Hi, everybody! Welcome back to another edition of CHART ATTACK! So I’m assuming that every single one of you sat at your computers two Fridays ago, furiously refreshing my Twitter page to follow my exciting adventures at the Jack Wagner concert. What? You didn’t? You guys are jerks. That’s the last time I invite you to…watch me do something. Well, here it is in a nutshell: my two-hour drive wound up taking five hours in the rain and traffic. I showed up halfway through the show, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. I shouted for “Right Here Waiting” when he asked for requests and Jeff hit me. Then, he played “All I Need,” and…well, if you haven’t read it already, check out Jeff’s awesome account of the evening.
Anyway, last time we met here, we covered a summer week in 1992. I was convinced there were better weeks within the decade to be found. Let’s see if you agree — here’s the chart for the week ending August 18, 1990!
10. King of Wishful Thinking — Go West Amazon iTunes
9. Cradle of Love — Billy Idol Amazon iTunes
8. Have You Seen Her — M.C. Hammer Amazon iTunes
7. Do Me! — Bell Biv Devoe Amazon iTunes
6. Blaze of Glory — Jon Bon Jovi Amazon iTunes
5. Unskinny Bop — Poison Amazon iTunes
4. The Power — Snap! Amazon iTunes
3. If Wishes Came True — Sweet Sensation Amazon iTunes
2. Come Back to Me — Janet Jackson Amazon iTunes
1. Vision of Love — Mariah Carey Amazon iTunes
10. King of Wishful Thinking — Go West
I’m having a serious debate with myself right now. Do I admit to you that I really like this song a lot? That if it comes on the Lite-FM radio station, I totally won’t turn it off? And after that, do I admit to you that the first compact disc I ever owned was the Pretty Woman soundtrack, followed by Richard Marx’s Repeat Offender? Because if I tell you these things, you might think less of me, and I don’t want you to think less of me. So okay, I won’t tell you. Problem solved.
Go West, consisting of Richard Drummie and Peter Cox, was formed in England in 1982. Although they had a number of hits in their native country, the duo literally hovered around the Top 40 before 1990: “We Close Our Eyes” reached #41 (you can find out more about the single by checking out either Popdose series White Label Wednesday or Bottom Feeders) and “Don’t Look Down — The Sequel” reached #39, leading me to wonder how anybody hits the Top 40 with the word “sequel” in the title. (Only one other artist has done it — if you know who, shout it out in the comments!) It wasn’t until veteran A&R exec and producer Ron Fair included the song on the Pretty Woman soundtrack that Go West received their moment in the spotlight. “King” peaked at #8 and received an ASCAP award as well. You may recall one other Go West song, “Faithful,” aka “King of Wishful ThinkingÂ — The Sequel,” which reached #14 in 1992. Both songs were written by Drummie and Cox in collaboration with Martin Page, the man behind “In the House of Stone and Light.” Go West are still together, although Peter Cox has released a few solo albums — including one that contains his cover of “What a Fool Believes.”
9. Cradle of Love — Billy Idol
If you were watching MTV in the early part of the decade, surely you remember the huge news of Billy Idol’s motorcycle accident: in February of 1990, Idol ran a red light while on his Harley and was hit by a car. He almost lost his right leg; he wound up having a steel rod inserted instead. Billy’s album, Charmed Life and the single, “Cradle of Love,” ended up serving as “comeback” releases for him. They might have been determined as such anyway, as he hadn’t released a truly new album since 1986′s Whiplash Smile and hadn’t released a single since 1987′s live version of “Mony Mony,” from the remix album Vital Idol. The hype surrounding his return to the industry, coupled with inclusion in an overrated movie (The Adventures of Ford Fairlaine) and a tremendously hot video (directed by David Fincher) all helped the song reach #2 in early August. Billy hasn’t reached the Top 40 since then.
Now here’s the bad news: Billy lost two movie roles as a result of his accident. You may have heard about the first one — his role in Oliver Stone’s The Doors was significantly reduced since he couldn’t really walk. But the second role he lost?
I’m not kidding you. Billy Idol was James Cameron’s first choice to play T-1000 in Terminator 2. It’s totally true!
8. Have You Seen Her — M.C. Hammer
Okay, look. I understand that “U Can’t Touch This” was a huge hit. I’d even call it a deservedly huge hit. It’s awesome. The only thing wrong with it is that it gave Rick James more money for blow. But just because one song is a hit doesn’t automatically mean that every song after it should be given a free pass. This song is just terrible. Absolutely terrible. And even worse, it reached #4, beating “U Can’t Touch This” by four spots. How does “Have You Seen Her” beat “U Can’t Touch This”? This is bullshit. I’m glad he went broke.
