Saturday, March 19, 2022

"Superwoman" by Karyn White

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  3782
Date:  01/28/1989
Debut:  87
Peak:  8
Weeks:  18
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  White kicked off her self-titled debut solo album in a big way with the gold selling first single "The Way You Love Me." That song got to #7 Pop while topping the R&B chart and getting to #5 Dance. It would also earn her a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female. As a follow up to that major hit, this ballad was issued out. It would nearly replicate the success of her first single by hitting #1 R&B, #8 Pop, #12 AC, going gold, and also earning White a second Grammy nod. The hit would extend sales of the album and by April of '89 it would go platinum (#1 R&B/#19 Pop).

ReduxReview:  Songwriters L.A. Reid and Babyface (with Daryl Simmons) had mainly been having success on the charts with uptempo, groovy tracks. I believe this was their first ballad that had the goods to really make it as a single and indeed it became a gold seller. It was a big, empowering tune that had a memorable chorus and a star vocal turn from White. It's weird to say, but the remake by a powerhouse trio (see below) just wasn't as good. Listening to White you feel that she put every ounce of her being in delivering the lyrics. She wasn't your superwoman, but she was a super singer.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  In 1989, Gladys Knight & the Pips would part ways after 37 years in the business. Knight had opted to close the Pips era of her career and head out as a solo act. She had previously released two solo side projects in '78 and '79 to mild sales, but she didn't choose to fully seek a solo career until '89. By 1991, Knight was ready to release her third solo effort. Titled Good Woman, its first single, "Men," would get to #2 on the R&B chart. For the LP, Knight would choose to do a cover version of Karyn White's "Superwoman," which had been written by Babyface, L.A. Reid, and Daryl Simmons. Yet instead of doing her own solo version, Gladys decided to get a couple of her contemporaries to lend their vocal talents. She chose to record the song as a trio alongside Dionne Warwick and Patti LaBelle. Released as the second single from the album, the track would make it to #19 R&B. Unfortunately, like "Men" it didn't make the Pop chart. Still, the album would get to #1 R&B and #45 Pop.


Friday, March 18, 2022

"Left to My Own Devices" by Pet Shop Boys

Song#:  3781
Date:  01/28/1989
Debut:  92
Peak:  84
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Dance-Pop, Synthpop

Pop Bits:  The first single from the duo's remix-style album Introspective, "Domino Dancing," would reach #18 Pop and #5 Dance. It was a fairly good start, but they needed something better to really help promote the LP. This next track was selected for release, but it didn't quite do the job. While the tune would be the duo's seventh to make the US Dance Top 10 (#8), it fizzled at Pop spending a minor three weeks near the bottom of the chart. Despite the results, the duo's popularity helped the album reach #34 and go gold.

ReduxReview:  Like "Domino Dancing," this single was an edited, remixed version of the lengthy one found on the album. It apparently was also the first time that the duo incorporated an actual orchestra on a track. That may have come about thanks to producers Trevor Horn and Stephen Lipson. The arrangement certainly added new depth to the duo's dance-pop sound and was quite effective. It was an excellent song, but it was really something more geared towards the clubs. I think it may have been a bit too aggressive for US pop radio. For me, Pet Shop Boys hit their peak with 1990's Behavior. They reached a new level of maturity and sophistication in their songwriting and it quickly became one of my favorite albums. It was so underrated on the US chart. Singles failed to do much and the LP only got to #45 and missed the gold mark. It is still widely known as the duo's best album and rightly so. Since they, their albums have been consistently solid with 1993's Very and 2016's Super being standouts. I also dug their commissioned 2005 soundtrack to the 1925 classic film Battleship Potemkin. I loved Pet Shop Boys from day one and have continued to be a big fan since.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  For the Pet Shop Boys, the 80s would be their peak time on the Pop chart in the US. When the 90s came along, they could only manage to place three singles in the bottom half of the chart. However, they remained highly successful on the US Dance chart. Starting in 1990, they would earn sixteen Dance Top 10s including eight #1s. Their albums would continue to chart with their best post-80s effort being 1993's #20 Very, which became a gold seller. Of course the duo would continue to be massively successful in the UK and Europe in the 90s and beyond. All of their studio albums would reach the UK Top 10 and they would add eleven more Top 10 hits to their total. The success made Pet Shop Boys the best selling duo in UK music history.


