Saturday, August 8, 2020

"World Where You Live" by Crowded House

Song#:  3219
Date:  08/08/1987
Debut:  96
Peak:  65
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Alternative Rock

Pop Bits:  The new Zealand/Australian band's self-titled debut album garnered them back-to-back Top 10s in the US with "Don't Dream It's Over" (#2) and "Something So Strong" (#7). The hits would make their album a #12 platinum seller. They were hoping to continue their streak with this third single, but it didn't quite catch on. The song spent a couple of months on the Pop chart while only reaching #45 at Rock.

ReduxReview:  This was another good track from the band's album, but it just wasn't quite as catchy or radio-friendly as their previous two hits. Even in Australia the tune peaked at a minor #43. The album wasn't chock full of single candidates and my guess is that even getting the two Top 10s was a bit unexpected, so it didn't really matter that this third one didn't do much business. However, with the band establishing themselves with two major hits, they were then gonna be hounded by the label to write more for their next album. The pressure was on.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  The band's debut album netted them eight ARIA award nominations (ARIA is the Australian equivalent of the Grammys). They would end up winning four including Song of the Year for "Don't Dream It's Over." Over the years they would grab more nominations and wins. As of this posting they and earned 13 wins from 36 nominations. They currently rank 9th for most ARIA wins and tied for 6th for most nominations. In 2016, the band would be inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame. So what acts top the list for most wins/nominations as of this posting date? The rock band Silverchair leads in wins with 21 trophies. Singer/songwriter Paul Kelly has the most nominations at 59.


Friday, August 7, 2020

"Painted Moon" by The Silencers

Song#:  3218
Date:  08/08/1987
Debut:  97
Peak:  82
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  This Scottish band was formed in 1986 by Jimme O'Neill and Cha Burns. Both had been members of the punk/new wave band Fingerprintz who had released three albums for Virgin Records between 1979 and 1981. While they didn't achieve widespread success, they had a good following. The band even got on the US Dance chart in 1982 with the #24 "The Beat Escape." After their third album, the band would break up. O'Neill and Burns went off and did their own projects for a few years before getting back together and forming a new band that would eventually be called The Silencers. The band would record a few demos that got the attention of RCA Records. With a deal in place, the band recorded and released this debut single. It got a little bit of attention in the UK reaching #57. The tune crossed over to the US and it did fairly well at Rock getting to #23. That result allowed it to get on the Pop chart for a few weeks. Their debut album, A Letter from St. Paul, would make it to #147. The Silencers would record four more albums for RCA and grab a few minor chart singles in the UK. In the US, their only other chart appearance would come in 1989 when "Razor Blades of Love" would get to #14 on the Modern Rock chart. The band would continue to perform over the years and release the occasional indie album.

ReduxReview:  When this song began to play I immediately thought of The Proclaimers' "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)," which would be a hit in the UK in 1988 and then in the US in 1993. They were also a Scottish band. The songs are different, but the opening and feel of this track reminded me of that Proclaimers track. It also has a bit of Simple Minds and Tears for Fears tossed in. I like the track and it probably sounded good on the radio, but it doesn't necessarily have a big hooky chorus. It takes a few listens for the track to sink in a bit. Still, I doubt it will hang in my mind for very long.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This band shouldn't be confused with the Pittsburgh band of the same name. That new wave band grabbed a minor entry on the Pop chart in 1980 with "Shiver and Shake." They broke up a couple years later and that probably allowed the Scottish group to use the name in the US later (most likely with a payment to the original name holders). Other UK bands were not so lucky and had to alter their name for their US releases due to same name conflicts that could not be resolved. Yazoo became Yaz, The Beat became The English Beat, Suede became The London Suede, and so on. Even Wham! had to become Wham! UK for a brief period until George Michael struck a deal with the Nashville-based disco outfit of the same name.


Thursday, August 6, 2020

"Didn't We Almost Have It All" by Whitney Houston

#1 Alert!
Song#:  3217
Date:  08/01/1987
Debut:  50
Peak:  1 (2 week)
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary, R&B

Pop Bits:  Houston's second album, Whitney, got off to a great start with its first single "I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)" becoming her fourth consecutive #1 on the Pop chart. Her streak would continue with this next single. The ballad was another home run getting to #1 Pop, #2 R&B, and #1 AC. While it wouldn't hit the gold/platinum level sales of her previous five singles, it was still an impressive feat to grab a fifth consecutive #1 on the Pop chart. It was also her fifth consecutive #1 at AC.