I’m not just randomly bitching here. I can back this up.
Jason’s Top Three Reasons Why “Have You Seen Her” Sucks
1) No Chi-Lites. The Chi-Lites originally recorded “Have You Seen Her,” which peaked at #3 in 1971. Only one guy from the group was getting the good royalty money — co-writer Eugene Record. By 1990, the group was a nostalgia act. I can’t believe that they were rolling in the dough. So Hammer, if you’re going to totally steal from these guys, and use their hit as the basis for your song, the least you could have done was included them on the record. Instead, you got a bunch of douches who sound like New Kids on the Block and look like extras from a Bobby Brown video.
Would it have killed you to get the Chi-Lites in there? They could have gotten paid for recording, paid for filming…and I’m sure they would have been okay with your awful lyrics too. Which brings me to my next point.
2) These Lyrics Are Awful. Here are some examples. I scoured the lyric websites to find these.
at the movies, in my car, on my stereo
at a game of Different World or the Cosby Show
have you seen her?
at the track, at the club, or out buying dubs
if you’ve seen her, then I’ll have her, cause I’m in love
have you seen her?
searching ’round the world, what more can I say?,
the girl is hard to see like an unseen VJ
have you seen her?
Now, I have to believe that least a few of these lyrics are incorrect; what the hell is “a game of Different World,” and I personally think she’s out buying doves, not dubs, which is stupid but not any stupider than anything else. But I swear to you, I just lost eight minutes of my life looking at different lyric sites to see if I could find one person who spelled “memories” correctly (most either had “memorys” or “memory’s”). So I give up. But you get the point. The whole song is Hammer rapping sensitively. And stupidly. I feel dumber for having really listened to the lyrics.
3) Unnecessary Shot of Hammer’s Ass in a Banana Hammock
There are other reasons why this song sucks. They mostly have to do with the video. You can watch it if you want to. But I doubt you’ll want to.
7. Do Me! — Bell Biv Devoe
Oh, thank God — something to rescue us from Hammer. And thankfully, it’s one of the most awesome songs in the world. I know you want me to be kidding, but I’m not. This song kicks ass. First of all, it is absolutely shameless about its purpose. And proud of it, too. It is so shameless and proud about its purpose that they include an exclamation point in the title. For the record, I remain vehemently against parentheticals in song titles, but I’m totally okay with exclamation points, if they’re appropriate. And it’s totally appropriate here. Do me, damn you!
Musically, it’s a terrific, funky slab of new jack swing. Lyrically, it’s built to appeal to everybody. It appeals to women because it’s sexy and essentially puts them in control. It appeals to men because when they say “You can do me in the morning, you can do me in the night, you can do me when you want to do me,” they are expressing the general sentiment of the entire male population.
Now, that’s not to say “Do Me!” is perfect. Let’s look at the raps. Rap #1:
adolescent, How ya doin’
Fine,” she replied
I sighed, “I like to do the wild thing”
I’m uncomfortable with this turn of events. They actually say she’s “underage.” I can’t help if this is where R. Kelly got his bad ideas.
Action took place (hey!)
Kinda wet (come on!), don’t forget
The J, the I, the M, the M, the Y, y’all
I need a body bag!
I’ll be honest with you: up until this very moment, I had absolutely no clue that the end of this rap was advocating condom use. Well done, Ricky, Michael and Ronnie! You turned it around! If you’re going to commit statutory rape, at least be safe about it! Okay, on to Rap #2:
The time was 6 o’clock on the Swatch watch
Name-checking Swatch? Off to a bad start.
No time to chill, got a date, can’t be late, hey!
The girl is gonna do me
I’ve always envisioned that second line as a parenthetical thought. Like someone was like, “well, why can’t you be late?…oh, that’s why.”
Move to the Jacuzzi, ooh, that booty
Smack it up, flip it, rub it down, oh, noooooo!
There’s not a man my age — especially us white dudes — who doesn’t love quoting that line. But when you get down to it, what does it mean, really? I’m no player. I will admit that I’ve sorta figured out the smacking it up and the rubbing it down, but is there anybody out there that can please explain to me how I go about flipping a booty?
Well, pedophile and gymnastic sex moves aside, the song is still pretty awesome.
6. Blaze of Glory — Jon Bon Jovi
“Hi, Jon? We’d like you to write ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’ allÂ over again, except without beating us over the head with rock n’ roll metaphors. Is that possible? Please call us back.”
I keed, I keed. I actually like “Blaze of Glory.” I think it totally captures the mood of Young Guns II, which is a funny thing for me to say since I’ve never seen it all the way through. A bunch of young, overprivileged Hollywood kids are in it, right? I imagine that’s why I turned it off. Okay, so I can’t say it captures the mood of Young Guns II, but it does sound like a rock n’ roll Western song. The production is solid, and as much as I want to mock Jon Bon Jovi, the man can sing. He hits some ridiculous notes in this song.
