Three months ago I took a gander at the Hot 100 of mid-February of 89. I’m considering making such a venture a quarterly kind of thing this year, which means it’s now time to do it again. Here are some tunes that were hip and happening on the 5/13/89 chart.
#94: Great White, “Once Bitten Twice Shy.”
I’d forgotten exactly when this became a hit—as far as I knew, could have been fall 87, could have been spring 91—can’t say I care. It’d reach #5 ultimately.
There’s way too much hair metal on this chart for my tastes. Just so you know, I’m going to be skipping over offerings from Poison, Warrant, Cinderella, Winger, Def Leppard, and even G ‘n’ R. So there.
#76: Vanessa Willams, “Dreamin’.”
Four-plus years after being pressured to resign from being Miss America, Williams’s pop career began to take off. This was the first of her seven Top 40 hits (four of which went Top 10), and it’s on its way down from #8. Really nice tune.
#75: XTC, “Mayor of Simpleton,” #51: Replacements, “I’ll Be You,” #49: Elvis Costello, “Veronica.”
In which the pop charts try to catch up to what was hot in Modern Rock (these were the top three MR cuts six weeks earlier). Alas, only EC would ascend to the Top 40.
#67: Sam Brown, “Stop.”
Torchy track from a British singer who’s just eight months younger than I. Picked up the CD of the same name in the cutout bin a couple years later but never got into it. Listening to it again now, I still don’t quite feel the love for her voice. Made it just to #65.
#55: Benny Mardones, “Into the Night.”
Okay, I was just sixteen years old the first time this was a hit, so I might have been willing to cut Mardones some slack, provided he was twenty or thereabouts. But he was 31! No thank you. It’s not clear at all to me why this merited a re-release nine years later—though I know that sort of thing was quite the rage at the time—or why it would climb to #20 the second time around. This was the highest debuter on the Hot 100 this week.
#53: R.E.M., “Stand.”
I know this video isn’t responsible for the return to respectability for line dancing but it seemed like it at the time. On the other hand, maybe this and “What I Am” brought the wah-wah pedal back to prominence. Falling from a #6 peak.
#50 and #19: Fine Young Cannibals, “Good Thing” and “She Drives Me Crazy.”
Two #1 songs, future and past, from the more successful band to emerge from The (English) Beat. The single from The Raw and the Cooked I may like best, though, is “Don’t Look Back.”
#47: Cyndi Lauper, “I Drove All Night.”
Lauper’s last Top 40 appearance; reached #6. I’d rate her version below that of Orbison’s but ahead of Celine’s.
#39: One 2 Many, “Downtown.”
The most glittering lost gem on the chart. It’s by a Norwegian trio that released just one album before scattering to the wind. I heard it a few times thirty years ago and liked it then; may like it more now. Only got two spots higher.
#36: John Cougar Mellencamp, “Pop Singer.”
Big Daddy was the last album of the Cougar era, and “Pop Singer” was its only Top 40 hit (got to #15), but man, is “Jackie Brown” (which reached #48 in August) a great song, or what?
#30: Outfield, “Voices of Babylon.”
Title track of the British trio’s third album, almost to its peak of #25. A needed change-of-sound from their earlier singles (though I do love “Say It Isn’t So”).
#23: Neneh Cherry, “Buffalo Stance.”
Len O’Kelly offered his paean to this amazing track at the end of April; it’s one of my absolute favorites from this chart. The “wind on my face, sound in my mind” section toward the end of the song blows me away every time. On its way to #3.
#20: Lita Ford & Ozzy Osbourne, “Close My Eyes Forever.”
I’ll take time to highlight this metal ballad. I get its appeal, but I just can’t take it nearly so seriously as Lita and post-peak Ozzy seem to. Reached #8.
#13: Living Colour, “Cult of Personality.”
Now THIS is metal I can appreciate. Vernon Reid is laying down some mighty hot licks and Corey Glover is telling us like it is. We’re thirty years out from this warning about being sucked in by charismatic and/or autocratic leaders and seem not to be heeding it very well these days. At its peak position.
#8: Michael Damian, “Rock On.”
Uhh… Soap opera star records sterile, soulless cover of one of the classics of my elementary school days and zooms to #1. Pass. Real hard.
#5: Donny Osmond, “Soldier of Love.”
He’s back after a thirteen year absence. Pretty stunning to realize he was just 31 at this point. Even though this is pretty lousy (“Sacred Emotion” was decently better), I’m talking about Donny so that I can ignore the two New Kids on the Block songs on the chart. Made it to #2.
#1 Bon Jovi, “I’ll Be There for You.”
Mentioned only so you don’t have to look up number one for yourself. These thirteen words I swear to you…
Pretty lame ending to this post, I know, but that’s the risk you take with pop music in 89.