Saturday, February 19, 2022

Milestone! The Year in Review: 1988

Nine years down. Seriously? I can't believe I've been at this for so long. Yet it is still fun, interesting, exciting, and rewarding. Just one more year to go!
As for 1988, there were some new trends happening. Rap was evolving and moving into more serious territory with ballads and the advent of gangsta rap. Freestyle was still on the rise while the Stock Aitken Waterman machine was still crankin' out the hits. Def Leppard and Guns N' Roses were taking hard rock to new levels. Sampling was becoming more prevalent with house music starting to break through in a bigger way. Michael Jackson's Bad run came to an end while Whitney Houston's third album was setting records with its singles. Paula Abdul began to break through while some long lasting artists grabbed their final Pop chart hits (Barry Manilow, Olivia Newton-John). The boy band craze was about to set in with New Edition and New Kids on the Block becoming the leaders. The year also saw the recording debut by a future star. Although she wouldn't make the charts, Tori Amos' band Y Kant Tori Read would be issued out in July of '88. 

According to my personal stats, it was a year that had several low rated songs including two that were rated zero - a first. There was also a steep decrease in tunes rated 10. I think a lot of what I loved about 80s music was beginning to transition in new directions and I wasn't necessarily a fan of what was going on. There was still a lot to like about the last couple years of the 80s, but the material and artists just couldn't compare to those of the early 80s. It was also an odd year in that two artists each had two rated 10 songs and the artists couldn't be more different (Erasure and Guns N' Roses). The final chart of the year kind of says it all as at the time I only owned four songs that were in the Top 10. That was a new low for me. I'm hoping the last year of the 80s perks up a bit, but I have a feeling that it may stay long the tepid lines of '88.

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, and feel free to send comments. Here is a recap of 1988:

Number of charted songs in 1988:  385  (392 in 1987)
Time it took listen/post all songs:  1 year, 37 days  (1 year, 31 days for 1987)
Number of songs that debuted in 1988 to hit #1:  29  (32 in 1987)
Number of songs that debuted in 1988 to reach the Top 10 (excluding #1's):  85  (79 in 1987)
Number of gold singles:  26  (14 in 1987)
Number of platinum singles: 3  (3 in 1987)
Number of double-platinum singles: 1  (0 in 1987)
Number of songs that won a Grammy:  8  (6 in 1987)
Number of One-Hit Wonders:  5  (7 in 1987)
Number of Rated 10 songs:  5  (12 for 1987)
Number of Rated 1 songs:  2  (1 for 1987)
Number of Rated 0 songs:  2  (0 for 1987)
Top 5 favorite chart songs of the year (two artists both had two rated 10 songs, so I chose to combine them as one entry):
  1. "Chains of Love" / "A Little Respect" by Erasure
  2. "Sweet Child O' Mine" / "Welcome to the Jungle" by Guns N' Roses
  3. "What's on Your Mind (Pure Energy)" by Information Society
  4. "Waiting for a Star to Fall" by Boy Meets Girl
  5. "In Your Room" by The Bangles
Worst song of the year:  "I Saw Him Standing There" by Tiffany
Best song I didn't know existed:  "Wishing I Was Lucky" by Wet Wet Wet
Favorite discovery:  Jon Astley's The Compleat Angler album
 A few other fun stats:

Highest debut:  #40 - "One More Try" by George Michael (peaked at #1)
Lowest debut:  #100 - "Long Way to Love" by Britny Fox  (peaked at #100), "You're Not My Kind of Girl" by New Edition (peaked at #95), and "Only a Memory" by The Smithereens (peaked at #92)

Longest climb to peak position:  "The Lover in Me" by Sheena Easton climbed 97 positions from #99 to #2

Longest trip to #1 for a song debuting in 1987:  "Wishing Well" by Terence Trent D'Arby took 17 weeks to reach #1
Quickest trip to #1 for a song debuting in 1987:  "Father Figure" and "One More Try" both by George Michael each took 7 weeks to reach #1.
Most weeks at #1 for a song debuting in 1987:  4 - "Roll with It" by Steve Winwood

Most weeks on the chart for a song debuting in 1987:  30 - "I'll Always Love You" by Taylor Dayne (it peaked at #3).

