Saturday, November 30, 2019

"Can't Help Falling in Love" by Corey Hart

Song#:  2968
Date:  12/13/1986
Debut:  79
Peak:  24
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Hart's third album Fields of Fire got off to an okay start with its first single, "I Am By Your Side," topping out at #18. That was a bit of decline from his first two albums, which were both introduced by Top 10 hits. Hoping to keep album sales going, this second single was pushed out. It made progress and got into the Top 30, but it couldn't make it any further. It would also get to #24 on the AC chart. While it wasn't a major hit, it did do well enough to keep the album selling and by the end of the year it would be certified gold. The single would be Hart's third #1 at home in Canada.

ReduxReview:  Hart's earnest and fairly faithful reading breathed new life into the old tune. A new generation latched onto the song and it became popular at weddings again (I had to sing it at one). The sparse, new-agey arrangement was a bit subdued for 80s synth-heavy pop radio, but folks connected with the track and the nostalgia factor helped it gain favor with a more adult crowd. I thought it was fine. Hart is more of a rock vocalist, so a quiet standard like this wasn't necessarily in his wheelhouse, but he does a pretty good job. The thing that bothers me a bit with Hart's voice, which is very prominent in this track, is that his S's are quite hard and pronounced. It's almost like a lisp of some kind. In bigger rock tunes it's not as noticeable, but when fully exposed like on this song it is very evident. It's just part of his voice and I guess helps to make him unique (almost in a pouty way), but it becomes a distraction for me here.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This is a remake of a song originally released by Elvis Presley in 1961. He recorded the song for his movie Blue Hawaii. It would be issued out as a single and would go on to reach #2 (#1 AC). Many artists would cover the tune, but only three others besides Presley and Hart would reach the Pop chart with a version. Crooner Al Martino would get to #51 (#5 AC) in 1970. That same year, Andy Williams would take an uptempo version of the song to #88 (#28 AC). Although Williams' single wasn't a hit in the US, it was a #3 hit in the UK. Later in 1993, UK band UB40 would record a reggae-style version that would be a major hit. It would reach #1 in the US, the UK, and several other countries. A few other artists would reach various charts with a version of the song including The Stylistics' disco take (#4 UK, 1976), a country version by Slim Whitman (#54 Country, 1981), and a more straight-forward reading by singer Engelbert Humperdinck (#44 AC, 1979). Even a former American Idol contestant had success with the song. Haley Reinhart (3rd place, season 10) recorded a version for her 2016 album Better. The song was released late in 2015 as a promotional single after being featured in a commercial for Extra gum. It would get to #16 at AC and would receive a platinum certification.   2) Although credited as being written by Hugo Peretti, Luigi Creatore, and George David Weiss, this song's roots go way deep to an early French love song. "Plaisir d'amour" was written in 1784 by Jean-Paul-Égide Martini, who basically wrote music to an existing poem by Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian. The song was very successful and it would live on even centuries later. In more modern times, the song would be recorded by artists like Judy Collins, Joan Baez, The Seekers, and Nick Drake. Melodies from the tune would be updated and used in "Can't Help Falling in Love."


Friday, November 29, 2019

"Livin' on a Prayer" by Bon Jovi

#1 Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  2967
Date:  12/13/1986
Debut:  83
Peak:  1 (4 weeks)
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Arena Rock

Pop Bits:  The third time was the charm for Bon Jovi when their third LP, Slippery When Wet, spawned the #1 Pop and Rock hit "You Give Love a Bad Name." The song would help send the album to #1 for a week late in October of '86, but it would return to the top spot in January of '87 thanks to this follow-up single, which also got to #1 at both Pop and Rock. In fact, it would end up being their biggest hit staying at #1 on the Pop chart for four weeks. Prior to this song being released, the album had already been certified at triple platinum. By the end of '87 it would be certified at 8x platinum and would be the #1 charting album for 1987. This song would prove to be Bon Jovi's signature song and in 2006 VH1 viewers voted it the #1 song of the 80s.

