Archive for November, 2007

Mellowmas Approacheth!

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

I know that this website has been quiet over the past few months. But that’s all about to change. And boy, are you going to be sorry.

You may recall a little series that Jeff and I undertook last December. It was entitled The Twelve Days Of Mellowmas, and it represented all that was both wonderful and awful about the holidays. For twelve straight days, Jeff and I listened to some of the worst holiday music imaginable – a different song each day – and shared not only the song, but our live conversation with all of you.

The original intention was to only cover songs recorded by Mellow Gold artists, but unfortunately, we found that many of our favorite/least favorite artists simply didn’t record mellow holiday gems – especially not during the Mellow Gold era of the late ’70s and early ’80s. Therefore, Mellowmas extended itself to ludicrous/crappy music in general. The spirit is still the same as Mellow Gold – we listen to music that shames us and invite you to celebrate our pain.

This year, Jeff and I are going above and beyond the call of duty. We decided you, the reader, deserved more than just twelve shitty holiday tracks. This year, you’re in for a very special/horrible treat.
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CHART ATTACK! #49: 11/26/88

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

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Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! Due to my hectic holiday schedule, this post comes a few days early. Hope you’re all preparing to stuff your faces silly with food and drink and then pass out. (Does that only happen to me?) This Thanksgiving, I’m especially thankful to all of you who still come back and read my crap, despite my erratic posting schedule. And how do I thank you? By presenting you with a not-so-classic Top 10 from November 26, 1988!

10. The Loco-Motion – Kylie Minogue Amazon
9. Giving You The Best That I Got – Anita Baker Amazon iTunes
8. Wild, Wild West – The Escape Club Amazon iTunes
7. I Don’t Want Your Love – Duran Duran Amazon iTunes
6. Look Away – Chicago Amazon iTunes
5. Kissing A Fool – George Michael Amazon iTunes
4. How Can I Fall? – Breathe Amazon
3. Desire – U2 Amazon iTunes
2. Baby, I Love Your Way/Freebird Medley (Free Baby) – Will To Power Amazon iTunes
1. Bad Medicine – Bon Jovi Amazon iTunes

Let me guess: you’re already feeling like you ate too much turkey, right?

10. The Loco-Motion – Kylie Minogue

We discussed “The Loco-Motion” back in Chart Attack! #4. There’s not much more to be said about this song, so I’ll go ahead and reiterate that Minogue is just short of an institution in Australia and other parts of Europe, and still can’t get arrested here. My gym has a Kylie fetish, though, and their overhead music system plays four of her recent singles over and over again: “Come Into My World,” “Slow,” “Red Blooded Woman,” and “I Believe In You.” You’ve heard none of them (unless you also go to my gym), but what I find interesting is that they’re all great dance songs that sound drastically different from one another.

Okay, I thought of something to say about this stupid song. It’s notable for being one of the few singles to make the Top Five three times (Little Eva in 1972, Grand Funk Railroad in 1974, and Minogue here in ’88). Also, even though the instructions for doing The Loco-Motion are spelled out in the song, I still don’t know how to do it. Something about jumping up and jumping back? Does that really make this dance clear to everyone? Did Goffin and King really write this? Jesus.

9. Giving You The Best That I Got – Anita Baker

What the hell happened to Anita Baker? Where did she go? I can fully understand – and explain – why many of the top artists of 1988 are no longer on the charts. But Anita Baker had solid songs, and a beautiful, soulful voice. Okay, she got a little whiny at times, but that was no reason to exile her, was it? (Who am I talking to?) Well, I did so some research and it turns out whomever I’m talking to did not exile Anita Baker. Baker chose to take a break for a couple of years. She also had a baby, dealt with the death of her parents, and had a messy lawsuit due to some faulty recording equipment she rented. She hasn’t released a record since 2005, and she has no official webpage. So once again, I ask: what the hell happened to Anita Baker?

My favorite part of this song when she sings the line “I’d bet everything on my wedding ring,” and then briefly moans down two octaves. It’s at that moment where I always think, “holy shit, Anita Baker’s a dude!”

