Welcome back to another Friday edition of CHART ATTACK! I have to admit that I do have a soft spot in my heart for almost all of the songs in today’s chart. Although it contains a fair share of one-hit wonders, I think most of the songs are pretty solid. Agree? Disagree? Decide for yourself as we attack MAY 18, 1985!
10. Axel F — Harold Faltermeyer Amazon
9. Everybody Wants to Rule the World — Tears for Fears Amazon iTunes
8. We Are the World — USA For Africa Amazon iTunes
7. Rhythm of the Night — DeBarge Amazon iTunes
6. Some Like it Hot — The Power Station Amazon iTunes
5. Smooth Operator — Sade Amazon iTunes
4. Everything She Wants — Wham! Amazon iTunes
3. One Night in Bangkok — Murray Head Amazon iTunes
2. Crazy for You — Madonna Amazon iTunes
1. Don’t You (Forget About Me) — Simple Minds Amazon iTunes
10. Axel F — Harold Faltermeyer
Congratulations, Mr. Faltermeyer: for a brief, fleeting moment in time, your hit single replaced “Heart and Soul” as “the song that all non-pianists think they can play on piano.” Everybody seemed to know those first 23 notes (yes, I counted), but couldn’t play them completely correctly or in the correct tempo. God, that was annoying. Amateur musicians aside, doesn’t this song make you want to pop-and-lock all over again? I know I have the urge to do a backspin, and I never even learned how to do one in the first place.
Faltermeyer is known as one of the great synthesizer composers for film scores, along with Giorgio Moroder, who “discovered” him in Germany in the early ’80s and brought him to Los Angeles to contribute to the score for Midnight Express. Moroder and Faltermeyer (I am really getting tired of typing his name) continued to work together on films as well as Moroder’s projects with artists such as Donna Summer and Melissa Manchester. Faltermeyer (arrrgh) branched out onto his own, and won Grammys for his work on Beverly Hills Cop as well as Top Gun. Much of his film work remains unreleased, as film scores weren’t made frequently available on a commercial level in the ’80s.
Sadly, though, there’s a good chance more people these days know “Axel F” as “the Crazy Frog song.” This disappoints me in ways I can’t even describe. Although I have to be honest with you: I managed to avoid the whole Crazy Frog craze until right now, when I went searching for the video on YouTube and — surprise and shame — I was somehow entranced by that lil’ guy. I’m so embarrassed.
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9. Everybody Wants to Rule the World — Tears for Fears
When I was a kid, “Head Over Heels” was my favorite of the Tears for Fears singles, although I now recognize that this song is way superior. This is similar to my belief as a child that Jedi was the best of the originals; I obviously now know Empire is the standout. I’m not going to defend Temple of Doom over The Last Crusade, though, if that’s what you’re thinking is coming next.
Originally titled “Everybody Wants to Go to War” (possibly renamed so it didn’t cause confusion with Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “When Two Tribes go to War”), this single was Tears for Fears’ first #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. “Shout” was released prior to this song, although it didn’t top the charts until August of 1985. It was the last track to be included on Songs from the Big Chair, and its shuffle beat differentiates it from almost all of their songs up to that point.
In researching this song on Songfacts, I found a great little nugget:
On October 11, 1986, Gorbachev and Reagan met in Reykjavik, Iceland to discuss reducing intermediate-range nuclear weapons in Europe. To the immense surprise of both men’s advisors, the two agreed in principle to removing INF systems from Europe and to equal global limits of 100 INF missile warheads. This culminated in the signing of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) in 1987. During the meeting the American Secret Service had this song played in the background, it is believed today in some parts of the American intelligence agencies that this song was the most instrumental “tool” in ending the cold war.
Y’know, I always thought that Tears for Fears essentially ended the Cold War, but didn’t want to come out and say it. I feel better now.
Here’s a great performance (albeit coupled with a slightly cheesy video) from 1992.
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8. We Are the World — USA for Africa
I was a huge fan of this song as a kid, since I was actively listening to Hall & Oates, Michael Jackson and Billy Joel at the time of its release. I bought the 12″ single, as well as the full album. Remember the full album? It also featured “Tears Are Not Enough,” the Canadian equivalent of “We Are the World” by Northern Lights — a supergroup featuring absolutely nobody even remotely exciting. (No, Popdosers, David Foster doesn’t fucking count.) John Candy sang in the chorus, though, fulfilling his role as — of course — Dan Aykroyd’s Canadian equivalent.
