CHART ATTACK! #16: 1/27/90


Welcome back, friends, to another edition of CHART ATTACK!  Well, maybe I shouldn’t say "friends."  I don’t think you’ll like me very much after you review this week in music.  I have affection for lots of early ’90s music, and I’ve defended it in previous posts, but there’s really not much to defend here.  But they can’t all be winners, can they?  So suck it up and let’s review the charts of January 27, 1990!

10.  Another Day In Paradise – Phil Collins
  Amazon iTunes
9.  I Remember You – Skid Row
  Amazon iTunes
8.  Opposites Attract – Paula Abdul with The Wild Pair  Amazon iTunes
7.  Free Fallin’ – Tom Petty  Amazon iTunes
6.  Just Between You And Me – Lou Gramm  Amazon iTunes
5.  Two To Make It Right- Seduction  Amazon iTunes
4.  Everything – Jody Watley  Amazon iTunes
3.  Downtown Train – Rod Stewart  Amazon iTunes
2.  Pump Up The Jam – Technotronic Featuring Felly  Amazon iTunes
1.  How Am I Supposed To Live Without You – Michael Bolton  Amazon iTunes

10.  Another Day In Paradise – Phil Collins  Well, no better way to start of Chart Attack! with a downer, huh?  I guess you can’t expect much more from a man who titled his album …But Seriously, and was serious about it.  The song, which vividly depicts the life of the homeless, definitely sends a good, strong message, but part of me can’t help but wonder a) if we needed to be beaten over the head with the point, and b) if we did, did this song change anything?  Other than putting some bucks in David Crosby’s pocket?  (No, you assholes, Crosby was a backing vocalist.  He just looked homeless.)

"Another Day In Paradise" left the Top 10 after this week, but it has the honor of being both the last #1 of the ’80s and the first #1 of the ’90s.

9.  I Remember You – Skid Row (download)
  I saw Skid Row live once.  It’s true: the same wuss who saw The Weepies and Indigo Girls rocked out to Skid Row.  They opened, along with Sam Kinison, for Bon Jovi at Giants Stadium in the summer of 1989.  Ace Frehley came out and duetted on "Cold Gin" with Sebastian Bach.

Say what you want about Bach (no, seriously, say what you want, I’m hoping it’s snarky), but the man has a set of pipes on him.  I remember being in a summer camp band and them wanting someone to sing "I Remember You."  We gave it to a girl.

Completely random note, but Bach tried out for Velvet Revolver, apparently, and was turned down because with him in the lead spot, the band pretty much sounded just like Skid Row.

8.  Opposites Attract – Paula Abdul with The Wild Pair
  How did we not predict "The Crazy Years," people?  It’s Paula Abdul duetting with a fuckin’ cartoon!  I mean, it’s true that the country was still all nuts over that rascal Roger Rabbit, but…wait a minute – that’s not even true!  Who Framed Roger Rabbit was released two years prior – so what was Abdul thinking?

But then again, let’s give her some credit, as she’s not really duetting with a cartoon…yet all you think of when you hear "Opposites Attract" is her video boogie with MC Skat Kat.  In reality, her duet was with The Wild Pair.  The video added, er, Mr. Kat, the creation of animator Michael Patterson (who also did the animation for "Take On Me").  The video for "Opposites Attract" won the Grammy for Video Of The Year, and was directed by none other than David Fincher.  (Fincher directed tons of music videos in the late ’80s/early ’90s, including a cover of Tom Waits’ "Downtown Train" by Patty Smyth.)  And to be honest, the video’s not really that bad.  Say what you want about freaky Paula, but she was quite a dancer, and pulled off her half-animated duet.

But forget all that – the most important thing about "Opposites Attract" is that it paved the way for MC Skat Kat’s career as a solo, er, kat.  The Adventures Of… by MC Skat Kat & The Stray Mob was released in 1991, and the first single, "Skat Strut" was boosted by a popular video on MTV.  Abdul appeared in the video, but didn’t sing, which at the time caused people to whine, "Bummer!"  Now we know better.  The Adventures Of… didn’t sell, and that was the end of that, er, Kat.

7.  Free Fallin’ – Tom Petty  Can I be honest with you for a sec?  I like "Free Fallin’."  I like "Free Fallin’" a bunch.  Yet I don’t know what it is – whenever it comes on the radio, I switch the station.  Why?  Is it because it’s only three chords over and over again?  Or is it because it must be the most overplayed Tom Petty song in Tom Petty history?  I don’t think I really have anything against the song, or Tom Petty – it’s just that I think the song was made out to be much greater than it actually was.

