Last of the rock gods: Chris Cornell, RIP


Chris Cornell was, indisputably, to the ’90s as Robert Plant was to the ’70s: a long-haired, handsome frontman with charisma and charm to spare, deep, soulful eyes, and a voice. Oh, that voice. A primal, erotic wail, really. Where Cobain was the tortured artist and Vedder was (or became) the “everyman,” Cornell was the rock god.

No one linked the worlds of “alternative” and heavy rock/metal like Soundgarden: they were rooted in the heavy stomp of ’70s monsters like Mountain, but were also (fairly or not) seen as one of the leaders (commercially at least) of grunge, which meant that they broke out of the indie and college radio scene. Their debut, 1988’s Ultramega OK, came out on SST, for pete’s sake; don’t question their indie bonafides.

I first heard them in the fall of 1989, thanks to being in college radio at the time. The song was Louder Than Love‘s “Big Dumb Sex,” which was a real head-turner, with Cornell bellowing “I wanna fuck/fuck/fuck/fuck you” over remarkably sludgy, heavy rock. This was an album that wasn’t afraid — as opposed to most college rock of the time — to glory in sex. I loved that about them. But boy oh boy, were they ever not cool in ’89-’90.

’91’s Badmotorfinger started to break them big. They opened for Guns N’ Roses! “Jesus Christ Pose” and “Rusty Cage” got them on MTV. “Outshined” was transcendent. And then, GRUNGE HAPPENED. Thanks to Soundgarden and Pearl Jam breaking, the Temple of the Dog album (a tribute to Cornell’s former roommate Andrew Wood of Mother Love Bone) got re-promoted and became a massive hit, thanks in large part to the MTV-loved video for “Hunger Strike,” which featured Cornell and Vedder trading vocals. And then there was the Singles soundtrack (which, unnervingly, is getting its 25th anniversary deluxe reissue tomorrow).

“Spoonman,” which might actually be my favorite of their singles, was the first from 1994’s Superunknown. The third was of course “Black Hole Sun” (a fine song which MTV killed dead). And now they were superstars. And goddammit, they rocked. Hard. And were so good. But it became very easy, especially after Cobain’s suicide, to snub them and take ’em for granted. They very quickly became uncool again, which was totally unfair (and really had nothing to do with them, but more about our projection).

2002’s first Audioslave album — produced by Rick Rubin — is likely better than you recall. Later works calcified into a bit of hard rock cliché, but the first time Cornell teamed up with the non-singing pieces of Rage Against the Machine was hard rock magic. “Cochise” is a killer single. His solo career I largely ignored (and now wonder if I should investigate). But fuck, in his prime, Cornell was THE MAN.

In a comment on a Facebook post this morning, Eric Harvey observed, sadly, that “of all the charismatic frontmen of the “grunge” moment (Cobain, Vedder, Weiland, Cornell, Staley), only Vedder is left.” Which is heartbreaking.

Posted in RIP, rock

Pop top 40: 5/18/90


Plenty of bad, but more good than I’d remembered. The ’90s didn’t take long to start, did they? Hair metal’s already nearly defunct as a chart force! Even without appearing in this chart, New Kids on the Block can be felt all over it. And it’s peak Diane Warren. Oh, and there are several truly iconic, never-going-away singles here.

1 2 VOGUE –•– Madonna – 6 (1) — Starting with this one, of course. Shep Pettibone is an unimpeachable genius.
2 1 NOTHING COMPARES 2 U –•– Sinead O’Connor – 10 (1) — Oh, and this one too. We all know that Prince is a genius, of course. But occasionally forgotten in the discussion of the transcendence of O’Connor’s version of “Nothing Compares” is her co-producer, Nellee Hooper; the song’s simple, but not simplistic, production, largely consisting of strings, occasional backing vox, and that drum beat, is absolute perfection. And let’s also not forget what a sensational singer O’Connor is; you don’t need to see that tear running down her face in the song’s video to have your heart ripped out. Just listen to that vocal.
3 4 ALL I WANNA DO IS MAKE LOVE TO YOU –•– Heart – 8 (3) — But not this one. Heart recorded a lot of gunning-for-sales crap in the ’80s and ’90s, but none worse than this.
4 6 HOLD ON –•– Wilson Phillips – 10 (4) — Nor this. Horrible in every way.
5 7 SENDING ALL MY LOVE –•– Linear – 14 (5) — Alfred and I have discussed at length the semi-weird fact that most freestyle artists had to go the ballad route to notch their biggest Billboard hits: Exposé, Stevie B, and Sweet Sensation each hit #1 by slowing down the tempo. But there were exceptions, fortunately; Seduction were one (see #37, below), and Miami-based flash-in-the-pan male trio Linear (pronounced “lih-NEAR,” not “LIH-nee-ur”) were another. They also broke the usual freestyle hit pattern by knocking it out on their first try, as this was their first and biggest (and for all practical purposes, only, apart from the #30 single “T.L.C.” two years later) hit. This is a smidgen more pop than a lot of freestyle of the era, but it’s still got those beautifully swirling keyboard lines and a rhythmic bumpin’. (Also, I find it hilarious that in the video for this, someone at their label said “Hey guys, pretend you can play these instruments so you look like real musicians.” I don’t doubt that their proficiency was somewhere in the neighborhood of the women in “Addicted to Love.”)

6 8 ALRIGHT –•– Janet Jackson – 7 (6) — Just watch its glorious, 7:28, Julien Temple-directed video. Such was the power of Janet in 1990 that MTV didn’t dare trim it down; no, when you saw this video, you saw all 7:28, which is as it should be.
7 3 I WANNA BE RICH –•– Calloway – 15 (2) — The Calloway brothers were in the super fun early ’80s funk band Midnight Star. They wrote Klymaxx’s “Meeting in the Ladies Room,” which is classic. They also wrote “Joy” for Teddy P, “Love Overboard” for Gladys Knight, and “Casanova” for Levert. So why’s they give away all their good songs, then? Cuz this one’s garbage.
8 10 POISON –•– Bell Biv Devoe – 7 (8) — “In a 2015 interview with Chris Williams for the Red Bull Music Academy, [writer/producer Elliot] Straite says, “When I made “Poison,” I was studying Kraftwerk. When I heard Kraftwerk’s Trans-Europe Express album and their “Numbers” record, it made me want to change my whole style and approach to music. It gave me the musical inspiration to do “Poison.” I’m also mixed with Black and Puerto Rican. I had uncles that played with big Latin bands like Tito Puente and Mongo Santamaria. You could hear the Latin elements in “Poison.” I wanted to bring the Latin element into that record by using timbales. When you hear them say “poison” at the end of the record? That came from Kraftwerk. It brought a futuristic element to the track as well. I didn’t want it to be a regular R&B record.”
9 16 IT MUST HAVE BEEN LOVE –•– Roxette – 7 (9) — BUT IT’S OVER NOW. (I hate Roxette, always have. I especially hate this.)
10 9 WHAT IT TAKES –•– Aerosmith – 10 (9) — This made the top 10?!

