American Top 40 Flashback: October 3, 1987

The full chart: http://americantop40.wikia….

How’s the chart as a whole?

1987 is a huge year in pop; an echo of 1984 with blockbuster albums that are really quite good, a crop of breakout stars, and a goldmine of forgotten pop nuggets (mined to great effect in Black Mirror’s “San Junipero” episode). It’s a year of artists unafraid to look ridiculous, and it’s all the better for it. And yet this chart could be so much better. Why’s that? Check out the songs that dropped off of the chart in the last two weeks: “I Want Your Sex,” “Luka,” “Heart and Soul,” “Mary’s Prayer,” “Rock Steady,” “Who’s That Girl?,” “Don’t Mean Nothing” (yep, I just copped to loving a Richard Marx tune). That is a lot of compelling music to lose in two weeks. They were replaced by the less-compelling likes of Mr. Mister, Go West, and (shudder) Kenny G. Also, there are a lot of legends doing work here that is far from their best– I’m looking at the likes of the Cars, the Beach Boys, and most disappointingly, David Bowie. This is a B chart, but could get up to the A-minus range with a few substitutions.

Forgotten gems

#25 – Alexander O’Neal, “Fake”

Our chart’s sole submission to the “San Junipero” soundtrack. A Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis production that’s harder than Janet and more sophisticated than the proto-New Jack Swing songs. O’Neal would hang around the UK charts for another decade, but would only hit the Top 40 one more time in the States.

#11 – LeVert, “Casanova”

In contrast to O’Neal’s banger, this early New Jack Swing song is sweet, bright and light on its feet. Sadly, both LeVert brothers would die in the mid-2000s.

#30 – Pet Shop Boys, “It’s a Sin”

Trades the punchiness of the earlier PSB singles for an epic grandeur, but it works.

#8 – ABC, “When Smokey Sings”
#26 – Swing Out Sister, “Breakout”

I’m a sucker for the British New Wave-soul hybrids that flecked the charts in the mid-80s. Your mileage may vary. This style wouldn’t have much more life on the American charts (Sade being the exception), though Swing Out Sister would continue to have sizable hits in Japan all the way up to 2004.

Justly forgotten

#39 – Go West, “Don’t Look Down”

Alright, some people in this era may have needed a little more fear of looking ridiculous.

#18 – The Fat Boys and the Beach Boys, “Wipe Out”

A twofer– it’s a low point in 60s pop music and old-school hip-hop!

#36 – Kenny G, “Don’t Make Me Wait For Love”

At least “Songbird” had a hook! This one just has a shirtless Kenny playing the sax on a beach.

#32 – Bryan Adams, “Victim of Love”

A turgid mess that is one of Adams’ worst.

#37 – Jellybean featuring Elise Fiorillo, “Who Found Who”

Another of the Madonna knock-offs that plagued our chart visit to 1986. Fiorillo would manage one more Top 40 hit in 1990, then retreat to backup vocal work and an appearance on the Metal Gear Solid 3 soundtrack.

Is the #1 worthy?

No. Whitney sings the hell out of “Didn’t We Almost Have It All,” but it moves me not a whit.

Is there a Rick Springfield song?


Bubbling under

“Love Will Find a Way” by Yes; “Dude (Looks Like a Lady)” by Aerosmith; “Shake Your Love” by Debbie Gibson.

Top five

#6 – Prince, “U Got the Look”
#12 – Michael Jackson and Siedah Garrett, “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You”
#8 – ABC, “When Smokey Sings”
#25 – Alexander O’Neal, “Fake”
#35 – U2, “Where the Streets Have No Name”

Honorable mention: “It’s a Sin,” “Casanova,” “Brilliant Disguise,” “Only in My Dreams,” “Breakout,” “Bad,” “Paper in Fire,” “Little Lies” (there are still quite a lot of songs I like this week!)

Only 1980 and 1984 left to go before I flip over to the 1970s charts.