Saturday, September 16, 2017

"Fools Like Me" by Lorenzo Lamas

Song#:  2164
Date:  12/22/1984
Debut:  90
Peak:  85
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Pop, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  By this time, actor Lorenzo Lamas was a TV star thanks to his breakout role on the hit prime time soap Falcon Crest. With his popularity near its peak, Lamas took the chance to move over to films and signed up to star in the breakdance flick Body Rock. Although Lamas had previously appeared in a few films, this would be the first film he had to carry as the lead. In addition to starring in the film, Lamas would also record a couple of songs that would be used in the film. The actual soundtrack LP did not contain these tracks, but one song from the album, the movie's theme "Body Rock" by Maria Vidal, would be issued as a single and get to #48 Pop. Despite not being on the soundtrack album, Lamas' two songs were issued as a single. This tune would serve as the a-side while the track "Smooth Talker" would be the b-side. The actual single did not connect the song with the film, so one could assume it was an attempt to start a music career for Lamas. Yet, as with the movie, the tune didn't make much of an impression and it disappeared after a few weeks. Lamas continued on Falcon Crest and then later was on another hit show titled Renegade.

ReduxReview:  Is this playing at the right speed? Wow. I didn't expect this. It almost sounds like an ill-fated attempt at a James Bond theme. The tune has solid pedigree. It was co-written by Andy Goldmark, Phil Gladston, and Sylvester Levay and co-produced by Levay and Phil Ramone, yet despite the folks involved, this dirge has a snooze factor of 10. It is obvious that Lamas had a limited voice, so maybe this slow delivery was necessary to make the ballad work. It's pretty bad, but I almost find it nearly scary to listen to. It's like some dark, brooding ballad sung by a vampire at and after, after, dark club. It's a little creepy. I will say that the b-side "Smooth Talker" is far worse (which was co-written by "Maniac" Michael Sembello). Yeah, a singing career was not in the cards for Lamas.

ReduxRating:  2/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The movie Body Rock was a critical and commercial dud. The Razzies took notice of the flick and gave a nomination to Lamas for Worst Actor. His flip side song "Smooth Talker" would get a nod for Worst Original Song.  2) Lamas got the acting bug from his parents, Fernando Lamas and Arlene Dahl. Lamas was a popular actor in the 40s and 50s, but younger folks may remember his name via Billy Crystal, who based his "you look mahvelous!" character on Lamas. Lorenzo Lamas probably first turned heads when he appeared in the 1978 hit film Grease. He played the athlete Tom Chisum. For the role, Lamas had to dye his hair blonde so that he would look different from John Travolta's T-Birds gang.


Friday, September 15, 2017

"I Would Die 4 U" by Prince & the Revolution

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2163
Date:  12/15/1984
Debut:  42
Peak:  8
Weeks:  15
Genre:  R&B, Synthpop, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Prince's soundtrack to his film Purple Rain reigned supreme at the top of the album chart for twenty-four weeks. Helping it along were two #1 singles and the #2 title-track. The album was still at #1 when this fourth single was issued. After a high debut just outside the Top 40, the song proceeded directly to the Top 10. It also got to #11 R&B and #50 Dance.

ReduxReview:  This jittery jam was another highlight from Purple Rain. It almost sounds like a collaboration with Devo with the one-note staccato melody and delivery. It has a very new wave synthpop sound and it suits Prince very well. Of course, typical synthpop rarely featured a performer like Prince, so this gets way elevated above the fray. Another delicious track from the Purple One.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Prince does a Christmas song? Yup. It happened. While the two things seem to be an odd pairing, Prince did write a song for the holiday titled "Another Lonely Christmas." It first appeared on the b-side to this single. However, Prince being Prince, he couldn't just write a basic jaunty tune like Wham's "Last Christmas." The tune is about someone who lost their lover on Christmas day and each successive year spends it in a lonely manner looking back and reflecting on the loss. And again, Prince being Prince, he tosses in lyrics about swimming naked and banana daiquiris. It certainly is an interesting oddity in his catalog. Later the song would appear on his B-Sides disc and the 2017 deluxe edition of Purple Rain.


Thursday, September 14, 2017

"Method of Modern Love" by Daryl Hall and John Oates

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2162
Date:  12/15/1984
Debut:  50
Peak:  5
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Pop, Blue-Eyed Soul

Pop Bits:  H&O got their sixth and final #1 on the Pop chart with "Out of Touch." The song served as the first single from their album Big Bam Boom. For a follow-up, this track was chosen. It would become the duo's fifteenth Top 10 hit and their seventh in a row. The song would also do well on other charts getting to #15 Dance, #18 AC, and #21 R&B. It would be their fifth album in a row to contain at least two Top 10 hits. It would help make the album their third to go double-platinum.

