Saturday, April 21, 2018

"Mystery Lady" by Billy Ocean

Song#:  2380
Date:  07/06/1985
Debut:  66
Peak:  24
Weeks:  15
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  Ocean's fifth album, Suddenly, was suddenly his big breakthrough thanks to three consecutive Top 10 Pop hits. After being a recording artist for nearly a decade, Ocean finally had a double-platinum seller. He tried to continue the streak of hits with this fourth single from the album, but the song just didn't have the same allure as the others and it stopped shy of the Pop Top 20. However, it was able to get inside the Top 10 at both R&B (#10) and AC (#5). It would be the last charting single from the album.

ReduxReview:  This has a faint Luther Vandross feel to it. It's a nice tune, but it definitely wasn't as hooky or memorable as his previous hit singles. Frankly, I doubt Ocean or his label could have predicted that the album would need a fourth single, so they pretty much were stretching it here. However, it didn't do too bad overall with good showings at R&B and AC. In reality, they could have just stopped with the three main hits and skipped releasing this one.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  While Ocean was struggling to get his solo career off the ground, a few songs he co-wrote wound up being recorded by other artists. In 1980, Ocean released two singles from his album City Limit - "Are You Ready" and "Stay the Night." Neither one would reach the US charts, but both songs were picked up and recorded by LaToya Jackson. In 1981, Jackson would release "Stay the Night" as a single and it would get to #31 on the R&B chart. Another track from City Limit, "Who's Gonna Rock You," would get picked up by the Irish girl group The Nolans. They would issue it as a single in 1982 and get to #12 on the UK chart. It would not chart in the US.


Friday, April 20, 2018

"Cherish" by Kool & the Gang

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  2379
Date:  07/06/1985
Debut:  70
Peak:  2
Weeks:  25
Genre:  Adult Contemporary, Pop, R&B

Pop Bits:  The Gang's sixteenth studio LP Emergency was certainly on fire. With two Pop Top 10 hits already in the bag, including the R&B #1 "Fresh," the album was already selling better than their previous two efforts. However, the band was not done yet. For a third single, they dropped this sentimental ballad. Over time, its popularity grew until it finally spent three weeks in the runner-up spot at Pop. The single also got to #1 at R&B for a week and #1 at AC where it stayed in that position for six weeks. It was a huge crossover hit for the band that pushed Emergency to double-platinum sales. It would be the biggest selling studio album of their career.

ReduxReview:  I wasn't a big fan of "Fresh," so when this saccharine ditty came out, I wasn't having any part of it. I thought it was complete drivel. The lyrics were just so sappy and the single version's ocean and seagull sounds certainly didn't help. I always imagined that the seagulls were screaming "stop it, stop it!" Now, even though I really don't like this tune, I do appreciate the writing. The band tapped right into that formula that can make masses of people like a song - an easy, singable, catchy melody and chorus, along with simple chord changes that make it easy for folks to play. Add in wedding reception worthy lyrics and a hit was born. I still think it's sentimental claptrap, but it's hard to deny that the band hit a real crossover sweet spot with this one.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This was one of only two songs that were successful enough at multiple formats to make three different year-end top singles charts for 1985. "Cherish" did well enough to come in at #17 for the year at Pop, #13 at R&B and #1 at AC. In addition to being the top charting song at AC for 1985, it would end up being the top charting AC song for the 1980s. The other song to reach all three year-end charts for 1985 was Whitney Houston's #1 hit "Saving All My Love for You." It finished at #5 for the year at R&B, #16 at AC, and #23 Pop.


Thursday, April 19, 2018

"Life in One Day" by Howard Jones

Song#:  2378
Date:  07/06/1985
Debut:  72
Peak:  19
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Synthpop

Pop Bits:  Jones grabbed his first US Top 10 hit with the #5 "Things Can Only Get Better," a track from his second album Dream Into Action. For a follow-up, this song was chosen for release. It did fairly well getting inside the Pop Top 20 while reaching #16 at AC.  It also made a showing on the Rock chart at #36. In the UK, this was the third single lifted from the album. It did about the same there getting to #14. The album would be a success on both sides of the pond going gold in the UK and platinum in the US.

