CHART ATTACK!: 7/30/88

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I know, I know — at this very late date, I’m presenting you with the first entry of CHART ATTACK! for 2010. It’s been a busy year so far, with a whole bunch of things happening that you don’t care about. The important thing is that I’m here right now, baby. I’m here for you. And so is an aging Top 10 from years ago. This week, we head back a whopping 22 years to the Billboard chart from July 30, 1988!

10. I Don’t Wanna Go On With You Like That — Elton John null
9. Rush Hour — Jane Wiedlin null
8. 1-2-3 — Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine null
7. New Sensation — INXS null
6. Sign Your Name — Terence Trent D’Arby null
5. Make Me Lose Control — Eric Carmen null
4. Pour Some Sugar On Me — Def Leppard null
3. Hands To Heaven — Breathe null
2. Hold On to the Nights — Richard Marx null
1. Roll With It — Steve Winwood null

10. I Don’t Wanna Go On With You Like That — Elton John

As outlined in Rock Court (reminder: I won), Elton John has certainly fallen victim to the musical styles of the day before, and for that reason, I could certainly do without the synthy-piano sound he chose to use on “I Don’t Wanna Go On With You Like That.” I could also do without the incessant drum machine. However, underneath all this bull is a solid, catchy song with smart chord choices. (Music geek moment: sticking the A major in a song that’s in A minor works remarkably well.) Yeah, it’s a little busy and repetitive, but I’m willing to forgive a lot of it when listening to this phenomenal solo version from 1998.

Taken from Reg Strikes Back, this single was seen as a comeback of sorts — Elton’s previous studio album, 1986′s Leather Jackets, was his first absent of a Top 40 hit. This song peaked at #2, held from the top spot by George Michael’s “Monkey.” He wouldn’t hit the Top 10 again until 1991, reaching the top spot with “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me” with…George Michael. Clearly the two of them work well together, though last I heard, they were no longer speaking to each other. Divas.

9. Rush Hour — Jane Wiedlin

Did you guys know that Jane Wiedlin totally had a crush on me in 1988, despite the fact that I was only 11 years old? It’s true. Over the summer of ’88, I somehow got tickets to be in the studio audience for Don’t Just Sit There, a Nickelodeon variety show featuring comedy segments, product reviews, and a musical guest. I remember quite a bit about the show we attended, actually, such as how there was a house band that I wished I was old enough to join and an appearance from Mad magazine’s Dick DeBartolo, who was showing off some cool gadgets. Jane Wiedlin was the musical guest, promoting the single off of her new album Fur. I had no idea who Jane Wiedlin was, but I thought she was short and cute.

The show started and the hosts did their little bits, eventually introducing Jane for her segment about 30 minutes in. Jane started miming along with her single and seemingly caught my eye, which was easy as I was in the front row, wearing a bright red shirt my mom had picked out for me that day. Also, I was dashingly handsome. (Note: I did not know about her interests in BDSM until watching an episode of The Surreal Life years later.) Anyway, she seemingly looked straight at me and I gave her my happiest, most polite shit-eating grin back, freezing it for as long as possible while clapping along because what am I going to do when a singer starts looking at me, look away? No. I’ve always been very polite. And dashingly handsome. But here’s the weird thing: she just kept looking at me. I mean, at least I think she did. She, like, locked in on my eyes and just kept coming back to me. And it started off being weird, then confusing, then uncomfortable. And I remember actually thinking to myself: does Jane Wiedlin like me?

The song ended and the show went on, and that was that. And I now realize this whole thing could have totally been in my head. The crush thing, not the actual show. I was definitely at the actual show. The clip of Jane singing on the show is on YouTube, and you’ll have to take my word for it, but this is me. My hands are together in a clap. The arrow is placed over the girl I brought with me ’cause I totally had a crush on her, which went pretty much unrequited except for a brief peck on the lips in seventh grade.

Is that picture as unsatisfying for you as it is for me? To make up for it, here’s me standing behind Dave Price outside of The Early Show on July 16th, promoting Team In Training and the NYC Triathlon. Like my mohawk? Dave is making that face because I farted.

