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Welcome to double digits! This marks the tenth week of posting every song from the Billboard Hot 100 in the 1980s that peaked at #41 and beyond. I have to say that I’ve been thoroughly enjoying writing this series, especially going back and listening to the songs I hadn’t heard since I passed by them while listening to the entire collection (I did that in alphabetical order too). Big thanks for last week’s comments too. Close to 60 of them, mostly about your first music purchases, which, as I mentioned, I love to hear.

Just a short little anecdote before we get to the songs this week — I can only remember one time in my life where I’ve actually said to someone that I wished I was another person. You’d think I would’ve said Michael Jordan, Billy Joel, or some dude who got all the chicks, but back in 1989 I actually remember telling my mother that I wished I was Tone Loc. That’s right — a pale-ass Irish redhead wished he was a gravely-voiced black rapper, all because Tone Loc seemed to have an unlimited supply of Funky Cold Medina. As far as I remember, that really was the only reason, even though I’d never actually heard of medina before that (or after, come to think of it), and other than bringing all the poodles to the house, I had no idea what it really did or even was. The weird things you wish for as a kid …

Here are 20 more songs this week from artists whose names start with the letter B.

David Bowie
“Fashion” — 1980, #70 (download)
“Cat People (Putting Out Fire)” — 1982, #67 (download)
“Without You” — 1984, #73 (download)
“Tonight” — 1984, #53 (download)
“Absolute Beginners” — 1986, #53 (download)

Last week in my little teaser I mentioned that the ’80s was the shitty period of David Bowie, but now going back and listening to these songs again, I’m not sure. That distinction may go to the mid- to late ’90s, but if nothing else, I do think this is the most confusing era for him.

Scary Monsters in 1980 was his last truly great album, and “Fashion” is an underrated track in his catalog. But the Let’s Dance LP kind of throws me for a loop. Despite five singles and three big hits, the album is not good. He went to Nile Rodgers for a little direction, and while the two of them cranked out songs like “Let’s Dance” and “Modern Love,” certainly generating millions of dollars for Bowie, it did nothing for him artistically. “Cat People” is the best song on the LP, but if you listen to the record from start to finish, it sounds completely out of place. In this same period, bad songs like “Blue Jean” and “Day-In Day-Out” were Top 40 hits, but the much better “Absolute Beginners” didn’t climb past #53. If a Bowie song didn’t have that dance feel to it after 1983, then apparently radio didn’t know what to do with it. At least they didn’t do much with “Without You,” which I think is the worst song of his that charted in the decade.

Rick Bowles
“Too Good to Turn Back Now” — 1982, #77 (download)

This title could be the theme of the blog at this point. Here on post ten, this is way too good to turn back now. I wish Polydor records or Rick Bowles hadn’t turned back though, as I dig this lone single from him. His LP, Free For the Evening was a solid “west coast” AOR release but the label dropped him after this song didn’t become the hit they expected. He did release a second record called No Man’s Land in 1984 on a tiny indie label but that one is pretty much impossible to locate.

Bow Wow Wow
“I Want Candy — 1982, #62 (download)
“Do You Wanna Hold Me” — 1983, #77 (download)

Bow Wow Wow was surrounded by controversy from the start. Malcolm McLaren poached the band from Adam and the Ants and then hired Annabella Lwin who was only 16 to sing. Lwin posed naked for a photograph with the band which ended up being used as an album cover. But the biggest controversy was that they were ripping off African tribal music and turned Zulu songs into their own English translations. At least that would explain the unique title of their second release See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang, Yeah, City All Over! Go Ape Crazy. I don’t care what kind of influence McLaren had — someone needed to reject that shit.

Boy Meets Girl
“Bring Down the Moon” — 1989, #49 (download)

George Merrill and Shannon Rubicam were really a songwriting duo who occasionally put out their own music. As an artist they are known for their #5 hit “Waiting For a Star to Fall” even though “Bring Down the Moon” is the best track off their second LP, Reel Life. However, these two probably still get by today on the residuals from writing both “How Will I Know” and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)” for Whitney Houston. If Whitney had accepted “Waiting For a Star to Fall” (it was written for her) I probably wouldn’t be talking about these guys at all.

