Friday, June 30, 2023

Milestone! The Decade in Review: The 80s

Alas, the task is complete!
My journey to write about every song to debut on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the 1980s has come to an end. Frankly, when I started this I didn't know if I would actually see it through, but the posts became part of my routine and the longer it went on, the more determined I was to complete my mission. I'm happy (and sad) to say that it is over after nearly 11 years and 4,000+ songs later.
When I began, I started to do quick posts. Just some minor blurbs about the songs and I'd usually post two per day. However, the more I got involved and vested, I began to offer more details about the songs and the posts became longer and (hopefully) more informative. It helped that over the years more information became available via internet and books about the artists and songs, which added to my research time. After a while it got to the point where I could only post once a day usually six days a week. It stretched out the time it took to complete the project, but I wasn't sad about that. I was having fun!
My fascination with the Billboard charts began in 1981. While I'm not sure the exact date, I believe it was Saturday, May 23, 1981, that I first tuned into Casey Kasem's American Top 40 radio show. The program aired each Saturday starting at 9:00 am and lasted four hours. At the time I was enamored with "Bette Davis Eyes" by Kim Carnes and I knew it had already hit #1. I just happened to tune into the show to see if it was still at the top (it was, for a second week). From that point I had to follow the next week to see if the song would remain at #1. It did for five consecutive weeks. Then "Medley" by Stars on 45 stopped Carnes' run. Still, I listed to the show the following week and "Bette Davis Eyes" returned to the #1 spot! Then it became exciting to see how long it might stay on its second run at #1 (four weeks, finally succumbing to Air Supply's "The One That You Love"). Yet as the Carnes tune began to fade, other songs I liked were making their way up the chart and I got in the habit of tuning into AT40 every week. I even went as far as logging all the songs each week in a notebook (sadly long gone during a move ages ago). Then sometime around '82/'83 I saw that the local bookstore carried Billboard magazine. It was $3 at the time and I started to buy it. I remember making sure I had $3 set aside each week to buy the magazine (I couldn't afford the yearly subscription). I couldn't wait to get my hands on it each week! The information, charts, reviews, and especially the "Chart Beat" column that had all the trivia of the week just thrilled me. I kept on buying Billboard through to about '93 or so. That was when I began to lose interest in pop sounds of the day and started to explore artists and genres that wouldn't necessarily be fodder for the Hot 100. I'd still check out the chart on occasion and try to keep up with popular hits. I don't do that as often these days as I absolutely hate the current chart methodology. When all songs from a newly released album are suddenly all on the chart at once, that is just ridiculous. Overnight the artist just added 10+ "hits" to their total. It makes zero sense. They should have just made a new chart with that methodology and left the Hot 100 alone. Ah well. Plus it doesn't help that I'm really not a fan of what is considered popular these days. I'll still listen and at least give them a shot and a few will come along that I like, but for the most part...meh. I guess I finally turned into that old man who shakes their fist and says "turn down that racket - that's not music!"
Still, despite what is popular now it seems that a lot of the younger generation gravitate towards 80s music. They know artists, songs, lyrics, etc. It probably helps that many TV shows like Stranger Things incorporate songs from the decade and that leads the kids to discovering what made 80s music so awesome. My brother once asked me what kind of playlist he could use for a gathering of people of varying ages from teens to 70s. I told him to get a good 80s pop playlist and he would be surprised how many of them will know the songs. He did and he said it was perfect. Everyone was familiar with something and they all had fun with it. That's why I think the 80s more than any other decade of music will truly live on and remain popular. The music was unique, fun, varying, and included everything from country to rap. The decade started out with new wave and synthpop and ended with freestyle and glam rock. It was an exhilarating ride and I loved it all. Still do.
My personal favorite year out of my personal favorite decade of music was 1984. From what I've seen, several other 80s music bloggers agree. There was even a book written about that specific year titled Can't Slow Down: How 1984 Became Pop's Blockbuster Year by Michaelangelo Matos. There was just something magical about that year. It was the era of long running #1 albums. Only 5 albums would reach #1 in 1984, the fewest in history. It started off with Thriller finishing its domination with an additional 15 weeks at #1 and ended with Purple Rain dominating for the last 22 weeks of the year. In between, the Footloose soundtrack, Sports by Huey Lewis & the News, and Bruce Springsteen's Born in the U.S.A. would each spend time at the top. Artists like Prince and Springsteen were at their most creative/popular peaks and the singles chart were chock full of gems. It was not a surprise that I rated the most songs a 10 with 19 ('83 was close behind at 16 which I'd rank as my second favorite year). Also, for a good chunk of the year I owned nearly all the Top 10 singles. It was a crazy, wonderful year.
Will all that blah-blah out of the way, here are some fun and interesting (hopefully) stats and info from the decade and from my entries.
In all, I posted entries for 4,149 songs. However, the actual total of new songs to make the Pop chart for the first time in the 80s was 4,124. That is because there were 23 singles that initially charted, fell off, and then re-charted at another point in the decade. In addition, there were two hits from the early 60s that re-charted in the 80s (The Contours' "Do You Love Me" and Ben E. King's "Stand By Me"). 

Here is what Billboard listed as the Top 10 Pop singles of the 80s:

 1. "Physical" by Olivia Newton-John (1981/82, 10 weeks at #1)
 2. "Bette Davis Eyes" by Kim Carnes (1981, 9 weeks at #1) 
 3. "Endless Love" by Diana Ross & Lionel Richie (1981, 9 weeks at #1)
 4. "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor (1982, 6 weeks at #1)
 5. "Every Breath You Take" by The Police (1983, 8 weeks at #1)
 6. "Flashdance...What a Feeling" by Irene Cara (1983, 6 weeks at #1)
 7. "Another One Bites the Dust" by Queen (1980, 3 weeks at #1)
 8. "Say Say Say" by Paul McCartney & Michael Jackson (1983, 6 weeks at #1)
 9. "Call Me" by Blondie (1980, 6 weeks at #1)
10. "Lady" by Kenny Rogers (1980, 6 weeks at #1)

And now my Top 10 favorites chart hits of the decade. Note that this list could change in an instant depending on mood or whatever else I may be listening to at any given time. Regardless of order or what I may subtract/add, these were certainly highlights for me and songs that I think are brilliant and I'll always have in rotation. I kept the list to one song per artist.

 1. "Running Up That Hill" by Kate Bush
 2. "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey
 3. "Bette Davis Eyes" by Kim Carnes
 4. "Start Me Up" by The Rolling Stones
 5. "In the Air Tonight" by Phil Collins
 6. "I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)" by Daryl Hall & John Oates
 7. "Small Town" by John Cougar Mellencamp
 8. "When Doves Cry" by Prince
 9. "With or Without You" by U2
10. "Would I Lie to You?" by Eurythmics

Of course where there is good there is usually bad and the 80s had its share of stinkers. It is easy to pick on novelty tunes, oddball tracks by celebrities, or charity/specialty singles, so I wanted to keep the list to legit, popular artists who let off some stink bombs. Here then are what I'd like to list as my 10 least favorites of the decade (oddly, all but two were cover tunes).

