Saturday, November 12, 2016

"Unfaithfully Yours (One Love)" by Stephen Bishop

Song#:  1847
Date:  03/31/1984
Debut:  89
Peak:  87
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Adult Contemporary, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Early in 1983, Bishop scored a #1 hit at AC with "It Might Be You" (#25 Pop), a song he performed for the film Tootsie. Instead of capitalizing on the hit and issuing his own album, Bishop continued to write and/or perform songs that found their way to films. His next single release would be this tune that served as the theme to the 1984 Dudley Moore vehicle, Unfaithfully Yours. Once again, AC latched onto the song and it reached #4 on that chart. Unfortunately, it didn't connect with Pop listeners and it disappeared quickly. It would also serve as Bishop's last single to reach the Pop chart. He would continue to contribute songs to movies and would finally issue a solo album in 1989 titled Bowling in Paris. It would be his first album in nine years and it featured guests like Phil Collins and Eric Clapton. Although it scored a middling hit at AC with "Walking on Air" (#13), the album pretty much came and went. Bishop has continued to write and record over the years with his latest album being 2016's Blueprint.

ReduxReview:  This is almost like Stevie Wonder-lite. Or Diet Wonder topped with splash of James Taylor. It's a bit of a pop shuffle that I could easily hear over the credits of a mediocre rom-com. So it fit the bill just fine for the movie and for AC. But I can hear how this failed at Pop. It just wasn't the type of song that was going to fit alongside the hits o' tha day. It's a bit on the old-fashioned side and, for me, quite forgettable. If you are in the mood for pleasantly bland pop as background music for whatever you are doing, it is perfectly fine. Get out the lemon Pledge and enjoy your dusting! However, as a Pop single contender, it's just too weak. Bishop has written far better songs.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) It seemed that Bishop was the go-to guy for writing movie themes in the 80s. He wrote and performed songs for several films, but none would match the success of one that he supplied for the 1985 film White Nights. Bishop wrote the song "Separate Lives" that would eventually be performed by the duo of Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin. That single would be a #1 Pop and AC hit that led to an Oscar nomination for Bishop. Unfortunately he lost to another song that was on the same soundtrack - Lionel Richie's "Say You, Say Me."  2) This song was the theme for the romantic comedy Unfaithfully Yours, which starred Dudley Moore and Nastassja Kinski. The film was a remake of the 1948 Preston Sturgis screwball comedy of the same name. The Sturgis film was a critical success, but it faltered at the box office. Blame for the failure fell to the script which focused on an inept murderer. The black comedy was deemed too dark for audiences at the time. However, the film has gained a solid reputation over the years. By contrast, the 1984 remake was moderately successful at the box office, but it was mainly panned by critics.


Friday, November 11, 2016

"Wouldn't It Be Good" by Nik Kershaw

Song#:  1846
Date:  03/31/1984
Debut:  93
Peak:  46
Weeks:  13
Genre:  New Wave, Synthpop

Pop Bits:  This English musician played in several bands before stepping out on his own in 1982. He secured a manager who ended up getting Kershaw a deal with MCA. Work began on a debut album titled Human Racing and its first single, "I Won't Let the Sun Go Down on Me," was issued. The song could only muster at #47 showing in the UK, but in countries like Norway and Sweden, it was a Top 10 hit. Attention then fell to this second single, which caught on in the UK and went to #4. The tune made it Stateside, but it just wasn't a major chart contender even though its associated video was popular on MTV. It would end up being Kershaw's only song to hit the US chart. Back in the UK, his debut single was reissued and it became his biggest hit there going to #2. His second album, The Riddle, provided Kershaw with three more UK Top 10 hits. After that, his fortunes began to wane and over the years he could only manage a few minor chart entries. He still continues to record and tour.

