Monday, July 18, 2022

Musical Monday - The Wild Boys by Duran Duran


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Never.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: December 15, 1984 through December 22, 1984.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: Never.

In 1984, Duran Duran was riding high. They were the darlings of MTV, having pushed out a series of catchy songs tied to slickly produced videos. More than just about any other musical act, Duran Duran had benefitted from the addition of the visual element to musical success, with their videos often being better than their actual music. It was at this point that Duran Duran did what so many musical groups had done before them: They decided to get artsy and experimental.

The Wild Boys was inspired by a 1971 novel by William S. Burroughs, and was the brainchild of Russell Mulcahy, a prominent music video director who had previous directed the videos for several of the band's songs, including the hits Hungry Like the Wolf and Rio. Mulcahy wanted to make a feature-length movie based on Burroughs' novel, and pitched the idea to Duran Duran with the idea they would do a song and he would direct the ensuing music video as a kind of preview of the hypothetical movie to be used as a teaser to entice movie studios to back the project. No movie was ever made, leaving this song and music video as the only extant artifact of the idea.

Indulging in arsty endeavors can either create a signature for a band - for example, Pink Floyd's concept album and related movie The Wall - or wreck a band - I'm looking at you Styx and Kilroy Was Here - but The Wild Boys seems to have had almost no real impact on Duran Duran's fortunes one way or another. The band was a glitzy pop sensation for a few years before The Wild Boys, and (notwithstanding some issues among the band members), they were a glitzy pop sensation for a few years afterwards. The band's fade from the limelight was more the result of their New Wave synth pop style going out of style than it was due to some career-ending experiment with quirky concept songs. perhaps the fact that The Wild Boys was just a single experimental song and video accounts for its apparent minimal impact on their ongoing success.

I will say that when the video was first released, I heard persistent rumors that the "original cut" had been so salacious and risqué that MTV refused to air it until several cuts had been made. This was always passed on by high school experts who would impart their knowledge with knowing looks. Unfortunately, I cannot find any evidence that this was actually the case. So much for the expertise of mid-1980s era high schoolers.

Previous Musical Monday: Out of Touch by Hall and Oates
Subsequent Musical Monday: Do They Know It's Christmas by Band Aid

Previous #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: I Feel for You by Chaka Khan
Subsequent #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Like a Virgin by Madonna

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

Duran Duran     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Monday, July 11, 2022

Musical Monday - Out of Touch by Hall and Oates


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: December 8, 1984 through December 15, 1984.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Never.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: Never.

Built out a synthesizer riff backed by a drum machine, Out of Touch was Hall and Oates' most peppy and poppy song. It was also their last number one hit. They did have some lesser success over the next few years, but this song more or less marks the last moment Darryl Hall and John Oates were at the forefront of popular music. Alternatively, and more darkly, one could say that this was the beginning of the end of the duo's reign as one of the top musical groups in the world.

It is kind of easy to see why this was the start of the slow fade for the band. It is overtly pop in a way that most of their previous hits had not been, entirely lacking in the jazzy, urbane, and urban tone that Hall and Oates had made their signature sound. In a way, this song seems to have marked the transition of the duo from trend-setters following their own beat to trend-chasers trying to match a style pioneered by others. This song is kind of fun, but it lacks the spark that earlier songs by the band had had. This was, for want of a better word, bland.

It didn't really help that the lyrics are more or less nonsense. Granted, Hall and Oates was never a band that had deep or particularly meaningful lyrics: Their best songs were love songs or simple and fairly straightforward stories. This song, however, is lyrically a complete mess. It might be about a breakup resulting from a couple growing apart, but if it is, that is kind of obscure. It might just be someone insulting their partner over and over again. It doesn't really matter, because the end result is mostly gibberish - words strung together to match a meter and rhyme but with no real discernible meaning behind them.

It is possible that a young J.J. Abrams listened to the song and the lesson that he took was that if lyrics to a song could be a series of mostly unrelated words, a movie could be a sequence of mostly unrelated scenes that don't follow from one to another.

Previous Musical Monday: The Power of Love by Frankie Goes to Hollywood
Subsequent Musical Monday: The Wild Boys by Duran Duran

Previous #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go by Wham!
Subsequent #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Like a Virgin by Madonna

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

Hall and Oates     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Monday, July 4, 2022

Musical Monday - The Power of Love by Frankie Goes to Hollywood


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Never.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Never.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: The week of December 8, 1984.