 1. "I Saw Him Standing There" by Tiffany
 2. "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" by Michael Bolton
 3. "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind)" by New Kids on the Block
 4. "Bread and Butter" by Robert John
 5. "Party All the Time" by Eddie Murphy
 6. "Lean on Me" by Club Nouveau
 7. "Still Cruisin'" by The Beach Boys
 8. "Case of You" by Frank Stallone
 9. "To All the Girls I've Loved Before" by Julio Iglesias and Willie Nelson
Other chart stats (note that these stats are based on my project, which was to cover all the songs that debuted on a chart in the 80s, therefore lingering songs that debuted in 1979 but were still on the chart in 1980 were not considered):

Most weeks at #1:  "Physical" by Olivia Newton-John - 10 weeks
Most weeks on the chart:  "Tainted Love" by Soft Cell - 43 weeks

Number of songs to debut on the Pop chart in the 80s and get to #1:  230
Number of songs to debut on the Pop chart in the 80s and reach the Top 10 (excluding #1s): 741

Artist with the most #1 hits that debuted the Pop chart in the 80s:  Michael Jackson - 8 (7 solo, 1 with Paul McCartney)*
*Just looking at all the songs to reach #1 in the 80s, Jackson actually had 9 #1s in the 80s, but the first one, "Rock with You," debut on a chart in 1979. So for my stats, that one would not count. One could also argue that George Michael and Phil Collins also had 8 #1s each. However, those totals would include #1 hits with their groups (Wham! / Genesis). Most lists keep a distinct line between being listed as a lead solo artist and being part of a group. I get that. I may not fully agree with it, but I get it.

Artist with the most Top 10 hits that debuted the Pop chart in the 80s (including #1s):  Madonna - 17

Artist with the most songs that debuted the Pop chart in the 80s:  Prince -25**
**If including his singles with Genesis, Phil Collins actually had the most with 30. 
Number of singles to go gold: 308
Number to reach platinum: 56 (Tone Lōc's "Wild Thing" went 2x platinum, USA for Africa's "We Are the World" reached 4x platinum) 

Artist with the most gold/platinum singles:  (tie) Madonna and Phil Collins - 8

Song to debut highest on the chart:  #20 - "Thriller" by Michael Jackson (peaked at #4).
Lowest debut:  Five songs debuted at #100 with only one, "That's When I Think of You" by 1927, spending only one week on the chart.

Longest climb to peak position:  "The Lover in Me" by Sheena Easton debuted at #99 and climbed 97 spots to peak at #2.

Longest trip to #1 on a single's first run:  22 weeks for "Chariots of Fire" by Vangelis
Longest trip to #1 for a single that initially peaked, fell of the chart, then re-entered:  A combined 25 weeks for "Red, Red Wine" by UB40

Quickest trip to #1:  4 weeks for "We Are the World" by USA for Africa

Average number of weeks for a song to be on the chart:  13

Position on the chart where the most songs debuted: 90 (270 songs)

Longest song title:  "What Can You Get a Wookiee for Christmas (When He Already Owns a Comb?)" by The Star Wars Intergalactic Droid Choir and Chorale (note that I excluded "Medley" by Stars on 45, which because of US requirement had to have each song in the medley listed in the title, so at 41 words it would be the longest, however elsewhere it was simply known as "Stars on 45," so I chose to list the longest singular title for a full song.)
Shortest song title: (tie) "Go" by Asia, "17" by Rick James, and "19" by Paul Hardcastle
Biggest One-Hit Wonders of the 80s - artists that reached #1 in the 80s, yet never had another single make the Pop chart:
Bobby McFerrin - reached #1 with "Don't Worry, Be Happy"
Sheriff - reached #1 with "When I'm with You" (the song charted twice - reached #1 on its second run)
Number of songs rated 10:  108
Number of songs rated 1:  23
Number of songs rated 0:  6
Rating used most often:  7 - 976 given that rating
Average rating for all songs in the 80s:  6.24
Year that had the highest average rating:  1984 - 6.4
Year that had the lowest average rating:  1980 - 5.7
Year that had the most amount of songs debut on the chart:  1980 - 452
Year that had the least amount of songs debut on the chart:  1988 -385

Lowest peaking song that I rated a 10:  "Like Flames" by Berlin - peaked at #82
Highest peaking song that I rated a 0:  "I Saw Him Standing There" by Tiffany - peaked at #7

Artist that had the highest average rating:  Eurythmics averaged an 8.06 rating out of 15 chart entries (from artist that had at least 10 songs reach the chart)
 Artist that had the most songs rated a 10:  U2 with 4
 Artist that had the most songs rated 1 or zero:  New Kids on the Block with 3
Project time - how long it took to cover/post all songs:  10 years, 9 months, 11 days

According to the Blogger stats, here are the 10 most viewed pages/songs from the project (save for "King of the Hill" and maybe "Ewok Celebration," I'm not sure why the others were the most accessed pages):

 1.  "Urgent" by Foreigner
 2.  "Somebody" by Bryan Adams
 3.  "High School Nights" by Dave Edmunds
 4.  "She Loves My Car" by Ronnie Milsap
 5.  "Ballerina Girl" by Lionel Richie
 6.  "First Be a Woman" by Lenore O'Malley
 7.  "King of the Hill" by Rick Pinette and Oak
 8.  "Ewok Celebration" by Meco
 9.  "I Want You So Bad" by Heart
10.  "Breakfast in America" by Supertramp

That's all folks! Perhaps I'll see you in another decade!

Friday, June 16, 2023

Milestone! The Year in Review: 1989

The final year of the decade is in the books!
There was plenty happening as the new decade loomed. Freestyle was reaching its heyday as was glam metal and new jack swing. Rap was transitioning from old school to gangsta and if that wasn't controversial enough, 2 Live Crew came along and battled censorship and even arrests. House music began to break through on the Pop chart as did several alternative rock artists that ruled the college crowd. Several long standing artists reached new heights including The Cure, The B-52's, Luther Vandross, and Michael Bolton. There was even a very unexpected comeback via Donny Osmond.  

In the previous chart year of '88, I set a new low by giving two songs a zero rating. Sadly, it ended up that zeroes for '89 matched that pace. What is worse is that I set a new record for the amount of songs rated a 1 with seven of them. I doubled the amount of 10s from '88, but still more than half of the songs in '89 were rated six or less. That was most likely due to me losing interest in some artists and genres. I know I grew tired of freestyle as the material became average and it all started to sound the same. Plus there was some highly successful artists that I didn't fall for like Michael Bolton and New Kids on the Block.

