Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Milestone! The Year in Review: 1987

Eight years down, two to go! It has been quite the project, but it has been rewarding and a ton o' fun.
As for 1987, it sounded a lot like 1986. There was little new ground broken. Rap was still trying to make a bigger impact in a mainstream way. The Stock Aitken Waterman team was still chuggin' along. Madonna and Whitney Houston were continuing their hit streaks. However, there were a few newsworthy things to note. U2 broke through in a huge way with their Grammy-winning album The Joshua Tree, which put the band on the fast track to superstardom. Right alongside of them was George Michael and his solo debut Faith. The year saw two artists return with follow-ups to massive selling albums. Michael Jackson finally followed up his 1982 Thriller with Bad while Bruce Springsteen's Tunnel of Love served as his formal follow-up to 1984's Born in the U.S.A. Latin Freestyle music continued to grow on the chart while folks began to take notice of New Jack Swing. CDs were becoming more popular and beginning to eat into the sales of vinyl as the 45 RPM single format continued its decline. Movie soundtracks were still big business as evidenced by Dirty Dancing's 18 weeks at #1.

According to my personal stats, it seems I enjoyed '87 a bit more than '86. There was a good increase in songs that I rated a 10 from 8 in '86 to 12 in '87. Typically, my Top 5 favorite songs of the year list showcases a variety of styles, artists and genres, but for '87 it was rock heavy. It was also male-centric with all five songs led by men with only an appearance by Dusty Springfield to break up the boys club. This was completely opposite from '86, which featured four female-led tracks with the fifth done by a male/female group. This was also the first year where one act took the top two slots on my Top 5 - U2. It also marks the third time in the decade that a John Cougar Mellencamp song made the Top 5 list. The feat ties him with with Eurythmics for the most appearances in my year-end Top 5 list.

I'm still enjoying this project and I hope anyone who encounters the blog will have fun as well. Keep reading, pass it along to friends, feel free to send comments, and don't forget to "Rate It!" at the bottom of each post. Here is a recap of 1987:

Number of charted songs in 1986:  392  (401 in 1986)
Time it took listen/post all songs:  1 year, 31 days  (1 year, 36 days for 1986)
Number of songs that debuted in 1987 to hit #1:  32  (30 in 1986)
Number of songs that debuted in 1987 to reach the Top 10 (excluding #1's):  79  (81 in 1986)
Number of gold singles:  14  (17 in 1986)
Number of platinum singles: (1 in 1986)
Number of songs that won a Grammy:  (6 in 1986)
Number of One-Hit Wonders:  (6 in 1986)
Number of Rated 10 songs:  12  (8 for 1986)
Number of Rated 1 songs:  (0 for 1986)
Top 5 favorite chart songs of the year:
  1. "With or Without You" by U2
  2. "Where the Streets Have No Name" by U2
  3. "Cherry Bomb" by John Cougar Mellencamp
  4. "Tunnel of Love" by Bruce Springsteen
  5. "What Have I Done to Deserve This?" by Pet Shop Boys & Dusty Springfield
Worst song of the year:  "Lean on Me" by Club Nouveau
Best song I didn't know existed:  "Love Is Contageous" by Taja Sevelle
Favorite discovery: KTP's album Certain Things Are Likely
 A few other fun stats:

Highest debut:  #37 - "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" by Michael Jackson (peaked at #1)
Lowest debut:  #99 - "Hold Me" by Colin James Hay (peaked at #99)

Longest climb to peak position:  "You Keep Me Hangin' On" by Kim Wilde climbed 95 positions from #96 to #1

Longest trip to #1 for a song debuting in 1987:  "Here I Go Again" by Whitesnake took 15 weeks to reach #1
Quickest trip to #1 for a song debuting in 1987:  "Lean on Me" by Club Nouveau and "Bad" by Michael Jackson both took 6 weeks to reach #1.
Most weeks at #1 for a song debuting in 1987:  4 - "Faith" by George Michael

Most weeks on the chart for a song debuting in 1987:  30 - "In My Dreams" by REO Speedwagon (it peaked at #19).