Of course, that’s not to say I can’t mock it.
First, the lyrics. I could probably find some issue with every word of this song. But let’s just start with the first few:
Wake up in the morning and I raise my weary head
I’ve got an old coat for a pillow, and the earth was last night’s bed
I don’t know where I’m going, only God knows where I’ve been
I’m a devil on the run, a six-gun lover, a candle in the wind. (Yeah.)
Count the clichÃ©s, everybody! I count, like, seven. Some artists go their entire career without including seven clichÃ©s. Bon Jovi gets ‘em all packed into the first verse! I’m sure there are more, but I actually can’t understand everything he’s saying. In the chorus he’s singing “Lord I never drew first/But I drew first blood/I’m no one’s son/Call me young gun.” He’s saying “I’m no one’s son”? I could have sworn he was saying “And I’m goin’ inside.” That makes no sense, but neither does the other lyric I thought he said: he says “I’ve seen love come, I’ve seen it shot down, I’ve seen it die in vain,” and I thought he was saying “I’ve seen it die of AIDS.” That’s just not right. Enunciate, Jon.
Second, the music. I’m just not sure what makes this song a Jon Bon Jovi solo song. As a solo artist, aren’t you supposed to be doing stuff you can’t do with your band? This song totally sounds like a Bon Jovi song, right down to the harmony vocal in the chorus. I don’t know who’s singing it, but it sounds exactly like when Richie Sambora. You can see it, right? Richie Sambora is jumping up and down in the studio and is all “Oooh! Oooh! Jon! Jon! Let me sing the high part! I’ll sing the hell out of it! I can sing too! I can sing too!” Can you imagine how annoying it must be to have Richie Sambora singing harmony in your ear? (Probably as annoying as it must be to have Jon Bon Jovi singing melody in your ear.)
John Fusco, screenwriter for both Young Guns movies, actually was inspired by “Wanted Dead or Alive” when he was writing the first film. He used it as “mood music.” Emilio Estevez told Bon Jovi about it, and he came up with “Blaze of Glory.” Bon Jovi was rewarded with a cameo in Young Guns II alongside Fusco, where he’s shot and killed. Thankfully, he comes back to life and records “Prayer ’94.”
5. Unskinny Bop — Poison
My instincts are telling me I’m supposed to mock this song, but it’s really not so bad, is it? I mean, it’s not earth-shatteringly awesome, but it’s kind of fun, right? See how insecure I am about not mocking this song?
I started looking around the web to figure out exactly what “Unskinny Bop” means, apart from The Outrageous Tribute To Poison band. Songfacts claims:
According to Poison guitarist C.C. DeVille, the phrase “Unskinny Bop” has no particular meaning. DeVille wrote the music and used the phrase as a placeholder for the lyrics, which lead singer Bret Michaels would write. When their producer Bruce Fairbairn heard the phrase, he thought it was perfect for the song, even though he had no idea what it meant.
That may be true. However, I prefer to believe this account, courtesy of Wikipedia:
The meaning of “Unskinny Bop”, according to band mates of guitarist C.C. DeVille, was a term they coined on the spot when at a rehearsal studio, a drunken DeVille was approached by a pair overweight prostitutes (a fact somewhat suggested in the music video by DeVille’s appearance with a suggestively clad woman on each arm). Upon retreating from the advance, DeVille tripped and hit his head on a solid guitar case, after which he passed out. When the guitarist came to his senses and couldn’t remember what had happened, the band mates reported that he had been engaged in the “unskinny bop” with the prostitutes.
Both stories seem a little too convenient, but the second one is miles better than the first.
By the way, Unskinny Bop (the tribute band) claims “We believe that a tribute band experience should be as authentic as possible which is why we put 150% effort into every show we play.” I think this makes a really grand assumption about Poison in the first place.
4. The Power — Snap!
“The Power” was a wildly successful song, mainly because of its memorable line “I’ve got the power!” and, maybe to a lesser extent, “it’s gettin’ kinda hectic.” However, most of the memorable moments from this song are taken directly from uncleared samples. For example, “I’ve got the power!” comes from a song called “Love’s Gonna Get You” by Jocelyn Brown. The guys in Snap! were sued, and though they claim that the line was re-recorded by Penny Ford, it has yet to be proven. Similarly, “it’s gettin’ kinda hectic” was taken from “Let the Words Flow” by Chill Rob G, who also sued (his part was re-recorded by Durron Butler, aka Turbo B). Finally, parts of the drum beat were taken from Mantronix’s “King of the Beats.” As far as I know, Mantronix did not sue Snap!. All this from two German guys (Michael Muenzing and Luca Anzilotti) who went under pseudonyms (Benito Benites and John “Virgo” Garrett III) because they were worried the American public wouldn’t be interested in German pop music.
