Hello again, folks! Last time we met, we reviewed a pretty awesome chart from June of 1975. Well, since I choose these charts pretty much at random, you had to know it was inevitable that our luck might not hold out. Or did it? I’ll be interested in hearing what you think — let’s take a look at the pop-filled chart for the week ending July 19, 1986!
10. Love Touch — Rod Stewart Amazon iTunes
9. Your Wildest Dreams — The Moody Blues Amazon iTunes
8. There’ll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry) — Billy Ocean Amazon iTunes
7. Glory of Love — Peter Cetera Amazon iTunes
6. Who’s Johnny — El DeBarge Amazon iTunes
5. Holding Back the Years — Simply Red Amazon iTunes
4. Danger Zone — Kenny Loggins Amazon iTunes
3. Nasty — Janet Jackson Amazon iTunes
2. Sledgehammer — Peter Gabriel Amazon iTunes
1. Invisible Touch — Genesis Amazon iTunes
10. Love Touch — Rod Stewart
Even in 1986, how did Rod Stewart keep a straight face when singing the line “I’m gonna give you my love touch”? No, even worse, let’s look at the middle of the song, where Rod actually sings “Oooh, you’re gonna get a/oooh, you’re gonna get a big love touch.” That’s the worst of the bunch. “A big love touch”? Shame on you, Rod. I’d even take you making love to the camera a la “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?” over this dreck. And who had the idea for steel drums? What a terrible idea! Although I think it’d be fun to go to the Bahamas and ask a traditional steel drum band if they know “Love Touch.” (C’mon, do we really need to hear them play Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” yet again?)
All this being said…for some inexplicable reason, I like the chorus of this song. (Well, up until he says the words “love” and “touch,” anyway.) I specifically love the line “Just gimme a chance!” because of the way he pronounces “chance.” It sounds like Harry Caray.
This is the first of four songs on this week’s chart taken from a movie soundtrack. This one in particular is from Legal Eagles, and some brilliant director decided to set the (awful) video in a courtroom, inserting scenes from the movie featuring Robert Redford, Debra Winger and Daryl Hannah. Fortunately, all three actors had the good sense to not make themselves available for the video, unlike another certain movie star…well, you’ll see.
8. There’ll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry) — Billy Ocean
I’ve railed on this before, but I have to once again give Billy Ocean credit (or give him no credit) for use of a really awkward contraction. Who the hell uses “there’ll” in a song title? I’ll have you know (’cause I looked it up) that “there’ll” hasn’t really been popular as a song title since “There’ll Be Some Changes Made” in the 1920s. And for the record, not one song with “there’ll” in the title has reached the Hot 100 since this one.
But hang on, I’m not done being pissed. You probably already know how much I can’t stand parentheses in song titles. Same here: we don’t need ’em! What the hell was he concerned about? “There’ll Be Sad Songs” wasn’t enough for us to know what point he was trying to make? Was he concerned that without the parentheses, we’d think maybe these sad songs would make us laugh? Hiccup? Crap our pants? Was he worried that without the parentheses, we’d confuse it with Elton’s “Sad Songs (Say So Much),” which also has ’em? Why do I let my blood pressure spike over this?
Believe it or not, this song actually made it to #1. That’s right: it beat “Suddenly,” it beat “Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car” and it beat “When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going,” all of which I think are superior to this song (“superior” being a relative term, although “Suddenly” is awesome no matter what). It was from the follow-up to Billy’s Suddenly album, Love Zone, which is where you go to get a big love touch.
Here’s the video. Watch for the twist at the end, when (spoiler alert!) the woman ditches Billy Ocean for…Billy Ocean.
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7. Glory of Love — Peter Cetera
So I’m sitting here writing, right? And I reach over to grab one of my Billboard reference books, and this is what I see:
And before I know it, I’m out of my chair, jumping up and down, yelling “Pounce! Pounce!” but he just wouldn’t do it. If my cat won’t instinctually attack an old lesbian like Peter Cetera, then clearly he’s good for nothing.