ReduxReview:  To me, this sounds like two different songs that got mashed together - one great, one not so good. The best part is the chorus. It's a nice slice of Brit synthpop that is highly memorable. The instrumental solo part is also a gem of a blast. Based on the chorus alone, this should have easily been a Top 10 hit. However, I think what held it back was the verse. It's a bit monotone with a bridge that sounds unfinished due to the chorus coming in and stomping on it. The two just don't match up or flow together well and as good as the chorus is, it's not enough to compensate for the dreary verse. Kershaw is not the most interesting vocalist either, so that plays into it as well (for a better take on the song, listen to the Danny Hutton version mentioned below - he kills it). I still like this song, but it stops short of being an 80s classic thanks to its robotic verse.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Folks who love the 1986 film Pretty in Pink and its associated soundtrack may be familiar with this song, but in a different version. The tune was recorded by the Danny Hutton Hitmen for the soundtrack. Hutton was one of three lead vocalists for the very successful late 60's/early 70s band Three Dog Night. That band scored eleven Top 10 hits from 1969 to 1974.  The run netted them three #1's including "Black and White," which featured Hutton on lead vocals.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

"The Longest Time" by Billy Joel

Song#:  1845
Date:  03/24/1984
Debut:  59
Peak:  14
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Pop, Doo Wop

Pop Bits:  Joel's concept album An Innocent Man was a significant, upbeat comeback following the dark, mature detour of The Nylon Curtain. It would be a 7x platinum seller thanks to its hit songs, which included this fourth single. The tune would be third from the album to reach #1 on the AC chart while just stopping short of the Pop Top 10.

ReduxReview:  Although the album's previous singles had a retro feel to them, this one closely replicated and captured that early rock doo wop sound. It was actually kind of a ballsy move to push this track out as a single. Who was going to listen to (let alone buy) an a cappella-ish doo wop single in an era of new wave, synthpop, and rock? Somehow Joel still had the magic touch to draw in folks and the retro tune caught on. I think most of the support came from AC listeners and older listeners, but with MTV still embracing Joel, a lot of the kids came on board as well. I'm not the biggest fan of doo wop, but I do enjoy this song. It's a well-written and performed tune that was a nice homage to a specific era in pop music.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Like the other songs on An Innocent Man, this one was also inspired by early styles and artists of the pop/rock era. The song pays tribute to doo wop vocal groups of the 50s and early 60s. One inspiration seems to have been the Philly vocal group The Tymes. They had a big hit with their first single "So Much in Love," which reached #1 in 1963.  2) Although this sounds like an a cappella performance, it is not one by definition. First, there is a bass used in the song and instruments are not allowed in a cappella tunes. Second, all the vocal parts were not done by a group, but by one person - Joel. Initially, Joel intended to hire a vocal group to come in and sing with him, but it didn't work out. So producer Phil Ramone suggested that Joel do all the vocals himself. Over the years, many a cappella groups have covered this song with a singer performing the bass part.


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

"Breakdance" by Irene Cara

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  1844
Date:  03/24/1984
Debut:  71
Peak:  8
Weeks:  19
Genre:  R&B, Dance, Synthpop

Pop Bits:  Cara's album What a Feelin' contained her #1 movie hit "Flashdance...What a Feeling" along with two other Top 40 entries, "Why Me?" (#13) and "The Dream" (#37). By this time, most albums have run their course and are headed off the chart, but Cara's label decided to push out this next single. It ended up being a good move. Although the tune took a bit to catch on, it finally found its way to #8 becoming Cara's third and final Pop Top 10 hit. It also got to #13 on the Dance chart and #23 R&B.

ReduxReview:  Although this song wasn't necessarily controversial, I remember there being some hub-bub about it in the dance community (for reasons outlined below). Not only was the terminology wrong, but I recall folks saying that the entire style of the song was wrong in regards to its subject matter and even if they wanted to dance to it, they couldn't. Setting aside terms and tempo, this is just a fun tune. Producer Giorgio Moroder pulled out all the stops and created layers of beeps and bops and synth sounds that made the song stand out on the radio. Despite being very 80s, I actually think the production of the tune still holds up quite well. If you crank it, the thing sounds pretty damn good. A few current artists who probably weren't even alive when this song came out are now utilizing some of the sounds heard on this tune. The song itself is not that great. Let's face it - no one wants to hear an acoustic version of it. But Morodor's production is what made it a hit and it remains a truly fun relic of the time.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Around the time this song was recorded, a style of streetdance called b-boying, or breaking, was making its way into the mainstream. In addition to breaking, there were other styles such as popping, locking, electric boogaloo, etc., that were on display and instead of calling out each style on their own, somewhere in the mainstream media the term breakdancing was born to cover all the styles. B-boys and others who danced in these styles didn't like the blanket term and considered it derogatory and some kind of homogeneous term coined by those who had no understanding of the art form. Regardless, it stuck and for many years those who worked as dancers struggled to correct the misnomer. While the term still exists, luckily TV shows like So You Think You Can Dance have done well in educating the public on the proper terminology regarding the different styles of dance. As for this song, it seemed to be a prime example of the mainstream getting it wrong. However, it didn't seem to matter to record buyers who pushed the into the Top 10.


