Saturday, October 13, 2018

"Don't Say No Tonight" by Eugene Wilde

Song#:  2556
Date:  12/07/1985
Debut:  97
Peak:  76
Weeks:  10
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  Wilde scored a #1 R&B hit (#83 Pop) with "Gotta Get You Home Tonight," the first single from his 1984 self-titled debut album. With his name established on the charts, Wilde then quickly set out to record a follow-up. In less than a year's time, he was able to get his next LP, Serenade, out the door. This track was selected to be the first single and once again, it was able to reach the top of the R&B chart. Crossover success still eluded him and it only did slightly better than "Gotta Get" on the Pop chart. Although it would be his last single to reach the Pop chart, he had further success at R&B grabbing another Top 10 and five other middling entries. As with his debut album, Serenade would be a Top 20 entry on the R&B Album chart. Wilde would move to MCA Records for two albums, but neither did very well and that brought an end to his major label days.

ReduxReview:  Usually if an artist repeats themselves, the results are not as good. However, Wilde was able to grab a second R&B #1 with a song that was very similar to his first one. Both songs start exactly the same with a wind chime glissando followed by a smooth groove. The tunes also build in the same manner to a third act climax. The songs even share the word "tonight" in their titles! It's like this tune is part two of "Gotta Get." Basically, it sounds like Wilde ripped off Wilde. Oddly, this track isn't a lesser tune and is just as good as the first one. I guess the repeat performance didn't bother listeners.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Wilde would later co-write a few songs that would get picked up by other artists. Sheena Easton would record one of his songs for her 1987 album No Sound But a Heart. He would also co-write the track "Dear Diary," which appeared on Britney Spears' 2000 LP Oops!...I Did It Again. His best effort as a songwriter came in 1995 when his co-write "I'll Never Break Your Heart" would be issued out as the Backstreet Boys' second single. That song would reach #1 at AC and #35 Pop.


Friday, October 12, 2018

"I'm Your Man" by Wham!

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2555
Date:  11/30/1985
Debut:  55
Peak:  3
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Pop, Blue-Eyed Soul

Pop Bits:  Wham's 1984 album Make It Big certainly did that. Boasting four Top 3 hits including three #1's, the multi-platinum LP made stars of the duo. To keep their streak of hits going, this new song was recorded and issued out as a single. It was met with open arms and the track soon became Wham's fifth Top 3 single in a row. It also got to #13 AC, #42 Dance, and #55 R&B. It would be their fourth #1 in their UK homeland.

ReduxReview:  I liked Wham, but by this point I was tiring of their pseudo-Motown tunes. It all seems just a bit too cutesy to me when this one came out. Yes, it was on-brand for them and resulted in another Top 10, but in the long run, this ended up being one of their lesser hits. I basically shrugged my shoulders at it and hoped that they would come up with something different the next time around. Who knew at the time that in just under two years, Wham would be a thing of the past and George Michael would be ridin' high with the vastly superior Faith.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  In addition to working with Wham, George Michael lent his talents out to other artists as well. He was featured on the Elton John hits "Wrap Her Up" while providing background vocals on John's "Nikita" as well. He'd later team up with Aretha Franklin for the big 1987 hit "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)." One artist he helped out was making a bid for a comeback. Former teen idol David Cassidy hadn't had a significant hit since the mid-70s. Nine years after his last album, Cassidy got signed to Arista Records and recorded his 1985 album Romance, which would be for the European market. Michael, who had cited Cassidy as an early influence, helped out by providing the backing vocals for the track "The Last Kiss." The song was issued out as a single and it did well in various countries including the UK where it peaked at #6. The tune was actually a remake of a song originally done by Cliff Richard in 1981 for his album Wired for Sound. Richard's version was titled "Young Love" and was a more upbeat track. Cassidy's version was a ballad that featured lyric changes.


