Saturday, April 25, 2020

"Only in My Dreams" by Debbie Gibson

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  3114
Date:  05/09/1987
Debut:  93
Peak:  4
Weeks:  28
Genre:  Dance-Pop, Teen Pop

Pop Bits:  This Brooklyn-born singer/songwriter learned music at an early age and began writing and recording songs in her early teens. By the time she was sixteen, she was performing her songs in clubs at night while still attending high school. With her mother managing her career, Gibson continued to write song and record demos one of which ended up over at Atlantic Records. Based on the demo of this song, the label decided to take a chance on the teen. They hooked her up with producer Fred Zarr and the pair formally recorded the tune. It was initially released as a 12" single, but after it started to get attention, Atlantic pushed it out as a 45. The song took a long, slow climb up the Pop chart until finally reaching #4 in its eighteenth week (#12 Dance/#31 AC). The lengthy climb combined with the fact that the album hadn't been released yet pushed sales of the single to gold level. Gibson's debut album Only in My Dreams would finally be released just prior to the single's peak on the chart. She would also celebrate her seventeenth birthday around the same time. The LP would eventually reach #7 and become a triple platinum seller.

ReduxReview:  I'm sure Madonna was an influence on the teen and when this song was released some Madonna-wannabe comparisons were bantered about. I remember someone dubbing her the "innocent Madonna." However, I never put her in the same category as some of the other Madonna clones that were popping up on the chart. There was something different about her. She composed all of her song and had a knack for writing hooky, age-appropriate tunes in addition to having the ability to produce them as well. She didn't pass herself off as a dancer/singer who was just doing it to become a star. I think she had higher ambitions and approached it all with a maturity that most teens didn't possess. This song really typified that. It was a smart, well-written pop tune that really showcased what she was all about. Zarr's production was spot-on for the song and for the time period as well. People then and now kind of poke a little fun at Gibson and her hits, but my guess is that a song like this is a guilty pleasure that they won't admit to liking. It's not a guilty pleasure for me. I liked the damn song and I still do. It's a terrific late-80s career maker that stood on its own and was far better than any of the tunes from the so-called Madonna clones.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Gibson started writing songs at an early age. She wrote her first song "Know Your Classroom" at the age of six. As a pre-teen, she even composed an "opera" of sorts titled Alice in Operaland. While her parents were supportive and helped her along, even building a makeshift studio in their garage, it wasn't until she won a $1000 prize in a songwriting contest with her tune "I Come from America" that they thought she might have a viable career in music and began more serious support efforts. By the time she was sixteen, Gibson had a contract with a major label and her first hit was climbing the Pop chart.


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