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Chart Attack! 1: 9/29/84

Welcome to the very first edition of CHART ATTACK!  Every Friday, we’ll be reviewing the Billboard Top 10 from a glorious past year, corresponding with the week we’re in.  It’ll be educational!  It’ll be snarky!  It’ll give you free downloads!

This week, we’re going back to September 29, 1984: A very good week for Prince, and for two bands that never reached the top 10 again.

10.  Cover Me – Bruce Springsteen iTunes Amazon
9.  Cruel Summer – Bananarama Amazon
8.  The Glamorous Life – Sheila E. iTunes Amazon
7.  The Warrior – Scandal iTunes Amazon
6.  What’s Love Got To Do With It – Tina Turner iTunes Amazon
5.  I Just Called To Say I Love You – Stevie Wonder iTunes Amazon
4.  She Bop – Cyndi Lauper iTunes Amazon
3.  Drive – The Cars iTunes Amazon
2.  Missing You – John Waite iTunes Amazon
1.  Let’s Go Crazy – Prince iTunes Amazon

10.  Cover Me – Bruce Springsteen  Ahhh, 1984.  The year Bruce Springsteen unwittingly became a pop icon.  "Cover Me" was the follow-up single to "Dancing In The Dark," and eventually hit #7 in the top 10.  Not bad for a song originally written by Springsteen for Donna Summer. 

This will seem like blasphemy for most, but in truth, I’m way more familiar with this song in a different incarnation.  A cover of this song opens each episode of my favorite podcast of all time: Coverville.  The version on there is performed by the podcast’s creator and host, Brian Ibbott.  I honestly don’t care much for the cover, but I’ve heard it so many times that I’ve lost any ability to be objective about it.  If you don’t listen to Coverville, do yourself a favor and download a few podcasts.  It’s fantastic.

9.  Cruel Summer – Bananarama
For all its popularity, this song only spent two weeks in the top 10, and this was its best week.  Personally, I can’t hear it without thinking of that scene on the beach in The Karate Kid.

8.  The Glamorous Life – Sheila E.
  Reason #1 why it was a very good week to be Prince.  In addition to his own hugely successful career, Prince was pulling in the hits in 1984 with songs like this one and Chaka Khan’s cover of "I Feel For You."  Long story short: if Prince offers to give you a song of his, you take it.  Doesn’t matter if he winds up locking you in the bathroom or closet for a few hours/days/weeks.  You take the song.  And "The Glamorous Life" is an awesome, quintessential ’80s song.  And so, so true: without love, it ain’t much.

7.  The Warrior – Scandal (download) Here’s what this song reminds me of.  It sounds a bit like mid-80s-era Heart, with some Pat Benetar, and Joan Jett thrown in.  As a matter of fact, for many years, I thought this was Pat Benetar.  Same with Scandal’s previous single, "Goodbye To You."  While this was it for Scandal, lead vocalist Patty Smyth had a hit 8 years later with "Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough," a duet with Don Henley.  Did you know that after David Lee Roth left Van Halen, the lead slot was offered to Patty?  I mean, it’s highly possible that Eddie was drunk and just asked anybody he knew (Patty was a friend of Valerie Bertinelli), but still…can you imagine?

Now I’m picturing Bonnie Franklin fronting Van Halen.

6.  What’s Love Got To Do With It – Tina Turner
  This was the last week for this single in the top 10.  What a respectable run, though: it first entered the top 10 a full 8 weeks prior.  I’ll probably say this again at some point, but man, had anybody else had more of a deserved comeback?  And this song!  So synthesized!  Listen to that drum machine.  No, fuck the drum machine – listen to the Korgmonica.  Yes, the Korgmonica – that awful synthesized harmonica sound that you just KNOW didn’t come from a harmonica.  I don’t get it.  I don’t care what year it was, Tina.  Why not just use a real harmonica?  Why?  WHY?

5.  I Just Called To Say I Love You – Stevie Wonder  Mike and I have had a few arguments of late surrounding this song.  Mike likes this song.  I can’t stand it.  And I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking the same thing that Mike was thinking: I just don’t like it because nothing can possibly match Stevie’s works in 1970.  Not true.  I like mostly everything off of Hotter Than July, I like "Ribbon In The Sky" (1982), "Part Time Lover" (1984) and "Overjoyed" (1985).  I even like "Sweetest Somebody I Know" and "Positivity" (2005).  The truth is that I don’t like this song because it fucking sucks.  End of story.  The only redeeming quality of this song is the cha-cha-cha ending.  I’m a big fan of any song ending with a cha-cha-cha.

4.  She Bop – Cyndi Lauper  I played the hell out of my She’s So Unusual cassette.  I was seven years old.  Never knew what the hell she was talking about.  Turns out it was all about masturbation.  You hear that, mom?  Oh, no, I couldn’t have Appetite For Destruction, but this filthy song, with its lyrics like "I wanna go south and get me some more" and "they say I’d better stop or I’ll go blind" was juuuust fine!  I hope you’re happy.  You’re the reason I’m perverted.

