Thursday, September 20, 2018

"Love Grammar" by John Parr

Song#:  2533
Date:  11/16/1985
Debut:  92
Peak:  89
Weeks:  2
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Earlier in '85, Parr issued out "Magical," the second single from his self-title debut album. It was a good hit at Rock getting to #11 while only reaching #73 Pop. Still, it was enough to warrant a third single and this track was selected. Unfortunately, soon after its release a song Parr recorded for a film, "St. Elmo's Fire (Man in Motion)," was also put out. Of course, that song became a chart topper while "Love Grammar" got completely ignored. While having the hit was fantastic, it didn't come at the best time. Parr had nothing to follow it up. He was working with other artists at the time and had not recorded anything for his second album yet. Wanting to keep Parr's name out there and hoping to capitalize on the #1 "St. Elmo's," his label reissued "Love Grammar" and paired it with a new MTV video. Despite the extra push, the song still didn't connect and it disappeared after a quick couple of weeks on the chart. It even failed to make the Rock chart. Parr wouldn't be able to get out any new material for another year.

ReduxReview:  This didn't need to be released a second time. Regardless of "St. Elmo's," this wasn't going to be a hit. It wants to be an arena rock type of track via someone like Bon Jovi and it is nearly successful in the chorus, but the balance of the song isn't memorable. It makes for an interesting album track, but it really wasn't a good single candidate. Plus, after the more mainstream sound of "St. Elmo's," no one was going to pay attention to this rockin' track.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Thanks to "St. Elmo's," Parr got more opportunities to supply songs for movie soundtracks. This song would be used in the 1986 film The Flight of the Spruce Goose, which starred Karen Black (Easy Rider, Airport '75). Parr would also write a song specifically for the film titled "Steal You Away (Flight of the Spruce Goose)." It would appear in the movie and become the closing track on Parr's second album, 1986's Running the Endless Mile. Parr also had songs in the films Quicksilver, Three Men and a Baby, American Anthem, The Running Man, and Near Dark.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

"Discipline of Love (Why Did You Do It)" by Robert Palmer

Song#:  2532
Date:  11/16/1985
Debut:  93
Peak:  82
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Palmer was somewhat successful in the late 70s scoring two Top 20 hit including 1979's "Bad Case of Loving You (Doctor, Doctor)" (#14). His further follow-ups failed to ignite much interest and his career seemed to be fading. Then he got the invite to join The Power Station and Palmer's career and MTV presence got a major boost thanks to hits like "Some Like It Hot" (#6). He then decided to parlay his success with Power Station back into a solo career. Although he left the band, two members (Tony Thompson and Andy Taylor) and their producer Bernard Edwards helped Palmer record his eighth album, Riptide. This track was selected to be the first single, but it failed to make an impression of any kind. It stalled at #63 at Rock while not even making it out of the basement of the Pop chart. It was definitely not what Palmer was looking for following The Power Station, but luckily things would turn around for him in a big way with the LP's second single.

ReduxReview:  It confounds me why this was issued not only as the first single, but a single at all. Maybe the thought was that it sounded more like the rock of Power Station and it was a good transfer song to Palmer's solo career. It certainly wasn't because it was a hooky track with lots of Pop potential. The slick production was great, but the song was just one long jam that wasn't very memorable. It's a solid album track, but it should not have been a single. This song tanking could have killed the album, but Palmer got lucky break with a far, far, far better second single helped along by a classic video.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  This song was written by David Batteau and Don Freeman. Batteau has written songs for many artists including Bonnie Raitt, Seals & Crofts, Art Garfunkel, Donna Summer, Trisha Yearwood, and Michael Sembello (the #34 "Automatic Man"). Along the way he attempted to also make a name for himself as a recording artist. His first attempt was with his brother, Robin, in a duo simply known as Batteau. Their 1973 self-titled album didn't get anywhere, but the LP's first single, "Tell Her She's Lovely," would be recorded the same year by the band El Chicano. Their single version made it to #40 on the Pop chart. Batteau then went solo for a 1976 album titled "Happy in Hollywood." Again, nothing came from it. Then around the time Palmer was picking up this song, Batteau formed the trio Nomo and recorded the album The Great Unknown. Their first single, "Red Lipstick" got some video airplay, but the song failed to reach any chart.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

"Can You Feel the Beat" by Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam with Full Force

Song#:  2531
Date:  11/16/1985
Debut:  94
Peak:  69
Weeks:  20
Genre:  R&B, Dance, Freestyle



Pop Bits:  This group headed up by Lisa Velez scored a significant hit with their first single "I Wonder If I Take You Home." The song hit #1 at Dance and #6 at R&B while breaking into the Pop Top 40. It ended up earning them a gold record. For a follow-up, this track from their self-title debut album was issued out. It did well at Dance getting to #6, but both R&B (#40) and Pop didn't quite take to the song as well as their first single. However, it was a slow simmering song that hung around the charts for a long while.