Thursday, October 11, 2018

"When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going" by Billy Ocean

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2554
Date:  11/30/1985
Debut:  63
Peak:  2
Weeks:  23
Genre:  Pop, R&B, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Ocean's fifth album, Suddenly, finally broke him through to the masses. It would spawn one #1 hit, two other Top 10's and a Top 25 entry. As Ocean began to work on a follow-up, he was offered the chance to contribute a theme song to the upcoming Michael Douglas/Kathleen Turner adventure flick Jewel of the Nile. Ocean would co-write this song that would play over the film's closing credits. The track was issued out as a single and it bounded up to the #2 spot at Pop while also getting to #2 at AC, #6 R&B, and #31 Dance. Although Ocean's next LP, Love Zone, would not be released until April, this song was included on that album and considered its first single in addition to appearing on the film's soundtrack LP, which would hit #55.

ReduxReview:  This synth shuffle fit the film well and the movie's success most likely helped the song move up the chart. It also helped that it was quite catchy. I thought it was a pleasant, well-written tune and a good radio hit, but that was about it. I didn't love it, yet I didn't dislike it. I still feel that way. I'll jam along if it happens to play, but I have no urge to seek it out and hear it.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) Jewel of the Nile was a sequel to the hit 1984 film Romancing the Stone. That rom-com adventure movie was initially derided as a rip-off of Raider of the Lost Ark, but critics ended up liking the film and it eventually won over audiences and became a surprise box office hit. Jewel of the Nile didn't impress critics, but it became an even bigger hit than Romancing. Although a third film was discussed, it never got off the ground.  2) The video for this song ended up getting banned in the UK, but for an unusual reason. In the video, the film's stars, Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, and Danny DeVito, all appear and lip sync parts of the song. Back then, the UK had a rule regarding videos and who performed in them. If anyone in the video played/mimed an instrument or even appeared to sing, that person had to be a member of the musicians union. Otherwise, the video could not be aired. Actors could certainly act in videos, but anyone not in the union could not even pretend to play or sing. Since the three actors were not union musicians, the video was basically banned in the UK. Despite that, the song was strong enough to reach #1 in the UK without the aid of a video. It was Ocean's first and only #1 there.  3) The Irish boy band Boyzone remade this song in 1999. It would be their fifth #1 in the UK. From 1994 to 2010, the group scored nineteen UK Top 10 hits that included six #1's. They were hugely successful in many countries, but success in the US eluded them. Their only charting single came in 1998 when "No Matter What" got to #12 on the AC chart. That song was written for the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Jim Steinman musical Whistle Down the Wind. The Boyzone version appeared on the musical's concept album in 1998. In the US, it was included on the soundtrack to the film Notting Hill, the 1999 hit com-com starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant.


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

"Everything in My Heart" by Corey Hart

Song#:  2553
Date:  11/30/1985
Debut:  74
Peak:  30
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Pop, Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  Hart's second album Boy in the Box would become his first platinum seller thanks to the #3 hit "Never Surrender" and the Top 30 title track. Hoping to return to the Top 10, Hart issued out this third single from the LP. The ballad would be another Top 30 entry for him, but that is all it could do. The song would also be a minor entry at AC reaching #39. Back in his Canadian homeland, the track would become his second #1 hit and it would be earn Hart two more Juno nominations - one for Best Selling Single and one for Composer of the Year.

ReduxReview:  This is another nice track from Hart with a pretty melody. The thing that has always bugged me about the track is the big-ass snare drum whack. It's just way too much and I find it so distracting. It's like someone shooting a gun over a lovely ballad. It should have been much more subtle and only brought bigger on the little bridge part after the second chorus. The rest of the production is quite nice and goes with tune. It might have even done better on both the AC and Pop charts had the drums been reigned in.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Corey Hart as Marty McFly? It could have happened. Apparently when Steven Spielberg was searching for a person to play the lead role in the first Back to the Future film, he sent a copy of the script to Hart with an offer to do an audition. Hart ended up declining the invitation as he wanted to focus just on his music. Michael J. Fox was the producers' first choice, but he was initially unable to fit it in his schedule. They then hired Eric Stoltz who actually began filming scenes, but after a few weeks the producers realized that Stoltz just wasn't right for the role and they went back to Fox and persuaded him to work the film in his schedule. This wasn't the only major opportunity that Hart passed up during his heyday. He also got offers to record songs for movie soundtracks that he declined as well such as "Danger Zone" from Top Gun. That song was eventually made into a hit by Kenny Loggins. Hart didn't want to record songs composed by other folks and opted to just write and record his own music.


