Happy Friday and welcome to another edition of CHART ATTACK! So last time we met here to dissect a Billboard chart, it was a Top 10 from 1971, and I got my ass handed to me by readers who (rightfully) corrected me on a million small errors I made (okay, okay, it was a Tony Orlando impersonator, not Tony Orlando! I’m sorry!). So this week, to try and save face, I thought I’d fast-forward ahead 20 years to a chart you probably don’t care about. That being said, if I botched something here, keep it to yourself let me know. Sit back and try to enjoy our journey back to March 16, 1991!
10. Hold You Tight — Tara Kemp Amazon iTunes
9. Where Does My Heart Beat Now — Celine Dion Amazon iTunes
8. Get Here — Oleta Adams Amazon iTunes
7. All the Man That I Need — Whitney Houston Amazon iTunes
6. This House — Tracie Spencer Amazon iTunes
5. All This Time — Sting Amazon iTunes
4. Coming Out of the Dark — Gloria Estefan Amazon iTunes
3. Show Me the Way — Styx Amazon iTunes
2. One More Try — Timmy T Amazon iTunes
1. Someday — Mariah Carey Amazon iTunes
10. Hold You Tight — Tara Kemp
Anybody remember Tara Kemp? She had two singles in the Top 10, this one (which peaked at #3) and “Piece of My Heart,” which reached #7. This song vaguely rang a bell, but I’m not sure why: it really doesn’t have anything original going for it. It never changes chords and the drum beat seems as it was ripped off of Soul II Soul. Even worse, the song has quite a few irritating qualities. Let’s start with the “oh, whoa” that is clearly supposed to be the clever hook of the song.
Then let’s build on that with a synth riff that my dog could have written.
Then, let’s take the part where Tara breaks it down with some funky singing.
What the hell is that yelp at the beginning? On its own, it’s actually quite creepy. Imagine being married to Tara Kemp and hearing this whenever you forgot to take out the garbage.
And yet…at 2 A.M. last night, I couldn’t get “Hold You Tight” out of my head.
9. Where Does My Heart Beat Now — Celine Dion
I’m not gonna lie to you: I owned this album. I bought it after I heard her knock her vocal in “Voices That Care” out of the park. And although I only listened to it once and I don’t remember any of other songs, I’ll step up and defend this one. I think it’s a strong ballad and was a great choice to introduce Celine to the American audience: the single went to #4 and became the first of her ten Top 10 singles. And here’s a surprise for you (and me): this single was not produced by David Foster!
You were all expecting me to rip Celine apart, right? I can’t do it. I know it’s the popular thing to do, but I can’t really find any reason to dislike her. She has a fantastic voice, and she gives your mom a reason to still buy music. That should be enough right there, but if it’s not, you should watch this video (if you haven’t already). It’s obviously trying to be snarky, but I think it kind of fails in that regard.
8. Get Here — Oleta Adams (download)
Here’s what I’ve learned about Oleta Adams and “Get Here”:
1) She was discovered by Tears for Fears! They found her in a bar (singing, I presume) in Kansas City. She sang “Woman in Chains” with Roland Orzabal on The Seeds of Love, and opened for them on their subsequent tour.
2) “Get Here” was written and originally recorded by Brenda Russell in 1986 on her album entitled, um, Get Here. It wasn’t a single, although this was the album that brought us the awesome “Piano in the Dark,” featuring Joe “Bean” Esposito, whom Jeff and I interviewed for Lost Soundtrack Classics, a series we can’t seem to continue ’cause we suck. Anyway, um, yeah. Brenda Russell.
3) Adams first heard the song while in a record store in Stockholm, Sweden…and Russell was in Stockholm when she initially wrote it. Craaaaazy!
4) “Get Here” has been covered by a zillion artists, but nobody (including Brenda) can touch Adams’ phenomenal version. That’s my opinion, but you’re free to listen to covers by Barbara Mandrell, Betty Buckley, Justin Guarini, Livingston Taylor, or stupid-ass Paul Anka and present your argument in the comments. I think I’m gonna win, though.
