Welcome back, boys and girls, to another week of CHART ATTACK! This week, we tackle October 29, 1983: a strong week in general (no covers!) and a particularly good week for Jim Steinman! Plus, YouTube links aplenty!
10. Uptown Girl – Billy Joel Amazon iTunes
9. Telefone (Long Distance Love Affair) – Sheena Easton Amazon
8. Delirious – Prince Amazon iTunes
7. King of Pain – The Police Amazon iTunes
6. Making Love Out Of Nothing At All – Air Supply Amazon iTunes
5. One Thing Leads To Another – The Fixx Amazon iTunes
4. True – Spandau Ballet Amazon iTunes
3. All Night Long (All Night) – Lionel Richie Amazon iTunes
2. Total Eclipse of The Heart – Bonnie Tyler Amazon iTunes
1. Islands In The Stream – Kenny Rogers with Dolly Parton Amazon iTunes
10. Uptown Girl – Billy Joel Billy Joel gets a lot of shit for An Innocent Man, but I have a real soft spot in my heart for the album, and this song. It’s not just because I was a kid when this album came out and it was my first exposure to Billy within the context of pop culture (in truth, I heard The Stranger at age six and promptly convinced my parents to let me take piano lessons). It’s because I’ve followed The Ballad of Drunky McCrashersen for many years and I really enjoy remembering him in this period of his life – when he was ridiculously, head-over-heels in love and couldn’t help but wear it on his sleeve, while paying tribute to the music he grew up with. Cheesy? Maybe. Overplayed? Definitely. But if you can’t hear the redeeming power of a woman in this song…well, as Billy said himself in the "Keeping The Faith" video, they say justice is blind, but I sure hope it ain’t deaf. (Then he put an oversized nickel into a jukebox and did an awkward dance.)
9. Telefone (Long Distance Love Affair) – Sheena Easton Sheena Easton was no chart slouch in the 1980s, amassing 10 hits in the Top 20 during the decade. Five of those hits preceded this one, and all five were your typical soft rock singles. "Telefone" was Easton’s attempt to keep up with the current radio trend – synthesizer-based pop. Other than her voice, there’s not a genuine, acoustic-based instrument to be found. This song has traces of "Mickey" by Toni Basil, "Gloria" by Laura Branigan, and "All Right" by Christopher Cross.
8. Delirious – Prince The third single from 1999, "Delirious" peaked at #8 and was only Prince’s second hit in the Top 10, the first being "Little Red Corvette" from the same album. With a drum sound later resurrected for "Let’s Go Crazy," "Delirious" was a Prince song typical of this stage in his career – dirty lyrics that nobody really cared to decipher. This was Prince’s last significant chart impact before "Purple Rain" made him a star of epic proportions.
7. King Of Pain – The Police One of my favorite Sting songs, "King Of Pain" is filled with such fantastic imagery that I don’t know where to begin. So I’m not even going to try, because I wouldn’t do it justice. I’ll just say that clearly Sting was depressed or something. I’ve heard two pretty good covers of "King Of Pain," both of which you can find over at Coverville, by Alanis Morrissette and Brandtson, if you’re into that sort of thing. (And you should be.)
6. Making Love Out Of Nothing At All – Air Supply (download) So why was Jim Steinman having the BEST WEEK EVER? Well, he had two songs in the top 10, and neither of them were by Meat Loaf. I imagine it must have vindicated Steinman to prove that he could provide hits through other avenues. "Making Love" was Air Supply’s eighth (and last) hit in the Top 10, and features all the trademark Steinman tricks: mainly, completely bombastic lyrics and production (especially those backing vocals). It’s actually quite similar to "Total Eclipse Of The Heart," and Bonnie Tyler did go on to cover this track later in her career.
I was just about to publish CHART ATTACK! for this week and Mike called. He requested – no, insisted – no, demanded that I include the video for "Making Love Out Of Nothing At All." When I reviewed it, I realized he was right. I hadn’t remembered what an atrocity this video is: it features some of the most horrible acting I’ve seen maybe ever (and I have seen some awful acting), courtesy of guitarist Graham Russell:
There are so many snarky comments to be made about this video, but my favorite part is when (spoiler alert!) the girl shows up in the wings near the end, mouths "I love you!" and Russell mouths back "I love you too!" At this point, all I want is for Russell Hitchcock to look at him and, thinking the message was for him, kiss him on the lips. God, I hope CAPTAIN VIDEO! covers this one at some point. (No pressure, Captain.) Thanks, Mike, for threatening me with murder had I not included this video. It’s a classic.
5. One Thing Leads To Another – The Fixx (download) Although this was their only Top 10 on the Pop charts, The Fixx had a number of singles reach the Top 10 Mainstream and Modern Rock charts, including three #1 hits on Mainstream. You probably have it already on one of your many 80s compilations, but if you don’t, you need to download it now. It’s a great new-wave pop song. Despite a lack of hits in the past 15 years, The Fixx maintain a strong following and still tour regularly.