ReduxReview:  I've always thought this had a bit of a children's song feel to it with it's tin whistle-ish little melody and lyrical sentiment. I really didn't have much hope for this song as a single. I just didn't think US pop listeners would take to it, especially with lyrics like "gets the hereditary bone." So I was quite surprised when the tune found its way into the Top 20. I thought there were better candidates for single contention on the album, but somehow this one ended up working. It's a good song with solid production that secured Jones another hit.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  In the UK, the second single from the album was a track titled "Look Mama." It became Jones' sixth Top 10 UK hit reaching #10. The song was not issued as a single in the US. The beginning portion of the song features a woman and a young boy talking. That little conversation is a snippet of dialog from the 1974 Martin Scorsese film Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore. The voices belong to the characters Alice (Ellen Burstyn) and her son (Alfred Lutter). The well-received film would win Burstyn an Oscar for Best Actress. In 1976, the movie was adapted into the hit TV sitcom Alice that starred Linda Lavin. The show ran for nine seasons.


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

"Lay It Down" by Ratt

Song#:  2377
Date:  07/06/1985
Debut:  86
Peak:  40
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Hard Rock

Pop Bits:  Ratt's debut LP Out of the Cellar was one of the biggest glam/hair metal albums of the 80s thanks to its #12 Pop/#4 Rock hit "Round and Round." They followed up that triple-platinum album with their next effort Invasion of Your Privacy. This first single kicked things off and it ended up doing well. It got to #11 at Rock while just making the Pop Top 40. The results were good enough to help push the album to #7. It would eventually sell over 2 million copies.

ReduxReview:  "Round and Round" was a winner because of its hooky pop leanings. It was just irresistible hard rock ear candy. The band tries to go for it again with this track and they end up making another solid radio-friendly hit. It may not grab you as intensely as "Round," but it's a well-written and produced slab of chewy rock coated in a thin crunchy layer of pop. It really should have done better on the chart, but it did well enough to show that Ratt had the ability to follow-up their signature hit.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  In the video for this song, there is a little boy that is having a birthday party who makes a wish to be in a rock band and to get the girl. The boy was played by actor Whit Hertford. After his appearance in the video, Hertford would go on to make appearances in many TV shows and films including Jurassic Park, Glee, How I Met Your Mother, and Raising Hope. In the past few years, Hertford has turned his attention to directing plays, mainly with various London theater companies. Hertford is one of those actors where you may not know the name, but you know his face.


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

"Bit By Bit (Theme from Fletch)" by Stephanie Mills

Song#:  2376
Date:  07/06/1985
Debut:  88
Peak:  78
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Dance-Pop, R&B, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  After three albums for the troubled Casablanca Records label, Mills made a switch over to MCA. Her first effort for the label was this song that was slated to be the theme for the Chevy Chase comedy film Fletch. It was pushed out as a single, but it didn't attract a lot of folks. It stalled at #52 at R&B while circling the bottom of the Pop chart for a few weeks. It did best at Dance where it was able to reach #15. It may not have been the best start to her tenure at MCA, but over the next few years she would end up grabbing five #1 R&B hits for the label.

ReduxReview:  With Harold Faltermeyer coming off of the success of Beverly Hills Cop and the Fletch movie doing well at the box office, it seemed like the soundtrack would have been a success as well, but it pretty much tanked. This urgent tune written by Faltermeyer and Franne Gold tried to capture the same audience that made Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack a massive success, but it just falls short. While it has a solid chorus, the production is just a bit too hyperactive and mechanical. There's no place for Mills to soar like Patti LaBelle did in her songs for BHC. I think the bones are here for a good pop song. It just needs a different arrangement and production.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This song was used as the theme for the movie Fletch, which starred Chevy Chase. A soundtrack was issued out that featured this song plus others by Dan Hartman, John Farnham, The Fixx, and Harold Faltermeyer, who worked on the film's score as well. While Fletch was a solid hit at the time, it has since become a sort of cult movie with a significant following. Based on a a series of novels by Gregory Mcdonald, Chase was not the first choice to lead the film. Both Burt Reynolds and Mick Jagger were considered for the part. However, Mcdonald had approval and didn't like either choice. He then agreed to Chase, even though Mcdonald was not familiar with any of his work. The film was successful enough to spawn a sequel, 1989's Fletch Lives, however it did not do nearly as well as the original.


