It’s amazing that as the year winds down and we enter the holiday season, radio playlists get very soft. Case in point, the week of December 20th, 1986. Minus a few songs, this countdown is an aural Twinkie.
20. Timbuk 3 – The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades
OHW – Talk about a leftfield hit, this one came from out of nowhere by a married couple od DIY musicians. Between the two of them, they play everything on the record. It’s gonna inch up one more spot before going dark. It’s a shame this was their only hit because they had a lot more interesting tunes such as this one.
19. Billy Ocean – Love Is Forever
Billy’s ballads were already a might treacly. But when he started recorded Hallmark card reject songs like this one, it was the beginning of the end. Collect your money, Billy. Your fans will soon be done with puberty and won’t be back.
18. Kool & The Gang – Victory
Here’s some more weak-ass funk. Scratch that. This is boring phone-it-in dance-pop that will somehow still hit the Top 10. The funk is long gone for this band, as well as any good ideas. Singer JT Taylor split after this album, and the next one, released in 1989, is even worse.
17. Howard Jones – You Know I Love You… Don’t You?
HoJo’s third album One To One was manhandled by producer Arif Mardin who made it sound beautiful but complicated, veering too far away from what initially worked. I have a feeling the record company interfered. So this single, which is at its peak, is the only hit from it, and you may not even remember it.
16. Genesis – Land Of Confusion
Invisible Touch is the Genesis album that finally rode Phill the Shill’s coattails into the luxury life. This will be the third consecutive Top five hit from the album and includes a video containing lots of celebrity puppets created by Splitting Image living through a Reagan nightmare.
15. Survivor – Is This Love
Oh Jesus. You guys are back again? Was there a specific quota to fill for midwest rock, like a reverse Can con?
14. Bon Jovi – You Give Love A Bad Name
PD – This is a shot to the heart but not like the one Travolta gives Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction. It’s a real shot that destroys my ventricles. Actually, it’s more like a shot to the nads. Nirvana couldn’t get here soon enough.
13. Janet Jackson – Control
If he hasn’t done anything for you lately because he’s a nasty boy, there’s nothing left to do but take control. Janet grabs her life by the scruff of its neck and Jam & Lewis create some of their finest electronic funk riffs for her third consecutive Top 10.
12. The Pretenders – Don’t Get Me Wrong
RAR – Chrissie Hynde had to redo her band once again, so her followup to Learning To Crawl took longer than expected. Still, it yielded this bubbly Top 10 that may or may not have been inspired by her then-husband Jim Kerr of Simple Minds.
11. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band – War
Bruce was so massively popular in the mid-80s, he could release a five LP box set of live recordings, and folks would line up to buy it, even from the back of a delivery truck. It would debut at #1 on the album charts and stay there for seven weeks and, to this day, is one of the best selling live albums of all time. He released his cover of the Edwin Starr #1 hit from a September 1985 performance in Los Angeles. It will be his eighth consecutive Top 10 single.
10. Peter Cetera & Amy Grant – The Next Time I Fall
PD – Good for Bobby Caldwell for writing a #1 hit. Unfortunate for us that it featured Cartman and Wonder bread. Excellent for dentists whose patients slowly say How when it starts playing in the exam room so they can quickly look at your molars.
9. Ben E King – Stand By Me
Ben is one of a handful of artists to have a Top 10 twice with the same song. Good for him. Unfortunately, I have heard this song so much in my life because of that, that its simple charm has worn thin.
8. Robbie Nevil – C’est La Vie
This one immediately got stuck in my ear back then and I became obsessed with it. Little did I know that the song began its life on a Beau Williams album released in 1984. Robbie and producers Alex Sadkin & Phil Thornally polished it up and made it the earworm it is today. It will only climb to #2, held back by song #5 and #22. Robbie would later create music for High School Musical & Hannah Montana. Hey, he got a job. That’s OK.
Fun fact: While Robbie was tearing up the charts, brother Alex was getting a recurring role on one of the hottest shows on TV at the time, Cheers as Martin Teel, Rebecca’s new boss.
7. Huey Lewis & The News – Hip To Be Square
PFK – Here’s a song that was written so well that, according to Huey, nobody understood that it was ironic. Damn us! We also didn’t understand why you hired football players as your backup singers, but hey to each his own.
6. Billy Idol – To Be A Lover
Here’s Billy doing a revved up New Wave dance version of a Stax record first recorded by Willam Bell in 1968 called I Forgot To Be Your Lover. The original is sung like a soulful apology, whereas Billy decided to turn it into a demand. Whether you liked it or not, he was going to spend his life making love to you. So be prepared, if you’re just hanging out and watching TV. This could happen.
5. Gregory Abbott – Shake You Down
OHW, PFK – Here’s a #1 song that has been lost to time. It was also a #1 Soul hit, #2 AC, and a Top 10 UK smash. Billboard listed it as the third biggest song of 1987. If you’re unsure what this composition is about, Wiki P gotcha hooked up.
4. Duran Duran – Notorious
DD2 was down to a trio by 1986 with only Simon, John & Nick carrying the band forward. So they brought pal, Nile Rodgers in to give the group a leaner, funkier sound. Thus it ends up being my favorite LP of theirs. The song will be kept off the mountain by the current #1.
3. Wang Chung – Everybody Have Fun Tonight
So too for this 45. Hey, white people need some rock songs with tribal passages to clod around to, which is why I love this clip.
2. Bruce Hornsby & The Range – The Way It Is
PD – This was last week’s #1 and apart for that cheesy drum machine, showed the world the talent that Bruce would bestow on us for the next thirty-plus years.
1. The Bangles – Walk Like An Egyptian (1 wk at #1)
I bet their record label thought they were done with any more popular singles from their second album, Different Light, But this, their third single, opened the band up to many riches when it went to #1 and spent a week up there. I like that three members sing lead on this one, but the video is painful to watch. I had the album, had seen The Bangles live earlier that year and they played this song. I had no inkling this would be huge.
- OHW – One-Hit-Wonder
- THW – Two-Hit-Wonder
- PD – Previously Discussed
- PFK – Perfect for Karaoke
- RAR – Rite-Aid Rock
- STA – Second Time Around
- SXMFU – Sirius XM Mistake