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

"Catch Me I'm Falling" by Real Life

Song#:  1843
Date:  03/24/1984
Debut:  75
Peak:  40
Weeks:  11
Genre:  New Wave

Pop Bits:  The Aussie band scored a good hit with "Send Me an Angel" (#29), the first single from their debut album Heartland.  They tried to hit those heights again with this follow-up single. The song did well enough to just hit the Top 40, but it wasn't strong enough to climb any further on the chart. Real Life would issue two follow-up albums, but each fizzled and quickly disappeared.

ReduxReview:  "Send Me an Angel" was a pretty sweet 80s synth track that has lived on far past its original release. This follow-up wasn't nearly as good, but it had some nice moments that allowed it to briefly visit the Top 40. I like the opening and the chorus, but overall it just isn't as memorable as their first hit.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  The band would end up having a brief career revival in 1989 when a new remix version of "Send Me an Angel" from a best-of compilation would get to #26 on the US Pop chart. It would do even better at Dance getting to #5.


Monday, November 7, 2016

"It's My Life" by Talk Talk

Song#:  1842
Date:  03/24/1984
Debut:  79
Peak:  31
Weeks:  14
Genre:  New Wave, Synthpop

Pop Bits:  The UK band's self-titled song from their debut album got a little attention in the US when it reached #75 (#26 Rock, #63 Dance) in 1982. Getting a footing in the US certainly helped when this title-track single from their second album was issued. It would be a big hit at Dance getting to #1 while reaching #23 at Rock and just missing out on the Pop Top 30. It would end up being their biggest hit in the US. It would eventually be their biggest hit in the UK, but they would have to wait for that until 1990 when a reissued version from the band's hits compilation would get to #13.

ReduxReview:  I've always loved the warm-chorded verse of this song and its catchy chorus. It really should have done a lot better. I'm not sure what held this song back from moving further up the chart. It deserved a better fate than a #31 showing. Luckily, a US band picked it up later and the song finally got its due (see below).

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  In 2003, this song gave the band No Doubt their third Pop Top 10 hit. They covered the song for their compilation set The Singles 1992-2003. It was issued as a single and it reached #10 on the Pop chart. It also got to #16 at Dance and #20 at AC.


Sunday, November 6, 2016

"Rock You Like a Hurricane" by Scorpions

Song#:  1841
Date:  03/24/1984
Debut:  83
Peak:  25
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Hard Rock

Pop Bits:  The Scorpions grabbed their first US hit with the #1 Rock track "No One Like You" (#65 Pop). It sent their album Blackout to #10 and set them up well for their next effort. Love at First Sting would end up being the band's biggest LP in the US.  It would reach #6 and go triple platinum mainly on the strength of this first single. The song would be a hit at Rock, going to #5, and would break them into the Pop Top 30. It was fueled by a wildly popular video on MTV that made them hard rock stars.

ReduxReview:  I remember this video quite well. It seemed like it played on MTV a couple of times an hour back in the day. The video was pretty great with scantily clad women, aliens, and that cage where the walls rocked back and forth. It looked awesome and fit the video to a tee. This song had just enough underlying pop power to put it in the same league as Def Leppard's hits and it did just about as well. I think this should have gone a bit higher on the chart, but hard rock was still just beginning to break through at Pop, so the #25 peak was pretty darn good. It's still one of the best hard rock songs from the decade.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Over the course of eight albums, the Scorpions became know for their controversial covers. Featuring some nudity and/or sexual innuendo, their LPs would often be banned by certain retailers and "clean" covers would have to be issued. They even won a Playboy magazine award for best album cover for their 1979 LP Lovedrive. Initially, they thought the cover for Love at First Sting would make it through just fine. The label pre-tested the cover with reps from larger retail chains and they had no issues. However, after it got released, Wal-Mart filed a complaint about the cover, which depicted a partially nude woman in an embrace with a leather-clad guy who is giving her a tattoo on her thigh. In response, the label issued a new cover for certain retailers that just featured a photo of the band.