1984, you never fail to disappoint me. Here are the songs topping the charts on August 25, 1984!
10. If Ever You’re In My Arms Again – Peabo Bryson Amazon iTunes
9. She Bop – Cyndi Lauper Amazon iTunes
8. Sunglasses At Night – Corey Hart Amazon iTunes
7. State Of Shock – Jacksons Amazon iTunes
6. I Can Dream About You – Dan Hartman Amazon iTunes
5. Missing You – John Waite Amazon iTunes
4. When Doves Cry – Prince Amazon iTunes
3. Stuck On You – Lionel Richie Amazon iTunes
2. What’s Love Got To Do With it – Tina Turner Amazon iTunes
1. Ghostbusters – Ray Parker, Jr. Amazon iTunes
10. If Ever You’re In My Arms Again – Peabo Bryson
Something about Peabo Bryson makes me really happy. I don’t know if it’s just the fact that his name is Peabo. I kind of want to name my first child Peabo. Peabo Hare. It has a nice ring to it. (Actually, it has a horrible ring to it, but so do most names that precede the last name Hare, and yes, no matter what you’re thinking, I’ve heard it.) It may also be the fact that his voice is smooth as silk. Peabo doesn’t get enough respect. Sure, he’s had a ridiculous amount of hits on the R&B charts, but "If Ever You’re In My Arms Again" is the only Peabo solo song to make a dent in the Top 40. (Every other Peabo song to reach the Top 40 has been a duet.)
I hope my wife never gets wise and drops me (although the chances are increased exponentially if I insist on naming our child "Peabo"), but if she does, I’m pretty sure I’ll wind up huddled in the fetal position in the corner, weeping and singing this song to myself. Which actually seems oddly comforting so long as I have Peabo to keep me warm.
Here’s a YouTube slideshow set to this song. I was having a hard time finding anything on YouTube, actually, until, on a whim, I changed "you’re" to "your." Bingo!
Jess, can I at least name our next pet Peabo? Or rename one of the cats? Or can I call you Peabo?
I love you, Peabo.
9. She Bop – Cyndi Lauper
Yes, blah blah blah, female masturbation, blah blah blah. This song had some staying power (sorry, I couldn’t help it): we covered it back in our very first CHART ATTACK!, which looked at a chart from late September. Maybe I should have chosen a different chart for this week. Oh well, too late to turn back now. Anyway, Lauper was intentionally vague in her lyrics for a couple of reasons: one, so the song could get airplay, and two, so kids could listen to it and think it was about dancing. Well, as I mentioned, I was seven when I heard this song and I didn’t think it was about dancing. And when I got older, I didn’t think it was about masturbating, either. I didn’t think either of these things because I’ve never bothered to listen to the lyrics. And I’m not about to start now.
Anyhoo, "She Bop" was declared obscene by the PMRC (remember the PMRC?) and rounded out their "Filthy Fifteen" list of dirty songs. (#1? "If Ever You’re In My Arms Again.")
8. Sunglasses At Night – Corey Hart (download)
Is it just me, or is that opening synth part something of a rip-off from "Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)?" According to Wikipedia, the original idea for "Sunglasses" was for it to reflect "a totalitarian society that made everyone wear their sunglasses at night." Such lofty ideas are not suited for hunks like you, Corey. I like Corey. Here are some words that rhyme with Corey: Gory. Story. Allegory. Montessori.
