Saturday, August 13, 2016

"Wrapped Around Your Finger" by The Police

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  1747
Date:  01/07/1984
Debut:  61
Peak:  8
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  After rockin' it out a bit with "Synchronicity II" (#16 Pop, #9 Rock), the third single from their album Synchronicity, the trio retreated back to ballad territory with this next release. The tactic worked will with Pop listeners who embraced the song and its video. It would become the third song from the album to reach the Top 10. It would also reach #9 at Rock/#13 at AC and be the last track from the album to be issued as a single. What no one knew at the time (not even The Police) is that this song would be their final significant hit (excluding a mid-chart revisit of an older hit in 1986). The band would call it quits after an attempt to record a follow-up album.

ReduxReview:  This should have been the third single from the album, but at least it was finally released and got them back in the Top 10. Again, like "Every Breath You Take," it's a very pretty song with dark lyrics. I could do without all the mythological references, but overall the message is there and it works. The video with all its slo-mo and Sting knocking over the candles was a highlight as well. Not a bad way to end a career (well, at least for the band).

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Back in 1978 when The Police were just about to break out with their debut album, they needed money. They were approached to do a commercial for Wrigley gum. They decided to do it, but there was one condition - they all had to die their hair blonde. Needing the money, they did it. The commercial was filmed, but in the end the company decided to not use it. However, the bleach blonde look seemed to work for the band and they kept it going, especially lead singer Sting.


Friday, August 12, 2016

"Bang Your Head (Metal Health)" by Quiet Riot

Song#:  1746
Date:  01/07/1984
Debut:  72
Peak:  31
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Hard Rock, Heavy Metal

Pop Bits:  This band really busted through that wall that separated mainstream pop music heavier rock with their song "Cum on Feel the Noize." The tune caught on and soon pop listeners were demanding to hear it on the radio. Programmers began spinning the single and soon it would reach #5 on the Pop chart. The result would help push their album Metal Health to #1. The song is often cited as the first metal song to go Top 5 while the album is considered to be the first metal album to reach the top spot. For their follow-up, the band chose this title-track song. It wouldn't do as well as "Cum on Feel the Noize," but it did almost get into the Pop Top 30 (#37 Rock). Unfortunately, the band would fizzle quickly and this song would be their last to visit the Pop Top 40.

ReduxReview:  Whereas "Cum on Feel" was a cover tune, this is an original by the band. It's actually pretty good and I like the verse a lot, but I just don't think it had the same pop-ish hook and appeal as the previous hit. It's a little harder and rougher around the edges and that probably didn't sit as well with pop audiences. However, in some respects, I like this song a bit better than "Come on Feel."

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The title and song lyrics refer to the act of headbanging, which was commonly done by folks who were listening to hard rock, punk, or metal music either on record or in a live setting. Headbanging is simply shaking or bobbing your head in a violent manner to the beat of the music. Although the origin of the movement and/or its name is disputed, one of the stories is that it began during a 1969 Led Zeppelin tour when it was noticed that people in the front row seemed like they were banging their heads against the edge of the stage in time with the music. Even musicians themselves began doing it on stage while performing. (And is certainly helped if you had long hair to whip around too...). Later on, it was discovered that the move could pose a health risk. In addition to accidentally banging your head against something (or someone), some people have experienced strokes and other brain disorders attributed to headbanging.  2) This song was heard in the movie Footloose, but the song was not included on the soundtrack. It was playing in Ren's (Kevin Bacon) car during one scene. Apparently, it was also used in the 2011 remake of the film as well.


Thursday, August 11, 2016

"Baby I'm Hooked (Right Into Your Love)" by Con Funk Shun

Song#:  1745
Date:  01/07/1984
Debut:  83
Peak:  76
Weeks:  5
Genre:  R&B, Quiet Storm

Pop Bits:  Between 1977-80, this funk band was on a roll. They issued four consecutive gold albums that featured five Top 10 R&B hits including 1978's #1 "Ffun" (#23 Pop). But as the 80s rolled on, the hits became less frequent and the gold albums stopped. By 1987, the band decided to wrap things up and call it a day. But before then, they were able to enjoy three more R&B Top 10's including this single from their album Fever. It did well enough to get on the Pop chart for a few weeks, but it would be their last song to do so.

