Tuesday, January 28, 2020

"Tonight, Tonight, Tonight" by Genesis

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3026
Date:  02/14/1987
Debut:  45
Peak:  3
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Genesis' album Invisible Touch had already spawned four Pop Top 10 singles including the last one "Land of Confusion" (#4). The band was on a hot streak so the label thought they would roll the dice and issue out a fifth single from the LP. This track was selected and it ended up being the right choice. It would get to #3 at Pop while reaching #8 at AC and #45 Rock. The five Top 10s would easily make the album the band's biggest seller. It would eventually go 6x platinum in the US alone. After the associated world tour was finished, the band took a nearly five-year break. In that time each member attended to their own projects including another solo disc for Phil Collins and another effort by Mike Rutherford's Mike + the Mechanics. They wouldn't reconvene Genesis until after the start of the new decade, so that made this single their last one to be released in the 80s.

ReduxReview:  The album version of this song was an 8+ minute track that was something more along the lines of their previous prog rock inclinations rather than the more pop oriented fare that got them four Top 10 hits. But after editing it down into a single and getting featured in a commercial (see below), the song ended up being just as mainstream as the other hits. I really liked the track and thought it was one of of the best ones on the album. I liked the atmosphere it created and the hook of the chorus was undeniable. I also liked both the single version, which made the tune a concise, easy listen, and the lengthy album track that provided a lot of other shadings. They certainly ended the decade on a high note.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) This song got a major boost when it was picked up for use in a Michelob beer commercial. The company's campaign slogan at the time was "the night was made for Michelob" and the chorus of this song along with its feel/tone seemed to fit the ad to a tee. Indeed it worked out well with the song going Top 10 and the Michelob campaign highly successful. The only oddity is that while the ad uses the chorus to great effect creating a relaxed, pleasant, and casual atmosphere, the actual song lyrics were about trying to score some cocaine after coming down from a high and needing more. Obviously, that part was skipped over for the commercial.  2) Invisible Touch would be only the fifth album in chart history to generate five Top 10 singles. It followed albums by Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, Bruce Springsteen, and Janet Jackson. Jackson's Control and the Genesis album were originally released in 1986. Two other albums released that year would also later join the five Top 10s club. Madonna's True Blue would join in as well as Huey Lewis & the News' Fore!  3) In 1991, Genesis would come roaring back with their fourteenth studio album We Can't Dance. It featured five Top 30 hits including the lone Top 10 "I Can't Dance" (#7 Pop/#2 Rock). The LP would reach #4 and sell over four million copies. In 1996 after another lengthy hiatus, Phil Collins decided to leave Genesis. The remaining two members chose to move forward with new lead singer Ray Wilson. The new Genesis trio issued out Calling All Stations in 1997. None if its singles reached the Pop chart and the LP fizzled at #54. To date, this has been the last Genesis studio album released. Collins, Rutherford, and Tony Banks would reunite for a world tour in 2007 and a couple of other later appearances, but the trio has yet to attempt a comeback album.


Monday, January 27, 2020

"Lean on Me" by Club Nouveau

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Grammy Alert!
One-Hit Wonder Alert!
Song#:  3025
Date:  02/14/1987
Debut:  47
Peak:  1 (2 weeks)
Weeks:  17
Genre:  R&B, Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  After the Timex Social Club hit it big with their #8 hit "Rumors," problems ensued and the group quickly disbanded leaving them known as a one-hit wonder. The co-producer of the song, Jay King, felt a bit burned by the TSC situation and so he formed his own group that was initially called Jet Set. King then changed the name to Club Nouveau (French for "new club") as a bit of a stab back to the Timex Social Club. The band's first single was an answer song of sorts to "Rumors" titled "Jealousy." It was a hit at R&B getting to #8. The follow-up single, "Situation #9," also followed into the Top 10 (#4). Neither made the Pop chart, but this third single finally did. The cover tune (see below) struck the right chord with a mainstream audience and the single bounded up to #1 at Pop and Dance while getting to #2 at R&B. Sales of the single were strong and it eventually went gold. In turn, the group's debut album Live, Love & Pain, would be a platinum seller that reached #2 R&B and #6 Pop. Club Nouveau would later grab a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Duo or Group, while the song would win composer Bill Withers a Grammy for Best R&B Song. It was a great start for the group, but then it seemed their star burned too bright too fast and it quickly began to fizzle. Despite their next single getting to #2 at R&B, it was a minor #39 entry at Pop. Then their follow-up albums failed to generate any sizable hits. In the end, this song would be their only major hit at Pop and because of that it got them tagged as a one-hit wonder (#94 on VH1's list of Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the 80s).

