Saturday, August 29, 2020

"He's My Girl" by David Hallyday

Song#:  3241
Date:  08/29/1987
Debut:  98
Peak:  79
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  David Hallyday was basically born into music. His father was Johnny Hallyday and his mother was Sylvie Vartan. Both were huge music stars in France and around Europe with Hallyday being known as the Elvis of France while Vartan made a name for herself in the yé-yé music movement of the 60s. David Hallyday didn't dive into the family business until he was late in his teens. At the same time he was also dabbling in acting. The two careers came together when Hallyday was cast in the comedy film He's My Girl. He would co-star in the flick with comedic actor T.K. Carter. In addition to being one of the leads, Hallyday would also supply the film's theme song plus two other tunes for the soundtrack album (which also featured two new tracks from his mom). Hallyday's theme song would be released as a single and it would spend a couple of months on the Pop chart, but couldn't really bust out of the bottom rungs. The soundtrack was on Scotti Bros. Records who would then sign Hallyday on for a solo career. His debut album, True Cool, would be released in '88 and this soundtrack song would be included. Unfortunately, no other singles from the LP would chart and it quickly disappeared. He did another album for the label in 1990 titled Rock 'n' Heart and that resulted in the #51 Pop single "Ooh La La." After that, he mainly recorded and released albums in France while taking on a few acting roles. Hallyday also got involved in auto racing and has competed several times in the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans race.

ReduxReview:  Oh yeah, this definitely sounds like a tune from a comedy flick. It was trying hard to mimic tunes from hit soundtracks like Beverly Hills Cop. The lyrics included the plot points of the film so it explains why a guy is singing "He's My Girl." It was a goofy song that was appropriate to close out the film, but it really wasn't good enough to be a chart contender. In fact, I'm truly surprised it even charted. Still, Hallyday doesn't sound too bad and the hi-80s campy production is on point. But like the film, it is just a bizarre relic from the decade and not much more.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  The comedy/farce He's My Girl was Hallyday's first film. The plot consisted of aspiring musician Bryan (Hallyday) trying to get a break in the music industry (of course). His friend Reggie (T.K. Carter) enters him into a contest to meet a music star, which Bryan wins. For some reason, Bryan has to bring a girlfriend with him to L.A. Not wanting to leave his bestie behind, the pair hatch a plan to have Reggie pose as a girl for the trip. Reggie then becomes Regina. After they arrive in L.A., they both fall in love with women they meet and hi-jinx ensue, which also includes a promoter trying to steal Bryan's song. The film was nixed by critics and it was barely a blip in theaters. The results didn't boost the careers of either actor. The film and this theme song have become obscure oddities. However, another family member of Hallyday's has had a successful acting career. Hallyday's first cousin (via his mom) is Michael Vartan. Vartan got his big break when he co-starred in the film Never Been Kissed with Drew Barrymore. That led to his long-running role on the hit TV show Alias (2001-2006). Another side note about He's My Girl. It was directed by Gabrielle Beaumont. Beaumont would become the first woman to direct an episode in the Star Trek franchise. She would helm the 1989 Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Booby Trap." Beaumont would end up directing eight more episodes in the franchise including ones for Deep Space Nine and Voyager.


Friday, August 28, 2020

"Something Real (Inside Me/Inside You)" by Mr. Mister

Song#:  3240
Date:  08/22/1987
Debut:  73
Peak:  29
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  Mr. Mister's second album, Welcome to the Real World, became a platinum #1 hit thanks to three Pop Top 10 hits including the #1s "Broken Wings" and "Kyrie." With that success under their belt, the pressure was on to deliver a solid follow-up. The band went into the studio and emerged with their third album Go On... To kick things off, this first single was released. The tune started off well as the top debut of the week on the Pop chart and made good strides for a couple of weeks, but once it reached the Top 40, it experienced difficulty. After two months on the chart, the song peaked just inside the Top 30. It was a big disappointment and the news would only get worse. A follow-up single failed to chart and that left the album peaking at #55 and missing the gold sales mark. The band tried to shake it off and recorded a fourth album, but after its completion their label, RCA, chose not to release it. (The LP would see the light of day in 2010 under the title Pull.) The bad luck affected the band and they parted ways in 1990.