Okay, maybe there’s one other line you know: “Or I will attack — and you don’t want that.” At least that’s the one line a friend of mine knows. He just kind of mumbles his way through the rest of the rap, then gets right in my face and shouts this line. I want to punch him in the teeth. And as guest Chart Attacker Carlos mentioned last year, this song never seems to die, mainly because of its utility as a “jock jam.” Frighteningly enough, it’s probably the only song on this chart that is still actively used to promote sporting events, as well as movies and television shows. Jesus.
3. If Wishes Came True — Sweet Sensation (download)
There’s something amazing about this song. It’s not the fact that it managed to knock powerhouse “Vision of Love” out of the #1 slot. Nor is it the fact that it represented a change in the group’s song style, from their blend of Latin freestyle dance (evidenced in their hits “Sincerely Yours” and their cover of the Supremes’ “Love Child”) to power ballad. No, the most amazing thing about this song is that David Foster had absolutely nothing to do with it. Listen to the first 35 seconds. Does that sound like a Foster joint or what? Maybe not that opening flamenco part with the ridiculous synth strings, but right around the 30-second mark, which reminds me of something like “Where Does My Heart Beat Now.”
When I saw this song on the chart, I was convinced that I had never heard it before. And as it started, I still wasn’t completely sure. Then, when it got to the part where she sings “Take me back, turn back the hands of time, when you kissed me in the warm September rain,” I totally instinctually sang the backing “warm September rain!” vocal. Out loud. At the gym. It’s a wonder I didn’t get my ass kicked.
2. Come Back to Me — Janet Jackson (download)
“Come Back to Me” was the fifth of seven singles from Rhythm Nation 1814 to reach the Top 5, a record still held by Jackson today. When looking over this chart, I was actually surprised this was from the same album as the others, since it was released nearly a year after “Miss You Much,” and the other six singles are significantly more aggressive than this one. It’s like the “Let’s Wait Awhile” of the album. I think it’s a beautiful song. Love the chords, love the backing vocals, I don’t even mind Janet’s little spoken “I miss you” interlude (mainly because she doesn’t start going into “She’s Out Of My Life” weeping territory).
I’m totally re-buying Rhythm Nation 1814 right now.
1. Vision of Love — Mariah Carey
I remember hearing “Vision of Love” for the first time and thinking, “It sounds like Whitney Houston…but better.” Like many of us, I’m sure, I was completely knocked out by this song when it was released. It was an instant classic by an unknown singer with a voice that just blew everybody away. Mariah’s had her share of hit singles (and your share, and my share…), but I don’t think any of them even hold a candle to this one. And what’s even better — she wrote it herself, along with her pre-fame collaborator Ben Margulies. This song deserved to be a #1 smash.
And now, of course, I’m just sad. Yes, Mariah still has cultural relevancy, which is something that none of the other artists on this chart have been able to achieve. Janet’s engaged in a pathetic battle for it, and speaking of Whitney, we’re going to see her fighting very hard over the next few months for the same thing. Mariah’s got it. Of course, in exchange, she gave up her actual talent. You heard her at the Michael Jackson memorial service, right? Did you wince, like I did? She barely has a voice left. (“Overcome with emotion,” my ass.) She was brought to our attention because of that stunning voice, and now, it’s about her breasts. Not that there’s anything wrong with her breasts. But you know what I mean.
I don’t know what’s going to happen to Mariah next year, when she enters her 40s. Maybe she’ll retire. (Unlikely.) Maybe she’ll return the favor granted to her by Brenda K. Starr and help a new artist get their start. (Also unlikely.) Maybe she’ll wear tighter clothes and hide her voice further behind Auto-Tune. (Extremely likely.) Whatever it is, I doubt I’ll be paying much attention. I’ll just keep going back to “Vision of Love.”
Here’s Mariah’s performance of the song early in her career at the Grammy Awards. She’s a little nervous in the beginning, but I’ll take it over the polished fem-bot she’s become any day. And she totally takes control after the first verse. It’s been quite a few years since she’s sung it in this key.
If you’re interested in seeing more early, unpolished and natural Mariah, here’s some interesting video footage from her first-ever radio interview on Z100 in NY (God, their morning show used to be so terrible), and here’s a fantastic performance of “Vision of Love” from her MTV Unplugged EP.
Mariah Carey — Vision of Love (Unplugged) (download)
And that brings us to the end of another edition of CHART ATTACK! Thanks so much for reading!