Saturday, September 3, 2022

"Headed for a Heartbreak" by Winger

Song#:  3919
Date:  06/03/1989
Debut:  94
Peak:  19
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Hard Rock, Glam Metal

Pop Bits:  This band led by Kip Winger got their first Pop chart entry with "Seventeen," a track from their self-titled debut album. It would make the Pop Top 30 while getting to #19 Rock. For a follow up, this power ballad was selected for release. It would perform even better getting inside the Pop Top 20 while becoming the band's first Rock Top 10 (#8). By the time this debuted on the Pop chart, the album had already peaked at #21. It would go platinum mid-June.

ReduxReview:  Straddling the line between glam metal, radio-ready rock, and prog rock, Winger had its share of fans and plenty of detractors. Somehow, they kind of became the poster child for bad hair metal and I think that was unfair. The band was quite talented and Kip Winger had some good compositional chops. They may not have come up with a big 80s classic song, but I thought they had some solid tracks and for me this Top 20 entry was probably their best. At its base, it was just a good musical composition. Add in the band's performance, the big production, and Kip Winger's vocals and you get a pretty grand glam metal track. My one quibble with the band is that they could have written lyrics that were as mature as the music. They sometimes went down that standard metal rabbit hole of girls and sex, which didn't really fit the band. Winger may not have been to everyone's liking, but I think they were underrated in certain areas.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Kip Winger would become a Grammy nominee, but not for the work with his band. He would earn one in...classical music? Yup. Winger studied classical music as a teen and he would even apply compositional techniques he had learned in songs for Winger. After the band initially split, Kip Winger went back to studying classical composition and eventually wrote his first symphonic piece, the 30-minute Ghosts. The Tuscon Symphony Orchestra would premiere the work in 2009. Then through a connection, the piece was picked up and used as the music for a ballet, which would be performed by the San Francisco Ballet in 2010. Encouraged by the success, Winger then went on to compose a four-part work based upon the famed ballet dancer Vaslav Nijinsky. Conversations with Nijinsky would be recorded by the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra and be released in 2016. The LP would reach #1 on the Traditional Classical Albums chart while the work would receive a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Classical Composition. For his classical works, Winger would go by the name C.F. Kip Winger. The C.F. stands for his first two birth names Charles Frederick. In addition to his classical works, Winger would also branch out into musical theater. He would compose the music for Get Jack, a musical based around the victims of Jack the Ripper. A concept album of the musical, with lyrics and book by Damien Gray, was recorded and released in 2019. It would get to #7 on the Cast Albums chart.


Friday, September 2, 2022

"Waiting Game" by Swing Out Sister

Song#:  3918
Date:  06/03/1989
Debut:  96
Peak:  86
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Sophisti-Pop

Pop Bits:  This British trio cracked the US Pop Top 10 with their single "Breakout" (#6). The hit would help send their debut album It's Better to Travel to #40 and earn them a pair of Grammy nominations. As they began to record their second album, Kaleidoscope World, the group's drummer decided to leave and that left Swing Out Sister as a duo (Corrine Drewery and Andy Connell). The first single from the LP, "You on My Mind," would do fairly well back home in the UK getting to #28. In the States, it would do slightly better on the AC chart getting to #23, but it would fail to make the Pop chart. For a second single in the US, this next track was selected. It found a home at AC making the Top 10 at #6, but fizzled at Pop while only getting to #33 Dance. Further singles failed to impress and that left the album peaking at #61.

ReduxReview:  On their debut album, the group had a contemporary pop sound that had some retro influences. On Kaleidoscope World, they amped up those influences with the songs sounding akin to 60s/early 70s easy listening tracks by artists like Burt Bacharach. Famed songwriter Jimmy Webb even showed up to provide vintage orchestra arrangements on a couple of tracks. This single was only released in the US and Canada and I think that was because it was more reminiscent of "Breakout" and the label was hoping it would catch fire since the LP's first single faltered. While it was a good song, the tactic didn't really work. The tune wasn't strong enough to emerge from the shadow of "Breakout" on pop radio. Luckily, it did find a home on AC radio.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Although Swing Out Sister was striking out on the Pop chart, their sound was just right for AC radio. Their third album, 1992's Get in Touch with Yourself, featured the single "Am I the Same Girl?," a cover of the 1968 #3 hit by Barbara Acklin. The song would miss the Pop Top 40 (#45), but it would become a #1 hit at AC. A second single, "Notgonnachange," would get to #22 AC. The duo's final US charting single would come in 1997 with "Somewhere in the World," which got to #30 AC. While their chart fortunes dwindled, the duo continued to record and remained quite successful in Japan.


