Saturday, November 10, 2018

"Night Moves" by Marilyn Martin

Song#:  2584
Date:  01/18/1986
Debut:  82
Peak:  28
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  Singer Martin had been getting some good gigs doing background vocals for the likes of Stevie Nicks and was even able to record one of Nicks' songs, "Sorcerer," for the soundtrack to the cult film Streets of Fire. Atlantic Records took an interest in her and first teamed her up with Phil Collins for the duet "Separate Lives." The song would be a #1 hit that put a spotlight on Martin. Atlantic signed her up and work began on a debut album. Several big named producers, writers, and musicians would contribute to the LP including recent hitmaker John Parr ("St. Elmo's Fire"). Parr along with Jon Astley and Martin would co-write this track that would serve as the album's first single. The more rock oriented song was certainly different from the pop balladry of "Separate Lives" and it may have thrown listeners for a loop as the song could only make a Top 30 showing. It did a little better at Rock getting to #18. Two follow-up singles failed to chart at Pop, but the song "Move Closer" did become a minor entry at AC reaching #34. Martin then softened up her sound for the 1988 follow-up album This Is Serious, but no one paid attention and the album quick disappeared along with Martin's contract. Atlantic took a chance on her again later in 1994 with a country album titled Through His Eyes, but it ended up shelved. Martin stayed in the music business for a long while providing background vocals for other artists including Stevie Nicks, with whom she toured in 2016. She also became a real estate agent and has been living in Nashville. In 2012, she released an indie Christian album titled "Trust, Pray, Love."

ReduxReview:  I really liked this moody, dark track when it came out. The opening with that bass piano riff is very cool and when the song cranks up it sounds damn good. Plus Martin's vocals were spot-on and intense. I've always been disappointed that the song didn't do better. It really should have. I can only guess that the dark rock track just wasn't the right fit for Pop radio and that folks who knew Martin from "Separate Lives" were disappointed in her musical direction. I do think it was a risk to issue this song out as a first single from Martin. She really needed a hooky pop single that could retain all those Phil Collins fans. I still think it's a pretty great tune and I've always appreciated Astley's production work.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Despite getting some positive reviews, the edgier pop/rock of Martin's debut LP just didn't click with listeners. So for her second effort, Martin chose to be more trendy and move towards a softer dance-pop direction. When looking for a producer to help her out, Martin ended up meeting Patrick Leonard who in the midst of working on Madonna's fourth album Like a Prayer. Leonard invited Martin to a session and Martin ended up singing background vocals on the soon-to-be hit "Cherish." Leonard then approached Madonna to write a song for Martin's new album. Madonna agreed and along with Leonard and Kai Winding wrote "Possessive Love." The song would be issued out as the first single from Martin's This Is Serious album. Oddly, despite Madonna's involvement, the track was virtually ignored and it failed to chart. That result made the album tank and ended Martin's days in the spotlight.


Friday, November 9, 2018

"This Could Be the Night" by Loverboy

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2583
Date:  01/18/1986
Debut:  87
Peak:  10
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  The Canadian band finally got their first US Top 10 hit with the title track from their fourth album Lovin' Every Minute of It. However, the momentum gained by that hit was nearly lost when the LP's second single, "Dangerous," could only manage to reach #65. They needed something to turn the tides and this third single would end up doing the trick. Not only did it eclipse the results of the previous single, it exceeded expectations and became Loverboy's second US Top 10. It would also get to #9 at Rock and #30 AC. The two hits sent the album to #13 and over time it would be a double-platinum seller, which was their fourth multi-platinum album in a row. Unfortunately, this song would be their last to reach the Top 10 and the album would be their last to sell in the millions. Oddly, this album was not as well-received on their home turf. It would only reach #22 on the chart and would fail to generate a Top 10 hit. This particular song would only reach #44 on the Canadian chart.

