Hey, hey, hey! It’s Friday, and you know what that (sometimes) means! That’s right, it’s time to take a look at another Billboard Top 10 from ages past, and today we’re heading back a full 20 years to see what the charts were like on May 13, 1989!
10. Wind Beneath My Wings — Bette Midler Amazon iTunes
9. Patience — Guns n’ Roses Amazon iTunes
8. Rock On — Michael Damian Amazon iTunes
7. Second Chance — 38 Special Amazon iTunes
6. After All — Cher and Peter Cetera Amazon iTunes
5. Soldier of Love — Donny Osmond Amazon iTunes
4. Forever Your Girl — Paula Abdul Amazon iTunes
3. Real Love — Jody Watley Amazon iTunes
2. Like a Prayer — Madonna Amazon iTunes
1. I’ll Be There for You — Bon Jovi Amazon iTunes
10. Wind Beneath My Wings — Bette Midler
I try to stay away from directly quoting Wikipedia entries, but this sentence is just perfect: “Because of the song’s soaring imagery and the extreme earnestness of Midler’s iconic performance, the song has become ripe for parody.” I mean, that’s totally it, isn’t it? It doesn’t really get any more earnest than this, unless you count “From a Distance,” which was totally Midler’s (successful) attempt to repeat her newfound success as an inspirational singer. Midler didn’t actually care for the song when she first heard it — she was convinced to do it by Marc Shaiman, her long-time musical director (as well as the genius behind the songs in the Broadway version of Hairspray and a million other movies, including South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut and Team America: World Police). The song won Grammy awards for both Record of the Year and Song of the Year, but strangely lost the Earworm of the Year award to “Love Shack.”
Although the song will always be tied to Bette Midler, she was far from the first person to record it. The song was written in 1982 by Jeff Silbar and Larry Henley, and was first rejected by Kenny Rogers and Barry Manilow. (When Barry Manilow is turning down your sappy song, you know you’re in trouble.) Artists who recorded the song before Midler include Roger Whittaker, Sheena Easton, Lou Rawls, Lee Greenwood, B.J. Thomas, Gladys Knight (her version was called “Hero”) and Gary Morris, who recorded a country version, much to the chagrin of Silbar and Henley…until it won Song of the Year at the Country Music Awards. Apparently when Morris performs it, he often says “Bette is free to sing this however she wants, but personally, I think she butchered it.” Har!
My favorite version, however, is the duet between Midler and Krusty.
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9. Patience — Guns n’ Roses
Written by Izzy Stradlin, “Patience” peaked at #4 on the charts and, recorded in a single session with three acoustic guitars, clearly showed a different side of the band. It very clearly said to audiences that Guns n’ Roses wasn’t just happy getting with teenage girls backstage. They wanted their mothers, too. Even my Lionel Richie-lovin’ mother liked this song…until the end when Axl started that “awful screaming” (which is kind of my favorite part of the song). By the way, I wish people would take that specific vocal section into account before they decide to sing this song at karaoke. It’s always painful.
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8. Rock On — Michael Damian (download)
What’s sadder: the fact that I hadn’t heard “Rock On” before Damian’s version, or that I can immediately tell you that this was on the soundtrack to Dream a Little Dream, the movie starring Corey Feldman and Corey Haim? Both are pretty sad, don’t you think? I agree. (I’m sure Kelly Stitzel is with me on this one.)
You may be thinking what I’m thinking: Michael Damian, “Rock On,” total one-hit wonder, right? Actually, it turns out that he’s had two other hits in the Top 40, both in 1989: “Was It Nothing At All” made it all the way to #24, and “Cover of Love” reached #31. Damian had recorded “Rock On” a couple of years earlier in his garage with his two brothers, but it was rejected by most record labels. Dream a Little Dream director Mark Rocco asked Damian’s brothers if they could write some music for the soundtrack, and they brought him “Rock On.” The track reached #1 in early June and surpassed the original, a #5 for David Essex in ’74.
