Hi, this is Popdose senior editor Robert Cass, and you’re listening to Bottom Feeders, a countdown of every song that charted below #40 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the 1980s! And now, back to text jockey Dave Steed and the countdown … which isn’t really a countdown … but I’m not sure what else to call it except “a really long list” … and that’s not sexy at all, now is it? So let’s just stick with “countdown” and get right into the featured songs by artists whose names begin with the letter R.
Li’l bit o’ trivia for you: “My Computer’s Getting Personal,” the minor regional hit I recorded with my old funk group, Robertic Rhythm, juuuust missed the Hot 100 in ’87, and therefore missed out on being mentioned in last week’s installment of Bottom Feeders. (Remind me not to ask Robert to write an intro in my absence ever again. —DS)
“Don’t Stop Trying” — 1982, #83 (download)
I’ve seen this labeled both disco and new wave. I’m not sure I hear the disco, but the new wave is in full force. “Don’t Stop Trying” is from Steve Rodway’s only record, Horizontal Hold. After this, he did very little for the next decade, at which point he really got into producing music under the moniker Motiv8. Apparently his claim to fame is cowriting and producing Gina G.’s “Ooh Ahh … Just a Little Bit” in 1996. Whatever works, I guess.
“I Heard It Through the Grapevine” — 1981, #79 (download)
Ranking at a whopping #2 on my Bottom 80 Songs of the ’80s list, this fucker is mind-numbing. I know Roger Troutman made his living using the talk box, both on his solo work and with Zapp, but there’s only so much of this the human ear can take. I can’t listen to “Grapevine” at any volume, as my ears literally hurt from the piercing effects of the box. This version is only, like, seven minutes long — the album version tacks on five more repetitive minutes.
“Looks Like Love Again” — 1980, #41 (download)
Released in 1979, this crossed over for over a month into 1980. I never really paid much attention to it, or fancy Dann with two Ns, and quick Internet searches don’t yield any good info on him. So if you know something, bring it on.
“Blaze of Glory” — 1981, #66 (download)
“A Love Song” — 1982, #47 (download)
“Scarlet Fever” — 1983, #94 (download)
“Eyes That See in the Dark” — 1984, #79 (download)
“Crazy” — 1985, #79 (download)
“Morning Desire” — 1985, #72 (download)
I do know Kenny Rogers, though. I mean, the man makes some excellent chicken (and, I guess, some good music too). I couldn’t care less if I ever heard another Kenny Rogers song, but the guy has a ton of talent and quite a voice. I prefer the more upbeat songs like “Blaze of Glory” rather than “A Love Song,” though I think I’d argue that the best track of the six here is “Morning Desire” (despite the fact that Kenny is essentially singing about having morning wood). “Eyes That See in the Dark” certainly gets honorable mention, since I love the Bee Gees so much. “Crazy” was cowritten by Richard Marx.
“She Was Hot” — 1984, #44 (download)
Only four years after she was so cold, “She Was Hot.” This was the second single from Undercover and the only one of 12 Stones charting singles to not hit the Top 40. This fell in between “Undercover of the Night,” which hit #9, and “Harlem Shuffle,” which went to #5. This is probably a better song than both of them.
Roman Holliday fascinate me. For one thing, their three charting singles sound so different from each other. “Stand By” is a little swingin’ ditty, “Don’t Try to Stop It” has some “Stray Cat Strut” in it, and “One Foot Back in Your Door” is just a rockin’ pop song. But of course the thing that fascinates me the most is that “One Foot” is totally the basis of “Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car” by Billy Ocean, and unless I’m missing it, there was no writing credit or acknowledgement from Billy and his production team at all.
God, even for me, Bottom Feeders is bringing back so many memories. I totally forgot that the Romantics’ biggest hit, “Talking in Your Sleep,” was yet another song my mom played all the time when I was growing up. “What I Like About You,” of course, is a total shocker in this series, but I guess it gets more play now than it did back in the ’80s. The big tragedy is that Michael Morales’s shitty 1989 cover of the song was the highest-charting version of the song. “Test of Time” was from their fifth and final record (before they reunited in 2003), Rhythm Romance. It’s not a terrible song, but it sounds a lot like a very low-budget version of their other Top 40 hit, “One in a Million.”
“Don’t Break My Heart” — 1988, #73 (download)
I’m surprised Romeo’s Daughter didn’t have more hits. Their debut was a slick pop record with a rock edge, half of it produced by Mutt Lange and half by John Parr. While the album was pretty solid, if nothing else, this excellent track should have been much bigger.
Ron & the D.C. Crew
“Ronnie’s Rap” — 1987, #93 (download)
I remember picking this up in 1987, yet even after all these years I still know nothing about this superb novelty hit. All I’ve got are the credited names on the record (M. Moseley, A. Hott). It was one of quite a few songs in the ’80s that were either about Ronald Reagan or that featured “him” rapping; they were recorded by the likes of Rich Little, Harry Shearer, Air Force 1, and even Garry Trudeau, the creator of the comic strip Doonesbury.
Linda Ronstadt’s career path took a weird turn in the ’80s. Her 1980 album Mad Love is a really solid rock record, 1982′s Get Closer is lighter pop, and then she inexplicably recorded not one, not two, but three records with Nelson Riddle and his Orchestra and then followed those up with an album with Aaron Neville and two Spanish mariachi discs. I know those three pop vocal albums — What’s New (1983), Lush Life (1984), and For Sentimental Reasons (1986) — sold like hotcakes, but they aren’t my thing. And since I just collect ’80s music, I don’t know a whole lot of her ’70s output, from the era when she was dubbed “the queen of rock.” I have to try to think back to songs like “How Do I Make You” or “Get Closer” to erase my memories of the orchestral songs.
Best song: Roman Holliday, “One Foot Back in Your Door”
Worst song: Roger, “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”
TOP 40 ONLY
Romeo Void (1)
Next week we’re banging the drum so it’ll play that funky music, white boy.