ReduxReview:  Houston had already reached #1 with two big ballads, so the released of this one wasn't a surprise. Its giant chorus, sweeping strings, and treacly lyrics were not that different from the others (with two of them sharing the same writer - see below) and it seems folks were not tired of the formula yet sending it to #1. While I liked the song, I thought it was just a bit excessive. The tune kind of goes on and on with Houston practically yelling the whole time. There was little subtlety or nuance in either the song or Houston's vocal. She practically strains at certain points. It was a good record, but it was never one of my favorites from Houston.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  The song was written by Michael Masser and Will Jennings. The pair would get a Grammy nomination in the Song of the Year category. Masser previously co-wrote (with Linda Creed) "The Greatest Love of All" which Houston recorded for her debut album. That song would hit #1 and get a Grammy nod for Record of the Year. It didn't get a nomination for Song of the Year because it was a remake of a song that previously charted. However, Masser was still part of the nominees for that song because he had produced the recording. Masser would write more songs for Houston and other artists, but these would be his only Grammy nods.


Wednesday, August 5, 2020

"I Need Love" by LL Cool J

Song#:  3216
Date:  08/01/1987
Debut:  52
Peak:  14
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Rap

Pop Bits:  Although LL Cool J's debut album Radio made an impression, it was his second album, Bigger and Deffer that made him a star. The set got kicked off with the ferocious "I'm Bad" (#4 R&B/#84 Pop), but it was this second single that pushed him further into the mainstream. The low-key rap ballad caught on quickly and became LL's first #1 at R&B. It then got attention at Pop where it debuted fairly high on the chart and then made a run towards the Top 10. It would stop shy of that mark, but the track helped push the album to #3 Pop/#1 R&B. It would eventually be a double-platinum seller.

ReduxReview:  While LL Cool J wasn't the first hip hop artist to create a rap ballad, he was the first to have one break big on the charts. In doing so, he basically showed that rap could be more than big bravado tracks, party anthems, or social commentaries. Rap could also be contemplative and even romantic. The song would serve as a blueprint for many more rap ballads to come. It was a terrific song and was a bit unexpected from LL who had established himself with hard-edged tracks. He was talented enough that I think he would have been a superstar anyway, but this is the track that truly turned heads his way and started him on that road.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This song would be sampled many times over the years including being used in Rick Ross' 2010 #1 Rap/#2 R&B/#30 Pop hit "Aston Martin Music." However, there was one artist who decided to fully cover the song, which itself is something not commonly done with rap tracks. Irish folk singer/songwriter Luka Bloom did a version of the tune for his 1992 album The Acoustic Motorbike. Bloom recited the lyrics in his Irish accent and framed the rap with acoustic guitar and some light percussion including an Irish drum called a bodhran. The track garnered Bloom praise from some critics and it definitely drew attention. It was released as a single, but it did not chart. Incidentally, Bloom named himself after a song that cracked the Pop Top 10 the same week LL's single debuted, "Luka" by Suzanne Vega. Born Kevin Barry Moore, he decided to take on a stage name after moving to the US in 1987. He chose "Luka" from Vega's song and "Bloom" from the lead character in Ulysses, the classic 1922 novel by James Joyce.


Tuesday, August 4, 2020

"U Got the Look" by Prince

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3215
Date:  08/01/1987
Debut:  67
Peak:  2
Weeks:  25
Genre:  R&B, Funk, Rock

Pop Bits:  The title track to Prince's album Sign 'O' the Times was a solid first single reaching #1 R&B/#3 Pop. Unfortunately, its follow-up, "If I Was Your Girlfriend," was a big momentum killer that only got to #67 Pop. It also missed out on the R&B Top 10 (#12). That result could have easily stopped the double album in its tracks, but luckily Prince got back in the game with this third single. The more commercial friendly tune caught on and nearly topped the Pop chart. Surprisingly, it missed the R&B Top 10 at #11. While the song's climb up the chart wasn't much different from other hit singles reaching its peak in week 12, its decent was quite slow. The song had long legs and would spend another 13 weeks on the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  I've never been sure why "If I Was Your Girlfriend" was released as the second single. I'm assuming it was Prince's decision for some weird reason. This track should have been the second single. It was just a slam dunk hit that could have advanced the album further. As a third single following a flop, it probably helped sell some albums, but my guess is more people bought the single after being turned off by "If I Was Your Girlfriend." Regardless, the tune finally got released and it was a jammin' success. The addition of Easton (see below) was a good choice that not only helped the song, but the video as well. While I pretty much like all facets of Prince's music, there was nothing like it when he threw down a hot, radio-ready crowd pleaser such as this one.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  At the time Prince was recording this song, he invited singer Sheena Easton to the studio to see if she could add some backing vocals. Prince had previously worked with Easton on a couple of tracks for her albums including the hit "Sugar Walls" (#9 Pop). When Easton arrived at the studio, Prince had basically completed the track as a solo effort. After she began to sing on certain sections, Prince liked what was happening and decided that the song should become a duet. While Easton was credited on the album for her vocals, only Prince's name shows up on the single version. Sheila E performed percussion on the track. Also to note, Prince sang this song in his altered "Camille" voice even though this track was written long after his Camille project was shelved. Still, in addition to Easton, the other vocal credit for the track on the album was for "Camille." The video for the song featured both Prince and Easton along with Sheila E and was a hit on MTV. It would be nominated for four MTV Music Video awards winning two. One for Best Male Video and the other for Best Stage Performance in a Video.