ReduxReview:  This is another good track from the newly formed group, but it just didn't have the same hookiness or allure as "I Wonder." It was less memorable, but still a fun listen especially when they tinker with/scratch Lisa's vocals. The single version makes the song a bit more concise, but it just wasn't destined to be a big hit. Still, it slowly spread to radio stations across the country and the song lingered for a five-month period.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  In 2004, the teen pop/dance duo Nina Sky used the main lyrics and melody from this song during the bridge of their #4 Pop/#14 R&B hit "Move Ya Body." The song would make their self-title debut album a gold seller. Nina Sky was made up of identical twins Nicole and Natalie Albino. The duo got their name by combining the first two letters in each person's first name, then adding "sky" to the end because that represented their aspirations. While the pair still continue to perform and record, they have yet to replicate the success of their debut single and album.

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Monday, September 17, 2018

"Say You, Say Me" by Lionel Richie

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Oscar Alert!
Song#:  2530
Date:  11/09/1985
Debut:  40
Peak:  1 (4 weeks)
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary, R&B, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  As Richie was basking in the glow of his Grammy-winning #1 album Can't Slow Down, he got offered the chance to write a song for an upcoming film directed by Taylor Hackford. Hackford's two previous films both generated #1 songs so with Richie's star power at the time, it seemed a third one was not out of the question. Richie accepted the challenge and set out to write a song based on the film's title White Nights. When that proved too difficult of a task, he wrote this ballad for the film. By this point in time, another song from the movie, "Separate Lives" by Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin, was already out and headed to #1. With that song doing well, Richie's tune was then pushed out just a couple weeks prior to the film's release. The single debuted in the Top 40 and then quickly made its way to the top spot becoming Richie's 10th straight solo Top 10 and 5th #1. It would later earn Richie both the Golden Globe and Oscar for Best Original Song.

ReduxReview:  Yes, it was a big #1 hit, it was a gold record, it won an Oscar (but to note - no Grammy nominations), and folks loved it, but I just did not like the tune at all. Richie is basically a pop song writer so I don't expect literary prose, but I had a hard time figuring out what this song was trying to be about. Even today, I still can't tell you what "say you, say me, say it together, naturally" means. And "believing who you are - you are a shining star" makes "tutti frutti" sound like Chaucer. Then two-thirds of the way through, Richie jump-shifts the thing into a dance tune. WTF? It made no sense at all. It was almost like Richie was trying to do a Paul McCartney "Live and Let Die" kind of thing, but it did not work. There are song that can get away with big tempo changes and it can be effective, yet this is not one of them. A tinkly, treacly AC ballad does not need to get all dance-popped up out of nowhere. For me, this is where Richie jumped the shark. I lost interest in his music after this.

ReduxRating:  2/10

Trivia:  Although Richie wrote this song specifically for the film, he recorded and released the single via his home label, Motown. However, the soundtrack album for the film was going to be released by Atlantic. Usually deals are made between labels for the usage of songs and artists, but for this song it didn't happen. Apparently Motown didn't want Richie's first single following his mega-successful Can't Slow Down to be on another label, most likely because they smelled a big hit coming and didn't want to share it with another label. They also wanted to parlay this into being the first single from Richie's next album, which he was working on. With Motown not really willing to deal, the song was not included on the film's soundtrack album. It was an unusual move, but ultimately one that seemed to pay off for Motown and Richie.

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Sunday, September 16, 2018

"Love Is the Seventh Wave" by Sting

Song#:  2529
Date:  11/09/1985
Debut:  61
Peak:  17
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Pop, New Wave, Ska



Pop Bits:  Sting's debut solo album was shaping up to be a significant hit thanks to two Top 10 hits including the #3 "If You Love Somebody Set Them Free." Wanting to keep the streak going, this third single would be issued out. It would do nearly the same business on three charts getting to #17 Pop, #20 AC, and #19 Rock. While it wasn't able to crack the Top 10, the single helped to extend the life of the album, which would eventually sell over 3 million copies.

ReduxReview:  This sunny ditty showed a different side to Sting. A good chunk of his work with The Police and even his debut album's first two singles were a bit dark and intense. The ska beat and the jazzy sax playing by Branford Marsalis brightened things up and listeners responded quite well. I wouldn't have pegged this as a Top 20 single, but somehow it managed to make that mark. It's certainly a forgotten hit in Sting's catalog. I never much cared for the tune. I thought it was one of the weaker tracks on the album.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This positive song about love gets a little mocked at the end by Sting via another one of his hits. As this song begins to fade, Sting starts to sing bits of "Every Breath You Take," his biggest hit with his former band The Police. That song's more stalker-ish love obsessed theme cuts into this song's love-will-solve-all message. It's almost like saying, yeah, that seventh wave is great but there is a rogue wave out here that could still crush it all.

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