After the surprising amount of love shown to Survivor last week, it’s time to pay your last respects to the letter S, as we’re finally going to get to move on to something new — but not until we squeeze every last bit of life from the 19th letter of the alphabet. Here are a few more tracks that failed to crack the Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart during the 1980s.
Keith Sweat’s 1987 album Make It Last Forever ends up going down (Aww yeeeah … —Ed.) as one of the best New Jack Swing records of the decade. It was the only record he made in the ’80s, though, so we only get a small taste of him here (Dave clearly has S on the brain. —Ed.). The big hit from the album was “I Want Her,” which went to #5. Both of the songs here are great examples of that era, but I’m shocked that Sweat didn’t sue Mariah Carey: his duet with Jacci McGhee, “Make It Last Forever,” absolutely sounds like the basis for her ’91 smash “Can’t Let Go.”
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“Voo Doo” — 1983, #72 (download)
Man, I wish Rachel Sweet had been on my radar growing up in the ‘80s. Looking at pictures of her, she was a hottie. “Voo Doo” (maybe the first time I’ve seen it as two words) was a good new-wave hit off her final album, Blame It on Love. It would be pretty rare had it not been included on a Just Can’t Get Enough comp.
Sweet Sensation really burst on the scene in 1988, a year after releasing “Hooked on You” as a single. “Hooked on You” was actually rereleased and went to #24 as the 4th single from their debut Take It While It’s Hot, while “Never Let You Go” went to #1 on the dance charts. The big hit from the record was the third single “Sincerely Yours” which went to #14. They released two more records and even had a #1 in 1990 with a ballad called “If Wishes Came True.” All three of these cuts are the album versions — each had a shortened radio version as well.
Swing Out Sister
“Waiting Game” — 1989, #86 (download)
Swing Out Sister — or “SOS,” as they are commonly nicknamed — are a British pop group that, at least in the ‘80s, stood out from the crowd by making extremely catchy but somewhat adult-oriented pop music. “Waiting Game” was their third and next to last single in the U.S. to chart and was off their Kaleidoscope World.
“I Call Your Name” — 1979, #83 (download)
Switch was an R&B group on Gordy records that featured Bobby and Tommy Debarge, the oldest siblings of the Debarge family and Phillip Ingram, the younger brother of James. “I Call Your Name” was the third single from the group that charted on the Hot 100 and caught the ’80s at the tail end of its run. After this they would have a handful more on the R&B charts but no more crossover hits before their breakup in 1984.
Jimmy Harnen with Synch
“Where Are You Now?” — 1986, #77 (download)
Synch was the band and Jimmy Harnen was the drummer who just happened to sing lead vocals for their only hit. The song was originally recorded in 1985 and released independently. The song caught the ear of someone at Columbia Records and they signed Synch to a deal. The band went back in the studio and recorded the version here and released it in 1986 on their album Get the Feelin’. Then in 1989 in the craze of re-releasing songs that deserved a better fate happened for the group as it started getting a lot of airplay again, peaking at #10 this time around. Harnen was then signed to WTG records and released what would be billed as his solo album featuring this song, Toto’s Steve Lukather and Randy Jackson (finally, another Randy Jackson sighting). The album flopped, and that was pretty much it for Jimmy Harnen. It’s still one of my favorite ballads of the decade.
The System are one of my favorite bands of the decade. Their music always seemed ahead of its time, and their use of synthesizers was just totally cooler than what most bands were doing with them. Their first hit, “You Are in My System,” is a great song, although I prefer the Robert Palmer version that came out a year later. “Coming to America” is the theme song to the Eddie Murphy movie and is still awesome despite totally sounding like a cheesy soundtrack song. It was produced by Nile Rodgers (Nile Rodgers sighting, y’all).
Best song: Jimmy Harnen with Synch, “Where Are You Now?”
Worst song: [For the first time I think every song is good, so I abstain this week.]
TOP 40 ONLY
Patrick Swayze (1), Sybil (1), Sylvia (1)
Next week, at long last, a new letter of the alphabet!