Average number of weeks a song spent on the chart:  13
Position on chart where the most songs debuted:  #92 - 21 songs debuted at that spot (6 hit the Top 10, 1 got to #1)
Longest song title:  "It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" by R.E.M.
Shortest song title:  "Yes" by Merry Clayton, "Joy" by Teddy Pendergrass, and "Fat" by "Weird Al" Yankovic

A few artists who got their first chart single in 1988: 10,000 Maniacs, Basia, Erasure, Guns N' Roses, Keith Sweat, Kylie Minogue, Martika, New Kids on the Block, Paula Abdul, Tracy Chapman, Vanessa Williams

Runners-Up:  12 songs peaked at #2, songs peaked at #11, and songs peaked at #41

Some interesting things learned (click links for more details in previous posts): 
  • Jody Watley's younger sister was an adult film star.
  • Whitney Houston had to be coaxed into recording one of her #1 hits.
  • R&B singer SuavĂ© was sentenced to life in prison for murder.
  • Bette Midler tried to record Bruce Springsteen's "Pink Cadillac" before Natalie Cole.
  • Cheap Trick had a choice to record one of two songs. Both would be #1 hits.
  • Brenda K. Starr's "I Still Believe" featured a future superstar on background vocals who would later cover the tune.
  • Steve Winwood's #1 hit "Roll with It" became the subject of a lawsuit.
  • Paula Abdul's first recording experience did not go well.
  • White Lion's leader Mike Tramp was once a Eurovision contestant.
  • The samples from Star Trek on Information Society's "What's on Your Mind (Pure Energy)" came about via one of the show's stars.
  • Kings of the Sun unfortunately learned that pissing off the band you are opening for is not a good idea.
  • Lisa Stansfield hit the Pop chart as part of a group prior to her solo career.
  • Phil Collins was a child actor.
  • The hilarious Taylor Dayne sightings by Tig Notaro.
  • Martika spent three seasons on an 80s kids TV show.
According to the year-end chart for 1988, these were the year's Top 10 singles:
  1. "Faith" by George Michael
  2. "Need You Tonight" by INXS
  3. "Got My Mind Set on You" by George Harrison
  4. "Never Gonna Give You Up" by Rick Ashley
  5. "Sweet Child O' Mine" by Guns N' Roses
  6. "So Emotional" by Whitney Houston
  7. "Heaven Is a Place on Earth" by Belinda Carlisle
  8. "Could've Been" by Tiffany
  9. "Hands to Heaven" by Breathe
  10. "Roll with It" by Steve Winwood
So long '88! I'll be heading into the final charting year for this project. I'm sure '89 will keep me entertained. Although I'll be sad as the last chart approaches. Then what's next? Stay tuned!

Friday, February 18, 2022

"Surrender to Me" by Ann Wilson and Robin Zander

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3757
Date:  12/24/1988
Debut:  80
Peak:  6
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Pop, Soft Rock, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  With her band Heart's soaring popularity in the 80s, some other opportunities came Ann Wilson's way, which included lending her voice to a few songs for film soundtracks. Her first venture was the 1984 duet with Loverboy's Mike Reno "Almost Paradise" from the movie Footloose. It would become a #7 Pop hit. Wilson went solo for her next soundtrack contribution for Eddie Murphy's The Golden Child. "The Best Man in the World" would get to #5 Rock/#61 Pop. A third offer came her way when tunes were being assembled for the soundtrack to the Mel Gibson flick Tequila Sunrise. The song was scheduled to be a duet and this time around Wilson's partner would be Cheap Trick's lead singer Robin Zander. Cheap Trick was on a high at the time coming off of a pair of Top 10 hits, so the timing was right to bring Zander on board. The song selected, "Surrender to Me," was written by newly minted star Richard Marx and Ross Vanelli. It would be produced by Richie Zito, who had just worked with Cheap Trick. The song would be issued out as a single to coincide with the film's release. It would go on to reach the Pop Top 10 while getting to #42 Rock/#44 AC. The hit didn't really spur sales of the soundtrack album, which topped out at #101. It would be the last time that either singer would make the pop chart as a solo artists.