I know you’ll all be shocked and amazed, but Hart re-did his vocal in 2002 for…wait for it…"Sunglasses At Night 2002." You can hear a snippet at his website, but I wouldn’t bother if I were you: it’s 30 seconds, and it sucks. However, Hart seems to be pretty well-grounded about his success and his place in history. Here’s his stream-of-consciousness piece on his site:
I wrote and recorded "Sunglasses at Night" in the summer of 1983…I just turned 21…I was working in what was at the time my musical mecca, England. Eric Clapton had just played dobro guitar on one of my songs and I was hanging out at Pete Townsend’s house chatting with him about the best London studio rooms and his favorite vocal mic pre-amps…cool…Heady times for a kid from Montreal with a dream ……So "Sunglasses at Night" was my first ever single from my debut album "First Offense"…It was a last minute addition to the disc…After it was released in November 1983, my life and the world around me changed forever.A major hit song was born, International success…cool….Was it the melody? or the lyric? Was it the video driven imaging? Luck of the draw or simply the sound of the times?…I suppose it was all of the above and none at all….From Bob Hope to Wyclef Jean the song struck a chord and understanding this alchemy remains mystery to us all…
Okay, points off for misspelling Pete Townshend, but I like the rest of it. Can someone tell me what Bob Hope has to do with it, though?
One more thing. I know this is all much ado about nothing, but does that guitar riff in the chorus sound familiar to anyone else?[audio:http://www.wwmmd.net/tunes/inline/sunglassesbeat.mp3]
Behold: Corey Hart, in all his pouty-lipped glory!
When I was a kid, I thought that Corey Hart was Han Solo after being unfrozen from carbonite.
7. State Of Shock – Jacksons
"State of Shock" was the biggest single from The Jacksons’ Victory album, reaching #3, and the group’s last hit to reach the Top 10 – not surprising since Michael left the group shortly after "The Victory Tour," which was strolling through towns this summer in 1984. As you probably know, "State of Shock" was a duet between Michael Jackson and Mick Jagger – and then, a year later, a duet between Jagger and Tina Turner at Live Aid. However, didja know that the song was originally recorded by Jackson and Freddie Mercury?
It was rumored that Jackson (who owns the rights) was planning on releasing the track back in 2002, but it still hasn’t officially seen the light of day.
Michael Jackson & Freddie Mercury – State Of Shock (demo) (download)
6. I Can Dream About You – Dan Hartman
How can you not love "I Can Dream About You?" It starts with that great drum track (where I’m thisclose to singing Sheena Easton’s "Strut"), and doesn’t do any of this "we’ll do two verses before we reward you with our kick-ass chorus" bullshit. There are three (three!) phrases before Hartman wisely jumps straight to the chorus! 40 seconds don’t even go by! That’s what I’m talkin’ about! Everybody should do this!
What else do I love about this song? Well, I love that nifty little guitar riff over that chorus. I love that the lead vocal is doubled an octave lower. I love the blue-eyed soul backing vocals. I’m willing to bet that tons of people thought this was a Hall & Oates song. And Hall & Oates actually did cover it, except it was an absolutely terrible cover (I refuse to even link to it). However, all you ever cared to know about Dan Hartman can be found over at Ye Olde Jefitoblog, where Jeff covered the entire album a year ago this week! (I asked Jeff to update the YouTube link, but he refuses to do anything for you if you’re coming to his site from mine. I think he’s jealous.)
I should also mention that the always-awesome Retro Remixes is currently offering four versions of "I Can Dream About You." A few of ’em have some skips, but still – like, totally awesome!
5. Missing You – John Waite
(You’ll forgive me if I leave it at that.)
4. When Doves Cry – Prince
There’s really nothing to say about "When Doves Cry" that hasn’t been said before. except when I was a kid, I thought the lyrics were: "maybe I’m just like my father, too cold" and "this is what it sounds like when she does cry." Because why, as a kid, would I think he was fucking talking about doves?
My favorite thing about the song is not the fact that it manages to be incredibly funky without a single bass note, but its opening guitar riff and closing classically-influenced synth riff which, unfortunately, tends to be missing from the radio edit. A song like this deserves better than a fade-out.
Mike and I performed this at our first Acoustic ’80s gig. It fell flat on its face. I also asked the crowd what it looked like for an animal to strike a curious pose, and if it looked anything like the look on my dog’s face when someone passes gas near him. That joke also fell flat on its face. We don’t perform "When Doves Cry" anymore. But you know who does? Barenaked Ladies. They’ve been doing a quiet, classy version of it for years. Here’s the best version I can find, taken from the Andrew Denton Breakfast Show, a popular Australian radio program. (If anybody has the Denton CDs and wants to hook a brotha up, let me know.) I’m not a big fan of the keyboards, but will deal with ’em just to hear Jim Creeggan on bass.