I most certainly enjoyed doing this blog and I'm sad that I've reached the end of the decade and it is over. However, it is the internet, so I hope folks will continue to discover, read, and pass it along. Here is a recap of 1989:

Number of charted songs in 1989:  392  (385 in 1988)
Time it took to listen/post all songs:  1 year, 76 days  (1 year, 37 days for 1988)
Number of songs that debuted in 1989 to hit #1:  31  (29 in 1988)
Number of songs that debuted in 1989 to reach the Top 10 (excluding #1's):  86  (85 in 1988)
Number of gold singles:  51  (26 in 1988)
Number of platinum singles: 14  (3 in 1988)
Number of double-platinum singles: (1 in 1988)
Number of songs that won a Grammy:  14  (8 in 1988)
Number of One-Hit Wonders:  (5 in 1988)
Number of Rated 10 songs:  10  (5 for 1988)
Number of Rated 1 songs:  (2 for 1988)
Number of Rated 0 songs:  2  (2 for 1988)
Top 5 favorite chart songs of the year:
  1. "Like a Prayer" by Madonna
  2. "Woman in Chains" by Tears for Fears
  3. "Love Shack" by The B-52's
  4. "Closer to Fine" by Indigo Girls
  5. "This Time I Know It's for Real" by Donna Summer
Worst song of the year:  "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind)" by New Kids on the Block
Best song I didn't know existed:  "Right Next to Me" by Whistle
Favorite discovery:  Q-Feel's "Dancing in Heaven (Orbital Be-Bop)" and its eyebrow raising (quite literally) video.
 A few other fun stats:

Highest debut:  #37 - "Cherish" by Madonna (peaked at #2)
Lowest debut:  #100 - "Walkin' Shoes" by Tora Tora  (peaked at #86) and "That's When I Think of You" by 1927 (peaked at #100, and is one of the rare singles to spend one week on the chart at the #100 spot)

Longest climb to peak position:  "Wind Beneath My Wings" by Bette Midler and "She Drives Me Crazy" by Fine Young Cannibals climbed 96 positions from #97 to #1

Longest trip to #1 for a song debuting in 1989:  "Wind Beneath My Wings" by Bette Midler took 16 weeks to reach #1
Quickest trip to #1 for a song debuting in 1989:  "Like a Prayer" by Madonna, "Right Here Waiting" by Richard Marx, and "Miss You Much" by Janet Jackson each took 6 weeks to reach #1.
Most weeks at #1 for a song debuting in 1989:  4 - "Miss You Much" by Janet Jackson and "Another Day in Paradise" by Phil Collins

Most weeks on the chart for a song debuting in 1989:  39 - "Bust a Move" by Young MC (it peaked at #7).

Average number of weeks a song spent on the chart:  13
Position on chart where the most songs debuted:  #93 - 27 songs debuted at that spot (none made the Top 10)

Longest song title:  "Puss N' Boots/These Boots (Are Made for Walkin')" by Kon Kan

Shortest song title:  "One" by Bee Gees, "One" by Metallica, "Cry" by Waterfront

A few artists who got their first chart single in 1989: Cathy Dennis, Enya, Indigo Girls, Roxette, Metallica, Melissa Etheridge

Runners-Up:  15 songs peaked at #2, 10 songs peaked at #11, and 3 songs peaked at #41

Some interesting things learned (click links for more details in previous posts): 
  • "A Girl Like You" was originally written for a classic Cameron Crowe flick and it was supposed to feature vocals by a newly minted icon.
  • Arsenio Hall created a rap character and recorded an album.
  • The Kiss song "Hide Your Heart" was released by four different artists in the same year. And all of those were remakes.
  • A rebuffed come-on by a popular actress was the inspiration for Don Henley's "The Last Worthless Evening."
  • A new band formed by a former member of the Go-Go's included an artist that would go on to be a solo one-hit wonder in the late 90s.
  • A band with a classic 80s hit would later go on to win the Eurovision Song Contest.
  • A songwriter begged and practically forced a superstar to record her song. It turned into a big signature hit for the artist.
  • The second album by an 80s freestyle artist contained a song written by a pair of superstars from different generations.
  • While it wasn't a remake, a hit by Cyndi Lauper was first recorded by an early rock pioneer.
  • A teen phenom helped to inspire the backstory of a character on a hit TV show.
According to the year-end chart for 1989, these were the year's Top 10 singles:
  1. "Look Away" by Chicago
  2. "My Prerogative" by Bobby Brown
  3. "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" by Poison
  4. "Straight Up" by Paula Abdul
  5. "Miss You Much" by Janet Jackson
  6. "Cold Hearted" by Paula Abdul
  7. "Wind Beneath My Wings" by Bette Midler
  8. "Girl You Know It's True" by Milli Vanilli
  9. "Baby I Love Your Way/Freebird" by Will to Power
  10. "Giving You the Best That I Got" by Anita Baker
So long '89! And actually, adios to the whole decade! As always it was another fun years on the charts.


Thursday, June 15, 2023

"Price of Love" by Bad English

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  4149
Date:  12/23/1989
Debut:  68
Peak:  5
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Rock

**This is the last song to be covered in this blog. It was the highest debuting song on the very last Pop chart of 1989 wrapping up the decade. I made it! I covered all songs to enter the Pop chart in the 80s. Thanks to any and all who followed along or even dropped in for an entry or two.

Pop Bits:  This glam rock supergroup fronted by John Waite was able to score a #1 Pop gold record with the Diane Warren-penned power ballad "When I See You Smile." It was the second single from the band's self-titled debut album. For a follow up, the label selected another power ballad from the album, "Price of Love," which was written by band member Waite and Jonathan Cain. It would do well enough to become the band's second Pop Top 10 hit (#30 Rock/#38 AC). The pair of hits would help send the album to #21 and it would become a platinum seller. Two other singles from the LP would make the Pop chart. "Heaven Is a 4 Letter Word" would get to #66 (#12 Rock) while "Possession" would make it to #21 (#42 AC).

ReduxReview:  With perhaps the most single worthy rock track already released ("Forget Me Not," #45), it wasn't surprising that the label chose to push out another power ballad in hopes of a second hit. The ploy worked, but at what price? <pun intended> With their only other Top 40 entry another power ballad, it sort of painted the band in a corner. Obviously they could rock out, but it seemed all folks wanted was big ballads featuring Waite's voice. It kind of put the band at odds. Were they a hard rock supergroup or commercial balladeers? It all would lead to a breakup after their second album, which wasn't surprising as that tends to happen with supergroups like this. But before all that they scored one last Top 10 with this tune. It was a nicely done, but really wasn't all that memorable. I think it had just enough radio ready flare to ride the coattails of "When I See You Smile." Had it been released first, I don't think it would have done nearly as well. It didn't have legs either as I haven't heard this song since its chart days.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  With the debut album becoming a success, the band needed to record a follow up. They did so and in 1991 their second album Backlash was ready. Unfortunately, it seems tensions rose in the band during the recording of the LP concerning the direction of the band, so they were on shaky ground even before the LP's release. Then it all came crashing down when the LP's first single, "Straight to Your Heart," stalled at #42 Pop (#9 Rock) and a second single failed to chart. In turn the album stalled at #72 and couldn't even go gold. With those results, the band called it quits. John Wait would return to a solo career while Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain would eventually reform Journey along with Bad English drummer Deen Castronovo. Bassist Ricky Phillip would mainly return to session work while later joining an iteration of Styx.


Wednesday, June 14, 2023

"Here and Now" by Luther Vandross

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Grammy Alert!
Song#:  4148
Date:  12/23/1989
Debut:  78
Peak:  6
Weeks:  27
Genre:  R&B, Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Six albums into his career (all platinum/double-platinum sellers), Vandross still had yet to have a single reach the Pop Top 10. The closest he got was the #15 "Stop to Love," which was from his '86 album Give Me the Reason. His popularity was so great that his '88 album Any Love would be his first to make the Pop Top 10 (#9) despite not containing a major hit. After that effort, Vandross' label chose to close out the decade with a compilation album. The double disc set The Best of Luther Vandross...The Best of Love would be issued out in the fall of '89. It contained hits and key tracks from Vandross including tracks from when he fronted the group Change. It also featured two new tracks including this single, which was released to help promote the set. The song would be Vandross' fifth to top the R&B chart. It would cross over to Pop where the tune would take a leisurely climb up the chart finally peaking at #6 in its 18th week. It would also get to #3 at AC. Not only would the song earn Vandross his first Pop Top 10 hit, but it would win him his first Grammy (Best Male R&B Vocal Performance). The single would also go gold (it would receive a platinum certification in 2021). The compilation would get to #2 R&B/#26 Pop and eventually hit the triple platinum mark.

ReduxReview:  Finally! After having a few terrific songs unable to crack the Pop Top 10, this ballad finally did the trick for Vandross. It would lead to more Top 10s (see below) and kick off what was arguably Vandross' most successful period. Vandross was an excellent songwriter, but unfortunately he did not have a hand in this one. It was written by Terry Steele and David L. Elliott (Dionne Warwick's eldest son). Regardless, it was a beautiful song that was worthy of its Top 10 placement. It took a long while to get there, but with folks finally realizing the goods Vandross had to offer, it eventually became a big crossover hit. The Vandross catalog is chock full of great songs and performances that are essential listening. That first compilation album, which had to be made into a double disc due to all his hits and key tracks, ended up being the tip of the iceberg with more classics to follow. At minimum, folks should go and listen to that comp at least once. Whether you become a fan from it or not doesn't matter. You just have to appreciate the talent that was Luther Vandross.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  With plenty of momentum following this hit, Vandross would return in '91 with his next studio album Power of Love. Its lead single, "Power of Love/Love Power," would be a #1 R&B/#3 AC/#4 Pop hit, Its follow up, "Don't Want to Be a Fool," would be another winner getting to #4 R&B/#5 AC/#9 Pop. The album would be a #1 R&B/#7 Pop double platinum seller. Vandross would earn a fourth Pop Top 10 with the collaboration soundtrack single "The Best Things in Life Are Free" (#10 Pop/#1 R&B/#3 Dance). Used in the 1992 film Mo' Money, the song would be a duet between Vandross and Janet Jackson, and would featured supporting vocals by Bell Biv DeVoe and Ralph Tresvant. Vandross' final Pop Top 10 hit would come in 1994 via a remake of the 1981 Diana Ross/Lionel Richie #1 classic "Endless Love." Mariah Carey would join Vandross on the track, which peaked at #2 Pop/#7 R&B/#11 AC. Vandross would continue to record albums over the years with all of them at least hitting the gold mark. He would have one last significant hit in his career. In 2004, Vandross would release the album Dance with My Father. The title track, written by Vandross and Richard Marx, would go on to be a sentimental hit reaching #4 AC/#28 R&B/#38 Pop. However, its popularity rose when the tune won two Grammys, one for Song of the Year and one for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. The album would debut at #1, become a double platinum seller, and would win the Grammy for Best R&B Album. Prior to its release, Vandross had suffered a stroke and was in a coma for about two months. He would recover enough to do a video thank you when he won the Grammy for Song of the Year. However, just over a year later in 2005 Vandross would die from a heart attack.


Tuesday, June 13, 2023

"Roam" by The B-52's

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  4147
Date:  12/23/1989
Debut:  88
Peak:  3
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  The B-52's scored their first Pop Top 10 hit with "Love Shack," the second single from their album Cosmic Thing. It would be a #3 gold seller that took the band to new heights of popularity. For a follow up, this next single was selected. It would basically replicate the results of their previous hit by getting to #3 and going gold (#10 Dance, #6 Modern Rock). In turn, the album would reach #4 and eventually reach the 4x platinum mark. A fourth single, "Deadbeat Club," would be a modest hit just cracking the Pop Top 30 at #30.

ReduxReview:  For this song, vocalist Fred Schneider stepped to the side and let Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson take full charge of the song. It turned into a great showcase for their vocals and harmonies. Both singers had interesting voices, but when put together they created something unique and memorable, which when paired with Schneider made the B-52's sound. However, the two on their own were awesome and this hit proved it. This was a fun, catchy pop tune that was perfect for driving with the windows down on a warm summer day. Wherever you were headed, this song provided a wonderful soundtrack for the trip.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  After everything wrapped up with Cosmic Thing and the associated tour, original member Cindy Wilson chose to go on hiatus from the band. The remaining trio decided to carry on and would record their next album Good Stuff with producers Nile Rodgers and Don Was. Both had produced tracks for Cosmic Thing. The LP was highly anticipated, but then the title track first single surprisingly stalled at #28 on the Pop chart (#1 Modern Rock) and that left the album stalling at #16. It would go gold, but it was a disappointment after the multi-platinum success of their previous LP. The band would have one last Pop chart entry in 1994 with "(Meet) The Flintsones," the theme song to the live action movie version of the 60s animated TV show The Flintstones. For the single, they were billed as The BC-52's. Wilson would rejoin the band soon after and they would tour and work on various projects as a group and individually. They wouldn't record another album until 2008's Funplex, which peaked at #11.


Monday, June 12, 2023

"Too Hot" by Loverboy

Song#:  4146
Date:  12/23/1989
Debut:  90
Peak:  84
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Glam Rock

Pop Bits:  After a run of four consecutive double platinum albums, Loverboy's career hit a bump with their fifth effort, '87's Wildside. It would be their lowest peaking studio album (#42) and would only reach gold level sales. With the band's popularity on the decline combined with tensions arising among the members, Loverboy decided to split in '88. The breakup would prove to be brief due to the band needing one more album to fulfill their label contract. A compilation package titled Big Ones would be put together and nestled among hits would be three new tracks including this first single. The song would peak at a minor #27 at Rock and was nearly a non-starter at Pop where it fizzled after a few weeks on the chart. The compilation would stall at a minor #189. Following some supporting tour dates, Loverboy would once again call it a day.

ReduxReview:  I think Loverboy had learned that their earlier 80s arena/synth rock wasn't going to cut it anymore in the late 80s and consciously amped up their sound with this song to try and compete with the glam metal of the day. It was a valiant attempt, but it was too little too late. For me, this just didn't sound like Loverboy. Even lead singer Mike Reno seemed to be trying to metal up his vocal and it was a bit too much of a stretch. It didn't help that the song wasn't all that memorable. Loverboy were a product of a certain time period and they were able to toss out some terrific radio hits that are still in rotation. It gave them the fodder to have a long lasting career. They really didn't need to reinvent the wheel.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  As before, the band's breakup wouldn't last all that long. In 1991, the band was asked to perform at a benefit show for Brian MacLeod, a member of the popular Canadian group Chilliwack who was fighting cancer. In the US, Chilliwack was known for their 1981 #22 hit "My Girl (Gone, Gone, Gone)." The reunion worked out so well that the band decided to continue on and do a few tour dates. From that point on, Loverboy would remain together. They would tour and issue out a few albums along the way. Loverboy would be inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2009.


Saturday, June 10, 2023

"Right and Hype" by Abstrac'

Song#:  4145
Date:  12/23/1989
Debut:  93
Peak:  89
Weeks:  6
Genre:  R&B, New Jack Swing

Pop Bits:  This vocal trio from NYC consisted of Mary Brown, Marsha McClurkin, and Topaz Del Bettis. Formed via Teddy Riley (Guy, Bobby Brown) and Gene Griffin, the trio got signed to Reprise Records and work began on a self titled debut album. Griffin would co-write and co-produce the majority of the album with Riley doing some side work. This first single would be issued out. It would be a minor hit at R&B reaching #23. The tune would cross over to Pop, but only spend a few weeks near the bottom. In turn, the album would get little attention and disappear quickly. Afterwards, Del Bettis would depart the trio leaving Brown and McClurkin to carry on. The pair would rename themselves M&M and record an album titled Get Ta Know Ya Betta for Atlantic Records. The title track would scrape the bottom of the R&B chart and that would be it for the duo.

ReduxReview:  While female vocal groups were more entrenched in freestyle at the time, there was potential for one to break through on the new jack scene and Reilly gave it a go with Abstrac'. The song was catchy, the production solid, and the vocals good. However, it just didn't have that little extra something needed to make it a memorable, standout track. I've read that Reilly and Griffin may have been going through a breakup of their partnership at the time and that may have affected the progress and promotion of artists they were handling like Abstrac'. The trio had potential, but in the end it just didn't work out.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Abstrac' member Mary Brown would step out of the limelight after M&M failed and begin working behind the scenes as a background singer and songwriter. Although prior to 1998 Brown would sell songs to a few artists including SWV, it would be a song that she co-wrote for a new vocal group that would truly kick off her career. Brown co-wrote "No, No, No," which would be the first single released by Destiny's Child. It would be a hit getting to #1 R&B and #3 Pop in 1998. The track would appear on the group's self-titled debut album. Although it would be her biggest hit as a writer, songs that she co-wrote would appear on albums by Diana Ross, Wyclef Jean, Kelly Rowland, Patti LaBelle, Queen Latifah, and others. In between she would provide background vocals for artists such as LL Cool J, Mary J. Blige, TLC, and Michael Jackson.


Friday, June 9, 2023

"Dangerous" by Roxette

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  4144
Date:  12/16/1989
Debut:  65
Peak:  2
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  The Swedish duo scored their second #1 US Pop hit with the power ballad "Listen to Your Heart" (#2 AC). It was the third single from their album Look Sharp! and to keep the ball rollin', this next single was issued out. It would just miss out on becoming the duo's third #1 at Pop (#21 AC), but they would rectify that with their next single. Meanwhile, the album would turn platinum after peaking at #23.

ReduxReview:  This was another catchy track from the duo. It didn't have as long of legs as their other big hits as you never hear it these days, but it was still a quality pop tune. The album had plenty of gems mainly supplied by duo member Per Gessel. With both Look Sharp! and Joyride he was really at the peak of his powers dishing out well crafted pop tracks. It came to an end in the US when the more conceptual Tourism didn't spark interest. Still, the duo certainly made their mark in the US with six Pop Top 10s including four #1s.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) While on a hot streak, Roxette was tapped to contribute a song for the soundtrack to the upcoming rom-com film Pretty Woman starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. Instead of writing a brand new song, Roxette reached back a couple years to a Christmas themed song they released in Sweden in 1987. Titled "It Must Have Been Love (Christmas for the Broken Hearted)," the single got to #4 in Sweden. For the Pretty Woman soundtrack, the duo would alter the lyrics to take out any Christmas references and give the track a remix. Roxette's track would be the second single lifted from the soundtrack and it would be a #1 Pop/#2 AC gold seller. Of course it didn't hurt that the film became a huge box office success with Julia Roberts later winning a Golden Globe and getting an Oscar nod for her role.  2) Roxette would return with a new album in '91 titled Joyride. It would be another platinum success that reached #12. That was thanks to a pair of hit singles, the #1 title track and the #2 "Fading Like a Flower (Every Time You Leave)." Unfortunately, the duo's luck faded quickly after that album. Their next effort, '92's Tourism, would scrape the chart at #117 with none of its singles able to make the top half of the Pop chart. They would get two more minor singles on the Pop chart and that would be it for them in the US. However, Roxette would remain very successful in Europe and especially in their home country of Sweden. In 2002, one-half of the duo, Marie Fredriksson, was diagnosed with a brain tumor that was successfully removed. Roxette would be put on hiatus and during that time period she and duo partner Per Gessel would release successful solo albums. They would reunite in 2009 for performances, which led to a new album and tour. They would continue to record an perform over the years, but that would end in 2016 when she could no longer perform due to her health condition after battling cancer stemming from the brain tumor. She died in 2019.


Thursday, June 8, 2023

"Here We Are" by Gloria Estefan

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  4143
Date:  12/16/1989
Debut:  68
Peak:  6
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Estefan's first official solo billed album Cuts Both Ways quickly went platinum thanks in part to the #1 gold selling lead single "Don't Wanna to Lose You." The second single, "Get on Your Feet," did well, but stalled at #11 Pop. Estefan would return to the Top 10 with this third single. The ballad would make it to #6 while becoming her first solo #1 at AC. The hit would help sales of the album, which would go double platinum in the summer of '90. Eventually it would go triple platinum. Two further singles from the album would miss out on the Pop Top 40, but the album's title track would become another #1 AC hit for Estefan.

ReduxReview:  While the Miami Sound Machine had success with upbeat tracks, when Estefan started to branch out on her own, it was her ballads that turned into hits for her. That was not a bad thing, but it may have started to put her in a more AC light with the kids moving on to newer, hipper artists. Estefan would score one more major hit (a ballad, natch), but then besides a #13 remake of "Turn the Beat Around" in '94, her Pop chart singles were middling affairs. However, she'd score fourteen solo Top 10 hits at AC, so really that format kept her going (and helped album sales). This track was the first of three #1s at AC and it was just right for that format. It was a pretty ballad that was well written and performed by Estefan. It wasn't quite as memorable as her other ballad hits, but it was a quality tune.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  In March of '90 while on tour supporting the album, Estefan's tour bus was involved in a crash with a semi during a snowstorm near Scranton, PA. The accident left Estefan with a fractured spine. She would go through months of recovery and therapy. Along the way she would still find a way to write and record and in January of '91 she would release her second solo effort Into the Light. It was preceded by the single "Coming Out of the Dark" along with a triumphant return to the stage performing the song on the American Music Awards. The single would reach #1 Pop/#1 AC/#60 R&B. It would end up being Estefan's last Pop Top 10 hit. The album topped out at #5 and would be a double platinum seller. Estefan would continue to have a successful recording career scoring platinum and gold selling LPs, which included Spanish language albums that would earn her three Grammy awards and five Latin Grammys.