ReduxReview:  I wasn't a big fan of this song. I didn't like the spelled-out chorus and the weird synth/sample sounds and cheezy sounding chords. The verse is actually quite nice as is the outro section where it transitions out of the dorky chorus into something far better, but the main chorus I didn't dig. It's one of my least favorite H&O singles.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This song was referenced by two very different artists. First, Weird Al Yankovic included a small portion of the tune in his polka medley "Hooked on Polkas," which was from his 1985 album Dare to Be Stupid. It was the second of many polka medleys Yankovic would create over the years. The medleys mainly consisted of polka versions of popular hits. In "Hooked on Polkas," Yankovic does the spelled-out portion of this song. On the other side of the spectrum, rapper Method Man also shouts out the first part of the spelled-out section of this song in his track "Method Man," which was included on the debut album of the Wu-Tang Clan, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers).


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

"Mistake No. 3" by Culture Club

Song#:  2161
Date:  12/15/1984
Debut:  61
Peak:  33
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Pop, Blue-Eyed Soul

Pop Bits:  The Club's third album, Waking Up with the House on Fire, was off to a slow start. It's first single, "The War Song," stalled early at Pop at #17. The LP needed a boost and it was thought that perhaps this next ballad would do the trick. Unfortunately it didn't. The song faltered after reaching the Top 40 and retreated quickly. It got a little attention at AC where it reached #18 and it got to #61 at R&B, but it wasn't enough to make it a hit and help to sell albums. It would also be the last single released from the album.

ReduxReview:  This is a pretty, soulful ballad, but just wasn't a good single. The album wasn't loaded with hit material, so this one might have seemed like the best of the bunch. Whatever was chosen, it probably wasn't going to do any better. The album was rushed and it didn't give the band time to develop better songs. However, the album has some interesting tunes and wasn't as bad as some critics made it out to be. The whole thing was kind of a crash-n-burn for the group following two successful albums and a Grammy.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Although not released in the US, the track "The Medal Song" was issued in the UK. It didn't get very far reaching #32 on the chart. The song was loosely about Broadway and film actress Francis Farmer. Farmer's personal life would often eclipse her work. Diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, Farmer found herself committed to institutions on several occasions. Her life was the subject of the 1982 film Frances, which starred Jessica Lange. Lange was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal. Her co-star, Kim Stanley would receive a nod for Best Supporting Actress.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

"Make No Mistake, He's Mind" by Barbra Streisand with Kim Carnes

Song#:  2160
Date:  12/15/1984
Debut:  63
Peak:  51
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  The first single from Streisand's Emotion album, "Left in the Dark," didn't perform as well as expected. The Jim Steinman-produced epic stalled at #50 on the Pop chart despite having an associated MTV video and doing well at AC reaching #4. In the past, Streisand collected two duet #1's (with Donna Summer and Neil Diamond), so perhaps a third would do the trick as well. This duet with Kim Carnes would be issued as the LP's next single. Unfortunately it fared nearly the same as the previous single at both Pop and AC (#8).

ReduxReview:  I've always loved this song. It is beautifully written, arranged and performed. Who knew that Carnes and Streisand would mesh so well in a duet? It was a bit of an odd pairing, but it completely worked. They both sound great, but Streisand really digs in her heels and delivers a terrific vocal. I just think it might have been too adult to pass off to Pop radio. It deserved to do a lot better at Pop, but the timing and style was just not right and it fizzled.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song was written by Kim Carnes. Even though it wasn't a major hit in duet form with her and Streisand, the song would do very well for Carnes in another genre. In 1987, the song would get picked up by Kenny Rogers and Ronnie Milsap. The pair would record the tune as "Make No Mistake, She's Mine." It was a big success at Country reaching #1 on that chart. It would also get to #42 at AC. Carnes would also do a solo version of the song, but it wouldn't see the light of day until 2001 when it was a bonus track on a reissue of her 1985 album Barking at Airplanes.  2) This wasn't the first time Streisand recorded a song by Kim Carnes. In 1976 before her career really took off, Carnes wrote and recorded the song "Love Comes from the Most Unexpected Places" for her album Sailin'. Streisand would pick up the song and record it for her 1977 LP Streisand Superman. The song was not issued as a single, but the album would reach #3 and be a double-platinum seller, which certainly helped out Carnes. The song would also be used in an episode of the hit TV show Glee.


