CHART ATTACK!: 1/11/86

Written by Chart Attack!, Music

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Hi everyone!  I know I’ve been absent from the fun up until now, but I’m here, keeping quite busy helping to edit and organize the site.  I’ll still be writing as I have time, and it starts here, with the very first edition of CHART ATTACK! at Popdose! Every other Friday we’ll be taking a Billboard Top 10 from years past and ripping it apart. So please join me as we head back 22 years (yes, we’re old) and check out the charts from January 11, 1986!

10. Walk of Life – Dire Straits Amazon iTunes
9. Broken Wings – Mr. Mister Amazon iTunes
8. Talk to Me – Stevie Nicks Amazon iTunes
7. Tonight She Comes – The Cars Amazon iTunes
6. Small Town – John Cougar Mellencamp Amazon iTunes
5. I Miss You – Klymaxx Amazon iTunes
4. Alive and Kicking – Simple Minds Amazon iTunes
3. That’s What Friends Are For – Dionne & Friends Amazon iTunes
2. Party All the Time – Eddie Murphy Amazon
1. Say You, Say Me – Lionel Richie Amazon iTunes

10. Walk of Life – Dire Straits

As my grandpappy used to say, “Any Dire Straits song that doesn’t show its ignorance by blatantly referencing a faggot is A-OK with me.” My Dire Straits knowledge is limited, although I’m feeling like further understanding of the band probably wouldn’t help me decipher exactly what the hell Mark Knopfler is saying in this tune. And now that I’ve actually examined the lyrics to “Walk of Life,” I’ve realized that it’s actually quite stupid. No matter: 1985 was truly the band’s year in the pop spotlight (poplight?), and this song, which entered the charts in November, peaked at #7 and remains Dire Straits’ last Top 10 (and Top 40, for that matter) entry on the pop charts.

Despite mentioning the cable channel in their previous hit, these guys were not meant for MTV. Check out the video: it seems like Knopfler — who looks like a mix between unhappy, hungover, and dead — wanted to be Dylan, the other guys wanted to be in Miami Vice, and a few others got into a horrible hair-dryer accident. But hey, the video has sports bloopers, and sports bloopers are always fun to watch. It’s fitting enough: that keyboard riff sounds like it belongs in a stadium anyway.

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9. Broken Wings – Mr. Mister

I’m not a big fan of this song. I love “Kyrie” — looooove “Kyrie” — and I also love … wait, no, I guess that’s it. “Broken Wings” remained in the Top 10 for two months, which explains why we previously covered it in the 11/16/85 Chart Attack! I’d like to think that I could think of something new to say about the song, but I can’t, so, once again, here are the interesting (I’m kidding) facts: inspired by a book of the same name by Kahlil Gibran, “Broken Wings” began its ascent to the top of the charts while Mr. Mister was the opening act for Don Henley and hit #1 as they were opening for Tina Turner. As popular as this song has remained over the years, I’ve still felt it’s way inferior to their other #1 hit, “Kyrie.” It’s drenched in synthesizers and the chorus is just whiny. But it seems to be one of those inescapable, enduring radio staples. I usually just switch the station.

8. Talk to Me – Stevie Nicks

Mediocrity, thy name is Nicks. Why was this song a hit? While I still don’t understand why anybody is a fan of her bleating, I can at least admit that “Stand Back” is a pretty good song. This one, though? I can only assume this was written by Tom Kelly or Holly Knight or one of those songwriters who was well known for churning out pop ballads that lent themselves to unnecessary overproduction.

Well, I was close. It was written by Chas Sanford. You know Chas: according to his website, he is “the recipient of twelve ASCAP ‘Most Performed Songs’ awards, including John Waite’s ‘Missing You’ (Augh! JH), Chicago’s ‘What Kind of Man Would I Be’ (AUGH! JH) and Stevie Nicks’ ‘Talk to Me’ (Booooooo! JH).” He has a zillion other credits as well, and I won’t say anything mean about him because it seems like he has a really nice recording studio, and if I ever fulfill my dream of rerecording Starland Vocal Band’s debut album featuring the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, I want to use his place. So, uh … well done, Chas!