ReduxReview:  The opening of this song is about 45 seconds. In the pop music world, a good chunk of songs are approaching or already into the chorus, so this was a lengthy intro. However, it was quite effective. The build on that lone synth chord through to the verse certainly announced that this was not going to be your average pop single. The chorus was about as arena-ready as you could get and the storyline along with the talk box made it even more memorable. Then to top it all off, a huge key change to the final chorus. The band was prime and Jon Bon Jovi nailed the vocals. It really was a thrilling song to hear. There was just no way this wasn't going to #1 especially following "You Give Love a Bad Name." They would have more hits over the years and sell a bazillion albums, but this song was truly their peak moment.


Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) The physical 45 single of the song would sell well, but it wouldn't quite reach gold-level sales. However, the song continued to stay popular over the years and when it became available in digital form, it began to sell again. In February of 2013, the song was certified at triple platinum for its digital version.  2) The song mentions two characters, Tommy and Gina. Songwriters Jon Bon Jovi and Desmond Child based the pair on real life people that they had known. Tommy and Gina were later mentioned in another Bon Jovi song. Their 2000 single "It's My Life" recalled the couple. That song was the first single from their album Crush and it was a major worldwide hit going Top 10 in many countries, except for the US where it stalled at #33 on the Pop chart.  3) This song nearly didn't make the album. When the band recorded a demo of the song, it didn't really set their ears afire and it seemed like the song might be set aside. However, band member and co-writer Richie Sambora championed the tune and was convinced it was a hit. The band took another look at the song and after some rearranging, which included the talk box part, the song came to life. Not only did it make the album, but it ended up being their biggest hit. The original demo version the band recorded can be heard as a hidden track on their 2004 compilation box set 100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can't Be Wrong.


Thursday, November 28, 2019

"Blame It on the Radio" by John Parr

Song#:  2966
Date:  12/13/1986
Debut:  88
Peak:  88
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Parr's 1984 self-titled debut album did well thanks to the #1 Rock/#23 Pop hit "Naughty Naughty." His career got a major boost the following year when his movie soundtrack single, "St. Elmo's Fire (Man in Motion)," became a big #1 hit. Although it wasn't a track on his debut album, it helped to extend the life of the LP and set him up well for his next effort, Running the Endless Mile. This first single was issued out, but it didn't connect with listeners. It failed to make the Rock chart and peaked where it debuted on the Pop chart. Further singles didn't make any impression and without much to support it, the album didn't make the chart. It was certainly a disappointment and things didn't get better after. This song would be his last to reach the Pop chart. Parr seemed to lose his deal with Atlantic and didn't put out another album until 1992. He would still record and tour over the years, but his heyday as a charting artist in the US ended with this track.

ReduxReview:  Parr can be a good songwriter in a Bryan Adams-y kind of way, but I'm not exactly sure what he was going for here. It starts off with the chorus in a more acoustic setting, which is kind of nice, but when the drums kick in, honking keyboards follow and things take a turn. It gets worse when the rougher, darker verse comes in. Nothing matches or compliments the original chorus. It's like different sections or ideas from two or three songs got stitched together. That can sometimes work, but it does not here. And that screeching keyboard sound gets more and more annoying as the tunes goes on. Parr had a good thing going with the chorus, but the rest of the tune pretty much killed it.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  Back in '88, the Gillette company was prepping to release their new product, the Sensor Razor. They were going to do a big campaign complete with an ad that would run during the '89 Super Bowl. The company needed a solid slogan and a jingle to go with it. Enter John Parr and pro jingle writer Jake Holmes. They came up with "The Best (A Man Can Get)" and it was exactly what Gillette was looking for. The ad campaign ended up being so successful that Gillette used the jingle for about a decade. It would be revived over the years and on the 30th anniversary of the initial campaign, Gillette decided to update the original message to something more topical and timely. They did a mini film ad titled "We Believe: The Best Men Can Be." The ad doesn't promote any products. It features men in bad behavioral situations such as bullying and shows how today's boys are the men of tomorrow and that other men need to demonstrate to them the way to be better men. While some praised the ad, the majority of people and critics who viewed the film responded negatively. So much so that it made the list of the top 50 most disliked videos on YouTube with (as of this posting date) 1.5 million thumbs down. (By contrast it shows 805k thumbs up). However, comments on YouTube have asserted that dislikes and negative comments were taken down while instances of likes grew exponentially in short periods of time. Many accuse Gillette of this tampering, but in these days of social media it is difficult to figure out the truth. Still, instead of sparking conversation towards the positive, Gillette seeed to have sparked far more outrage with many people boycotting their products. Their campaign was to last for three years with money donated to certain causes like The Boys and Girls Club. At this time it is unknown if they will continue with the campaign. John Parr, whose song is briefly heard at the beginning of the film, chimed in on Twitter saying the message of the ad is way off the mark. A full acoustic-style version of Parr's original ad theme can be heard on his 2011 live album Letter to America.