ReduxReview:  This hit sounded like two things: 1) a song from a film, and 2) a Richard Marx tune. Combine those two things with Wilson and Zander and it was inevitable that this track was going to hit the Top 10. It did and it even bested Wilson's previous film hit "Almost Paradise" by a notch. Yet I don't find this song as good or as memorable. I don't think I've heard it since its charting days whereas "Almost Paradise" is still kickin' around. It was a good effort by all involved, but it just didn't make a lasting impact.

ReduxRating:  6/10

TriviaTequila Sunrise was a film written and directed by Robert Towne. It was only his second film where he did both jobs. Normally, Towne either wrote screenplays or served as a script doctor. He would be nominated for four Oscars for writing winning one for the 1974 classic Chinatown. The Tequila Sunrise cast included Mel Gibson, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Kurt Russell. Upon release, the romantic crime drama received mixed reviews from critics, however audiences showed up and it ended up being a good box office hit. The film would earn an Oscar nod for Best Cinematography.


Thursday, February 17, 2022

"All She Wants Is" by Duran Duran

Song#:  3756
Date:  12/24/1988
Debut:  85
Peak:  22
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  The band's fifth studio album, Big Thing, had a pretty good kick off with the first single "I Don't Want Your Love" becoming their ninth Pop Top 10 (#4). The hit would help the album get to #15 and by this point in time it was certified gold. Hoping to extend the life of the LP and get it to platinum territory, they issued out this follow-up single. Like "I Don't Want Your Love," the song would end up topping the Dance chart. However, it did not do as well on the Pop chart as their previous hit. The tune would stop shy of the Top 20. Without a bigger hit, album sales slowed and Big Thing would be the band's first album to miss platinum certification.

ReduxReview:  After kind of dismissing the band for a while, they drew me in with "I Don't Want Your Love" and Big Thing. It wasn't an awesome album, but it was pretty good and I liked the heavier dance vibe they were tossing out. This was another good track from the LP and probably the best candidate for release. I thought it had a chance at the Top 10 as it was something cool and different for the band, but it seemed to work better in clubs than on pop radio.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  The video for this song features the band...sort of. Directed by photographer Dean Chamberlain, the concept was to take long exposures to create a sort of a stop motion type of effect. This would require members of Duran Duran to stand still or pose for lengthy periods of time over several days. With the band out performing and promoting the tour, they had limited time to dedicate to filming a video. So instead of using the actual band members, Chamberlain had latex masks of their faces made from plaster casts and placed on mannequins. These then became the band's stand-ins for them for the video shoot. However, in their limited time available, the band did show up for some of the shoot and the actual Duran Duran can be seen at the beginning and end of the video.


Wednesday, February 16, 2022

"I Beg Your Pardon" by Kon Kan

Song#:  3755
Date:  12/24/1988
Debut:  87
Peak:  15
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Synthpop, Dance-Pop, Hi-NRG

Pop Bits:  Canadian music DJ/producer/songwriter Barry Harris' career was not progressing as he had hoped and the frustration he felt led him to take a bit of a break and regroup. Intrigued by the burgeoning use of music samples and what Pet Shop Boys did with their cover of "Always on My Mind" (#4 US Pop) Harris began to develop a song based on the 1970 Lynn Anderson hit "Rose Garden." As he was working on the track, Harris needed a vocalist to sing the original lyrics he had written. A connection led him to hiring singer Kevin Wynne for the job. When the track, titled "I Beg Your Pardon," was finished Harris worked with a local indie label to get the song pressed and released. The song got some local attention with Harris playing the track at his shows. In attendance at one of Harris's club gigs happened to work for Atlantic Records. He liked what he heard and took copies back to New York. It wasn't long before Atlantic came knocking on Harris' door. They wanted to market Harris and Wynne as a duo and push out the single. The pair signed on with the label and "I Beg Your Pardon" was released nationally. The song quickly made its way to #3 on the Dance chart while at Pop the tune would crack the Top 20. It also got to #19 in Canada. Harris' track, which was meant to be more of a one-off project, became a left-field hit and Atlantic wanted more. Harris along with Wynne then set out to record a debut album that would be released later in '89.

