Saturday, April 6, 2013

"General Hospital" at 50: Greatest "GH" Hits

Anyone who lived through the '80s knows that back then the surest route up Billboard's Hot 100 (after securing tons of radio airplay) was getting your video played on MTV. But did you realize that the next fastest track into the Top 40 went right through Port Charles, the fictional upstate New York town that provides the setting for love in the afternoon on General Hospital, which turned 50 on April 1?

During the '80s, GH was responsible for directly or indirectly launching at least six hit singles, including three chart toppers. In honor of its golden anniversary, a musical trip down Port Charles' memory lane, featuring its greatest hits. Now, on with the countdown!

6. "General Hospi-Tale" The Afternoon Delights "Good girls don't, and Annie won't," is the only line I can remember from the one-hit wonder's 1981 No. 33 single (which hit No. 23 on the R&B chart), but despite my foggy recollection of the "rap" song's specific lyrical content, it's actually a lot more memorable than virginal Annie Logan was. A sort of "Harper Valley PTA" for Port Charles, "General Hospi-Tale" might go down in history as the only hit single to literally recount the storyline of a hit TV show.

5. "Think of Laura" Christopher Cross The "dear Laura" refrain was the only part I can remember hearing on the show -- it popped up whenever we saw a returned-from-the-dead Laura Spencer -- but it still saved Christopher Cross from becoming a one-hit-album wonder (via 1979's Christopher Cross, which won the singer-songwriter five 1980 Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year) and made "Think of Laura," the third single from his stalled second album, 1983's Another Page, his fourth and final Top 10 hit when it reached No. 9. I still have a hard time believing it wasn't about Laura Williams Faulkner Vining Webber Baldwin Spencer all along, and when most people hear the song, that's probably the Laura they think of.

4. "All I Need" Jack Wagner Strangely enough, when rock star-turned-spy Frisco Jones sang this song on GH in 1984 (before he'd morphed into 007 mode), he cooed it not to his supercouple other half Felicia but to a doomed beauty named Tania Roskov, who ended up marrying his big brother Tony. As a result of the GH exposure, it climbed all the way to No. 2 in 1985. (Wagner/Jones resurrected the golden oldie, this time for Felicia, at the Nurses Ball on the April 5 episode.)

3. "Baby, Come to Me" Patti Austin and James Ingram Luke and Holly were nowhere near as popular with viewers as Luke and Laura, but they were still big enough to send a flop 1982 duet (No. 73) all the way to No. 1 (for three weeks in 1983) after scoring it as their very own love theme. "How Do You Keep the Music Playing," another Austin/Ingram duet (which hit No. 45 on Billboard's Hot 100 in '83), later became the divorce theme for Robert and Holly, who'd gotten married to keep Brit Holly (or "English," as Luke calls her) in the U.S. after Luke was presumed dead.

2. "Jessie's Girl" Rick Springfield When Springfield's signature song went to No. 1 for two weeks in 1981, he was playing Dr. Noah Drake on the daytime soap. There's no telling if it was his exposure on the show that got him into Billboard's Top 40 for the first time since his 1971 No. 14 hit "Speak to the Sky," but it couldn't have hurt. The video also became an early MTV staple when the network was launched in 1981, so, in a sense, the song (and by extension, Springfield and GH) helped make MTV. Interestingly, Springfield never sang the song on the show, but I have a feeling that will change when Dr. Noah performs at the resurrected Nurses Ball in the next few episodes.

1. "Rise" by Herb Alpert It had already hit the Hot 100 when General Hospital featured it in one of its all-time memorable scenes -- Luke raping Laura on the dance floor of the campus disco in 1979 -- but getting on the show and helping to launch the greatest love story ever told on a soap, helped send it to No. 1 and guaranteed its immortality, right along with Luke and Laura's.

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