Tuesday, October 9, 2018

"The Sun Always Shines on T.V." by a-ha

Song#:  2552
Date:  11/30/1985
Debut:  79
Peak:  20
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Synthpop, New Wave

Pop Bits:  In the US, this Norwegian band is basically remember as a one-hit wonder due to their iconic #1 hit "Take on Me." However, they did manage to get into the Top 20 with this follow-up, which most folks quickly forgot. A remix of the song would do well in clubs and it would reach #6 on the Dance chart. The tune would help their debut album Hunting High and Low sell a few more copies. It would eventually be certified platinum. The story for this single would be different elsewhere. In the UK, this song would be the band's first (and only) #1. It would also reach the Top 10 in several other countries including their homeland of Norway where the single made it to #2.

ReduxReview:  I thought this urgent and dark track was a worthy follow-up to "Take on Me." I was hoping it would get inside the Top 10, but it stopped ten paces back. Still, that was not a bad result for a second single. Unfortunately, "Take on Me" was such a sensation that it totally overshadowed anything else the band did. This song would be their last to reach the US Top 50. It's too bad because they had a lot more to offer than that song. The haunting title track from the album, which reached #5 in the UK, should have been a charting single as well. Their first three albums had some excellent songs, but for some reason they got ignored in the US while they scored Top 10's in many other countries. It's a shame they got overlooked here.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  The band's video for "Take on Me" ended up being just as memorable as the song and is a classic from the era. The video for "The Sun Always Shines on T.V." was also popular, but like the song it has been forgotten. Yet back in the day it did well enough to be nominated for three MTV Music Video Awards. It would end up winning two for Best Editing and Best Cinematography. That same year, "Take on Me" would win six awards. That gave a-ha eight wins that year, which was a record. They would be aced out of that record the following year when Peter Gabriel won nine (he actually ended up with ten as he was given the Video Vanguard award, however that is a non-competitive award). To-date, Gabriel still holds the record for most wins in a single year and a-ha remains in second with eight. However, the band later had to share that spot with Lady Gaga, who won eight in 2010, and Beyoncé, who got eight in 2016.


Monday, October 8, 2018

"Leader of the Pack" by Twisted Sister

Song#:  2551
Date:  11/30/1985
Debut:  88
Peak:  53
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Hard Rock

Pop Bits:  This band hit it big with their third album, 1984's Stay Hungry, which featured the #7 Rock/#21 Pop hit "We're Not Gonna Take It." Their videos were popular on MTV and they got even more attention when they became a target of the PMRC. With their star shining bright, the band now had the task of following up their triple platinum breakthrough. Leader Dee Snider wrote nine songs that would become their next LP, Come Out and Play. In addition to those originals, the band would re-record a cover tune that they originally included on their 1982 Ruff Cutts EP, "Leader of the Pack." The new version would be issued out as the album's first single. Unfortunately, it didn't go over all that well with the song only getting to #32 at Rock and not cracking the top half of the Pop chart. A second single, "Be Chrool to Your Scuel," couldn't get a leg up and failed to chart. Despite not boasting a major hit, the album managed to go gold, but that was a far cry from their previous multi-platinum LP. They would put out one more album in 1987 before calling it a day.

