Was the Billboard Top 40 a reflection of our likes and tastes? Or was the Top 40 a boardroom concoction by the record industry and us their faithful slaves? I ask that because many times I see songs that were “hits” but were never heard on the radio nor were they listened to by anyone I knew. Are you telling me there were enough pre-teens and I assume various creeps that bought and supported Tiffany & Debbie Gibson enough for them to have longer careers over Terence Trent D’Arby or Neneh Cherry? This chart seems so arbitrary. I wonder how accurate the data truly was.
My point being is this is someone’s Top 40, but it ain’t mine. It is not a reflection of what I or any of my friends were listening to in late 87 and we liked pop music. We listened to the radio. We lived and died by our favorite stations. They said more about us than anything else we did. We were consumers, hungry for new material. We bought what we loved and we wore out the grooves. Where are those songs?
This chart is a lie. It never existed, not this way unless it was on an A&R rep’s balance sheet.
Anyhoo, here are the first twenty of the top 40 songs that were forced upon us during the week of November 7th, 1987.
40. Michael Bolton – That’s What Love Is All About
WPWFU – This was Michael’s first Top 40 hit and it will climb up to #19. It was produced by Keith Diamond who had his hand in some of Billy Ocean’s hits such as Suddenly.
39. Heart – Who Will You Run To?
PD – Heart’ second Top 10, written by Diane Warren from Bad Animals is just about out of juice. It’s their sixth Top 10 hit within a two year period, which is amazing considering they only garnered two during the first ten years of their career.
38. Whitney Houston – So Emotional
Here’s another future Whitney #1 comin’ atcha, which will be her sixth in a row. And here’s another fun stat – this song is written by Billy Steinberg & Tom Kelly who had at least one song hit #1 for five straight years between 1985-1989.
37. Yes – Love Will Find A Way
It’s been four years since 90215 and Yes is back in the Top 40 with the first single from Big Generator. It was written by Trevor Rabin with Stevie Nicks in mind to record it for her next album.
36. Wa Wa Nee – Sugar Free
OHW – No one is going to mistake this song for Prince, but his influence is mighty strong on this slab of decent funk-pop from Australia. It will inch up one more notch before going into insulin shock and falling off the charts.
35. Stevie Winwood – Valerie
STA, RAR – Originally released as a single off of Talking Back To The Night in 1982, it only climbed to #70. In 1987 it got the Tom Lord-Alge remix treatment and now on its way into the Top 10 and a #9 show. The Valerie in question was singer Valerie Carter who was Will Jennings’ inspiration when he wrote this.
34. Europe – Carrie
PD – Even though this song is over thirty years old, I have yet to run into someone named Carrie that’s under 35. Or Valerie, for that matter.
33. The Cars – You Are The Girl
This is the last week of the last Top 40 song for The Cars. It peaked at #17 a few weeks ago and it’s the rare Cars song that features both Ric Ocasek and Benjamin Orr on lead vocals.
Fun fact: John Waters directed the video.
32. Stevie Wonder – Skeletons
This is the answer to the trivia question – What was Stevie Wonder’s last Top 40 hit? It will reach the Top 20, peaking at #19, but will hit #1 on the R&B charts.
31. REO Speedwagon – In My Dreams
In my dreams, this four minutes of boredom is replaced by Terence Trent D’arby’s If You Let Me Stay or Donna Summer’s Dinner With Gershwin both of which languished under the Top 40 which this one took up oxygen above it.
30. Whitesnake – Is This Love
A song originally written with Tina Turner in mind becomes the band’s second big hit. The video also featured more Tawny Kitaen, this time in lingerie. She will marry David Coverdale in 1989.
Fun fact: Ever wonder who the musicians are in this video? They were just stand-ins with shadows on their faces because the original band members who recorded the album were all fired just before it was released. Man, that’s gotta hurt.
29. Pretty Poison – Catch Me (I’m Falling)
THW – The band Poison is further up the charts, but the Pretty version is right here. It’s falling its way up to its zenith of #8. The song was originally released as a single from the soundtrack to the Jon Cryer film, Hiding Out, in which he plays a NY stockbroker who “hides out ‘ from the mafia in North Carolina as a high school student named Maxwell Hauser. It’s as bad as it sounds.
28. Whitesnake – Here I Go Again
PD – Whitesnake is double-dipping this week with a future #2 and this, a former #1.
27. George Michael – Faith
If you grew up in New York in the 70s & 80s, it was always a question of who was the bigger George Michael – the man back-announcing disco tracks on WABC and giving color commentary for the Islanders games? Or was it the singer from Wham!? After this song hits the top for a full month, the Sports Machine would always rank #2.
26. Jody Watley – Don’t You Want Me
After Jody’s second single, Still A Thrill (her best on an album of great dance singles) failed to make the Top 40, you’d be remiss to think she lost her momentum. Instead, she would have two more Top 10 smashes from her debut with this one climbing the charts for an eventual #6 posting.
25. Timothy B. Schmit – Boys Night Out
OHW – After a career singing lead and playing bass for Poco and the Eagles, this will be Timmy’s only Top 40 hit, sitting at its high this week. It’s the second Will Jennings co-write in the Top 40.
24. Debbie Gibson – Shake Your Love
The single says that Debbie wrote this herself and sure, I believe it. I have little kids and they come up with songs like this every day. I also have the restraint and good taste not to drag them into a recording studio and force the public to listen and buy them.
23. Squeeze – Hourglass
THW – This will be the highest-charting song in the US by Squeeze, one of my favorite bands. It will eventually reach #15 with a Dali-inspired video to match. I had purchased the 12″ as a UK import in July and played the hell out of it all Summer. And I was surprised and delighted that pop radio spun it and others dug it too.
22. Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam – Lost In Emotion
PD – After reaching the top, LL has been tossed down to #22. And unfortunately, they will never have a song chart as high as this one is ever again.
21. Los Lobos – Come On, Let’s Go
THW – Los Lobos’ cover of Richie Valens’ Come On Let’s Go fared much better than the original which is sitting at its peak this week. Richie’s version only made it to #42 back in 1958. Both Richie and the Wolves are two-hit wonders.
- 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