Thursday, September 1, 2022

"Darlin' I" by Vanessa Williams

Song#:  3917
Date:  06/03/1989
Debut:  97
Peak:  88
Weeks:  4
Genre:  R&B, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  The former Miss America scored her first Pop Top 10 hit with "Dreamin'," the third single from her debut album The Right Stuff. That single would get to #8 Pop and #2 AC while topping the R&B chart. The hit prompted Williams' label to push out a fourth single from the LP and this track was selected. While it would reach the #10 spot at both R&B and AC, the tune couldn't catch on at Pop and it fizzled near the bottom of the chart after a short month. Regardless of that result, the album did well by getting to #18 R&B/#38 Pop and going gold.

ReduxReview:  Instead of answering "Dreamin'" with an uptempo tune, the label chose to capitalize on the AC-leaning audience and issued out a second ballad. While it would work out well at R&B and AC, it just wasn't the right song for Pop radio. The track was a bit of a slog to wade through and, I hate to say it, came to a sort of a pageant-y ending. Williams sounded good, but overall it just wasn't very memorable.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Williams would return with her second album in 1991. The Comfort Zone would nearly replicate the way her debut album kicked off with its first two singles doing okay, but not becoming major crossover hits. Like before, it would be the third single that would shift things into high gear. The ballad "Save the Best for Last" would become Williams' biggest hit reaching #1 at Pop, AC, and R&B. The single would also become a gold seller. That success would propel the album to #1 R&B/#18 Pop. Eventually it would go triple platinum. It would be Williams' peak moment in music. While she would score two more Pop Top 10 hits, neither were from one of her albums. She would record the #3 "Love Is" with singer Brian McKnight for the Beverly Hills 90210 soundtrack in '93. Then in '95, she would be selected as the vocalist for the studio version of "Colors of the Wind," the Oscar-winning song from the Disney film Pocahontas. That single would reach #4 Pop/#2 AC and go gold. Her recording career would result in 11 Grammy nominations. While Williams would continue to record over the years, she made a shift to acting along the way. She would have significant roles on Broadway, on TV, and in films. Most notably she would receive three Emmy nominations for her role in the hit TV sitcom Ugly Betty and a Tony nomination for Best Actress in a Musical for the 2002 Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods.


Wednesday, August 31, 2022

"You Are the One" by TKA

Song#:  3916
Date:  06/03/1989
Debut:  98
Peak:  91
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Freestyle, Dance

Pop Bits:  This freestyle trio's first two singles would be Top 10 Dance hits including one that was able to cross over to the Pop chart ("One Way Love," #75). An album would follow titled Scars of Love along with a third Dance Top 10 and three other Dance Top 30 entries. The action on the Dance chart helped sell a few copies of the album, which made it to #135. Before moving ahead and recording their second album, the trio got the opportunity to contribute a song to a film soundtrack. They would record "You Are the One," which was written by two members of TKA, for the bio-drama movie Lean on Me starring Morgan Freeman. The song would appear in the film and be included on the associated soundtrack album. It would be issued out as a single and become another Top 30 Dance hit for the trio (#26). It would briefly cross over and become their second single to make the Pop chart where it would float around the bottom for a few weeks. The soundtrack album would not chart.

ReduxReview:  This track was in-line with other freestyle singles of the day. It grooved along okay and the production was fine. It just wasn't all that memorable. TKA's tunes were ripe for the dance floor, but they didn't have that one really great song that was going to break them in a more mainstream way.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  TKA would return with their second album Louder Than Love in the summer of '90. Although it would include this soundtrack song, the official first single from the LP was "I Won't Give Up on You." It would get to #65 Pop/#15 Dance. A second single, "Crash (Have Some Fun)," would feature Seduction vocalist (and future RuPaul's Drag Race star) Michelle Visage. It would get to #7 Dance/#90 Pop. The title track would end up getting to #62 Pop. Following the release of the album, TKA would decided to go their separate ways. However, their label, Tommy Boy, decided to try and eke out some extra funds and issued out a Greatest Hits LP in '92. It would feature a new track that would oddly become their most successful single on the Pop chart. "Maria" would get to #44. The hits album would then peak at #131, which was also their best showing on the chart. Lead singer Louis "Kayel" Sharpe would stay with Tommy Boy and record a solo hip-hop album in '93 under the moniker K7. Swing Batta Swing would reach #54 R&B/#96 Pop and go gold on the strength of the gold single "Come Baby Come" (#18 Pop/#42 R&B/#9 Rap).


