ItÁ¢€â„¢s a magnificent day, as we move on to the most monstrous letter weÁ¢€â„¢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. ItÁ¢€â„¢s time to dig into more Bottom Feeders — songs that charted no higher than #41 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the 1980s.
Á¢€Å“DancinÁ¢€â„¢ Like LoversÁ¢€ — 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 Á¢€Å“DancinÁ¢€â„¢ Like LoversÁ¢€ three times. Maybe this is what I need to do for every song I donÁ¢€â„¢t like — listen to it over and over and over again — because the more I listened, the more I enjoyed it.
“Dancin'” was MacGregorÁ¢€â„¢s sixth Hot 100 hit, but her only big hit was also about lovers: Á¢€Å“Torn Between Two Lovers,Á¢€ which went all the way to the top as her first single back in 1976.
Á¢€Å“The Sun and the RainÁ¢€ — 1984, #72 (download)
Madness was just monstrous in the UK, even before the U.S. got them with their breakout hit Á¢€Å“Our House.Á¢€ Á¢€Å“The Sun and the RainÁ¢€ 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. Á¢€Å“It Must Be LoveÁ¢€ went to #33 and Á¢€Å“Our HouseÁ¢€ to #7 in Á¢€â„¢83. Á¢€Å“The Sun and the RainÁ¢€ was their only other Hot 100 hit in the U.S.
Á¢€Å“Don QuichotteÁ¢€ — 1986, #56 (download)
“Hello, may I speak to Mr. Don Key-Chot, please?” “No, Senior!” Although thereÁ¢€â„¢s not much to it, this is really a fabulously catchy number by this French synth-pop group. Their follow-up, Á¢€Å“Pancho Villa,Á¢€ failed to chart.
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/WB2z6H9ej9U" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
Á¢€Å“Female IntuitionÁ¢€ — 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.
Á¢€Å“Lovers After AllÁ¢€ — 1981, #54 (download)
Á¢€Å“Nice GirlsÁ¢€ — 1983, #42 (download)
Á¢€Å“No One Can Love You More Than MeÁ¢€ — 1983, #78 (download)
Á¢€Å“Thief of HeartsÁ¢€ — 1984, #86 (download)
Á¢€Å“MathematicsÁ¢€ — 1985, #74 (download)
Melissa Manchester is another artist that I mistakenly plug into my head as a queen of adult contemporary ballads. SheÁ¢€â„¢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 IÁ¢€â„¢m happy to visit five of her tracks here. Á¢€Å“Nice GirlsÁ¢€ is a great tune off her first Greatest Hits record in 1983. Á¢€Å“MathematicsÁ¢€ is probably her most underrated song though, a catchy little pop number from her album of the same name. Á¢€Å“Thief of HeartsÁ¢€ is the only one I donÁ¢€â„¢t care for, from the soundtrack to that movie, itÁ¢€â„¢s just a little too Á¢€Å“FameÁ¢€-ish for me. Á¢€Å“Lovers After AllÁ¢€ is a duet with Bottom Feeders favorite Peabo Bryson.
Well, if youÁ¢€â„¢ve read this series for a while now, you automatically know that I donÁ¢€â„¢t like Manhattan Transfer. I can deal with them when they had a few R&B numbers around 1983, like Á¢€Å“Spice of LifeÁ¢€ which is actually a very good song. Á¢€Å“Route 66Á¢€ 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 Á¢€Å“Trickle Trickle,Á¢€ which ranks at #18 on my Bottom 80 Songs of the Á¢€Ëœ80s list. Maybe I just donÁ¢€â„¢t get it. “Trickle Trickle” sounds like a problem Biz Markie would say you have after catchin’ the vapors.
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 Á¢€Å“Shining StarÁ¢€ going to #5 in 1980. Á¢€Å“CrazyÁ¢€ was their next best song of the Á¢€Ëœ80s after that.
To each his own I guess, but hereÁ¢€â„¢s another artist that I just donÁ¢€â„¢t understand the popularity of, especially enough to get him hits straight through the decade. I suppose I can deal with Á¢€Å“Hey Mambo,Á¢€ his collaboration with Kid Creole & the Coconuts, but you have two evils here with Á¢€Å“Lonely TogetherÁ¢€ and Á¢€Å“IÁ¢€â„¢m Your Man.Á¢€ I think the reason you have to give the nod to Á¢€Å“IÁ¢€â„¢m Your ManÁ¢€ as the worst track here is because at least Á¢€Å“Lonely TogetherÁ¢€ 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 Á¢€Ëœ80s list.
Teena Marie was the awesome protegÁƒ©e of the late Rick James. Beginning with 1980Á¢€â„¢s Irons in the Fire, Á¢€Å“Lady TÁ¢€ wrote all her own material. As you can see here she could write some great funk tunes, like Á¢€Å“Square BizÁ¢€ and smooth ballads like the excellent, Á¢€Å“Ooh La La La.Á¢€ Her songs have been sampled a ton of times, probably none as big as Á¢€Å“Ooh La La LaÁ¢€ being reworked for the FugeesÁ¢€â„¢ Á¢€Å“Fu-Gee-LaÁ¢€ in 1996. Unfortunately, her new music has been hit-or-miss. She had a nice little comeback in 2004 with La DoÁƒ±a, 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, Á¢€Å“Ooh La La LaÁ¢€
Worst song: Manhattan Transfer, Á¢€Å“Trickle TrickleÁ¢€
Next week we get another Rick James protegÁƒ©, a rare roller-skating anthem, and a guy who I was once told I looked like.