This has been an interesting trip so far. Since Iâ€™m talking about the songs that reached the Hot 100 but not the Top 40, I know there are some stinkers. But since Iâ€™m doing it in alphabetical order, I was really curious how the quality would turn out. Weâ€™ve had one really good week in post #1 and one pretty bad week in #4, but for the most part thereâ€™s been a good mix of hits and crap each week.
So, continuing with the story … itâ€™s 2001 and Iâ€™ve completed what I originally set out to do â€” get a hard copy of every song to hit the Billboard Top 40 in the â€˜80s. But that wasn’t enough for me, so I decided to expand my search to encompass the entire Hot 100.
This is the point where the real fun of collecting began. It wasnâ€™t difficult at all to get the songs in the Top 40. But the songs weâ€™re talking about in this series are a completely different story: approximately 4,230 songs hit the Hot 100 in the 1980s. Now, of course, having greatest-hits CDs and a ton of full albums meant I had a good start in my quest, but I quickly realized the rarer songs from the early â€˜80s would have to be found on record, as many of them have never been issued on CD. Iâ€™m not made of money, so the challenge was not only to locate them but to do so on the cheap. Finding those bottom-of-the-chart Bananarama songs from last week was simple, but locating something like “Fools Like Me” by Lorenzo Lamas was not. The only format I wouldnâ€™t accept was cassette, only because I had nothing to play them on.
So, over the next five years I scoured record shows and eBay for Dana Valery singles and Frank Stalloneâ€™s self-titled debut record. My then-girlfriend â€” now my wife â€” would get totally pissed at me as she came home every day to find a half-dozen packages blocking the door, but hey, itâ€™s all for the love of the art, right?
Next week weâ€™ll skip ahead to 2006 and talk about how I â€œfinishedâ€ my quest. Until then letâ€™s continue with artists whose names start with the letter B, as we look at the songs that made it into the lower three-fifths of the Billboard Hot 100 in the ’80s.
Band of Gold
â€œLove Songs Are Back Againâ€ â€” 1984, #64 (download)
I detest these medley songs. I donâ€™t know if they existed before the â€˜80s, but the decade in question must have had the most. Stars on 45 were really to blame for the popularity of them, but there are at least another dozen or so by various artists that charted. There were two types: those that just sort of mixed the original songs together, and ones like “Love Songs Are Back Again,” where a medley of covers was presented. Both methods sucked. If I really wanted to hear all of these songs again Iâ€™d just listen to the originals. In any case, itâ€™s not like “Love Songs” or any of the other popular medley songs were remade to sound like they belonged in the â€˜80s.
Frank Barber Orchestra
â€œHooked on Big Bandsâ€ â€” 1982, #61 (download)
Since Iâ€™m going in alphabetical order, itâ€™s a complete coincidence that we have two of these proto-mash-up songs back-to-back. To me itâ€™s just inexplicable how “Hooked” got any airplay at all. Iâ€™m not saying it isnâ€™t a well-made song, but leave it out of my decade.
Sorry, but â€œMagic Carpet Rideâ€ is just one of those song titles you donâ€™t choose unless you’re covering the Steppenwolf classic. This is no cover song, but it is seriously craptastic.
Bardeux went through three lineup changes in three years, but the most remarkable thing about them is that one of the original members, Tairrie B., recorded a gangsta-rap record in 1990 with Eazy-E. Iâ€™m not quite sure I would’ve seen that coming.
Band of Gold actually got higher on the charts than â€œFreakshow on the Dance Floorâ€? What was this world I was living in back then? My eight-year-old self would clearly have been able to figure out that thereâ€™s nothing that says â€˜80s funk like being a freakshow on some dance floor. Although Iâ€™m not a big fan of the ballad “Today Is the Day,” both â€œFreakshowâ€ and â€œMove Your Boogie Bodyâ€ rank right up there with the best funk of the decade.
Jimmy Barnes was huge in Australia, both as a solo artist and with his band Cold Chisel. Supposedly he was a raging alcoholic and slept with over a thousand women. Now, supposedly this number was only a rumor, but how does that even come about? Iâ€™ve never been on tour with a billion groupies on me at all times, but thatâ€™s still a ridiculous amount of vajayjay. â€œGood Timesâ€ was an Easybeat cover recorded with his friends from INXS and used in the film The Lost Boys. Barnes worked with a lot of other superstars as well â€” Journey’s Jonathan Cain wrote â€œWorking Class Man,â€ and Kim Carnes and Huey Lewis appeared on his records.
Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock
â€œJoy and Painâ€ â€” 1989, #58 (download)
Pump it up now. Itâ€™s hard to believe such a great song wasnâ€™t a bigger hit, isnâ€™t it?
â€œNew Day for Youâ€ â€” 1988, #53 (download)
I actually like this song much better than Basia’s biggest hit, â€œTime and Tide.â€ This was considered contemporary jazz, a field which I am admittedly not too knowledgeable about. However, every time I listen to â€œNew Day for Youâ€ I hear a lot of Sade in it, and since she was quite jazzy herself, I can understand where the label comes from.
Iâ€™m so excited to be talking about â€œShoppinâ€™ From A to Zâ€ already. This is Shit Sandwich #1 on my 80 Worst of the â€˜80s countdown over at Bastard Radio. It definitely seems like a good portion of people have no idea that Toni Basil did anything after â€œMickey,â€ which is a terrible song too. If you listen to nothing else from this week’s installment of Bottom Feeders, enrich your day by listening to a chorus of people scream Toni’s shopping list one by one from A to Z. As if this doesnâ€™t sound lame enough to begin with, some of the items are recited by just one person the second time through, which leads to such awkward moments as a dude trying to sound like heâ€™s barking the words â€œdog foodâ€ and a breathy woman saying â€œnuts.â€ But the two moments that really make this the worst tune of the entire decade are the letter Z, for which Toni shops for zippers, and the letter X, for which she shops for … well, nothing. First of all, there’s never been one occasion where Iâ€™ve visited the same store to pick up onions, tuna, and zippers. And secondly, the part with the letter X just bothers the bejesus out of me; seriously, the thing she’s shopping for here is â€œnothing.â€ How many people did it take to put this track together and not one of them at any point said to themselves, â€œWell, we canâ€™t think of any foods for X and Z so maybe we just shouldnâ€™t do this fucking train wreckâ€! Or at least point out to Toni that sheâ€™s shopping from A to Z minus X. If youâ€™re going to use “zipper” as a choice, then “xylophone” could’ve been worked in somehow. Iâ€™m sure there are many more noncharting songs that are worse, but this dark brown stain on society was actually played by a DJ or three. Therefore it grabs the top spot for me as the worst song of the â€˜80s.
The Beach Boys
â€œGoinâ€™ Onâ€ â€” 1980, #53 (download)
â€œItâ€™s Getting Lateâ€ â€” 1985, #82 (download)
â€œRock ‘n Roll to the Rescueâ€ â€” 1986, #68 (download)
â€œCalifornia Dreaminâ€™â€ â€” 1986, #57 (download)
â€œStill Cruisinâ€™â€ â€” 1989, #93 (download)
I have to admit there are some pretty bad tunes in this weekâ€™s post, so whatâ€™s five more, right? Iâ€™m not going to lie â€” the Beach Boys were a group I just never understood. Surf rock never interested me, but no matter what their sound was, to this day I canâ€™t understand liking a group that recycled the same damn song their entire career (okay, so I can understand â€” I like AC/DC). Are all these songs different in some way? Well, sure, Iâ€™d be silly to say they arenâ€™t. But when I listen to them I hear exactly the same thing over and over again. All five of them are pretty sad, but â€œStill Cruisinâ€™â€ completely takes the cake.
â€œBrass Monkeyâ€ â€” 1987, #48 (download)
At least we get to end on a high note. I know what youâ€™re saying right now: “This douchebag claims the Beach Boys suck but he likes the Beastie Boys?” Hey, at least the Beasties were pretty damn unique for the time. How can you not love a sequence like â€œThis girl walked by, she gave me the eye / I reached into the locker, grabbed the Spanish Fly / I put it with the monkey, mixed it in the cup / Went over to the girl â€” yo, baby, whatâ€™s up?”
Thatâ€™s it for this week, my friends. Twenty more songs from the bottom of the charts next week, including some from a critically praised jazz guitarist and a recent Nine Inch Nails collaborator. Until then bring up Toni Basil on your iPod the next time you hit the supermarket and see if you can locate the nothing for her.