“Glory of Love” was Cetera’s first solo hit, reaching #1 on the pop charts, and essentially served as a “suck it” to Chicago, who weren’t cool with him remaining in the band while pursuing a solo career. (That’s right: Chicago essentially fired Cetera.) The song won an ASCAP Award for Most Performed Song From a Motion Picture and a BMI Film & TV Award for Most Performed Song From a Film, which makes sense, because I never want to hear this song again for the rest of my life. I had nothing against it when it was released on the Karate Kid II soundtrack, but it was just overplayed to pieces. Am I the only one who had to sing it in the school chorus? God, it was torture. Why couldn’t I have been in a cool chorus like the PS22 kids?
6. Who’s Johnny — El DeBarge (download)
See, these are ideas that seemed totally awesome in 1986 but colossally horrendous in, oh, any other year: a movie featuring Ally Sheedy and Steve Guttenberg as the romantic leads, and a theme song by El DeBarge. The only idea that seems to still hold up is the movie itself, since I just read that a remake is on the way. Hollywood is out of ideas yet again! Here’s my favorite quote from the article, from the producer, David Foster (hopefully no relation): “We think of Wall-E as an extended trailer for our film, because it’s the same face.” Yes, David. Wall-E was merely a trailer for your film, the remake of Short Circuit. The main event. Somewhere, Fisher Stevens is frantically phoning his agent.
But back to “Who’s Johnny.” I’ve listened to this song 20 times and I still have no idea who the fuck Johnny is. His name is mentioned 47 times. I counted. And I actually think the song is somewhat catchy, which disappoints the hell out of me. The real gold, though, is in the video. I can’t believe it either, but it’s the second song of the week to have a video that ties in with the movie, and puts the lead singer on the stand in a courtroom. Seriously. This one features a mock trial for Sheedy and Guttenberg — only they couldn’t get Guttenberg (yes, Virginia, ’twas a time when Steve Guttenberg could play hard to get), so they used a black-and-white cardboard cutout. Poor Sheedy is stuck “on trial” and, at the end, she has to pretend she’s somewhat attracted to El DeBarge and his pencil-thin mustache. Someone should have told him after “Rhythm of the Night” that the ‘stache was only hurting his attempts at masculinity. And they couldn’t afford to actually get the Johnny 5 robot, so we just see a robotic hand at certain points. It’s the kind of video that got massive airplay in 1986…and then, deservedly, never again.
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5. Holding Back the Years — Simply Red (download)
It surprises me that this song made it to #1. I don’t have much against it, it’s just that it really doesn’t go anywhere musically (just two chords), and doesn’t get to the chorus until halfway through — it seems like an unlikely chart-topper. I think I’m also bitter that an awesome song like “Stars” (download) didn’t even make it into the Top 40.
Vocalist Mick Hucknall wrote most of the song when he was 17, and originally recorded it with his former group, the Frantic Elevators. (I tried to find this version for you, but had no luck.) The Simply Red release became one of two #1 hits for the band, the second being their cover of “If You Don’t Know Me By Now,” another really slow song. Maybe America just prefers their Simply Red slow. (I prefer my Simply Red red.) By the way, I would actually be okay with parentheses with that last song title. How awesome would it be if the song was called “If You Don’t Know Me By Now (You Will Never, Never, Never Know Me, Oooh)”?
After all this time, Hucknall still wails the hell out of this song. Here’s a performance from the ViÃ±a del Mar International Song Festival in February of this year. You’ll notice the chorus shows up a lot earlier. Gotta give the people what they want, Mick!
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4. Danger Zone — Kenny Loggins
Kenny Loggins has had five songs in the Top 10. Of those five, four have been from soundtracks. (The fifth is Dave Lifton’s favorite song, “Whenever I Call You Friend.”) Loggins had already had two movie hits by the time “Danger Zone” was released — “I’m Alright” and “Footloose” — and yet, he was actually the songwriters’ third choice to record the song. First, they asked Bryan Adams, who apparently rejected the song because he was uncomfortable with the jingoism in the movie (way to know what jingoism is, Bryan Adams!). Then Toto were approached to record it, but due to legal issues, had to turn it down. Kind of a shame, because I’m dying to know what this song would sound like if recorded by Toto. Loggins had already written the homoerotic “Playing With the Boys” for the soundtrack, and had no problem with being third fiddle. He took the song to #2, despite inane lyrics like “you never say hello to you until you get it on the red line overload.” What the hell does that mean? And why do you need a highway to the danger zone? Isn’t this song in Top Gun, a movie about planes? What highway are we talking about here?
