Thursday, January 26, 2023

"Cover Girl" by New Kids on the Block

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  4037
Date:  09/16/1989
Debut:  62
Peak:  2
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Pop


Pop Bits:  Although the group's second album Hangin' Tough had already generated four Pop Top 10 hits including a pair of #1s, there were no signs of it slowing down. Therefore this fifth single was issued out. It was the right choice as the song took off and nearly topped the Pop chart. It would also do well enough to become the group's third gold single (they also earned a platinum single with the album's #1 title track). The hit would help sell more albums and by the end of '89 Hangin' Tough would reach the seven-million mark (7x platinum).

ReduxReview:  The Kids were so popular that their label chose to promote this single and "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind)," a track from their debut album, as the same time. Both songs would debut on the Pop chart in the same week. It was an unusual tactic and one that other artists/labels have tried to avoid due to the potential of over saturating the market and tiring out listeners. Yet the label decided to strike while the iron was hot and it ended up paying off with both singles going Top 10. I was definitely not a fan of "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind)" as it didn't suit the Kids. However, this track was more inline with what I would expect from a young pop boy band. It was bubblegum-y, cheezy, catchy ear candy loaded with enough saccharine to give you a headache. Their fans ate it up and gave the group another gold record. While in general I didn't really care for the tune, it was a good vehicle for the Kids even though it would mostly be forgotten not long after its chart run.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  The lead vocals on this track were handled by Donnie Wahlberg. While Wahlberg would tour and record with NKOTB over the years, he pretty much changed his day job to acting. His first film appearance came with the 1996 crime drama Bullet. Wahlberg would appear in more movies and along the way branch out into TV. Two notable roles came his way. First as a patient of Bruce Willis' character in the 1999 hit psychological thriller The Sixth Sense. Then in the 2001 Emmy-winning miniseries Band of Brothers. Wahlberg would star in a couple of TV series that would last a season or less, but he finally landed a hit show in 2010 with CBS's Blue Bloods. He would portray Detective Danny Reagan and has stayed with the show since its debut. As of this posting date, the show is still running on CBS and is in its thirteenth season.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2023

"Didn't I (Blow Your Mind)" by New Kids on the Block

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  4036
Date:  09/16/1989
Debut:  68
Peak:  8
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Pop


Pop Bits:  NKOTB mania was in full swing by this point in time following three Pop Top 10 hits including a pair of #1s including the platinum-selling "Hangin' Tough." Their album of the same name had already spent two weeks at #1 and had gone 4x platinum. Wanting to really capitalize on the group's popularity, their label, Columbia Records, decided to reach back to the group's debut and release this cover tune in order to re-promote that self-titled album, which had just recently gone gold. The ballad would do well hitting the Pop Top 10 while also making it to #12 AC and #34 R&B. The ploy worked well with the group's debut LP quickly going platinum and then double-platinum in January of '90.

ReduxReview:  This was just an awful idea from the get-go. These kids were just too young and inexperienced to handle a song like this. Not only that, they had nary an ounce of soulfulness between them. They were meant to do bubblegum/teen pop and not cover a mature soul classic. If their lack of ability wasn't enough, then there was the horrible production. It sounded so cheesy and stilted. Making matters even worse was the addition of an insipid spoken word part. Cover tunes can be a great marketing tool if done right (or even halfway okay), but it takes a special kind of talent to take a well-known hit and then just shit on it. I can't really blame the New Kids for this. You know they were guided and told what to do, so this lies squarely on producer Maurice Starr and whoever else was in charge of the group. Thanks to New Kids mania, this travesty went Top 10. Luckily, since then it has been forgotten. And should be. Yup, this one can join the exclusive zero club.

ReduxRating:  0/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a Philly soul classic originally recorded by The Delfonics. Their version, titled "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)," would be a #3 R&B/#10 Pop hit in 1970. The song would earn the group a Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Duo or Group. Written by producer Thom Bell and the group's lead singer William Hart, it would be The Delfonics' second and final song to reach the Pop Top 10 following 1968's #4 "La-La (Means I Love You)" (#2 R&B). While the song would be covered by many artists, thus far New Kids on the Block have been the only other artist to reach the Pop chart with a version.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2023

"When I See You Smile" by Bad English

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  4035
Date:  09/16/1989
Debut:  72
Peak:  1 (2 weeks)
Weeks:  22
Genre:  Rock


Pop Bits:  This supergroup starring John Waite, Jonathan Cain, and Neal Schon kicked off their self-titled debut album with the #2 Rock hit "Forget Me Not." While the tune would get on the Pop chart, it stalled shy of the Top 40 at #45. Hoping to better that result, this power ballad was next up for release. It would become the band's mainstream breakthrough getting to #10 Rock and #11 AC while hitting #1 on the Pop chart for two weeks. The single would sell well enough to go gold. With that result, the album would peak at #21 and by the beginning of November it would go gold.

ReduxReview:  With the songwriting capabilities of the band's members, I'm pretty sure none of them said, "hey, let's go find a hit song for the album written by someone else!" It totally wreaks of label/A&R folks pushing the band to record a potential hit because they didn't hear one within the band's compositions. Bad English then opted to take on this Diane Warren power ballad and did their best to rock it up. The end result was a solid piece of commercial pop/rock that was bound to light up the charts. Lead singer John Waite sold it well and it became his biggest hit since his own #1, 1984's "Missing You." It would easily become the band's most recognizable tune and it is one that still gets a lot of airplay today.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This song was penned by Diane Warren. It was only one of two tracks on the Bad English album where a band member was not listed as a composer. Warren had been on a hot streak for the past couple of years earning #1 songs in '87 ("Nothings Gonna Stop Us Now" by Starship) and in '88 ("Look Away" by Chicago). While other songs she wrote did well in '89 she had yet to grab a #1 through the majority of the year. Then this Bad English track did the job making it three years in a row that Warren had penned a #1 Pop single.