The song The Power of Love is kind of tangentially a Christian themed song. The video that accompanies the song explicitly tries to connect it to the Nativity story in what was clearly a gambit to try to score a Christmas day hit for the band (Christmas day hits are, or at least were, apparently a big deal in the U.K.). One thing I have always thought odd about the story is kind of highlighted here - God could arrange for shepherds to get a visitation from an angel and for wise men from distant lands to show up bearing kingly gifts (gifts of a nature that should have ensured that Jesus' family would be quite wealthy), but could not coordinate events in such a way that Jesus could be born somewhere other than a stable.

In any event, the song is okay, but kind of mediocre and Frankie Goes to Hollywood joins dozens of other bands that are one hit wonders in the United States but have multiple number ones in other countries. More to the point, this song didn't really land the way the band clearly wanted it to, and has been overwhelmed in the public consciousness by the song that followed it on the U.K. charts.

Previous Musical Monday: I Should Have Known Better by Jim Diamond
Subsequent Musical Monday: Out of Touch by Hall and Oates

Previous #1 on the U.K. Chart: I Should Have Known Better by Jim Diamond
Subsequent #1 on the U.K. Chart: Do They Know It's Christmas? by Band Aid

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

Frankie Goes to Hollywood     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Monday, July 26, 2021

Musical Monday - I Should Have Known Better by Jim Diamond


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Never.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Never.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: The week of December 1, 1984.

This is a song that I missed in the 1980s. I have basically no recollection of this song or this singer, which isn't entirely surprising, since he apparently only had success in Europe. That said, if I had first heard it in 1984 when it was released, I probably would have thought it was a hopelessly romantic, albeit super sappy song. On the other hand, first hearing it now, this song bothers me a bit. The lyrics - I should have known better/Than to lie to someone as beautiful as you - seem to imply that there is some level of plainness that makes lying to them acceptable. That sits wrong with me now in a way that it probably wouldn't have when I was a teenager. The implication just would not have occurred to me back then.

Previous Musical Monday: I Feel for You by Chaka Khan
Subsequent Musical Monday: The Power of Love by Frankie Goes to Hollywood

Previous #1 on the U.K. Chart: I Feel for You by Chaka Khan
Subsequent #1 on the U.K. Chart: The Power of Love by Frankie Goes to Hollywood

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

Jim Diamond     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Monday, July 19, 2021

Musical Monday - I Feel for You by Chaka Khan


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Never.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: The week of December 8, 1984.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: November 10, 1984 through November 24, 1984.

This is another post about Prince. To be clear, Chaka Khan was (and is) an overwhelmingly powerful force in the rhythm and blues world. By 1984 she had carved a career that marked her as not only one of the top female vocalists in the genre, but one of the top female vocalists period. Between 1978 and 1983, she had hit the top of the R&B charts three times, but had not had a top hit overall. Thus, it is notable that it wasn't until she covered a Prince song that she managed to top out not only the Cash Box Top 100, but the U.K. Chart as well. This marked the start of a trend of artists covering Prince songs (or Prince simply writing songs for other artists to record) that turned into big hits. Given his own ability to turn songs into hits during the decade, it is hard to overstate how influential Prince was on the shape of music in the 1980s.

This version of I Feel for You was the first big hit that paired a singer with a rapper, featuring Melle Mel on the recording. So, for anyone who doesn't like this practice, you have Chaka Khan to blame. This arrangement also led to the kind of odd result of Khan not actually singing until almost a minute into the song. As noted before, Khan was a dominant force as a vocalist, and she was acting as a solo artist for this song, which makes sidelining her for the first quarter of the song seem like an odd choice. I guess it was the right choice though, given the result.

All that said, I didn't really like this song all that much when it was released. I was aware of some of Chaka Khan's other output, including I'm Every Woman and her collaboration with Rufus in Tell Me Something Good, and I thought they were far superior to this song. I still do. Just as with Steve Wonder and I Just Called to Say I Love You, Chaka Khan's biggest hit was, in my estimation, far from her best song.

Previous Musical Monday: Purple Rain by Prince
Subsequent Musical Monday: I Should Have Known Better by Jim Diamond

Previous #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go by Wham!
Subsequent #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: The Wild Boys by Duran Duran

Previous #1 on the U.K. Chart: Freedom by Wham!
Subsequent #1 on the U.K. Chart: I Should Have Known Better by Jim Diamond

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

Chaka Khan     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Monday, July 12, 2021

Musical Monday - Purple Rain by Prince


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Never.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: November 10, 1984 through November 24, 1984.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: Never.