Here’s the video, with Loggins rockin’ his beard and some bitchin’ sunglasses.
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3. Nasty — Janet Jackson
Did you know that Janet Jackson was not the first artist approached to record this song? First Bryan Adams turned it down, but was uncomfortable with the song’s jingoistic sentiments. True story.
I think “Nasty” is a phenomenal song, but I’m not sure I understand it fully. She doesn’t like nasty boys? Or she does? See, first she says that the only thing she likes is a nasty groove (and who doesn’t?), but then she wants to see the guy’s nasty body move. So I don’t know. Mixed messages. And of course, when Janet finally decided to get nasty for herself, nobody found it remotely interesting. And are we all in agreement here that, if we subscribe to the convention of the song, that Janet Jackson’s real name is Janet Privacy Control? Or, if you’re nasty, Ms. Jackson Privacy Control? That seems like a weird name either way.
Here’s the video, featuring Paula Abdul (her choreographer) as one of her best friends. These guys are really considered nasty? ‘Cause most of them are doing ballet moves. I’m just saying.
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2. Sledgehammer — Peter Gabriel
I’ve put up YouTube videos for most of the songs this week (it’s 1986, after all), but if I were only to put up one, it’d have to be the video for “Sledgehammer.” Most of the video was designed by Aardman Animations, the team behind the stop motion clay animations of Wallace and Gromit (Nick Park, Wallace and Gromit creator, designed the “chicken dance” at the 3-minute mark). The video won a total of nine Video Music Awards, and was once listed as the most frequently played video on MTV. Gabriel supposedly spent eight 16-hour days lying under glass with his head supported by a steel pole in order to film the video.
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“Sledgehammer” is a fantastic song and works quite well on its own, thanks in part to the fine work of the Memphis Horns, but there’s no doubt that the video gave Gabriel an entirely new audience. I know that as a 9-year-old, I would have had no idea who Peter Gabriel was had it not been for the video. I don’t think I’ve ever actually listened to the lyrics, now that I think of it…wait a minute, this song is about SEX?
Though it reached the top of the charts the following week, for now, Gabriel would have to be content at #2, with his former bandmates occupying the top spot. Here’s a 12″ remix I picked up a while back, if you’re into that sort of thing. I wouldn’t exactly call it a “Dance Mix,” but…
Peter Gabriel – Sledgehammer (Original 12 Inch Extended Dance Mix) (download)
1. Invisible Touch — Genesis
When Genesis toured two summers ago, many of the songs were moved to lower keys in order to accommodate Phil Collins’ somewhat diminished vocal capacities. I’m not criticizing here — the man has had an impressive range for many, many years, and it’s impressive that most of their songs weren’t lowered until so late in their career “Invisible Touch,” however, was lowered pretty much right from the start — that key change in the final third of the song is a bitch. Again, no complaining from me. I love “Invisible Touch.” It’s a great, simple, catchy pop song. I especially love the outro, with Collins singing two different countermelodies over the chorus.
If you haven’t listened to Invisible Touch (the album) in a while, and you liked it then, give it another listen. I picked it up again after we covered “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight” on an April CHART ATTACK!, and I was surprised at how well the entire thing holds up — especially “Domino (Parts 1 & 2).” Incidentally, “Invisible Touch” was created while the band was working on “Domino” — it grew out of a jam session, with Mike Rutherford playing that unmistakable guitar riff.
Believe it or not, “Invisible Touch” was the band’s only #1 single in the States, replaced the following week by Mr. Gabriel. This week marked the first time that singles by a group, and a former member of said group, occupied the top two spots in the Top 10. And according to the Billboard book that my cat is still sitting on, “Invisible Touch” marked the first time that a group reached #1 after a member of that group reached the top spot with a solo single (Collins with “Against All Odds (Take a Look at My Parentheses).”)
So…for all the criticizing I’ve done about parentheses this week, I’ve noticed that I’ve used them myself 19 times. But then again, I’m not in charge of constructing song titles. I’m just in charge of bringing you a Top 10 every couple of weeks, and hopefully some ’80s courtroom videos. I feel I’ve done my job. Thanks for reading and we’ll see you soon for another edition of CHART ATTACK!