Wednesday, November 27, 2019

"We Connect" by Stacey Q

Song#:  2965
Date:  12/13/1986
Debut:  91
Peak:  35
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Dance-Pop, Synthpop

Pop Bits:  Stacey Swain, aka Stacey Q, scored a #3 Pop/#4 Dance hit with "Two of Hearts," the first single from her full-length debut album Better Than Heaven. To follow it up, this next track was issued out. The song didn't "connect" quite as well as her previous hit and it stopped short of the Dance Top 10 (#14) while just getting inside the Pop Top 40. A third single, "Insecurity, would fail to reach the Pop chart, but it became her biggest hit on the Dance chart reaching #1. A fourth track from the album, "Music Out of Bounds," would make an appearance on the Dance chart at #19.

ReduxReview:  This song is a natural extension of "Two of Hearts," so it seemed logical to get it out as the second single. The problem was that we already had "Two of Hearts" and didn't necessarily need part two. The chorus was fairly memorable with her getting shocked with his "white hot love" (oh my...), but the rest of the song wasn't as engaging. It lacked the hooky, kooky fun of her first hit.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This song was written by drummer Willie Wilcox. Around the time that this song was recorded, Wilcox's band was splitting up. He was a member of Utopia, the band headed up by Todd Rundgren. The band would release nine albums between 1974 and 1985 with their best effort being 1979's Adventures in Utopia (#32), which spawned the 1980 #23 Pop hit "Set Me Free." Their popularity declined as the decade wore on and they decided to call it a day in 1986. This Stacey Q song wasn't Wilcox's first that he wrote for another artist. Prior to this he wrote songs that appeared on albums by The Pointer Sisters, David Lasley, Natalie Cole, and Jennifer Holliday. He would later have songs picked up by Dionne Warwick and Kylie Minogue. As a songwriter on his own, this Stacey Q tune would be his best effort on the charts. However, his biggest hit as a songwriter came in 1979 when England Dan & John Ford Coley took "Love Is the Answer" to #10 on the Pop chart and #1 at AC. Wilcox wrote that song with Todd Rundgren for Utopia's 1977 album Oops! Wrong Planet. Utopia released the song as a single, but it failed to chart.


Tuesday, November 26, 2019

"Dancin' in My Sleep" by Secret Ties

Song#:  2964
Date:  12/13/1986
Debut:  92
Peak:  91
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Dance, Synthpop

Pop Bits:  This group was mainly headed up by producer/songwriter Brian Soares. He became one of the first artists signed to a new dance-oriented label called Nightwave. In 1985, Soares put out a solo Hi-NRG cover version of Olivia Newton-John's 1980 #1 hit "Magic." Perhaps feeling that his tunes would be better served by female vocals, Soares hired on Linda Harmon to sing his tunes. Their first collaboration was this song that got issued out as a single. It made a few waves on the Dance chart getting to #29. It crossover over to the Pop chart, but only stayed for a minor few weeks near the bottom. A second single, "One Night," would follow in '87 (#46 Dance) along with a debut album titled All Through the Night. Soares would then leave Nightwave and as Secret Ties with various female vocalists, would issue out a few singles for a couple of labels, but nothing charted. Soares would die of an AIDS related illness in 1997.

ReduxReview:  This borders on Latin freestyle, especially in the break section, but it is mainly just a pop-dance track. The production value is not that great and it has that tinny 80s Casio keyboard sound to it, but the chorus is not too bad. It basically sounds like what it is - an indie 80s dance track. It's certainly nothing special, but overall it's not too bad of a little ditty.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Linda Harmon seemed to go on and have a career singing and appearing in various TV shows, films, and animated series. Among her early credits was singing for the short-lived 1980 TV variety show Pink Lady and Jeff. She also has a credit singing the theme song to the hit show Diff'rent Strokes along with Gloria Loring and Alan Thicke. She also did work for several Disney projects including The Little Mermaid and Tarzan.