11 13 THIS OLD HEART OF MINE –•– Rod Stewart & Ronald Isley – 9 (11) — If you think about it, this is almost the predecessor to Rod’s series of awful “American songbook” albums. I don’t begrudge Isley, though — he probably needed the cash at the time.
12 5 HOW CAN WE BE LOVERS –•– Michael Bolton – 12 (3) — Diane Warren and Desmond Child, together at last! Listen to this again (no, really): it’s an outlier in Bolton’s catalog of hits, a slight return to his more hair metal-ish roots (pun kind of intended). I mean, I can easily hear just about any A-minus-to-C-list hair band performing this. Which is not necessarily a bad thing; I find uptempo Bolton much more tolerable than Bolton, the Ballad King. And this one’s so ridiculously bombastic that I kind of secretly love it.
13 15 LOVE CHILD –•– Sweet Sensation – 10 (13) — Yeah, no one needed to cover this.
14 18 THE HUMPTY DANCE –•– Digital Underground – 10 (14) — Bassline!
15 19 U CAN’T TOUCH THIS –•– M.C. Hammer – 4 (15) — Bassline!
16 23 OOH LA LA (I CAN’T GET OVER YOU) –•– Perfect Gentlemen – 6 (16) — No, you don’t remember them; I didn’t, either. That’s because they were one-hit wonders, a Maurice Starr-created black trio who he clearly hoped would be the new New Edition. It should not shock you to learn that they opened for New Kids on tour. It should shock you to learn that, even though Starr was generally a pretty good talent scout (see: Edition, New, and Kids on the Block, New), none of these three kids could really sing or rap. This made it to #10 pop, and I don’t know why.
17 17 ROOM AT THE TOP –•– Adam Ant – 11 (17) — Jam & Lewis made over the Human League. Prince worked with Sheena Easton. So why shouldn’t André Cymone have produced Ant’s Manners & Physique? Sure, it’s ridiculous, but when wasn’t Adam Ant ridiculous? And frankly, as a stupid 1990 pop single, this works.
18 21 YOUR BABY NEVER LOOKED GOOD IN BLUE –•– Exposé – 8 (18) — No, my dear Exposé, apart from perhaps “Seasons Change,” we don’t want to hear you sing ballads, especially one as drippy as this Diane Warren composition.
19 12 DON’T WANNA FALL IN LOVE –•– Jane Child – 15 (2) — One of the greatest one-hit wonders of all time, full stop. She played everything on her self-titled debut album (on the synthesizer), except a bit of guitar. She wrote and self-produced the whole thing. And after this glorious one-off, she graced the Hot 100 exactly once more, hitting #49. But that shouldn’t take anything away from her talent (the Jane Child album is actually better than you suspect, I swear), or this wonder of a single, or her ultra-awesome chain connecting her nose ring and earrings (which, in 1990, was rather forward-thinking). Dear Jane, I miss you. Love, Thomas. ♥
20 24 READY OR NOT –•– After 7 – 8 (20) — The first of a pair of R&B #1s for the trio which was 2/3 “brothers of Babyface,” both of which also made the pop top 10, because in 1990, L.A. Reid and Babyface were fucking golden. It didn’t hurt that ‘Face’s brothers basically sounded just like him. Also, if you’re unfamiliar with Jazmine Sullivan’s 2015 single “Let It Burn,” which heavily samples “Ready Or Not,” watch it immediately, because it’s even better than its source material, which is pretty goddamn magical to begin with.

21 11 WHIP APPEAL –•– Babyface – 13 (6) — My “fucking golden” assessment applies even more for this. The man’s hand with ballads may well be unsurpassed. And if you need one, here’s a longer assessment from me. And here’s another from Alfred.
22 30 TURTLE POWER –•– Partners In Kryme – 5 (22) — Uh.
23 14 ALL AROUND THE WORLD –•– Lisa Stansfield – 16 (3) — Smooth, perfectly chilled Brit R&B from a woman who knew how to fucking sing it.
24 32 HOLD ON –•– En Vogue – 3 (24) — Smooth, totally unchill US R&B from four women who knew how to fucking sing it. For the first half of the ’90s, they ruled, and for damned good reason.
25 36 DO YOU REMEMBER? –•– Phil Collins – 4 (25) — Fortunately, I’ve forgotten.
26 27 EXPRESSION –•– Salt-N-Pepa – 11 (26) — Both written and produced by Cheryl “Salt” James, it’s worth noting; I think that SNP have never received their proper due. Being stuck on “I love the ’90s” tours seems a rather ignominious fate. This is a dandy little single.
27 33 BABY, IT’S TONIGHT –•– Jude Cole – 6 (27) — Mealy-mouthed sub-Hornsby.
28 28 HOUSE OF PAIN –•– Faster Pussycat – 13 (28) — Look, I like a lot of hair metal, but the selections in this countdown, as it was on its way out — even though its practitioners didn’t know it at the time — are uniformly substandard. And the last thing people wanted from this bunch of jackoffs was a ballad.
29 38 CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT –•– Richard Marx – 4 (29) — The fifth and final single from Marx’s sole #1 album Repeat Offender, on its way to a peak of #13, was Marx’s second consecutive top 15 hit after seven consecutive top 5s to open his career — still a record for a male solo artist. The man’s a pro; he’d been writing for folks like Kenny Rogers for years before making his debut as an artist, and has continued to do so for years after his own records stopping selling. (Remember Luther Vandross’s “Dance With My Father”? He co-wrote it with Marx, and it won the Grammy for Song of the Year. Marx has also co-penned a number of country hits with Keith Urban.) So say what you will about Richard Marx’s catalog — and his utterly resplendent, era-appropriate mullet — but the man knows how to construct well-written songs. “Children of the Night” is one of my faves of his, because I think he tends to excel at midtempos (he’s not always convincing as a rocker, and his straight ballads tend towards the mawkish). This one, concerning itself with the plight of runaway kids living on the streets, feels and sounds sincere. Plus I love the production touches on this, especially the Chicago-esque horns at the end, which give it an almost post-yacht feel (but only there), the sax and guitar solos on the bridge, and the key change at the end of each chorus. I’m hesitant to use this descriptor, but “Children of the Night” is actually kind of inspirational. Sorry.
30 37 I’LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS –•– Giant – 9 (30) — Nightmares, more like. The sound of hair metal dying.