I was telling Mike how I really didn’t know what to say about "Free Fallin’" (although I encourage you to check out the Wiki, which has a few interesting facts) and he encouraged me to watch the video (which I haven’t seen since around this time, I imagine).  It’s true, I did enjoy the slap fight between the two opposing gangs as they were in separate cars (and I think this would have been a very funny recurring gag), and the spandex worn by both male and female skateboarders was quaint.  But I felt the same way about the video that I did about the song – I just kind of wanted to turn it off.

6.  Just Between You And Me – Lou Gramm (download) Earworm Alert!  Earworm Alert!  "Just Between You And Me" was another hit co-written by Holly Knight.  And I don’t know what more to say about this song, except that I kind of like it.  I don’t want to like it, but I do.  I giggle at the way he says the phrase "…and then we’ll have nowhere to (shrieky girl voice) go!" every time.  I was hoping to share some more information about the song with you, and even went to Lou Gramm’s official website (really, there’s no need for a link), but considering they list the song in the discography as "Just Between Me And You," I’m guessing tidbits will be hard to find.  The Foreigner Files website wasn’t much help either – the 2004 press kit lists "Just Between You And Me" as "a Top 5 hit," then goes on to explain that it peaked here at #6.  And if you’re at that link, seeing the old picture of Gramm and thinking, "man, he’s really rockin’ out," then definitely don’t look at this picture.  Or this one.  This is apparently the official site of the Lou Gramm Band, and this is the best they can do?  Chunky!

Ooh!  Here’s something I didn’t mention about Jessica in my mushy post yesterday: she loves the soundtrack to The Lost Boys – and that includes the theme song by Lou Gramm, "Lost In The Shadows!"

I’m going to get in trouble for making this public, I know it.

5.  Two To Make It Right – Seduction  The brainchild (and hoo boy, do I use that term loosely) of Clivilles and Cole of C+C Music Factory, Seduction consisted of three women: Idalis DeLeon, who became an MTV VJ I’ve never heard of, Michelle Visage, who became an NYC radio DJ I’ve never heard of, and April Harris, who owns the rights to the name and releases music I’ve never heard of.  Additionally, they apparently had four Top 20 hits, and I barely remember this one, their biggest hit.  So you can see why I can barely muster up the energy to find anything interesting to say about them.

4.  Everything – Jody Watley
  I don’t get it.  Jody Watley is apparently still making albums (and having hits on the Dance charts), but I haven’t heard a word about her since, well, "Everything."  Watley had a number of huge hits, and for a while, she really was – wait for it – Larger Than Life.  (Huh?  Huh?  You like that one?  No?  Okay.)  "Everything" was Watley’s sixth Top 10 and her first ballad release.  I’ve loved Watley’s voice since Shalamar (on a side note, I refuse to say the word "Shalamar" out loud, ever) and always thought this song was quite pretty.

3.  Downtown Train – Rod Stewart  You see how the Chart Attack circle is complete?  That’s pretty much the only reason I mentioned Fincher’s directorial bit above.  Anyway, as Rod Stewart songs go, this one isn’t awful.  Unfortunately, it’s really a Tom Waits song, which – I will admit – I didn’t know until maybe a year ago.  (Don’t blame me, blame the radio.)  So if you’re going to go by those standards, Stewart’s cover is pretty bad.  It’s hard to improve upon Waits’ original (unless you don’t like Cookie Monster), but if you’re looking for another version, check out Smyth’s version, or Mary Chapin Carpenter’s version.  Only Stewart’s version (with a guitar solo by buddy Jeff Beck) charted, and peaked this week at #3.

2.  Pump Up The Jam – Technotronic Featuring Felly
  Just like C+C Music Factory (another Chart Attack circle, complete), Technotronic experienced a bit of controversy when it was revealed that the lead singer in their video was not actually the real vocalist behind the song.  Why Technotronic chose Felly over real singer Ya Kid K, the world may never know…hmm…

Anyway, "Pump Up The Jam" was an unexpected hit, so the group rushed to put out Pump Up The Jam – The Album.  That album title?  That’s money talking.  No need for a high-concept title, just tell the people what they need to hear to fork down their $16.

