Saturday, October 29, 2022

"Stop!" by Erasure

Song#:  3966
Date:  07/22/1989
Debut:  97
Peak:  97
Weeks:  2
Genre:  Synthpop, Dance-Pop, Hi-NRG


Pop Bits:  This British duo broke through in the US with their third album, 1988's The Innocents. It would reach #49 and eventually go platinum thanks to a pair of Pop Top 20 hits including the #12 "Chains of Love." The album had been a big #1 back home in the UK earlier in '88, but it didn't get released in the US until later in the year. With success had on both shores, their next album would be released simultaneously in the territories. However, this would cause an extended lag time between albums in the UK, so in order to keep momentum going, an EP for four new tracks titled Crackers International was released in the UK near the end of '88. Chart rules in the UK regarding EPs were different from those in the US. In the UK, an EP was considered a single whereas in the US it was considered an album. Therefore, in the UK, Crackers International would be eligible for the singles chart and it would be a hit getting to #2.  For its US release following the late success of The Innocents, two remixes were added to the EP and then this first single was issue out. It would do well in clubs and get to #4 on the Dance chart while making it to #19 Modern Rock. On the Pop chart, it wouldn't get anywhere spending a short couple of weeks at the bottom. Still, the EP was able to get to #73 on the Album chart.

ReduxReview:  I dunno what happened here. Why this didn't become a hit is beyond me. Energetic and catchy as hell, the tune should have caught on and kept their Top 20 streak alive. The verse is a riff on a basic 12-bar blues structure, which gave it a bit of a soulful feel. Then the chorus hits with a big "Stop!" followed by a hooky melody. It was such a joyous tune and I found it hard to ignore and get out of my head. For whatever reason, it just didn't find an audience on pop radio and the single tanked. Perhaps it just didn't fit in with the hair metal and new jack swing of the day. What a bummer. For me, it certainly ranks among the best tunes from the duo. Another track on the EP, the holiday themed "She Won't Be Home" is another terrific track that should have gotten more attention.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  By the fall of '89, the territories were in sync and would both get Erasure's next LP, Wild!, around the same time. Its first single, "Drama!," would once again do well at Dance (#10) and Modern Rock (#11). However, it would completely miss the Pop chart as would further singles from the LP. Still, thanks in part to a second Dance Top 10, the #4 "Star," the LP would reach #57. While the title track to their 1991 album Chorus would finally get them back on the Pop chart at a minor #83 (#14 Dance/#4 Modern Rock), they would earn one more Pop Top 20 hit with 1994's "Always." It would reach #20 Pop/#6 Dance/#6 Modern Rock. The hit would help the album, I Say, I Say, I Say, become their highest peaking on the US Pop chart at #18. The pair would continue to record over the years with the majority of their albums making the US chart.

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Friday, October 28, 2022

"Hangin' Tough" by New Kid on the Block

#1 Alert!
Platinum Record Alert!
Song#:  3965
Date:  07/15/1989
Debut:  71
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Pop


Pop Bits:  It took a while, but the boy band finally started to break through with the first two singles from their second album Hangin' Tough, both of which made the Pop Top 10. However, it would be the third single, "I'll Be Loving You (Forever)," that would get to #1 and kick NKOTB mania into high gear. They would follow up that hit with this title track single. It would end up replicating the success of their previous single by spending a week at the top of the Pop chart. However, it would sell twice as many copies and would end up going platinum. The week this song reached its peak, the album would also made it to #1. It did so after having been on the chart for over a year (it hit the top spot in its 55th week). It would stay at #1 for two weeks. With those results, NKOTB became the first teen group to have a #1 single and a #1 album in the same week.

ReduxReview:  Okay, I admit their previous hits, especially in retrospect, were pretty good. I wasn't a fan, but recognized that they along with producer/songwriter Maurice Starr were tossing out some fluffy teen ear candy. However, I drew the line at this one. At the time I thought it was awful and was amazed that it actually went to #1. I blame MTV and teen girls for that. By the point this single came out, the group had become huge teen idols and they were boiling hot, so most anything they put out was going to do well; and it was proven with this track. With a lead vocal by Donnie Wahlberg, this lumbering, goofy thing I think was supposed to give them a little more street cred and sort of take a little shine off of their glimmering teen image. It came off like kids pretending to be something they were definitely not. From the music, to the horrible lyrics, to the thin production, to the pseudo rap sections, this tune was only for a certain crowd and that crowd did not include me. It's still just as cringe-worthy today as it was back then. I'm glad they got a #1 out of it and that many folks enjoyed it, but it was a painful listen for me.

ReduxRating:  1/10

Trivia:  The group would receive a lone Grammy nomination during their career. They would get a nomination in the Best Music Video - Long Form category. It was for the Hangin' Tough tape, which included the videos for four of their hits along with behind the scenes footage. Released in the summer of '89 just as this title track single was taking off, it would be a big seller going 11x platinum (roughly the equivalent of 1.1 million copies). The boys would lose the Grammy to the long form video for Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814 album.