31 25 I’LL BE YOUR EVERYTHING –•– Tommy Page – 14 (1) — This New Kids protege co-wrote his #1 with a pair of the Kids, and it was co-produced by two of ’em as well (with Michael Jonzun?!?); they’re even singing backing vocals on it. And sadly, it’s inferior to every NKOTB ballad. I’d like to be nicer about this song, considering that Page went on to come out, have a long career on the biz side of the industry, and tragically committed suicide earlier this year, but this song is just not good.
32 20 WITHOUT YOU –•– Motley Crue – 13 (8) — Their final top 10 single was such because of one thing and one thing only: Dial MTV. Because this is a slog, through and through.
33 35 SAVE ME –•– Fleetwood Mac – 7 (33) — At its sad peak, the Mac’s last top 40 single in the US came from an album which crept to #18 on the Billboard 200 — but made it to #1 in the UK! This is no embarrassment, however; it’s a classic-sounding-ish Mac tune, with Christine McVie on leads, but here’s the thing: Lindsey Buckingham had left the band at this time, and you can feel his absence.
34 43 I’LL BE YOUR SHELTER –•– Taylor Dayne – 3 (34) — She was, vocally, kinda the white Patti LaBelle, wasn’t she? No points for guessing that the writing credit on this is D. Warren.
35 40 CRUISING FOR BRUISING –•– Basia – 7 (35) — The purest amalgamation of sophistipop and jazz, Polish singer Basia’s catalog is like if you took all the sex appeal and smoldering soul out of Sade’s records, but otherwise went for the exact same audience. As (what we now know as) smooth jazz was on the rise in the late ’80s, Basia became one of the least likely stars in music, notching back-to-back platinum albums with her ’87 and ’89 releases, and a further gold record in ’94. She was also one of the queens of the then-Adult Contemporary video channel VH-1. Most surprisingly, she even made it into the top 40 twice, with the title track from 1987’s Time and Tide (#26/#5 AC), and with this leadoff single from follow-up London Warsaw New York (headed to #29/#5 AC). Being as I am an avowed smooth jazz fan, not to mention a big sophistipop guy, this precisely hits my sweet spot. Norah Jones should’ve sent her more than one “thank you” card.
36 26 HERE AND NOW –•– Luther Vandross – 22 (6) — LV’s top 10 pop breakthrough is also one of his slushiest singles. Anytime a song becomes a “wedding classic,” that’s generally not a good sign.
37 22 HEARTBEAT –•– Seduction – 13 (13) — Long before Michelle Visage made her name as RuPaul’s BFF (and Drag Race judge), she was a member of this Clivillés and Cole-created freestyle trio (though they were branded as freestyle, their sound was really more “downtown NYC club,” which ain’t even close to the same thing), whose biggest smash was previous single “Two To Make It Right.” That’s an absolutely magical club record that sounded just as mighty on the radio as on the dancefloor. This one comes close, largely due to its being a cover of one of the most titanic club records of all time, from Taana Gardner. Seduction were great, and if you disagree, well, you’re wrong.
38 41 GETTING AWAY WITH IT –•– Electronic – 8 (38) — Try to imagine, if you weren’t there at the time, the hysteria the announcement of this record caused: Bernard Sumner from New Order, plus Johnny Marr ex-of the Smiths, and with Pet Shop Boys Neil Tennant on guest vocals. It’s an ’80s new wave/indie dream come true. And fortunately, amazingly, it lives up to its potential in every way. I actually prefer this to the bulk of the New Order catalog, and the three artists come together so smoothly, so seamlessly as to make this record absolute perfection. After “Vogue,” this is my favorite single of 1990.
39 46 ALWAYS AND FOREVER –•– Whistle – 7 (39) — This former hip-hop trio went R&B for their third album in 1990, and made its title track a cover of the Heatwave classic. The thing is, no one needed a cover of “Always and Forever” (at least, not until Luther’s sumptuous take on it in 1994).
40 48 DEADBEAT CLUB –•– The B-52’s – 5 (40) — Not as annoying as “Love Shack” (which I really don’t ever want to hear again) or “Roam.” Of course, both of those singles peaked at #3; this one scraped to #30. There’s a sweetness to this one I respond to — but then Fred Schneider starts barking and takes me right out of it.

Posted in 1990s, charts

Pop top 40: 5/10/86


Some say that the magic of ’80s pop was ebbing by ’85-’86, but this chart suggests otherwise.

1 2 WEST END GIRLS –•– Pet Shop Boys – 11 (1) — Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe are two of the finest songwriters of their generation. Or, probably, yours.
2 1 ADDICTED TO LOVE –•– Robert Palmer – 14 (1) — Palmer wrote a solid song here, but his delivery is a bit too leering. (Bernard Edwards’s production, however, is great.) I find Tina Turner’s version preferable; she’s better with sludgy rock tempos than Palmer.
3 7 GREATEST LOVE OF ALL –•– Whitney Houston – 7 (3) — Here’s the thing about this single: Whitney could only have pulled it off early in her career, when she was still “pure” and pristine, unsullied by both her future actions and those we attributed to her. Her voice is cool and clear, and her performance on this — seriously, try to give it a listen with fresh ears (I highly recommend with headphones) — is superb. Not just note-perfect (that should be obvious), but I actually believe the way she delivers these admittedly hackneyed Michael Masser lyrics. The problem with this single is Masser’s production, which is far too tinkly-cute, but “that can’t take away” the power and the glory of Houston’s vocal, which, in contrast to much of what would come later, she undersells.
4 4 WHY CAN’T THIS BE LOVE –•– Van Halen – 9 (4) — Sure, David Lee Roth is the more magnetic presence, but I’ll argue that Sammy Hagar is not only a better singer (that’s not a tough competition), but a better fit for VH. His slightly cheesy AOR-belter tendencies collided beautifully with Eddie’s dreams of pop domination — and also, synths. Just listen to the way his voice plays off those chug-a-chug layers of keyboard and guitar here.
5 6 WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR ME LATELY –•– Janet Jackson – 12 (5) — The Jam & Lewis production on this still stuns, and still sounds current. And don’t forget that the accompanying video also introduced the greater world to Paula Abdul.
6 8 YOUR LOVE –•– The Outfield – 13 (6) — Poorly-mulleted journeymen who, had they arrived two years later, would’ve likely been making hair metal. But instead we got sub-Mr. Mister.
7 9 TAKE ME HOME –•– Phil Collins – 9 (7) — One of Phil’s warmest-sounding singles, thanks in equal parts to the way the drums are processed, the Roland TR-909, and the backing vocals from Sting, Peter Gabriel, and Helen Terry (!).
8 11 BAD BOY –•– Miami Sound Machine featuring Gloria Estefan – 10 (8) — The musical equivalent of culinary foam.
9 5 HARLEM SHUFFLE –•– Rolling Stones – 9 (5) — This throwaway cover is full of charm, starting with Mick’s tossed-off vocal and Steve Lillywhite’s trashy-sounding production. It’s always pleased me that Christgau was so enamored of Dirty Work.
10 12 IF YOU LEAVE –•– Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – 10 (10)  — We are all Andie Walsh, and none of us can resist when those strings sweep in.