Monday, September 11, 2017

"Eat My Shorts" by Rick Dees

Song#:  2159
Date:  12/15/1984
Debut:  77
Peak:  75
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Novelty, Comedy

Pop Bits:  Radio personality Rick Dees worked for several stations around the country before landing a gig at a station in Memphis. While there, he wrote and recorded the song "Disco Duck," which went on to become a #1 song in 1976. He later landed at KIIS-FM in Los Angeles where he remained for twenty-three years. Along the way, Dee continued to record comedy/novelty records. His 1983 album Hurt Me Baby - Make Me Write Bad Checks! would get nominated for a Grammy for Best Comedy Album. The following year he issued his next LP titled Put It Where the Sun Don't Shine. A track from the album, "Get Nekked," would be released as a single. It wasn't catching on, but the 45's flip side, "Eat My Shorts," started to get some attention and it was enough to get the song on the Pop chart for a few short weeks. Dees would record a couple more comedy albums and would later host his own late night talk show in 1990 for a season (Into the Night Starring Rick Dees). In 2004, Dees left KIIS due to a contract dispute. He was replaced by American Idol host Ryan Seacrest. Dees still hosts his long-running syndicated program Weekly Top 40.

ReduxReview:  I guess like beauty, humor is in the ears of the beholder. This beholder finds nothing funny with this song. I never understood the attraction to Dees. He's fine as a DJ, but as a comedian, no. For me, "Disco Duck" was one of the biggest turds to ever hit #1. Why folks found it even remotely funny or interesting still boggles my mind. This "song" belongs in the same toilet that held "Disco Duck." Everything about it is awful and not even close to being funny. I could barely stand one listen. It's practically painful to hear. I'm very thankful that this is the one and only time I have to cover a Dee's song in this project. I can't even give it a 1 out of 10.

ReduxRating:  0/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) If you happen to think this was inspired by the famous Bart Simpson catchphrase, it wasn't. The Simpson's didn't make their first appearance on TV until 1987 in short spots during The Tracey Ullman Show. Then The Simpsons animated program premiered in 1989.  2) Also included on Dee's Put It album was a track called "When Sonny Sniffs Glue." A portion of the track contains a parody of the Johnny Mathis version of the standard "When Sunny Gets Blue." Dees sought permission from the song's copyright owner to use it in the parody, but the use was denied. Dees still went ahead and used it and was then sued. The court case ended with Dees winning. The judge determined that since the track was making fun of Mathis' style of singing, it didn't violate copyright laws. An appeal resulted in the same decision.


Sunday, September 10, 2017

"Lovergirl" by Teena Marie

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2158
Date:  12/15/1984
Debut:  79
Peak:  4
Weeks:  24
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  After successfully suing Motown to get out of her contract, Marie signed with Epic Records and released her first LP for the label titled Robbery. This time around Marie was in total control of the project. While it didn't sell as well as her previous album and featured no major hits, it was a step forward for her as an artist. That experience would pay off for her on her next album, Starchild. It would be her biggest selling album thanks to this lead single, which broke her through to the Pop Top 10 for the first (and only) time. The song would also get to #9 R&B and #6 Dance. The hit would push her album to #9 R&B and #31 Pop. It was a gold-plus seller that broke Marie through to the masses.

ReduxReview:  This is one of those songs that I gained an appreciation for as time went on. I liked the song when it came out, but for some reason I didn't like it enough to purchase the single. After its radio heydays were over, each time I heard the song after that I grew to like it more. It's now a standard in most any 80s or dance playlist I create. Marie had a vision and this song fulfilled it perfectly. Written, arranged, produced, and with several instruments played by Marie, she nearly out-Princed Prince. Rick James may have been her mentor and biggest influence, but she was definitely her own artist by this point.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Marie has ties to a former SNL alumnus. For her second album titled Lady T, Marie needed a producer and she asked if Richard Rudolph was available. Rudolph was a noted songwriter/producer and had become known thanks to the work he did with his wife Minnie Riperton, which included the two of them co-writing Riperton's 1975 #1 hit "Lovin' You." Rudolph came on board with Marie and in tow with him was his seven-year-old daughter Maya. Maya Rudolph would later be a highly successful comedian and actress thanks to her appearances on SNL. Marie and Maya had a connection and Marie would be named as Maya's godmother. A track on Lady T called "Too Many Colors" featured Maya in a little spoken word segment with Marie.