Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Five Great Songs By Five Great Male Singers That Should Have Gone to No. 1

Today I've got men on my mind. Now get yours out of the gutter. All of them are fully clothed -- and singing. Nearly three months ago, I wrote a post titled "Five Great Songs By Five Great Female Singers That Should Have Gone to No. 1," and doesn't it figure? Musically speaking, I'm always dwelling on the creative and performing virtues of the fairer sex. I guess I'm gay like that. There must be some microchip hidden in the brains of gay men that makes us respond more readily to women -- female pop stars, actresses, style icons and divas -- when they're outside of the bedroom.

Today, though, let's hear it for the boys.

1) Stevie Wonder: "Gotta Have You" By the time Wonder got around to writing and recording the soundtrack for Spike Lee's 1991 film Jungle Fever, his days as a certified and guaranteed hit-maker were waning. But this single (a No. 3 R&B hit that only managed to limp to No. 92 on Billboard's Hot 100) not only laid the musical blueprint for much of early '90s R&B -- including Michael Jackson's Dangerous album, released in November of 1991 -- but "Skeletons" aside, it's better than anything Wonder did in the '80s, including the inexplicably popular 1984 soundtrack for The Woman in Red, which featured the inexplicably popular No. 1 song "I Just Called to Say I Love You."


2) New Order: "Fine Time" I know, New Order is a group, but vocalist Bernard Sumner is a man, so here they go. It's hard to believe that the U.S. Top 40 hit list of this iconic British band is only a party of two ("True Faith," No. 32 in 1987, and "Regret," No. 28 in 1993), one that does not include its signature song, "Blue Monday" (No. 68, 1988). My personal favorite (followed closely by "Confusion"), from the band's 1988 Technique album (which I can still remember buying in cassette form), went to No. 11 in the UK but didn't even bother charting stateside.


3) Jackson Browne: "Boulevard" I went through a Jackson Browne phase seven or eight months ago during which I seemed to be playing his greatest hits all day and all night. Yesterday he popped into my mind again, and I realized that only two of those hits -- "Doctor My Eyes" and "Somebody's Baby" -- ever made it into the Top 10 on the Hot 100 (Nos. 8 and 7, respectively). I first fell for Darryl Hannah's ex when I was 11 years old and staring at the cover of his 1980 Hold Out album, his only one to hit No. 1 on Billboard's Top 200 album chart. Three decades later, that record's biggest hit (No. 19) sounds even better than it did all those years ago.


4. Lindsey Buckingham "Holiday Road" If Stevie Nicks was the beauty of heyday Fleetwood Mac, Lindsey Buckingham was its brains. Christine McVie sang on more of FM's big hits than either of her band mates ("Don' Stop," "You Make Loving Fun," "Hold Me," "Little Lies" and "Think About Me," my personal favorite -- all hers), but it was Buckingham's musical and production input that made them sing. It's hard to imagine that despite coming from the soundtrack of the hit movie National Lampoon's Vacation, this 1983 solo Buckingham single only made it to No. 82 on the Hot 100.


5. David Bowie "Day-In Day-Out" Bowie once told me that he felt disconnected to most of his big hits from the 1980s and basically coasted through much of the decade. He went into the studio, recorded the tracks, and then he left. From 1983's Let's Dance to the 1989 group effort Tin Machine, on which he claimed he got his creative groove back, he was really only in it for the money. Including this No. 21 single from 1987 whose video was my favorite at the time? Sadly, yes. I'm still a little in denial about that one.

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