American Top 40 Flashback: September 13, 1986

Full chart: https://weeklytop40.wordpre…

How’s the chart as a whole?

Dreadful. I rate 1986 overall as a middle-of-the-pack 80s year, and I like the day-glo accents and British sophisti-pop that are hallmarks of the year. However, this chart is a showcase for the worst 1986 had to offer, from multiple Madonna knock-offs to the bloat of Peter Cetera and Don Johnson. It’s hard to find 10 songs to recommend this week. This week gets an F.

Forgotten gems

#32 – Simply Red, “Money’s Too Tight (to Mention)”

A thrilling follow-up to “Holding Back the Years” that adds a much-needed sense of urgency to the original by the Valentine Brothers. Take that, Ronnie!

#23 – Eurythmics, “Missionary Man”

This is my favorite Eurythmics single, pushing past plastic soul into industrial soul. Not lost, exactly, but still not heard enough.

#16 – Double, “The Captain of Her Heart”

An early smooth jazz chart entry from Switzerland, of all places, this song still has a solid New Wave pop foundation with a catchy melody. It’s lightyears better than the stuff Breathe would be taking to the top of the chart in a couple of years.

#19 – Timex Social Club, “Rumors”

Cited as a precursor to the New Jack Swing sound that would take hold in the late 80s and early 90s, this song’s blending of R&B and hip-hop has an unpolished edge to it that helps it stand out on this chart.

#34 – Jermaine Stewart, “We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off”

Now this is the 1986 I love.

Justly forgotten

#26 – Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam with Full Force, “All Cried Out”

My pick for the single worst Top 40 hit of the 1980s. Featuring mawkish lyrics, shrill vocals, and all-around imcompetence, it’s mind-boggling to me that anyone involved thought they had created something of quality. And yet it hit number eight. Shrug.

#10 – Regina, “Baby Love”

A cheap Madonna knock-off with infantile lyrics and silly hats. Stacey Q rose considerably in my estimation after I heard this.

#22 – David Lee Roth, “Yankee Rose”

A borderline-unlistenable pervy “tribute” to the Statue of Liberty. Sammy wins this round by default.

#11 – Glass Tiger, “Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone)”

Another of the awful Best Album Juno winners from the 80s, featuring backing vocals by fellow terrible Canadian Bryan Adams. I’ve already forgotten this one.

Is the #1 worthy?

No. There are worse contenders on this chart than “Take My Breath Away,” to be sure, but this is still a love song built around an unsexy farty-sounding synthesizer tone.

Is there a Rick Springfield song?


Bubbling under

“Earth Angel” by New Edition; “Paranoimia” by the Art of Noise with Max Headroom; “Human” by the Human League; “Word Up” by Cameo.

Top five

#23 – Eurythmics, “Missionary Man”
#18 – Janet Jackson, “When I Think of You”
#32 – Simply Red, “Money’s Too Tight (to Mention)”
#40 – Cyndi Lauper, “True Colors”
#9 – Run DMC and Aerosmith, “Walk This Way”

Honorable mention: “Papa Don’t Preach,” “We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off” “The Captain of Her Heart,” “Rumors,” “Higher Love,” “Words Get in the Way”