5) The lyric “cross the desert like an Arab man” is just weird.
7. All the Man That I Need — Whitney Houston
I bet you didn’t know that Dean Pitchford (“Fame,” “Footloose”) wrote this song! I bet you didn’t care, either! Well, it’s true. Pitchford co-wrote it with Michael Gore way back in 1981 for an artist named Linda Clifford, who had appeared on the Fame soundtrack. Additionally, Sister Sledge recorded it as a duet with David Simmons (?) in ’82. The song didn’t find any success, but five years later, Pitchford pitched (groan) the song to Clive Davis as a great vehicle for Houston. Davis loved the song, but Houston had just finished work on her second album, Whitney, and asked Pitchford if he could hold on to it until the sessions for her third album.
Nearly five years went by, and although other artists contacted Pitchford about recording the song, he declined all offers. Houston eventually recorded the song for I’m Your Baby Tonight, and it was worth the wait — the song topped the Hot 100 as well as the AC and R&B charts. And though ten years went by between the two versions, Luther Vandross sang backing vocals on both. Surely you must care just a little now, right? That was kind of a cool story.
6. This House — Tracie Spencer
We got to face it heart to heart
We have to make a brand new start
We got to change the tears to smiles
We have to go the exta mile
It’s time we face reality
Give them hope and set them free
I think it’s time we say goodbye
To all the homeless people’s cry
When co-writer Matt Sherrod auditioned to play drums for both Beck and the reunited Crowded House, I’m hope he kept this ditty off his rÃ©sumÃ©. It’s the dumbest song attempting to rail against social injustice since White Lion’s “When the Children Cry.” (Probably not true.)
Here’s the video, which does nothing to help its supposed message.
5. All This Time — Sting
If you ever want to know what “All This Time” is about, look no further than Sting’s official website, where you will find at least ten separate comments taken from interviews regarding this song’s meaning. On the surface, the song is a tale of someone wanting to bury his father at sea instead of going through the traditional Catholic rituals. (Sting calls this “black comedy.” I don’t think that term means what he thinks it means.) Sting relates the chorus (“All this time, the river flows endlessly to the sea”) to the death of his own father, and the comfort he took in knowing that as one life ends, many must carry on — and I can certainly get behind that thought.
None of this, however, explains why Melanie Griffith shows up at 1:18 to give Sting a manicure on a ship.
4. Coming Out of the Dark — Gloria Estefan
Does anybody else remember hearing this song for the first time during the American Music Awards? It was Estefan’s big “comeback” moment, occurring almost a year after an accident where a tractor-trailer crashed into her tour bus and fractured her spine. I remember Jon Bon Jovi introduced her, with his big hair and douchebag bandanna. That moment is missing from this clip (thankfully), but you can’t miss the love that Estefan receives from the audience.
Keep in mind that in 1990, the public didn’t really know much about Estefan’s condition after the accident — the paparazzi weren’t around, and the only pictures anyone had seen were of Estefan being airlifted to the hospital and being wheeled out 10 days later — so her comeback really was quite huge at the time. “Coming Out of the Dark” was obviously her single reflecting on the accident, co-written by Estefan, her husband Emilio, and Jon Secada, and topped the charts at the end of March. It was Estefan’s last #1 single, and her last Top 10 until 1999’s “Music of My Heart.”
3. Show Me the Way — Styx (download)
I’m disappointed in myself. In my mind, I’ve used the phrase “Suck it, Tommy Shaw!” in CHART ATTACK! entries at least three or four times, but a look through my archives shows that while I’ve certainly insulted him on multiple occasions, I’ve only actually said “Suck it, Tommy Shaw!” once. (My favorite Shaw insult is when I wrote “I like to imagine Tommy Shaw getting angry” and Jeff responded, “I like to imagine Tommy Shaw getting eaten by seals.”) Anyway, while both Shaw and DeYoung left Styx after the Kilroy Was Here debacle (if you haven’t seen the Behind the Music where Shaw talks about performing the “opera” in Texas and fearing for his life, you’re missing out), DeYoung returned to the band in 1990 and released this single. The song was released as the Gulf War began, and many DJs inserted voice messages from parents to their kids heading off to war. So while I’m sure Shaw left Styx and thought “they’ll never succeed without me and my creepy man/boy-face,” it turns out they managed a #3 hit, their first since “Mr. Roboto.” So suck it, Tommy Shaw!