ReduxReview:  I had already thought that the band bordered on being a novelty rock act, but then they zoomed across that border when they issued out this song. I mean, it's cool that the band didn't take themselves too seriously and they probably had to keep up the shtick they started with "We're Not Gonna Take It," but I just didn't get this choice at all. I guess they were hoping the commercial aspects of the track along with the video would help to expand their audience, perhaps in the same way Mötley Crüe scored with "Smokin' in the Boys Room." However, that song fit the Crüe well whereas "Leader" was just a goofy choice that did nothing for the band except nearly make them a comedy act. It just wasn't the right move for the band and the results speak for themselves.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This is a remake of a song originally recorded by the girl group The Shangri-La's. Their 1964 version would hit #1 on the Pop chart. Many artists would cover the tune including Bette Midler, who recorded a version for her 1972 debut album The Divine Miss M. However, the only other artist to reach the Pop chart with the song has been Twisted Sister. A parody of the song called "Leader of the Laundromat" by the Detergents was moderately successful reaching #19 in 1965.  2) The song "Be Chrool to Your Scuel" featured several well-known musicians. Brian Setzer does the guitar solo, Billy Joel plays piano, and Clarence Clemmons does the sax solo. Alice Cooper is also prominently featured as a duet partner and he also appears in the song's video. Some believe that the song didn't chart because MTV refused to air the zombie-themed video, which they thought was too graphic.


Sunday, October 7, 2018

"Life in a Northern Town" by The Dream Academy

Top 10 Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  2550
Date:  11/30/1985
Debut:  89
Peak:  7
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Chamber Pop, Dream Pop

Pop Bits:  This UK trio formed in 1983 and consisted of Nick Laird-Clowes, Gilbert Gabriel, and Kate St. John. Their concept was to do their own brand of pop music that would featured more non-traditional instruments in the arrangements, such as oboe, which was part of multi-instrumentalist St. John's skills. Their unique sound wasn't met with open arms by labels and they spent nearly two years in search of a deal. Finally, Warner Bros. took a chance on the band and signed them up. It certainly helped that Laird-Clowes had become friends with Pink Floyd's David Gilmour and the pair ended up co-producing nearly all the tracks on the band's self-titled debut album. This atmospheric track was pushed out as the first single and despite its unusual (for pop) arrangement, the song caught on. It would reach #7 at both Pop and Rock while nearly topping the AC chart at #2. The hit certainly sold albums and their debut would reach the #20 spot. In their UK homeland, the song would do well reaching #15.

ReduxReview:  This song hit so many of my buttons that I remember nearly crying the first time I heard it. It had great melodies, a big hooky chorus, an African chant, and an awesome arrangement complete with oboe and timpani! What is not to love? The song's folky, wistful feeling was something completely different for pop radio yet it worked. I absolutely adored this tune and still do. The album was also one of my favorites that year. You'd think that perhaps a remake of this song might be a bit impossible as the whole aura of the song would be lost. However, I've heard two that didn't disappoint. One was by Sugarland (see below) and the other was a rockier one by Chris Collingwood. I'm sure there may be others, but these stood out to me. One of my favorite songs from the 80s.


Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Although the song is not specifically about him, the band considered it a tribute to influential English singer/songwriter Nick Drake. Drake was known for his three meditative folk albums recorded between 1969 and 1972. While the LPs barely sold (about 5k each), they were highly influential to many artists and were critically well-received. Drake shied away from the spotlight and suffered from depression. In 1974, he died from an amphetamine overdose at the age of 26. Cause of death was determined as suicide. Over time his legacy grew and a whole new audience discovered his music thanks to the use of his song "Pink Moon" in a 1999 Volkswagon television ad. Since then, his albums have sold nearly 3 million copies and have continued to inspire many artists.  2) The hit country band Sugarland would later cover this song on their 2007 tour. They would be joined on stage by their tour mates Little Big Town and Jake Owen for the performance. A video of the three acts performing the song on tour was created for CMT and it quickly became popular. Although it was not officially released as a single, airplay of the song made it peak at #28 on the Country chart while downloads of the song (it got issued out as part of the deluxe version of Sugarland's Love on the Inside album) allowed it to get on the Pop chart at #43. The recording would earn the three acts a Grammy nomination for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals.