American Top 40 PastBlast, 7/19/86: The Fixx, “Secret Separation”

Last month I remarked on the solid set of five debuts that came aboard 6/18/83; not only are they great songs, but they did very well, too, with peak positions of 1, 3, 4, 5, and 12. This yields a mean peak of 5.0, which seems pretty hard to top for a collection of five tunes.

Enter this week’s show. I don’t think the songs are nearly as good collectively—they’re from Berlin, Bananarama, Lionel Richie, Regina, and Wham!—but with peaks of 1, 1, 2, 10, and 10, that’s good enough for a mean of 4.8. Maybe there should be a bonus for all of them going Top 10, too?

Well, of course I had to see if any set of five debuts in the 80s (through Casey’s last AT40 show on 8/6/88) had done better. I was also curious about which cohort did worst—my intuition was that it would be from 82. (This is not my first go-round with this question—I looked at sets of six or more debuts, on a somewhat wider range of years, last November.) I found 97 weeks over this time frame with five debuts. Let’s look at the results—I’ve included links to charts so you can check out the sets of debuts if you’re interested.

First, the seven best weeks:

Week Mean Peak Position
7/19/86 4.8
6/18/83 5
11/19/83 6.6
4/11/87 7.2
4/5/86 7.6
4/14/84 7.8
4/2/88 8.2

Premiere has indeed played the two 80s shows with the highest average peak position for five debuts within the past month. Three quick notes: 1) 4/11/87 is the only show other than 7/19/86 where all five debuts made the Top 10; 2) 4/5/86 made this list despite having a song that reached only #23; 3) observe there are no shows before June of 83. Hmm…

Now, for the seven worst:

Week Mean Peak Position
12/17/83 27.2
11/14/81 26
7/3/82 25.8
6/5/82 25
10/30/82 24.4
9/7/85 24
3/1/86 24

My guess was incorrect, though I was hardly off-base in thinking 82 would have some lesser-performing sets. More observations: 1) four of these seven sets, including that of 12/17/83, have at least one Top 10 song in them—9/7/85 has two—and two others have a #11 song debuting; 2) Maybe this means the actual worst set came on 6/5/82—also rebroadcast this year—the highest peak among those five was #18.

Yes, this is trivia without much meaning, but at least you didn’t have to pay anything more than your time to read about it.

Not going with any of those five debuts for the feature. Instead, it’s the fifth of six Top 40 hits for the Fixx. “Secret Separation” may well be my favorite song of theirs; it’s two spots shy of its #19 peak on this show. I’d never bothered to dig deep on the lyrics—all these years I’ve been thinking this was a pretty odd breakup song, whereas I’m now seeing the more than credible claim it’s about reincarnation. Can’t say much for the video, however.

I whiled away many an hour in the early 90s leafing through Ira A. Robbins’s Trouser Press Record Guide, thanks to Greg, who introduced it to me. Robbins did not like the Fixx; his review of their work includes the adjectives “pretentious,” “mundane,” “irritating,” “unpleasant,” “trivial,” and “wretched.” Even though I find most of their hits enjoyable enough, for a while afterward I perhaps tried to do Robbins one better by referring to them as “the execrable Fixx.”

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