Average number of weeks a song spent on the chart:  13
Position on chart where the most songs debuted:  #91 - 25 songs debuted at that spot (2 hit the Top 10)
Longest song title:  "Can'tcha Say (You Still Believe in Me)/Still in Love " by Boston
Shortest song title:  "Bad" by Michael Jackson

A few artists who got their first chart single in 1987: Boy George, Crowded House, Debbie Gibson, Exposé, Jody Watley, Kenny G, LL Cool J, Poison, Rick Astley, Salt-N-Pepa, Suzanne Vega, Terence Trent D'Arby, Tiffany

Runners-Up:  9 songs peaked at #2, 2 songs peaked at #11, and 1 songs peaked at #41

Some interesting things learned (click links for more details in previous posts): 
  • The Swedish band Deep Sunshine was captured on video (posted on YouTube) performing Europe's "The Final Countdown." It's considered by many to be the worst cover song ever done. 
  • The three women who ultimately made up the vocal group Exposé were all replacements for the original line-up who were either fired or left just prior to recording the debut album.
  • Billy Idol recorded a Christmas album.
  • Run-D.M.C. were sued by members of The Knack for using a sample of "My Sharona" in the song "It's Tricky," nearly twenty years after "It's Tricky" was first released.
  • Before releasing Sign 'O' the Times, Prince had basically completed three other albums, all of which were shelved with some tracks being repurposed for Sign.
  • Motown head Berry Gordy hated Marvin Gaye's classic LP What's Going On and initially refused to release it.
  • Kenny G had four singles reach the R&B chart including one that got to #15 prior to him finally making the Pop chart with "Songbird."
  • Billy Idol was inspired to write "Sweet Sixteen" after discovering the Florida attraction the Coral Castle.
  • Heart's #1 hit "Alone" had been recorded twice before with one of the versions being featured on a TV series soundtrack.
  • Glenn Frey was supposed to record "Shakedown."
  • Richard Marx's father wrote some famous advertisement jingles.
  • Laura Branigan was the last musical guest on a famous and influential TV show.
  • Aretha Franklin wasn't a fan of Natalie Cole.
  • Great White's lead singer shot a maid during a botched home invasion.
  • A tabloid journalist and sometimes musician accused Pet Shop Boys of plagiarism and ended up paying a price for it.
  • Michael Jackson wanted "Bad" to be a duet with Prince.
  • The band Big Trouble were created to be the all-female version of The Monkees.
  • Patrick Swayze's "She's Like the Wind" was written for another movie.
According to the year-end chart for 1987, these were the year's Top 10 singles:
  1. "Walk Like an Egyptian" by The Bangles
  2. "Alone" by Heart
  3. "Shake You Down" by Gregory Abbott
  4. "I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)" by Whitney Houston
  5. "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" by Starship
  6. "C'est La Vie" by Robbie Nevil
  7. "Here I Go Again" by Whitesnake
  8. "The Way It Is" by Bruce Hornsby & the Range
  9. "Shakedown" by Bob Seger
  10. "Livin' on a Prayer" by Bon Jovi
So long '87! I'm looking forward to see what '88 has in store. Hopefully I find a few more undiscovered gems.


  1. I do notice you didn't rate Michael Jackson's songs too highly from this year like you did during his Thriller era, I do agree MJ's songs from the Bad era aren't as great compared to his songs from the superior Thriller era, I thought 1987 was a very good year for pop music (although the first half IMO was the stronger half of the two).

    My Top 5 favorite songs for 1987 are

    1. INXS's "I Need You Tonight"
    2. Whitesnake's "Still Of The Night"
    3. U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For"
    4. Expose's "Seasons Change"
    5. Pet Shop Boys featuring Dusty Springfield's "What Have I Done To Deserve This?"

    1. Yes, I liked the album and singles from Bad, but didn't love them like some from Thriller. Your Top 5 selections are very good.

  2. I'm still here every day, reading every post. What a ride!

  3. To me "Thriller" was MJ at his peak, to me MJ's best single from the Bad era is "Man In The Mirror", I'm glad you liked my Top 5 selections