Wednesday, June 7, 2023

"Opposites Attract" by Paula Abdul (Duet with The Wild Pair)

#1 Alert
Song#:  4142
Date:  12/16/1989
Debut:  72
Peak:  1 (3 weeks)
Weeks:  23
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  By this point in time, Abdul's debut album Forever Your Girl was showing only a few signs of slowing down. In October of '89, more than a year after it first reached the chart the LP finally made it to #1 after spawning four Pop Top 10 hits including three #1s. With the iron still hot, Abdul's label gambled on this sixth single. To boost it along, an inventive video was created for MTV. The ploy worked and Abdul would end up with her fourth #1 Pop hit (#3 R&B). It made her only the fourth artist at the time to generate four #1 songs from one album (Whitney Houston, George Michael, and Michael Jackson attained that mark previously). The hit would close out that album, which would reach the seven million sales mark in July of '90 to become one of the most successful debut albums ever.

ReduxReview:  This was the last song to debut on the Pop chart in '89 that would go on to become a #1 hit in 1990. I can't say it was a good one, but it gave Abdul another chart topper. I wasn't a fan of the song when it came out and it is still not one of my favorites among Abdul's hits. I think it was the video, which was kinda cool at the time, that pushed this one over the top. I mean, the track was fine, but the whole you-like/I-like concept had been done before and I didn't find it as fun or catchy as some of her other hits. Abdul's next LP was a bit of a mess, but it had a few keepers. "The Promise of a New Day" comes up in a couple of my playlists. Let's face it - Abdul was not a good singer, but with her debut she set a goal and had just the right songs and videos in place to capture an audience. You knew it couldn't last (and it didn't), but she certainly made a mark.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This single was billed as a duet with The Wild Pair, which consisted of Bruce DeShazer (aka Tony Christian) and Marvin Gunn. The pair were formerly members of the Minneapolis R&B/funk band Mazarati, who were signed to Prince's Paisley Park label. Their self-titled '86 debut album would spawn the #19 R&B single "100 MPH." The Wild Pair would do background vocals on a couple of Abdul's tracks while take a turn at the lead for this tune. For single release, the label requested a remix with a rap and so producer Oliver Leiber collaborated with Derrick "Delite" Stevens and came up with the new version. Then there was the video. Inspired by an animated/live action dance sequence in the 1945 Gene Kelly musical Anchors Away, the video had Abdul doing a duet/dance with the animated character MC Skat Kat (voiced by The Wild Pair). It proved to be very successful and would go on to win a Grammy for Best Short Form Music Video. The MC Scat Kat would prove to be so popular that the character would be spin off as a recording artist. With Derrick Stevens providing the vocals, MC Skat Kat and the Stray Mob would be released in 1991. The LP's first single, "Skat Strut," would get to #80 Pop/#94 R&B. The album would not chart and with that MC Skat Kat would pretty much disappear.  2) The difficult thing about having a wildly successful debut album is following it up. Abdul gave it a go with her '91 effort Spellbound. For it, she pretty much ditched her cohorts from her debut and mainly worked with Peter Lord and V. Jeffrey Smith who were from the NYC R&B/soul band The Family Stand. They would write and produce the majority of the album with Abdul joining them as co-writer on four tracks. Abdul also did a John Hiatt cover tune with producer Don Was and recorded one Prince song that was produced by folks in his Paisley Park stable. The LP started off well with its first two singles, "Rush, Rush" and "The Promise of a New Day," both hitting #1. Another Top 10 arrived with the #6 "Blowing Kisses in the Wind" followed by a couple of Top 20s. The album would spend two weeks at #1 and sell three million copies. Overall, it was a good result, but it couldn't get close to the success of her debut. After a break, Abdul would return in '95 with Head Over Heels. None of its singles would crack the Pop Top 30 and the album would stall at #18 and only go gold. To-date, Abdul has yet to release a fourth studio album. Her career floundered for a bit, but then in 2002 she got a major revival when she became a judge on the hugely successful reality competition show American Idol.


Tuesday, June 6, 2023

"I Will Survive" by Sa-Fire

Song#:  4141
Date:  12/16/1989
Debut:  80
Peak:  53
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Dance-Pop, House

Pop Bits:  Sa-Fire's self-titled debut album did fairly well. It peaked at a respectable #79 while spawning the #12 Pop/#4 AC hit "Thinking of You." A follow up LP was in order, but prior to that Sa-Fire would be assigned by her label to record a song for the soundtrack to an upcoming film. She would perform the cover tune "I Will Survive" for the Meryl Streep/Roseanne Barr comedy flick She-Devil. It would be released as a single, but it didn't quite catch fire. The tune would stop short of the halfway mark on the Pop chart while topping out at #30 Dance. Without a better boost the soundtrack then failed to chart.

ReduxReview:  You know a song is quality when it can be performed in various styles and it still sounds good. Sa-Fire's house-leaning take served the song well especially for the time period. I could do without the rap section, but again, it was right for the late 80s. If the arrangement sounds like something that Paula Abdul would do that is because it was produced by Oliver Leiber, who helmed hits for Abdul including "(It's Just) The Way You Love Me." It might have been nice to have this single touch the Pop Top 40, but I don't think it could have gone much further. It was a nice, timely take on a classic.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This is a cover of a song originally recorded by singer Gloria Gaynor. Written by Freddie Perrin and Dino Fekaris, the tune was meant to be the b-side to "Substitute," a song Gaynor's label wanted as a single. Gaynor knew "I Will Survive" would be a hit and tried to take the label into making it the a-side, but they refused and pushed out "Substitute." That tune barely scraped the R&B chart at #78, however "I Will Survive" started to become very successful in discos and it wasn't long before the song started climbing the charts. It would reach #1 Pop/#1 Dance/#4 R&B/#9 AC in 1979 and would become a platinum seller. It was Gaynor's second and final Pop Top 10 hit. The tune would go on to become a classic disco track and gay anthem. It would also be the one and only song to win a Grammy for Best Disco Recording as that category would exist for only one year. The song would be covered by many artists. The first charting cover of the song would be in 1979 when country artist Billie Jo Spears would take it to #21 on the Country chart. Sa-Fire would be the second artist to make the Pop chart with the tune. In 1996, a Diana Ross cover would get to #37 Dance. That same year, singer Chantay Savage would do a version that would get to #24 Pop/#5 R&B/#35 Dance. The following year alt rock band Cake would record the tune and it would get to #28 on the Modern Rock chart. Then of course the cast of the TV show Glee would do a mashup version of the tune along with Destiny Child's 2001 hit "Survivor." That medley would get to #51 Pop.


Monday, June 5, 2023

"Foolish Heart" by Sharon Bryant

Song#:  4140
Date:  12/16/1989
Debut:  90
Peak:  90
Weeks:  5
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  This former Atlantic Starr vocalist was finally able to issue out a debut solo album five years after leaving the band. A single from the LP, "Let Go," would become a hit at R&B reaching #2. The tune would also do fairly well at Pop where it got inside the Pop Top 40 (#34). Next up for release was this follow up single. Again, it would crack the R&B Top 10 peaking at #7. The ballad would get on the Pop chart, but it would end up peaking where it debuted and would disappear after a few weeks. Another single, "Body Talk," would only get to #38 R&B. The album was able to reach #27 R&B and #139 Pop. Despite scoring a couple of R&B Top 10, it seems it wasn't enough for her label, Wing Records, to keep her on the roster. Bryant would then move on to work as a background singer on record an on tour with many artists including Celine Dion, Mary J. Blige, Seal, and Vanessa Williams, who was Bryant's labelmate at Wing Records.