ReduxReview:  This mishmash of original synthpop topped with several samples and interpolation certainly commanded attention. Its Hi-NRG beats mixed with Wynne's droll vocals also made it a bit unusual. Although he sounded like a depressed goth rocker being forced to sing "It's a Small World After All," it still worked. Sometimes these tracks of many ideas don't coalesce into a solid product, but this one manages to gel fairly well and not sound like someone was just having fun with a sampler. The throwback to Lynn Anderson was a nice touch and it helped open up the song to audiences familiar with "Rose Garden." It's an interesting relic from the time that is rarely heard these days..

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The name Kon Kan was a take on "CanCon," which was short for Canadian content. CanCon was a requirement set forth by the Canadian Radio/TV and Telecommunications Commission that compelled radio and TV broadcasters to give a certain percentage of their programming time to content at least partially created by Canadians. As a sort of hint to Canadian radio stations and DJs that they were from Canada and to play the record, Harris and Wynne adopted the CanCon inspired Kon Kan as their name. However, the little ploy may have slipped over folk's heads as the song apparently caught on in the US first.  2) The main sample for this song came from the 1970 Lynn Anderson platinum-selling hit "Rose Garden," which peaked at #1 Country, #3 Pop, and #5 AC. It was the first of Anderson's five #1s at Country. Written by Joe South, the first artist to record the song was Billy Joe Royal in 1967. It appeared on his album Billy Joe Royal with Hush but was not issued out as a single. Joe South did his own version for his 1968 debut album Introspect. Again, the tune was not selected to be a single. Then in 1969, R&B singer Dobie Gray recorded a version that was issued as a single. It could only manage to "bubble under" the Top 100 at #119. A year or so later, country star Lynn Anderson's take on the tune would become a major hit. Other artists to have recorded the song include k.d. lang (1987, #7 Canadian AC/#45 Canadian Country) and Martina McBride (2005, #18 US Country/#98 US Pop).


Tuesday, February 15, 2022

"More Than You Know" by Martika

Song#:  3754
Date:  12/24/1988
Debut:  91
Peak:  18
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Dance-Pop, Freestyle

Pop Bits:  Even as a kid, Marta Marreno had entertainment ambitions. She could sing, dance, and act, which helped her get a minor part as one of the orphanage girls in the 1982 film version of the musical Annie. That experience helped when Marreno was cast in a new kids TV show called Kids Incorporated. She landed one of the lead roles and would spend three seasons on the program beginning in 1984. It was during the show's run that Marreno adopted her Martika stage name. With Martika "aging out" of the kids show, she needed to move on to something else and after meeting songwriter/producer Michael Jay decided to pursue a career. Her first venture with Jay was recording a song he co-write with Gregory Smith titled "Bounce Back." That track along with a video they filmed for it helped to secure Martika a contract with Columbia Record. She and Jay then began to work on tracks for a self-titled debut LP. Jay would write or co-write most of the songs with Martika making contributions to four tracks including this lead single that she wrote with Jay and Michael Morrow. The tune would do well reaching #12 at Dance while cracking the Pop Top 20. It was a pretty good start for the former child actor, but her star would definitely soar higher with her next single.