(Note: I just re-listened, and she doesn’t really sing that low. But as you can imagine, when I sing it, I go from Anita to Billy Dee in two seconds flat.)

8. Wild, Wild West – The Escape Club

Another track we discussed back in Chart Attack! #4. I don’t think I’ve actually thought about the song since then. I did go back to my childhood record collection to see if I could find the 12″, but I think maybe I gave it away for an issue of Playboy or something. I’m still waiting for one of you to confirm the altering of the line “Ronnie’s got a new gun” after Bush was elected to office, by the way.

7. I Don’t Want Your Love – Duran Duran Duranduran

Yeah, I thought that was a typo in my Billboard chart book, but apparently the band billed themselves as “Duranduran” on their releases during this period. I have no clue why, but I do know some actors who, when they weren’t making any progress, would change their last names to seem fresh and new to agents. I’m just saying.

There were only two years between Notorious and Big Thing, but – and this could be just my own interpretation – the Duran Duran that returned in 1988 was a different beast altogether – no longer a teenybopper band, but not yet defined as anything else. I still don’t know how to define them, between their acoustic sound of 1993 and whatever it is they’re doing now with Timbaland and Justin Timberlake. (I haven’t heard the tracks but the whole thing kind of reeks of desperation to me.) I do like this track, though, and sadly, I think this is yet another one where I owned either the 45 or the cassette single. (Or, inexplicably, both.) I eventually purchased Big Thing as well, and realized I should have just stuck with the single.

6. Look Away – Chicago

Yeah! Take that, Peter Cetera! And you too, David Foster! Chicago, on their second Ceteraless album (don’t you agree that one of their releases should have actually been called Ceteraless?), did away with Foster’s production in favor of hiring Ron Nevison for the job. Prior to working with Chicago, Nevison produced albums by Heart (in their big hair phase) and Ozzy Osbourne. Normally I’d be mocking him to shit, but I have nothing but respect for the man who started out his career as Chief Engineer on Quadrophenia. In any case, Nevison helped Chicago prove that, albeit for a brief period, they could find commercial success without the Cetera/Foster team: “Look Away” topped the charts for two weeks, and also reached #1 on the AC chart.

Regardless of its success, I know how you feel about it. It sucks. It’s a dumb power ballad, and it doesn’t feature any horns, and even worse, it was written by Diane Warren. I’ve learned to cope with this by pretending it has absolutely nothing to do with the Chicago of old. In fact, here’s a fun exercise: envision it as a Damn Yankees song, and imagine the look on Ted Nugent’s face.

5. Kissing A Fool – George Michael

“Excuse me, Mr. Michael? Would you mind just farting into this microphone? I’m pretty sure we can get it to #1 within the month.”

Okay, that’s not exactly true, but I really wanted to write that line. “Kissing A Fool” was the last and worst-performing single from Faith, but everything is relative: this means that the song only hit #5 on the Hot 100 (it reached #1 on AC). The four singles preceding it had all topped the charts, and “I Want Your Sex” was #2. So we can’t really fault George Michael, can we? In addition, “Kissing A Fool” was an untraditional single release, eschewing his previously-popular dance singles for a traditional, laid-back jazz number. Can you tell I’m, like, really defensive about George Michael? Additionally, “Kissing A Fool” is one of my all-time favorite songs of his, mainly because of the quality of the vocal: this was one of the few songs at the time where he really explored his lower register. (After discovering marijuana, Michael decided to explore said register just about all the time, and since at least 1996, it’s been a snooze-fest.)

4. How Can I Fall? – Breathe (download)

Wimpy. Sappy. Schmaltzy.

No, I’m not using these adjectives to describe “How Can I Fall.” I’m using them to describe me, the overly-sensitive little kid who owned the 45 of this song. I still think it’s pretty, actually, though I have no idea what they’re actually singing about. I like it better than “Hands to Heaven,” which was just a little too ethereal for me, but not as much as “Don’t Tell Me Lies,” and yes, this means I vividly remember all of Breathe’s Top 10 hits for the year.

