Thursday, July 24, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Songs from Casey Kasem's "American Top 40," April 28, 1984

"It's My Life" Talk Talk
"The Reflex" Duran Duran 
I so wanted more for Talk Talk, whose lone Top 40 U.S. single, "It's My Life," crawled from No. 40 to No. 39 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the week ending April 28, 1984, en route to a No. 34 peak, which would be bested 19 years later by No Doubt's No. 10 cover. Casey pointed out at the time that Talk Talk was one of only eight double-named acts to hit the Top 40, a list that included Duran Duran, which debuted at No. 36 that week with the still-un-remixed version of the band's future first No. 1, "The Reflex." Other double-named Top 40 acts to follow include Mr. Mister, Lisa Lisa, Tony Toni Toné, Yo-Yo and Mary Mary, while Casey neglected to mention the then-active The Go-Go's, Tom Tom Club and Toto. Sadly, The The, Womack & Womack and Wet Wet Wet never managed to make it that far in the U.S., though they all scored multiple hits in the UK Top 40.


"Borderline" Madonna
"Girls Just Want to Have Fun"/ "Time After Time" Cyndi Lauper
Although she ended up being one of the biggest hitmakers of the 1980s, Madonna was no overnight sensation. Unlike Lauper's 1983 debut album, She's So Unusual, which spawned four Top 5 hits and won Lauper a Best New Artist Grammy, Madonna's eponymous 1983 debut was a slower burner.

Indeed, when her second Top 40 single, the No. 10-to-be "Borderline," only inched from No. 37 to No. 35 (two notches below Lauper's debut hit, "Girls Just Want to Have Fun," down from No. 17 after peaking at No. 2, and eight below "Time After Time," which leaped from No. 37 to No 26 on the way to becoming the first of Lauper's two No. 1s), I suspect that Casey, like many of us, was writing her off as someone we wouldn't be hearing from for long. He even got her age wrong, citing it as 23 instead of 25 going on 26.


"Holding Out for a Hero" Bonnie Tyler
"Eat It" "Weird Al" Yankovic
"Dancing in the Sheets" Shalamar 
I can't believe that Yankovic's Michael Jackson parody (down from No. 15 to No. 32) was a much bigger hit (No. 12) than Tyler's gay anthem (from the Footloose soundtrack), which was holding out at its No. 34 peak for a second week. So was Shalamar's great but almost-forgotten concurrent Footloose single, which jumped from No. 30 to No. 26, on the way to No. 17.


"I'll Wait"/ "Jump" Van Halen
I never had a clue what "I'll Wait," which rose from No. 33 to No. 31 in its second Top 40 week, was about, but it was still my favorite single from the 1984 album. I never understood why it didn't warrant a video, though. Perhaps because "Jump" was still kicking at No. 23, after spending five weeks at the top. I always thought it was only four!


"Jump (For My Love)"/ "Automatic" The Pointer Sisters
"Jump (For My Love)", an "American Top 40 classic extra" (not to be confused with Van Halen's descending "Jump") that debuted at No. 62 on Billboard's Hot 100 this week, was fire (no relation to the trio's 1978 No. 2 smash "Fire," which, incidentally, was the May 12, 1979 AT40 long-distance dedication from an 11 year old to his schoolmates who picked on him because of his braces and made him feel like he was "going through fire"). So was the entire Breakout album (featuring the No. 5 hit "Automatic," falling three to No. 9 that week), which my mom bought for me on vinyl LP for my 15th birthday nine days later.


"Sister Christian" Night Ranger
 As Top 10 Night Ranger power ballads go, I've always preferred "Sentimental Street" (No. 8, 1985) to "Sister Christian," which moved from No. 32 to No. 30 in its second Top 40 week, on the way to a No. 5 peak.


"Show Me" The Pretenders
Learning to Crawl's third Top 40 single, which held at No. 29, one notch below its eventual peak, and failed to chart in the UK reminds me that although her band never has, head Pretender Chrissie Hynde has hit No. 1 in the UK twice: via her duet with UB40 on a 1985 cover of Sonny & Cher's "I Got You Babe," and alongside Cher herself (and Neneh Cherry and Eric Clapton) on a 1995 cover of The Judds' "Love Can Build a Bridge."


