Name: Adam Bernard Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States About Me: Entertainment journalist with 20 years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, and B-movies. Part time ninja. Kicked cancer’s ass. My memoir, ChemBro, is out now!
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Welcome to your weekly dose of pop world musings. Covering all things pop culture, this week I’m hopping into my time machine again, this time setting the coordinates for 32 years ago this week.
Touching down in early February of ’88 I hear … SO MUCH GOOD MUSIC! My God, what a time to be alive!
Tiffany was at #1 with “Could’ve Been,” and at #100 with “I Think We’re Alone Now.” Having two songs on the chart was a trend, as in addition to Tiffany – Debbie Gibson, George Michael, Belinda Carlisle, Aerosmith, John Mellencamp, Prince, Michael Bolton, Def Leppard, Jody Watley, Sting, Michael Jackson, Richard Marx, and George Harrison, all had two songs each on the chart.
Rick Astley, who probably never imagined what would come of his biggest hit, was in the Top 20 with “Never Gonna Give You Up,” and the California Raisins were at #90 with “I Heard It Through The Grapevine,” because we were that f*cking obsessed with claymation.
It’s almost impossible to pick out favorites from this edition of the Billboard Hot 100, but here’s a sampling of what we were listening to. Of course, since this is Pop Shots, you know everything is seasoned with a little bit of attitude.
2. The Bangles – Hazy Shade of Winter
The Bangles put a rock twist on a Simon & Garfunkel classic, and I have to say – I honestly think this is one of the rare instances where the cover is actually better than the original. What Susanna Hoffs and crew did, starting with the intro … it’s just perfect, and when the electric guitar comes in the song becomes something completely new, and a hell of a ride.
3. INXS – Need You Tonight
One of the great frontmen of all-time, Michael Hutchence oozed sexuality on “Need You Tonight,” to the point where I’m pretty sure the song is now legally considered a fertility drug.
4. Exposé – Seasons Change
Exposé were the freestyle group that also had killer ballads, “Seasons Change” being one of their best. I don’t think these ladies get nearly as much credit/respect as they deserve when people discuss girl groups. They didn’t just pre-date Spice Girls, and Destiny’s Child, they helped pave the way for them.
5. Roger – I Want To Be Your Man
Decades before T-Pain used a vocoder, Zapp & Roger perfected the use of the talk box. Roger’s solo hit, “I Want To Be Your Man,” is an absolute classic, and proves that when done right, altered vocals can be pretty great. The key part of that sentence being “when done right.”
20. M/A/R/R/S – Pump Up The Volume
The recording collective M/A/R/R/S released one single, just ONE, a double A-side consisting of “Anitina” and a song that would end up having a place of honor in one-hit wonder lore, “Pump Up The Volume.” The crazy thing is the sample-filled hit still sounds just as great in 2020 as it did in 1988. (It also gets stuck in your head just as easily as it did back in the day)
27. Belinda Carlisle – I Get Weak
Although we tend to remember Belinda Carlisle’s solo career for the mega-hit “Heaven is a Place on Earth” (which was at #79 on this chart), The Go-Go’s frontwoman had a number of other hits, including the song that comes in at #27 on this chart, “I Get Weak.” I was always a huge fan of Belinda’s voice, and a few years ago I picked up Heaven on Earth on vinyl at a local library’s used media sale. It was well worth all the crate digging to find!
71. Billy Idol – Hot in the City
Last year, when I interviewed singer-songwriter Blake Morgan, the topic of Billy Idol came up. Morgan said, “Once a year I put on his Greatest Hits and I become completely convinced that I’ve wasted my life and that he’s the greatest recording artist in the history of the world.” I’ve always enjoyed Billy Idol, so I picked up the album, and damn, Morgan wasn’t kidding.
Classic rock stations tend to focus on just a few of Billy Idol’s hits. Sadly, “Hot in the City” isn’t one they keep in rotation, but they should!
74. R.E.M. – It’s The End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine)
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – the older I get the more I appreciate R.E.M. Their music, their lyrics, Michael Stipe’s voice … honestly, I didn’t even realize how much I liked them until I rearranged my albums by genre and saw how many R.E.M. albums I own.
They’ve been making great music for 40 years, and coming in at #74 on this edition of the Billboard Hot 100 is their frenetic classic “It’s The End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine).” All these years later, we still feel fine as long as R.E.M. is on the radio.
80. Aerosmith – Dude (Looks Like a Lady)
I’m not sure any artist would be able to release a song like this today, but Aerosmith gave us an ‘80s classic with “Dude (Looks Like a Lady).” The song was inspired by Steven Tyler mistaking Mötley Crüe’s Vince Neil for a woman. Wait … does that mean Vince Neil should get credit for Aerosmith’s comeback in the ‘80s?
Whoever is to be credited, I’m just happy we ended up with a couple more decades of great Aerosmith songs.
That’s all for this edition of Pop Shots, but come back next Monday for more shots on all things pop.