11 14 LIVE TO TELL –•– Madonna – 5 (11) — The first step towards Evita.
12 3 KISS –•– Prince & The Revolution – 12 (1) — Short sharp shock. This is the essence of one side of Prince, in a tidy 3-minute pop song.
13 16 ON MY OWN –•– Patti Labelle & Michael McDonald – 8 (13) — Of all the unlikely ways to get on MTV in the mid-’80s, doing so with a Burt Bachrach/Carole Bayer Sager composition is way up there. But yet here were the big-bearded former frontman of the Doobie Brothers and the huge-haired former frontwoman of LaBelle, belting their way to MTV and pop (#1), R&B (#1), and adult contemporary (#2) radio domination, in the late spring of ’86 with just such a song. Bachrach and Bayer Sager produced, too, and bathed “On My Own” in all the trappings of “classy” adult pop: this is as un-hip as it gets. But precisely because of that, it works. This is a big, widescreen song, one which ideally requires big voices (it’s no coincidence that Reba McEntire later covered it). And its split-screen he’s in LA/she’s in NYC video is a brilliantly simple conceit, executed perfectly.
14 17 I CAN’T WAIT –•– Nu Shooz – 10 (14) — Utterly awesome beep-boop-boop dance pop. Some call this freestyle, but I don’t fully hear it.
15 18 SOMETHING ABOUT YOU –•– Level 42 – 13 (15) — This was an era seemingly made for one- and two-offs, many of them Brits, to pop up with a sterling pop single and then vanish from American shores. Level 42 took full advantage. While I greatly prefer their subsequent Running in the Family album (massive in the UK, a nonstarter here), this World Machine single is the one that tickled the fancies of US radio programmers. It’s quite joyful.
16 13 AMERICAN STORM –•– Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band – 9 (13) — Thanks, payola! Bob Seger himself probably doesn’t even remember this single.
17 21 ALL I NEED IS A MIRACLE –•– Mike + The Mechanics – 8 (17) — All I need is for Paul Carrack to shut the fuck up.
18 10 MANIC MONDAY –•– The Bangles – 16 (2) — How funny that these “Paisley Underground” breakouts had their most “psychedelic” hit with — a Prince song. They did plenty better, however, and so did he.
19 23 IS IT LOVE –•– Mr. Mister – 7 (19) — Probably their least annoying hit, probably because it wasn’t overexposed like their pair of #1 which preceded it. I’m not particularly a fan of their overproduced El Lay studio schlock, but highly recommend the pre-Mr. Mister outfit Pages, which featured lead singer Richard Page and Steve George making some primo yacht rock.
20 25 BE GOOD TO YOURSELF –•– Journey – 5 (20) — Little did we know their string of magic pearls was about to end with the final singles from Raised on Radio: would we have paid more attention had we known? This eventually made it to #4 but isn’t much of a patch on the singles from their previous three albums.

21 27 MOVE AWAY –•– Culture Club – 6 (21) — Speaking of chart strings ending, here’s the final US hit for Boy George and pals. From Luxury to Heartache is a hot mess, but blame George’s smack habit, not producer Arif Mardin, who did the best he could with what he was given. I love the bounce of this.
22 29 NEVER AS GOOD AS THE FIRST TIME –•– Sade – 7 (22) — Listen to me when I tell you: Sade have never released a bad single. While their albums are all good-to-great, whoever’s job it is to pick their singles should get a Christmas bonus every year, forever. And it’s not just down to Helen Folasade Adu, either — the men behind her are just as integral to Sade’s success. She rides this midtempo groove with perfect aplomb.
23 28 ROUGH BOY –•– ZZ Top – 7 (23) — A personal favorite, and a true anomaly: a ZZ Top ballad? Yet it works. It’s the combo of their Texas geetars along with those syn-drums that does it.
24 15 ROCK ME AMADEUS –•– Falco – 14 (1) — The ’80s were a blissfully ridiculous time. Also, Falco’s got a deeper catalog than you may realize; I highly recommend exploring it.
25 32 CRUSH ON YOU –•– The Jets – 5 (25) — The Jets weren’t very good, of course; but for a hot minute, they kind of were the Osmonds of the ’80s, apart from the teen hysteria. But for these 3 minutes and 45 seconds, they were the greatest pop group on the planet.
26 20 WHAT YOU NEED –•– INXS – 17 (5) — No, not really.
27 19 LET’S GO ALL THE WAY –•– Sly Fox – 20 (7) — See Level 42, above, regarding great mid-’80s one-offs. This funks, but lightly. Synthetically.
28 37 THERE’LL BE SAD SONGS –•– Billy Ocean – 4 (28) — But that doesn’t mean I want to hear them, does it, Billy?
29 22 I THINK IT’S LOVE –•– Jermaine Jackson – 12 (16) — Shut up, Jermaine.
30 34 TOMORROW DOESN’T MATTER TONIGHT –•– Starship – 6 (30) — Shut up, Starship.

