Hey everybody!Â Just think: one week from now, you’ll probably be feeling full and somewhat nauseous from all the food you’ve ingested.Â I say, why wait a week?Â Get that nauseous feeling right now as we tackle the Billboard Top 10 from November 24, 1984!
10.Â I Just Called to Say I Love YouÂ — Stevie Wonder Amazon iTunes
9.Â Penny Lover — Lionel Richie Amazon iTunes
8.Â All Through the Night — Cyndi Lauper Amazon iTunes
7.Â Strut — Sheena Easton Amazon iTunes
6.Â Caribbean Queen (No More Love on the Run) — Billy Ocean Amazon iTunes
5.Â Better Be Good to Me — Tina Turner Amazon iTunes
4.Â Out of Touch — Daryl Hall and John Oates Amazon iTunes
3.Â I Feel For You — Chaka Khan Amazon iTunes
2.Â Purple Rain — Prince and the Revolution Amazon iTunes
1.Â Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go — Wham! Amazon iTunes
10. I Just Called to Say I Love You — Stevie Wonder
I’m sorry. I know it’s clichÃ©, but I have to.
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It’s funny ’cause it’s true! There are, sadly, a lot of people out there who think of this song when they think of Stevie Wonder, and seriously, that pains me. You know who I’m talking about. You probably work with them.
Barry asks another important question here: “Is it, in fact, unfair to criticize a formerly great artist for his latter day sins?” No, it’s not. Stevie Wonder may be a musical genius, but it doesn’t mean I have to love everything he’s ever released. “I Just Called to Say I Love You” is actually a well-written song. It’s poppy, it’s catchy, and the sentiment is simple, yet original. However, none of this changes the fact that this is song comes nowhere near the caliber of his work from the ’70s. And I’m still on the fence as to whether I give him credit or points off for the cha-cha-cha ending.
When I hear this song today (and I try not to), this is what I usually think about:
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9. Penny Lover — Lionel Richie (download)
When you’re on fire like Lionel Richie in 1984, you can do whatever the hell you want.Â You can write a song called “Penny Lover,” which is not actually about somebody who loves pennies, or even about someone who loves girls named Penny.Â And you can sit back and watch your song reach the Top 10, without batting an eye.Â That being said, “Penny Lover” peaked at #8 and thus became Richie’s lowest-charting solo single to date.Â This doesn’t seem so bad until you realize that he co-wrote the song with his wife, Brenda, and you just know that Lionel got the shit kicked out of him for that one.Â “You write a song with ‘Tam bo li de say de moi ya” and it goes to #1, but my song stalls at #8?Â Go outside and find me a switch!”
8. All Through the Night — Cyndi Lauper
I love this song. I don’t have much else to say about it. It was my favorite song from She’s So Unusual when I first bought the album in ’84, and it remains my favorite today. The song’s actually a cover — the original is by Jules Shear and was released on his 1983 debut Watch Dog.
Jules Shear — All Through the Night (download)
Obviously, Lauper took the song in quite a different direction.Â As you might notice, Lauper took Shear’s harmony line and made it the melody in her version. Here’s a live performance on Howard Stern’s show from May 2008, where she sings Shear’s original melody for the chorus. Since it’s from a radio broadcast, the compression’s unfortunately a little high.
Cyndi Lauper — All Through the Night (Live, May 2008) (download)
7. Strut — Sheena Easton
So I’m watching the video for “Strut,” right?Â And truth be told, it’s pretty boring: a number of semi-seductive shots of Easton in a “live” performance with her band.Â And then suddenly, at around 2:28, I perked up, as the camera cut to a shot of her keyboardist. Wait a minute … is that … is that who I think it is?
That’s Bruce Hornsby.
Sure enough, Wikipedia confirms that for a time, Hornsby was a member of Easton’s band, and appeared in both this video and the video for “Sugar Walls.”Â I can’t confirm or deny that last claim; there’s just no way in hell I’m putting together Sheena Easton, Prince, Bruce Hornsby and masturbation together in my head.Â Shit!Â Too late!Â Here’s a screenshot from “Sugar Walls”:
What’s with the glasses in every video, dude? It’s almost like you’re trying to hide your association with Sheena Easton or something.
I really like “Strut.”Â I appreciate the authentic horns, a pretty solid chorus, and that drum machine intro.Â It kind of reminds me of the intro to Dan Hartman’s “I Can Dream About You,” another hit from ’84.Â Hang on, let me try something here…
Just as I suspected!
6. Caribbean Queen (No More Love on the Run) — Billy Ocean
You know how I tend to rail on artists who feel the need to include parentheticals in their song titles.Â However, in this case, I’m totally on board.Â Who the hell could understand what Billy Ocean was saying, anyway?Â It sounds more like “Caribune Queen.”Â And I don’t know where or what a Caribune is.Â It sounds like a newspaper from the Caribbean.Â I originally thought that maybe the reason the word “Caribbean” sounds so odd is because it was literally dropped onto a pre-existing track.Â See, Billy (Mr. Ocean if you’re nasty) had recorded “European Queen (No More Love on the Run)” earlier in 1984 over in, well, Europe.Â England, to be exact.Â And nothing happened.Â However, Billy’s manager had the idea to record a few different versions — “Caribbean” being one of them, as well as “African” and “South Dakotian” (I made that last one up).Â His record label, Jive, decided to release “Caribbean” in America, and somehow, that one struck a chord.Â Who knows why.Â All I know is that without his “Caribbean Queen” success, we’d have no “Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car,” or “When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going,” and who could even imagine how awful The Jewel of the Nile would have been without that wonderful soundtrack treat?Â So thank you, Billy and Jive, for recognizing that, to paraphrase Miss Samantha Fox, Caribbean girls need love too.