ReduxReview:  It seems that the band was sticking with what they do best here, but trying to jazz it up a bit in 80s clothes. That's not necessarily bad, but with so much happening at the time, I don't think it was different enough. It worked well at R&B and they got a hit out of it, but their albums were not selling as well so it makes me think that folks were tiring of the band. What's weird is that an almost exact replica of this arrangement would work out well in a few years for singer Gregory Abbott. His 1987 #1 hit "Shake You Down" mimics this song pretty well, but it was almost considered retro R&B by that point (and it had a far better chorus).

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Band member Felton Pilate would later co-produce what would be the biggest selling rap/hip-hop album of its time. MC Hammer's 1990 album Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em would hit the 10 million mark a little over a year after it was released. The album would be boosted by three songs that would hit the Top 10 on three charts (Pop, R&B, and Rap) and included his signature #1 R&B (#2 Rap, #8 Pop) hit "U Can't Touch This." Pilate would also help produce Hammer's follow-up LP Too Legit to Quit. Since that time, several other rap/hip-hop albums have either matched or exceeded the sales of Please Hammer.


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

"Something's on Your Mind" by D Train

Song#:  1744
Date:  01/07/1984
Debut:  88
Peak:  79
Weeks:  6
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  This duo made up of James "D-Train" Williams and Hubert Eaves III initially started performing together after they met in high school. In the late 70s, they each went their own way with Williams becoming a producer and Eaves joining the group Mtume. As the 80s started, they rekindled their partnership and formed D Train (named after Williams' high school football nickname). They signed with Prelude Records and issued their debut LP You're the One for Me in 1982. The title track would end up hitting #1 at Dance (#13 R&B) while another track, "Keep On," would get to #2 (#15 R&B). Their second album wasn't as successful, but their third effort spawned this title-track single that became their biggest hit at R&B getting to #5. It would also crossover to the Pop chart for a few minor weeks. They seemed on the verge of a bigger breakthrough, but at some point after their third album, the duo split. Williams would go for a solo career and score a #10 R&B hit in 1986 with "Misunderstanding."

ReduxReview:  It might just be me, but this song seems a bit too slow. I kept wanting to dance to it, but that was hard to do considering the tempo. It seems caught in this weird fine-line world between a slinky ballad and something more groovy. I think it's a good song, but I keep wanting to make it go faster. Had it been more danceable, I think it could have done a lot better. The guts are there for something pretty great, but as-is I find it a bit sluggish.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This song was later covered by jazz legend Miles Davis. He recorded an instrumental version of the song for his 1985 album You're Under Arrest. The tune was bookended by two Davis compositions titled "MD 1" and MD 2." Initially, Davis wanted to do a full album of his interpretations of modern pop songs. Apparently, he recorded several, but then changed his mind on the album's concept. By the time the tracks for You're Under Arrest were compiled, only three pop covers made it to the album - this song, Michael Jackson's "Human Nature," and Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time." The album would mark the end of his relationship with his label Columbia with whom he had been with since 1955. Issues between the artist and the label would arise, including Columbia delaying the release of a completed album titled Aura. Davis would sign on with Warner Bros. and in 1986 issue what many consider another classic in his catalog, Tutu. Columbia would finally release the completed Aura LP in 1989.


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

"If Only You Knew" by Patti LaBelle

Song#:  1743
Date:  01/07/1983
Debut:  90
Peak:  46
Weeks:  13
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  The vocal group LaBelle came to an end in 1976, two years after they topped the Pop and R&B charts with their classic "Lady Marmalade." Solo careers were sought and Patti LaBelle signed on with Epic Records. But after four albums with very little results, she made a move over to Philadelphia International. Her first LP for the label, The Spirit's in It, tanked, but her second effort, I'm in Love Again, finally got her a significant hit when this first single reached #1 on the R&B chart. It drove the album to #4 at R&B and eventually it became her first solo LP to go gold. The song came close to breaking into the Pop Top 40, but it fell just short.