Thursday, March 17, 2022

"Into You" by Giant Steps

Song#:  3780
Date:  01/28/1989
Debut:  96
Peak:  58
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Pop, Blue-Eyed Soul, Sophisti-Pop

Pop Bits:  The UK duo of Colin Campsie and George McFarlane, aka Giant Steps, was able to grab a near-Top 10 hit with their debut single "Another Lover." It would stop just short at #13 while getting to #10 Dance and #25 AC. The track was from their debut album The Book of Pride as was this follow-up single. It fell short of the Pop Top 40 and could only manage to reach #33 at Dance. The singles did better than the album which peaked at a very minor #184. It would be the duo's one and only album. Campsie and McFarlane would split and go their own ways for unknown reasons with each having some success writing and producing for other artists.

ReduxReview:  This was a silky smooth sophisti-pop track that was breezy and easy on the ears. However, it wasn't as hook-laden as their previous hit. It just wasn't strong enough to get any further than it did on the chart. The album has some other nice tracks as well, but none were as pop radio friendly as "Another Lover." The duo obviously had talent. It was a shame that they were unable to record a second album.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  After breaking with McFarlane, Colin Campsie would continue to write and produce for other artists. His songs would be recorded several artists including Go West, Katrina & the Waves, and former Spice Girls Melanie C and Geri Halliwell. Along the way, a few of the tunes Campsie co-wrote would become hits in the UK. "Wishing I Was There" was recorded by Australian-born singer Natalie Imbruglia for her 1997 debut album Left of the Middle (#1 Australia, #5 UK, #10 US). It would reach #19 in the UK/#24 Australia. English singer Pixie Lott would record "Cry Me Out" for her 2009 debut album Turn It Up (#6 UK). Released as the LP's third single following a pair of #1s, the song would get to #12 in the UK. Campsie's biggest hit in the UK as a writer came in 1991 when the all-female British band Hepburn recorded "I Quit." Used as their debut single, the song would get to #8 in the UK. The band's associated self-titled debut album would peak at #28.


Wednesday, March 16, 2022

"She Drives Me Crazy" by Fine Young Cannibals

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  3779
Date:  01/28/1989
Debut:  97
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  23
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  This trio made up of former members of the UK band The Beat along with lead singer Roland Gift established themselves at home with their 1985 self-titled debut album. It featured a pair of UK Top 10 hits including "Johnny Come Home" (#8). While that song would reach #9 on the US Dance chart, it didn't get very far at Pop peaking at #76. The album would actually do better getting to #49. After that success, the band members took a bit of a hiatus and worked on other projects. Slowly they began to record songs for a second album some of which ended up on film soundtracks long before their second album was ready. Those songs along with three newer recordings and three tracks produced with Prince cohort David Z were finally assembled into the band's second effort The Raw & the Cooked. To kick things off, this first single was issued out. The driving track caught on and eventually it would reach the top of the Pop chart while getting to #1 Dance, #5 Modern Rock, and #54 R&B. The album, spurred on by a second single, would end up spending seven weeks at #1 and go double-platinum.

ReduxReview:  With its specific snapping snare sound, groove, and meaty guitar chords, the opening of this song became instantly recognizable. From there, the band kept the song going with memorable hooks, terrific production, Roland Gift's unusual voice, and a sing-a-long chorus. It was a song that you just could not escape back in the day. It was all over the place. I kind of got worn out on it, but these days it is difficult not to groove with the tune when it comes on.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  The song and the album were not only hits on the charts, but were popular with the Grammy folks as well. The band would receive nominations for Album of the Year, Record of the Year, and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Duo or Group. They wouldn't win any of those, but back home in the UK they would win two BRIT awards; Best British Album and Best British Group. The video for "She Drives Me Crazy" would end up earning four MTV Music Video Award nominations including one for Video of the Year.