7. Tonight She Comes – The Cars (download)

Released only as a single from their Greatest Hits album, “Tonight She Comes” was the band’s fourth and final single to reach the Top 10. It’s yet another reminder of why I miss the Cars so much — I don’t think anybody has come close to replicating their sound — but this video damn near gave me a seizure.

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6. Small Town – John Cougar Mellencamp

“Blah blah blah blah blah small town, blah blah blah blah blah small town / Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah small town.” Seriously, I don’t know another word of this song, and at this point I can’t even remember the chorus. I’m not sure what differentiates this song from so many of Mellencamp’s others. Here’s all I know: this song describes his upbringing in Seymour, Indiana. The town, in honor of their most famous resident, created the Small Town Festival, an annual event that celebrates “the art, music and culture of Seymour … and heritage as the hometown of musician and painter John Mellencamp.” As far as I can tell, John Mellencamp has never shown up to the festival. I did, however, find a brochure for the festival from 2003 (see the work I do for you?) that includes the following quote on the front page: “‘I am looking forward to the Small Town Festival; it should be lots of fun.’ —Doug Anderson, Mellencamp fan.” Enough said.

5. I Miss You – Klymaxx

After poring over the Small Town Festival brochure, please forgive me if I don’t do too much research into Klymaxx. From what I can gather, there were many members of this band, and in checking Klymaxx.org, I read the following at the bottom of the home page: This site is in no way affiliated with any other site deeming itself to be an official, authorized, certified, sanctioned, approved, endorsed or otherwise “Klymaxx” web presence. Following that statement is: Never wrestle with a pig … You both get dirty and the pig likes it. Just what we needed — another band with name issues that nobody cares about. Turns out that original Klymaxx guitarist Cheryl Cooley owns Klymaxx.com. Are you asleep yet? If you’re interested in Klymaxx at all, here’s all you need to know: they’re actually not a one-hit wonder. “I Miss You” peaked here at #5, but they also reached the Top 20 with “Man Size Love” in 1986 and “I’d Still Say Yes” in ’87. I don’t remember any of these. Do you? Also, Klymaxx was the first group to work with producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Wake up, people, we still have four more songs to go.

4. Alive and Kicking – Simple Minds (download)

Almost as soon as it was released, Simple Minds essentially refused to acknowledge “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” as a part of their repertoire: they didn’t write it, they didn’t want to record it, and they didn’t include it on their then-forthcoming album, Once Upon a Time. Listening to “Alive and Kicking,” a single from that album, I’m not exactly sure why they were so quick to disown their previous hit: are they really that much different from each other? (Simple Minds eventually hired the cowriter of “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” Keith Forsey, to produce 1995’s Good News From the Next World.) They share the synth-pop anthem sound that was so successful for the band: “Don’t You (Hate Parentheses Too)” reached #1, and “Alive and Kicking” peaked at #3 — their last entry in the Top 10.

3. That’s What Friends Are For – Dionne & Friends

I can’t explain this — even saying it right now makes no sense to me — but there was actually a time when I didn’t think this song was cheesy. I mean, I was a kid, but still. For almost five years, every wedding/bar mitzvah/”sweet 16″ party/execution I attended closed out the festivities with all of the kids standing on the dance floor, swaying in a circle, and singing this song. And I don’t remember anybody doing any Stevie Wonder impressions either. Too bad we weren’t older, because if I sang it now in this fashion I’d totally imitate Elton eating a Quarter Pounder and snorting cocaine.

Little-known fact about “That’s What Friends Are For”: it’s a cover! A Burt Bacharach-Carole Bayer Sager composition, the first person to tackle this schmaltz was none other than … Rod Stewart. (You’re not really surprised, are you?) Stewart recorded the song for the 1982 movie Night Shift. Now, admittedly, it’s been many years since I’ve seen Night Shift, but I seem to recall it was about hookers at a morgue. “That’s What Friends Are For” is the first song you think of too, right? I thought so.

