(Above: I have this CD. It’s wimpier than the Brand X bags in a Hefty ad.)
On a snowy Saturday night in Grand Rapids I took a pilgrimage to the local pizza shop to pick up dinner. Since the roads were bad, the drive took about three times as long as usual. I tuned into Sirius XM’s 80s on 8 channel to find that the VJs from MTV were counting down another Top 40 chart – this time from the first week of January in 1989. The sort of “time and place” thing that always happens with me happened again, so – here we are, in January 1989.
That was the week that I moved from my parents’ house in Orland Park to my first apartment in Lockport, IL, not far from the Lewis campus. I was about two months into my job at WJTW, and recognized a number of songs from this chart from our playlist. In a way that surprised me, since as a soft adult contemporary station, we tended to be a bit behind. Turns out that we matched up for good reason: this is a really, REALLY soft chart, once you get near the top. The 80s channel limits you to the top 40; I go deeper. Some of the highlights:
95) Never Tear Us Apart – INXS. The Kick LP was was big in 1988, and this was a carryover single, dropping from #84 the week before.
86) Perfect – Fairground Attraction. This should have been a much, MUCH bigger hit. We played it at WJTW, which is where I first heard it. It never got much higher, but the whole LP – The First of a Million Kisses – is one that I keep in my office for when the mood is right.
83) Girl You Know It’s True – Milli Vanilli. Debuts this week. You’ll hear more about this group in the future – trust me.
81) Another Lover – Giant Steps. Another selection from the WJTW playlist, falling down the charts this week. I will freely admit to this being a guilty pleasure.
79) The Living Years – Mike & The Mechanics. Eventually, this will hit #1, and I will be stuck playing it multiple times during my six-hour shifts on the radio station. Sing these words instead: “It would suuuuuckkkk…… if you diiiiiiiied……..”
71) I Beg Your Pardon – Kon Kan. Up 16 places this week. I covered this song in another post, and it’s worth hearing again.
61) New Day For You – Basia. If I have one memory of my time at WJTW, it’s being forced to play this thing. A lot. Normally singers lose their accents when they sing, but not Basia. It led to me trying to do bad impressions of her – off the air, of course. The next person I meet who likes this song will be the first.
41) What I Am – Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians. Next week this will be in the Top 40. Several more weeks and you won’t be able to escape it. If you remember the beginning of the video, these words make more sense: “I’m not aware of too many things/Or why it looks like I pee when I sing….”
So, those missed the chart. What was ON the Top 40 instead?
32) Finish What Ya Started – Van Halen. What was it with us re-working the lyrics to everything at that time? “C’mon, baby, tell me who just farted….”
29) The Promise – When In Rome. You know it as music to play tetherball to, at the end of Napoleon Dynamite. Still a great song all these years later.
26) I Wanna Have Some Fun – Samantha Fox. Y’know, it’s not that wild a name, now that I think about it. We used to like getting her releases at the station to discard the vinyl and put the sleeves on the wall.
21) Baby I Love Your Way/Freebird Medley – Will To Power. Holy hell. I thought I had blocked this from my memory. Thanks, subconscious, for bringing this back. We played this a lot at WJTW, and I vowed never, ever to play it again on the radio after it dropped off the chart. 28 years later, the promise has been kept. I won’t even link to it.
19) When The Children Cry – White Lion. I feel as though I should be holding up a lighter the whole time this is on.
16) When I’m With You – Sheriff. I think if I tried to hit the key change in this song now I would hurt myself. You try it, and let me know how it goes.
On to the Top 10:
10) Smooth Criminal – Michael Jackson. This only peaked at #8, which seems a shame. Then again, there’s not much to the lyrics. Is he singing about Annie Oakley?
9) Armageddon It – Def Leppard. The Hysteria album was huge. This one, though, was not one of my favorites from it, largely because it makes no sense.
8) Look Away – Chicago. Without a doubt one of the most pathetic breakup songs ever recorded, and I’m sure it was playing behind at least one college breakup. Move along, man. (Another WJTW A-rotation title.)
7) Waiting For a Star To Fall – Boy Meets Girl. I can sum this up this way: one of the best insults I ever heard was from a girl I really liked, describing a suitor of hers in this way: “He’s OK, but he likes stuff like (title of this song, sung). It would never work.” I think I intensely hated the record at that moment. We also played it a lot at WJTW.
6) Don’t Rush Me – Taylor Dayne. Another WJTW hit. I much preferred her first, “Tell It To My Heart.”
5) In Your Room – Bangles. This was one I played a lot at WLRA. It was, of course, followed up by “Eternal Flame,” which, after further review, sounds like it was forced so people would have some sort of slow dance material.
4) Giving You The Best That I Got – Anita Baker. As a 19-year old college student I didn’t care for Anita Baker. I’ve picked up an appreciation for her work since then.
3) Two Hearts – Phil Collins. It was amazing, to me, how quickly I went from liking Phil Collins’ solo work in high school to disliking it in college. This is Exhibit A arguing for dislike.
2)My Prerogative – Bobby Brown. One of 3 of the top 10 that we did not play at WJTW. See what I mean about this chart?
And the number one song this week: Every Rose Has Its Thorn – Poison. Again, I feel like I should have a lighter out. It was certainly soft enough, but our music director was a born-again Christian who shunned “disagreeable” acts from the airwaves, and men dressed like women weren’t going to make the cut, no matter how big the hit or perfect the fit.
I’ll have to search through my cassettes to see what I would rather have been listening to, and make that the subject of a post coming up this week.