We’re moving into the middle of the decade during chart week forty-two with mostly veteran artists and a few icons that couldn’t break their new singles into the Top 40. Let’s review The Other Sixty from 1983 to 1985.
October 22nd, 1983
After her big splash with Dreamgirls, Jennifer released her solo debut. Not many people would have known what to do what a voice as big as hers, so picking Maurice White as her producer was definitely her best choice. This leadoff single was a soft yet passionate ballad, co-written by White, Alle Willis, and David Foster and climbed all the way up to #2 on the R&B charts. On the Hot 100, it will tell us it’s going at #49.
No Frills was Bette’s first studio album since her film, The Rose, its accompanying soundtrack, and a subsequent live album. It leaned more towards New Wave rock a la Ronstadt’s Mad Love, but none of the three charting singles rose any higher than #71. Her version of a Marshall Crenshaw tune should have been played on Pop radio a lot more and carried into the Top 40 rather than having a #78 zenith.
You may not know Joe Esposito by name, but I bet you’ve heard his voice before. If it wasn’t on a Brooklyn Dreams album, maybe it was on the Donna Summer 1979 hit, Heaven Knows, where he sings the male lead or some backing vocals on Brenda Russell’s Piano In the Dark. Or it could have been during the Karate championships in the Karate Kid when You’re the Best started playing. Yep, that was him. Maybe you’re a big Flashdance addict. Then you might remember this song playing in the background while Jennifer Beals is ready to get it on with her new boyfriend. Joe’s only Hot 100 entry will only climb up five steps before getting winded and falling off the charts.
The Tops return to Motown after being away for eleven years. Berry Gordon got Holland Dozier Holland back together to write some songs for the group, including this ballad. This tune is entirely out of step with the times, showing how far behind Motown Records was in the 80s. It’s only saved by Levi Stubbs’ voice, but even that couldn’t propel it any higher than #71.
This Chicago quintet follows up their successful Eye Of The Tiger single and album with their 1983 LP, Caught In the Game. They released the title track as the first single, and it bombed, only reaching #77. Lead singer Dave Bickler needed surgery to remove vocal nodules in his throat, so the band replaced him with someone else. There are no franchise tags in rock.
This Jacksonville, FL quintet is back with their second and final chart hit from their fourth album, Nemesis. This power ballad will be largely forgotten as it will only move up four more spots.
October 20th, 1984
Everyone found out who Patty Smyth and the New York band, Scandal were after their Holly Knight-penned song, The Warrior, hit the Top 10 earlier in the year. They followed it up with this midtempo rocker, co-written by Holly & Mike Chapman. It just misses the Casey get roped at #41, getting leapfrogged by John Cafferty.
There was nothing more entertaining in 1984 than watching this Godley & Creme-produced video – two actors, who looked like Reagan & Soviet leader Chernenko, beating each other to a bloody pulp while Holly Johnson calmly moderates in song. This song went to #1 in six countries, including the UK, and it was massive all over Europe. This Trevor Horn soundscape will only score up to #43.
I went to school with director Todd Phillips. So when I watched the film Road Trip, and the crew of guys started blasting this song during the movie, it felt like one of my bus trips home from junior high. I could tell it was inspired by something we were all a part of. Dee and the gang ain’t gonna take it any higher than #68.
This rock ballad will be the third single released from the soundtrack to the film, Teachers. But unlike the first two releases, this will not make the Top 40. And just like that movie, many will not remember it, unless they are hardcore Cocker fans. The 45 will only climb to #69, but it will feature his version of Squeeze’s Tempted on the B-side.
Prince was so prolific during the mid-80s, but I never understood why he gave most of his worthless (relatively-speaking) songs to women. This trio was just a reboot of Vanity 6 after Miss Matthews spurned his advances. How bad is it? It was nominated for a Golden Raspberry for worst song…. from Purple Rain!!! [Drinkenstein by Sylvester Stallone was the winner.] This will only shoot up four notches before running out of ammo.
M-Hatch was up to their sixth album, The Deed Is Done, by 1984, when Southern rock was long out of favor. In fact, we only had room for one Jacksonville band, and that was 38 Special. Not for lack of trying, these guys rode their last chart single up to #81.
October 19th, 1985
Oh yeah, this is what I’m talking about. Here’s some fast-paced funk that hearkens back to his Controversy days. During 1984, especially during Reagan’s re-election campaign, that jingoistic feeling was spread throughout the country. Not so for the disenfranchised, and that’s who Prince was speaking about here. Many people criticized this song and felt the message was too angry or heavy-handed, but fuck those people. Thirty-five years later, these lyrics hold up, and we’re still trying to figure out how to create equity for all. This will only get up to #46.
The first single from Laura’s fourth album, Hold Me, was Spanish Eddie, and it barely squeezed into the Top 40 at #40. The title track follow-up wasn’t as lucky. Produced by Harold Faltermeyer, this moderate pop-rocker, which sounds like it should’ve scored an 80s teen drama scene, gently swayed up two spots before letting go.
For 80s Kiss songs, this one’s not bad, and it will reach #51. But rather than talk much about it, I wanna take this time to talk about Gene Simmons’ 2001 appearance on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. It’s hilariously obvious that he doesn’t want to be there or play the game. He just keeps answering questions until he gets one wrong, shrugs, and splits. It perfectly sums up Chaim Witz’s life here on earth.
I had to check, but, no this slow rock ballad was not used in St. Elmo’s Fire. It just sounds like it, and maybe it should have been. The follow-up to his #25 hit Every Step Of The Way will search for utopia but give up after only four steps upward.
The lead single to this Portland, OR group’s third album, Back Into Blue, signaled that the hits were all in the past when it only peaked at #83. In a month from now, Stevie Nicks will debut with a different song, same title. She’ll take hers up to #4.