1.  How Am I Supposed To Live Without You – Michael Bolton  I’m sorry, everybody.  It wasn’t until I really started writing the bulk of this week’s Chart Attack! that I realized: this is a cruel, shitty way to end your workweek.  I don’t expect you to forgive me, so instead, I’ll tell you the thing I remember most about "How Am I Supposed To Live Without You." 

I went to sleepaway camp for five or six summers in my childhood.  One of the kids in the bunk next door (who, incidentally, was instrumental in jh.com commenter JT and I becoming sleepaway camp sweethearts – ah, 12 year-old love!) got dumped and was heartbroken.  So what did he do?  Late at night, he crossed from the boys’ campus to the girls’ campus (a BIG no-no), stood outside her bunk window, and serenaded her.  With "How Am I Supposed To Live Without You."  The kid couldn’t sing, either, and I’m almost positive he was going throug puberty at the time.  Needless to say, not only did he get totally busted for being on the girls campus (after curfew, no less), she didn’t take him back.  I remember hearing the story and – even back then, when Michael Bolton was popular and I was young – I thought, "wow, that’s really pathetic."

I really don’t want to spend too much time on this song (I’ve already said too much), but I’ll tell you that you almost first heard the golden voice of Russell Hitchcock on this tune.  Bolton wrote it in the early ’80s, and it was offered to Air Supply; however, they wanted some changes in the chorus, and Bolton wasn’t having it.  Instead, the song went to Laura Branigan, who took it to #12 (#1 AC) in 1983.  Incidentally, Bolton also wrote "I Found Someone" for Branigan, which Cher ruined many years later.

What a shitty way to end the week, huh?  Sorry, folks, they can’t all be winners.  Let’s cross our fingers and hope for better luck next Friday on CHART ATTACK!

  • The staying power of Bolton in the 90s was truly disturbing.

  • jb

    I saw Gramm with Foreigner about 10 years ago (on a bill with Journey, actually) and he showed me some things I intend to remember when I get past 50, and I think everyone else should remember them, too. First, when you get past 50, stop saying, “Hey [whatever city you’re in], are you ready to rock?” (Granted, this will not apply to everyone.) Second–and this will apply to everyone–when you get past 50, do not wear Spandex in public.

  • David

    I wanted to write something praising Tom Petty and attacking … well, everything else here, but frankly, I’m still giggling too hard from the Tom Waits “Cookie Monster” crack. You so funny.

  • JT

    I’m here to applaud J’s  association of "I remember you" with the camp performance. I had no idea he remembered that. (No pun intended).  I was in the audience. T’was the first time I heard the song. I’ve associated it with camp ever since. Few songs are like that. Except, "White Rabbit" also qualifies. :-)

  • David – I wish I could take credit for the "Cookie Monster" connection, but that actually comes from a story my friend Andrew tells…I’m hoping he’ll share it here!

  • JT, that version of "White Rabbit" was actually a good one, despite everybody being around 15, because that girl (Marissa?) could sing her ass off. 

  • Jane

    Jody Watley did put out another good song in the (early?) 90s, called “Your Love Keeps Working on Me.” I do remember it being on the radio — however briefly. If you enjoy her voice, I think it’s worth listening to.
    Um, there is absolutely nothing wrong with liking the Lost Boys soundtrack! Lou Gramm, INXS, Echo and the Bunnymen …. it’s great. :>)

  • Old Dave

    Imagine this.  You’ve landed your dream job, a dee jay at a pop/rock station.  Only when you start working, you find out that all the music is pre-programmed and shipped to you on 18" reel-to-reel tapes that hold maybe 25 songs each.  You have two reels of "new material" that come in every week that gets rotated over and over and over.  (and over).  It’s 1989, and the new Tom Petty song "Free Fallin’" is not on one of those tapes, but BOTH of them.  FOR A MONTH.  That means that during a six-hour shift on the air, you probably play this same song at least 4 times.  GEESH.  I got through it by changing the words to "Tree Fallin’, I’m-a Tree Fallin’…"

  • Wow.  That’s awful.  I would have changed it to "Free Ballin’" and run around without underwear on, but that’s just me.

  • dan s

    Man was there some awful music on ths chart. But it was cool to see Technotronic, Pump Up The Jam still fills any dance floor.

  • Your "Free Ballin" comment cracked me up…for that, I will forgive you for subjecting us to 3 paragraphs on Michael Bolton…

  • Elaine

    Oh MAN.  Where to start!  First of all — sorry for the long paragraph.  I still can’t get my browser to make paragraph breaks here.  I always look forward to Chart Attack, but this week is a doozy. 