ReduxReview:  Mr. Mister did what I think is the exact wrong move for an artist who broke through in a big way. With their newfound stardom and clout, they decided to become more artistic and "serious" with their follow-up. Usually what this means is that the material is darker and less commercial than the songs that made them famous. This rarely works out and indeed Go On..., which screamed "take us seriously!," lacked anything remotely as radio-ready or catchy as their previous hits. Its fine to reach for better songs with deeper subjects (including the LP's Christian overtones), but if you want to retain your star status, you have to at least include a couple of crowd/chart pleasers and Mr. Mister failed on that part. This song was truly the closest thing on the LP that could pass as a single, but it was a weak one at best. If I had to venture a guess, I'd say that the band turned in the album and the label didn't hear a single and forced them to get one. Then the band either chose to remake this tune (see below) or the label recommended it. Whatever the case, none of it worked and the band would never recover.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This is actually a remake of a song originally done by - Mr. Mister. The band had previously recorded this song in 1986 and it was included on the soundtrack to the Rob Lowe sports flick Youngblood. It seems the band thought the song had more to offer than just being on an obscure soundtrack, so they decided to re-record the track for their third album. It ended up being the LP's lead single, but it didn't perform all that well.  2) After the band's breakup, lead singer/songwriter Richard Page would join forces with Madonna producer/songwriter Patrick Leonard in the band Third Matinee. They would release one album in 1994 to little notice. However, in the same time period Leonard and Page would co-wrote a song with Madonna that would become a hit. The trio came up with "I'll Remember," a song Madonna would record and contribute to the soundtrack of the comedy/drama With Honors. The track was released as a single and it would reach #2 Pop/#1 AC. After Third Matinee failed to make waves, Page would then try for a solo career. He released a 1996 debut LP titled Shelter Me. The LP and its singles failed to chart. Although Page could not replicate the success of his time in Mr. Mister, he would remain an in-demand background singer and songwriter for many top artists.


Thursday, August 27, 2020

"Victim of Love" by Bryan Adams

Song#:  3239
Date:  08/22/1987
Debut:  75
Peak:  32
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Adams' Into the Fire, the follow-up to his multi-platinum 1984 LP Reckless, was not doing all that well. The lead single, "Heat of the Night," did fine getting to #2 Rock/#6 Pop, but its follow up "Hearts on Fire," stalled at #26 on the Pop chart (#3 Rock), which was his worst showing since his first charting single in 1982 ("Lonely Nights," #84). The news got worse with this third single. Once again, it got support at Rock (#10), but it faltered after making the Pop Top 40. In the US, no further singles were released from the album. This was quite the change from Reckless, which spawned six Pop Top 20 hits. Into the Fire would peak at #7 and go platinum, but that result was disappointing following a multi-platinum LP. This single and album would be Adams' last to chart in the 80s. He would return in 1991 with the biggest hit of his career.

ReduxReview:  I'm surprised this dark song even made the Top 40. It was fine for an album track, but it had zero appeal as a pop single. I think the Adams/Vallance partnership had reached its limits by the time this album came around and they just didn't have the gas to ignite a fire that would cook up the radio-ready type of fare found on Reckless. Adams would get his mojo back at the turn of the decade, but I didn't really get onboard. He may have gotten few #1s and other hits, but none of them really drew me in. I preferred the Adams of the Reckless days. Not that I expected him to repeat that album all the time, but with a few exceptions I don't think his writing was ever that good and consistent again.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Adams and his songwriting partner Jim Vallance had been working together for years. Not only did they write songs for Adams' album, but also for other artists. By the time sessions were started for Into the Fire, the partnership was starting to fall apart. The negative reception of the album by critics and lack of hits didn't help and the pair decided to go their own ways. For Adams' next album, he decided to work with producer/songwriter Mutt Lange (Def Leppard, AC/DC). As the pair began work, Adams received an offer to supply a song to an upcoming Kevin Costner film titled Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. He was given snippets of the score composed by Michael Kamen and from there Adams and Lange created "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You." The song would be released as a single in the summer of '91 to coincide with the film's opening. It would also be included on the soundtrack album along with Adams' upcoming album Waking Up the Neighbors. The film was a hit and the song followed suit hitting #1 in the US for seven weeks. It would reach #1 in many countries included the UK where it spent 16 consecutive weeks at #1 (still a record as of this posting). The hit boosted Adams' career back up to multi-platinum status and he would remain successful for a chunk of the 90s grabbing three more film hits (two #1s, one #8) along with two other Top 10s.


