Hooray! CHART ATTACK! is back and this time, it’s personal. Won’t you join me in attacking yet another pop chart? This time, let’s take a look at August 16, 1986!
10. The Edge Of Heaven – Wham! Amazon iTunes
9. Take My Breath Away – Berlin Amazon iTunes
8. Rumors – Timex Social Club Amazon
7. Dancing On The Ceiling – Lionel Richie Amazon iTunes
6. Venus – Bananarama Amazon iTunes
5. We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off – Jermaine Stewart Amazon
4. Higher Love – Steve Winwood Amazon iTunes
3. Mad About You – Belinda Carlisle Amazon iTunes
2. Glory Of Love – Peter Cetera Amazon
1. Papa Don’t Preach – Madonna Amazon iTunes
10. The Edge of Heaven – Wham! (download)
We all know that I have an unexplainable, slightly embarrassing affection for most Wham! songs, right? Okay, good. Then I can just go right ahead and say that I love this song. I think it’s absolutely stupid, but extremely catchy and I love the horn section. Taken from their last album – The Final in the UK and Music From The Edge Of Heaven in the US – this song was promoted as the band’s "swan song", and featured yet another video proving that Andrew Ridgeley had little else to do other than pretend to play guitar. Plus, as it’s their "goodbye" message, there are tons of clips from previous videos, and a poignant "goodbye" message at the end. What? It’s not poignant? Well, I sure as hell thought so when I was 9. Either way, though, you gotta love George Michael in fringe.
George has actually performed this song on his recent European tour, which shocks the hell out of me. Now all I need to hear is "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" live and I’ll be set.
9. Take My Breath Away – Berlin
Here’s what you may already know about "Take My Breath Away:"
– from the soundtrack to
Debbie Does Top Gun
– huge hit (reached #1 for a week in September, ousted by Huey Lewis, that rat bastard)
– award winning (Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Song)
– officially the last we heard, or cared, about Berlin (the band, not the city)
But here’s what you may not know about "Take My Breath Away:" technically, it could be considered a cover. Soundtrack guru/Donna Summer svengali Giorgio Moroder, who wrote and produced the song, asked Martha Davis, lead singer of The Motels (discussed over at this week’s Chartburn, by the way) to sing on the demo. Davis wasn’t chosen to sing the "official" version, though, and the song remained unreleased until The Motels released it on their Anthologyland CD. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a digital version for you in time for this week’s Attack, but you can still hear it at the same place I first heard it – surprise, surprise – Coverville. (Are you still not listening to Coverville?)The demo, although recorded in a lower key, sounds eerily similar to the Berlin version, which goes to show how much influence Giorgio Moroder had on the production of the track.
Here’s what Martha had to say about it (courtesy of Pause and Play):
"It was one of two songs I heard where I said, ‘That is a hit’ (The other being The Police’s ‘Every Breath You Take’). You can say, ‘That sounds like a hit,’ but very seldom do you go ‘That song is a hit.’ Giorgio (Moroder) called me, ‘Martha, I have this song for this movie, can you come over and see me?’ I said sure. I sang it and he gave me a cassette of what I had done that day. That very cassette is the only remaining copy. No one has the actual reel-to-reel of it. (For ‘Anthologyland,’ they used the best technology to give it a rich sound.) Next thing I know, Teri Nunn had it and I was like, ‘C’est la vie.’ I’m a writer, and I’d much rather be known for something I had done. What if I had been known for doing ‘Take My Breath Away’? Would I have been overlooked for the other things that I do? So maybe it’s better that it happened that way."
That sounds exactly like what I would say if a huge hit like "Take My Breath Away" was taken away from me!
8. Rumors – Timex Social Club (download)
I take pride in boasting that I know the majority of songs that cracked the top 10 in the ’80s. However, I could not place this song for the life of me – and even when I heard it, I still had no recollection of ever hearing it. Clearly I’m alone on this one – even my wife scolded me for not remembering this song. (All night: "Are you sure you don’t know this song? How can you not know this song?") So download and let me know if you have any memories surrounding it. I did like the extreme overuse of the TR-808 cowbell (discussed in CHART ATTACK! #36). And how about some of these lyrics:
Hear the one about Tina, some say she’s much too loose
That came straight from a guy who claims he’s tastin’ her juice
Hear the one about Michael, some say he must be gay
I try to argue, but they said if he was straight he wouldn’t move that way
Hear the one about Susan, some say she’s just a tease
In a camisole she’s six feet tall, she’ll knock you to your knees
Charming. Please don’t make me write any more about Timex Social Club. Watch the video if you’d like – it’s a poor mix of live-action and cartoons. The section with the lyrics above is equally appealing.
7. Dancing On The Ceiling – Lionel Richie
Lionel Richie was on fire in 1986. "Dancing On The Ceiling" is a testament to his popularity. This song is really, really stupid. However, it’s Lionel, and it’s catchy, so it was a hit. Another song that was just perfect for MTV viewers, the video didn’t have any computer tricks: instead, it featured an expensive rotating set that gave the effect of, yes, dancing on the ceiling (and the walls). I vaguely remember seeing a documentary on MTV at the time of the video’s release, but doggone it, it’s not on YouTube. The Pop-Up Video (I love Pop-Up Video) version used to be on YouTube, but it’s been taken down. Among the facts I remember, though, are that it was the most expensive video since "Thriller" in 1984, and the director also directed Fred Astaire dancing on the ceiling in 1951’s Royal Wedding. (!!!)
Take the time out to watch this video. It’s really a classic. The outfits, the hairdos, the choreography, the keytar, Lionel’s ‘stache, the inexplicable cameo by Cheech (and one other comedian, which I won’t spoil), and the fact that you’ll probably watch the video and still wonder, "how’d they do that?"