    Aiight, so #10. I had forgotten the Phil Collins song.  Thank Jeebus that Social Commentary Adult Contemporary finally died, but I bet it makes a comeback at some point. 

    #9. I will never think about Sebastian Bach the same way, after watching that VH-1 show last summer.  He is a serious crybaby, and that whole business with exhibitionism with his half-clothed wife?  He’s still 15 years old on the inside.  That show totally ruined whatever machismo he had for me (and it wasn’t much to start with).   BTW – I think it was this song which Ashton Kutcher sang outside Amanda Peet’s window in the movie "A Lot Like Love." 

    #7. What I remember about "Free Fallin’"’s video is the totally lame girl in spandex, who glides on the skateboard back and forth without actually riding it.  When it’s time to change direction, she turns her head and upper torso, but that’s it.  I just remember thinking how utterly stupid she looked.  Also, the wiki entry isn’t very good.  The writer doesn’t get the song very well (in other words, needs more snark).  I’ve seen the interview with Tom re: Jeff Lynne’s influence, and it was much a funnier story. 

    #6. Lou Gramm has his detractions, but I have always loved the song "Midnight Blue," and I think that Lou has one of the best vocal abilities in all of (classic) rock.  I’ve always thought so. 

    #4.  I don’t remember this song, but I really like Jody.  "Don’t You Want Me" is a great track. 

    #3. Rod Stewart is cheesy and lame, to me.  I’ve never bought anything that he’s put out, and never will.  The fact that he does covers is okay, however, seeing as, left to his own devices, we got "Do Ya Think I’m Sexy."  

    #1.   I hate this song with a passion.  All of these nonsensical "I miss you so much but you’re not gone yet" songs make me want to hurl.  Diane Warren writes them, too, and it’s just a crying, stinking shame.  The worst one ever is the one done by LeAnn Rimes and Trisha Yearwood and released in the same year.  What the hell’s the name of that song?  Nevermind.  I must have successfully blocked it — I’ll just keep it that way.  If you ever leave, how do I live without you..how do I breathe without you, if you ever go..   ohhh Nooooooooooooo! it just came back!    *serious pout* 

  • (just so you all don’t think she’s crazy, I re-formatted Elaine’s post until the commenting kinks are worked out.)

  • I really like that "How Do I Live" was the love theme from "Con Air."

  • Wow, this really was a fairly sucky week for Top 40 fans.  I was in eighth grade at the time and, as previously stated, pretty aware of what was on the radio at the time, but I don’t remember "Just Between You and Me" and might not remember "Two to Make It Right" or "Everything" if I were to hear them again.  (Idalis, by the way, was a VJ on MTV sometime around ’96 or ’97, I believe.  I think she was let go around the time that Jesse Camp and Dave Holmes were hired in ’98 as part of that "find the next VJ" contest.)<br><br>Phil Collins had some really good songs in the ’80s.  Hipsters don’t want to admit that, but it’s true.  But "Another Day in Paradise" ain’t one of them.  Did Phil donate the money he made from this song to homeless shelters or charities?  If so, then I guess I can respect the song a little bit.<br><br>There’s a Lemonheads bootleg from April of 1990 in which the band tries to play "I Remember You" twice but quits both times after a minute or so.  The second attempt is followed by Evan Dando saying, "It always ends up sounding like ’18 and Life’!"  Elaine, I agree with you about Sebastian Bach — that VH1 show ("Supergroup"?) didn’t do him any favors.<br><br>I think MC Skat Kat’s album was deemed one of the most inessential albums of all time by The Onion.  At least we weren’t subjected to a feature-length film starring Skat Kat, which was a rumored threat back in ’90 or ’91.  I used to have a huge crush on Paula Abdul, especially around the time of her second album’s release in ’91 and the videos for "Rush Rush" and "Promise of a New Day."<br><br>"Free Fallin’" was definitely overplayed 17 years ago, but I recently realized I like it.  Actually, when it was used in "Jerry Maguire" ten years ago in the scene where Jerry tries to find a song on the radio that he can sing along with at a triumphant moment, I realized it was a good song, but only last summer did I realize I needed it in my life. In eighth grade we read Watership Down by Richard Adams, and one of our group assignments was to write a song related to the book, or at least write lyrics and set them to the melody of a song we already knew.  My group chose to set our lyrics to the melody of "Free Fallin."  Hence the hit single "Free From Efrafra."  (I wish I could say I still have the lyrics with me, but I don’t.)<br><br>Wasn’t there some slight controversy about Technotronic choosing Felly over Ya Kid K for the "Pump Up the Jam" video because people weren’t sure at first glance if Ya Kid K was a man or a woman?  This confusion made people uncomfortable about their own hoo-has and yum-yums, I believe.  (Ya Kid K, you can commiserate with Martha Wash, who got screwed over several times on the video front herself, but she got screwed because she was overweight, not because people thought she might have a penis.)  Maybe that’s not the reason, but I do remember people questioning Ya Kid K’s gender identity in 1990.  I didn’t like "Pump Up the Jam" that much, but "Get Up! (Before the Night Is Over)" is an eighth-grade classic.<br><br>Here’s some more full-circle action for you, Jason — "Downtown Train" comes from the same Rod Stewart album as his and Ronald Isley’s cover of the Isley Brothers’ "This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You)."  In 1994, the Isley Brothers sued Michael Bolton for plagiarizing their 1964 song "Love Is a Wonderful Thing" in his 1991 song of the same name.  In 2000 the Isleys won $5.4 million in damages.  But last October Ronald Isley was found guilty of tax evasion and is likely to serve time in prison for it.  Plagiarism and tax evasion are not wonderful things.  And neither was Stewart and Isley’s version of "This Old Heart of Mine," although I do like Stewart’s "The Motown Song" a whole hell of a lot.<br><br>Great work all this week, Jason!