Wednesday, August 26, 2020

"Silent Morning" by Noel

Song#:  3238
Date:  08/22/1987
Debut:  82
Peak:  47
Weeks:  22
Genre:  Freestyle, Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  Bronx-born Noel Pagan most likely didn't consider a career as a singer while working in the bar at a New York club, but when an opportunity suddenly presented itself, Pagan found himself in a recording studio writing his first song. His initial stab at composing was a tune titled "Spanish Morning." The track got recorded, but then it seems the producer who had brought Pagan into the studio up and vanished. Left with nothing but a demo song, Pagan then sought help via connections he had made at the club and eventually his tune ended up over at the Island Records subsidiary 4th & B'way. The label liked what they heard, but before signing Pagan they requested a lyric rewrite. Pagan did and the resulting song became "Silent Morning." He was paired with producers Roman Ricardo and Paul Robb, who would later hit it big in '88 with his band Information Society, and the new tune was recorded. It was issued out as a single credited to Noel and it began to climb the Dance chart where it peaked at #6. The hit then crossed over to the Pop chart where it made a long, leisurely climb topping out at #47 after 13 weeks on the chart. It would spend another nine weeks on the chart and that 22-week run would be among the longest for a single that didn't reach the Top 40.

ReduxReview:  I remember being somewhat fascinated by this song without ever hearing it. I followed the Billboard charts and saw that it was making a slow climb. The title and artist name were interesting and I did read or hear rumors that the tune was about losing a partner to AIDS (see below). However, I never got to hear it anywhere so I finally just bought the single. I have to say that I was a little disappointed at the time. It was just an okay freestyle song by a barely capable vocalist with lyrics that to me didn't support the gay angle. I set the song aside and didn't think much more about it. Years later, the song kind of sneaked into my 80s playlists due to being on compilations and I got to like it. Noel was definitely not a great singer (a couple of track on the album make that apparent) or songwriter, but he kind of lucked out with this first effort. Not much happened for him after his first LP, but thanks to the widespread appeal of this track, he was able to capitalize on it over the years.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Back in April of '89, Spin magazine published an issue that featured a bunch of lists such as "The 25 Greatest Albums of All Time," "20 Coolest Movies, and "Ten Great Rock Hotels." One of the lists was titled "Great Moments in Recording Studio History" and Noel was included at #7. He made the list due to an alleged event that took place while recording an early version of "Silent Morning." It seems that Noel was in the studio with producer Aaron Hanson and Noel wasn't doing his vocals the way Hanson wanted. The issue caused friction between the two to the point that Hanson supposedly pointed a gun at Noel's head and said he'd blow it off it Noel didn't sing the song the way he wanted. Whether this story is true or not is in question, especially since Hanson had no involvement with Noel after he signed with 4th & B'way. So one would have to assume that Hanson might have been the guy who first brought Noel into the studio and then disappeared after recording "Spanish Morning." Whether true or just a music legend, it certainly was a juicy story.  2) Noel apparently wrote the new lyrics to "Silent Morning" either about his then-girlfriend Aleida or a high school sweetheart. However, during the era of AIDS, this song was interpreted by some as being about the epidemic and the loss of a lover. This led to both the song and Noel being quite popular in the gay community. It also led to rumors that Noel was gay, but that wasn't true. He would later be married and have twin daughters.