“We Are the World” was simulcast on over 5,000 radio stations on Good Friday in 1985, topped the charts for a full month, and won three Grammys. Do you remember how huge this thing was? I even taped the “making-of” special, hosted by Jane Fonda, which I now own on DVD. I’ve only watched parts of the DVD, but I have to share this story, taken directly from the liner notes:
5:30 A.M.: Jarreau corners Dylan by the piano. He’s choked up. “Bobby,” Jarreau says, holding back tears, “in my own stupid way I just want to tell you I love you.” Dylan slinks away without even looking at him. Jarreau walks to the door of the studio, looks back at Dylan, cries, “My idol,” bursts into tears and leaves.
’nuff said. Finally, this picture is starting to make some sense to me.
7. Rhythm of the Night — DeBarge (download)
I hardly know what to say. I watch this video and I’m just speechless. They don’t make ’em like this anymore, boys and girls.
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No, I know you remember it from way back when, and you don’t think you need to watch it again. WATCH IT AGAIN. In 1985, I’m not honestly sure I knew exactly what “gay” meant, but I somehow innately knew that there was nothing gayer than every aspect of this video. Look at the outfits. The dance moves. The haircut on every single member of the band. Their mustaches. Their MUSTACHES, dammit! Look at those things! They’re so … thin! I love this video from top to bottom. And here’s the clincher: the lead singer, El Debarge has eleven kids. He fathered the first one when he was 15. Last summer, he was arrested on domestic violence charges. So I guess there go any further comments about his masculinity. And not long after, his brother Chico was arrested as well! Et tu, Chico? Still, I can’t believe it. Really? This guy had 11 kids and beats up on women?
El: lower left
Chico: one of the others, quite possibly the girl
So if El’s in jail, then all I keep wondering is: who’s holding Donna now?
(Thank you! Try the veal!)
Here’s what El looks like these days:
At least he kept the ‘stache. (El Debarge is totally going to hunt me down and kill me.)
6. Some Like it Hot — The Power Station (download)
Part Duran Duran, part Chic and all awesome, The Power Station was quite the inventive supergroup. Consisting of two of the Taylors (John and Andy, with occasional help from Roger and, what the hell, let’s just make up another Taylor … Pedro), Tony Thompson on drums and Bernard Edwards as producer, the group was initially a one-time project to back Bebe Buell (John’s girlfriend) on a cover of “Get it On” (or “Bang a Gong,” depending on where you live, but that’s another story). However, the group never intended to have just one lead singer: they figured they would rotate through a number of vocalists, with Mick Jagger, Billy Idol, and Mick Ronson, among others, on the short list. Robert Palmer came in to sing a track, blew the group away, and became the full-time lead singer.
The original line-up only performed live together once, on Saturday Night Live. Palmer left the group before their Live Aid performance, wisely using the group’s momentum to record Riptide, his extremely successful solo album. Michael Des Barres (Pamela’s ex) replaced him on tour in America. The group reunited and toured in the mid-’90s but suffered a score of shake-ups: John Taylor left, Edwards replaced him on bass but died before the group started the tour, and the group wound up going through two more bassists before finally throwing in the towel. Since then, both Thompson and Palmer have died, leaving the chances of a Power Station reunion pretty much at zero. Oh well, I guess Arcadia could always get back together, right? And speaking of Arcadia, I have nothing against them except that when I listen to a song like “Election Day,” I just hear Duran Duran. I give The Power Station credit for creating a relatively unique sound. “Some Like it Hot” is a classic.
5. Smooth Operator — Sade (download)
Okay, a few things I didn’t know before writing this week’s CHART ATTACK!:
1) Sade is the name of the band!
2) But yes, the lead singer’s name is also Sade!
3) Sade is a DUDE!
4) I made #3 up!
But actually, the most surprising thing to me is that Sade has only had two singles reach the Top 10. Thinking back to myself, I can only name three Sade songs, but I could have sworn there were more than two smash hits. This can only mean one thing:
Sade’s a dude those two songs — “Smooth Operator” and “The Sweetest Taboo” — must be played ridiculously often, but not so much that I’m sick of them. Both songs are pretty awesome, and Sade’s quite beautiful (for a dude), so I really have nothing bad to say about this song.
The full video for “Smooth Operator” is over 8 minutes long. There’s a plot to the video, you see — one involving Sade’s manager (the smooth operator) and some kind of criminal activity. I really don’t want to watch it. Those are 8 minutes I could spend re-writing .38 Special’s “Second Chance” with dirty lyrics (so far I have “Since you’ve been gone, I came in my pants”). But I love you guys (I don’t know why, all you do is hurt me), so I’m going to watch it. For you.
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:29 Arrgh, the percussion is reminding me of “Kokomo.”
:43 That telephone looks really large. Like a clown telephone.