31 36 NO ONE IS TO BLAME –•– Howard Jones – 5 (31) — You’re to blame, Howard. As is your co-producer, Phil Collins, for this vulgar monstrosity. But you wrote it, and bleated it, so you get the bulk of the blame.
32 33 STICK AROUND –•– Julian Lennon – 8 (32) — Talk about pop nepotism.
33 40 NOTHIN’ AT ALL –•– Heart – 4 (33) — A fourth single which sounds like it. Amazingly, their comeback was so hot at the time that even this fourth single from the #1 album Heart made it to the top 10.
34 35 FEEL IT AGAIN –•– Honeymoon Suite – 10 (34) — Canadians do love their hoary AOR, don’t they?
35 38 MOTHERS TALK –•– Tears For Fears – 5 (35) — Speaking of fourth singles.
36 39 ALL THE THINGS SHE SAID –•– Simple Minds – 6 (36) — I actively loathe their #1 from The Breakfast Club, but I love the ensuing Once Upon A Time album, due largely to Jimmy Iovine and Bob Clearmountain’s production. This record booms in that highly specific ’80s way; Iovine makes it snap, crackle, and pop. And Jim Kerr sings his ass off.
37 44 A DIFFERENT CORNER –•– George Michael – 3 (37) — Like the softest kiss on a cheek.
38 24 TENDER LOVE –•– Force MD’s – 15 (10) — One of Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis’s first hit ballads, this captures the sweet innocence of teenage love expertly.
39 26 I DO WHAT I DO… –•– John Taylor – 10 (23) — A sleazy-sounding rocker (er, “rocker”) from a sleazy movie (9 1/2 Weeks). If you only paid attention to MTV in spring ’86, you’d be forgiven for assuming this spent five weeks at #1. On the contrary, it never got higher than #23.
40 50 HOLDING BACK THE YEARS –•– Simply Red – 6 (40) — Simply Red was a pretty good band for several albums, but goddamn Mick Hucknall’s annoying. This is a strong song, sensitively performed, but I never want to hear it again.


Posted in 1980s, charts

2017: first third report a/k/a I do actually listen to current music


5 best albums:

  1. Strength of a Woman, Mary J. Blige
  2. FABRICLIVE 91: Special Delivery, Various Artists
  3. God’s Problem Child, Willie Nelson
  4. The Breaker, Little Big Town
  5. Culture, Migos

10 best singles:

  1. “U + Me (Love Lesson),” Mary J. Blige
  2. “Bad and Boujee,” Migos featuring Lil Uzi Vert
  3. “Show You the Way,” Thundercat featuring Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald
  4. “The Fighter,” Keith Urban featuring Carrie Underwood
  5. “That’s What I Like,” Bruno Mars
  6. “Plz Don’t Be Sad,” Highlight
  7. “He Is the Voice I Hear,” The Black Madonna
  8. “You Got to Run (Spirit of the Wind),” Buffy Saint-Marie & Tanya Tagaq
  9. “Shining,” DJ Khaled featuring Beyoncé and Jay-Z
  10. “If I Told You,” Darius Rucker
Posted in 2017, lists

Pop top 40: 5/3/73


I’m defiantly not a fan of early ’70s pop, so I thought I’d challenge myself with this one. Added bonus: I’ve got something to say about all 40 of these songs.

1 1 TIE A YELLOW RIBBON ROUND THE OLE OAK TREE –•– Dawn Featuring Tony Orlando (Bell)-12 (3 weeks at #1) (1) — This piece of dreck was actually the #1 single of 1973. My major problem with much early ’70s pop is that it’s such unmitigated corn syrup, and this is a prime example. And Orlando’s not even a good singer — he sounds like a lounge singer.
2 2 THE CISCO KID –•– War (United Artists)-10 (2) — I’ve never understood War. They notched up seven top 10 singles from 1970-76, and I don’t care for a single one of them. Their version of funk was closer to Sly & the Family Stone than to Parliament-Funkadelic; it’s a bit too jammy and hippie-ish for my taste. This isn’t bad, necessarily, but I find it dull as fuck. Oh, and the album this comes from, The World Is A Ghetto, was, remarkably, the #1 album of 1973.
3 5 LITTLE WILLY –•– The Sweet (Bell)-16 (3) — In the UK, they were an institution, and this was the start of a run of six consecutive top five singles. In the US, they were a curiousity, with four top 10s strewn across seven years, which was still impressively big for a glam band. This has got a delightful crunch to it; I mean, the brilliance of glam was its combination of pure pop hooks with hard rock instrumentation, and Sweet were glam titans, maybe second amongst groups only to T. Rex. (Bowie of course is — well, Bowie, on another level entirely.) “Little Willy” is right in the socket.
4 6 YOU ARE THE SUNSHINE OF MY LIFE –•– Stevie Wonder (Tamla)-8 (4) — It’s easy to diss this as “Stevie lite” fluff, but you’d be mistaken. The arrangement is deceptively complex, Wonder’s production is meaty and full of surprises (headphones! listen with headphones!), and just think about how ballsy it was to let two other singers take the first four lines of the song. The addition of horns on the single mix makes it even better, too; this is a 9 out of 10.
5 4 THE NIGHT THE LIGHTS WENT OUT IN GEORGIA –•– Vicki Lawrence (Bell)-13 (1) — With different production, this cheating song would’ve been a country smash, which you can hear in Reba McEntire’s 1991 cover version. But lord, this is an anodyne production, and vocal from Lawrence. These days, the title only makes me think of one of the all-time great Julia Sugarbaker monologues from Designing Women — amazingly, from the second-ever episode of the show.
6 11 DRIFT AWAY –•– Dobie Gray (Decca)-11 (6) — I loathe this fucking song. Especially since its 2003 Uncle Kracker cover featuring Gray on guest vocals will live through eternity.
7 9 STUCK IN THE MIDDLE WITH YOU –•– Stealers Wheel (A&M)-10 (7) — ’73?! For some reason, I generally think of this as more of a mid-’70s record, but here it is. I also generally forget that it’s Gerry Rafferty (“Baker Street”) on lead vocals. And talk about ahead of their time: they made a video for this! Since being posted on YouTube in 2010, it has over 77 million views — think about that for a moment. Along with Rafferty’s appealingly affable vocal, what makes this song, of course, is the soupy little guitar line. It surprises me not a whit that this British single charted higher in the US (#6) than the UK (#8).
8 8 THE TWELFTH OF NEVER –•– Donny Osmond (MGM)-10 (8) — This song, originally a Johnny Mathis b-side, has been recorded a lot. From 1971-73, Donny Osmond was the shit: in addition to his success with his brothers, he notched nine US top 40 singles. Six of those charted in the UK, but they all made the top 5, including a trio of #1s, including this. It’s as predictably syrupy as you’d expect — and WTF did a 16-year-old know about loving someone forever?
9 3 SING –•– The Carpenters (A&M)-11 (3) — I don’t like, and have never liked, this song, specifically because it sounds like a song written for puppets to sing, which it was. (For Sesame Street.) As a pop single, it’s too cute by much more than half.
10 15 FRANKENSTEIN –•– The Edgar Winter Group (Epic)-9 (10) — I’d always assumed that Winter was some hoary old guitarist, so imagine my surprise to learn that on They Only Come Out at Night, he’s credited with “organ, synthesizer, ARP 2600, piano, marimba, saxophone, timbales, vocals, and clavinet.” And even though this instrumental is probably most famous for its fuzzed-out guitar, courtesy of Ronnie Montrose, there’s a lot of seriously weird synth stuff on it — refreshingly so. How the fuck did this hit #1?