Putting its heavy sentimentality aside, we have to give the tune some credit: the Dionne/Stevie/Elton/Gladys version not only raised over $3 million for AIDS research but ended up being the #1 Billboard single of the year for 1986.

2. Party All the Time – Eddie Murphy

This song, however, deserves no credit. Just a question: Why? Why did we need this? And even worse, why did it have to reach this chart position? I think this is where the problems really started, everybody: Eddie Murphy already knew he was hot shit from an acting perspective, but perhaps it was the fact that we allowed him to have, if just for a moment, a successful music career that gave him permission to believe he was invincible. This song sucks. Shame on Eddie. Shame on Rick James for producing it. And shame on us for pushing it to #2.

Here’s the video, only notable for Rick James’s haircut. One has to wonder if he snorted one line too many and called his hairdresser in a panic: “Make me look like a poodle, goddammit! I want to look like a poodle NOW!”

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My gym has a bad habit of playing remixes of songs that don’t need remixes (quick examples: “Message in a Bottle,” “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” “Another One Bites the Dust,” and even fucking “Is This Love” by Whitesnake). In their infinite wisdom they’ve decided that a remix of “Party All the Time” deserves heavy rotation. This remix is done by a guy named Sharam Tayebi and is entitled “PATT.” (Get it? It’s the initials of “Party All the Time!” So clever!!) As if the remix wasn’t bad enough, “PATT” has a video, supposedly an “homage” to the original. I won’t torture you with it in this post, but if you have the stomach to watch an idiotic Eddie Murphy imitation (and an even worse one of Rick James), feel free.

1. Say You, Say Me – Lionel Richie

Anybody who has read my writing before knows I’m a big, no-irony-intended-whatsoever fan of Lionel Richie. My mom eagerly brought home Lionel Richie and Can’t Slow Down almost immediately after release and we raced those records over to the turntable. However, I have to be honest: this is just not one of Lionel’s strongest moments. In fact, I could even make a pretty good list here.

Jason Hare’s Reasons Why “Say You, Say Me” Is, Ultimately, an Awkward Song

1) The title and corresponding chorus. Seriously.

Say you, say me
Say it together
That’s the way it should be
Say you, say me
Say it for always
Naturally

This is ridiculous. No, it’s more than ridiculous. It’s stupid ridiculous. Am I supposed to actually say “you” and “me” after you implore me to do so? And when you say “say it together,” do I say a) “say you, say me,” b) “you me,” or c) “it together”? And most importantly, why am I saying any of this shit in the first place?

2) Unless you bought the single, you were out of luck. Lionel recorded the song, which entered the charts in November of ’85, for inclusion on the White Nights soundtrack; it was actually considered the theme song to the movie. (My mom, coincidentally, was also a big Baryshnikov fan.) However, though “Say You, Say Me” was made available as a single, Motown refused to allow it to be included on the movie’s soundtrack — if anybody was going to buy an album with Lionel on it, goddammit, it was going to be Can’t Slow Down. Lionel and Motown eventually put the song on his Dancing on the Ceiling album, which was released in the summer of ’86.

3) What the hell’s up with the middle section? For about ten seconds, just before the three-minute mark, the song becomes an up-tempo ditty, then goes back to being a ballad. I’ve never understood this. It’s not only the tempo that doesn’t make sense; the chords don’t really make sense either. I personally think Lionel had two separate songs lying around and thought, “I’m Lionel Richie, assholes. Watch me make this work.”

4) “I had a dream. I had an awesome dream.” Bad use of the word “awesome.”

5) A young Fergie inexplicably sang it to a clown. Clowns don’t usually give me nightmares, but after finding this clip I haven’t been able to sleep.

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And now that I’ve completely scarred your Friday, I’m signing off. See you in two weeks for the first of our guest-penned CHART ATTACKS! Thanks for reading!