Wednesday, December 29, 2021

"Don't Rush Me" by Taylor Dayne

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3714
Date:  11/05/1988
Debut:  81
Peak:  2
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  By this point in time, Taylor Dayne's debut album Tell It to My Heart had become a platinum success that spawned three Top 10 hits including the #3 ballad "I'll Always Love You." It was the third single from the LP and with that result the label chose to issue out a fourth single. "Don't Rush Me" was pushed out and after a bit of a slow start, the song climbed the chart and surprisingly became Dayne's highest peaking hit at Pop reaching #2. It also did well at Dance (#6) and AC (#3). The hit helped spur some more albums sales and eventually it would go double-platinum. It was decided not to release a fifth single from the LP so Dayne didn't get the opportunity to try and join the minor handful of artists who got five Pop Top 10 hits from one album. However, she did join the club of those who did get four from one album, which at the time included Cyndi Lauper, Wham!, Madonna, Debbie Gibson, Richard Marx, Prince, Lionel Richie, The Pointer Sisters, Heart, Huey Lewis & the News, and a few others.

ReduxReview:  I'm not sure if anyone expected Dayne's album to generate four Top 10s in a row, but it happened. In addition to Dayne being a great singer with a recognizable voice, it helped that she was able to secure several top-notch, radio-ready tracks for the LP. The key to it all was making sure that the album's title track single would be a hit. After that happened, I bet both Dayne and the label were like, "yeah...we got this." Then boom. Three more excellent singles followed. This fourth single was another hook-laden dance-pop track that was taken to the next level by Dayne's performance. It was a great way to wrap up the string of hits.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Taylor Dayne played a small, but important part in the career of a rising stand-up comic. Tig Notaro had been running her own company in the early 90s that managed bands, but by the late 90s she turned into a performer herself and started a career in stand-up. Her reputation grew over the years and in 2004 she got the chance to do her own Comedy Central special. Some film and TV role came her way including a recurring role on The Sarah Silverman Show, but Notaro seemed to still be flying under the radar. In 2011, she recorded her first comedy album Good One. On it was a monologue about how many times she unexpectedly met Taylor Dayne. Each time she saw Dayne, Notaro would approach her and say "Excuse me. I'm sorry to bother you, but I have to tell you. I love your voice." Each time it elicited a different reaction from Dayne. Oddly, Notaro ran into Dayne several times over the years and it became fodder for her true-life monologue. In 2012, Notaro was able to secure a spot on the Ira Glass NPR program This American Life in a live show setting and she performed the Taylor Dayne monologue. Notaro nailed the performance, which was a coup, but then Glass had a surprise for her. After Notaro finished, Glass introduced Taylor Dayne and she came out and performed "I Will Always Love You" to a surprised, and slightly peeved (but ultimately into it) Notaro. The segment became hugely popular and helped push Notaro's career. Unfortunately, right around the same time, Notaro was diagnosed with breast cancer. She addressed the cancer and its difficulties in one of her live shows just a few days after her diagnosis, which had been taped. Comedian Louis C.K. wanted to release the performance as a download on his website, but Notaro was reluctant. Finally realizing that perhaps it could help someone, she allowed for the show to be released. It became a success that eventually earned Notaro a Grammy nod for Best Comedy Recording. The Dayne segment along with the Live album helped Notaro break through in a bigger way. Her 2-16 album/TV special Boyish Girl Interrupted would earn her another Grammy nod along with an Emmy nomination. (Note: I highly recommend looking up her This American Life Dayne performance. It is hilarious.)


Tuesday, December 28, 2021

"Ghost Town" by Cheap Trick

Song#:  3713
Date:  11/05/1988
Debut:  83
Peak:  33
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  After a mid-80s slump, Cheap Trick roared back with their album Lap of Luxury. In addition to its first single, "The Flame," hitting #1, its follow-up "Don't Be Cruel" also found its way into the Pop Top 10 (#4). The pair of hits basically demanded that a third single be released from the LP and this track was selected. It couldn't keep up with the pace set by the other two hits and ended up locked outside of the Pop Top 30 while only reaching #32 Rock. While it didn't do all that well, it did mark the first time that the band earned three Pop Top 40 entries from one album.