The first thing to know about this video is that it is not a real concert. I mean, it is actually Prince, and he is actually performing before an audience, but this was filmed for the movie Purple Rain. Consequently, the dedication and the brief story Prince tells about the writing of the song may or may not be entirely accurate. The movie Purple Rain seems autobiographical, but it is a kind of enhanced reality that only sometimes matches up to the reality of Prince's life as an emerging artist in Minneapolis. In any event, the important part of this is the song itself, which is pretty much the quintessential Prince song.

Throughout his career, prince adopted the color purple as his signature look, leaning heavily into the "royal" nature fo his name. It seems natural then, that his signature song would reference the color in the title. This song, although not his biggest hit, became the song most identified with him. In a bit of history probably only really of interest to me, Prince stated that the origin of the title of the song was a line from the America song Ventura Highway, which means Prince was influenced by styles of music that I didn't entirely expect - although given his incredibly eclectic artistic output, I suppose I should not have been surprised.

Over the years, there were more than a few poetically appropriate events that occurred in conjunction with this song - when he performed as the Super Bowl halftime act, it began raining when he performed it, with the falling drops highlighting the purple lights that lit up the stadium, giving the entire performance an eerie vibe. This was also the last song prince performed live before he died, which seems so fitting that if it had been written into a fictional narrative people would have thought it too on the nose to believe.

Previous Musical Monday: Caribbean Queen (No More Love on the Run) by Billy Ocean
Subsequent Musical Monday: I Feel for You by Chaka Khan

Previous #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: I Just Called to Say I Love You by Stevie Wonder
Subsequent #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go by Wham!

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

Prince     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Monday, July 5, 2021

Musical Monday - Caribbean Queen (No More Love On the Run) by Billy Ocean


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: November 3, 1984 through November 10, 1984.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Never.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: Never.

Peppy and poppy, Caribbean Queen tells the story of a man who was just playing around but found himself falling hopelessly in love with a beautiful woman. In a mildly interesting twist, Caribbean Queen was renamed for a variety of worldwide markets, bearing titles such as European Queen and African Queen, which definitely recalibrates the song quite a bit. Ocean himself is British and was born in Trinidad, which makes the Caribbean tag for the song seem like the most authentic one, but the use of localized names is a kind of clever marketing trick.

I suppose the most notable thing about this song is that it pushed a black rhythm and blues pop star who wasn't named Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, or Prince into the forefront of the public eye. Not only that, it pushed a non-American rhythm and blues star into prominence, which was mildly unusual. This was just the first of Billy Ocean's hits, although none of the others were really quite as good as this one. In some ways, the closest comparison to Ocean would be Eddie Grant, but their styles and tones were quite different, with Grant having a harder more political edge to his music and Ocean offering more commercially-friendly fare.

Previous Musical Monday: Freedom by Wham!
Subsequent Musical Monday: Purple Rain by Prince

Previous #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: I Just Called to Say I Love You by Stevie Wonder
Subsequent #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go by Wham!

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

Billy Ocean     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Monday, June 28, 2021

Musical Monday - Freedom by Wham!


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Never.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Never.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: October 20, 1984 to November 3, 1984.

Wham! had a few top hits in the United States in the 1980s. The duo had a few more top hits in the U.K. This song reached number one in the U.K., and was only slightly less successful across the Atlantic. The thing about Wham! is that even though they are one of the iconic bands of the 1980s, they only released a total of two studio albums, and their heyday only lasted for about two years. Michael and Ridgeley somehow managed to help set the tone for the entire decade with a handful of songs and some fairly suspect dancing.

The weird thing about this song is that even though it is super-peppy and upbeat, the lyrics tell the story of a one-sided, almost abusive relationship. It seems odd to have a toe-tapping dance song that features lyrics about a narrator whose significant other apparently routinely cheats on them, but the narrator is so smitten that they always forgive their wayward partner. This is a strangely happy sounding tune with a dark core behind it. I suspect that few people who put this on for a turn at cutting the rug spent much time thinking about the words being sung at them. I kind of wonder if it would have mattered if they had.

Previous Musical Monday: Let's Go Crazy by Prince
Subsequent Musical Monday: Caribbean Queen (No More Love On the Run) by Billy Ocean

Previous #1 on the U.K. Chart: I Just Called to Say I Love You by Stevie Wonder
Subsequent #1 on the U.K. Chart: I Feel for You by Chaka Khan

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

Wham!     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Monday, June 21, 2021

Musical Monday - Let's Go Crazy by Prince


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: September 29, 1984 through October 6, 1984.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: September 29, 1984 through October 6, 1984.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: Never.

