Friday, August 14, 2020

"Heartache" by Pepsi & Shirlie

Song#:  3225
Date:  08/15/1987
Debut:  93
Peak:  79
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  As a teenager, Shirlie Holliman had intended to train horses for a career, but those aspirations got set aside due to an illness. Sitting idle and not knowing what to do, her boyfriend at the time thought it would be good for her to dance and sing behind his new band. That boyfriend was Andrew Ridgeley and the band was a then unknown Wham! Along with Holliman, Dee C Lee would also be a background vocalist/dancer. The two supported Wham! on stage and on their debut LP Fantastic while also appearing in two of their videos. Lee would take off soon after for a job with The Style Council (and would marry that band's leader Paul Weller) and she was replaced by Helen "Pepsi" DeMacque. The new background duo soon became known as Pepsi & Shirlie and they continued to support Wham! throughout they heydays. Along the way they gained some fans and when Wham! ended their partnership in 1986, the pair decided to attempt a career on their own. They signed with Polydor and issued out this debut single early in '87. It became a hit in the UK reaching #2. A follow-up track, "Goodbye Stranger" (not the 1979 Supertramp hit), would get to #9 in the summer. With two solid hits in the UK, the label then decided to try and break them in the US. This first single was released and it became a hit on the Dance chart getting to #2. The song then crossed over to Pop, but it fizzled after a couple of months. "Goodbye Stranger" made it to #25 at Dance, but failed to make the Pop chart. Their debut album, All Right Now, had been released and without a bigger hit to support it, the LP topped out at a low #133. Oddly, even though it contained two Top 10 hits, the album didn't do well in the UK stopping at #69. Their follow-up album, 1991's Change, tanked when its lone single, "Someday," written and produced by George Michael, failed to chart. The duo then split.

ReduxReview:  The duo tried to parlay their Wham! fame into their own career and it worked, if only for a short time. This song was a solid piece of commercial dance-pop that I thought might have done better on the Pop chart. It was a hit in clubs, but for some reason it didn't get the same attention on pop radio. Perhaps it seemed to blend in too much with other similar songs and just couldn't break out. It's nothing special for sure, but it was a fun little tune that certainly made them famous in the UK.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) At some point in time, Shirlie and Andrew Ridgeley broke off their relationship. However, Shirlie would still end up marrying a musician. George Michael introduced Shirlie to Spandau Ballet member Martin Kemp. The pair hit it off and would marry in 1988 and have two kids.  2) Pepsi & Shirlie would reunite a few times over the years. The first time was when they were invited to supply backing vocals on a song by ex-Spice Girl Geri Halliwell. Halliwell was recording her 1999 debut solo album Schizophonic and the duo sang on the track "Bag It Up." The tune was the last single released from the album and it reached #1 in the UK. In 2011, Pepsi & Shirlie got together and performed on the Here and Now tour. The annual show/tour would bring back acts from the 80s and tour the UK. The 2011 tour marked the show's 10th anniversary.


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