The 10/20/84 countdown is plenty familiar to me, as it’s one I’d assembled for an iPod playlist in the mid-aughts. Instead of waxing eloquent about that show or one of its songs, though, we’ll look at some tunes that were lurking below. A quick count reveals that exactly half of the lower 60 tracks on the week’s Hot 100 didn’t get as high as #40 (you got me if that’s a typical number or not for the 80s); here’s a little bit about six of them.
#92. Ralph McDonald with Bill Withers, “In the Name of Love”
McDonald has co-writing credit for “Where Is the Love?” and “Just the Two of Us.” This song has more than a little of the latter’s vibe–Bill Withers’ voice will do that for you–but I sorta get why it couldn’t fight past a #58 peak.
#79. Frankie Goes to Hollywood, “Two Tribes”
This video, featuring a battle royale between Reagan and Chernenko pseudo-lookalikes, could only have been created in 1984. Frankie say he’s disappointed “Two Tribes” would make it only to #43 in the states (it went #1 all over Europe, and was the #2 song for 1984 in the UK and Belgium). Maybe it paved the way for the decent success that “Relax” had when it was re-released a few months later, though.
True story: My wife was in Moscow on March 10, 1985, the day Konstantin Chernenko died. She spent her first year after college studying in Hamburg, and she and a couple of friends had flown to the Soviet Union on a tour over spring break. Letters sent home to her parents reported that the group’s trip to the Kremlin got moved up a day (it would be closed to the public when originally scheduled due to funeral preparations), and included an eyewitness account of standing along Gorky Street while dignitary-filled vehicles sped into Red Square on March 13, the day of the funeral.
#76. Roger Hodgson, “Had a Dream (Sleeping with the Enemy)”
Hodgson and Supertramp had gone Splitsville following …Famous Last Words…, and neither was the same afterwards. The group did manage a Top 40 hit with “Cannonball” in the late spring of 1985, but Hodgson could only muster a climb to #48 with this semi-sequel to “The Logical Song,” from In the Eye of the Storm.
#69. Scandal featuring Patty Smyth, “Hands Tied”
Smyth and company had tough luck following up “The Warrior.” Both the second and third singles from Warrior–“Hands Tied” and “Beat of a Heart”–flamed out at #41. Neither is as good as “Goodbye to You” or “Love’s Got a Line on You,” mind you, but that’s still a mighty fine quartet of songs that missed on making it to Casey-land.
#60. The Everly Brothers, “On the Wings of a Nightingale”
I was dimly aware of this attempted comeback at the time, though I’m doubting I heard it on the radio. Written by Paul McCartney, “On the Wings of a Nightingale” is a thorough delight. Listening now, it’s deeply disappointing it didn’t climb higher than #50.
#48. Maria Vidal, “Body Rock”
Vidal occupies a mildly interesting niche in 80s rock history, at least according to Wikipedia. She’d been a member of Desmond Child and Rouge, and somewhere along the way had acquired the nickname Gina, ostensibly based on a resemblance to Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida. When Child got to hanging with the members of Bon Jovi later on to bang out lyrics for some new tunes, he remembered what he’d called Maria and included that name as one of the primary characters in a huge hit.
As for this track, it’s the title song to a bad, bad movie. This is as high as it got, perhaps better than it deserved.