To Work Much Harder Than This


It’s Christmas 1986. Were you having a Smoky Mountain Christmas with Dolly Parton? Or sharing A Christmas Gift with John Denver? Or ignoring the holidays like I was to listen to these songs from the week of December 20th, 1986?

40. Georgia Satellites – Keep Your Hands To Yourself

OHW – This is just a simple 12-bar blues number that peeked and poked its way through the reverb-heavy dance-pop landscape up to a #2 showing. It was kept out by Bon Jovi’s Living On A Prayer. Now tell me which one you would rather listen to right now.

39. Madonna – True Blue

PD – Madonna wrote this for her then-husband, Sean Penn. They’ll be divorced in three years. But she continues to get royalties from this former Top 10.

38. Tina Turner – Two People

Tina’s followup to Typical Male lands in the Top 40, but it won’t go any farther than #30 in early 1987. Folks that that was a let down from the massive success of Private Dancer. But honestly, any new music from Tina was a triumph, especially in establishing her legacy.

37. Billy Joel – This Is The Time

Was this played at every graduation in 1987 or just the ones on Long Island? I’m sure this is why Green Day wrote Good Riddance.

36. Talking Heads – Wild Wild Life

From the soundtrack to the Jonathan Demme film True Stories, here’s the last Top 40 single for the Talking Heads tumbling from its high of #25. The video, which consisted of band members and various actors singing karaoke and dressing up as other stars such as Prince, Billy Idol & Madonna, was on high rotation at MTV.

35. Boston – Amanda

PD – This song had no video. For MTV. In 1986. It still went to #1. The power of Boston.

34. Nancy Martinez – For Tonight

Here’s dance-pop from Quebec, Canada. Nancy’s second album came South of the border and yielded this #32 hit. And then she took off for the Great White North.

33. Pointer Sisters – Goldmine

This sounds like a Bananarama reject, not fitting for the sisters Pointer. Their name got it into the Top 40, but it will not travel any farther than where it is this week. They need to put it in a cart and wheel it down a shaft. It will be the Pointers’ last Top 40 song.

32. Cyndi Lauper – Change Of Heart

Cyndi’s followup to True Colors is on its way to a #3 placement. It features backing vocals by the Bangles and guitar work by Nile Rodgers. It was co-written by singer-songwriter Essra Mohawk who also wrote some songs for Schoolhouse Rock, such as this one.

31. Samantha Fox – Touch Me (I Want Your Body)

One year prior, Sam Fox was name-checked in Elton John’s Wrap Her Up. Now here she was moaning and groaning through her first Top 40 song. The song will finish with a #4 climax before falling down the charts and forgetting your name. And please do not confuse her with the porn star of the same name, even though the song may suggest otherwise.

30. Miami Sound Machine – Falling In Love (Uh-Oh)

Miami Sound Machine’s album Primitive Love was set loose in August of 1985, but it was still spawning hits into 1987, such as this one which will slowly climb up to #25. Also that uh-oh, uh-oh should be played on a loop throughout each Dolphins game.

29. Run DMC – You Be Illin’

The second Run DMC Top 40 hit is at its high this week. And if you’re not sure what illin’ means, in this song, it’s referred to as being a dumb ass. But if you’re acting wild and crazy, having a good time, you could be illin’ too.

28. Carly Simon – Coming Around Again

Carly had been MIA from the charts for most of the 80s until this track, which used in the 1986 film Heartburn. It was her first Top 40 since 1980’s Jesse, but unfortunately would be her last, after its climb to #18. And if you like circles like me and things coming around again, you can consider this the sequel to her first hit, That’s The Way I Heard It Should Be.

27. Madonna – Open Your Heart

Once Madge debuted in the Top 40 with Holiday, it felt like she never left the charts again in the 80s [She actually took most of 1988 off, but I digress.] This is her second one in the Top 40 on the way to becoming her fifth #1 single. It’s a pleasant little slice of dance-pop that sounds so innocuous; you don’t even realize it’s filled with sexual innuendoes. She’s so good at selling it you don’t know you’re buying it.

Also, this video is creepy AF. What the hell is a little kid doing at a peephole strip club?

26. Human League – Human

PD – Right after Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis recorded Control with Janet Jackson, they got an assignment to work on the next Human League album. Another song that’s so beautifully produced, you might forget it’s about some cheating jackass that needed to fill a void. The Shyamalan twist is that she cheats on him too. Burn.

Also, using the I’m only human excuse to explain away an affair is not going to fly in the real world.

25. Kansas – All I Wanted

RAR – This is about as far removed from Carry On Wayward Son as Kansas will get. Gone are the violin solos and prog-rock riffs. Enter vanilla sap. It will reach #19 and be their final Top 40 hit.

24. Lionel Richie – Love Will Conquer All

PD, RAR, SXMFU – This is former #9 is so soft, it makes Wonder Bread feel like a brick.

Sirius XM’s Big 80s Countdown mentions that this was Lionel’s tenth AC hit in a row. It was his tenth, just not in a row. He’d eventually have eleven. And when the Top 40 and R&B hits dried up, he continued to rack up an additional 10 Top 40 hits on the AC chart. Someone, please give him back the funk.

23. Cameo – Word Up!

THW, PD – At least it never left Larry Blackmon and thank God it didn’t, otherwise this former #6 smash might not have existed. And someone needs to keep a better eye on him in the recording studio so that he doesn’t hurt himself so much.

22. Billy Vera & The Beaters – At This Moment

STA, THW – This was originally recorded for a Live album at the Roxy in Hollywood for the album Billy & the Beaters. It was released in 1981 and made it up to #79. Then on Family Ties, this song was played every time that Alex got horny for his lab partner, Ellen. And because so many people watched the show, they all wanted to know what the song was, prompting the reissue label, Rhino, who owned the rights to rerelease it. And to everyone’s surprise, not the least Billy’s, it became a #1 hit in early 1987.

Fun Fact: Billy & the Beaters was produced by Steely Dan/ Doobie Brother member, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter.

21. Glass Tiger – Someday

This Canadian quintet pumped out another heartbreak anthem for the post-puberty Smash Hits set. Produced by Jim Vallance, it’s on the way to a #7 zenith.



  • 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


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