Here’s the video. It’s pretty boring, honestly. I like the ’80s clothes, the fact there isn’t one person in the video that isn’t using serious hair product, and that the “bad guy” of the video seemingly goes to smack his girlfriend after losing a pretty serious game of stickball.

3. Desire – U2

I’ve spoken previously about my feelings on U2: they’re an overrated band, and every time I listen to them, I find it hard to get through more than 45 seconds of any given song. “Desire” is no different. Three chords repeated ad nauseum, and some mediocre harmonica playing. Why U2 felt the need to mimc Bo Diddley, I’ll never know. I’d take anything off of Zooropa anytime over this shamelessly derivative crap.

2. Baby, I Love Your Way/Freebird Medley (Free Baby) – Will To Power (download)

Pity all you poor, naive fools who heard either “Baby, I Love Your Way” or “Freebird” for the very first time in this terrible medley! Oh wait, that was me. Yes, that’s right: I hadn’t heard “Freebird” and hadn’t even heard of Peter Frampton until after I heard this song.

Will To Power was formed by Bob Rosenberg, a Miami-based DJ who was well-known for his on-air remixes and medleys. I have not been able to obtain confirmation that Rosenberg was stoned out of his gourd when he decided to mix these two songs together. Still, Rosenberg, along with Dr. J (not that Dr. J) and Suzi Carr, brought this medley to #1 for a week in December. Their previous release, “Dreamin’,” only reached #50 on the Billboard Hot 100, but was a popular regional hit, especially in the South Florida area, where it was the #1 song of 1987. (And yes, unsurprisingly, Rosenberg – the only constant member of the group – released “Dreamin’ (Again)” in 2005.) If “Dreamin’” doesn’t ring any bells (or, sadly, only rings your Vanessa Williams bell), take a listen to a clip. I barely listened to dance radio in the mid-’80s and I instantly recognized the song. You may also remember Will To Power from their cover of 10cc’s “I’m Not In Love,” yet another song that had not hit my radar until after I heard the cover version. (See? You ask me to write, and then I embarrass you like this. One day, you will learn.)

Will To Power obtained their name from Nietzsche’s debut album famous concept. This becomes even more perplexing when you actually see a photo of Bob Rosenberg.

I love the “(Free Baby)” in the title. What the hell is the point of that? “Just so you know, I’m not only clever enough to put the two songs together, but I can put their titles together, too.” (flexes muscles, brushes long, Fabio-esque mane)

1. Bad Medicine – Bon Jovi

I can Bon Jovi-bash with the best of ‘em, but you’ll find nothing but love in my heart for “Bad Medicine.” Let’s face it: it’s fun, it’s rocking, and it successfully served its purpose as the fantastic lead-off single to New Jersey, at a time when all eyes were on the band to match the success of Slippery When Wet. If I recall correctly, the band had invited a whole bunch of kids into the recording studio after all potential tracks were completed, and asked them to pick the best songs for inclusion on the album. First thought: the kids know how to rock! Way to go, kids! Second thought: who are the little shits that chose “Ride Cowboy Ride” and “Love For Sale,” and is it too late to maybe bludgeon them?

Remember the video for “Bad Medicine?” Well, either way, you’re stuck watching it now! Behold: Bon Jovi in their late-80s, big-hair, shoulder-padded (I’m looking at you, Sambora) glory!

I really like this video. For starters, it has Sam Kinison. Secondly, it features tons of shots of their fans. I haven’t been to a Bon Jovi concert since maybe 2000, but I can tell you that their fans still dress like this, right down to the mullets. There aren’t as many shots of the guys, though, which is odd, because keyboardist David Bryan is a flaming homosexual. (Not true.)

There you go – another mediocre Top 10! So if you’re really looking to be thankful, be thankful that these songs aren’t on the 2007 charts. But speaking of the 2007 charts…if you’re interested in those, perhaps you should check out a column by our buddy Jefito over at Bullz-Eye called Billboarding. (To answer your next question: he’s working on coming back soon.) Thanks so much for reading, and see you again soon (promise) for another CHART ATTACK!