Barenaked Ladies – When Doves Cry (live) (download)
3. Stuck On You – Lionel Richie (download)
Remember that episode of CMT Crossroads with Lionel and Kenny Rogers that I really, really love? (I’ve mentioned it at least five times on here.) Well, Lionel shared an anecdote before he played this song. He recounted a tale of a trip he took down by his hometown of Tuskegee, Alabama (response from Kenny: "you live in Beverly Hills.") and took a break at a truck stop. A trucker approached him, and told him how he really loved his song about "three times a woman" (laughter from audience) and said to him, "I have a woman too. And you know, Lionel, I’m stuck on that woman." And Lionel then knew what he had to do. He went home and wrote "Stuck On You."
I recount this story because it’s the biggest pile of bullshit I’ve ever heard. No way did this happen. But it is a good lead-in for the song. Just like when I saw him in concert and he said, "we’re going to party all night long!" and then played "Penny Lover." (I’m totally kidding! He played "All Night Long!")
Still, it’s hard to criticize Lionel when he’s playing live. For example, here’s a live performance of "Stuck On You." It’s on an untuned piano, and it still sounds awesome. I love Lionel Richie. Can’t help it.
2. What’s Love Got To Do With It – Tina Turner
I’m sure there are others, but at the moment, I can’t think of many artists who deserved a comeback more than Tina Turner. It’s one of the biggest comebacks ever, and certainly the biggest of 1984. It also almost didn’t happen. Turner had just signed with Capitol Records. Her manager, Roger Davies, presented her with a demo of this song, written by Terry Britten (one of her producers) and Graham Lyle. Turner despised it, but Britten assured her that he’d change the arrangement to better suit her voice and style. Davies convinced her to record it. "What’s Love Got To Do With It" remains Turner’s only #1 single, and also set the record for longest gap between chart debut (with Ike) and #1 – 24 years, usurping poor old Robert John. There are claims that the gap was 24 years to the exact week, but I’m calling bullshit on that one: "What’s Love" hit #1 on June 23, 1984, but as far as I can tell, her first single with Ike, "A Fool In Love," entered the charts on August 29, 1960. I’m such a nerd. It’s close enough, I guess.
By the way, back in CHART ATTACK! #1, I called the harmonica solo a "Korgmonica" solo. Oh, how cute I was before I did research that nobody cared about! The harmonica sound is actually from a Yamaha DX-7.
1. Ghostbusters – Ray Parker, Jr.
In an interview with USA Today, Parker said that the hardest thing about writing "Ghostbusters" was rhyming the actual word. "I figured the best thing to do was to have somebody shout, ‘Ghostbusters!’ In order for that to work, I had to have something come before or after it. That’s when I came up with the line, ‘Who you gonna call?’"
Funny. All this time, I thought the hardest thing about writing "Ghostbusters" was trying not to make it look like he blatantly ripped off "I Want A New Drug." Or maybe the hardest thing was keeping the out-of-court settlement to Huey Lewis & The News quiet. Or maybe it was his countersuit after Lewis revealed that Parker paid them off in an episode of Behind The Music. It’s so hard to keep track!
More on Parker’s "Ghostbusters" recording here. I’ll just reproduce one part – my favorite part:
And who was the lively chorus shouting out “Ghostbusters!” with such gusto? Parker laughs: “I was 28 years old and I was dating this young girl — 17 years old — and I told her my idea and she quickly got a bunch of her high school friends to come by and yell on it. They were genuinely excited to be in there recording, and that was exactly what the track needed.”
I can’t tell you how happy I am to be ending on this note. Have a great week and see you next time for another CHART ATTACK!