Clearly I had nothing of value to say about “Rush Hour.” Catchy hook, completely forgettable verses, and a video with dolphins. The end.

8. 1-2-3 — Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine

I feel bad for the guys in Miami Sound Machine. At first, it was easy: when people asked “What do you do?” they could answer “I’m in Miami Sound Machine,” which sounds cool. But then they had to be like “I’m in Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine,” which sounds not only awkward, but crowded. Finally, they just had to say “I’m in Gloria Estefan,” which seems enviable but probably doesn’t earn them any brownie points with their wives.

1988 was a killer year for Estefan, with all three singles from Let It Loose reaching the Top 10 (1987 saw “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You” hit #5 and “Betcha Say That” hit #36. “1-2-3″ peaked at #5 and was written by Estefan and one of the members of MSM, Enrique “Kiki” Garcia. In an interview, Garcia said “”There is no Miami Sound Machine. There is Gloria and [her husband] Emilio telling a bunch of hired musicians what to do.” Yeah, and your point is…?

Here’s the video for “1-2-3,” which features a keytar and a lot of leather, not to mention obligatory crowd noise over the studio track.

7. New Sensation — INXS

I listened to Kick a lot when I was 10 years old, and this was my favorite from the album. I liked happy music, so “Devil Inside” and “Never Tear Us Apart” didn’t do much for me at that age — though I did memorize all the lyrics to “Mediate.” “New Sensation” was the third of four top-ten singles from Kick, which puts INXS in the company of three other artists on this chart who had at least four Top 10 hits from a single album.

6. Sign Your Name — Terence Trent D’Arby (download)

I could have sworn I had written about D’Arby before, but I can’t find it in my archives, which means I had to go back to his website and remind myself of his new name (which is actually not so new anymore), Sananda Maitreya. His website says “WELCOME TO MY MONASTERYO,” which makes me giggle because I suddenly imagine a kind of Gilbert-and-Sullivan-esque song that someone like Bing Crosby could sing in an old movie, with lyrics like “Welcome to my monasteryo/I think that you’ll find it merryo” or something like that. I profess to not knowing much about anything other than this song and “Wishing Well” — you’d be best checking out Mojo Flucke’s column on Neither Fish Nor Flesh for more about him, or if you’re really interested in going in-depth, check out some of Sananda’s writing. (Paragraph breaks, Sananda! They are your friend!) This song remains fantastic.

5. Make Me Lose Control — Eric Carmen (download)

I’m not saying anything against “Make Me Lose Control” — I think it’s a good song and sounds even better in the summertime — but is there anybody out there who thinks Eric Carmen would’ve had a chance at a #5 hit without the previous success of “Hungry Eyes”? He hadn’t hit the Top 10 since 1975′s weepy “All By Myself.” Carmen was smart enough to capitalize on a good thing and pitched the song to producer Jimmy Ienner, who had recruited him for the Dirty Dancing soundtrack. (“Make Me Lose Control” does appear in Dirty Dancing, but was omitted from the soundtrack and only appears on Carmen hit compilations.) This song also features some of the Beach Boys in the acapella chorus near the end (fuck Mike Love).

Michael, my cohort from Acoustic ’80s, claims that this is one of those songs where everybody knows the chorus but nobody knows the verses. Is that true? Because I do actually know all the verses to this song. I don’t know all the lyrics, but I know they mention some girl named Jennifer and name-check “Uptown,” “Stand By Me” and a few other songs.

Here’s the video for “Make Me Lose Control,” mildly notable for a few things. First, Carmen’s hair is just gigantic. Even for 1988, that’s some big hair. Second, you’ll notice that the video opens with a disc jockey introducing Carmen’s song. The DJ is Kid Leo, famous for his work on Cleveland’s WMMS. He wasn’t the first choice for the video, though; Carmen wanted NYC’s Scott Shannon who agreed but backed out at the last minute. That’s why you’ll see Kid Leo throwing darts at a headshot of Scott Shannon at 4:06. This seems like a remarkable amount of energy for what amounts to a very small inside joke.