  • BD

    Free Fallin’ to me is an awkward acoustic guitar riff played 379 times (approximately) while Tom Petty mumbles in his sleep. One of the most overrated songs in rock history.

  • Jeremy

    Ill admit it, I like Michael Bolton.

  • Good for you, Jeremy. I own every Simply Red album, which I’m not afraid to admit. I eagerly await their new album “Stay,” which comes out in March.

  • I submit that the "Free Fallin" love was more residual good will from The Wilburys than actual affinity.Either that or people were really jonesing for Jeff Lynne.I know I was.DwD

  • Elaine

    Thanks, Jason.  You know, I switched from Mozilla as it’s basically been orphaned, but I’m not liking Firefox very much.  What should I try?  Opera?  What else is there?

  • Pete

    I worked in a record store here in NYC for almost 5 years in the second half of the 90s, when Mr Bolton’s "greatest hits" (shudder) CD came out. Since we were in midtown and only saw businessmen and European tourists (both parties with possibly questionable musical tastes) in our location, we were forced to listen to adult contemporary schlock like this in rotation in our 6-CD changer frequently. (Other offenders in much rotation: Gipsy Kings, Yanni and the "Riverdance" soundtrack.) I loathe Mr. Bolton and everything he represented to this day, and I will always view "Can I Touch You There" as one of the most stupid and unintentionally funny bad songs ever.

  • Pete

    Oh, and even though I generally dislike this period (’87-’92) of pop music history, I always enjoy reading your take on the Chart Attack hits, Jason (as well as everyones comments). Great work as always.

  • I think "Free Fallin’" might get, or at least might have gotten, more props than it derserves is what can best be summed up as "the Axl Effect". It is well known that multiple members of GnR were huge fans not just of Petty, but the Traveling Wilburys (I remember Slash said in the end of 1988 issue of Rolling Stone that "Not Alone Any More" was one of the 10 best songs of the year). This led to a pretty "stunning" moment for the finale of the 1989 VMAs, where Petty & the Heartbreakers started playing "Free Fallin’", and during the first verse, Axl comes out and makes the song a duet. I have to say that when the leader of the biggest band in the world thinks enough of your song to want to duet with you on live TV, the song’s probably going to get some additional props that maybe it doesn’t actually deserve.And here is said moment: http://youtube.com/watch?v=foZpHom-scE

  • Holy cow, I had forgotten all about this finale.  Axl’s mike stand!  His Davy Jones swagger!  The crowd going wild!  Awesome!

  • What can I say about Sebastian Bach that already hasn’t been said about… ass?  White, hairy, and full of hot air.  Elaine’s comment is right on – serious crybaby.  Also, the guy wore a shirt on stage that said "AIDS kills fags dead."  He deserves only the best… for me to poop on.