ReduxReview:  This radio-ready power ballad was something very different for the band. They were known for their arena rock anthems and over the course of their first three albums they had recorded a grand total of one ballad. So not only recording, but releasing this track as a single signaled that the band might be adjusting their sound to become more mainstream. For fans of their earlier, harder rocking songs, this stab at commercial pop/rock didn't sit so well. Yet the hit brought on new fans and kept sales solid. I liked the track. It had the same quality/appeal as the major hit ballads by the likes of Foreigner and Journey (which was not surprising due to the song's co-writer - see below). While it may have been somewhat of a calculated attempt to secure a crossover hit, the tune turned out well and I think the band does a good job with it despite the fact that it was nothing like what Loverboy had been peddling since their 1980 debut.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This song was co-written by band members Mike Reno and Paul Dean along with Bill Wray and a guy who knows something about writing rock hits - Journey's Jonathan Cain. In addition to writing songs for his three bands The Babys, Journey, and Bad English, Cain also penned songs for other artists. He co-wrote most of the songs on his wife TanĂ© Cain's debut album including the Pop Top 40 entry "Holdin' On." He wrote the song "Allies," a song recorded by Heart that was a minor charting single in 1983. He also had songs recorded by Kenny Rogers, Lacy J. .Dalton, Michael Bolton, Cher, John Waite and others. Discounting the songs/hits he wrote for his bands, it seems that this Loverboy track may be his best charting effort as a contributing songwriter.


Thursday, November 8, 2018

"What You Need" by INXS

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2582
Date:  01/18/1986
Debut:  96
Peak:  5
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Australia's INXS slowly grew their worldwide audience over the course of four albums. Their last album, The Swing, hit #1 in their home country, so it became critical that their fifth album equal or better that feat. They were also hoping to grow their international fan base. In the US and Europe, their new album Listen Like Thieves was introduced by the first single "This Time." It failed to make an impact reaching #81 in the US and #79 in the UK. On the verge of losing the audience they spent the past few years gaining, the band then issued out this next single which had already been a #2 hit in Australia. Its low debut on the Pop chart didn't bode well, but as weeks passed, the song began to break and soon it would become the band's first US Top 10 hit. It would also reach #3 at Rock. The single boosted sales of the album, which ended up peaking at #11. Over time it would end up selling over two million copies. Now that they had broken through in a much bigger way, the pressure would be on to deliver something even better.

ReduxReview:  This song just totally smacked up the radio when it started to get airplay. That blues-rock groove and guitar licks sounded so cool, the drums were crisp and snappy, and the sax was da bomb, especially on the build ups to the second verse and final outro. The tune was brilliantly arranged and produced. It sounded so damn good when cranked to eleven. This song was the spark that really lit a fire under the band. Once they got a taste for hit-dom, they weren't gonna look back.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  After the album was essentially recorded, producer Chris Thomas wasn't convinced that there was a surefire hit among the tracks and requested that the band try to come up with one. With very little time available to write a brand new song from scratch, band members Andrew Fariss and Michael Hutchence went through some of the demo/idea tapes they recorded while working on the album and came across a groovy track that was titled "Funk Song No. 13." Thomas loved it and though it could be the basis for something great. Fariss and Hutchence got to work on it and a day later had "What You Need." They quickly got it recorded and added to the album. That last ditch effort resulted in their first US Top 10. Thirteen was certainly lucky for them!


Wednesday, November 7, 2018

"Your Personal Touch" by Evelyn "Champagne" King

Song#:  2581
Date:  01/11/1986
Debut:  87
Peak:  86
Weeks:  4
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  King's 1982 album Get Loose was a double-platinum seller thanks to the crossover hit "Love Come Down" (#1 R&B, #17 Pop), but her two follow-up LPs couldn't capture the same magic as that breakthrough. Her third attempt, A Long Time Coming (A Change Is Gonna Come), featured this first single which got her back into the R&B Top 10 for the first time since '82. It would also give her a hit at Dance where the tune got to #5. Yet the song's crossover appeal seemed to be limited and it could only spend a month near the bottom of the Pop chart. It would be King's final song to reach the Pop chart. The results led to King leaving her home label RCA and signing on with EMI/Manhattan. Her first album for them, Flirt, did fairly well sporting two R&B Top 10 hits and getting to #20 on the R&B album chart, but a second album fared poorly and that ended King's major label days.

ReduxReview:  This is a good jam and King really gave it her all to sell the darn thing, yet it just wasn't enough to catch on at Pop. Yeah, it's not quite as special or arranged as well as "Love Come Down," but it had a nice hook and deserved to do a bit better on the Pop chart. Sadly, King just never got great material after Get Loose. She tried to keep up with trends, but without having a killer crossover tune it didn't make any difference and King kind of got left in the dust. Yet she had a great run with seven R&B Top 10's including two #1's and the classics "Shame" (1977, #9 Pop, #7 R&B) and "Love Come Down."