11 7 MASTERPIECE –•– The Temptations (Gordy)-11 (7) — Musically it’s “Smilin’ Faces Sometimes” x “Papa Was A Rolling Stone,” not surprising since it’s the child of Norman Whitfield. Lyrically it’s a State of the Ghetto address a la “The Message.” And yet somehow, the sum of it is still incredibly underwhelming.
12 14 PEACEFUL –•– Helen Reddy (Capitol)-14 (12) — The follow-up to “I Am Woman” is a prime example of that odd early ’70s hybrid pop sound that mashes together acoustic folk and Broadway orchestrations. The chorus is pretty.
13 17 WILDFLOWER –•– Skylark (Capitol)-12 (13) — Canadian soul-folk-psych-pop; take that as you will. David Foster on keys!
14 25 DANIEL –•– Elton John (MCA)-5 (14) — Folkie-ish Elton John is the worst Elton John.
15 19 REELING IN THE YEARS –•– Steely Dan (ABC)-9 (15) — Goddamn, they were UGLY in 1973. While the yacht rock classicism hadn’t yet developed, the lyrics were already there.
16 16 WALK ON THE WILD SIDE –•– Lou Reed (RCA)-12 (16) — Give Lou credit for getting an oral sex reference onto top 40 AM radio.
17 10 AIN’T NO WOMAN (Like the One I Got) –•– The Four Tops (Dunhill)-14 (4) — I’ll take this over what the Temps were doing contemporaneously, any day. Lushly orchestrated soul gets me most of the time.
18 21 DAISY A DAY –•– Jud Strunk (MGM)-12 (18) — A putrid love song that’s pure schmaltz.
19 22 OUT OF THE QUESTION –•– Gilbert O’Sullivan (MAM)-10 (19) — Gordon Mills’ production has a nice amount of pep in it.
20 26 PILLOW TALK –•– Sylvia (Vibration)-7 (20) — Apparently, she wrote it for Al Green, and it sounds like it. Her voice is thin, but the arrangement is suitably early-’70s-sexy-soul, and most definitely a precursor (in its long version especially) to “Love to Love You baby.”

21 24 FUNKY WORM –•– The Ohio Players (Westbound)-11 (21) — It’s sampled on “Me Myself & I,” “Gangsta Gangsta,” and Kris Kross’s “Jump.” A shame it’s not any good.
22 12 NEITHER ONE OF US (Wants To Be the First To Say Goodbye) –•– Gladys Knight and the Pips (Soul)-15 (2) — I think Knight and her Pips tend to get overlooked in reviews of ’70s soul, and they shouldn’t: from 1967-1975, they had 13 top 20 pop hits, all but one of which hit the top 5 on the R&B chart (and the one that didn’t, hit #6). Their strong suit was rich, orchestrated soul with killer harmonies, especially on heartbreakers; “Neither One of Us” exemplifies that perfectly. If you’ve ever broken things off with someone, this song will (or should) give you a lump in your throat.
23 27 HOCUS POCUS –•– Focus (Sire)-10 (23) — Can we just agree that Dutch rock bands are generally horrible?
24 13 STIR IT UP –•– Johnny Nash (Epic)-13 (12) — It’s very odd to me, how the US has its flights of flirtation with reggae every so often; the primary beneficiary in the early ’70s was Johnny Nash, who was basically a reggae artist for white people the same way that Flo Rida is a rapper for white people.
25 30 THE RIGHT THING TO DO –•– Carly Simon (Elektra)-6 (25) — Riding that coffeehouse piano vibe, with snappy production from Richard Perry — it sounds so deliciously crisp — Simon sings the hell out of this out-and-out love song for her then-husband James Taylor. I love Simon’s lyrics, I love the melody, I love the sound of this. My favorite in this countdown, and one of my favorites of the front half of the 1970s, in fact.
26 36 MY LOVE –•– Paul McCartney and Wings (Apple)-4 (26) — I’m a fan of Paul writing love songs for his Linda, but “My Love” is a reminder that even Beatles wrote schlock.
27 32 THINKING OF YOU –•– Loggins and Messina (Columbia)-6 (27) — Twee soft pop for which I’ll gladly put all the blame on Jim Messina.
28 29 HALLELUJAH DAY –•– Jackson 5 (Motown)-8 (28) — What the fuck is this I can only assume Jehovah’s Witness bullshit? Absolutely the worst J5 single I’ve ever heard; it justifiably didn’t get any further up the chart.
29 31 PINBALL WIZARD / SEE ME, FEEL ME (Medley) –•– The New Seekers (Verve)-11 (29) — A truly odd medley from The Who’s Tommy by the group who brought us “I’d Like To Teach the World To Sing.” It’s very Vegas.
30 44 STEAMROLLER BLUES / FOOL –•– Elvis Presley (RCA)-4 (30) — Well, this is also odd: a quasi-parody of white blues records written by James Taylor in 1970, but in Elvis’s hands it actually becomes a legit blues song, that he delivers the fuck out of. If you don’t believe me, check out this live recording from early ’73.