Tuesday, March 15, 2022

"Lost in Your Eyes" by Debbie Gibson

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  3778
Date:  01/21/1989
Debut:  42
Peak:  1 (3 weeks)
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  Teenager Gibson made a major mark with her debut album Out of the Blue. It would be a triple-platinum seller that spawned four Pop Top 10 hits including the #1 "Foolish Beat," which made her the youngest performer to write and produce a chart topper. With that success in the rear view, Gibson had to quickly move ahead and record a follow up. Gibson would write all the songs for her second LP Electric Youth and would solely produce six of the ten tracks. The balance she would work on with her previous collaborator Fred Zarr. When completed, this ballad was selected to be the first single. After nearly debuting in the Pop Top 40, it quickly moved up the chart and claimed the #1 spot. It would remain there for three weeks and eventually go gold. The song also did well at AC reaching #3. That success generated a lot of interest in the album and after release it only took five weeks for it to reach #1 where it stayed for five weeks. During that time, the LP was quickly certified double-platinum.

ReduxReview:  It seemed a bit unusual for this ballad to be selected as the first single, but it certainly paid off. It was probably a good thing as the song was the best one on the LP. The sweeping tune put Gibson in a slightly more mature light and it gave her a chance to stretch her vocals a little further than what was on her typical bubblegum tunes. Did she knock it out of the park and reach new levels? Not really. It still sounded like a pretty, cute, innocent track from a teenage artist. However, it was all well-crafted and produced and the credit for that all goes to Gibson. She had a goal, she knew what she needed to do, and the outcome was her biggest hit.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  It was during the last two weeks of this song's three-week reign at #1 that the album started its own #1 run. That combo gave Gibson another chart achievement. She became the youngest female artist (at 18 years old) to simultaneously have the #1 song and album in the country. The only other artist at the time who was younger than Gibson to achieve the same feat was Stevie Wonder. In August of 1963, Wonder reached #1 with his song "Fingertips, Pt. 2" and with his live album The 12 Year Old Genius. Wonder was 13 years old when the song and album reached the top of the charts in the same week.


Monday, March 14, 2022

"Just Because" by Anita Baker

Song#:  3777
Date:  01/21/1989
Debut:  62
Peak:  14
Weeks:  16
Genre:  R&B, Adult Contemporary, Pop

Pop Bits:  Baker's career hit an all-time high with her third album Giving You the Best That I Got. The LP would be a triple Grammy winner that would reach #1 at both Pop and R&B. It got there thanks to the title track first single that hit #1 R&B, #1 AC, and #3 Pop. For a second single, this next track was selected for release. It would become Baker's second song to reach #1 at R&B while also making it to #4 AC. On the Pop chart, it appeared like the song might crack the Top 10, but it stopped a little short. Just as this song was nearing its peak, the album would be certified for sales of over 3 million.

