Welcome back, folks, to another edition of CHART ATTACK! I have sad news for you this week: there is no Stevie B. track on this Top 10. In fact, you might as well get used to it – there will never be another Stevie B. song, as "Because I Love You" was his only Top 10.. (Sorry, JT, sweetie, but you go with your S. Florida bad self!) But don’t let it get you down – we have plenty of other artists and songs to cover – so let’s see how the charts fared on January 14, 1984!
10. Running With The Night – Lionel Richie Amazon iTunes
9. Karma Chameleon – Culture Club Amazon iTunes
8. I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues – Elton John Amazon iTunes
7. Break My Stride – Matthew Wilder Amazon
6. Talking In Your Sleep – The Romantics Amazon iTunes
5. Twist of Fate – Olivia Newton-John Amazon iTunes
4. Union Of The Snake – Duran Duran Amazon iTunes
3. Say It Isn’t So – Daryl Hall & John Oates Amazon iTunes
2. Owner Of A Lonely Heart – Yes Amazon iTunes
1. Say Say Say – Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson Amazon
10. Running With The Night – Lionel Richie It should be noted that the week before this one, "All Night Long" made its last appearance in the Top 10. It had been in the Top 10 for 11 weeks, and just as it left, "Running With The Night" showed up. It’s not a fantastic song, but Richie didn’t need fantastic songs in 1984. Just about anything he released was a smash.
9. Karma Chameleon – Culture Club I don’t know what "Karma Chameleon" is about nor do I know what a karma-karma-karma-karma (or, as I’m sure you also grew up singing, comma-comma-comma-comma) chameleon is, either. And I don’t care. I’ve always found Boy George and Culture Club to be ridiculously overrated, and that’s the end of that story. Want a not-so-interesting fact? "Karma Chameleon" was the first single to sell a million copies in Canada.
8. I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues – Elton John I think the shame of the studio version of this song, apart from the fact that it’s overproduced with cheesy backing vocals, is that it doesn’t illustrate that the song actually IS a blues number. So for that reason, I’d like to offer up a solo version of the song from Elton’s performance at The Ritz in France in January of 1998. Warning, though: this mp3, encoded at 160 kpbs, is a little on the loud side.
Elton John – I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues (live) (download)
However, the studio version has the harmonica solo, courtesy of Stevie Wonder, which I absolutely love. I’ve always loved how Stevie’s harmonica parts are filled with emotion (think "Creepin’"). This one is no exception. If you can’t feel it on this track, what can I say? You have no soul.
7. Break My Stride – Matthew Wilder On the request of our good friend Emily, Mike and I learned "Break My Stride" for our last ’80s gig. We had a remarkably hard time figuring out the chords. In fact, one of the chords that eluded us was a C diminished chord. I found that chord so annoying to play on guitar that I eventually pleaded to Mike to just change it to a plain C chord, which actually works also. So I guess the point of this story is that I’m not talented, and Matthew Wilder is some sort of genius. Or something. Also, I started off really not wanting to play this song, and then found it to be a lot of fun to perform, even though the chorus is kind of tricky to sing. Especially with the key change.
You may wonder why Matthew Wilder only had one hit to his name. Have you ever seen Matthew Wilder, by any chance? I think it might explain some things. Here’s a remarkably fey video for "Break My Stride." Or maybe it’s not so remarkable, considering the quality of his vocal.
It’s like Freddie Mercury went to see Flashdance and then got a perm!
But don’t feel too bad for Mr. Wilder: he produced No Doubt’s breakthrough album Tragic Kingdom and co-wrote the score to the Disney film Mulan, for which he was nominated for an Oscar. He also voiced the character of Ling. In 2007, Princesses will open on Broadway, for which he wrote the music. So like our friend Rupert Holmes, Matthew Wilder has found further success elsewhere in the biz, specifically on the stage. But like Mr. Holmes, only one thing’s going to be mentioned in his obit.
6. Talking In Your Sleep – The Romantics (download) The Romantics are known for two hits: this one and "What I Like About You." Judging from media saturation, I would have bet that the latter was the bigger hit, but it turns out that "Talking In Your Sleep" was the big winner for The Romantics, peaking at #3. ("What I Like About You," surprisingly, only reached a disappointing #49, which is odd since their lesser-known single "One In A Million" beat it and reached #37.) I’ve always loved this song, which is a great blend of new wave and power pop. Sharp guitar, and a great vocal. In fact, when I got my first CD burner (back when you had to buy them separately from computers and you had to walk three miles in the snow uphill against the wind, etc), I immediately made my definitive ’80s CD and put this song as track #2. (Track #1: "Kyrie.")