ReduxReview:  This was an interesting choice for a cover and it worked out quite well. With its 80s quiet storm arrangement, the track was quite different from the original's soft rock sound (see below), which I think benefited the song. I also liked Bryant's vocal take. She didn't overdo it and knew the right times to give a little zest. Overall a very nice cover that should have done a lot better at Pop and also should have been promoted at AC.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a song originally recorded by Journey frontman Steve Perry. Released as the fourth single from Perry's 1984 double platinum solo debut album Street Talk (#12), the song would become a #2 AC/#18 Pop hit. The tune was co-written by Perry along with Randy Goodrum.


Saturday, June 3, 2023

"C'mon and Get My Love" by D-Mob introducing Cathy Dennis

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  4139
Date:  12/16/1989
Debut:  96
Peak:  10
Weeks:  21
Genre: Dance-Pop, Acid House

Pop Bits:  British producer/remixer/songwriter Daniel Poku, aka Dancin' Danny D, worked his way through the music biz as a DJ and promoter until landing an A&R job at Chrysalis Records. He would continue to work remixer for various artists including ones on Chrysalis while branching out to do his own projects. After leaving Chrysalis, Danny would write and produce a track titled "We Call It Acieed." The song featured vocals by Gary Haisman. Released in the UK in the fall of '88 on the FFRR label and credited to D-Mob, the single became an unexpected hit reaching #3 on the UK chart. With the sudden success of his D-Mob project, Danny needed to get a follow up out and his next effort was "It Is Time to Get Funky" featuring rapper LRS and DJ Sarome. It would also reach the UK Top 10 (#5) in the spring of '89. The second success prompted Danny to create a debut album from D-Mob. In the meantime, across the pond in the US, the two D-Mob singles would both reach #1 on the Dance chart. By the fall of '89, the D-Mob debut album A Little Bit of This, a Little Bit of That would be set and this next single that featured singer Cathy Dennis would be issued out. While the song would do fine in the UK getting to #15, over in the US it would be D-Mob's third #1 at Dance while becoming a surprise Pop Top 10 hit. Another Cathy Dennis-led track, "That's the Way of the World," would stall in the UK at #48, but would hit #1 on the US Dance chart (#59 Pop). The album would sell modestly well in the US reaching #82 (#46 UK). 

ReduxReview:  House music was certainly popular in clubs, but it would only break through to the mainstream on occasion and this was one of them. With its relentless beat, the track was a catchy dancefloor filler that was made all the better by Dennis' vocal. Acid house music is generally not something I gravitate towards as I find it too repetitive, but when the beats are paired with a catchy melody and chorus and edited to a single, it can be terrific. This song was a good example. It was a whirlwind house track that was easy to get caught up in.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The D-Mob outfit would go on to release a couple more singles later in '94 that didn't catch on as well and with that Dancin' Danny D would go on to other projects. He would run his own record label and also team up with Tim Blacksmith to form a publishing company. They would also manage the Norwegian songwriting/production team Stargate. That outfit would work on hits by major acts like Beyoncé, Rihanna, Chris Brown, Selena Gomez, Sam Smith, and many others. 2) While at Chrysalis, Poku would befriend a co-worker by the name of Simon Fuller, who would later become widely known for the UK's Pop Idol show (aka American Idol in the US along with franchises in many other countries). The connection came in handy when Poku needed a vocalist for a couple tracks. Fuller started his own management company and had signed on singer/songwriter Cathy Dennis. With her two D-Mob tracks becoming hits, Dennis then got her own record deal and later in 1990 issued out her debut solo album Move to This. While it would only reach #62 in the US, it would spawn three Pop Top 10 hits:  "Just Another Dream" (#9), "Touch Me (All Night Long)" (#2), and "Too Many Walls" (#8). Dennis co-wrote all three songs along with the majority of tracks on her debut. Unfortunately, her 1992 second album didn't fare as well and it more or less brought an end to her solo career (save for a '97 album). However, it would be Dennis' songwriting skills that would take her career to new heights. She began writing songs for other artists and things would start to rev starting in 1999 when she co-wrote four Top 10 hits for the UK pop outfit S Club 7. Her next hit would be a biggie. Dennis would co-write and co-produce the 2001 worldwide #1 "Can't Get You Out of My Head" by Kylie Minogue (#7 US). Dennis then got involved in Pop Idol thanks to Fuller. She would co-write the theme song, which would later be used for American Idol as well. Dennis would also be tapped to write songs for winners including the first UK winner Will Young and American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson. Many more hits would follow for Dennis including Britney Spears' 2004 "Toxic" (#9 US) and 2008's "I Kissed a Girl" (#1 US) by Katy Perry. Along the way Dennis would win two Grammys.


Friday, June 2, 2023

"Never 2 Much of U" by Dino

Song#:  4138
Date:  12/16/1989
Debut:  96
Peak:  61
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  After a fourth single from Dino's debut album 24/7 was able to make the Pop Top 30 ("Sunshine," #23), his label took a chance and decided to push out a fifth single. This next track was selected, but it really didn't do much to boost Dino or the album. The song would be unable to crack the top half of the Pop chart and it would do nearly the same at R&B (#69). Regardless, Dino's debut album was a success peaking at #34 and going gold.

ReduxReview:  With its Prince-like spelling, I figured this would be some kind of Minneapolis style jam. However, it was a more meditative mid-tempo soul-leaning tune a la George Michael. The track contained little production techniques/enhancements to boost the tune, which was needed as the song wasn't all that interesting or memorable. It probably wasn't the best decision to shove this out, but you can't blame them for trying.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  In 1990, Dino would issue out his second album Swingin'. Its first single, "Romeo," would end up becoming Dino's highest peaking on the Pop chart getting to #6. It would also reach #35 Dance and #69 R&B. Unfortunately, the LP's next single, "Gentle," would halt at #31 Pop/#31 R&B and that result would do little for album sales. Without a string of chart singles, the LP then would only peak at #82 and miss out on going gold. It then seems that Dino would be left off of the Island Records roster. He'd sign on with the Atlantic offshoot label EastWest and release a third album in '93 titled The Way I Am, but it came and went to little notice save for the #27 Pop single "Ooh Child," which was a cover of the 1970 #4 Pop/#14 R&B hit by The Five Stairsteps. With his time in the sunshine done, Dino would then step behind the scenes and mainly work writing and producing for other artists.


Thursday, June 1, 2023

"Tell Me Why" by Exposé

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  4137
Date:  12/09/1989
Debut:  67
Peak:  9
Weeks:  15
Genre:  New Jack Swing, Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  The trio's second album What You Don't Know was off to a good start with its first two singles making the Pop Top 10 including the ballad "When I Looked at Him" (#10). For a third single, this new jack swing track was selected for release. It would be another winner for the trio becoming their seventh consecutive Pop Top 10. The tune also made it to #3 at Dance. Oddly, even though the LP featured three Pop Top 10 hits, it didn't sell as well as expected. It would top out at #33 and only reach gold status. That was a far cry from their triple platinum '87 debut. Alas, all good things have to come to and end and the album's fourth single, the mid-tempo Diane Warren-penned "Your Baby Never Looked Good in Blue," would bring a halt to the trio's Top 10 streak when it peaked at #17 (#9 AC).