4. Pour Some Sugar On Me — Def Leppard

Like “Make Me Lose Control,” I’m not really going to say anything bad about “Pour Some Sugar On Me,” except that it contains some truly idiotic lyrics, and for that reason I think we can say that “Pour Some Sugar On Me” was a gateway song to “Let’s Get Rocked,” which is simply one of the dumbest songs ever written. “Sugar” gets a pass because I can’t understand half of the lyrics (or half of the lyrics on the entirety of Hysteria, for that matter), but “Rocked” is absolutely inane.

As my colleague Jon Cummings incredulously noted, this song was the fourth single released from Hysteria, and peaked at #2 behind Richard Marx, who we’ll be talking about shortly.

Nearly everyone is familiar with the “live” video for this song, but a completely different one was shot in 1986 at a house in Dublin. Members of Tesla appear in the audience shots, though I’ll have to take Wikipedia’s word for this as I wouldn’t know a member of Tesla if they were sitting in my house and singing “Signs.”

3. Hands To Heaven — Breathe

I always liked this song, and Breathe’s other Billboard hits, despite not being much of a fan of bands who use their name to tell me what to do. This is also why I don’t like Sting or Panic! At The Disco.

Speaking of Breathe’s other Billboard hits, who else can name ‘em without looking it up? I can! We had this one, we had “Don’t Tell Me Lies” (my favorite), and…”How Can I Fall?” All three are solid songs, but let’s throw some credit towards “Hands To Heaven” for two reasons. First, it was Breathe’s big US breakthrough, holding the #2 spot behind Little Stevie Winwood for two weeks. Second, I believe it is the only song that Popdose writer Ken Shane likes from the Billboard Hot 100 in 1988. He suggested it to us at the last Acoustic ’80s gig and I was blown away that of all the songs that hit the Hot 100 that year, this was the one he suggested. I was sure he was more of a “Nite and Day” kind of guy. Still, this is a good song and he has good taste.

Breathe disbanded shortly after their second album, which I’m not even going to name here ’cause I’m positive you’ve never heard it.

2. Hold On to the Nights — Richard Marx

The fourth and final single from Richard Marx’s debut album, “Hold On to the Nights” was his first #1 — though with his previous singles going no lower than #3, it’s not like he was slouching before this one. I can’t find information to back this up, but I don’t actually recall hearing the studio version on the radio in 1988 — I only recall hearing the live version, which was also the version released as a music video.

Those of you who have read my writing know that I’m a real fan of Marx, and I won’t go into all that here — but what I will say is that every time I’ve heard him speak about his career, either in the present or past tense, he’s sounded extremely grounded and modest. If you’re so inclined, see what I mean in this short video commentary about the song, which explains its connections to Missing Persons, Peter Gabriel, Kenny Loggins and Phil Collins.

1. Roll With It — Steve Winwood

My life wouldn’t be complete without at least one pointless debate with Jeff Giles each week. One of my favorites happened about four years ago, when Jeff posited that the drums on “Roll With It” were programmed. I simply couldn’t believe it — I couldn’t believe that Little Stevie Winwood (no, I don’t know why I’m insisting on this nickname this week) would infuse a blues-y, thick song like “Roll With It” with drum machines when he could easily get a kick-ass drummer to play on it. Jeff insisted the horns were fake, as were the drums, and there were synths as well (my belief was that the only keyboard on there was the Hammond B-3, and that wasn’t a synth). I think we bet $20. Jeff tried to get in touch with Jimmy Bralower, who was credited with “percussion, drum machine” on the album itself, but wasn’t able to do so.

Fast-forward to March of ’08, and Jeff was set to interview Little S Mister Winwood for some other website. I entrusted Jeff with asking two questions: I wanted to know about the drum machines in “Roll With It,” and I also wanted to know if he could finally tell us what the night could do, hoping that the answer would be “make it dark outside.” Jeff didn’t ask about the stupid night, but he did ask about “Roll With It” and finally got the answer.

So…what do you think? Live drums? Drum machine? Both? It’s the sound of me enjoying carnal relations with Jeff’s mother?