ReduxReview:  While I don't think this song was destined to be a major hit, it was a standout track on the album and was a good choice for a third single. The power ballad featured a hooky chorus along with Robin Zander's yearning vocals. It was a solid pop/rock track that did about as well as it could on the charts.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song was initially written and demoed by the band's lead guitarist Rick Nielsen in 1981. It was developed as a potential song for the band's 1982 One on One (#39, gold), but it got set aside in favor of other tunes. When gathering songs for Lap of Luxury, Nielsen revived the tune. Around that time, the label convinced the band to allow outside writers either contribute songs or help in their songwriting. One ringer that was brought in was Diane Warren. She assisted Nielsen in making "Ghost Town" a viable track for the album. In doing so, Warren earned a writing credit. The momentary partnership seemed to work as the song would end up becoming a Pop Top 40 single.  2) During the Lap of Luxury sessions, the band recorded several songs that didn't make the cut. A minor few of them would end up on film soundtracks or would be included on a Cheap Trick retrospective box. Several others remained on the shelf. However, one tune written by Rick Nielsen along with Journey's Jonathan Cain would end up getting picked up by another artist. The Japanese all-female hard rock/glam metal band Show-Ya would record "We'll Still Be Hangin' On" for their 1988 album Glamour. The band had been successful in Japan and with the advent of glam metal in the States in the late 80s, they began to gear some of their material towards a more international audience. They would perform in the US and their 1990 album Hard Way would be produced by Beau Hill (Ratt, Warrant, Winger) and Paul Winger, brother of Winger leader Kip Winger. While Show-Ya would never really gain a big US audience, they remained successful and influential at home.


Monday, December 27, 2021

"Baby Can I Hold You" by Tracy Chapman

Song#:  3712
Date:  11/05/1988
Debut:  84
Peak:  48
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Contemporary Folk, Singer/Songwriter

Pop Bits:  Chapman's self-titled debut album was an unexpected smash that earned her three Grammy awards including one for Best New Artist. It all came about thanks to her #6 single "Fast Car." She followed it up with "Talkin' bout a Revolution," but that tune just didn't resonate as well and stalled at #75. Looking for a better result, this third single from the album was released. It did indeed do better, but it still wasn't able to put Chapman back into the Pop Top 40. However, it did do a bit better at AC where it reached #19. It would be the last single released from the album.

ReduxReview:  This really should have been the LP's second single. If it had been, I think it would have easily made the Top 40. However, I think the label wanted something more upbeat for a second single instead of another ballad and chose "Revolution," which was a good song, but not as single-worthy as "Baby Can I Hold You." It was a missed opportunity. This was a lovely track that had a different feel and mood from "Fast Car" and was truly the only other track on the album that had a chance at becoming a hit. Sadly it got relegated to the third single and with a little momentum lost, the tune wasn't quite strong enough (or promoted well enough) to get Chapman higher up on the charts.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) In 1997, this song was remade by the Irish boy band Boyzone. The assembled group of five male vocalists kicked off their career in a big way when their first single, a remake of The Four Seasons #9 1966 hit "Working My Way Back to You," got to #3 in the UK. From then on, Boyzone mania hit. Between 1994 and 2010, the group would amass nineteen UK Top 10s with nine of those hitting #1. Four of the five associated albums during that time frame would reach #1 while the fifth would peak at #2. Among their hits was their remake of Chapman's song. It would be issued out as a double-sided "a" single in 1997 along with the track "Shooting Star." It would be a #2 hit. Boyzone had become superstars in the UK and parts of Europe, but in the US they remained virtually unknown. Attempts were made to break them in the US, but the only song that did anything was their 1988 single "No Matter What" (#1 UK). It was able to reach #12 AC while bubbling under the Pop chart at a very minor #116. Maybe because during that time frame the US already had a glut of popular boy bands that there just wasn't space for one coming in from the UK. Another hugely successful boy band from the UK in the 90s, Take That, also had difficulty breaking in the US. However, they at least became a one-hit wonder in the States thanks to one lone single making the Pop chart, 1995's "Back for Good," which got to #7 (#2 AC/#1 UK). Other UK boy bands that were successful in the UK but were barely blips in the US were Westlife, East 17, and 5ive.  2) This song was the subject of a lawsuit. In 2018, rapper Nicki Minaj used an interpolation of Chapman's song for her track "Sorry." At the time Minaj was recording the tune, she apparently thought the sample of the song she was using was from reggae artist Shelly Thunder's version of Chapman's tune titled "Sorry." However, it was actually Chapman's original. Minaj's team sought to get clearance for the sample, but Chapman denied the request on more than one occasion. Minaj was then forced to leave the song off of her album. However, the song got leaked and that was when Chapman sued for copyright infringement. After all the court proceedings, Minaj agreed to pay Chapman $450,000 to settle the case.


