Friday, November 27, 2020

"I Want to Be Your Man" by Roger

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3331
Date:  11/14/1987
Debut:  88
Peak:  3
Weeks:  21
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  The last time Roger (Troutman) was on the Pop chart was way back in 1981 when his debut solo album, The Many Facets of Roger, spawned the #79 (#1 R&B) remake of "I Heard It Through the Grapevine." A second solo effort would follow in 1984 along with works by his band Zapp. When '87 came rolling around, Roger decided it was time to work on a third solo album. He assembled Unlimited! and then pushed out this first single. It became a hit at R&B becoming his second song to top that chart. It then crossed over to Pop and after slowly catching on, it got near the top of the chart. The hit would send the album to #4 at R&B and #35 Pop. Unfortunately, the single would be Roger's last solo Top 10 at R&B and his final one to make the Pop chart. He would release one more solo album in 1991, but it failed to replicate the success of Unlimited!

ReduxReview:  Here's a big #3 hit and I don't remember it at all. I'm guessing that it wasn't popular in my little town and the only place I heard it was the Top 40 countdown. It must have not made an impression on me as it doesn't sound familiar at all. You'd think I'd at least remember Roger's obsession with the talk box. While that tool can be overused, it was fairly effective here because it was used in the chorus. Troutman's then-current production has definitely kept the song grounded in the 80s. It's actually a nice jam, but I think a sleeker production without all the effects and synths would have made the song much better.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Although this was Troutman's final solo R&B #1 and last solo Pop chart single, he did later reach #1 on both charts as a featured artist. In the fall of '95, rapper 2Pac recorded the song "California Love." Roger was featured singing on the chorus with his talk box effect. Dr. Dre contributed a rap. The song was 2Pac's first release after a stint in prison. It was a big double-platinum hit in 1996 reaching #1 at both Pop and R&B. The associated album, All Eyez on Me, would also reach #1 on both charts and sell over 5 million copies. A little less than a year after he recorded the song, 2Pac would be shot to death in Las Vegas.


Thursday, November 26, 2020

"What's Too Much" by Smokey Robinson

Song#:  3330
Date:  11/14/1987
Debut:  90
Peak:  79
Weeks:  10
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  Robinson would earn his second solo gold album with One Heartbeat. The LP featured back-to-back Pop Top 10 hits, which was a first for Robinson as a solo artist. He tried to keep the streak going with this third single from the album, but it wasn't able to capture the same audience who liked the first two singles. While the song did okay at R&B (#16) and AC (#15), it just couldn't get anywhere on the Pop chart and after a little over two months the song disappeared. Still, the One Heartbeat (#1 R&B/#26 Pop) album proved to be his second best solo effort after 1981's Being with You (#1 R&B/#10 Pop).

ReduxReviewOne Heartbeat was a strategic album for Robinson. The two hits from the album were written by outside songwriters and most likely selected for their chart potential. The balance of the album was written or co-written by Robinson, which included this third single (co-written with Ivory Stone). His songwriting skills were spotty during the 80s, but this track was a solid one for him. The slinky song had a slightly jazzy feel similar to tunes from Sade. It fit his voice well and the light-handed 80s production was appropriate. I thought it was a good, memorable song, but the subtle tune may not have been the right fit for Pop. It should have done better on all the charts.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Robinson wouldn't issue out another solo studio LP until 1990, however, he stayed active recording a few songs with other artists. In 1988, he did a duet with Dolly Parton for her album Rainbow. They performed "I Know You By Heart," which was written by George Merrill and Shannon Rubicam along with Dean Pitchford. Merrill and Rubicam were on a hot streak writing a pair of #1's for Whitney Houston while also scoring their own hits as the duo Boy Meets Girl. "I Know You By Heart" seemed like a sure bet coming from Parton and Robinson, but when released as a single, it failed to make a big impression.. The best it could do was reach #22 on the AC chart. For the album, Parton also did a cover of a song originally written by Robinson. She recorded "Two Lovers," which Mary Wells took to #1 R&B/#7 Pop in 1962. Rainbow was one of Parton's worst performing albums of her career. It was released around the time as her failed TV variety series. She would finally set aside her pop/mainstream ambitions to refocus on country music and in 1989 she returned with the gold-selling #3 country album White Limozeen. Her next two non-holiday studio albums would return her to platinum status.


Wednesday, November 25, 2020

"Someone to Love Me for Me" by Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam featuring Full Force

Song#:  3329
Date:  11/14/1987
Debut:  92
Peak:  78
Weeks:  10
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  The group's second album, Spanish Fly, would be their first to reach the Pop and R&B Top 10s (#7 on each chart) and their second to go platinum. This was mainly due to a pair of back-to-back #1's (also on both charts), "Head to Toe" and "Lost in Emotion." Hopes were high that the album would spawn a third major hit, but this single would only do well at R&B getting to #7. It didn't do well on the Pop chart topping out at a very low #78. Despite the results, the group certainly had made their mark and were at the peak of their career.