ReduxReview:  This classic tune was never really one of my favorites, but I appreciated Withers' original (see below) and when played in the right context the song can be quite inspirational. Now, take that lovely little tune and then add beats, claps, farting vocal samples, screaming synths, and someone yelling "we be jammin'" and you have Club Nouveau's grating version. I just can't stress enough how much I hated this song back in the day. It made my ears bleed. I thought they completely desecrated the original. I wanted to throw a rock at any speaker that this song came out of. Frankly, I still do. After avoiding it all these years I thought that perhaps it might not sound so bad now. I was wrong. It is still just as horrible now as it was then. The beats are dorky, the production is loud and overdone, the vocals are indistinguishable, and the "we be jammin'" is as silly and out of place as ever. For me, it's still not only the worst hit remake of the decade, but one of the worst songs of the decade period. On the positive side, I'm glad it got Withers a Grammy and I hope he made a bunch of cash off this thing.

ReduxRating:  1/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a song originally written and performed by R&B singer/songwriter Bill Withers. It was the first single lifted from his 1972 album Still Bill. The tune would reach #1 on both the Pop and R&B charts. His follow-up single, "Use Me," would get to #2 on each chart. The album would be his first gold seller. Withers would have some success in the early 80s returning to the Top 10 with "Just the Two of Us" (#2 Pop/#3 R&B). With Club Nouveau hitting #1 at Pop, it made "Lean on Me" one of just a minor handful of songs that reached #1 on the Pop chart twice by different artists. This actually happened a few months prior for another song. In the fall of '86, Bananarama would reach #1 with "Venus," a remake of an earlier 1970 #1 hit by Shocking Blue.


Sunday, January 26, 2020

"Winner Takes It All" by Sammy Hagar

Song#:  3024
Date:  02/14/1987
Debut:  84
Peak:  54
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Rock, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Hagar had been enjoying his success as the new lead singer of Van Halen, but being part of that band didn't mean he had to give up other opportunities. One came his way when he was tapped to sing a tune for the soundtrack to the Sylvester Stallone sports drama flick Over the Top. Giorgio Moroder was in charge of the score and songs for the film and he co-wrote this track with Tom Whitlock. It was offered to Hagar and he agreed to record the tune. For the recording, he brought along his bandmate Eddie Van Halen. The pair co-produced the track with Moroder and both Hagar and Van Halen contributed guitar work. It was issued out as the first single from the soundtrack album and it did well at Rock reaching #3. It crossed over Pop, but the song fizzled before it could crack the top half of the chart. A second single, the more mainstream "Meet Me Half Way" by Kenny Loggins, would do much better nearly cracking the Top 10 (#11) later in the year, but even that wasn't enough to promote sales of the album, which topped out at a minor #120.

ReduxReview:  Stallone obviously wanted another big hit anthem for his movie a la Survivor, but this one wasn't quite it. The guitar-driven tune was a pretty good fit for Rock radio, but it just didn't have that mainstream movie anthem appeal. It was just a charging track with guitars screaming all over it. Nothing about it was particularly memorable or inspiring. Frankly it just sounds loud for the sake of being loud. I think Hagar and Van Halen did what they could to amp up a weak composition, but it ended up being a bit of a mess.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Hagar was the second artist to record the song for the film. It was first given to Asia's John Wetton, but it seems that Stallone (who co-wrote the script) wasn't a fan of Wetton's final version. Stallone wanted something that sounded big and tough and apparently Wetton's take on the tune just didn't check those boxes. The song was then offered to Hagar and his version seemed to fit the bill for Stallone.  2) Stallone was coming off of three big box office winners (Rambo: First Blood, Pt. 2, Rocky IV, and Cobra) when he signed up to do Over the Top. The drama focused on Stallone's relationship with his 10-year-old son (played by David Mendenhall) and the world of professional arm wrestling. Critics panned the flick and it seemed audiences didn't bite either. It ended up being a dud at the box office grossing around $11 million, which was less than half of its budget. By comparison, his previous three films earned over $700 million combined. The movie was nominated for three Golden Raspberry awards and "won" two. Mendenhall won for Worst Supporting Actor and Worst New Star while Stallone was nominated for Worst Actor.


