(Above: Whoa-oh, we’re halfway there.)
Where were you thirty years ago today?
New in theaters this week: a quirky film by two guys named the Coen Brothers called Raising Arizona. More people were going to see Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon.
In the news, Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev proposed a treaty that would eliminate both Soviet and US nuclear weapons from Europe. The treaty is later ratified, and we still get “The Final Countdown” (on the charts this week.)
Also in the news, President Reagan removes Donald T. Regan as chief of staff and replaces him with former Senator Howard Baker
Among the songs debuting this week:
#93 – “It’s Tricky” – Run D.M.C. My younger brother had this tape, and played it enough for the both of us. I got to the party on these guys late, as I tended to do with all things popular culture in the 1980s.
#91 – “Never Enough” – Patty Smyth. In much the same way I had a thing for Carol Decker of T’Pau, the same thing applies for the former lead singer of Scandal. (The video for “Goodbye To You” hit when I was in high school, and I have never forgotten it.) This should have been a bigger hit, despite my best efforts to get it airplay the following fall in college.
#71 – “Come As You Are” – Peter Wolf. I already wrote about this one the night I went through the box of 45s from the 80s (in two parts here and here). This is still a fun song to play loudly on occasion.
Highlights at the bottom of the Top 40, so to speak:
#37 – “Midnight Blue” – Lou Gramm. This just cracks into the Top 40 this week. I have always loved this song. For as much as 1980s Foreigner didn’t do a lot for me, this song just sort of resonated. I think it might have had to do with not really yet finding my place in the world.
#34 – “Don’t Dream It’s Over” – Crowded House. This got a LOT of airplay on MTV, along with follow-up hit “Better Be Home Soon.” It got even more airplay when I got to New Zealand, their home. I don’t hear it much anymore.
#27 – “Tonight Tonight Tonight” – Genesis. To me, this says Michelob beer. I think that was a couple of years later, but I can no longer separate the song from the ad. Thanks, television.
#21 – “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” – Starship. Propped up no doubt from its inclusion in one of the worst films I ever let a date select – Mannequin. It’s still moving up the charts this week, representing the worst of the corporatized former Jefferson Airplane.
#20 – “Brand New Lover” – Dead Or Alive. Guilty pleasure alert: I still like this song. It’s ridiculous. It’s also fun, and with the right number of drinks anyone can sing along. Just randomly belt out “I want sur pry zez” loudly. You’ll be fine.
Positions 10-19 are really mellow and R&B heavy, now that I look at them, with a few exceptions: Cinderella appear at #16 with “Nobody’s Fool,” a foreshadowing of the hair band explosion that will occur later that year. But the rest of this section of the chart has these selections in it:
#18 – “Stop To Love” – Luther Vandross
#15 – “Let’s Wait Awhile” – Janet Jackson
#13 – “Love You Down” – Ready For the World
#10 – “Ballerina Girl” – Lionel Richie
Throw Journey’s “I’ll Be Alright Without You” at #14 and Bruce Hornsby’s wonderful “Mandolin Rain” at #12 in there, and this chart takes on a much more solidly adult contemporary feel.
OK – let’s liven this place up, shall we? Back to the countdown:
#9 – “Big Time” – Peter Gabriel. Hi there. This is where Peter starts to make his move with interesting MTV programming, pinnacled of course by “Sledgehammer.”
#8 – “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)” – Beastie Boys. One of the few double-parenthetical titles in rock and roll. The video is so stupid it’s amazing. “I hope no bad people show up!” The “yeah!” from this record made its way onto a sound effects cart in college, and punctuated perhaps every radio show that I did.
#7 – “Respect Yourself” – Bruce Willis. I am not making this up. The Return of Bruno LP, driven by the popularity of Moonlighting, pushed this onto the charts. Sometimes this is allowed to happen (See also Johnson, Don, “Heartbeat”).
#6 – “Somewhere Out There” – Linda Ronstadt. Sappy, but the cartoon drew a lot of people in. I fear this was the prom theme for thousands of teenagers later that spring.
#5 – “You Got It All” – The Jets. Whatever happened to these kids, anyway? Oh – they grew up, and their management moved on to other projects. This would have been an edgier prom theme, now that I think of it.
#4 – “Will You Still Love Me” – Chicago. This chart’s in a lull. Late 80s-Chicago is not my favorite era of the band, largely due to the excessive airplay we gave them at WJTW in the latter part of the decade.
#3 – “Keep Your Hands To Yourself” – Georgia Satellites. There are few songs that I admit an intense dislike for. (Maybe that should become its own post.) This would be one of them. I think it was the faux-hillbilly-lousy-yodel of Dan Baird at the beginning. It could also be my dislike for country-music-that-isn’t, which is what this is.
#2 – “Jacob’s Ladder” – Huey Lewis & the News. Guilty pleasure alert: I also loved this song, and I have no possible explanation as to why. A lot of HL&tN is pretty formulaic stuff designed to sell styrene – and this is no different – but for some reason I just liked this one.
And, thirty years ago, it’s another week at number one for:
#1 – “Livin’ On a Prayer” – Bon Jovi. The yooge comeback for Johnny Bongiovi is complete with this song ruling the roost. Everything off of Slippery When Wet received copious amounts of airplay, but this one still does. Thirty years later, go to any sporting event where the home team holds a slim lead late, and you’ll hear this chorus, badly intoned by drunken fans. They’re not interested in Johnny getting off of work – they just wanna sing.
It’s worth noting that this video has over 300 MILLION views. While a lot of what is on this list provides some “oh, wow” for us now, some of it has certainly endured.