5. Twist of Fate – Olivia Newton-John Ladies and gentlemen, rejoice: we have finally reached the end of The Reign Of Newt. Oh, and what a reign it was! As mentioned back in Chart Attack #11, Newt (this is your fault, everybody who encouraged me on "Nuge") holds the honor of having the most popular Hot 100 song of the 1980s, period: "Physical." Unfortunately, such a popular song enabled her to reach the top of the charts which some pretty shitty tunes ("Heart Attack," anyone?). "Twist Of Fate" was her last Top 10 hit, period (unless she has something up her sleeve, which I doubt). And it sounds not only horribly dated but also like something straight out of a soundtrack, you’re right on both counts. The dated sound is courtesy of none other than the song’s author, David Foster. (Damn him!) The soundtrack sound? Well, it was the lead-off track for the movie Two Of A Kind:
Do you remember Two Of A Kind? I sure as hell do. I swear, the first month we got HBO, this movie was on twice a day. And of course, we were so excited to get HBO that we watched it. Okay, I watched it. Twice a day. I don’t want to stray too far off-topic here, but this movie is perhaps one of the dumbest ever created. The basic plot? Travolta’s an inventor, Newt’s a bank teller. God decides to destroy the human race. An angel (Charles Durning) convinces God to give him a chance to find two good souls in the world. And he finds these two, who turn out to be criminals. I don’t need to say any more. And the voice of God? Gene Hackman, who wisely went uncredited. The movie put a bad taste in the mouths of just about everyone. The public allowed Newt this one last single, save for a few Adult Contemporary hits (which we all know don’t count), and then told her to shove it. Oh, they told Travolta to shove it, too: after this flick, he pretty much went into hiding until "Look Who’s Talking."
I feel dirty after writing so much about this shitty song.
4. Union Of The Snake – Duran Duran The lead-off single from Seven And The Ragged Tiger, "Union Of The Snake" reached #3 in late December 1983. It’s never been one of my favorite Duran Duran songs – although I dig the backing vocals and the guitar part, it’s actually just a bit too synth-heavy for my tastes. The video, however, was one of the first to be filmed on 35mm instead of videotape, and was the source of some controversy: the video was released to MTV before the single was released to radio, and radio programmers weren’t happy about it: what would happen to the efficacy of radio promotion if music videos were to steal their thunder? Luckily, such a thing never happened.
3. Say It Isn’t So – Daryl Hall & John Oates (download) After a successful early-’80s comeback, H&O decided to take a brief break and release their first greatest hits collection, Rock ‘N Soul, Part 1, including two new songs: "Say It Isn’t So," which peaked at #2, and "Adult Education," which reached #8 a few months later.) This is one of my favorite H&O singles. I think the backing vocal really makes this song, which is interesting considering it only consists of the words "say it isn’t so" and maybe three or four notes. Rhythm and timing is everything.
2. Owner Of A Lonely Heart – Yes If this was the only Yes song you had ever heard in your life, you’d have no clue that they were ever a prog rock band. Yes had ever-changing members throughout the 1970s, and surprisingly, "Owner" represented a line-up that closely resembled the original: Chris Squire on bass, Jon Anderson on vocals, and Tony Kaye on keyboards. The band had broken up in 1981, and reformed by accident: Squire and Alan White (Yes drummer since ’72) formed a band called Cinema, and invited Kaye to contribute keyboards. Guitarist Trevor Rabin also joined the band, and when his vocals didn’t cut it, Anderson was asked to contribute. Realizing that Yes was essentially back together, Cinema assumed their previous name and released 90125. "Owner Of A Lonely Heart," written by Rabin, wound up becoming the biggest hit of their career – their only #1. Oh, and it was produced by former Yes vocalist Trevor Horn, who also sings the falsetto in the chorus, but did not re-join the band. Are you still with me? Because I’m writing it, and I’m lost.
1. Say Say Say – Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson Ah, the good old days when Jackson and McCartney were buddies. Their collaboration began in the late ’70s, when Jackson recorded McCartney’s "Girlfriend" for Off The Wall. Jackson invited McCartney to duet on "The Girl Is Mine" (the first single from Thriller, which hit #2) and McCartney returned the favor by inviting Jackson to collaborate on two songs from his upcoming album, Pipes Of Peace: "The Man," and "Say Say Say."
Produced by George Martin, "Say Say Say" was a smash, holding down the #1 spot for six weeks. I haven’t heard "The Man," but this track is clearly superior to "The Girl Is Mine" (although the "I’m a lover, not a fighter" line is now cute in a kitsch-y kinda way). The song was accompanied by an absolutely adorable video, with a storyline having absolutely nothing to do with the song itself. Featuring "Mac and Jack" as traveling salesmen/vaudeville comedians, the video recalls the famous Bing Crosby/Bob Hope "Road To…" films, and features Linda McCartney (who acted as well as she sung) and Michael’s sister LaToya, who plays the object of Michael’s affection. How did we not see this as the first sign of a warped man? Either way, watch the video, it’s lots of fun.
But here’s what I really want to know: two musical geniuses, and this is the best cover they could come up with?
And that covers the Top 10 for this week! Hope you enjoyed – have a great weekend and we’ll be back once again next Friday for more CHART ATTACK!