ReduxReview:  I had completely forgotten that this was Martika's first Pop chart hit. It got so overshadowed by her next single that it went by the wayside quickly and pretty much stayed there. I know I haven't heard this since it was first on the chart. The tune certainly sounds of its time now, but it is not too bad. It was a step above the average dance-pop/freestyle tracks of the time with a hooky chorus and good production. Martika sounded better than some of the lead singers from the freestyle female vocal groups of the time and that also helped to elevate the song. It wasn't outstanding, but it was a solid introductory single.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  1) Although she first recorded the song "Bounce Back," Martika would not use it for her debut album. However, the song would get picked up by two other artists. The L.A. band Fire on Blonde would record the tune and release it as a single in '88. It would get to #15 on the Dance chart. Then in 1990, Jay would be working on the third album from singer Alisha and she would record a version of "Bounce Back." It would reach #10 Dance and #54 Pop.  2) The TV show Kids Incorporated centered on a group of kids who formed their own rock band called, obviously, Kids Incorporated. The show would last for nine seasons and as some of the cast got older, they would leave and be replaced by other kids. Martika was one of the older kids hired in for the original cast and as she approached her late teens, it was getting time for a turnaround. She then moved on to her music career. Martika is not the only former Kids Inc. alumni to become more famous. Mario Lopez (Saved By the Bell) performed as a dancer during the run of the show. Jennifer Love Hewitt was on the show for two seasons. Perhaps the most famous kid from the show was Stacy Ferguson. The singer/dancer would be on the show for its first six seasons, which was the longest run for any cast member. Ferguson would form a female vocal trio called Wild Orchid, which featured one of her cast mates from Kids Inc. Their 1997 debut LP did fairly well thanks to three singles that reached the Pop chart. However, Ferguson's career would skyrocket after she shortened her name to Fergie and joined up with the Black-Eyed Peas. Both with the band and as a solo act, Fergie would score six #1 Pop hits and would win eight Grammy awards.


Monday, February 14, 2022

"The Great Commandment" by Camouflage

Song#:  3753
Date:  12/24/1988
Debut:  98
Peak:  59
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Synthpop, Alternative Rock

Pop Bits:  This German synth/electronic-based trio were influenced by other pioneers in electronic music including Kraftwerk and Yellow Magic Orchestra. Apparently, they even took their name from the track "Camouflage" which appeared on the 1981 Yellow Magic Orchestra album BGM. The trio set up their own little studio and began working on songs. By 1985, they were branching out to playing in clubs. In '86, one of their demos was submitted to a local radio station for a song contest and they ended up winning. That attention later helped them secure a contract with Metronome. In the fall of '87, the trio released their first single for the label, "The Great Commandment." It would do well in Germany reaching #14 with a follow-up single also doing well. By March of '88 they were ready to release their debut album Voices & Images (#16 Germany). The success at home led to a US distribution deal with Atlantic Records who would then push out "The Great Commandment." It would become a big hit on the Dance chart spending three non-consecutive weeks at #1. The tune would also do well at Modern Rock getting to #3 while spending three months in the bottom half of the Pop chart. The song helped the album get to #100. A follow-up single, "That Smiling Face," would be a minor entry at Dance (#37) and Modern Rock (#26).

ReduxReview:  Depeche Mode much? Seems like back in the day, some US radio listeners thought Camouflage was some kind of Depeche Mode offshoot project. I read a 1988 interview with the trio that was in the Chicago Tribute where they said they were getting tired of the constant comparisons to Depeche Mode. They recognized Depeche Mode as an influence, but said their album was different. While that is true, I couldn't help when listening to it that they were the German version of Depeche Mode. I don't think they set out to directly copy the UK band, but the influence is very strong. If you are going to show your influences on your sleeve, then you better do something interesting or unique to make it stand out on its own and the problem is that Camouflage didn't necessarily do that here. The track itself is fine, but it does come off like a second tier DM track. It reminded me of all those Madonna wannabes that came along after she hit it big. A couple of them were able to grab a charting tune, but in the end everyone just preferred the real deal.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  The trio followed up their debut in 1989 with Methods of Silence. It would do well in Germany getting to #13. It featured their lone German Top 10 hit, the #9 "Love Is a Shield," which made it to #35 Dance/#23 Modern Rock in the US. After that, the trio would be reduced to a duo for three albums that fared less well. A reunited trio would return in 2003. Their next three albums would do fairly well with 2015's Greyscale reaching #14 in Germany. Their last charting song in the US came in 1991 when "Heaven" got to #18 on the Modern Rock chart.