3.  Drive – The Cars (download) I ripped on Tina Turner for her song being completely synthesized.  However, it actually was possible for some bands to produce synthesized songs that were simply beautiful.  "Drive" is one of those songs.  Practically the entire song is synths and ethereal backing vocals.  Written by Ric Ocasek but sung by the late Benjamin Orr, they don’t get more layered and beautiful.

I’m currently in a band with Mike and three other talented musicians, and we’ve been working on "You Might Think."  Our bassist/vocalist noted how many songs by The Cars sound deceptively simple; the devil is in the endless layers of instruments and vocals.  I wouldn’t even want to attempt to cover this one.  I could listen to this song all day.

2.  Missing You – John Waite  Everybody now!  Sing those backing vocals!

Little side note here: so I’m thinking about what to say about John Waite, and as I’m listening back to the song, I think, "I’m pretty sure Jefito has covered John Waite before."  A quick search later, and yup, Jeff has not one, but two dedicated posts to Waite.  As usual, nobody writes ’em like Jefito (and certainly not me), so check out his posts "Poor John Waite" and "Cutouts Gone Wild: John Waite, ‘Rover’s Return’".  If nothing else, you’ll want to see how Jeff explains his comparison of Waite to Brian Wilson.  And for the record, I like "Missing You."  (missing you!)

1.  Let’s Go Crazy – Prince  Forget "1999."  If there’s one song that should be played at every single New Year’s Eve party from now until the end of time (other than "What A Fool Believes"), it should be "Let’s Go Crazy."  It is the rare party song that doesn’t grate on you after repeated listenings.  (See "Love Shack," "Macarena," "Mambo #5," etc, etc, etc)  That wobbly keyboard-gospel-eulogy opening, the ridiculous guitar solo at the end – there’s just nothing like it.  This is reason #2 why it was a very good week for Prince; he was on fire, and remained this hot for the rest of 1984.  But that’s a story for another post.

And that’s it for this week.  Where are we off to next?  I have a feelling like we’ll be heading for the late ’80s or early ’90s, but you’ll have to come back next Friday for another CHART ATTACK! to find out!

  • poisonskin80

    Keep it coming! You just made my decade!!
    I love the 80’s!!!!

  • Brilliant post, brilliant concept. Two things. 1. Since you brought it up, I like I Just Called to Say I Love You, on  the same level, and for the same reason, as I like You Are The Woman, Everything I Own by Bread and all of the other wussy songs that I like. It’s goofy and silly and just catchy as hell. Everyone who hates the song can still sing the chorus, most of you can probably sing the melody of the verse even if you don’t remember the words. Considering the amount of music we have all been inundated with over our lifetimes, this is actually an achievement. I do feel like Stevie is unfairly pilloried for his awful yet catchy 80’s period because of the unassialable brilliance of his earlier work. Do with this what you will. 2. missin you…..ain’t missin you

  • “The Warrior” was written by the great HOLLY KNIGHT.

    She also wrote:

    “Love Is A Battlefield” Pat Benatar
    “The One” Tina Turner
    “Invincible” Pat Benatar
    “Better Be Good To Me” Tina Turner
    “Never” Heart
    “Osbsession” Animotion
    “Ragdoll” Aerosmith
    “Love Touch” Rod Stewart
    “Hide Your Heart” Kiss

    And Many Many More!

  • Carlos: No wonder!  "Love Is A Battlefield" and "Never" were the two songs I was thinking of when I heard "The Warrior."  Unbelievable.  Thanks!

  • There are certain years when the top 40 had some really great pop songs, and I think 84 was one of those years.   Like you, I can do with out the Stevie Wonder tune, but the others are solid pop gold.  Sadly, they are also overplayed on the radio (in my neck of the woods, anyway).

  • Elaine

    A thousand more seconds of Brian Ibbott’s Coverville podcast.  Though I guess it’s not a podcast, exactly, more like a webcast?  Anyway, I (too) love it.  I can’t believe it took me as long as it did to find it…but luckily, they’re all archived!  He is great.btw — thanks to you, I’ve had "The Warrior" in my head all afternoon.  THANKS A LOT.

  • Oh, you’re welcome.  It’s only going to get worse for you in the coming weeks, I promise.

  • Dan

    BRILLIANT concept. I predict a bright blogging future for you, my friend. Keep that little iMac humming! Couldn’t possibly agree more about "I Just Called…". When I first heard that, I was nearly nauseaus at the depth to which Stevie would sink for a hit. Wretched. The cha-cha-cha ending does very little in my mind to redeem it. I too played the everliving crap out of _She’s So Unusual_. I was a tad older than you, though. "She Bop" was possibly my favorite track.

  • Rico

    Speaking of covers…What are the odds that any other Top 10 had an appearance by an artist (Tina Turner) who would later go on to cover one of the other songs in that very chart (she did her own, smoky rendition of "Missing You" a few years later)?

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