Friday, January 1, 2021

"Lonely Won't Leave Me Alone" by Glenn Medeiros

Song#:  3364
Date:  12/19/1987
Debut:  94
Peak:  67
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  "Watching Over You," Medeiros' second single from his debut album, didn't perform nearly as well as his #12 "Nothing's Gonna Change My Love for You" topping out at a very lackluster #80. His label decided to give it one more shot to secure another hit and pushed out this third single. While it did a little bit better, the tune still failed to even get close to the Pop Top 40. Like the previous single, it also failed to make the AC chart. With those results, Medeiros would then retreat to the studio to record his second album.

ReduxReview:  This was a fairly good AC ballad and probably should have been the second single and hawked to AC radio. However, if Jackson (see below) decided it wasn't good enough to push out as a single, chances are it wasn't going to do much for Medeiros and indeed it didn't. Plus, if they wanted to keep Medeiros' Tiger Beat teen audience interested, they really needed an uptempo pop tune to lure them back. Oddly, the producers turned Medeiros, a teenager himself, into a ballad crooner and it didn't work out beyond the first hit. Medeiros wouldn't be able to alter his career until his third album in 1990.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a song originally recorded by Jermaine Jackson. Jackson recorded the tune for his 1986 album Precious Moments. It was co-written by Jackson with David Foster, Tom Keane, and Kathy Wakefield. The track was released as a single in certain territories, but it was not issued out in the US. It ended up being a hit in Belgium reaching #14.


Thursday, December 31, 2020

"Rain in the Summertime" by The Alarm

Song#:  3363
Date:  12/19/1987
Debut:  96
Peak:  71
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  This Welsh band reached the US Pop chart with their 1985 single "Strength." It was taken from their second album of the same name and reached #61 Pop/#12 Rock. With more folks aware of the band in the US, they tried to keep up the momentum with their third effort, Eye of the Hurricane. This first single was released and it became their first to crack the Rock Top 10 at #6. On the Pop chart it wasn't able to break through and could only manage a couple of months near the bottom of the chart. The album would end up peaking at #77, which wasn't as good as their previous LP (#39).

ReduxReview:  The Alarm was often compared to U2, a band with which they had opened for on earlier 80s tours. They wore the U2 influences on their sleeves while trying to establish their own voice and it was starting to work out well with their LP Strength starting to break them through in a bigger way. Eye of the Hurricane probably should have taken them further into their own individuality, but it seems they just couldn't shake the ghost of U2 and didn't do much to advance their sound. This first single certainly had a U2 feel and lead singer Mike Peters even seemed to be channeling Bono. Yet despite the continued U2 veil of influence, the band did have a knack for penning some good tunes and this was one of them.  I love the joyous feeling of the chorus mixed with the near-military marching arrangement. It sounds defiant and jubilant, which was kind of different for the band who were more known for their darker, more political tunes. What comes to mind in the chorus is the moment in The Shawshank Redemption where Tim Robbins after having escaped the prison thankfully falls to his knees and raises his arms to the sky in the pouring rain while the camera looks down on him. That one moment sums up the chorus of the song.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  The follow-up single selected from the album was "Rescue Me." While it didn't make the Pop chart, it did reach #35 at Rock. It was probably thought that the song might have done better due to it being included on a soundtrack album from a popular US TV show. The track was used in the hit Fox drama 21 Jump Street. The show was about a team of undercover cops who looked young enough to meld in with high school and college students. The program debuted in April of 1987 and ran for five seasons. It was among the first major successes put out by the fledgling Fox network. The show's popularity with a younger demographic helped it become the first Fox program to beat one of the Big 3 network's (CBS, ABC, and NBC) programs in its time slot. 21 Jump Street was also famous for being the launching pad for three-time Oscar nominated actor Johnny Depp, who stayed with the show for four seasons. In 2012, the show was adapted into a buddy comedy film that starred Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum. Reviews for the flick were mostly positive and it became a box office hit.


Wednesday, December 30, 2020

"Twilight World" by Swing Out Sister

Song#:  3362
Date:  12/19/1987
Debut:  97
Peak:  31
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Sophisti-Pop, Smooth Jazz

Pop Bits:  This UK trio made their mark with the single "Breakout." The tune would get to #6 Pop and #1 AC. The hit would earn the band two Grammy nominations, including Best New Artist, and send their debut LP, It's Better to Travel, to #40. For a follow-up, this next track was selected. The tune would do well at AC reaching #7. Over on the Pop chart, the song stalled just shy of the Top 30 mark. A third single, "Surrender," would get to #37 AC, but fail to make the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  This smooth, string-laden piece of jazz-pop sounded quite dramatic and classy. While it may not have been as catchy or as pop radio-oriented as "Breakout," it was an equally good song. I think it should have done a bit better than its #31 peak. The trio definitely defined their sound with these singles, which was both good and not great. They secured the hits their first go at it, but if they rinse and repeat with their next LP, would anyone be interested?