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  The CD reissue of A Long Time Coming featured the bonus track "Give It Up." It was a track that King recorded for the soundtrack to the 1985 horror flick Fright Night. A few singles were issued from the soundtrack LP including the J. Geils Band's title theme and this song from King. Unfortunately, King's single didn't get any attention and it failed to chart. Also included on the soundtrack was the April Wine track "Rock Myself to Sleep." It would serve as a single from the soundtrack and as the lead single from their 1985 album Walking Through Fire, however it did not chart either. The song, which was written by Kimberly Rew and Vince De la Cruz of Katrina & the Waves, actually got more attention when it was picked up by Starship. They recorded it for their platinum album Knee Deep in the Hoopla. It was not issued as a single. Katrina & the Waves would do their own version of the song for their 1989 album Break of Hearts.


Tuesday, November 6, 2018

"The Superbowl Shuffle" by The Chicago Bears Shufflin' Crew

Song#:  2580
Date:  01/11/1986
Debut:  92
Peak:  41
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Novelty, Charity

**Welcome to 1986! New year, new song, new artists, and a whole lotta fun!**

Pop Bits:  The 1985 NFL season was being dominated by one team - the Chicago Bears. Players for the team like Walter Payton, Jim McMahon, and William "Refrigerator" Perry had become stars doing endorsements and other gigs. The team's wide receiver Willie Gault had aspirations outside of his day job and wanted to get involved in music and acting. He ended up being cast in a video for the Linda Clifford song "The Heat in Me" (#17 Dance, 1985). Clifford recorded for the upstart Red Label Records and its owner Richard Meyer started talking with Gault about doing a song with the Bears team. It would be a fun thing to do that would help the label. Gault like the idea and started talking to his teammates about it. Players came on board with the understanding that they would get a small fee and a percentage of the proceeds would go to charitable organizations. For the song, it was decided that a rap would work well, especially for guys who were not singers. Meyer bought the rights to an existing unreleased novelty track called "The Kingfish Shuffle" (based on a character from the old Amos 'n' Andy show) and it was updated with raps for the various players were written. After it got recorded, it went to Chicago radio stations and soon it was all over the airwaves. A video would also be filmed for the tune and it quickly began to get play on MTV. All of a sudden, this little charity record turned into a significant hit. It got on the Pop chart and nearly make the Top 40 while reaching #75 at R&B. Although its chart placement wasn't that high due to lack of airplay and/or reporting from many stations, it sold a lot of copies and would eventually be certified gold. The VHS video of the song would also be a big seller. The Bears would have a 15-1 season and would go on to win the Super Bowl.

ReduxReview:  Yeesh. What a cruddy way to start the year! I typically dislike novelty songs and this one is no exception. However, in this case it's hard to get too mad at it because the idea behind it (or part of it) was thoughtful. Depending on which story you read, it wasn't a full-on charity item. The label was going to get compensation, the players involved were to be paid a fee and supposedly a cut of the royalties as well, and only a certain percentage of profits would actually go to a charity. In other words, it wasn't a true charity event where all proceeds are donated. From what I read, Meyer just wanted to do it to help boost his new record label and Gault introduced the charity part in order to get the players on board. It all seems a bit fishy to me, but at least some money did get out to help a few people. Players said they didn't do it to boast or brag, but c'mon - they were celebrity pro football stars who were having a great season and their egos were being fed with stories about being the best team ever. Of course there was a bit of bravado involved. As far as the actual song, it's like a radio show comedy skit gone awry. I thought the song and the video were just stupid. However, it reflected a cultural moment in time and folks loved it - especially Bears fans. It's so hard to rate something like this. As a pop culture phenomenon, it certainly was quite something. As an actual song, ugh. So I'll split the difference and hope that the charity was able to help some folks with whatever proceeds they got.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Not only did the Crew get a gold record hit, they also got a Grammy nomination. They were nominated in the Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group category. They lost the award to "Kiss" by Prince & the Revolution.  2) As happens sometimes with tossed together benefit events, there quickly became problems in regards to the finances. There were issues with agreements, amounts, etc., that kept money from going to the actual charity. This irritated the participants quite a bit. They wouldn't consider the single a success until money actually made it to the charity. After quite a bit of legal wrangling, money was finally distributed to charity. Yet there are varying stories as to if any of the players or other folks involved got the proper compensation promised to them. There were more legal issues that came about years later as well. The good thing though is that anywhere from $200,000-$300,000 did finally make its way to a charitable cause.