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Thursday, October 27, 2022

"Jackie Brown" by John Cougar Mellencamp

Song#:  3964
Date:  07/15/1989
Debut:  89
Peak:  48
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Americana, Folk-Rock


Pop Bits:  Although it still performed well, Mellencamp's "Pop Singer," became his first lead single from an album since 1980 to not make the Pop Top 10. The track, taken from his album Big Daddy, stalled a bit shy at #15 (#2 Rock). Hoping for a better result, this next track was issued out as the follow-up single. Although it would reach four different charts, the tune didn't fully catch fire. It would miss the Pop Top 40 while getting to #20 Rock, #31 AC, and #81 Country. Another track from the album, "Martha Say," was able to reach #8 Rock, but it was not officially released as a single. Despite not featuring a larger hit, the album still did well hitting #7 and going platinum.

ReduxReview:  So, the thing is that this is a great song with terrific melodies and a lovely folk arrangement/production. It was a personal song for Mellencamp and I think that came through in the recording. That said, would I have picked this as a single? Not a chance. A folk ballad about a guy unable to escape poverty was not going to burn up the Pop chart. Why the label and/or Mellecamp selected this as a second single was perplexing. I thought the obvious choice was the driving "Martha Say," which was a hit on Rock radio and had a similar feel to his 1983 #9 hit "Crumblin' Down." Still, the single did better than I would have expected topping out inside the Top 50. As a song, I'd rate this high. As a single, fairly low. So I'll split the difference here.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  The 90s would bring changes for Mellencamp. In 1991, his first album of the decade became his first to finally just be credited to John Mellencamp. The "Cougar" was officially gone. That album, Whenever We Wanted To, found Mellencamp ditching the folk/Americana feel of his previous three albums in favor of his original rock sound. The album would get to #17 and go platinum. The balance of the 90s remained quite successful for Mellencamp. He would earn three more platinum albums along with a gold seller. He would also release a hits compilation that would end up selling over three million copies. Although he had less of a presence on the Pop chart, he was still able to grab three Pop Top 20 hits including the #3 "Wild Night," a duet with singer/songwriter/bassist Me'Shell Ndeg√©ocello. That track was a remake of a song written and recorded by Van Morrison. It served as the lead single from his fifth album Tupelo Honey. It would get to #28 Pop. Mellencamp would continue to record over the years with most of his efforts still making the Top 10 or Top 20. He would also branch out to other art forms. Mellencamp had been painting since he was a kid. Even while his music career was in full swing, he found time to study art and hone his skills. His work has been well received and he has had several showings and exhibitions. An overview of his works were published in the 2022 book John Mellencamp: American Paintings and Assemblages. Mellencamp has also dabbled in film (he starred in and directed 1992's Falling from Grace) and theater (he collaborated with Stephen King on the musical Ghost Brothers of Darkland County). He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2022

"Right Here Waiting" by Richard Marx

#1 Alert!
Platinum Record Alert!
Song#:  3963
Date:  07/08/1989
Debut:  44
Peak:  1 (3 week)
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Soft Rock


Pop Bits:  Marx's second album Repeat Offender got a big boost when its first single, "Satisfied," became his second #1 Pop hit. Hot on the heels of that success came this second single. The ballad would end up being Marx's biggest hit spending three weeks at #1 on the Pop chart while hitting #1 at AC. It was Marx's third consecutive Pop #1. The single would sell well enough to go platinum. The hit certainly boosted album sales and the week after this song ended its run at #1, the album would finally top the chart for a week. Two months later it would reach the triple-platinum sales mark. The song would earn Marx a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male.

ReduxReview:  I knew this quiet ballad was going to be an easy chart topper. It was a nicely written tune with an indelible chorus. It was a perfect choice to follow up his #1 rocker "Satisfied." The opening piano riff, which was the melody of the chorus, was a great arrangement choice and it made the song instantly recognizable. The song would provide Marx with the peak moment of his career.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This song nearly was recorded by a legendary singer. Marx has relayed the story of this song in several interviews. He wrote the intimate piano ballad while out on tour as more or less a cathartic exercise. His girlfriend at the time (and soon to be wife), actress/singer Cynthia Rhodes, was out of the country working on a film and Marx was making plans to see her, but things fell through and he was unable to go. Having not seen her for a couple months, Marx sat down and wrote this tune. He didn't think much of his little song and had zero intentions on recording it. Later on, he was contacted by Barbra Streisand's manager. She wanted to meet him and when the pair got together, she asked if he would write her a song. Not long after their meeting, Marx remember the piano ballad that he had set aside and thought it would be a good option for Streisand. He sent her the demo and the next day she called Marx and left him a voice message about the song. She said that she thought the music and melody were just beautiful, but that the lyrics would have to be change as she wasn't going to be right here waiting for anybody! Marx opted to not rewrite the lyrics and so Streisand passed on the song. Marx maintained that he wasn't going to record the song, but then after some friends heard it, they encouraged him to give it a try. He finally did and it would later go on to become his biggest hit. Marx said he has thanked Streisand several times for passing on the song. Later on for her 1999 album A Love Like Ours, Streisand would record a Richard Marx song. Streisand would duet with country star Vince Gill on "If You Ever Leave Me," a song written by Marx and produced by him along with David Foster. The song was pushed to country radio and it was able to reach #62 on the Country charts. It was Streisand's second time on the Country chart. The first was when her 1977 duet single with Neil Diamond, "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" (#1 Pop/#3 AC), got to #70 Country.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2022

