It’s a magnificent day, as we move on to the most monstrous letter we’ve had in a while: M. After a few quick letters in a row, M will take seven weeks to get through, so get settled in. Ready? Good. It’s time to dig into more Bottom Feeders — songs that charted no higher than #41 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the 1980s.

Mary MacGregor
“Dancin’ Like Lovers” — 1980, #72 (download)

I listened to this song as I was writing the intro, and even though that paragraph is only four lines long, I got through “Dancin’ Like Lovers” three times. Maybe this is what I need to do for every song I don’t like — listen to it over and over and over again — because the more I listened, the more I enjoyed it.

“Dancin'” was MacGregor’s sixth Hot 100 hit, but her only big hit was also about lovers: “Torn Between Two Lovers,” which went all the way to the top as her first single back in 1976.

“The Sun and the Rain” — 1984, #72 (download)

Madness was just monstrous in the UK, even before the U.S. got them with their breakout hit “Our House.” “The Sun and the Rain” was the 17th song out of their first 20 to all go Top 20 in England. The States’ first taste was with the release of the Madness album compiling some recently released material with older hits. “It Must Be Love” went to #33 and “Our House” to #7 in ’83. “The Sun and the Rain” was their only other Hot 100 hit in the U.S.

Magazine 60
“Don Quichotte” — 1986, #56 (download)

“Hello, may I speak to Mr. Don Key-Chot, please?” “No, Senior!” Although there’s not much to it, this is really a fabulously catchy number by this French synth-pop group. Their follow-up, “Pancho Villa,” failed to chart.

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Mai Tai
“Female Intuition” — 1986, #71 (download)

With no background at all, I would have just assumed Mai Tai was just another failed American R&B group. But no, they are a Dutch group formed by two male producers who grabbed three background vocalists and tried to make them stars. This however, was their only hit.

Melissa Manchester
“Lovers After All” — 1981, #54 (download)
“Nice Girls” — 1983, #42 (download)
“No One Can Love You More Than Me” — 1983, #78 (download)
“Thief of Hearts” — 1984, #86 (download)
“Mathematics” — 1985, #74 (download)

manchesterMelissa Manchester is another artist that I mistakenly plug into my head as a queen of adult contemporary ballads. She’s definitely an adult contemporary artist but of her seven Hot 100 hits in the decade, five of them are upbeat pop songs. As such, I never really go back to listen to her, but I’m happy to visit five of her tracks here. “Nice Girls” is a great tune off her first Greatest Hits record in 1983. “Mathematics” is probably her most underrated song though, a catchy little pop number from her album of the same name. “Thief of Hearts” is the only one I don’t care for, from the soundtrack to that movie, it’s just a little too “Fame”-ish for me. “Lovers After All” is a duet with Bottom Feeders favorite Peabo Bryson.

manhattanManhattan Transfer
“Trickle Trickle” — 1980, #73 (download)
“Route 66” — 1982, #78 (download)
“Baby Come Back to Me (The Morse Code of Love)” — 1985, #83 (download)

Well, if you’ve read this series for a while now, you automatically know that I don’t like Manhattan Transfer. I can deal with them when they had a few R&B numbers around 1983, like “Spice of Life” which is actually a very good song. “Route 66” actually won a Grammy for best Jazz Performance by a duo or group in 1982. None of them deserved a spot on the Hot 100 though, especially the goofy “Trickle Trickle,” which ranks at #18 on my Bottom 80 Songs of the ‘80s list. Maybe I just don’t get it. “Trickle Trickle” sounds like a problem Biz Markie would say you have after catchin’ the vapors.

“Crazy” — 1983, #72 (download)
“You Send Me” — 1985, #81 (download)

The Manhattans had a huge R&B career with charting singles from 1965 to 1990. Singer Gerald Alston helped the Manhattans cross over onto the Hot 100 three times in the decade with “Shining Star” going to #5 in 1980. “Crazy” was their next best song of the ‘80s after that.

Barry Manilow
“Lonely Together” — 1981, #45 (download)
“I’m Your Man” — 1986, #86 (download)
“Hey Mambo” — 1988, #95 (download)

To each his own I guess, but here’s another artist that I just don’t understand the popularity of, especially enough to get him hits straight through the decade. I suppose I can deal with “Hey Mambo,” his collaboration with Kid Creole & the Coconuts, but you have two evils here with “Lonely Together” and “I’m Your Man.” I think the reason you have to give the nod to “I’m Your Man” as the worst track here is because at least “Lonely Together” was his style. The club banger for Barry is just pathetic, to the tune of the #20 position on my Bottom 80 Songs of the ‘80s list.

Teena Marie
“Square Biz” — 1981, #50 (download)
“Jammin’” — 1985, #81 (download)
“Ooh La La La” — 1988, #85 (download)

teenaTeena Marie was the awesome protegée of the late Rick James. Beginning with 1980’s Irons in the Fire, “Lady T” wrote all her own material. As you can see here she could write some great funk tunes, like “Square Biz” and smooth ballads like the excellent, “Ooh La La La.” Her songs have been sampled a ton of times, probably none as big as “Ooh La La La” being reworked for the Fugees’ “Fu-Gee-La” in 1996. Unfortunately, her new music has been hit-or-miss. She had a nice little comeback in 2004 with La Doña, but 2006’s Sapphire was trying a bit too hard to be gangsta. She just released an album last week called Congo Square, which is mostly ballads and collaborations with people like Faith Evans, George Duke, and Howard Hewitt. You’re a funk goddess, Teena — let’s not abandon what got you here in the first place.

Best song: Teena Marie, “Ooh La La La”
Worst song: Manhattan Transfer, “Trickle Trickle”

Next week we get another Rick James protegé, a rare roller-skating anthem, and a guy who I was once told I looked like.

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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