Boys Band
“Please Don’t Stop Me Baby (I’m on Fire)” — 1982, #61 (download)

Here’s #7 on my Bottom 80 of the ‘80s list. Only the ‘80s could come up with something as lame as the chorus of “Please don’t stop me/baby I’m on fire/Don’t put me out/not while I’m burning”. And yeah, I know the version I have posted isn’t the greatest of sound quality, but trust me — I have a near mint 45 of this song and that doesn’t make it sound any better.

Laura Branigan
“All Night With Me” — 1982, #69 (download)
“Ti Amo” — 1984, #55 (download)
“Hold Me” — 1985, #82 (download)
“I Found Someone” — 1986, #90 (download)
“Shattered Glass” — 1987, #48 (download)

I was doing a little light reading on Laura Branigan before I wrote this and I was shocked to learn she had died in 2004 of a brain aneurysm. I guess she was one of those artists that I know enough of to pick out on the radio, but not enough for her death to be on my radar. Of note in this pack of five songs is “I Found Someone” which was written for her by Michael Bolton and turned into a hit a few years later by Cher and “Shattered Glass” which was another generic Hi-NRG track from Stock, Aitken and Waterman.

Breakfast Club
“Kiss and Tell” — 1987, #48 (download)

There are three different songs that charted in the ‘80s called “Kiss and Tell” and all three are excellent (Bryan Ferry and Isley Jasper Isley were the other two). You have to wonder how the musical climate would have changed had the original drummer stayed through this record in ’87. Of course, that drummer would be Madonna. And since this seems to be a running theme in the comments, I guess I should point out that here’s yet another group that Randy Jackson was in! Molten hot lava my friends. Molten hot.

Breathless
“Takin’ it Back” — 1980, #92 (download)

Breathless was a little known group out of L.A. led by Johan Koslen, who was in the Michael Stanley Band in the late ‘70s. “Takin’ it Back” was their only charting single but a damn good one.

Edie Brickell & New Bohemians
“Circle” — 1989, #48 (download)

It’s shocking to me that I love “Circle” considering that I’m not usually a fan of female singers or the introspective, folky singer-songwriter-type musician either. But Mrs. Paul Simon really wows on this track from her breakthrough LP, Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars.

Johnny Bristol and Amii Stewart
“My Guy/My Girl” — 1980, #63 (download)

When I got married in 2007, the favors my wife and I gave our guests were CDs of ‘80s tunes, both love songs and songs that were kind of cool to us. Somehow this turd just barely missed the cut. In fact I had this on the first demo disc that I burned and sat there listening to over and over to see if the mix really worked correctly. It must have taken me a good five or six listens before I fully grasped how our guests would toss this out the window of their car if they heard this track.

Britny Fox
“Long Way to Love” — 1988, #100 (download)

Just one of a billion mediocre hair/glam bands to come out of the ‘80s, growing up in their hometown of Philadelphia, PA I’ve actually seen these guys play before. Two agonizing times really. Lead singer Dean Davidson had this sort of Paul Stanley meets Tom Keifer (Cinderella) thing going for him, but that was about it for Britny Fox. And seriously, fuck them for not putting an “E” in their name. Every single time I type “Britny” my fingers naturally hit the “E” which I then have to delete. All for one of those rare tracks to peak at #100. And the worst part was that it hung around in the slot for a second week too.

There’s your tunage for the week. Next week I get to talk about a God amongst men. Until then, if you have an “E” to spare, please loan it to Britny.

About the Author

Dave Steed

Dave Steed is all about music; 80's and metal to be exact. His iPod will shuffle from Culture Club to Slayer and he won't blink an eye. He's never heard Astral Weeks but thinks "Dazzey Duks" by Duice is the bomb. It's an odd little corner of the world he lives in.

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