Let’s move into the middle of the decade to see which songs end up as The Other Sixty during chart week fifty. Here’s 1983 up through 1986.
December 17th, 1983
Diana got herself a catamaran to cruise through the bay with her fourteenth album, Ross. She covers songs by Michael McDonald, Donald Fagan, and Marc Jordan while Steely Dan producer Gary Katz takes the wheel for most of the album. He produced The Boss’ follow-up to Pieces Of Ice, which features Jeff Porcaro doing a modified version of his famous shuffle. This is one of the best singles she released in the 80s, but it may have been a year too late. It will get docked at the pier at #77.
By the time of his twenty-second album, Infidels, co-produced with Mark Knopfler, Dylan was starting to seem like a parody of himself. He also hadn’t had a charting single in four years. This release, which features Mick Taylor on guitar, Allan Clarke on keys, and the rhythm section of Sly & Robbie, helped changed some of that perception. It will get him on the radio again, although this ballad will only climb to #55.
This was the fourth single released from Prince’s fifth album, 1999, his mainstream breakthrough. The A-side of the 45 censors out all the filthy stuff from the album but leaves the nasty synth-funk alone. The B-side got enough airplay for this single to get both sides listed cuz it’s fonky as hell. It will still only top out at #52, four months before he debuted with When Doves Cry. Rapper Candyman sampled this B-side and the J. Geils Band B-side to Freeze-Frame for this 1990 hip-hop track.
Break out your piece of worn-out cardboard. It’s time to pop and lock to this slice of electro hip-hop. Led by keyboardist Gordon Bahary, this single incorporates some Middle Eastern riffs with synths and 808s and a rap about making a better life for yourself on top. It will reach the R&B Top 10 but spin out at #79 Pop.
December 15th, 1984
Here is the second single from Babs’ Emotion LP, a duet written by and sung with Kim Carnes. It’s an unofficial answer song to MJ & Macca’s The Girl Is Mine and will hit #8 on the AC charts to satisfy your teeth drilling needs. But on the Hot 100, it will stall out at #51. Kenny Rogers and Ronnie Milsap will record their version in 1987, which will reach #1 Country.
Before Bart Simpson or John Bender in The Breakfast Club, Rick Dees entered this phrase into the pop culture vernacular via this ridiculously stupid ballad. If you imagine Rick singing to himself in the mirror, then it actually works. This is Rick’s first chart single since 1977’s Dis-Gorilla and thankfully his last as it only moves up two more spots.
Bad Benson’s twenty-second studio album will be the last one to spawn a Hot 100 entry. The funky yet smooth title track will be released as the first single. It will reach #15 on the SOul charts and reach the UK Top 30. But the 45 will go blind at #48 Pop. Also, if any number will look better in the rearview mirror, it will be this one.
Rod tries his hand at a synth-rock cover of Free’s 1970 smash. It’s not bad, but really, the original is all you need. I’m sure songwriter Andy Fraser doesn’t mind the royalties, though. The third single from Camouflage will not have all the luck as it flames out at #72.
T-Shaw’s follow-up to his #33 hit, Girls With Guns, is a rock ballad that I’m not sure would have made side 2 of a Styx album. Or a Damn Yankees CD, for that matter. The school of loneliness will shut down at #60.
This is the best thing that the Temps recorded in the 80s by a mile. That’s how bad they were mismanaged. If you reflect on the 60s music revival that happened during the 1980s, they were the most significant artist that was still recording records, not to have a comeback. The best they did was a five-second backing vocals spot on Rick James’ Superfreak and this boogie track, co-produced by Al McKay and Ralph Johnson of Earth, Wind & Fire. It will peak at #48.
December 14th, 1985
Babs is back with a long play full of show tunes called The Broadway Album, which became her first #1 album in five years when it hit the zenith in late January 1986. The first single released was a song from West Side Story, produced by David Foster. She made her version one of the definitive, but at the time, its biggest success was on the AC charts, where it made the Top 5. It will just miss the Casey call when it peaks at #43 on the Hot 100.
Fun Fact: The Broadway Album knocked the Miami Vice soundtrack out of the top albums spot. In 1988 Babs returned to the Top 40 after a five-year absence with a duet featuring Don Johnson. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
I was as shocked as most OMD fans to see them make the Top 40 in 1985 with So In Love. But then again, they spent many years perfecting their synth-pop sound and started to write more tunes geared for an American audience. They’ll end up with three more Top 20 hits in the 80s, with one of them reaching the Top 5. Until then, the second single from Crush will blab its mouth up to #63.
December 20th, 1986
Bobby B left (or was kicked out of) New Edition in early 1986 and quickly started his solo career with his debut album King Of Stage. This was his first single, which didn’t do much for establishing a new sound for him. The ballad did go to #1 on the Soul charts and #57 Pop. Two years, he released Don’t Be Cruel, which spawned five Top 10 hits, including the #1 smash, My Prerogative. For more info on BB, I refer you to the unintentionally sad Being Bobby Brown show.
Ric wasn’t that interested in being a Pop star. He just wrote catchy tunes to get the record company of his back. That he could seemingly write them at will was a testament to his talents. This was the follow-up to his only Top 40 hit, Emotion In Motion, and would sound fine on any Cars album. It will crash at #75 and become his last solo chart entry.