Monday, November 5, 2018

Milestone! The Year in Review: 1985

I am officially over tha hump in the project! Six years down, four more to go! To this point, the decade has consisted of 2,579 chart entries. That is an average of about 430 entries per year. I still have a long way to go, but I'm looking forward to it!

The previous year, 1984, was my favorite of the decade by far. It was the sweet spot for pop music and in my opinion the best ever! When 1985 came along I thought it would be similar, yet when diving in I realized that it took a bit of a nose dive. Just look at my stats. In 1984 I rated a whopping 19 songs a 10. In 1985 it was a measly 8. That's a significant drop. The average rating for Top 10 entries took a slight hit as well. The average for 1984 was a rating of 8 while in 1985 it dipped to 7. The number of songs rated a 5 or less increased a bit in 1985 to 120 from 1984's 115. Still, the average rating for both years was 6, which is not surprising.

So why was 1985 a lesser year? It may be because of more changes happening in music and some artists just not keeping up. It could be that some of the newer artists were just not as strong as they were the previous year. I also wasn't thrilled with several of the #1 songs in '85 like Stevie Wonder's "Part-Time Lover" or Lionel Richie's "Say You, Say Me." Even my Top 5 favorites list below didn't include a single #1 song. Overall, it just wasn't a banner year.

Now that '85 is in the books, I'm looking forward to '86. I think things may rebound. There are some interesting things coming up including the debut of the Pet Shop Boys, Genesis gettin' all poppy, the emergence of the fab Janet Jackson, and both Peter Gabriel and Bon Jovi breaking through to the mainstream masses.

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 1985:

Number of charted songs in 1985:  405  (433 in 1984)
Time it took listen/post all songs:  1 year, 39 days  (1 year, 29 days for 1984)
Number of songs that debuted in 1985 to hit #1:  28  (19 in 1984)
Number of songs that debuted in 1985 to reach the Top 10 (excluding #1's):  74  (76 in 1984)
Number of gold singles:  17  (26 in 1984)
Number of platinum singles: 2  (9 in 1984)
Number of songs that won a Grammy:  8  (10 in 1984)
Number of One-Hit Wonders:  5  (3 in 1984)
Number of Rated 10 songs:  8  (19 for 1984)
Number of Rated 1 songs:  1  (2 for 1984)

Top 5 favorite chart songs of the year:
  1. "Running Up That Hill" by Kate Bush
  2. "Small Town" by John Cougar Mellencamp
  3. "Would I Lie to You" by Eurythmics
  4. "Life in a Northern Town" by The Dream Academy
  5. "Freeway of Love" by Aretha Franklin
Worst song of the year:  "Party All the Time" by Eddie Murphy
Best song I didn't know existed:  "Look My Way" by The Vels
Favorite discovery:  The Vels

A few other fun stats:

Highest debut:  #21 - "We Are the World" by USA for Africa (peaked at #1)
Lowest debut:  #97 - "Don't Say No Tonight" by Eugene Wilde (peaked at #76)

Longest climb to peak position:  "Take on Me" by a-ha climbed 90 positions from #91 to #1

Longest trip to #1 for a song debuting in 1985:  "Take on Me" by a-ha took 15 weeks to reach #1
Quickest trip to #1 for a song debuting in 1985:  "We Are the World" by USA for Africa took only 4 weeks to reach #1.
Most weeks at #1 for a song debuting in 1985:  4 - for two songs, "We Are the World" by USA for Africa and "Say You, Say Me" by Lionel Richie

Most weeks on the chart for a song debuting in 1985:  29 - "I Miss You" by Klymaxx (it peaked at #5).

Average number of weeks a song spent on the chart:  13
Position on chart where the most songs debuted:  #90 - 28 songs debuted at that spot (1 hit Top 10, 1 made it to #1)
Longest song title:  "I Knew the Bride (When She Used to Rock and Roll) " by Nick Lowe and His Cowboy Outfit
Shortest song title:  "19" by Paul Hardcastle and "Go" by Asia

A few artists who got their first chart single in 1985:  'til tuesday, a-ha, Amy Grant, David Lee Roth (solo), Depeche Mode, Julian Lennon, Kate Bush, Miami Sound Machine, Mick Jagger, (solo) Mike + the Mechanics, Sade, Sting, (solo) Tears for Fears

Runners-Up:  8 songs peaked at #2, 5 songs peaked at #11, and 5 songs peaked at #41