Monday, August 3, 2020

"Carrie" by Europe

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3214
Date:  08/01/1987
Debut:  71
Peak:  3
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Glam Rock

Pop Bits:  The Swedish band hit #8 with "The Final Countdown," a track from their third album of the same name. Its follow-up, "Rock the Night," slowed their momentum a bit peaking at #30. Hoping to gain back some of the audience they lost, the band then released this power ballad. It was the right move with the song reaching #3 at Pop. It also got to #35 Rock and #36 AC. It would end up being the band's biggest hit in the US. It would help sell albums and by the fall of '87 it would be certified double-platinum. In 1994, the LP would reach triple-platinum status.

ReduxReview:  While a good chunk of the glam rock/hard rock bands of the time were breaking through on the Pop chart with power ballads, Europe did it with hooky, pop-leaning "The Final Countdown." However, it seems they overestimated the appeal of their harder rocking tunes and somehow thought "Rock the Night" was the appropriate follow-up. It wasn't. The tune didn't tank, but it wasn't a significant success. Luckily, someone had the smarts to finally get "Carrie" out. It really should have been the second single. If it had been, I think it might have had a better chance to reach #1. While I wasn't the biggest fan of the tune, it was a well-executed track that had good mainstream appeal.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  The b-side to this single was the album track "Love Chaser." That song along with "Carrie" were used in a film. World Grand Prix: Pride One was a 1986 documentary about the sport of motorcycle road racing. The Grand Prix was highly popular in European countries along with Japan. The yearly circuit would include races in various countries. It was much like the NASCAR circuit in the US. A documentary film was made about the races and was released mainly in Japan. There was also an accompanying soundtrack album that featured songs by Europe and another Swedish hard rock band named Madison. To help promote the film, "Love Chaser" was released as a single in Japan with "Carrie" on the b-side. It didn't seem to do well. Then after the band hit it big with "The Final Countdown," a new non-soundtrack related single was issued in Japan that had "Carrie" on the a-side and "Love Chaser" on the flip side.


Sunday, August 2, 2020

"Lost in Emotion" by Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  3213
Date:  08/01/1987
Debut:  76
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Pop, R&B

Pop Bits:  The group grabbed their second gold record with "Head to Toe," the lead single from their second album Spanish Fly. The song would hit a major trifecta by getting to #1 at Pop, R&B, and Dance. For their follow-up single, they decided to push out this track which had an even more retro feel. It would be another big winner at R&B and Pop topping both charts. It also made it to #7 at Dance and became their first and only song to get on the AC chart (#27). The single would be their third to reach gold level sales. Oddly, both "Head to Toe" and this song had the same overall run on the Pop chart. Both spent one week at #1, remained on the chart for 20 weeks, and went gold.

ReduxReview:  I don't think they could have come up with a more perfect follow-up tune. While it still sported a retro-Motown feel, it was different from the more urgent "Head to Toe" and the pair of songs married well together. In fact, this song had even more mainstream appeal drawing in the AC audience. And once again, the song was just right for Lisa Lisa's girlish voice. It was a terrific one-two punch from the band and writers/producers Full Force.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Apparently, this song was inspired by two old Motown hits. Co-writer and Full Force member Bow-Legged Lou (aka Lucian George) was listening to Motown legend Mary Wells' Greatest Hits album when he took notice of two songs that played back-to-back. First was "You Beat Me to the Punch," which was Wells' second major hit reaching #1 R&B and #9 Pop in 1962. Then that single's follow-up "Two Lovers" played next, which was another hit for Wells getting to #1 R&B/#7 Pop. Lou heard something in the two tunes that gave him the inspiration to start on "Lost in Emotion." In the end, all members of Full Force, who produced Spanish Fly, were credited as writers on the track. Wells of course would go on to record the classic #1 "My Guy" in 1964. She would garner 14 R&B Top 10s in her career. Wells would only earn one Grammy nomination and it was for "You Beat Me to the Punch," which was nominated for Best Rock & Roll Recording.