1:00 Why do I not remember this spoken intro at all?
1:25 “Diamond life.” Hey, that’s the name of the album!
1:47 It’s Freddie Mercury without the mustache!
2:35 What happened? I fell asleep.
2:45 “Western male?” I thought she was saying “Western Maine!” You know, it’s the next place on the list! “Coast to coast, L.A. to Chicago, Western Maine.” I mean, thinking about it, I have no idea why she’d single out Western Maine, but I hear it’s a place that smooth operators like to visit.
4:09 Her lips look sort of waxy.
4:19 Why is he violating that bucket?
5:06 He’s getting away! Go after him, Sade! Stop making weird faces!
5:48 Sade, you klutz!
5:52 Awesome bassline!
6:10 Where can I find this song?
6:28 I gotta say, she’s running pretty fast, considering she’s in heels.
6:41 I don’t get it. She plays dead, she fights back, she plays dead again?
7:03 Okay, add another item to my list of shit I didn’t know about Sade. I had no idea there was a shootout in a Sade video.
7:44 Break it down, fellas!
8:12 Look at that dummy fall!
8:27 Worst ending EVER! She didn’t cry, she didn’t jump off the ledge, she didn’t take her wig off and reveal to the world that she’s a man! I can’t believe I watched all 8:27 of this video. And the worst part is that I told you all of the good parts, so you’re not even going to share in my misery! I hate you guys. This relationship is over.
4. Everything She Wants — Wham!
It irritates me that George Michael was writing pop songs with this kind of maturity at the age of 21. Although you’ll probably never catch him singing “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” again, you can bet this song will always remain in his solo set — he’s said it’s his favorite Wham! song. (My bet for least favorite would be “Credit Card Baby,” which you’ve only heard if you’re a really big Wham! fan.) The album version, from Make It Big, doesn’t hold a candle to the remixed single, which adds synth horns and and a fantastic bridge.
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3. One Night in Bangkok — Murray Head
If you’re like me, you’re still reeling over that DeBarge video. But you’re probably also wondering: Murray Head? Who the hell is that? I remember the song but not the artist. What happened to him? Or maybe you remember Murray Head, in which case, you’re not really like me at all. Head was featured as the lead character, Freddie, in Chess, the musical conceived by BjÁƒ¶rn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson from ABBA, as well as lyricist Tim Rice. Head wasn’t a part of Trevor Nunn’s stage production; the album of the musical was released well before the production was even fully conceived. It’s kind of an odd choice for a hit single; I can only assume that its success was at least partially due to the resurgence of ABBA’s masterminds.
I always heard the line in the chorus as “One night in Bangkok and the world’s your chutzpah,” which makes no sense. I don’t even know if Jews go to Bangkok.
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2. Crazy for You — Madonna
Madonna’s second chart-topper (and her first charting ballad), “Crazy for You” was taken from the soundtrack to the movie Vision Quest. The B-side, oddly enough, was “No More Words” by Berlin; odd not only because Madonna (already a star) couldn’t get her own song on the flip side, but because “No More Words” had nothing to do with Vision Quest, other than the fact that both Berlin and the soundtrack were the property of Geffen. The lyrics were penned by John Bettis, the author behind “Human Nature” (yay!), “Slow Hand” (yay!), and “One Moment in Time” (you suck, Bettis!). However, Jon Lind, who composed the music, also wrote “Boogie Wonderland,” and that kind of redeems the whole thing.
“Crazy for You” was so popular in Europe that in many markets, Vision Quest was actually renamed Crazy for You. And although I do love the song, I’d feel a lot better about it if I hadn’t seen that uncomfortable scene in last week’s Family Guy where Chris sings it to the veterinary assistant.
1. Don’t You (Forget About Me) — Simple Minds
In a week full of songs that scream ’80s, I’m not sure any song screams it louder than this one. Its placement at the end of The Breakfast Club was damn near perfect, and the success of the single brought ridiculous amounts of success to Simple Minds — a band who were third choice to record the song (both Bryan Ferry and Billy Idol had declined), who only recorded it after much pleading from the record company, and who attempted to disown it throughout their career (although, as I’ve mentioned previously, it’s not like their follow-up single, “Alive and Kicking,” strayed from the formula). It’s hard to say much about this song that hasn’t already been said, although our own Zack Dennis has written a related post about The Breakfast Club and the media outlook on 2008 political campaigns that’s definitely worth reading. And, as you proabably know, Billy Idol eventually saw the error of his ways and recorded a cover of the song for a best-of compilation.
And hey, wouldja look at that: we’re at the end of another CHART ATTACK! Thanks for reading!