Tuesday, August 25, 2020

"Dinner with Gershwin" by Donna Summer

Song#:  3237
Date:  08/22/1987
Debut:  85
Peak:  48
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  The mid-80s were not a good time for Donna Summer. Her 1984 album Cats Without Claws failed to generate a significant hit and that left the LP becoming her lowest peaking effort to-date at #40. It was also her first regular studio album released in the US to not at least go gold. Summer was also having issues at Geffen, her label since 1980, and was experiencing some PR problems that alienated a large section of her fans (see below). The problems kept coming as she recorded her next album All Systems Go. Geffen agreed to Summer's choice of producer, Harold Faltermeyer, but after hearing the completed tracks, Geffen didn't think there were a lot of potential single candidates and wanted Summer to record one more with Faltermeyer. However, by that point Faltermeyer was on to other projects so Geffen brought in Richard Perry to help produce "Dinner with Gershwin," a song written by Brenda Russell, who also served as co-producer. Geffen chose the final track listing for the LP and pushed "Dinner" out as the first single. The tune would become Summer's final Top 10 at R&B (#10) while getting to #13 Dance and #38 AC. Over at Pop, the song was a big disappointment stopping before it could get into the Top 40. With little to generate interest in the album, it tanked at #122 to become a career low for Summer.

ReduxReview:  A couple of things here. First, why anyone thought this would be a hit song is beyond me. It was an interesting track, but it had nary a hook or real chorus making it nearly forgettable. Plus the little Gershwin-esqe touches in the arrangement were a bit kooky. It just didn't work. Second, Geffen was not the place for Summer. They quashed some of her better songs while having her record silly stuff like this that they thought were hits. In other words, they just didn't know what to do with her and they were trying anything to score a hit and recover the money they spent signing her. It was really a shame. Summer could have had a much better second act post-disco, but Geffen kind of ruined it. As for this song, it remains an oddity in her catalog and a real WTF moment that sent her charting career in a nosedive.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  It was never a secret that a big section of Summer's audience was gay. Her club hits and image were iconic in the community and she was adored. It was also no secret that Summer had become a born-again Christian early in the 80s. Then there was AIDS. All three things would fatefully collide for Summer sometime around 1983. The story goes that Summer was chatting with fans after a show, specifically about her born-again status, and that allegedly she said something to the effect of - that AIDS was punishment by God on gays and their immoral lifestyle. Now, it has never truly been clear if Summer said something like this or something that could be interpreted as such or didn't say it at all. However, rumors of the alleged comment spread like wildfire, especially among the gay community who then took to burning her records and picketing her concerts. Summer has always denied saying such things and has even pointed out that several of her co-writers over the years were gay. She also blamed people around her who tried to be protective and instead just added fuel to the fire. It didn't help that she would appear on Christian talk shows during the time as well. The rumor would dog her for decades, but the effects of it were certainly being felt when she released All Systems Go. Like the rumor, it can't be proven that the bad publicity and backlash from the gay community helped to doom the album, but the timing certainly wasn't good. Many in the gay community would later forgive Summer (even when not truly knowing if the rumor was true or not) and re-embrace her music, but damage to the diva's reputation and career was apparent at the time. Remember, this was way, way before social media. Today there is basically a record of what a celebrity says or does thanks to apps like Twitter. There is really no denying it when the facts present themselves. Back then, celebrities could get away with a lot more, but still a juicy rumor could wreak havoc on a career and whether it was true or false, Summer was certainly a victim of one.


Monday, August 24, 2020

"Notorious" by Loverboy

Song#:  3236
Date:  08/22/1987
Debut:  91
Peak:  38
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  After scoring a #12 hit with the Top Gun soundtrack single "Heaven in Your Eyes," the band prepped their fifth studio album Wildside. To introduce the new LP, this first single was pushed out. It would do well at Rock reaching #7. On the Pop chart, the tune unexpectedly fizzled once it reached the Top 40. It was a disappointment coming on the heels of "Heaven in Your Eyes" along with a pair of Top 10s from their previous album Lovin' Every Minute of It. The lack of a bigger lead-off hit played into the album's performance. It would become their lowest peaking to-date at #42 and only reach gold level sales, which was a big drop following four multi-platinum album.