"A Fine Fine Day" Tony Carey
 A fine fine song (No. 25, up from No. 28), one of my favorite singles of 1984.


"Leave It" Yes
I love that I lived through a year when a song as strange as Yes's second 90215 single (the follow-up to "Owner of Lonely Heart," Yes's 1983 No. 1) could make it all the way to No. 24, where it was holding and where it would peak. (Fun facts: 1. The Yes album was named for its Atco Records catalogue number, not for a California zip code. 2. "Leave It" was the week's second follow-up to an iconic rock band's only No. 1 single, the first being Van Halen's "I'll Wait.")


"Breakdance" Irene Cara
Between "Flashdance… What a Feeling," "Why Me," "The Dream" and "Breakdance" (26-22, surging toward No. 8), Cara was right up there, challenging Cyndi Lauper and Madonna for pop's female MVP of 1983 and 1984.


"The Longest Time" Billy Joel
Thirty years later, I still haven't tired of listening to the fourth An Innocent Man single (25-21, heading to No. 14). In fact, it might very well be my all-time favorite Billy Joel song.


"Here Comes the Rain Again" Eurythmics
Casey used the occasion of Eurythmics' second Top 10 falling from No. 9 to No. 18 to discuss Top 40 hits that mention rain (at the time, 60 in total, with three No. 1s: B.J. Thomas's "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head," Neil Sedaka's "Laughter in the Rain" and Eddie Rabbitt's "I Love a Rainy Night"). Of course, when I recently did a blog post on songs about rain, I completely forgot all about Eurythmics' No. 4 single.


"Tonight" Kool & The Gang
"Let's Hear It for the Boy" Deniece Williams
I never noticed this before, but Kook & The Gang's "Tonight" (18-14) was a marked departure from the band's previous string of party-song singles ("Ladies Night," "Celebration," "Get Down on It," "Big Fun," "Let's Go Dancin'") in that it was decidedly more middle of the road (i.e., pop), with a rock-guitar instrumental break. I'm pretty certain that it was an attempt for the band to maintain its crossover status on a Hot 100 that was increasingly inhospitable to R&B in the mid-'80s, when the R&B chart was called "Hot Black Singles." In fact, despite the presence of other black artists such as Irene Cara, Shalamar, Deniece Williams (with "Let's Hear It for the Boy," 23-12, the week's biggest mover and a future No. 1), Rockwell (No. 10, descending, after peaking at No. 2 with "Somebody's Watching Me") and Lionel Richie, the closest thing in the Top 40 to old-school soul music was The Pointer Sisters' "Automatic."


"You Might Think" The Cars
Were The Cars still climbing the chart with the first Heartbeat City single (11-7) at the end of April? According to Wikipedia, the follow-up, "Magic," wasn't released until my 15th birthday (May 7, 1984, the day I received The Pointer Sisters' Breakout), yet I distinctly remember hearing it on the radio on April Fool's Day. It was during the introduction that the DJ announced that Marvin Gaye had been shot to death by his father.


"Love Somebody" Rick Springfield
I always forget how many hit singles Rick Springfield had. Perhaps it's because as good as some of them were, so many of them sounded interchangeable. At first I thought "Love Somebody" (6-8) was "Love Is Alright Tonight," which was the No. 20 1981 follow-up to "I've Done Everything for You," which kind of sounds like "Love Somebody," too. I wonder if the two earlier singles still sound as good as "Love Somebody" still does.


"Footloose" Kenny Loggins
"Hello" Lionel Richie
"Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)" Phil Collins
Unfortunately, the Top 3 doesn't. I distinctly remember liking each of these No. 1 songs in 1984, but in 2014 I can barely sit through any of them. Will I live to feel the same way about Ariana Grande's "Problem," Iggy Azalea's "Fancy" and MAGIC!'s "Rude"? I already do about two of them (the last two)!

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