Iâ€™m a list man. I love making them, I love talking about them, I love everything about them. And if I accept a challenge to make a list I will painstakingly carve it out and be able to defend to the death why I chose what I did.
About three weeks ago I was challenged to make a list of the Top Ten â€˜80s hits that I wish I would never hear again. Overall, finding these songs is not a terribly difficult thing for me as I would prefer not to listen to the Top 40 for the most part and instead focus more on these Bottom Feeders or the more obscure tracks anyway. But the part that took me three weeks to finalize is simply cutting it to just ten songs. If the criteria would have been 50 songs it would have been a piece of cake but just ten is ridiculous. But, Iâ€™ve done it and I told my buddy who proposed the challenge that I would post the ten songs as one of my intros to the segment. And while Iâ€™m not going to go into the full explanation of why I chose them here (that would just take way too long) I will tell you that my only criteria was that they were a Top 40 hit. To choose something that hit #98 would be too easy and clearly not the point of this exercise.
So here I present you with the ten top 40 hits from the ’80s that I could live without ever hearing again — in no particular order:
Beach Boys, â€œKokomoâ€
Bobby McFerrin, â€œDonâ€™t Worry, Be Happyâ€
Bangles, â€œWalk Like an Egyptianâ€
Katrina and the Waves, â€œWalking on Sunshineâ€
Corey Hart, â€œSunglasses at Nightâ€
Corey Hart, â€œBoy in the Boxâ€
Rolling Stones, â€œEmotional Rescueâ€
New Kids on the Block, â€œCover Girlâ€
Steve Miller Band, â€œAbracadabraâ€
Michael Bolton, â€œThatâ€™s What Love is All Aboutâ€
Now, we move into letter #5 of the alphabet, looking at artists whose names begin with E, as we continue rummaging through the Bottom Feeders of the Billboard Hot 100 chart during the ’80s.
â€œHold Meâ€ — 1987, #68 (download)
Sheila E. gets my ear by default since sheâ€™s associated with Prince, though her solo work stands on its own very well. However, coming off â€œThe Glamorous Lifeâ€ and â€œA Love Bizarre” this ballad falls very flat. This song does hold one distinction though; itâ€™s one of six tunes that charted in the â€˜80s called â€œHold Meâ€ â€“ the most of any title.
Earth, Wind & Fire
â€œStarâ€ — 1980, #64 (download)
â€œLet Me Talkâ€ — 1980, #44 (download)
â€œYouâ€ — 1980, #48 (download)
â€œAnd Love Goes Onâ€ — 1981, #59 (download)
â€œWanna Be With Youâ€ — 1982, #51 (download)
â€œSide by Sideâ€ — 1983, #76 (download)
â€œMagneticâ€ — 1983, #57 (download)
â€œSystem of Survivalâ€ — 1987, #60 (download)
â€œThinking of Youâ€ — 1988, #67 (download)
We have a new leader in total number of songs for an artist in this series. Earth, Wind & Fire check in at a whopping nine tracks in the bottom of the Billboard Hot 100 charts. There is one artist still to go that has ten in the series, so they do not win the overall prize, but they do have the most so far.
I tell everyone how much I love Earth, Wind & Fire. The funny part about this statement is that if you asked me to name any of their â€˜80s tracks, the only one I could tell you is â€œLetâ€™s Grooveâ€. Not one of these nine songs would even come to mind. However, almost all of them are still pretty good.
I think what I really enjoy about them though, is that their ballads are just as strong as their funk numbers. A vast majority of the funk artists in the â€˜80s had ballads that sounded more like filler than anything else â€“ Cameo being a great example of that. However with Earth, Wind & Fire, a ballad like â€œYouâ€ is just as strong as the upbeat â€œAnd Love Goes On.â€
â€œSide by Sideâ€ is the one that really deserved a better fate as itâ€™s one of their better mid-tempo numbers. I also think â€œMagneticâ€ is really underrated, but I completely see why it wasnâ€™t a hit. The only single off the Electric Universe album, it replaced their â€˜70s sound with the new synth-driven â€˜80s R&B groove. It really lacks that distinct Earth, Wind & Fire flavor but itâ€™s still a good tune. â€œSystem of Survivalâ€ and â€œThinking of Youâ€ were both off their Touch The World album, the first album after a four-year layoff. Donâ€™t miss checking out â€œThinking of Youâ€ if you havenâ€™t heard it since â€™88. Itâ€™s another underrated gem from Maurice White and the gang.