31 35 “CHERRY CHERRY” FROM HOT AUGUST NIGHT –•– Neil Diamond (MCA)-8 (31) — I could happily never hear another Neil Diamond song for the rest of my life. Except for “Heartlight.”
32 43 PLAYGROUND IN MY MIND –•– Clint Holmes (Epic)-7 (32) — A cutesy-poo(p) song sung with a 9-year-old on the chorus that made it to fucking #2, because the early ’70s were by and large a pop wasteland. It sounds like a nursery rhyme because it’s meant to.
33 38 I’M DOIN’ FINE NOW –•– New York City (Chelsea)-10 (33) — A Thom Bell b-list production that sounds like it: good, but nothing to raise the roof over.
34 37 ARMED AND EXTREMELY DANGEROUS –•– First Choice (Philly Groove)-9 (34) — Hello, disco! This is a seriously shit-hot (and, for ’73, fast!) groove that the women of First Choice ride like a bucking bronco. That chorus alone sends me to nirvana. This record was most definitely ahead of its time; I feel like two years later this would’ve topped the R&B chart (it stopped at #11) and gotten much higher than #28 on the pop chart.
35 40 LEAVING ME –•– The Independents (Wand)-5 (35) — Stately #1 R&B single that sounds very much of its time.
36 45 IT SURE TOOK A LONG, LONG TIME –•– Lobo (Big Tree)-5 (36) — Oh, this asshole.
37 57 I’M GONNA LOVE YOU JUST A LITTLE MORE BABY –•– Barry White (20th Century)-4 (37) — I mean, if you can’t understand the sheer and utter genius of this song (and for that matter, most of Barry White’s catalog), I’m not sure what to tell you. He was a brilliant songwriter, arranger, and producer, and the man could deliver a song like few others. White understood sensuality on another level than most singers, and he equally understood the power of orchestrating his funky soul with sweet strings. One of the most consistent artists of the ’70s, and quite possibly my favorite. (Heading for #1 R&B/#3 pop.)
38 41 I CAN UNDERSTAND IT –•– The New Birth (RCA)-7 (38) — Roughly a Motown/Stax fusion with a soupcon of JB, only much less exciting in practice than in theory.
39 18 DANNY’S SONG –•– Anne Murray (Capitol)-18 (7) — Folky soft pop from the Canadian songbird. She did better than this; blame Kenny Loggins’s song.
40 42 BLUE SUEDE SHOES –•– Johnny Rivers (United Artists)-8 (40) — One can only wonder what prompted Rivers to record the Carl Perkins chestnut in an early rock’n’roll style in 1973; it’s not bad so much as it’s completely unnecessary. I prefer to (and will) remember him for his 1966 #1 classic.

Posted in 1970s, charts

For the cool in you: the best of Babyface


A response to Alfred’s post, this might be the fastest I’ve thrown an ordered list together; it helps that I already had a 73-track ‘Face mix in my iTunes. As producers, I’d rank Quincy Jones and Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis ahead of Babyface, but as a songwriter, I’m not sure there’s anyone more consistent — or his equal — over the past 30 years. And while he’s written great songs for both women and men, he has a certain gift for writing for female singers, both lyrically and musically: just think of the bulk of Toni Braxton’s career, or the Waiting To Exhale soundtrack, good God. And Alfred’s right about 2014’s Love, Marriage & Divorce, which I increasingly think may be the best album of this decade.

  1. Damian Dame, “Right Down To It” (1991)
  2. Babyface, “For the Cool in You (Quiet Storm Vocal Mix)” (1993)
  3. Bobby Brown, “On Our Own” (1989)
  4. TLC, “Red Light Special” (1994)
  5. Toni Braxton, “Seven Whole Days” (1993)
  6. Whitney Houston, “Exhale (Shoop Shoop)” (1995)
  7. Toni Braxton & Babyface, “Hurt You” (2014)
  8. Mary J. Blige, “Not Gon’ Cry” (1995)
  9. After 7, “Ready or Not” (1989)
  10. Bobby Brown, “Roni” (1988)
  11. Babyface, “Whip Appeal (The Ultimate Whip)” (1989)
  12. Karyn White, “Superwoman” (1988)
  13. Johnny Gill, “Fairweather Friend” (1990)
  14. The Mac Band featuring the MacCampbell Brothers, “Roses Are Red” (1988)
  15. Pebbles, “Giving You the Benefit” (1990)
  16. Johnny Gill, “My, My, My” (1990)
  17. TLC, “Diggin’ on You (L.A.’s Live Edit)” (1995)
  18. Aretha Franklin, “Willing to Forgive” (1994)
  19. Toni Braxton, “Love Shoulda Brought You Home” (1993)
  20. After 7, “Heat of the Moment” (1989)
  21. Karyn White (duet with Babyface), “Love Saw It” (1988)
  22. Whitney Houston, “I’m Your Baby Tonight” (1990)
  23. Tevin Campbell, “Always In My Heart” (1993)
  24. Tevin Campbell, “Can We Talk” (1993)
  25. The Deele, “Two Occasions” (1987)
Posted in lists, R&B

Pop top 40: 4/13/85


1 2 WE ARE THE WORLD –•– USA For Africa – 4 (1) — It vaulted up the Hot 100, 21-5-2-1, which in the US charts in the ’80s was insane. But of course, everyone wanted this, the American version of Band Aid with, arguably, even bigger stars. I mean, Michael-Lionel-Bruce-Tina-Cyndi: that tidily sums up the superstars of ’84, with the glaring exception of Prince. (But you all know that story, right?) Yes, “We Are the World” is a little syrupy, I get that — but I also get that co-writers Richie and Jackson were going for maximum, cross-generational impact, which doesn’t generally lend itself to brilliant works of art. That said, I highly recommend you listen to the demo version of the song, with Richie on piano and Jackson singing: it’s a bit softer, and much prettier, a bit more “Man in the Mirror” when you can really listen to what MJ is singing, rather than playing the “Who’s That Singing?” parlor game. The worst thing you can say about it is that it’s one of Quincy Jones’s least inspiring productions. And hearing this constellation of stars all on one record is still entertaining, to my ears at least.
2 1 ONE MORE NIGHT –•– Phil Collins – 10 (1) — Did you know that there were only four singles released from No Jacket Required? It’s true, probably because surrounding them Phil had his #2 duet with Philip Bailey, “Easy Lover,” and a pair of soundtrack #1s, “Against All Odds” and “Separate Lives” (the latter with Marilyn Martin). “One More Night” was the first single from Jacket; it’s my least favorite of the singles from the album. (It was followed, of course, by “Sussudio,” “Don’t Lose My Number” and “Take Me Home.”) This is Phil at his schlockiest: supersoft pop does not really become him.
3 4 CRAZY FOR YOU –•– Madonna – 7 (3) — However, Madonna’s first ballad to be released as a single does become her. She’s still got a bit of street grit in her voice (I’ll say until I’m dead that her Evita-era voice lessons really took something from her — we don’t listen to Madonna for perfect vocalization), and Jellybean Benitez (!) gives it a surprisingly sensitive production job. A key, I think, is that it was cut on live instruments, not banks of synths. And you wanna know how hot Madonna was in ’85? This had the strength to, after three weeks stuck at #2, knock “We Are the World” out of #1. On the heels of “Like A Virgin” and “Material Girl,” this was a very smart single choice.
4 7 NIGHTSHIFT –•– Commodores – 12 (4) — Their only post-Richie hit was an adult contemporary ode to the late Marvin Gaye — one of two such songs in this week’s top 10, neither particularly very good.
5 3 MATERIAL GIRL –•– Madonna – 10 (2) — Nile Rodgers doesn’t get enough credit for how fucking great Like A Virgin sounds. The drums on this go thwack!, the keyboards bounce, and Rodgers knows to just let Madonna do her thing. There’s so much personality in her vocal it’s ridiculous. This is likely better than you remember it to be.
6 8 I’M ON FIRE –•– Bruce Springsteen – 9 (6)
7 9 RHYTHM OF THE NIGHT –•– DeBarge – 9 (7) — My distaste for this Diane Warren hit is well-documented elsewhere; this slab of perkiness could be a 1981 record by the Kids from Fame. This so desperately wants to be liked. Good vocal by El, though.
8 5 LOVER GIRL –•– Teena Marie – 18 (4) — Good-not-great Teena Marie. She rarely recorded anything bad, but she recorded plenty of things that were better.
9 14 OBSESSION –•– Animotion – 12 (9) — Out of over 2,000 comments on YouTube, the top one on this video is “This video is the most eightiesest eighties that ever eightiesed.” While that may be true, don’t overlook the fact that Holly Knight and Michael Des Barres wrote a great song, which received the production it deserved from John Ryan, and the vocals it deserved from singers Bill Wadhams and Astrid Plane. It’s urgent. (Thanks, cocaine ’80s!)
10 13 MISSING YOU –•– Diana Ross – 20 (10) — Slushy.