"Don't Wanna Lose You" by Gloria Estefan

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  3962
Date:  07/08/1989
Debut:  55
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary


Pop Bits:  For the 1987 #6 multi-platinum album Let It Loose, Gloria Estefan would get top billing above the Miami Sound Machine. By that point in time, there was only one original MSM member still remaining, Enrique "Kiki" Garcia. When '88 rolled around, Garcia chose to depart and that basically left MSM as more of an assembled backing band than an actual group. Because of that and Gloria Estefan's rising popularity, it was decided that Estefan would slide into a solo career. By the summer of '89, her debut solo album Cuts Both Ways was set for release. This first single was issued out and it would become a significant hit reaching #1 and #2 AC. It would sell well enough to go gold. The album would quickly take off and reach a peak of #8. By the fall it would hit platinum status. This song would earn Estefan a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female.

ReduxReview:  It was slightly unusual to kick off an album with a ballad, but this really was the best song on the album and the one that had the most chart potential. It was the logical choice and it paid off quite well. Written by Estefan, it was another solid, aching ballad on which she gave a lovely vocal performance.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  For her 2020 album Brazil305, Estefan would remake this hit. The album had Estefan re-recording her biggest hits in Brazilian rhythms. Some of the tracks were also performed in a different language than their original versions. Four new songs would also be recorded for the project. The album would end up winning the Latin Grammy for Best Contemporary Tropical Album. It was Estefan's fifth Latin Grammy. She also had three standard Grammys to her name.

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Monday, October 24, 2022

"If I Could Turn Back Time" by Cher

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  3961
Date:  07/08/1989
Debut:  89
Peak:  3
Weeks:  23
Genre:  Pop, Rock


Pop Bits:  After being absent from the Pop chart since 1979, Cher made a comeback with her 1987 self-titled album that featured the #10 hit "I Found Someone." The LP would get to #32 and go gold (later platinum). During that time she also won the Best Actress Oscar for Moonstruck. Cher's popularity was at a new high and so to keep things going she moved forward in recording a follow up album. Using some of the same folks who helped on her previous album, such as Diane Warren, Michael Bolton, and Desmond Child, Cher came out of the studio with her nineteenth solo studio album Heart of Stone. Although the album included a previous movie soundtrack duet hit, "After All" with Peter Cetera," the first official single from the album was this tune penned by Warren and produced by Warren and Guy Roche. The song had a bit of a tepid start, but it soon gained momentum and finally made it to the Pop Top 3 while hitting #1 at AC. It sold well enough to go gold. Just a few weeks after the song reached its peak on the Pop chart, the album would hit its highest mark at #10. It became Cher's first solo album to make the Top 10. By November it would reach the platinum sales mark.

ReduxReview:  Of course "everyone" is a broad term, but a ton of people hear and/or reference this song at least twice a year - during the Daylight Saving Time changes. That Cher meme gets sent around and it's not long before this song is spinning somewhere. The track turned into an instant Cher classic. Of course the video helped it along (see below), but even without that, the song was good enough to stand on its own. Warren came up with a doozie of a pop tune and the production was excellent for the time period. There were hooks a-plenty in the tune including a huge arena-ready sing-a-long chorus and a big key change. It really should have hit #1. I think folks thought this would be the peak of her musical comeback and it kind of was - for a while. However, Cher was always full of surprises and she pulled off an even bigger comeback late in the 90s with the #1 platinum "Believe."

ReduxRating10/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) According to Diane Warren, Cher hated this song when it was presented to her. Warren had assembled the demo and sang on it and when Cher heard it she immediately passed. However, Warren wasn't going to take no for an answer. She fully believed in the song and that is was perfect for Cher. In an interview, Warren said that she basically pinned down Cher's leg in the studio and begged her to give the song a try. Cher finally relented and gave it a try. Warren says that after singing the tune in the studio, Cher gave a knowing look that Warren was right.  2) There were so many iconic music videos from the 80s and among those was the one shot for this track. Directed by Marty Callner, the shoot took place on the USS Missouri while it was stationed at Long Beach. The Department of the Navy granted permission for the shoot thinking it could help as a recruitment tool. It seems the Navy reps had the impression that Cher was going to perform onboard the ship in some sort of jump suit. When filming started, Cher emerged in a revealing fishnet/one-piece swimsuit outfit. Navy reps on board were not happy and wanted Cher to change, but it was too late and the shoot went on. The video, which included Cher straddling a cannon, proved to be controversial. It seemed to have caused some issues within the naval ranks about how/why it happened and other folks, like Navy veterans, were definitely up in arms. Even MTV thought it was a little much and after initially banning the video, later chose to show it after 9 pm. Of course the controversy only gave more publicity to Cher and the song and both came out winners.

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