Some interesting things learned (click links for more details in previous posts):
  • Corey Hart was offered the opportunity to audition for the role of Marty McFly in Back to the Future.
  • Luther Vandross originally sang the male vocal part on "That's What Friends Are For."
  • Christopher Cross wrote a song about Tina Fey's Liz Lemon character on 30 Rock.
  • Actress Daryl Hannah was the female background vocal on Clarence Clemmons' "You're a Friend of Mine."
  • Donny Osmond co-wrote "Too Young," a song that got recorded by soap opera star Jack Wagner.
  • Billy Joel was in an infamous two-man drum and organ psychedelic rock act named Attila that recorded one album.
  • Bruce Springsteen nearly included "Pink Cadillac" on his Born in the U.S.A. album.
  • Starship's #1 "We Built This City" was once ranked as the worst song ever.
  • Whitney Houston's first #1 hit, "Saving All My Love for You," was actually a remake.
  • Wham! was the first Western pop/rock act to perform in China.
  • Prince denied Elvis Costello permission to record a version of "Pop Life."
  • Phil Collins named his album No Jacket Required after on an incident he had at a restaurant.
  • Radio personality Casey Kasem had a notorious rant after playing The Pointer Sisters' "Dare Me."
  • Tears for Fears got the name for their album Songs from the Big Chair from the TV movie Sybil.
  • Boy George wrote a song for the Beach Boys.
  • Air Supply covered a old Bruce Springsteen song.
  • Duran Duran's "A View to a Kill" still remains the only James Bond theme song to have hit #1 in the US.
  • One of Madonna's most famous songs, "Into the Groove," never made the Pop chart.
  • Songwriter/producer Mutt Lange reused a part of a lesser hit he did for Roman Holliday to boost another #1 song.
  • Scandal's Patty Smyth had a chance to become the new lead singer of Van Halen.
  • Kim Carnes got to claim a bit of chart history when her single "Invitation to Dance" debuted on the Pop chart.
According to the year-end chart for 1985, these were the year's Top 10 singles:
  1. "Careless Whisper" by Wham! featuring George Michael
  2. "Like a Virgin" by Madonna
  3. "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" by Wham!
  4. "I Want to Know What Love Is" by Foreigner
  5. "I Feel for You" by Chaka Khan
  6. "Out of Touch" by Daryl Hall & John Oates
  7. "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" by Tears for Fears
  8. "Money for Nothing" by Dire Straits
  9. "Crazy for You" by Madonna
  10. "Take on Me" by a-ha

So long '85! You weren't the best year, but you weren't too shabby either!

Sunday, November 4, 2018

"Sara" by Starship

#1 Alert!
Song#:  2579
Date:  12/28/1985
Debut:  65
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  The band's first album under the new Starship moniker, Knee Deep in the Hoopla, started off quite well when the LP's first single, "We Built This City," made it to #1. While the hit caught many folks by surprise, they were downright shocked when this next single followed suit and topped the Pop chart as well. It would also get to #1 at AC while going to #12 at Rock. The early, original version of the band, Jefferson Airplane, grabbed back-to-back Top 10's in 1967 with "Somebody to Love" (#5) and "White Rabbit" (#8), but they were unable to do that again and neither could Jefferson Starship. The two lineups were also unable to score a #1 hit. It took the third version of the band to finally top the chart and they did it twice in a row; and it wouldn't be their last time hitting #1.

ReduxReview:  After the bombast of "We Built This City," this lovely ballad was certainly welcome. It was a well-written, radio-ready track that had a terrific vocal by Mickey Thomas. This really was a can't-miss hit, especially when following up a #1. I remember buying the album and when hearing this song for the first time immediately thinking, "this is definitely a hit and had better get issued out!" Out of their 80s hits, this is the one that has aged the best, even with its dated production.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This song was written by Peter Wolf (not of J. Geils Band fame) and his wife Ina Wolf. They named the song after lead singer Mickey Thomas' (then) wife Sara. The Wolfs' would have a productive period in the mid-80s writing songs for other artists including Jefferson Starship, El DeBarge, Kenny Loggins, and others. The pair also recorded a couple of albums as a duo named Wolf & Wolf. Their self-titled 1984 album was produced by Ron Nevison, who had produced three albums for Jefferson Starship and would produce Heart's 1985 comeback album (on which Mickey Thomas and Grace Slick would appear doing background vocals).