11 18 DON’T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME –•– Simple Minds – 8 (11) — I hate this song.
12 19 ONE NIGHT IN BANGKOK –•– Murray Head – 8 (12) — I love this absurdly over-the-top — even for a musical about chess written by Tim Rice and Benny and Björn from ABBA — song. That the man who played Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar should have a top 10 single in 1985 is one of those things that exemplifies why the ’80s were such a glorious, crazy time for pop music.
13 6 CAN’T FIGHT THIS FEELING –•– REO Speedwagon – 13 (1) — Uptempo, they were occasionally tolerable. At ballad tempos, they were not.
14 11 SOMEBODY –•– Bryan Adams – 11 (11)
15 20 ALL SHE WANTS TO DO IS DANCE –•– Don Henley – 8 (15) — This just sounds unpleasantly nasty, like four minutes of Henley sneering at you.
16 12 JUST ANOTHER NIGHT –•– Mick Jagger – 10 (12) — It will not surprise those who know me well to learn that I love Mick’s debut solo album She’s the Boss. It’s garish and slick as oil, and occasionally ridiculous, and the fact that it was produced in halves, by Nile Rodgers and by Bill Laswell, makes it that much weirder. Mick spends much of the album giving in to all of his vocal tics and, essentially, making songs around/out of them. The Stones, this ain’t. “Just Another Night,” which couldn’t even crack the top 10 in the US (and didn’t even crack the top 30 in the UK), is the sound of piles and piles of wasted money, and I love it dearly.
17 24 SOME LIKE IT HOT –•– The Power Station – 5 (17) — Speaking as I was of Nile Rodgers’ production brilliance, how about Bernard Edwards? I have forever loved the sound of the Power Station’s album. This is a silly rockstar gangbang, but it’s so much greater than the sum of its Edwards + Robert Palmer + 2/5 of Duran parts.
18 21 ALONG COMES A WOMAN –•– Chicago – 8 (18)
19 15 HIGH ON YOU –•– Survivor – 12 (8)
20 10 TOO LATE FOR GOODBYES –•– Julian Lennon – 12 (5) — Perkier than “Valotte,” at least.

21 25 THAT WAS YESTERDAY –•– Foreigner – 5 (21)
22 28 SMOOTH OPERATOR –•– Sade – 7 (22) — She certainly is.
23 17 THE HEAT IS ON –•– Glenn Frey – 19 (2)
24 16 PRIVATE DANCER –•– Tina Turner – 13 (7) — My single most favorite Tina Turner single. It’s her delivery, it’s that sax, it’s the pathos of the lyrics (which I still cannot believe were penned by Mark Knopfler).
25 36 DON’T COME AROUND HERE NO MORE –•– Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – 5 (25) — Speaking of ridiculous ’80s production, step up Mr. Dave Stewart!
26 32 SOME THINGS ARE BETTER LEFT UNSAID –•– Daryl Hall & John Oates – 5 (26) — A slow burn.
27 34 ROCK AND ROLL GIRLS –•– John Fogerty – 5 (27) — I will never, ever understand what people see in this asshole, but even Fogerty partisans have gotta admit that this one’s just gross.
28 29 RADIOACTIVE –•– The Firm – 10 (28)
29 35 NEW ATTITUDE –•– Patti Labelle – 9 (29) — I’m not saying Patti Labelle ever did cocaine. But if she did do cocaine, it was probably prior to recording this song.
30 38 EVERYTHING SHE WANTS –•– Wham! – 4 (30) — Now, this is how you do midtempo. But truth be told, there was nothing that George Michael couldn’t do, and the 1-2 punch of this and “Careless Whisper” proved it without question.

31 37 FOREVER MAN –•– Eric Clapton – 6 (31) — I’ll take Phil Collins’ whipsmart production of Clapton over just about any other Clapton.
32 22 KEEPIN’ THE FAITH –•– Billy Joel – 12 (18) — This song could make the most devout Catholic renounce God.
33 30 LUCKY –•– The Greg Kihn Band – 9 (30)
34 43 EVERYBODY WANTS TO RULE THE WORLD –•– Tears For Fears – 5 (34) — Producer Chris Hughes is the key; he puts just the right spin, and amount of gloss, on it. My favorite TFF song is the b-side, “Pharaohs,” which is a slowed-down take on the “World” instrumental paired with a shipping forecast from BBC Radio 4. I find it incredibly soothing.
35 27 CARELESS WHISPER –•– Wham! Featuring George Michael – 17 (1) — Unimpeachable genius.
36 42 THE BIRD –•– The Time – 8 (36)
37 41 VOX HUMANA –•– Kenny Loggins – 4 (37)
38 44 SUDDENLY –•– Billy Ocean – 4 (38)
39 52 AXEL F –•– Harold Faltermeyer – 3 (39)
40 23 ONLY THE YOUNG –•– Journey – 12 (9) — Steve Perry’s voice makes grown men cry, because it’s so beautiful and perfect. This is a perfect example.

Posted in 1980s, charts