Hey, everybody! Welcome to another edition of CHART ATTACK! This week, we head back to the ’80s, as we tackle February 7, 1987!
10. We’re Ready – Boston Amazon iTunes
9. Will You Still Love Me? – Chicago Amazon iTunes
8. Someday – Glass Tiger Amazon iTunes
7. Keep Your Hands to Yourself – Georgia Satellites Amazon iTunes
6. Land of Confusion – Genesis Amazon iTunes
5. Touch Me (I Want Your Body) – Samantha Fox Amazon iTunes
4. Change of Heart – Cyndi Lauper Amazon iTunes
3. Livin’ on a Prayer – Bon Jovi Amazon iTunes
2. At This Moment – Billy Vera & The Beaters Amazon iTunes
1. Open Your Heart – Madonna Amazon iTunes
10. We’re Ready – Boston (download)
This is the one song on the Top 10 this week that was completely unfamiliar to me. I don’t own Third Stage, the long-awaited (like, eight years) follow-up to 1978’s Don’t Look Back. No matter, I figured — I’ll just go over to my Boston: Greatest Hits CD. “We’re Ready,” for some reason, isn’t on there. “Cool the Engines,” which didn’t even crack the Hot 100, somehow gets included, yet “We’re Ready” is omitted. So why should I even bother? If it’s not good enough for Tom Scholz, it’s not good enough for me.
Oh, fine. It’s available above for download. We might as well listen. What do you think? I’m completely underwhelmed.
9. Will You Still Love Me? – Chicago
Don’t give me shit for liking this song. I know it’s not authentic Chicago. But I grew up on this stuff, and therefore it holds a special place in my heart. It should hold a special place in your heart, too, because it was Chicago’s first hit after Cetera left the band, and don’t you think any song that essentially gives Peter Cetera his comeuppance deserves at least a little bit of credit? We all know Peter Cetera is a smug bastard. New member and bassist Jason Scheff took the lead on this one, which peaked at #3 and spent almost six months on the Hot 100. Of course, the newfound success of the band did come with a price. A few prices, actually:
1) David Foster producing and, in this case, writing;
2) Still no horns;
3) The album contained the “25 Or 6 To 4” remake that has been widely reviled by many (including our own CAPTAIN VIDEO!, although his post is now video-less).
Despite all of this, I still like this song, and I don’t have to defend it to you or anyone else. Suck it.
8. Someday – Glass Tiger
Hey, everybody! It’s the song that’s not “Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone)!” This was the second of Glass Tiger’s two Top 10 hits; two more songs reached the Top 40, although I’ve never heard ’em. When listening back to “Someday,” I was trying to figure out exactly who they sound like. It’s like a blend of Tears For Fears, Breathe, Duran Duran, and … another whiny singer I’m having a hard time recalling. Although I think both of their major hits are pretty good, “Someday” contains way more synthesized instruments. This bummed me out until the Yamaha DX-7 (aka synthmonica) made an appearance! Man, everybody jumped on the DX-7 synthmonica bandwagon, didn’t they? Were there no good harmonica players in the ’80s? Was this the Great Harmonica Depression era?
As you probably know, Glass Tiger hail from Canada, where they racked up an impressive seven Top 10 hits. “Someday,” however, wasn’t one of them. Maybe the Canadians were offended by their outfits and their terrible attempts at lip synching.
This video is GREAT! Look at that shirt! That beret! THE HEART NECKLACE! I love that he keeps wavering between preserving the illusion of a live performance by singing into the microphone, and then just aimlessly wandering away.
7. Keep Your Hands to Yourself – Georgia Satellites
I don’t know about you, but I could listen to the first seven seconds of this song over and over and over again. (And I have.) You just can’t top the authenticity of Dan Baird’s cracking voice. I mean, seriously: can you imagine a group like Georgia Satellites getting on the radio today? Never mind the fact that, except for Miss Piggy, nobody else has managed to make a dent on pop culture using the w
ords “no huggy, no kissy.” This type of authentic southern rock just doesn’t have a place on the airwaves anymore. Hell, I don’t even think of 1987 when I hear this song. I’m not sure what year I think of, but it’s not the late ’80s. “Keep Your Hands to Yourself” is, according to Songfacts, the band’s original demo; subsequent attempts to record the song for their debut on Elektra were deemed inferior. I haven’t been able to verify this, but given the loose vocal, it doesn’t seem like much of a stretch. I’m not kidding, I really love this vocal. I can’t even imagine covering this song and giving that vocal the accuracy and respect it deserves. That being said …
Artists I’d Like To Hear Cover “Keep Your Hands to Yourself”:
Here’s another fantastic video. You could fit an 8-track in between Baird’s two front teeth.