We play this tune live when we do our Acoustic ’80s shows.Â In rehearsal, we realized that it actually works as a dramatic ballad.Â Well, we think it works, anyway; you be the judge.
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5. Better Be Good to Me — Tina Turner (download)
I ripped on “Typical Male” a couple of weeks ago, stating that its success was essentially the result of Turner’s past successes; I don’t feel the same way about this song. I think this single’s actually pretty good, even though it’s a pretty faithful cover of the original, released in 1980 by a band called Spider. Spider’s keyboardist was the famous songwriter Holly Knight, who co-wrote this single and many, many others – “Love is a Battlefield,” Heart’s “Never,” and — ewww — Rod Stewart’s “Love Touch.” This single won a Grammy for Best Female Rock Performance.
Here’s Spider performing “Better Be Good to Me.” This is kind of awesome, actually. I think I want to cover this song.
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4. Out of Touch — Daryl Hall and John Oates
“‘Don’t lose your soul’ is one of our central themes. Soul matters. Roots matter. They’re the source of your power, your core, the energy that sets you apart from the molecules in the wallpaper.”
— John Oates, making me giggle
Of course, Oates is referring to the line “we’re soul alone, and soul really matters to me.”Â Oates wrote the majority of the song, from what I understand, but I’m sure if you were to ask Daryl, he’d tell you that he wrote it.Â After all, he’s 90% and stupid Oates is just 10%.Â Yeah, suck it, Oates!Â We all know, though, that it’s just a matter of time before Oates and his ‘stache take over the world.Â Whatever happened to this project, anyway?Â I know Jeff e-mailed these guys like the minute the story broke.
Anyhow, “Out of Touch” was part of the “new” sound of Daryl Hall and John Oates, and by “new” I mean “overproduced.”Â A catchy chorus, sure, but this isn’t the type of stuff that radio fell in love with in the early ’80s.Â I remember it being all over radio and television when it was released, but how often do you hear it on the radio?Â ‘Nuff said. This single wound being the last of their six chart-toppers.
3. I Feel For You — Chaka Khan
Although it’s a cover of a Prince song (from 1979’s Prince), and she wasn’t the first to cover it (the Pointer Sisters covered it in ’82), Chaka Khan’s version of “I Feel For You” remains the definitive version.Â You’ve got that great opening name chant by Mellie Mel (the stutter was actually a mistake by producer Arif Mardin, but he decided to leave it in), and killer harmonica from Stevie Wonder.Â Oh, and I guess Chaka Khan (Chakakhanchakakhan) is pretty good too.Â The song made it here to #3 and became her highest-charting solo single.
I went to a wedding once where, during the break before the chorus on “Reach Out (I’ll Be There,” the wedding band’s bassist stepped up to the microphone and very seriously said, “Chaka Khan.”Â I guess you had to be there, but trust me, it was quite funny at the time.
I know what you’re thinking: enough stories about a stupid wedding band, Jason, and just show us the video of Britney and Justin singing the song on The Mickey Mouse Club!Â You guys are so demanding.
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2. Purple Rain — Prince and the Revolution
Recorded live at First Avenue in Minneapolis (with additional studio overdubs), “Purple Rain” peaked here at #2 but oddly didn’t make the Billboard Top 100 of 1984. This is especially odd considering that “When Doves Cry,” from the same album, was the #1 hit of the entire year.
Wanna see Prince’s exceptional performance of this song at the Super Bowl?Â I’m sure as hell not embedding it here (I wouldn’t want to see Popdose go down in flames as a result of a lawsuit), but here’s a link where you can watch it.Â As usual, I’m transfixed by his guitar playing.
1. Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go — Wham!
George Michael will most likely never perform this song again, as he’s pretty much done everything but denied its existence in the first place. The fact remains, however that it’s a poppy, original piece of fluff that fit in perfectly with the music of the mid-’80s. And while there are very few things we can credit to Andrew Ridgeley, the title of this one came from him: he left a note for his mother one day that said “Wake me up up before you go go,” realizing he wrote “up” twice and then repeating the “go” to make a (not so) clever joke. George saw the note and wrote the song, which not only changed Wham!’s image from boys-in-leather to harmless heartthrobs but also gave them their big American break. Yeah, it’s stupid, with no message, no meaning, just a catchy chorus. But that pretty much sums up most of the songs on this chart, doesn’t it?
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, everyone!Â And horrible news: Mellowmas is just around the corner!Â See you soon for another edition of CHART ATTACK!