It’s the penultimate week of Bottom Feeders, with just one post for the 25th letter of the alphabet. Enjoy more tracks that failed to crack the Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart during the 1980s.
“Summertime Girls” — 1985, #55 (download)
The band was known as Yesterday & Today until 1981 when they shortened it to simply Y&T for the arena-rock crowd. “Summertime Girls” was from 1985’s Down for the Count, the first album to really mark a downward turn in quality for the band. The first few albums in the decade were solid slabs of rock, but both the aforementioned album and 1987’s Contagious were slicked-up retread pop crap.
“Weird Al” Yankovic
“Ricky” — 1983, #63 (download)
“King of Suede” — 1984, #62 (download)
“I Lost on Jeopardy” — 1984, #81 (download)
“Like a Surgeon” — 1985, #47 (download)
“Fat” — 1988, #99 (download)
How do you say that “Weird Al” Yankovic is one of your favorite artists of all time with a straight face? I haven’t figured that out yet, but he definitely is one of my all time favorites. I’m constantly amazed at how well known he is, how much respect he gets and how many hits a parody maker has had over the years.
“Ricky” is a parody of Toni Basil’s “Mickey” off his debut self-titled record. It was the only song to chart off the debut and probably the weakest of the singles. “Another One Rides the Bus” and “I Love Rocky Road” both bubbled under.
1984’s “Weird Al” Yankovic in 3-D yielded his first big hit with “Eat It” going to #12. The follow-up, “King of Suede” (a parody of “King of Pain” by the Police), peaked at #62, and the Greg Kihn parody “I Lost on Jeopardy” stalled at #81.
After that came his real breakthrough album, Dare to Be Stupid, though that only yielded one charting single in the “Like a Virgin” parody “Like a Surgeon”. Five more singles were actually released including the polka medley (“Hooked on Polkas”) an original “This is the Life” and some style parodies (“Dare To Be Stupid” parody of Devo) for the first time. This album really put him on the map and made him a household name.
1986’s Polka Party didn’t do much of anything on the charts, but his 1988 album Even Worse was another big hit and featured a parody of Michael Jackson’s “Bad” , called “Fat” – continuing with his food theme.
Over the years he’s had a few more songs bubble under and had his biggest hit in 2006 when “White & Nerdy” (parody of Ridin’ by Chamillionaire) hit #9.
“Weird Al” is still one of the very few artists that I look forward to new music from and have to purchase it the day of release.
I’m curious what your favorite “Weird Al” track is because well, everyone has at least one. Mine is the 11-and-a-half-minute opus “Albuquerque” that closes out his 1999 album Running with Scissors. “You’ve got weasels on your face.” How about yours?
Calvin Yarbrough & Alisa Peoples were recruited by Uncle Charlie Wilson of the Gap Band and released their first record in 1980. Their biggest hit was their first, “Don’t Stop the Music” from their debut record and pretty much the only song from the duo that people know. It’s understandable too, as while they weren’t a bad group at all, they didn’t have anything unique to break them free from dozens of other bands that sounded the same in the early ‘80s. Yarbrough & Peoples released their last album in 1985, got married and now live in Texas.
Yazoo (Yaz was their U.S. name) was Alison Moyet and Vince Clarke. They had a nice career making synthpop tunes in the UK, but only these two songs were hits in the US. “Situation” was actually the B-Side of “Only You” in the UK and was never even released as a single. They had two more #1 dance hits in the U.S. with “Don’t Go” off their debut Upstairs at Eric’s and “Nobody’s Diary” from their second and final record, You and Me Both.
Yazz & the Plastic Population
“The Only Way Is Up” — 1988, #96 (download)
Yazz was London singer Yasmin Evans. She released her debut album Wanted in 1988 and has released music here and there over the years. “The Only Way Is Up” was her only charting single in the US. It’s a cover of an Otis Clay song from 1982.
“Oh Yeah” — 1987, #51 (download)
Yello are a Swiss duo known for their unusual musical samples and the deep voice of its singer. They’ve had 15 songs crack the dance charts from their first in 1979 to their last in 1997. But only “Oh Yeah” crossed over to the pop charts. The reason for the success was the inclusion in the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, but it’s since been in a billion other things, like movies The Secret of My Succe$s and Soul Plane, it’s the theme song for Duffman from the Simpsons and has been in what seems like a billion commercials.