6. Land of Confusion – Genesis
What should I talk about, Chart Attackers? Am I supposed to talk about the message behind this song? Its bleak look at the political climate of the 1980s? The conflict between countries?
Or should I just talk about the really funny video?
As a kid, the meaning of this song was completely lost on me. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever actually contemplated the lyrics. All I can ever think about are those kick-ass puppets. I mean, they got Pete Townshend down perfectly! And Madonna’s bellybutton sings! What do you want from me?
So I don’t know. My guess would be that most people remember this one for the video. If Genesis was intending for their song to raise the level of political consciousness, I’m not sure they achieved much — other than informing us that Ronald Reagan is a boob. However, if they wanted airplay on both radio and television, the video — with clever puppets by the creators of the UK television show Spitting Image — certainly enabled their success. It made it to #4, and the video won a Grammy.
Oh, go ahead, watch the video again! It’s been a while, hasn’t it? And I still love that bridge just as much as I did 20 years ago.
5. Touch Me (I Want Your Body) – Samantha Fox
Some of you may know what’s coming. For those of you who don’t, you see, this is the part of CHART ATTACK! where I rant against unnecessary parentheticals in song titles. What purpose do those () serve? I mean, I suppose they support the general command of the title, but really, they’re not bringing anything to the table. It’s not like it’s new information that we couldn’t have inferred from the non-parenthetical part of the title. And I think parentheses should help us, not harm us — or, at the very least, not confuse us. Are we to now assume that there are instances where you might say to someone, “Touch me (I don’t want your body)?” Am I thinking about this too much? I guarantee Samantha Fox has never thought this much about anything. Ever.
I’ve linked to this before, but here’s a really awkward clip of Fox performing “Touch Me (I Like Parentheses)” in Istanbul in 2006. So many musicians, so many instruments, and nary a sound coming out of any of them.
4. Change of Heart – Cyndi Lauper
I don’t get this one at all. Was it supposed to be a rock song? A dance song? Both? Neither? I just think it’s unremarkable; although I’m not a big Lauper fan, her best songs are the ones that are really unique to her own style, and I don’t think this is one of them. I hate the little Lauper hiccup on each chorus, and the false slow ending is just awful. I guess I’m clearly alone on this one, as “Change of Heart” reached #3. Now, show me a cover of this one by Georgia Satellites, and I swear I’ll change my mind.
3. Livin’ on a Prayer – Bon Jovi
I want to make fun of this song. It seems like making fun of Bon Jovi is the right move. But I defy any of you (yes, any of you!) to hit those notes with the same strength as Mr. Bongiovi — especially with that brutal key change. Mike & I do a snippet of this song during our Acoustic ’80s set, and the “Liiivin’ on a Praaaaaayer!” right before the guitar solo is just so painful — both for me and the audience. How painful? I lower the key a full step, and it still hurts everyone involved.
But enough about me. Let’s look at at some good and bad things about “Livin’ on a Prayer,” and hey, it looks like I am going to make fun of this song.
Some Good And Bad Things About “Livin’ on a Prayer”:
Good: Probably pissed Mellencamp off, who felt Tommy and Gina totally stole Jack and Diane’s thunder.
Bad: The band continued to reference the dynamic duo in at least three other songs.
Good: In the video, Jon Bon Jovi soars over the audience, connected to wires.
Bad: Really strong wires.
Good: Jon provides the following quote: “I wrote that song during the Reagan era and the trickle-down economics are really inspirational to writing songs.”
Bad: We all had to read that quote.
Good: The song features the talk box.
Bad: The song also features Tico Torres.
Good: The band likes to end the song live with the riff from Derek and the Dominos’ version of “Little Wing.”
Bad: They still have to play everything that came before it.
Good: “Livin’ on a Prayer,” when played at the right time, is a pretty awesome song.
Bad: When I’m hung over and throwing up the next morning, it’s still running through my head.
And yes, the song did unfortunately inspire a band remake, “Prayer ’94,” but we can even find a bright side in this bleak moment: at least it wasn’t “25 Or 6 To 4.”
2. At This Moment – Billy Vera & the Beaters (download)
I can’t imagine there are many people who hear this song and don’t associate it with Michael J. Fox. I know I do — but then again, I associate a lot of things with Michael J. Fox. (I love Michael J. Fox. He’s my second favorite celebrity Michael, after McDonald.) The Billy Vera & the Beaters story is one of those classic comeback tales. You can read all about it on the band’s official website, but here’s the condensed version, and pay attention ’cause I doubt we’re going to discuss him on CHART ATTACK! again: Vera — who, despite a couple of minor solo hits, was primarily known as the songwriter for Dolly Parton’s “I Really Got the Feeling” — formed the Beaters in 1979, and although they gained quite a popular following at their weekly midnight shows at the Troubadour, the band couldn’t catch much of a commercial break. In 1981, the band released a live album, and reached #39 with “I Can Take Care of Myself.” The follow-up, “At This Moment,” didn’t make it any higher than #79.