ReduxReview:  While the idea of pairing Bon Jovi/Sambora with Reno/Dean was a good one (see below), the resulting track wasn't all that great. The first problem was the title. It is usually not a good idea to release a single with the same name as a recent hit and Duran Duran had just reached the Pop Top 10 with their "Notorious" early in the year. It seems to cause confusion with people thinking the newer song is a remake. Plus, it doesn't help that both songs feature a stuttering "notorious." A damn good song can overcome the issues and that leads to the second problem here. The song wasn't all that strong. The opening is the best part. After that it kind of lost me. It's like they were trying too hard to come up with a rockin' hit. Two of Loverboy's recent hits were pop-leaning ballads and I think this was their attempt to gain back some of their rock cred while still trying to keep mainstream (and keep up with bands like Bon Jovi). Unfortunately it didn't work out.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  For this song the band got a little bit of writing assistance from a couple of newly minted rock stars. Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora co-wrote the song with Todd Cerney and Loverboy members Mike Reno and Paul Dean. It seems that around the time that Jon Bon Jovi was writing songs for his band's Slippery When Wet album, he thought it would be a good idea to start composing tracks for other artists, a al Bryan Adams and his partner Jim Vallance. Bon Jovi and Sambora had begun writing tunes with Desmond Child when they heard Loverboy was looking for new songs. The first one the trio came up with was "You Give Love a Bad Name," but it ended up being too good to give away. Later, Bon Jovi and Sambora met up with Loverboy and together hashed out this track. Unfortunately, like several songs sold by Adams/Vallance, the Bon Jovi/Sambora effort didn't result in a major hit.


Sunday, August 23, 2020

"Women" by Def Leppard

Song#:  3235
Date:  08/22/1987
Debut:  94
Peak:  80
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Hard Rock, Arena Rock

Pop Bits:  Back in 1983, Def Leppard broke through in a big way with their third album Pyromania. It would be a multi-platinum #2 that featured four Rock Top 10 tracks (two hit #1) and three Pop Top 30 singles, including the #12 "Photograph." Anxious to get started on a follow-up, the band started to write songs along with producer Mutt Lange in 1984. However, a couple of setbacks (see below) sidelined the band and delayed the album. After a difficult three-year period, they were finally able to return with their fourth album Hysteria. This first single was released and predictably it did well at Rock getting to #7. Unfortunately, it just didn't register with pop listeners and the song could only manage a brief appearance at the bottom of the Pop chart. It was an unexpected slow start for the LP, but it wouldn't be long before the band came roaring back with a string of hits that would make the album the best selling of their career.

ReduxReview:  Oddly, this song was the first single in the US and Canada, but the rest of the world got "Animal" first. According to what I've read, the band wanted to do that in order to make sure that fans of their original hard rock sound got on board first before releasing tracks that were geared more towards a mainstream audience. It was a risky move because if the song tanked at Pop (which it did) and it caused the next single to not do well, the album might have been sunk. However, the ploy worked as after this song they unleashed a string of radio-ready fare that pushed them to superstardom. As for this track, yeah, it was a bit on the rough side for pop, but it was still solid and catchy with heavy, booming production by Lange. It has kind of been forgotten these days in favor of the band's bigger hits, yet I'll listen to this jam most any time.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  During the creation of the Hysteria album, the band experience several issues and setbacks. Initially, their producer/co-writer Mutt Lange was set to work on the LP, but after things got kicked off, Lange decided he needed to drop out due to a heavy schedule that left him exhausted. The band then got Jim Steinman to step in. Steinman's and the band's visions for the albums didn't sync and after one completed track, the two parties decided it wasn't working and Steinman was out. The band then tried to produce it themselves, but that didn't work either and all sessions were scrapped. Then the worst part happened. Drummer Rick Allen lost his left arm in a car accident. Undeterred and supported by the band, Allen worked out how to play the drums with just one arm. This of course delayed the album further, but the extra time allowed for Lange to return following his break. It would seem the band had had enough bad luck, but then Lange had his own accident that caused a minor delay and then lead singer Joe Elliott somehow got the mumps. Still, the band persevered and finally finished the album.