Sunday, December 26, 2021

"It's the Money That Matters" by Randy Newman

Song#:  3711
Date:  11/05/1988
Debut:  85
Peak:  60
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  The last time Newman was on the Pop chart was back in 1983 when his duet with Paul Simon, "The Blues," got to #51.  It was taken from his LP Trouble in Paradise (#64), an album that would end up being his last one for nearly six years. Yet during that hiatus of sorts, Newman was not idle. He began focusing more on film music, which led to a score for 1984's The Natural and songs for the 1986 comedy Three Amigos. By 1988, he was ready to return to being a singer/songwriter and assembled a new album titled Land of Dreams. This single would be issued out from the album and it made a big splash at Rock reaching #1 on that chart. It would end up being Newman's first and only #1 on any chart. The tune then crossed over to Pop, but it couldn't even crack the top half of the chart. With that result, the album then stopped at #80. Land of Dreams would be Newman's last solo album for eleven years.

ReduxReview:  I remember this song, but had no idea it was a #1 Rock track. Odd to think of a Newman track fending off the likes of R.E.M. and U2 for the top spot while artists like Bon Jovi and Def Leppard were also in the Top 10. It was quite the accomplishment for Newman, but sadly the song didn't translate as well to pop radio. The guitar-driven track was certainly one of Newman's most radio-friendly efforts. It's wry lyrics may have been lost on some, but its catchy chorus kept folks listening. Despite only having one significant Pop hit with 1977's #2 "Short People," Newman ranks among America's greatest composers/songwriters. Many artists have covered his songs over the years and he even got a #1 Pop hit as a writer when his "Mama Told Me (Not to Come)" became a chart topper for Three Dog Night in 1970. Singer/songwriter Harry Nilsson loved Newman's work so much that he did a full covers album in 1970 titled Nilsson Sings Newman. While he may not have been a huge pop star, Newman remains a highly respected composer and songwriter who has won seven Grammys, three Emmys, and two Oscars. All he needs it that Tony for the EGOT!

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  After Land of Dreams, Newman basically threw himself fully into writing songs and scores for films. Arguably his most well-known and successful effort came in 1995 when he did the music for the Pixar megahit Toy Story. That soundtrack featured the Oscar nominated song "You've Got a Friend in Me." While he would not with the award that year, he would later win the Best Original Song Oscar twice. First in 2001 for "If I Didn't Have You" from Monsters, Inc. Then again in again in 2010 for "We Belong Together" from Toy Story 3. Between 1981 and 2019, Newman's scores and songs would earn him twenty-two Oscar nominations that resulted in the two wins. While film music became his primary focus, Newman didn't forget to drop a solo album on occasion. He would have new studio efforts come out in 1999, 2008, and 2017. He also released three Storybook albums where he remade various songs from his back catalog.