Apart from “Rock On,” Damian’s had numerous successes: he played a lead role on The Young and the Restless for 18 years, appeared in the revival of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (and earned a Grammy nomination), and even won the BMI Songwriting Award for “Was It Nothing At All.” Furthermore, he’s directed two award-winning independent films! So there’s no mocking Damian here, folks. This guy hasn’t really done anything to…aw, Jesus. Wait a second.
That’s right. He went and did it. Click on the picture above, where you can stroll over to iTunes and download songs like “Rock On ’09” and “Was It Nothing At All ’09.” Granted, from the 30 second sample I heard (I’m not buying it!), the ’09 version of “Rock On” didn’t sound too terrible, but why do all these artists eventually go back and make remakes that nobody asked for?
7. Second Chance — 38 Special (download)
Why did 38 Special cross the street?
To get to the middle of the road.
38 Special was capable of some actual rocking in their career, as evidenced by 1982’s semi-rocker “Caught Up in You,” which reached #10 — and they’ve even rocked in recent years, as we discovered when Jeff and I reviewed their album with the creepy eyeball for Mellowmas. But not here. Nope, the biggest success of their career was with this schmaltzy tune featuring some of the most blatant begging I’ve ever heard. It’s almost Mellow Gold in that regard. And I don’t know if he even says what he did wrong. (My vote: he had sex with a dead guy.)
Wait a second, here it is! “I never loved her / I never needed her / She was willing and that’s all there is to say.” Oh, this is rich! So his wang was the cause of the problem, but now it’s “the heart” that needs a second chance? I love it. Has anybody ever listened to these lyrics, or am I the only one? And on that note, I think I’ve said this before, but the only way I’d give this song a pass is if he sang “Since you’ve been gone, my hand’s in my pants.” ‘Cause that’s what we’re really talking about, right?
6. After All — Cher and Peter Cetera
Seriously, Cetera? You felt as if you hadn’t infected enough first dances at weddings with “You’re the Inspiration”? You just had to have more, didn’t you. This just furthers my theory that Peter Cetera is some kind of evil overlord at least partially responsible for the downfall of western civilization. Or at least adult contemporary music.
If you’re not hearing much chemistry between these two artists, it’s not just you. First of all, they’re both partially made of plastic. It’s like trying to make Barbie and Ken sing together, except that these two are much, much uglier. But apart from that, they also weren’t in the studio together at all when the song was recorded. I don’t think anybody has wept over this. Anyway, this is song was another winner for co-writer Dean Pitchford, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song. (Oddly enough, the movie from whence it came, Chances Are, did not garner any Oscar nominations).
Here’s Peter Cetera performing the song live. I only include this clip because it’s titled “Peter Cetera and Woman – After All.” I just like that the person capitalized “woman.”
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5. Soldier of Love — Donny Osmond (download)
Do you remember how we wound up making this song a #2 hit? All across the country, radio stations played this song but claimed it was from a “mystery artist.” A brilliant move by the record company. Personally, here’s how I’m betting it went down:
Capitol Records: Hey, radio stations! We want you to spin the hell out of this song, but we’re not going to tell you who’s singing, and if you find out, you can’t tell your listeners.
Radio stations: What kind of bullshit is this? We’re not going to play a song by an unknown artist. Who do you think you…
Capitol Records: Here’s $10,000.
Radio stations: Ladies and gentlemen! Here’s a great song called “Soldier of Love,” but we’re keeping the artist a mystery! We thought of it ourselves!
…and it worked! Do you know why it worked? Because who was going to call up the radio station and go, “Hey, I recognize that voice! It’s Donny Osmond!” You don’t want to be that guy! And so it continued:
Audience: This song is great! There’s not a real instrument to be found anywhere! We love it because we’re living in 1989! You have to tell us who it is! Where can we buy it?
Radio stations: No! We’re not going to tell you! You have to keep listening to our station!
Audience: Please! We must know!
Radio stations: Okay, we’ll tell you. It’s Donny Osmond!
Audience: Wow! Donny Osmond? Um, wow! I never would’ve…wait a minute…this song sucks!
And that’s kind of the story of how “Soldier of Love” went from its peak position of #2 to #8 to #19 to #37, etc…or at least how I see it, anyway.