ReduxReview:  Patti LaBelle is just phenomenal. I saw her in concert and it was one of the best shows I've ever seen. She is an amazing performer and her voice is stunning. The only drawback I've found with her is choice of material. With her skills, she should have had a lot more hits than she did. Obviously she did well enough to become a superstar, but she deserved better songs and more chart action. This song is very pretty, but frankly, if it wasn't for her vocals, this tune would be flat as a pancake. Her voice is the attraction here and she sells this mediocre song to the best of her abilities. She took something bland and added a lot of flavor. This happened with a lot of her material and it's too bad. If she had songs that came up to her level, then she might have had a chart career that truly reflected her diva status.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Although LaBelle's solo album The Spirit's in It wasn't a hit, it did contain a recording of a song that has become a signature tune for her. Back in 1966 Patti LaBelle & the Bluebells issued their debut album titled Over the Rainbow. The title track, a remake of the Judy Garland classic, was issued as a single and reached #20 on the R&B chart. Patti LaBelle continued to sing the song in concert even after going solo and it was always a big moment in her show. She recorded a solo version for the Spirit's album and although it would appear as a b-side on one of her singles, the song has remained quite popular. Her rendition is always a highlight and folks who see her expect to hear it right alongside her biggest hits.


Monday, August 8, 2016

"Action" by Evelyn King

Song#:  1742
Date:  01/07/1984
Debut:  93
Peak:  75
Weeks:  7
Genre:  R&B, Dance

Welcome to 1984! Let's get started!

Pop Bits:  King's 1982 album Get Loose became her biggest and best-selling hitting #1 at R&B and going double platinum. She then had the difficult task of following up such a career-defining recording. Instead of sticking with producer Kashif, who oversaw King's previous two albums, King went for a more Prince-like sound that was headed up by Leon Sylvers III. It seemed like a good idea, but the results were not even close to those of Get Loose. This first single couldn't get into the R&B Top 10, stopping at #16, while struggling in the bottom quarter of the Pop chart (#13 Dance). A second single, "Shake Down," would do slightly better at R&B reaching #12, but it missed the Pop chart. The lack of a major hit kept the album to #24 at R&B and in the end it failed to even reach gold level sales. It was a disappointing result following a career high.

ReduxReview:  This song is not too bad, but its Prince-ish riffs can't hold a candle to the slick, sophisticated dance of "Love Come Down." It's like listening to two different artists and I'm not really in love with the newer one. I can understand wanting to break out of the post-disco dance sound of her previous album, but I just don't think this was the way to go. It didn't really suit her. Others must have felt the same way at the time because the results were not very good. Although this track kind of has a Prince vibe, several others on the album almost sound like they were produced by Prince. It's really weird. Besides a couple of R&B Top 10's later in the decade, she was never really able to recover from this misstep.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  To help give King a bit of that Princely Minneapolis funk, AndrĂ© Cymone was brought on board to write songs and co-produce the album. Cymone began working with Prince around 1978 and stayed in his band until 1981 when tensions between the two arose. Cymone would head out on a solo career and along the way write/produce for other artists. His solo career never fully took off, but he did grab one R&B hit in 1985 with "The Dance Electric." That song reached #10 on the R&B chart while getting to #8 at Dance. Interestingly enough, Cymone wrote a song for King's album titled "Let's Get Crazy." By summer of '84, his former boss would be at the top of the charts with the similarly titled "Let's Go Crazy."


Sunday, August 7, 2016

Milestone! 1983: The Year in Review

For me, 1983 was just the warm-up for my favorite year of pop music, 1984! But 1983 was no slouch either. It was mainly dominated by Michael Jackson, but there were several other enduring classics that would come out during the year.