I was tempted to stop here and say “you’ll get the answer in the next edition of CHART ATTACK!, but I don’t think anybody’s going to give a damn in December. So here’s the answer: it was both. And not only was it both, but Steve was the one playing “quite a lot of” the live portion. According to Jeff, he laughed and admitted that it was a very “machine-driven groove.” So at the end of the day, I’m not sure who won the $20, but I think it was me and I also think he never paid me. I did get a copy of Milli Vanilli’s The Remix Album, which I’m fairly certain I never asked for.

Anyway, “Roll With It” hit #1 this week, and remained there for three weeks until unseated by Michael’s “Monkey.” (This is not a euphemism.) The song was initially credited to Winwood and his long-time writing partner Will Jennings, but after presented with a lawsuit alleging the song’s similarity to Junior Walker’s “Shotgun,” future pressings attributed the song to Winwood, Jennings, and Holland-Dozier-Holland.

Well, that was fun, wasn’t it? Thanks so much for writing, and who knows, maybe I’ll knock out another one of these before 2011. See you soon (?) for another edition of CHART ATTACK!

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  • MichaelFortes

    Oh Chart Attack, how I missed thee!

  • Mike

    As did I. “Hands to Heaven” is one of my all-time favorite songs. Also, I am one of the (probably very few) people to own Breathe's second album, “Peace of Mind”. The album actually spun off two Top 40 singles, both of which were very good.

  • Matt

    Let me tell you the one about the time I spent several years looking for that live version of “Hold On To The Nights.” And yes, I found it.

    Speaking of Winwood, you'll like Bootleg City today..

  • http://www.popdose.com Michael Parr

    CHART ATTACK IS BACK!! Time to do the happy dance!

  • Dan

    Maybe you think Make Me Lose Control sounds good in the summer because it sounds like The Drifters “Spanish Harlem” plus some other songs.

  • smacky

    I only watched one episode of the Surreal Life ever, and it happened to be the one where Da Brat called Jane Wiedlin a “has-been” and made her cry. You know, because everyone else on Surreal Life were superstars doing the show for a laugh.

    By the way, Wikipedia says Da Brat got out of prison in May 2010 after serving 21 months for striking a hostess in the face with a rum bottle.

  • mlk

    I'd nearly given up on Chart Attack! Still, I kept coming back.
    I enjoyed other pieces. The yearning- never ceases.
    But now it's here, and from my Sr year.
    Expectations may be lowered. It's easier to go forward.

  • breadalbane

    Chart Attack is back! Even if 1988 was a crappy year for music, this is still good news. (“Sign Your Name” and “Rush Hour” are the only songs here that I can say I actually enjoy.)

    I look forward to the next installment of CA sometime in the next decade…

  • anniezaleski

    Perhaps unsurprisingly, “Make Me Lose Control” was a big hit in Cleveland, Carmen's hometown. I remember hearing that song a LOT as a nine-year-old in 1988. (I also LOVED it but had no idea who sang it.) The indelible verse lyric: “Jennifer's singing Stand by Me…” I had on idea the Beach Boys were on there, but that makes sense listening now.

  • Neel Mehta

    In 1988, the top 40 radio station in Atlanta had a habit of playing a new song and allowing its listeners to decide whether the station would keep playing it or not. One day they played “1-2-3″ and it was truly awful. Surprisingly, about 90 percent of listeners agreed. And they never played it again.

    I'm kidding about that last sentence. They totally played it again, because it was Gloria Estefan, and an overwhelming majority of people with taste means nothing compared to the Corporate Sound Machine. Shitty music by popular artists will get played. A lot of us lost our innocence then, and not in a fun, listening-to-Barry-White kind of way.

  • http://twitter.com/tcote Thierry Côté

    Carmen working with the Beach Boys wasn't really a first, either – “She Did It” both sounded like the Beach Boys and featured Bruce Johnston on backing vocals.

  • http://twitter.com/tcote Thierry Côté

    I feel like there should be an SNL Digital Short based on Gloria Estefan's two keytar players (à la Jon Hamm's “Sergio”), Trenchcoat Dude and Shirtless Guy.