In 1985, however, a producer from Family Ties came to one of the famed Troubadour shows and decided to use “At This Moment” in an episode of the show. Based on favorable viewer response, Vera — who had been without a record contract for three years — attempted to convince various record labels to re-sign the group, and allow him to re-record the song to capture the momentum. Virtually every record label turned Vera down, with only Rhino agreeing to work with him by releasing a compilation of previously-released Vera/Beaters tunes.
By the time Rhino released the album, the buzz had died down considerably; the 1985 season of Family Ties had come and gone, and even the summer reruns had passed them by. However, an episode in October of ’86 used the song once more, in a scene where a heartbroken Alex realizes his relationship with Ellen is truly over. This time, Rhino was ready, and “At This Moment” became a colossal hit. With only the limited promotion of Family Ties behind it, the song made it all the way to #1, spending a solid six weeks in the Top 10.
I think “At This Moment” is a great song, but if it’s up to me, I’m going with the single edit, which clocks in at around 3:30. The unedited version adds about 45 seconds of vocal riffing by Vera, and I’m telling you, it feels like about three years. It’s the kind of thing where it’s intriguing for a moment, then you start wondering when Daryl Hall took over Vera’s body, and then you’re looking at your watch and maybe for a pencil so you can stab it in your ears. Okay, maybe it’s not that bad, but while I’m sure it works during a live show, it sucks coming through my speakers.
The version I’m giving you is, of course, the longer one of the two. Why should I suffer all alone?
The success of “At This Moment” presented Vera with some great opportunities … including an acting career. From his website:
Many television and movie appearances followed, including one as a western-swing band in the film version of Dan Jenkins’ “Baja Oklahoma”, in which the Beaters back Willie Nelson and Billy was cast as the drunken ex-boyfriend of Leslie Ann Warren.
I’ve never heard of Baja Oklahoma. All I know is this: somewhere, at this very moment, Jeff Giles is racing to Amazon, preparing to send me a copy. It makes sense; remember CHART ATTACK! #39, where we discussed the appearance of Bryan Adams’s “Heaven” in a shitty movie called A Night In Heaven? Yeah, Jeff sent that one to me. And that one also starred Leslie Ann Warren! Anybody still reading this?
Anyway, even if you don’t recall Baja Oklahoma, surely you remember Vera’s appearance on Beverly Hills, 90210: he played Duke! You know, Duke! Yeah, I don’t know Duke, either. However, you’ll definitely recognize Vera as the voice behind the theme song to The King of Queens.
The Beaters continue to play regularly in California. I want to be in a band called the Beaters. We’d wear overcoats and that’s it.
Look how much I wrote about Billy Vera & the Beaters! Is this sad, or what?
1. Open Your Heart – Madonna
I used to giggle as a kid when I heard this song. “I hold the lock and you hold the key” was, somehow, extremely clear sexual innuendo in my mind. See, the key is his you-know-what, and the lock … never mind. Clearly I had a warped childhood.
I thought I was going to have absolutely nothing to say about “Open Your Heart,” other than the creepiness of the video, what with Madonna playing a stripper and kissing some little kid at the end, but as it turns out, I have tons of interesting (albeit ultimately useless) information about this song!
So check this out: the song was written by Gardner Cole and Peter Rafelson (son of Bob, who co-created The Monkees, directed Five Easy Pieces, and produced Easy Rider). Cole and Rafelson wrote the song and recorded a demo, intending for it to be sent to Cyndi Lauper. Guess who sang on the very first demo? Jason Scheff! Eat it, Cetera! Okay, that’s bombshell #1. The other bombshell: guess who was also interested in recording the song? The Temptations! Crazy, right?
Well, turns out that Lauper never even received the demo, and The Temptations declined to record the tune. Cole had connections at Madonna’s management, and her manager, upon hearing the song, asked Cole to re-record a demo featuring someone just a bit more girly than Jason Scheff. Cole enlisted Donna De Lory, his girlfriend at the time. Madonna changed some of the lyrics (earning her a co-write credit) and enlisted Patrick Leonard to give the song a more uptempo beat. The rest, of course, is history. Oh, and when Leonard was helping Madonna put together her 1987 Who’s That Girl tour, Cole recommended De Lory as a backup singer and dancer. De Lory has since accompanied Madonna on each of her tours.
So there you go: a bunch f things you didn’t know about “Open Your Heart,” perhaps found mildly fascinating, and have now forgotten. You’re welcome.
And that does it for another week of CHART ATTACK! See you in two weeks, when Popdose Grand Poobah Jefito takes a stab at 1974! Thanks for reading!