Saturday, January 25, 2020

"The Lady in Red" by Chris De Burgh

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3023
Date:  02/14/1987
Debut:  88
Peak:  3
Weeks:  26
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Irish singer/songwriter De Burgh had been recording albums since 1974, but it wasn't until his 1982 album The Getaway that he began to breakthrough in the US. The LP featured the #29 Rock/#34 Pop single "Don't Pay the Ferryman." His next album, Man on the Line, gave him is second US chart track with "High on Emotion" (#3 Rock/#43 Pop). But this ballad from his next album, Into the Light, would end up being the biggest hit of his career. It would reach #1 in several countries including the UK. It would also do very well in the US getting to #3 on the Pop chart while making it to #2 at AC. The hit would drive his album up to #25. Unfortunately, De Burgh wasn't able to follow-up the song in the US. His next single, "Fatal Hesitation," would get to #20 at AC, but failed to make the Pop chart. His next album, 1988's Flying Colours, generated a couple of minor AC entries, but nothing reached the Pop chart. His fortunes dwindled after that, which made "The Lady in Red" his last song to reach the US Pop chart. De Burgh did better back at home in the UK where Flying Colors hit #1. He would continue to record over the years with several of his album making the UK Top 10. Back in the US, he just became the guy who hit it big with "The Lady in Red."

ReduxReview:  This became one of those love it or loath it songs. Some people found it endearing and romantic while others thought it was just a big piece of schmaltz soaked in sickly sweet syrup. I fell a bit in between the two sides. I preferred the contemporary rock tunes on his previous two albums, so this gooey ballad wasn't what I expected or wanted from De Burgh. However, I did recognize that the song had a sappy, universal appeal that was a little hard to resist if you were in the right mood. I'm not a fan of the tune and I grew tired of it real quick back in the day, but I don't hate it either. It's one of those songs that when it comes on I think "oh, god...no." But then by the end of it I find myself swaying back 'n' forth a bit with a moony look on my face.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  The Into the Light album also contained the ballad "For Rosanna." De Burgh wrote the song for his then two-year-old daughter. Rosanna Davison (Davison was Chris De Burgh's real last name, he adopted his mother's family name for his stage name) entered and won the title of Miss Ireland in 2003. That allowed her to complete at the Miss World pageant later in December, 2003. She ended up winning the pageant becoming the first contestant from Ireland to ever take the title.


Friday, January 24, 2020

"Dominoes" by Robbie Nevil

Song#:  3022
Date:  02/14/1987
Debut:  90
Peak:  14
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  Nevil scored his first Pop Top 10 solo hit with "C'est la Vie," the lead single from his self-titled debut album. For a follow-up, this next track was selected. It appeared like the tune might follow "C'est la Vie" into the Top 10, but then it stopped just a bit short. It was also a minor entry on the Dance chart at #22. While it wasn't a major hit, it did well enough to extend sales of the album, which had already peaked at #37.

ReduxReview:  I think this song was a bit of a risky follow-up. "C'est la Vie" was a fun and bouncy tune that introduced folks to Nevil. It set the tone for his career and it seemed like a logical follow-up might keep him going down that path. Instead, we got this dark track that leaned a bit towards rock. It could have easily tanked because it was nothing like "C'est la Vie," but luckily it was strong enough to hold its own and it ended up doing quite well. At the time I was certainly tired of "C'est la Vie," so when "Dominoes" came out it sounded fresh and different. I didn't buy "C'est la Vie," but I bought this single. I still like it and would actually prefer to hear it over "C'est la Vie."

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  After his solo career waned in the early 90s, Nevil continued in the business writing songs for other artists. Connections led him over to the Disney studios in 2005 where he began to co-write songs for a new TV movie musical project. To be aired on the Disney Channel, High School Musical starred newcomers Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, and Ashley Tisdale and was directed by Kenny Ortega. Nevil would co-write five songs for the musical. It debuted in January of 2016 and became an instant smash. The soundtrack would follow suit hitting #1 and selling over four million copies. The movie would spawn two sequels and Nevil would co-write songs for both soundtracks.