Monday, April 16, 2018

"The Power of Love" by Huey Lewis & the News

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  2375
Date:  06/29/1985
Debut:  46
Peak:  1 (2 weeks)
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Rock, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  After five hit singles including four Top 10's, Lewis and his band were riding high with their multi-platinum album Sports. Thanks to its massive success, film director Robert Zemeckis approached Lewis to write a couple of songs for his upcoming movie Back to the Future. Lewis was skittish about the idea as he had never written for a film, but was finally convinced by Zemickis. With his band mates Chris Hayes and Johnny Colla, Lewis set out to write a couple tracks for the film. This first song didn't have anything to do with the film lyrically, but the music was perfect for the opening scene of character Marty McFly skateboarding through town. It was selected to be the single to represent the film and was released a few weeks prior to the movie's opening. It was an out-of-the-box hit debuting near the Top 40 and quickly climbing to the #1 spot. It would be Lewis' first chart topper and second gold seller. The song would also get to #1 at Rock and #6 at AC. The track was also helped along by the film, which was a huge box office hit. It would be the year's #1 grossing film. The associated soundtrack album, which featured a second Lewis track plus ones from Lindsey Buckingham and Eric Clapton, would get to #12 and go gold. The song would go on to received an Oscar nod for Best Original Song. It would also get a Grammy nod for Record of the Year.

ReduxReview:  This was just the perfect song at the perfect time for Lewis. To have it included in one of the biggest film hits of the decade was just icing on the cake. The song pretty much summed up the band's sound within four catchy minutes. I liked the song when it came out, but it wore on me quickly. It was just played to death. I got so sick of it that I avoided the song for years. However, it is truly well-done and I appreciate it. But truth be told, there are a few other songs in the band's catalog that I'd rather hear.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) Lewis' other song for the soundtrack was "Back in Time." The lyrics for the song did related to points in the film and was used in the final scenes and end credits. The track proved to be popular at Rock radio getting to #3, however it was decided to not release the song as an actual single and therefore it did not make the Pop chart.  2) Lewis made a cameo in the film. When Marty McFly's band auditions to play at the school dance, they break out into a hard rock version of "The Power of Love." A teacher on the committee (Lewis) stops them quickly and says "I'm afraid you're just too darn loud."  3) Although not listed as a writer, the song did have another contributor. Apparently, Lewis was talking to Alex Call, who had been in a band called Clover with Lewis, and Lewis asked Call what he was working on. Call mentioned he was trying to write a song called "Power of Love." Lewis then later used that as inspiration for his new song. He could have left it at that and ignored the fact that Call supplied him with a title, but Lewis went back to Call and offered him a deal that would secure money for Call since he basically supplied the title. The one stipulation though was that he would not get a songwriting credit - just the deal for the title. Call accepted and was able to make money off of Lewis' hit. Call had earlier co-written another big 80s single, 1982's "867-5309/Jenny," which was a #4 hit for Tommy Tutone.


Sunday, April 15, 2018

"Summer of '69" by Bryan Adams

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2374
Date:  06/29/1985
Debut:  55
Peak:  5
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  This nostalgic track debuted just as Adams' first #1 hit, "Heaven," was spending its second week atop the chart. As the fourth single from the album Reckless, the hit would finally propel the LP to the #1 spot for two weeks in August. It would become Adams' fourth Pop Top 10 hit. Surprisingly, it did not do well on the Rock chart. It got some airplay late in '84, making it to #40, but other tracks from the album overshadowed the song and it wouldn't return to the chart even after being a Pop Top 10 hit.

ReduxReview:  This is not too far off from the nostalgia that took Springsteen's "Glory Days" into the Top 10 - oddly, both songs peaked at the same #5 spot. It's definitely one of the better songs from the album and it was a good one to have on when cruising around in the car. The tune is well written and lyrically hit all the right notes. It triggered memories of summers past for a lot of folks.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) There is a line in the song that states "Jimmy quit, Jody got married." Adams got the names from actual people he worked with. Jimmy was a drummer in one of Adams' early bands while Jody referred to Adams' sound manager, Jody Perpick. Perpick got married as the sessions for Reckless were happening. Perpick and his new bride appeared in the video for this song driving away in a car that was decked out in wedding decorations and had "just married" written on the trunk.  2) The track seems to be looking back on Adams' summer in 1969. However, Adams was only nine years old that year, so it certainly wasn't about his actual experiences. Adams has said in an interview that the song was mainly about summertime and that "69" wasn't a reference to the year, but a metaphor about making love. Co-writer Jim Vallance preferred to take the 1969 reference more literally and said he was inspired by Jackson Browne's song "Running on Empty," which has the line "in '69 I was 21."