The album chart was pretty much blocked the majority of the year by Michael Jackson and The Police. Only six albums were able to reach #1 in 1983, which included Quiet Riot's Metal Health, often considered the first heavy metal album to hit the top spot (and a sign of more changes to come in pop music).

I can also tell that 1983 was a year I really liked because I rated 51% of the chart songs at 7 or above. This is a solid increase over 1982 where the same stat was at 41%. (Previous years were 38% for 1981 and 31% for 1980.) Or maybe I'm just getting softer in my ratings? Nah! I'm expecting the percent for 1984 to increase slightly, but will have to wait for the final numbers (in a year or so - yikes!).

One aspect of this project that I haven't mention before that I enjoy is discovering songs and/or artists that have never charted in the US, or perhaps did ages ago. When doing research on a chart entry, I will sometimes come across some info that peaks my interest and I'll pursue it just for kicks. That's how I discovered British singer Mari Wilson. Digging into the history of a chart song led me to her. Wilson's retro style (complete with B-52 'do) and sound got my attention right away as did her 1982 UK #8 hit "Just What I Always Wanted." I quickly found a compilation of her songs and I've been playing it since. I also discovered Michael Bolton's hard rock past with his band Blackjack. Listening to them put Bolton in a different light for me (a better one because I'm not a fan of his AC days). So besides the chart singles, there are plenty of other discoveries to be made along the way.

I'm still enjoying this project and I hope anyone who encounters the blog will have fun as well. Keep reading, pass it along to friends, feel free to send comments, and don't forget to "Rate It!" at the bottom of each post. Here is a recap of 1983:

Number of charted songs in 1983:  445  (431 in 1982)
Time it took listen/post all songs:  1 year, 49 days  (1 year, 24 days for 1982)
Number of songs that debuted in 1983 to hit #1:  15  (15 in 1982)
Number of songs that debuted in 1983 to reach the Top 10 (excluding #1's):  70  (59 in 1982)
Artist with the most chart entries:  Michael Jackson - 6  (4 artists had 4 each in 1982)
Number of gold singles:  19  (22 in 1982)
Number of platinum singles:  7  (10 in 1982)
Number of songs that won a Grammy:  8  (12 in 1982)
Number of One-Hit Wonders:  10  (7 in 1982)
Number of Rated 10 songs:  16  (12 for 1982)
Number of Rated 1 songs:  3  (0 for 1982)

Top 5 favorite chart songs of the year:
  1. "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" by Eurythmics
  2. "Let's Dance" by David Bowie
  3. "Every Breath You Take" by The Police
  4. "Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler
  5. "Church of the Poison Mind" by Culture Club
Worst song of the year:  "Bread and Butter" by Robert John
Best song I didn't know existed:  (tie) "Canvas of Life" by Minor Detail and "Solid Rock" by Goanna
Favorite discovery:  The retro sounds of Mari Wilson and her #8 UK hit "Just What I Always Wanted." She never charted in the US, but research on Rita Coolidge's "All Time High" led me to her.

A few other fun stats:

Highest debut:  #26 - "Say Say Say" by Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson (peaked at #1)
Lowest debut:  #98 - "I Think You'll Remember Tonight" by Axe (peaked at #94)

Longest climb to peak position:  (tie) "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" by Eurythmics and "Break My Stride" by Matthew Wilder each climbed 89 positions. "Sweet" made it to #1 from #90, while "Break" went from #94 to #5.

Longest trip to #1 for a song debuting in 1983:  "Sweet Dreams" by Eurythmics took 17 weeks.
Quickest trip to #1 for a song debuting in 1983:  "Every Breath You Take" by The Police took 6 weeks.
Most weeks at #1 in 1983:  8 - "Every Breath You Take" by The Police

Most weeks on the chart for a song debuting in 1983:  29 - three songs hit this mark:  "Tonight, I Celebrate My Love" by Peabo Bryson and Roberta Flack (#16), "Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler (#1), and "Break My Stride" by Matthew Wilder (#5).