Yellow Magic Orchestra
“Computer Game” — 1980, #60 (download)
Although I had never heard of them before listening to this single a few years ago, the band is considered pioneers of Japanese technopop. Part of that almost certainly comes from producer and score creator Ryuichi Sakamoto being part of the group. I might be wrong, but it appears the single length track for “Computer Game” never appeared on an album. Their debut album has two “theme songs” called “Computer Game” but no full length track appears on a album.
“It Can Happen” — 1984, #51 (download)
I was never a Yes fan so there’s not much on my mind about this song. It was the third single from 90125 and had none of the radio friendliness of the first two singles, “Owner of a Lonely Heart” or “Leave It”. Actually, “Leave It” wasn’t that radio friendly either. Good for Yes fans, bad for people like me that simply like catchy pop songs.
“Darlin’” — 1980, #68 (download)
Yipes were a short lived band, I believe from Wisconsin. They were led by Pat McCurdy and released two albums of power pop songs. “Darlin” comes from their second record, A Bit Irrational, and is a Beach Boys cover.
Neil Young is one of my favorite artists ever. If you’ve been following the series you’d know this sounds a bit weird since I really don’t like music made before say, 1979. But I own every one of Neil’s albums all the way back to his debut solo record in 1968 to the gadzillion live albums and shitty music about cars he’s putting out these days.
As far as the ‘80s go, the majority of the decade was considered a dead period for Neil, and rightfully so as he released the laughable rockabilly Everybody’s Rockin’ in 1983 and the critically shit on Landing on Water in 1986 (I happen to like it). And the two songs here come from two albums that are not considered his best work; “Southern Pacific” from Re-ac-tor, which featured a nine-minute song (“T-Bone”) repeating the lyrics “Got Mashed Potatoes/got no T-Bone” for the entire time.
“Little Thing Called Love” comes from his follow up Trans which was also poorly received but really isn’t a terrible record. There are nine tracks on the record, five of which Neil uses a vocoder on which critics didn’t really like, but in reality the melodies on the record are pretty good and his vocoder filled remake of the Buffalo Springfield’s “Mr. Soul” is excellent.
His biggest hit in the decade, “Rockin’ in the Free World” in 1989 only hit the rock charts but went to #2 and he had 11 other hits make the rock charts in the decade.
“Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home)” — 1983, #70 (download)
“Love of the Common People” — 1984, #45 (download)
“Everything Must Change” — 1985, #56 (download)
“Some People” — 1986, #65 (download)
Paul Young is another one of my favorite voices of the decade. Young released three albums in the decade – 1983’s No Parlez, 1985’s The Secret of Association and 1986’s Between Two Fires. The first two records are very good slabs of pop and light rock and while Between Two Fires isn’t his strongest album, it’s a grower that holds up better now than it did back in the day I think. His cover of Marvin Gaye’s “Wherever I Lay My Hat (Is My Home)” is one of my favorites from him, not only because it’s a great song but because it reminds me of my wife who arrives home from work puts something down and it never moves again until she needs it. I constantly say the phrase “Where I Lay My Hat” to her. Kind of funny to me, pisses her off though. Sorry honey.
“Love of the Common People” was also a cover off of No Parlez, originally recorded by Waylon Jennings in the ‘60s, but English singer Paul Young probably covered it from the reggae cover in 1970 by Nicky Thomas which climbed pretty high on the UK charts.
“Everything Must Change” is a bit dull for me, but the upbeat “Some People” off Between Two Fires is a pretty great song.
“Love Light” — 1981, #81 (download)
Yutaka was a Japanese smooth jazz artist. I believe his Love Light album was his only US release and it was anchored by “Love Light” the song which featured Patti Austin on vocals.
Best song: Yaz, “Situation”
Worst song: Yes, “It Can Happen”
TOP 40 ONLY
Young MC (2)
Next week — *sniffle sniffle* — the last installment. Don’t forget to visit early next Wednesday, as we’ll have some Bottom Feeders trivia with an awesome ’80s-related prize to give away!