ReduxReview:  I thought I knew all of Exposé's hits, but I don't remember this one at all. It seems to be a hit in their catalog that has disappeared. It was another pretty good track from the trio's writer/producer Lewis A. Martineé, but it certainly wasn't as strong or memorable as previous hits. I wouldn't have pegged this for a Top 10 hit, but somehow it did well enough to just make it in.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Later in 1990, group member Gioia Bruno experienced vocal issues. Eventually she lost her voice and was unable to sing. With the trio still needing to push out a third album, she would be replaced by Kelly Moneymaker. Arista Records head Clive Davis would take a more hands-on approach with the trio's self-titled third effort and move them more towards a pop/AC-leaning sound. The person who assembled the trio and produced their first to albums, Lewis A. Martineé, would only get to contribute four tracks to the new LP while the balance featured tracks written by Diane Warren and other songwriters. A first single, "I Wish the Phone Would Ring," would falter at #28 Pop, but then the Warren-penned "I'll Never Get Over You (Getting Over Me)" would become a #8 Pop/#1 AC gold selling hit. Two further singles failed to crack the top half of the Pop chart. None of the four singles were written/produced by Martineé. Despite containing a major hit, the LP would stall at #135, however, over a two year period it would somehow sell well enough to be certified gold. After a '95 Greatest Hits album, the trio would be cut loose from Arista. Members would go their own ways, but then in 2003 the trio's third album lineup would get back together and start to perform. Bruno, who had recovered from her vocal outage, would come back in 2006 taking over her original spot from Moneymaker. The original trio would continue to perform over the years with Moneymaker subbing in as needed.


Wednesday, May 31, 2023

"We Can't Go Wrong" by The Cover Girls

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  4136
Date:  12/09/1989
Debut:  73
Peak:  8
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  The vocal trio's second album, We Can't Go Wrong, didn't get off to the best start. Its first single, "My Heart Skips a Beat," would be a #4 Dance hit, but that didn't really help its mainstream prospects with the song peaking just inside the Pop Top 40 (#38). With that freestyle track not able to gain a bigger audience, the trio's label decided to change tactics and push out this title track ballad. It ended up being the right choice with the single becoming the trio's first to crack the Pop Top 10. However, despite the song doing well, it didn't help sales of the album, which halted at a minor #108. A third single, "All That Glitters Isn't Gold," wasn't able to contribute much either with the song topping out at #18 Dance and #48 Pop. It seems the results left the trio looking for a new label.

ReduxReview:  With its big sing-a-long chorus that made it sound like a charity single of some sorts, this ballad is what broke the trio into the Pop Top 10. It was a little surprising as they were more known for their freestyle hits, but since those were not connecting on a larger scale outside of the dance clubs, this big ballad was given a shot and it paid off.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  After things crumbled with Capitol Records, the trio caught a break and were tapped to record the track "Don't Stop Now" for the 1990 benefit album Music Speaks Louder Than Words that was put out by Epic Records. Epic decided to release the song as a single and it got a little attention reaching #8 Dance and #65 Pop. Its b-side, "Funky Boutique," started to pick up some airplay, so Epic released it as a one-off single. It would do slightly better getting to #55 Pop. With those results, Epic wanted more from the trio (who by that point had a lineup change) and decided to sign them on. A third album Here It Is would be ready by 1992 and a first single, "Wishing on a Star," would do well enough to become the trio's second Pop Top 10 hit (#9). It would also get to #7 Dance and #19 R&B. The track was a cover of a song originally recorded by Rose Royce in 1977 (#52 R&B). Yet despite The Cover Girls taking the song into the Pop Top 10, it seems that was not enough to spark any album sales and it would fail to chart. With those results, the trio were left off the Epic roster. Lineup changes would ensue and an indie LP in '96 titled Satisfy would fail to win an audience. Since that time, various iterations of The Cover Girls have continued to perform.


Tuesday, May 30, 2023

"Electric Boogie" by Marcia Griffiths

Song#:  4135
Date:  12/09/1989
Debut:  90
Peak:  51
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Pop, R&B, Reggae

Pop Bits:  By this point in time, Jamaican singer Marcia Griffiths had already been a star for over twenty years. After basically being discovered in the early 60s singing at a friend's party, Griffiths became a singer for the influential ska band Byron Lee and the Dragonaires. A solo career would follow and in 1968 she had her first hit "Feel Like Jumping." Not long after that, Griffiths would team up professionally and personally with reggae singer/songwriter Bob Andy. As Bob and Marcia, the pair would record a couple of albums in the early 70s and score a major #5 UK hit in 1970 with their version of Nina Simone's "Young, Gifted and Black." After the duo parted ways, Griffith would become a member of Bob Marley's backing vocal group the I Three's. She would continue working with Marley until his death in '81. Along the way Griffiths would maintain her solo career recording several albums. In '83, she would record a cover version of a song called "Electric Boogie" that would become popular in Jamaica. By a stroke of luck, six years later the tune experienced a revival. It became popular enough that a new remix of the track was done and issued out by Island Records. Thanks in part to a popular dance (see below), the single started to sell and it would eventually make the US Pop chart where it stalled just a notch shy of the halfway point. It also got on the R&B chart at #83. With the song a hit, an album was quickly assembled and pushed out. Carousel would arrive in '90, but it would not chart. Griffiths would continue to record solo albums and work with other artists, but for many around the world she will mainly be recognized for "Electric Boogie" and its associated dance.

ReduxReview:  While it may not be as popular now, back in the day there wasn't a prom, wedding reception, or event with a DJ where this was not played. Folks would crowd the dance floor and the Electric Slide would commence. It was an fairly easy line dance to learn so it often got everyone participating including some of the most stubborn "I don't dance" kind of people. I remember doing it a few times, but these days I don't remember one step of it. There are times when a song behind a dance craze is really annoying, but this is one that stands on its own. It's a fun, engaging tune that can be easily listened to without having to dance. The remix is a lot slicker than Griffiths' previous '83 version and that definitely helped its mainstream chances.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This is a cover of a song originally written and recorded by reggae star Bunny Wailer (step-brother to the legendary Bob Marley and original member of The Wailers). By most accounts, Wailer wrote the song in 1976 and recorded a demo. It seems a single of the song was issued out later in 1980 under his name. Then in '83, Griffiths would record the song with Wailer producing, arranging, and singing background vocals. It was a popular tune at the time, but then later in '89 a DJ in Washington, D.C., started to spin the tune and it unexpectedly gained an audience. A new remix of the song would be created and become a minor hit. But what took the song to a whole new level was an associated dance that was developed back when Bunny Wailer wrote the tune. Choreography/performer Ric Silver heard the demo and created a line dance that was known as The Electric. The original 22-step dance would become popular with variations popping up. One of those variations, the 18-step Electric Slide, would receive renewed interest when Griffiths' song regained popularity and it soon started to find its way into mainstream culture. It would become a staple at parties, receptions, events, bars, etc., for years after. For the 2023 Super Bowl, a new remix of Griffiths' hit song was done by reggae rapper/singer Shaggy and used in a Jeep commercial. In the spot, CGI animals perform the Electric Slide.