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Monday, January 23, 2023

"Love's About to Change My Heart" by Donna Summer

Song#:  4034
Date:  09/16/1989
Debut:  89
Peak:  85
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Pop, Dance


Pop Bits:  Summer was able to score one last major comeback hit with "This Time I Know It's for Real," the first single from her Stock Aitken Waterman produced album Another Time and Place. It was her first Pop Top hit is six years. To follow it up, her US label, Atlantic Records, chose to go with this album-closing track. While it would do well at Dance reaching #3, the tune couldn't make any headway on the Pop chart and it stalled near the bottom after a minor three weeks. Without a second major hit to promote it, the album would peak at #53. A third single would not be released in the US. However, in the UK where "This Time I Know It's for Real" broke first, the LP would spawn six singles. Two would be Top 10 hits while this song would get to #20. The album would get to #17 and go gold.

ReduxReview:  In the UK, the second single from the album was "I Don't Wanna Get Hurt." The standard SAW track would do well getting to #7. Logic would dictate that it probably should have been the second single in the US. Instead, Atlantic decided to go with this throwback to Summer's disco days. Written by the SAW team, you can tell they catered it directly to Summer with the tune sounding like something that could have been on one of her 70s albums. I think it was the wrong move. People were finally letting Summer back in after the big disco backlash and this reminder of those times wasn't what was needed and indeed it tanked. The label may have been afraid of pushing too much of the SAW sound, but I think "I Don't Wanna Get Hurt" would have done better. Still, Summer was able to notch that comeback with the terrific "This Time I Know It's for Real."

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Summer would return with another album for Atlantic in 1991. For Mistaken Identity, Summer would work with producer Keith Diamond, whose career really took off when he worked with Billy Ocean. It featured edgier tracks that included current sounds such as new jack swing. Its first single, "When Love Cries," would only get to #77 Pop/#18 R&B. A second single didn't do anything and that left the album not charting. Summer would move over to Mercury for a '94 holiday album along with an official release of her shelved '81 album I'm a Rainbow. She would not record a studio album again until 2008 when she released Crayons. While none of the LP's singles would make the Pop chart, three tracks would hit #1 on the Dance chart while another song would get to #30 at AC. That action helped the album get to #17, which was her best showing since '83. In 2010, Summer would release the stand-alone single "To Paris with Love." It would reach #1 at Dance and be her final charting singles prior to her death in 2012 from lung cancer. The following year she would be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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Saturday, January 21, 2023

"I Love to Bass" by Bardeux

Song#:  4033
Date:  06/16/1989
Debut:  96
Peak:  68
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Dance-Pop, Freestyle


Pop Bits:  This vocal duo's debut album Bold As Love got a bit of attention (#104) when its second single, "When We Kiss," cracked the Pop Top 40 (#36). It was enough for their label to call for a follow up LP, but prior to heading into the studio one of the members, Lisa "Jaz" Teany, would quit. Remaining member Stacy "Acacia" Smith would find a replacement with Melanie Taylor and work began on a second Bardeux album to be title Shangri-La. Working once again with songwriter/producer Jon St. James, the duo's album would get finished and this first single issued out. It would be a hit at Dance reaching #3 while also making the R&B chart at #32. However, it couldn't quite catch on at Pop and it stalled in the bottom half of the chart. A second single, "Thumbs Up," would make it to #17 Dance/#59 R&B while a third single was a minor Dance entry. The album would peter out early at #133. With those results, Bardeux would come to an end.

ReduxReview:  Depending on what product you look at, the title is either "I Love to Bass" or "I Love the Bass." The 45 single release and the album used "to," that seems more appropriate here. Either way, the song wasn't all that great. It was a tepid freestyle tracks made worse by some pretty awful lyrics. Yeah I know it is just dance-pop fluff and Dylan-esqe lyrics are not needed, but how many times have we heard cliche phrases like "rocket in your pocket" and "love reaction?" I'm just saying they could have put a little more effort into it. In the end it didn't really matter because it was a bland, forgettable track that did little to advance the trio's career.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  After Bardeux ended, Melanie Taylor would become a member of Bette Midler's famous backing vocal trio The Harlettes (aka The Staggring Harlettes). The Harlettes became a part of Midler's high energy shows beginning in 1971 and they have remained a fixture of her performances since. The lineup has changed many times over the years and along the way some soon-to-be stars got their starts being a Harlette. Perhaps most famously, singer/songwriter Melissa Manchester was an original Harlette. She stayed on for a couple of years before signing her first recording contract. Singer/actress Katy Sagal (of Married with Children fame) was a Harlette twice; once in '78 then again in '82-'83. R&B singer Jocelyn Brown was with the trio from '79-'80. Singer/actress Jenifer Lewis would be a Harlette in '83-'84. She would appear in many films and TV shows, but perhaps became best known for portraying Anthony Anderson's mother in the hit TV show Black-ish. Melanie Taylor would have one of the longest tenures in the Harlettes staying with them from 1993 to 2000.

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