6. Venus – Bananarama
Another cover on the charts! Actually, 1986 was the third time that "Venus" topped the charts.You may know the original version by Shocking Blue hit #1 in February of 1970, and portions of the song were included in Stars on 45’s "Medley," which hit #1 in June 1981. Okay, maybe that last one is stretching it a bit, but what the hell, let’s include it: that way, we can say it’s the only song to hit #1 three times, ever!
5. We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off – Jermaine Stewart
I guess, for the purposes of pop culture, we’ll consider Jermaine Stewart a one-hit wonder, although I’m sure one of you will point out that he did have a Top 30 in ’88. Stewart was a dancer on Soul Train and American Bandstand, and also a popular session musician. His backing vocals are all over Culture Club’s Colour By Numbers, and the band was party responsible for Stewart getting a contract with Arista Records. Another interesting fact: he released a song called "Jody," a tribute to Jody Watley (who was still in Shalamar at the time). However, this was his big hit, peaking here at #5 this week.Apparently, this song was a hit because it was in support of some sexual moderation at a time when AIDS was finally national news. Stewart unfortunately died in 1997 of liver cancer, brought on by, um, AIDS.
Honestly, I had no idea that a guy was singing this song until a few years ago. Growing up, I was convinced it was a woman. I don’t know if it’s because Stewart sounded feminine, or because even at the age of 9, I couldn’t conceive the thought of a guy making this kind of plea to a woman.
Here’s the video, which sadly edits out the really awkward spoken breakdown: "Yes, I want your body. But we don’t have to rrrrush the afaihhhhr. So you said you wanna taste my wine? Heheheheh…not yet." I try to never write things like this, but this sounds totally gay.
Mike and I are in rehearsals for our next Acoustic ’80s gig (tentatively set for September 8th if you’re in town). I usually don’t spoil our song choices, but I’ll tell you that we’ve figured this one out on guitar and are debating who’s going to sing it. We both do a pretty good job. (I have to lower the song a key, though.)
4. Higher Love – Steve Winwood
Embarrassing Jason Hare story: in fifth grade, our teacher decided we were going to put on a show for the school, featuring kids in the class singing, dancing, etc. (If I remember correctly, I played a few songs on piano and bored an entire auditorium to tears.) There was only one "group" number, and it involved the entire class doing a choreographed dance to "Higher Love." Why "Higher Love?" No clue. Why was I placed FRONT and CENTER? Well, because I was the best dancer, dammit. It actually wasn’t even dancing. It was very easy moves back and forth, some turns, and I’ve psychologically blocked the rest out. My face is turning red. I have to talk about something else. "Higher Love" was yet another collaboration between Winwood and Will Jennings, who had been successfully collaborating for a number of years (we covered their collaboration a bit in CHART ATTACK! #28), and although it performed admirably (#1 hit, won Grammy Awards for both Best Male Pop Vocal Performance and Record of the Year), it actually wasn’t Winwood’s biggest hit – I was surprised to find out that "Roll With It" actually did just a bit better on the charts. Still, it remained in the Top 10 for six weeks, and featured some great backing vocals by Chaka Khan. (Chaka Khan. Chaka Khan Chaka Khan.)
3. Mad About You – Belinda Carlisle
And here we have the song that introduced Belinda Carlisle, the solo artist. "Mad About You" was Carlisle’s first post-Go-Go’s single, and peaked this week here at #3. Of Belinda’s Top 20 singles, I think "Mad About You" is probably the least earworm-y of the bunch. Also, I think I may have mentioned this before, but Belinda Carlisle is ridiculously hot, and therefore I will forgive her for just about anything. Even the stuff co-written by Diane Warren.
Here’s the video! The object of her affection in the video is Morgan Mason, who became her husband. Also, look for a cameo from Andy Taylor from Duran Duran. It’s not as exciting as Cheech, but we’ll take it.
2. Glory of Love – Peter Cetera
In Chartburn this week, I defend Phil Collins’ "You’ll Be In My Heart." I knew I’d be in the minority (only Robert agreed with me), but I was comfortable standing up for the song. My point, although somewhat convoluted, is that I can’t imagine anybody standing up for "Glory Of Love." If you want to defend it, by all means, do so in the comments. But this song doesn’t just suck. It suuuuuuuuuucks. Plus, it’s an earworm. So take the suckiness, add the earworm, and cap it off with the fact that Mike and I were forced (forced!) to sing it in middle-school chorus, and you can see why I hate it so much, right?
And the video! Oh, the video. The problem with…wait a minute. Who’s that? Could it be…?
Yes! It’s CAPTAIN VIDEO! And he’s performed his bravest, noblest task of all – he’s watched extreme close-ups of Peter Cetera. Bless you, CAPTAIN VIDEO!, for all that you have done in the name of snark. Read on, my friends.
1. Papa Don’t Preach – Madonna
Madonna goes political, y’all. And she doesn’t care what Danny Aiello says. She’s made up her mind: she’s keeping her baby. Uhnnh. She’s gonna keep her baby. Oooh! Ohhh! Although Madonna refused to take a stance on the issue of abortion, the song clearly put forth a strong opinion, and marks the last time she was ever commended by Catholics. Also, here’s a bone-chilling thought: Dave Marsh, in his review of the song, called the opening cellos "Beatlesque."
Take a look at the dramatic video! And keep in mind, Danny Aiello was really an unknown at this point in his career. You’re welcome, Danny!
And thus concludes this week’s CHART ATTACK! See you next Friday!