I tried to embed a “Soldier of Love” clip here to torture you all, but as it turns out, just about every single “Soldier of Love” video on YouTube has embedding disabled. You got lucky this time.
4. Forever Your Girl — Paula Abdul
If I can’t get you to watch a Donny Osmond clip, you can sure as hell bet I’m going to find a Paula Abdul clip. Hang on…here’s one of her performing “Forever Your Girl” in Japan. Check out that outfit. We’re not moving from this spot until you watch this whole thing, dammit. Okay, okay, make it to, like, 6:41 and I’ll let you go.
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Given the mess of crazy she is now, it’s hard to remember that Paula Abdul had unbelievable success in 1989. Her debut album had a slow start (it spent something like 62 weeks on the chart before hitting #1), but once “Straight Up” hit, the record company quickly set about remixing and releasing other singles from the album. “Forever Your Girl” was the second single to top the charts, followed by “Cold Hearted” (which I like) and “Opposites Attract” (which I don’t want to like, but kind of do). It was written and produced by Oliver Leiber — the son of Jerry Leiber (Leiber & Stoller). Leiber had written “The Way That You Love Me” and had intended for it to be recorded by Chaka Khan, but his manager persuaded him to give it to the then-unknown Abdul. Leiber consented, as long as Abdul also recorded “Forever Your Girl.” There. You no longer need to know anything more about this song ever again.
3. Real Love — Jody Watley
If you’re like me — and for the love of God, I hope you aren’t — you may be wondering what the hell happened to Jody Watley. Thankfully, our very own DJ D has the answer to all of your questions in last month’s Future Retro column. Or maybe you weren’t concerned at all about Jody Watley. In that case, carry on. Although the song peaked at #2, “Real Love” was her fourth hit to reach the Top 10, and the video — directed by David Fincher — was nominated for seven MTV VMAs, a record that wasn’t topped until the Jackson sisters’ duet of “Scream” in 1995. This is the extended version of the video.
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2. Like a Prayer — Madonna
I actually covered this song in a previous CHART ATTACK!, so I won’t go into too much redundant detail here. I’ll just say that I truly love this song and pretty much this entire album, and it’s when I think about Like a Prayer that I really miss buying CDs. My CD booklet was scented with patchouli oil. (I should be specific here: Madonna’s record company did this. I didn’t, like, buy it and then spray it with patchouli. That’d be mega-creepy. I’m relatively certain there are writers on our staff who’d do that, but not me.) 20 years later, I can still smell a little of the patchouli. As far as I know, they do not make patchouli-scented mp3s.
1. I’ll Be There for You — Bon Jovi
So sensitive! So clichÃ©d! So determined to give Richie Sambora something to sing! Do you think Jon is ever sitting there thinking, “Why won’t you just shut the fuck up and play guitar? Stop reiterating every line I just sang.”
In addition to the clichÃ©d “you left me drowning in my tears” line, the lyric “when you get drunk, I’ll be the wine” bothers me. Any wine that you drink when you’re already drunk usually leads to regret, nausea or, at the very least, a slammin’ headache. Bad songwriting, Mr. Bon Jovi! You should’ve said “When you want to get drunk, I’ll be the wine,” or better yet, you should’ve said nothing at all.
This song is relatively inoffensive, other than Sambora screaming in the verses (or are those pre-choruses?) (Who cares?) and the truck driver’s gear change. Not that anybody needs to know this, but in Acoustic ’80s, we’ve found that it’s very easy to switch from “Never Say Goodbye” to “I’ll Be There for You” in our Bon Jovi medley, and barely anyone will notice that we even switched songs. Once the lighters are up, they stay up!
“I’ll Be There for You” topped the chart for one week, and was the final of four #1 singles for the band.I will give credit where credit is due: both Bon Jovi and Sambora do kind of sing the hell out of it. Check out this surprisingly good clip from ’88.
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And holy crap, that’s another Top 10 rundown! Thanks so much for reading and we’ll see you back here soon! Have a great weekend!