4. True – Spandau Ballet With only two guitar chords, this New Romantic band created one of the easily most recognizeable riffs of the 1980s. Their only U.S. hit, "True" name-checked Marvin Gaye and quoted a line from Nabokov’s Lolita, and is actually a song about trying to write a love song. See, I would have known these things earlier had I ever listened to the lyrics. Songwriter Gary Kemp was initially nervous about presenting such a…how shall we say…"wussy" song to his bandmates, but as soon as the royalty checks came in, I’m sure they put up less of a fight. (Actually, they unsuccesfully sued Kemp years later for royalty payments, but that’s another story.)
"True" went to #1 in 21 different countries, and I imagine it’s playing on a radio station at the very moment you’re reading this. It’s been covered or sampled by a number of artists, including Cary Brothers and Nelly, but of course, it was most famously sampled in 1991 by P.M. Dawn for their fantastic hit, "Set Adrift on Memory Bliss." The video for "True," by the way, is the walking definition of the term pretty boy.
On another note, apparently nobody seemed to know or care that the band members were awkwardly inspired to name their band after Spandau Prison in Berlin, where Nazi war criminals were hanged in 1946. So true.
3. All Night Long (All Night) – Lionel Richie Words can’t express how much I dig Lionel. I love this song, seriously, and there’s no irony or snark in that statement. (I’m totally going to see Lionel on the 8th at the Beacon Theatre.) "All Night Long" was initially written as a slow R&B number and eventually morphed into an uptempo, Carribean-flavored dance tune. It outsold another Richie song, "Endless Love," to become Motown’s biggest-selling single at the time. It was accompanied by a music video that just screams 1980s (look at their costumes, people!), produced by former Monkee Michael Nesmith.
You may or may not know this, but apparently Lionel Richie is absolutely adored by the Iraqis. Although they don’t understand or speak English, they LOVE his music. According to Richie, "All Night Long" was playing in the streets on the day in 2003 when American tanks made their way for the first time through Baghdad.
Now, I don’t know about you, but my favorite lines in the song are the pre-chorus that goes like this:
We are so
lucky to know them, to feel them, to share them
time now to let them know
How much we
love them, want them, need them, forever
so hard to let them go
You don’t remember that part? Shame on you! Clearly you weren’t watching TV on August 12, 1984, when Richie was asked to close the Summer Olympics with this tune, featuring a special verse written just for the Olympians of the world. Once again, bow your head and give praise to YouTube.
Your one remaining question might be: what’s the deal with the Jamaican chanting? The truth is: I don’t know. I thought this would be an obvious answer, but I can’t seem to figure it out, so if anybody knows how this chant came to be a part of "All Night Long," please, enlighten us. I promise not to make fun of you. Here’s what I can tell you, though: on the record itself, there are a lot of people joining in on that chant, including Brenda Richie (bad idea, Lionel!) and Richard Marx.
2. Total Eclipse of the Heart – Bonnie Tyler I hate this song. Seriously. I know I’m supposed to absolutely adore it, being a fan of all things cheesy about the ’80s, but this song just irks me. I think it’s ridiculously overdramatic and too fucking long. (So in other words, it’s a Jim Steinman song. But I don’t mind Bat Out Of Hell or the previously mentioned Air Supply song, so I guess I have to either blame Bonnie or the asshole singing the "bright eyes" part, which irritates me too.) And by the way, when I say the song is too long, I’m referring to the radio edit. I’m not even referring to the 7-minute monstrosity from the record!
The Wikipedia entry on "Total Eclipse of the Heart" has all sorts of interesting information, but as I don’t like this song, I’m not going to waste space on it. However, I did quite enjoy the detailed description of the "Total Eclipse" video, which is fascinating even if you’ve never seen the video itself. And I did find this footage of Steinman rehearsing the song with Tyler kind of interesting, only because it’s clear Tyler had not yet found her confidence. Clearly she did not yet know she’d be singing this song at every single gig for the rest of her life.
1. Islands In The Stream – Kenny Rogers with Dolly Parton How on earth did I not know that this song was written by the Bee Gees? Produced by Barry, the Brothers Gibb originally wrote this song for Diana Ross but converted it to a duet after Ross rejected it. Too bad for her, because the song found collosal success: not only did it win Vocal Duet Of The Year and Single Record Of The Year at the Academy Of Country Music Awards, but it also won Favorite Country Single at the American Music Awards two years in a row – the first time such a feat had ever been achieved. Additionally, the single went platinum (a million copies) in the US – the only single to do so in 1983.
If you only know this song because of "Ghetto Supastar," then again, I’m old. That being said, I think "Ghetto Supastar" is a fantastic song and uses the "Islands" chorus brilliantly.
The Bee Gees themselves recorded "Islands In The Stream" for a 2000 greatest hits compilation. I was hoping to include it here as a bonus download, but trust me, you don’t want it. Robin Gibb’s vocal is atrocious and while he intended to be funny by singing a chorus of "Ghetto," it just sounds pathetic. That being said, the early ’80s were a great time for the Bee Gees, who were discovering they were capable of great success by writing and producing for other artists.
And with that, we’re at the end of another CHART ATTACK! Enjoy the downloads and see you next week!