Monday, November 25, 2019

"This Is the World Calling" by Bob Geldoff

Song#:  2963
Date:  12/13/1986
Debut:  97
Peak:  82
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  With his charitable projects such as Live Aid in the rearview mirror, Geldoff decided to return to music. However, he wanted to do it on his own and left behind The Boomtown Rats, the band he led and co-founded. Geldoff wrote songs for a solo debut that would be titled Deep in the Heart of Nowhere. He would work with producer Rupert Hine on the album and for this lead single he would get writing assistance from Eurythmics' Dave Stewart. The track would make a minor impact at Rock getting to #23. It would cross over to the Pop chart, but the tune wouldn't stick around for long. A second single, "Love Like a Rocket," wouldn't chart. Without much to promote it, the album stalled at a low #130.

ReduxReview:  Even though Geldoff's name became recognized worldwide due to his charitable ventures, it didn't necessarily lead to folks being interested in his music. He still needed a solid performing single to draw folks in and help sell albums. Even with the all-star help (see below), this just wasn't the song to do it. I actually thought it was a good effort. I like the Dave Stewart influence and the production is pretty sweet. Geldof doesn't necessarily have a good voice, but he doesn't sound too bad on the track. The tune is Euro-flavored and that probably didn't help it here in the States, although it wasn't a major hit in the UK either only getting to #25. I wouldn't peg this for a major hit, but it could have done better on the chart.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Thanks to Dave Stewart's involvement on this track with songwriting and production (along with some help from Jimmy Iovine on production), a few guest stars show up singing background vocals. Foremost is Annie Lennox, Stewart's partner in Eurythmics. Also on board was Alison Moyet and Lone Justice's Maria McKee. Other big names appeared on the LP as well including Bono, Jools Holland, Brian Setzer, Midge Ure, and Eric Clapton who provided guitar work on a couple of tracks including the second single "Love Like a Rocket."


Sunday, November 24, 2019

"Open Your Heart" by Madonna

#1 Alert!
Song#:  2962
Date:  12/06/1986
Debut:  51
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  Madonna's third album True Blue was keeping pace with her previous LP Like a Virgin with its first three singles hitting the Pop Top 10. The question now was if True Blue could match the four Top 10's generated by Like a Virgin. This next single was selected for the task and not only did it accomplish the feat, it did it in an even better way by becoming Madonna's fifth #1. Just prior to this single's debut, the album had just dropped out of the Top 10. After this song started to get airplay, the former #1 rebounded back into the Top 10 and got up to #6. By February of '87, the album would be certified for sales of 4 million. It would eventually go over the 7 million mark.

ReduxReview:  Although "True Blue" was a good buffer single between the dance-pop of this song and "Papa Don't Preach," there was just no doubt this was going to be a bigger hit. The driving groove of this tune along with its meaty production and hooky chorus set it apart from other tracks on the album. The peep show-themed video certainly was a bonus as well. I thought this was the obvious choice for a third single, but I guess the label wanted to showcase a different sound and feel before unleashing this one.  Still, it became a well-deserved #1 hit.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song was written by Gardner Cole and Peter Rafelson. They originally intended it for Cyndi Lauper (with the title "Follow Your Heart"), but the tune never made it to her camp. Instead it ended up over with Madonna who liked the tune. Madonna made various lyric changes, which got her a writing credit, and she and producer Patrick Leonard produced it in a dance-pop style that fit Madonna. However, Madonna's version could nearly be called a remake. Somehow, the song ended up in the hands of Venezuelan singer Melissa (Griffiths) who recorded a Spanish version titled "Abre Tu Corazón." Although she recorded the song after Madonna did, she released hers on an album titled Melissa III in March of '86, three months prior to Madonna's True Blue hitting the streets.  2) The video for this song was hugely popular on MTV and resulted in three MTV Music Video Award nominations. The young boy featured in the video was Felix Howard, who had been a child model. Later on, he became a songwriter and his tunes were picked up by artists like the Sugarbabes (UK female vocal group), Sia, Kylie Minogue, and Amy Winehouse (a track on her 2003 debut album Frank). That experience led him to becoming the head of A&R at EMI in the UK.