Tuesday, August 30, 2022

"My Brave Face" by Paul McCartney

Song#:  3915
Date:  05/27/1989
Debut:  72
Peak:  25
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  Following the weak showing of '86's Press to Play (#30), his first studio album to miss going at least gold, McCartney made a conscious effort to right the ship. Based on a suggestion from his manager, McCartney reached out to singer/songwriter Elvis Costello to see if they could come up with some songs. The pair got together and out of their work came a set of songs that would find their way to albums by the artists. Costello was first out of the gate with one of the collaborations when "Veronica" (#19 Pop) got released in April of '89. Then about a month later, McCartney would issue out the co-write "My Brave Face." It would serve as the first single from his album Flowers in the Dirt. It would do well at AC reaching #4 while getting to #12 Rock. On the Pop chart, the single didn't fully ignite and it halted at #25. Yet despite the result, the Costello pairing along with some favorable reviews of the album calling out a revitalized McCartney helped the album get to #21 and go gold.

ReduxReview:  This was a good song from the McCartney/Costello pairing and I think it did about as well as it could. I didn't find it as engaging "Veronica," but the Costello influence on the tune fit McCartney well. It has been sadly ignored in McCartney's catalog. Even his compilations including 2016's Pure McCartney have not included the track (actually nothing from Flowers in the Attic made that 4-disc collection). Although the original goal was to just come up with songs together, it was kind of too bad that the pair just didn't do a full-on album together. That could have been sensational. However, from what I've read, the two didn't necessarily become the best of friends, so doing the album together might have been too much. At least a few good songs resulted from the pairing.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This single and Flowers in the Attic were good returns McCartney. However, in the long run the song would be the one to cap off an era. It would end up being McCartney's last regular solo billed Pop Top 40 hit. Not only that, it would also be the last Top 40 entry by any Beatle listed as the sole main artist. McCartney would end up back in the Top 40 three times beginning in 2014, but those efforts would be in collaboration with other artists including Kanye West who would appear on all three. The biggest of these would be the #4 hit "FourFiveSeconds," which featured McCartney, West, and Rihanna. Then in 2021, McCartney's 1979 holiday tune "Wonderful Christmastime" would find itself back on the Pop chart again (thanks to rule changes a couple years prior) and get to #28.


Monday, August 29, 2022

"Dressed for Success" by Roxette

Song#:  3914
Date:  05/27/1989
Debut:  80
Peak:  14
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  This Swedish duo grabbed a surprise #1 hit with "The Look," the first single released in the US from their second album Look Sharp! The duo's label, EMI, was caught off guard by the success of the song and scrambled to get the LP pushed out in the US along with this second single. The song, which served as the LP's first single back home in Sweden (and got to #2), did fairly well in the US getting close to the Top 10.  By the time this song debuted on the chart, the album had reached an initial quick peak of #28. However, that would change when the duo's next two singles would become significant hits.

ReduxReview:  This number was a bit bouncier than "The Look" and it was a good follow up. It was a fun, disposable pop tune and I thought it might crack the Top 10, but it stalled a bit shy. Still, after a gold-selling unexpected #1, the result was good and set them up well for their next single.

ReduxRating:  7/10

TriviaLook Sharp! was a huge hit in Sweden. It would spend seven weeks at #1, spawn four Top 10 hits, and go 6x platinum. It would also earn each member of the duo a Grammis, Sweden's equivalent of the Grammys. Singer Marie Fredriksson would win for Best Pop/Rock Female Vocal while Per Gessle would win for Best Composer. Roxette would receive two nominations. One for Artist of the Year and Best Pop/Rock Group. The Grammis would not begin to give out an Album of the Year award until 1993. However, in Sweden they also have the Rockbjörnen awards, which centers on pop/rock music and began in 1979. Roxette's Look Sharp! would take home the award for Best Swedish Album. The duo would end up taking home the award for Best Swedish Band as well, an award they would win three more times.