitive one, which I feel is Dionne Warwick’s. It will reach #20 before year’s end.
Fun fact: Caron Wheeler, who’s in the Top 20 with Soul II Soul, will sample this song for a 1992 single, I Adore You.
38. Madonna – Cherish
PD, RAR – Isn’t it interesting that cherish rhymes with perish? I think whoever invented the English language created this on purpose. And isn’t that why Madonna compares her love to Romeo & Juliet?
37. Cher – If I Could Turn Back Time
PD – Cher is still hanging out in the Top 40 if only to remind us to set out clocks back.
36. Warrant – Heaven
PD – Warrant is hanging around as well to remind us that hell is also an option.
35. Taylor Dayne – With Every Beat Of My Heart
Taylor Dayne’s back with a new album and more songs to over-sing. This will be her fifth Top 10 hit in a row. The song is co-written by Tommy Faragher of the Faragher Brothers, who would go on to produce other songs, such as Paul Young’s What Becomes of The Broken Hearted?
34. Rolling Stones – Mixed Emotions
This former #5 hit was a great example of the Stones on fumes and a great case for them to hang it up. [Spoiler alert: they didn’t.] Steel Wheels will be Bill Wyman’s last album with the band.
33. Thompson Twins – Sugar Daddy
T2 is glazing the charts with their latest single which will eventually stall at #28. I just recently watched a This Is Life documentary about sugar babies and sugar daddies in which women try to find a wealthy guy to finance their dreams and be their mentor. It sure sounds like both parties are trying to legitimize prostitution, but hey, to each is own.
32. Bon Jovi – Living In Sin
Bon Jovi singles are like Michael Keaton copies in Multiplicity. Each one gets increasing dumber and more unstable. This single would be the equivalent of the Keaton copy who answers every question with “I want pizza”.
31. Milli Vanilli – Girl I’m Gonna Miss You
PD – Just to be clear, I did not know anyone who thought these guys were actually singing these lyrics, way before they were busted for lip-syncing, which let’s be honest was a common decades-old practice with pop artists. The more they spoke, the more you realized it was an act. What got Rob & Fab in trouble was that wile everyone already knew the truth, they kept on denying. And when they won a Best New Artist Grammy over folks like Neneh Cherry & the Indigo Girls, people started to pull out their torches and pitchforks.
30. Belinda Carlisle – Leave A Light On
The first single from Belinda’s Runaway Horses LP will gallop up to #11. Her supporting tour will be sponsored by Motel 6.
29. The 2 Live Crew – Me So Horny
THW, WPWFU – Luther Campbell was a successful African-American record producer in Miami, so it was just a matter of time before someone decided that we can’t have that in America. Also while I would like to live in a society where we all evolve and treat each other with love and respect, I do not want to do that at the expense of free speech.
In case you didn’t know, the title is sampled from a line spoken by a Vietnamese hooker in the Stanley Kubrick film, Full Metal Jacket. The beats and bass line were sampled from the song Firecracker by Mass Production.
28. Kevin Paige – Don’t Shut Me Out
THW – It was inevitable that we would get a few George Michael clones by 1989. To fill the void while George was in between albums, we have this pop-rock dance track that’s on its way to #18 and I bet you have never heard it. The success of this track earned Kevin an opening spot on Debbie Gibson’s tour, which is probably why he began recording Christian music soon after.
27. Linda Ronstadt featuring Aaron Neville – Don’t Know Much
RAR – Linda experimented with lots of different musical genres in the 80s, from big band to country to Mexican folk songs. She returned to pop before the decade was over with an album called Cry Like A Rainstorm, Howl Like The Wind which featured four duets with Aaron Neville, including this one written by Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil. When this song reaches #2 it will be Linda’s first Top 10 hit since Hurt So Bad in 1980 and Aaron’s first since Tell It Like It Is in 1967.
26. Kix – Don’t Close Your Eyes
OHW – Kix had been releasing albums all decade but it wasn’t until their fourth release, Blow Your Fuse, and the rise of MTV glam metal that the band found a little bit of success. This will somehow climb to #11 and I find this power ballad utterly unintentionally hilarious.
25. Dino – Sunshine
Fred’s favorite dinosaur is barking up the charts with his second Top 40 hit on its way to a #23 peak. The piano solo is performed by fusion keyboardist Jeff Lorber.
24. Gloria Estefan – Get On Your Feet
Ballad, uptempo. Slow one, fast one. That’s how Gloria Estefan, now unshackled from the Miami Sound Machine, releases her music and keeps everyone off-balance. Since she had fans that were unsure of the process, she wrote this song to tell them what to do. I’m still waiting for her next release, Sit The Hell Down, Shut Up And Listen. followed by Now Get Up. Are Your Legs Broken? My Spine Was and Look At Me. No Excuses!.
Fun fact: Since 2009 when Gloria became a part owner of the Miami Dolphins, they have posted a record of 73 – 95, with one winning season. [BTW – not her fault, but bad investment.]
23. Expose – When I Looked At Him
This ballad is sliding down the charts from its high of #10 a few weeks ago. It would be the last of six Top 10 hits in a row for the freestyle trio. I miss dopey songs like this. JK.
22. The Cure – Love Song
The only thing keeping The Cure from having a #1 song was Janet Jackson’s Miss You Much. That is crazy. She must have been going through a goth phase herself cause there’s not a stitch of colorful clothes between these two artists.
21. Billy Joel – We Didn’t Start The Fire
The ultimate Baby Boomer song. Billy absolves an entire generation of their sins. “Not our fault that things are messed up. They were before and they will be tomorrow. Just the way it is.” Of course this will go to #1. I like how BJ just lists a bunch of things as if they all have the same weight and importance. Check out this uplifting line – Starkweather, homicide, children of thalidomide – surrounded by other events such as California baseball and Buddy Holly. Just one big shrug.
But when he gets to Rock and roller cola wars, Billy flips his shit. Here he’s at his angriest during a song where he sings about AIDS and Adolf Eichmann with far less urgency or disgust. Coke vs Pepsi is an injustice that he will tolerate, probably because neither company offered him a commercial or tour sponsorship.
- OHW – One-Hit-Wonder
- THW – Two-Hit-Wonder
- PD – Previously Discussed
- PFK – Perfect for Karaoke
- RAR – Rite-Aid Rock
- STA – Second Time Around
- WPWFU – White People, We F(_)cked Up