(I realize this argument is a little flawed: Shaw had a #3 hit with Damn Yankees and “High Enough,” and at least Shaw never wrote a song called “High Crimes & Misdemeanors (Hip Hop-Cracy).” But are you really going to deny me this moment?)
You know Shaw hated having to do this:
2. One More Try — Timmy T
So when I’m writing about songs for this series, I sometimes refer to a fantastic book, The Billboard Book of Number 1 Hits by Fred Bronson. It’s highly recommended. Anyway, it’s times like these where I feel bad for poor ol’ Fred. “One More Try” was a #1 hit, which means that he had to go back and find out all these facts about Timmy Torres, aka Timmy T, like this little nugget: “Timmy entertained at children’s parties, producing and starring in his own cable TV series as a puppeteer when he was 14. ‘Herman and the Little People’ aired every Monday in Fresno.” That’s at least an hour of Fred’s life that he’ll never have back — and that’s only one paragraph. (It gets worse as we enter the 21st century, where Fred finds himself inexplicably writing about Crazy Town’s “Butterfly.”)
There is something interesting — and commendable — thing about Timmy T, though. (When can I stop calling him Timmy T? Or even Timmy? Jesus, the man is 42, it’s not like he’s Soupy Sales.) Timmy got his record deal all on his own. He wrote, produced and played all the instruments on a song called “Time After Time.” He wrote it for a girl he was dating, who passed it around, and based on positive comments, Timmy started shopping it to radio stations. Shortly, “Time After Time” was being played on numerous California radio stations, and Timmy got a deal with Quality Records (based in…Canada). Timmy wrote “One More Try” for the same girl (give it up, dude!), and after an edit suggested by the record company, the song was released to radio and made it all the way to #2 on the charts. Not bad, considering the song only cost him $200 to record. (You can tell.)
Did you guys know that Timmy has his own YouTube channel, where he frequently posts videos of himself, both new and old? (Of course you did!) Why don’t you head over there and watch Timmy get freaked by chubby women while singing a flat version of “One More Try” at Cinco de Mayo 2007? Or watch Timmy pointing a camcorder at the TV while he plays back a video tape of his appearance on Regis and Kathie Lee? I can’t make this shit up.
Here’s the original stupid version. Why do I feel like the Timmy T fans are going to make their way over here and give me hell, Benny Mardones-style?
1. Someday — Mariah Carey
I miss playful, super-voiced Mariah Carey. I have to give her the credit she deserves — she’s one of the few pop/R&B artists from the ’90s that has managed to keep up with current trends — but we’re never going to hear a song like this from her again. I guess that’s okay — new jack swing would sound weird in 2009 anyway — but I miss the days when Carey sang the shit out of songs.
“Someday” was included on the demo tape that Carey created with co-writer/co-producer Ben Margulies, the one that Brenda K. Starr gave to Tommy Mottola at CBS. Although Mottola kept much of the arrangement of their demo, he wouldn’t allow either Carey or Margulies to produce the finished version, which was done by Ric Wake and later remixed by Shep Pettibone. The video of the song is Shep’s 7″ remix, which is fairly obvious if you’re somewhat familiar with Pettibone’s remixes — there’s TR-808 cowbell all over this thing.
Look at lil’ Mariah! Wearing clothes and everything! Man, the times do change. “Someday” was the third single from Mariah Carey, and her third of four consecutive singles to reach #1. The third of 18, I might add, which is still the record for a solo artist. Again, she may not sing like she used to, but she knows how to release a hit single.
Holy cow, the week is through! If you hated this chart, have no fear: we won’t be hitting the ’90s again until July. Thanks for reading!