Average number of weeks a song spent on the chart:  12
Position on chart where the most songs debuted:  #90 - 26 songs debuted at that spot (4 hit Top 10, 1 #1)
Longest song title:  "Where Everybody Knows Your Name (The Theme from 'Cheers')" by Gary Portnoy
Shortest song title:  "Rio" by Duran Duran

A few artists who got their first chart single in 1983:  "Weird" Al Yankovic, Bananarama, Berlin, Chris de Burgh, Cyndi Lauper, DeBarge, Def Leppard, Elvis Costello, Eurythmics, INXS, Madonna, Night Ranger, R.E.M., U2, Wham!

Runners-Up:  8 songs peaked at #2, 2 songs peaked at #11, and 2 songs peaked at #41

Some interesting things learned (click links for more details in previous posts):
  • Dexys Midnight Runners were named after a drug.
  • Yacht rock icon Christopher Cross once played guitar for Deep Purple.
  • Neil Young's Trans album was inspired by his son who has cerebral palsy.
  • Rachel Sweet wrote and produced episodes of the hit show Hot in Cleveland.
  • Phil Collins got the lead roll in a 1967 children's film called Calamity the Cow.
  • Terri Nunn of Berlin was in the running for the role of Princess Leia in Star Wars.
  • Thomas Dolby ("She Blinded Me with Science") played keyboards on Foreigner's 4 album along with Def Leppard's Pyromania.
  • Jon Bon Jovi was briefly a member of the band Scandal before forming Bon Jovi and appeared in one of their videos.
  • Robert (now Alexis) Arquette, of the Arquette family of actors, was the boy in the video for The Tubes' song "She's a Beauty."
  • Prince thought his new song "Purple Rain" sounded too much like Journey's "Faithfully."
  • Michael Bolton initially began as a hard rock singer in a band called Blackjack with a future member of Kiss.
  • Donna Summer based her song "She Works Hard for the Money" on a real person and that woman appears on the album's back cover.
  • Goanna's "Solid Rock" was the first song to chart in the US that used a didgeridoo.
  • Stevie Nicks' "Stand Back" was inspired by Prince's "Little Red Corvette" and he ended up playing the keyboard part on the song.
  • Producer Mutt Lange did the pseudo-German countdown at the beginning of Def Leppard's "Rock of Ages."
  • Paul Anka wrote a song with Michael Jackson that ended up getting released after Jackson's death ("This Is It").
  • Toto did the score to the sci-fi film Dune.
  • Kenny G played on Meco's Ewok Celebration album and Meco would later produce Kenny G's debut solo album.
  • Actress Winona Ryder's stage name was inspired by rocker Mitch Ryder.
  • Rick Springfield was in the original Battlestar Galactica movie.
  • Rick James' song "Cold Blooded" was inspired by actress Linda Blair. 
  • Aretha Franklin had a son at a very young age and has never revealed the identity of the father.
  • Frank Stallone was once in a band called Valentine with John Oates, of Hall & Oates fame.
  • Irish singer Sheena Easton won a Grammy for Best Mexican/Mexican-American Performance even though she didn't speak or understand Spanish.
  • What sounds like a foreign language passage in of Lionel Richie's "All Night Long (All Night)" is not a language at all - Richie made it all up.
  • After "Karma Chameleon" hit #1, Moe Bandy and Joe Stampley had a #7 Country hit with a satirical song about Boy George called "Where's the Dress."

According to the year-end chart for 1983, these were the year's Top 10 singles:
  1. "Every Breath You Take" by The Police
  2. "Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson
  3. "Flashdance...What a Feeling" by Irene Cara
  4. "Down Under" by Men at Work
  5. "Beat It" by Michael Jackson
  6. "Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler
  7. "Maneater" by Daryl Hall & John Oates
  8. "Baby, Come to Me" by Patti Austin with James Ingram
  9. "Maniac" by Michael Sembello
  10. "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" by Eurythmics

So long '83,  and as Lionel Richie might say, "Hello" '84!