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  So how did the band come up with their name? It seems the moniker came from a old b-movie titled Swing Out, Sister. Released in 1945, the film starred Frances Raeburn, Billie Burke (Glinda the Good Witch from The Wizard of Oz), and Arthur Treacher (yes, of the famous fish 'n' chips place). The musical comedy's plot centered on two former sweethearts who are involved in the classical music world, but secretly and separately they perform in jazz clubs under different names so not to upset their prominent families. Hi-jinx ensue as they discover each other's secret and begin to rekindle their romance. The small b-movie was made by Universal and was pretty much forgotten after its release. However, it somehow came to the attention of Andy Connell, Martin Jackson, and Corinne Drewery when they were seeking a name for their new band. Apparently, the trio couldn't fully agree on a name, but there was one that they all agreed on disliking - Swing Out Sister. Although they didn't like the name, since they couldn't fully agree on anything else, they decided to go with the one they all felt the same about.


Tuesday, December 29, 2020

"Burning Like a Flame" by Dokken

Song#:  3361
Date:  12/19/1987
Debut:  98
Peak:  72
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Hard Rock

Pop Bits:  Dokken's third album, Under Lock and Key, was their most successful to-date reaching #32 and going platinum. It got a boost thanks to the single "In My Dreams," which got to #24 Rock/#77 Pop. Building on that momentum, the band recorded their fourth studio album Back for the Attack. While a track from the album had already been released earlier in February ("Dream Warriors," the title song to the horror flick A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, which got to #22 Rock), this follow-up single was the first released to truly promote the album. It became their second Top 20 hit at Rock getting to #20. The tune then crossed over to Pop where it hung around the bottom quarter of the chart for a couple of months. Despite the lackluster performance of the single, the band's reputation and fans helped the album get to #13 and become a platinum seller. It would be the best charting effort of their career.

ReduxReview:  Dokken were definitely good at writing solid arena rock track that pleased fans of the genre, but they never were able to come up with that one hooky song that could secure them a mainstream hit. At this point in the 80s with other hard rock/glam bands grabbing hits, it was the perfect time for them to unleash something that would take them to the next level. Unfortunately, this tune didn't do the trick. It was probably the closest thing to a radio-ready track they ever did, but it still didn't have that extra commercial-leaning edge that brought fame to the likes of Bon Jovi or Def Leppard. The chorus was hooky and memorable, but the rest of the tune didn't come up to that level, so parts of it fell a bit flat. Overall it just wasn't enough to really grab radio listeners.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  After Back for the Attack was released, the band went out on tour. Performances from those shows were collected to form the band's first live album, 1988's Beast from the East. To help promote the album, a new studio track was tacked on the end of the LP and released as a single. "Walk Away" would get to #48 at Rock. The album sold well getting to #33 and going gold. The live disc would earn Dokken their first and only Grammy nomination (for Best Metal Performance). In 1989, Dokken would formally split due to issues between members along with ongoing creative differences. Members would start their own projects and perhaps the most successful was guitarist George Lynch's band Lynch Mob. Their first two albums in '90 and '92 sold well thanks to a pair of Rock Top 20 hits including the #13 "Tangled in the Web." Don Dokken's 1990 solo album Up from the Ashes also did fairly well reaching #50. Like a lot of band, Dokken would get back together in 1993. They would record several albums, but none would perform nearly as well as their earlier platinum and gold efforts.


Monday, December 28, 2020

"What Have I Done to Deserve This?" by Pet Shop Boys & Dusty Springfield

Top 10 Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  3360
Date:  12/12/1987
Debut:  60
Peak:  2
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Synthpop

Pop Bits:  The UK duo escaped the sophomore curse with their second studio album Actually going gold thanks to the #9 "It's a Sin" along with this even bigger follow-up. The duet with 60s UK blue-eyed soul star Dusty Springfield hit all the right notes and nearly topped the Pop chart. It was the duo's fourth Top 10 in the US. The song also got to #1 at Dance, their second to top that chart, and #14 AC.

