Weâ€™re moving on to the 11th letter of the alphabet this week on Bottom Feeders, a look at all the great and miserable songs that charted no higher than #41 on the Billboard Hot 100 during the 1980s.
Johnny Average Band
â€œCh Ch Cherieâ€ — 1981, #53 (download)
Yeah, I know I just said we were beginning the 11th letter, K, but thanks to a snafu — I thought I wrote about the Johnny Average band last year when this series kicked off — we have to deal with the one J entry that I missed.
Frankly, Iâ€™m hoping you can provide some kind of insight into this one. Iâ€™ve read quite a few different things about the Johnny Average Band: One, Iâ€™ve heard this is really a group called the Falcons that was formed by producer and onetime David Bowie guitarist Mick Ronson. But Iâ€™ve also read that Ronson doesnâ€™t play on this particular track. I do know that Johnny Average was the stage name of the keyboard player, and “Ch Ch Cherie” features singer Nicole Wills on vocals.
â€œHang On Nowâ€ — 1983, #78 (download)
I donâ€™t believe Kajagoogoo has ever come up as a topic in this series before so I donâ€™t know what the reaction will be when I claim these guys are total crap. I truly believe that Kajagoogoo are one of the luckiest bands of the decade. I canâ€™t sit here and even remotely tell you that â€œToo Shyâ€ despite its stupid lyrics isnâ€™t catchy as hell, but the rest of their debut album White Feathers, including â€œHang On Nowâ€ is slop. These guys were poised to rise like Duran Duran would soon do (the album was even produced by Nick Rhodes and Colin Thurston who was the Duran Duran producer at the time) but they forgot to actually write some songs. White Feathers is straight by-the-book new-wave, taking very few chances at all. And dumb titles like â€œOoh To Be Ahâ€ and â€œThis Car is Fastâ€ cemented their place as poor songwriters in my book. Singer Limahl was fired after this album and the ensuing two records without him (both by Kaja — no â€œgoogooâ€ suffix — in the U.S.) sucked even worse. Good for them that they are still making money off â€œToo Shyâ€ but damn if that wasnâ€™t just good luck rather than talent.
â€œLoverboyâ€ — 1984, #88 (download)
This is one of the rarer tracks in this post. Karen Kamon is also known as the wife of producer Phil Ramone. She had songs in Flashdance and D.C. Cab before releasing â€œLoverboy,â€ her only charting single.
â€œYou Canâ€ — 1982, #77 (download)
Speaking of Flashdance, â€œYou Canâ€ certainly would have fit well on that soundtrack. A Swedish model, this might be her biggest hit, as it did very well on the dance charts. The version posted is the 12-inch mix of the single.
â€œDon’t Look Any Furtherâ€ — 1988, #64 (download)
The Kane Gang were a short-lived British group that hit the charts twice in the States. This and their other U.S. hit, â€œMotortown,â€ both came from their second record, Miracle. These guys apparently liked covering soul records, as this was a cover of the Dennis Edwards original and their debut record contained a cover of the Staple Singers’ â€œRespect Yourself.â€
â€œCan’t Hold Back (Your Lovinâ€™)â€ — 1981, #89 (download)
Kano was an â€œItalo-Discoâ€ group that began releasing club tracks with 1980â€™s â€œIâ€™m Ready.â€ â€œCanâ€™t Hold Backâ€ sounds like second-rate Chic to me, the only memorable part of it being the strange name of the album it was from, New York Cake.
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No one I knew ever listened to Kansas. No parents, no friends’ parents, no friends. Growing up, no one ever sung â€œCarry On Wayward Sonâ€ to me, so my first introduction to any sort of Kansas material was through my collection. Now, of course, I know the big â€˜70s hits, but this sloppy, generic born-again Christian faze of Kansas was my big introduction to them, so you can imagine why I say Iâ€™m not impressed at all. I actually think â€œPowerâ€ is a really decent track, though it sounds nothing like what Kansas was. And the opening riff of â€œFight Fire With Fireâ€ is just killer, unfortunately lost in the shittiness of the rest of the song. If I honestly never hear any Kansas song again, Iâ€™ll be perfectly fine with that.
Iâ€™m really not digging this week at all, but I guess thatâ€™s the way the alphabet falls, isnâ€™t it? Hereâ€™s another group that I could do without. â€œWalking on Sunshineâ€ is one of those songs that I will just skip on by every time it shows up on my iPod. â€œQue te Quieroâ€ was the second follow-up to â€œSunshineâ€ and is mediocre at best, and â€œIs That It?â€ is from their second album, Waves, which reportedly even the band doesnâ€™t like.
â€œIt’s Not You, It’s Not Meâ€ — 1986, #89 (download)
Hereâ€™s one that I actually dig, can you believe it? The K is for Paul Kantner, the B for Marty Balin, and the C equals Jack Casady, all members of Jefferson Airplane/Starship. I like the mix of the groovy verses with those epic saxes. â€œItâ€™s Not You, Itâ€™s Not Meâ€ was written by Van Stephenson and was on their one and only self-titled album.
â€œJust for the Momentâ€ — 1980, #82 (download)
Um, whoa now … what the … look, be careful how close you get, because I become a cranky little boy when someone wakes me up from a nice nap, like the one I just took while listening to this saptastic tune. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at how dull it is; after all, it was produced by David Foster.
â€œWouldn’t It Be Goodâ€ — 1984, #46 (download)
Iâ€™m shocked Iâ€™m talking about Nik Kershaw here. Or, rather, Iâ€™m shocked that Iâ€™m talking about a great song like â€œWouldnâ€™t It Be Good.â€ Off his debut album, Human Racing, this song has one of the catchiest choruses of the decade, in my opinion. It had all the right elements in place to be a major hit but failed to climb past #46. The shitty video couldnâ€™t have helped.
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â€œWhat Cha’ Gonna Do for Meâ€ — 1981, #53 (download)
â€œGot to Be Thereâ€ — 1983, #67 (download)
â€œThis Is My Nightâ€ — 1985, #60 (download)
â€œThrough the Fireâ€ — 1985, #60 (download)
â€œOwn the Nightâ€ — 1985, #57 (download)
â€œLove of a Lifetimeâ€ — 1986, #53 (download)
Rufus featuring Chaka Khan
â€œSharing the Loveâ€ — 1981, #91 (download)
Despite not liking female artists as a general rule, itâ€™s hard for me to not enjoy the goddess of funk. Chakaâ€™s had a massive career of hit song after hit song, and even her minor hits here are excellent. Thereâ€™s certainly two sides of Chaka here — before 1985 it was all about straight funk tunes and smooth R&B ballads. Then, starting with 1984â€™s I Feel for You, she went kind of synth-heavy and followed the trend of dancier R&B that would keep her relevant for a few more years. â€œLove of a Lifetimeâ€ is really the only weak link here. Of course, thereâ€™s been renewed interest in her music over the past few years thanks to Kanye West introducing a whole new generation to her when he sampled â€œThrough the Fireâ€ for his own â€œThrough the Wire.â€ Iâ€™m including the Rufus track here because I assume I’ll have forgotten it by the time we reach the letter R.
Best song: Nik Kershaw, â€œWouldnâ€™t It Be Goodâ€
Worst song: Kajagoogoo, â€œHang On Nowâ€
Next week we “kihntinue” with the letter K, with some rock gods and a Barry Manilow sighting.