ReduxReview:  When I first heard this song on the album, I knew it would be selected for single release. The chorus was very strong and memorable and the bridge did well in building the tune towards its end. Minor problems arose in the verses, which sort of rambled along with little in the way of a memorable melody. Luckily, the chorus was good enough to overcome the tepid verse and in the end it make for a solid single. I lost interest in Baker with her next album. It was a weaker batch of songs that had Baker remaining within the R&B/smooth jazz lines. She stayed the course instead of venturing out and experimenting with some of the day's current sounds. She was kind of stuck with her long-time producer Michael J. Powell and I think that held her back. Baker would have benefited from hooking up with a popular songwriting/production team for a couple of songs to make her stay more relevant. She did finally branch out a bit with Rhythm of Love, which performed much better, but then she basically went silent. Still, her 80s hits remain quiet storm and AC radio staples.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) A third single would be issued out from the album. "Lead Me Into Love" would become Baker's seventh to reach the R&B Top 10 peaking at #4. Despite that result, the song didn't quite catch on in a more mainstream way. It would stall at #32 AC while not even making the Pop chart. It would be the final single released from the LP. The lack of support for the song played into album sales and it would halt at the triple-platinum mark. So while Giving You the Best That I Got would be her highest peaking effort reaching #1 Pop/R&B, her second album Rapture had more legs and would eventually be her best seller making it to the 5x platinum mark.  2) For her fourth album, 1990's Compositions, Baker took her role as songwriter more seriously. She would write or co-write seven of the album's nine tracks including its first single "Talk to Me." The song would be a hit at R&B (#3) and AC (#4), but it would just miss out on the Pop Top 40 (#44). The LP would reach #3 R&B and #5 Pop, become a platinum seller, and win Baker the Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female. The results indicated a dip in Baker's popularity, but she rallied back with 1994's Rhythm of Love. The #1 R&B/#3 Pop LP would go double-platinum and featured Baker's last Pop Top 40 hit "Body and Soul" (#36 Pop, #4 R&B, #25 AC). A second single from the LP, "I Apologize" (#8 R&B/#74 Pop) would earn Baker another Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female. After the LP, Baker would take a little break. Part of it was to care for her sons and another part was dealing with label issues, lawsuits, and damage to tapes of songs recorded for her sixth album. After everything was settled, a decade after her last effort, Baker would release her album My Everything in 2004. It would be a gold seller that got to #1 R&B/#4 Pop. She would release a holiday album the following year, but save for a 2012 single, a remake of the 1999 #12 R&B/#56 Pop Tyrese hit "Lately" that got to #15 R&B and earned her a Grammy nod, Baker has yet to record a new album (as of 2022).


Sunday, March 13, 2022

"You're Not Alone" by Chicago

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3776
Date:  01/21/1989
Debut:  65
Peak:  10
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary, Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  After trying to find their footing and faltering a bit following Peter Cetera's departure with 1986's Chicago 18, the band pushed out a more focused effort with '88's Chicago 19. By this point in time, the LP had spawned a pair of power ballad hits including the #3 "I Don't Wanna Live Without Your Love" and the #1 "Look Away." To follow them up, the band picked up the tempo, but just slightly, with this next single. That seemed agreeable to fans and radio listeners with the song getting to #9 AC while becoming the band's nineteenth Pop Top 10 hit. Just a month after this song was released, the album would go platinum, which was an improvement over the gold level sales of Chicago 18.

ReduxReview:  In general, this was a solid pop song written by Jim Scott, yet it is one that I probably wouldn't have gravitated to regardless of the artist. However, since it ended up with Chicago and I wasn't necessarily diggin' their power ballad phase, I quietly ignored this tune. It is one of those songs that could have been a potential hit for most any popular artist. Actually, hearing it now it sounds like something Starship might have recorded if it had been offered to them. Although it turned into a hit for Chicago, I'm not sure it did them any big favors in regards to their career. It might have even pushed them further into the power ballad trap they entered. By the time the 90s started, they couldn't escape the trap and it effectively ended the band's second wind heydays that began in 1982 with the #1 "Hard to Say I'm Sorry."

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  After the tour for the Chicago 19 album wrapped, the band's co-founder and original drummer Danny Seraphine was fired. Stories vary as to what happend, but it seems Seraphine got to tell his side of things in his 2010 autobiography Street Player: My Chicago Story. Following his ousting from the band, it seems that Seraphine basically quit music for nearly fifteen years. After a lengthy time off, Seraphine felt the urge to begin drumming again and picked it back up. By 2006, he had started his own band titled California Transit Authority (obviously a play on Chicago's original name). They would tour and issue out a couple of self-released albums. Then in 2016, Chicago was elected into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. As an original, long term member, Seraphim was to be included in the induction as part of the band. Chicago was asked to perform at the ceremony and Seraphim was given the chance to take his seat back at the drums for the show. All went well for the rehearsal and performance, but after he was the last member to make a speech at the induction, the rest of the members basically ostracized him one again.