â€œCome Out Fightingâ€ — 1989, #82 (download)
This excellent track was from Easterhouseâ€™s second and final album Waiting for the Redbird. Since they were often compared to The Smiths, Iâ€™m going to let all you Morrissey fans out there chat up this one.
â€œMachineryâ€ — 1982, #57 (download)
â€œI Wouldnâ€™t Beg For Waterâ€ — 1982, #64 (download)
â€œDevil in a Fast Carâ€ — 1984, #79 (download)
â€œSwearâ€ — 1985, #80 (download)
â€œJimmy Mackâ€ — 1986, #65 (download)
â€œSo Far So Goodâ€ — 1986, #43 (download)
Easton had 5 Top 40 hits in â€™80 and â€™81, but her third record Madness, Money & Music didnâ€™t fare very well, probably thanks to the odd choice of releasing â€œMachineryâ€ a full blown new wave track as the first single. Although maybe not so odd since it is the best song on the record. Things definitely picked back up in 1983 when her Best Kept Secret album yielded three more hits including â€œDevil in a Fast Carâ€ which took those synths to the right place â€“ enhancing a pop song. Her image had slowly been getting sexier and sexier and it came around full force in â€™85 with â€œSugar Wallsâ€ and her faithful rendition of Tim Scottâ€™s â€œSwearâ€. Of course then we have another odd choice for a single in her cover of Martha and the Vandellasâ€™ â€œJimmy Mackâ€ and another sugary pop song â€œSo Far So Goodâ€ from the movie About Last Night. Itâ€™s kind of surprising that she had so many hits considering how many style changes she made with her career, but it seems like the constant adapting to the times worked well for her. You can check out the original version of “Swear” below.
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/dWYhW2ZFOlg" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
â€œJungle Boyâ€ — 1986, #52 (download)
John Eddie really got his break when Bruce Springsteen used to hop on stage during his concerts and sing with him. It really didnâ€™t lead to a whole lot as Eddie released two records and then faded away. However, Kid Rock just covered John Eddieâ€™s â€œLow Lifeâ€ on his latest record, so it looks like Eddie is trying to market that into a comeback.
Eddie & the Tide
â€œOne in a Millionâ€ — 1985, #85 (download)
You know, I have to applaud some of these fan run websites. Some, like the page for Eddie & The Tide are so much fun to read because you get to read what a superfan thinks of an artist. So, I was doing a little searching for Eddie & the Tide and you have to get a bit of a chuckle out of this site. Thereâ€™s a FAQ page with exactly zero questions on it, pretty much everything is â€œlong lostâ€ and the guy that runs it was hoping that VH1â€™s Bands Reunited would have asked them to get back together. What a ratings winner that episode would have been. â€œHi, Iâ€™m Aamer Haleem and weâ€™re about to track down the members of a band you didnâ€™t even know existed to see if they will reunite.â€ I give him props for keep word alive about a band he loves, but letâ€™s not think they were Godâ€™s gift to music here.
Best song — Earth, Wind & Fire, â€œSide by Sideâ€
Worst song — Sheena Easton, â€œJimmy Mackâ€
(Side note: Billboard takes songs with multiple collaborators and gives them both a separate slot, but for the purpose of this series each song is only going to appear once. With four letters down, weâ€™re going to start hitting some of these duplicates soon. That said, Clint Eastwoodâ€™s song â€œMake My Dayâ€ will appear under â€œSâ€ with T.G. Sheppard. I didnâ€™t just flat out miss it.)
Next week you get an extended post as I finish off the letter E â€“- in just two weeks!