We’re quickly closing in on the letter I, but we’ve still got some H to enjoy before we get there, so let’s continue with a look at the lower 60 percent of the Billboard Hot 100 chart during the ’80s.
“He’s a Pretender” — 1983, #82 (download)
Could this be the first time we’ve started off with a funk track? It seems like more often than not, the first song in the post is pretty crappy, so I’m excited to get a good one. High Inergy was a four-woman group on Motown. They had their biggest hits in the late ’70s, and did pretty well for themselves on the R&B charts (nine charting songs). This was their third and final trip into the Hot 100, and their only Hot 100 song in this decade.
“Never Thought (That I Could Love)” — 1987, #43 (download)
Dan Hill had been releasing albums since 1975 at this point, but hadn’t had a US hit on any chart since 1978. His biggest ’80s hit, “Can’t We Try,” was released right before “Never Thought” and these became his only two hot 100 hits in the decade. He did have five more adult contemporary hits after this, however. Both of his ’80s hits were from his self-titled 1987 album. That was his second self-titled record, coming 12 years after the first one, a scenario I like to call “the career restart.”
“Not Fade Away” — 1981, #73 (download)
A tough to find 45 in my collection. As far as I can tell, this single (a poor cover of the 1957 Crickets tune) was Eric Hine’s only release on a small label called Montage Records. He went on to engineer and mix some music no one has heard, and rereleased this song in 1984 on Line Records.
“Had a Dream (Sleeping with the Enemy)” — 1984, #48 (download)
Roger Hodgson was the high-pitched voice in Supertramp. After leaving the band in 1983, he released his first solo record, In the Eye of the Storm, which was not only very good, but sounded a whole lot like Supertramp. This was his only Hot 100 solo hit.
Jennifer Holliday made her name in the Broadway musical Dreamgirls, with a stunning rendition of the song “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.” She turned that into a #1 R&B hit in 1982 and followed it up with another sexy R&B ballad, “I Am Love,” in ’83. Although she had nine in a row hit the R&B charts, I think her major career misstep came in 1985, when she adopted more of a dance feel. She’s got the pipes, and “I Am Love” hit #2 on the R&B charts, but instead of sticking with the R&B ballads, she got all generic ass shaker on us instead.
In the Rupert Holmes fan club, there’s his mama at #1 and then me at #2. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I do love Rupert Holmes more than any man should. I mean, who doesn’t like “Escape (The PiÃ±a Colada Song)”? But that’s not the one I really love. It’s actually his third single from the huge 1979 release Partners in Crime — “Answering Machine.” That’s my favorite. He tells such great stories in most of his songs, and while sappy at times, he’s certainly got memorable hooks. Neither of these songs quite reached the level of his biggest hits, but both show off his style pretty well.
Honeymoon Suite is a Canadian rock band out of Niagara Falls. Never huge in their homeland, but big enough, their success never really translated into U.S. sales, though they did have four hits on the Hot 100. “New Girl Now” always seemed a bit ahead of its time for me, but “What Does It Take” is the one Suite single I think should have been a smash. It’s missing something, though — maybe a string section over the chorus? It should have been an epic mid-tempo sing-along, but it lacks the punch to be remembered with similar songs of the era. It’s pretty much the same deal with “Love Changes Everything.” It’s a good song, but it had the potential to be a great song, with just a little tweaking here or there.
The Hooters are ridiculously good! Another band from my hometown of Philadelphia, it was very difficult to grow up not loving them. Every song was played all day long, so much so that you would have figured they were the biggest band in the world. They weren’t, obviously, but even today they are well-respected by peers and get a ton of airplay. Of course, I still live in the general vicinity of Philadelphia, so “ton of airplay” might still be representative of where I am. While “Johnny B,” “Satellite,” and “500 Miles” are all great songs in their own right, the real surprise here is “All You Zombies,” which at least in this area seems to be thought of as their best song. That was their first single, back in 1985, and maybe that’s why it charted so low. I would have liked to have seen what it would have done on the charts after “And We Danced” and “Day By Day” became big hits for them. I’d encourage people to go back and dig up their 1983 indie release Amore. Not only is it a great album, but it includes their original version of “All You Zombies.”
Bruce Hornsby & the Range
“Every Little Kiss” — 1986, #72 (download)
Now I know you’re wondering how the hell “Every Little Kiss” didn’t chart higher than #72, when it sounds just like every other huge Bruce Hornsby hit. But it did. This is another instance of the wrong single being released at the wrong time and the record company giving it a second go-around later. This was the first single from their debut album The Way It Is, and it peaked at #72. When it seemed like this wasn’t going anywhere, RCA quickly released the title track, which shot to #1. Then after following it up with “Mandolin Rain”, “Every Little Kiss” was released again in April of 1987, when it went to #14.
“Are You Getting Enough Happiness” — 1982, #65 (download)
I give it up to Hot Chocolate. They had a nice career and at least one amazing song with “You Sexy Thing,” but this is a flaming turd. Of all the thousands of ’80s albums I own, of which I’ve listened to every one of them from start to finish, 1982’s Mystery would be the worst that had at least one charting single. Nothing can top the debut record from Scot Baio for shittiness, but Mystery comes close. I mean, you hear the terrible keyboards in this song — well, that marks the whole record. The songs are cheesy, poorly produced and offer not one bit of quality. It even trickles down to the cover art with the five members sitting on 10-speeds in some sort of garage, most of them wearing those way too colorful ’80s sweats and the white guy in the middle with way-too-tight ’80s shorts and his Coke bottle glasses. They actually put out one more album in 1983, which I don’t own, but maybe I need to get to see if it could actually get any worse than this.
“Half Moon Silver” — 1980, #72 (download)
Everything I’ve read about Hotel calls them a power pop band. I only own this song on 45, so I’ve never heard a full record from them, but this is definitely not a power pop song. Sounds more like something that would have come from CSNY instead. This was their only ’80s hit, and their fourth charting song overall.
House of Lords
“I Wanna Be Loved” — 1989, #58 (download)
Remember back in G, when I mentioned how Gregg Giuffria should have named his band something other than his last name since it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue? Well, other people thought that too, apparently. In 1988, Mr. Giuffria sold his soul to Gene Simmons, who immediately fired their lead singer and changed the band’s name to House of Lords. House of Lords was less keyboard-heavy than Giuffria, and actually made some decent hard rock songs in the early part of their career.
Best song: Hooters, “All You Zombies”
Worst song: Hot Chocolate, “Are You Getting Enough Happiness”
Next week we’ll finish up the letter H with a short post featuring one of my favorite synth-pop groups of all time and Engelbert Humperdinck!