ReduxReview:  In an article by Nick Levine in the UK music magazine NME, he stated of this song that "before it's even finished, you already want to play it again." I can't agree enough. The oddly structured song was loaded with hooks and it ended up being very influential on me. Mainly because it was the way I discovered Dusty Springfield. I was slightly familiar with her because I was familiar with her first hit, 1963's "Wishin' and Hopin'" (#6 US Pop). Other than that, I knew nothing. But her voice on the song fascinated me and so I dove deeper and the first stop was her beyond classic 1968 recording Dusty in Memphis. After I heard that, I was utterly hooked. I've been a huge Dusty fan since then. Selecting her for this track was an inspired choice. Her husky, soulful voice softened and gave life to Pet Shop Boys' more rigid and mechanical synthpop style. It was a match made in pop heaven. While I loved "West End Girls," for me this was, and still is, the duo's best moment on record.


Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song was written by Pet Shop Boys (Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe) along with Allee Willis. The structure of the song was a bit unusual. There was a spoken word part along with two sections that were quite different. Each part had its own distinctive hook, which is not like a typical pop song that has a verse and a catchy chorus. The song ended up this way because each composer wrote a part of the song and those three chunks were then stitched together. It was an unusual approach, but it worked out and made the song stand out from the normal pop chart fare.  2) The song had been written three years prior to it getting recorded and from the get-go, Neil Tennant had only one person in mind for the duet, Dusty Springfield. Springfield was a 60s music icon who earned nine Top 10 hits in the UK between '63 and '68. She was so popular that she even had her own TV variety series for four years. She was less popular in the US earning only three Top 10s in the same time period with her 1968 #10 hit "Son of a Preacher Man" arguably being her most iconic song in the States. That song was featured on her classic LP Dusty in Memphis, which continually appears on lists of the best albums of all time (#83 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest). Initially, the duo's label wasn't thrilled with the Springfield choice because she hadn't had a significant chart entry since 1970. They suggested Tina Turner or Barbra Streisand, but Tennant was adamant and after some coaxing, Springfield came on board. The hit helped revive her career and in 1989 Pet Shop Boys wrote and produced five tracks for Springfield's comeback album Reputation. Two of those tracks became Top 20 hits in the UK. Unfortunately, none of the singles made the US Pop chart, but the track "In Private" did get to #14 at Dance. Springfield would pass away in 1999 from breast cancer.


Sunday, December 27, 2020

"Hot in the City" by Billy Idol

Song#:  3359
Date:  12/12/1987
Debut:  81
Peak:  48
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Idol earned his first and only US #1 hit with a live version of "Mony Mony." With that success, Idol's label thought a follow-up was necessary. Instead of choosing one of the remixes on his Vital Idol collection that was on the chart around this time (and did not include the live "Mony Mony"), a decision was made to just reissue out Idol's 1982 single "Hot in the City," which had originally peaked at #23. Since the tune wasn't a big hit when originally released and Idol was arguably at his peak in the US with "Mony Mony," it was perhaps thought the song might become a bigger hit the second time around. The ploy didn't really work out. While it did pick up some sales and airplay, it wasn't enough to even get the song in the Top 40. It would be Idol's last single to reach the US Pop chart in the 80s.

ReduxReview:  I thought it was a silly idea to just reissue this song. It wasn't a dud on initial release so folks were already familiar with it. If they had taken a moment and developed a good, modern remix on the tune to amp it up for the late 80s, perhaps even make it more of a dance track, then it might have worked better. Instead, they got lazy and just pushed it out and the results were justified. As I said in my earlier post, it was a good song that fit in well with his other hits, but it's not one I clamor to hear.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  The 90s started out rough for Idol. In Feburary of 1990, Idol had a motorcycle accident that wrecked up his leg so bad that he almost lost it. But after operations and steel rod, the leg was saved. However, Idol's lengthy recuperation took a bit of a toll on his career. He was to have a good role in Oliver Stone's bio pic The Doors, but due to Idol's condition, his role was cut down. Perhaps worse was that director James Cameron had wanted Idol to be the T-1000 android in Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Because of Idol's accident and recovery, he couldn't do the film. Robert Patrick got the role instead and the film was a major success. Still, Idol went on to record his next album, 1990's Charmed Life, which featured the #2 hit "Cradle of Love." The album would get to #11 and go platinum. After that, Idol's career quickly cooled. His 1993 LP Cyberpunk failed to generate a Pop chart entry and was unable to even go gold. It would be eleven years before he would record another album.