ReduxReview:  It was a smart move to follow up the two upbeat #1's with a ballad, but this wasn't the right one for a mainstream audience. Done almost in trio form with Lisa Lisa and two members of Full Force and enhanced by gospel-like background vocals, the tune didn't have the same appeal as their other hit ballad, the #3 R&B/#8 Pop "All Cried Out." It made for a good album track, but I don't think it was the best candidate for a single.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  A third single from the album, "Everything Will B-Fine," failed to make the Pop chart, but was another winner for them becoming their sixth R&B Top 10 (#9). The group would have one more R&B chart hit before they would issue out their third album in 1989. They would record the song "Go for Yours" for the soundtrack to the comedy sequel Caddyshack II. It would be released as a single and reach #19 at R&B. It did not make the Pop chart. Caddyshack II was a critical failure and was a bust at the box office. Despite that, the main song from the film, Kenny Loggins' "Nobody's Fool," was a #8 Pop hit.


Tuesday, November 24, 2020

"Strap Me In" by The Cars

Song#:  3328
Date:  11/14/1987
Debut:  94
Peak:  85
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  The Cars' Door to Door album didn't get off to the best start. Its first single, "You Are the Girl," did fine at Rock (#2) and AC (#12), but it didn't meet expectations at Pop where it stalled at #17. It was a disappointment since their previous two studio albums and one compilation all began with Top 10 hits. To try and reignite interest in the band, this second single was pushed out. Again, it did well at rock reaching #4, but over at Pop it did far worse. It only spent a month on the chart and became the lowest peaking single of the band's career. The lack of a better follow-up played into album sales with Door to Door missing their first album to miss the Top 20 (#26) and their first to not go platinum (it would reach gold level sales).

ReduxReview:  "You Are the Girl" was a bouncy synthpop ditty that made The Cars sound tired. It was an uninteresting been-there-done-that track from an album that was supposed to be more rock oriented. This follow-up track was more in-line with those expectations. The beefy guitars outweighed the synths and it did make The Cars sound more like a band than one that was doing a lot of synth programming, which was a good thing. However, the song itself wasn't all that great. It played well at Rock, but the darker sounding track wasn't a fit for Pop. It didn't have the alluring, candy-coated hooks found on the band's bigger hits that sounded great on the radio. Still, this was a better song than "You Are the Girl."

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  While in the studio recording the Door to Door album, the band began messing around and jamming, perhaps in hopes of stumbling upon an idea for a song. As they were playing along, they found themselves playing a song from their early days. The tune was called "Ta Ta Wayo Wayo" and although it was one the band had performed in the late 70s before they released their 1978 debut LP, they never actually got around to recording it. They did do a demo of the song in 1977, but apparently it was set aside in favor of other songs for their debut LP. The song had basically become nearly forgotten until the band started to riff on it in the studio. Needing songs for the new album, they decided to let the song have its day. Also on the LP was another song from the same time period that never got recorded. "Leave or Stay" finally saw the light of day on Door to Door.


Monday, November 23, 2020

"Criticize" by Alexander O'Neal

Song#:  3327
Date:  11/14/1987
Debut:  97
Peak:  70
Weeks:  11
Genre:  R&B, Electro-Funk

Pop Bits:  O'Neal's second album, Hearsay, got off to a great start when its first single, "Fake," made it to #1 on the R&B chart. It then crossed over to Pop and was able to crack the Top 30 (#25) while getting to #7 Dance. For a follow-up, this next track was selected. It would easily make the R&B Top 10 at #4, but this time around it wasn't able to catch on at Pop and it stalled low on the chart. It was also less popular at Dance peaking at #17. It was a slight dip in the road as his next single would put him back in the upper reaches of the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  O'Neal wrote this track with Garry Johnson, but it was producers Jam & Lewis that made the song work. It was a signature production by the pair that was amped up with a bit of rock. It was a beefy track that may not have been as immediately accessible or hooky as "Fake," but it was a worthy follow up that should have done better on the Pop chart.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  While the Hearsay album and its singles would do okay on the Pop chart in the US, it was far more successful in the UK. This single would be O'Neal's biggest hit there getting to #4. In turn, the album would reach #4 as well. Four other singles from the LP would reach the UK Top 40. With O'Neal's popularity soaring, the album would end up going triple-platinum in the UK. His next regular studio album, 1991's All True Man, would also do well getting to #2 and going gold thanks to four charting singles. In 1998, this song would return to the UK chart in a remix form. "Criticize ('98 Mix)" would make it to #51.