Let's Go Crazy was the third big hit from Prince's Purple Rain album, which he made to accompany the movie of the same name that he starred in. All of the footage from this video is drawn from that movie, including the somehwat hilarious attempts to make Prince's puppet-band Morris Day and the Time into credible rivals for Prince in the fictional dance club that made up the heart of the movie. The footage also features a lot of Apollonia, who played Prince's girlfriend playing a character that shared her name so Prince could manufacture another band to promote: Apollonia 6 (which had previously been named Vanity 6 before the singer Vanity left that group).

Even though this song was pretty much the third-most popular song from this album, falling behind When Doves Cry and Purple Rain, it is my personal favorite. In large part, my affection for the song stems from the fact that Prince flashes his guitar skills in the closing segment of the song - I don't know if the quote is accurate, but supposedly when someone asked Eric Clapton how it felt to be the best guitarist in the world he responded with "I don't know, you'll have to ask Prince". I can't really claim to be qualified to make an assessment as to who the top dog in the axe-wielding department is, but Prince is definitely up there and shows it off here.

Previous Musical Monday: Missing You by John Waite
Subsequent Musical Monday: Freedom by Wham!

Previous #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Missing You by John Waite
Subsequent #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: I Just Called to Say I Love You by Stevie Wonder

Previous #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Missing You by John Waite
Subsequent #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: I Just Called to Say I Love You by Stevie Wonder

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

Prince     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Monday, June 14, 2021

Musical Monday - Missing You by John Waite


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: The week of September 22, 1984.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: September 15, 1984 through September 22, 1984.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: Never.

My most dominant memory of this song is the fact that my mother quoted it's chorus in some of her letters to me while I was away at school. At the time, I was at a boarding school in Virginia, while my parents lived in Lagos, Nigeria at the time. My mother was not happy about this arrangement, and I probably didn't make it any easier by being really terrible at writing letters in return. needless to say, she sent me many more letters than I sent her.

The thing about the song is that it is actually a break-up song about missing a lover who has left you while you pine for them to return to your side and desperately try to erase their memory, which makes my mother's use of it to express missing her son kind of weird. That said, as break-up songs go, this is one of the best ones ever made. Waite's lyrics express the combination of longing and self-deception that perfectly encapsulates the emotions of a bad break-up.

Previous Musical Monday: I Just Called to Say I Love You by Stevie Wonder
Subsequent Musical Monday: Let's Go Crazy by Prince

Previous #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: What's Love Got to Do With It by Tina Turner
Subsequent #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Let's Go Crazy by Prince

Previous #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: What's Love Got to Do With It by Tina Turner
Subsequent #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Let's Go Crazy by Prince

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

John Waite     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Monday, June 7, 2021

Musical Monday - I Just Called to Say I Love You by Stevie Wonder


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: October 20, 1984 through October 27, 1984.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: October 13, 1984 through November 3, 1984.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: September 8, 1984 through October 13, 1984.

If there is anything that demonstrates that success on the pop charts is mostly determined by the preferences of suburban moms, it is the fact that this song is Stevie Wonder's best-selling single. Wonder has had a long and prolific career, churning out musical masterpiece after musical masterpiece - Fingertips, Part II, Uptight (Everything's Alright), Superstition, Master Blaster (Jammin'), Sir Duke, and so many more. And yet, this milquetoast love ballad is the most successful song he ever wrote or recorded. To be clear, this isn't a bad song, it is just that compared to his greatest works, I Just Called to Say I Love You is just ordinary at best. It is, to be blunt, the epitome of Mom-pop.

This song was also on the soundtrack to The Woman in Red, which, once again, highlights the connection between pop music success and the movie industry. This song won an Academy Award as a result, although the movie - a mostly unfunny Gene Wilder vehicle featuring Kelly LeBrock and Gilda Radner - was simply not very good.

Previous Musical Monday: What's Love Got to Do With It by Tina Turner
Subsequent Musical Monday: Missing You by John Waite

Previous #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Let's Go Crazy by Prince
Subsequent #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Caribbean Queen (No More Love On the Run) by Billy Ocean

Previous #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Let's Go Crazy by Prince
Subsequent #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Purple Rain by Prince

Previous #1 on the U.K. Chart: Careless Whisper by George Michael
Subsequent #1 on the U.K. Chart: Freedom by Wham!

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

Stevie Wonder     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Monday, May 31, 2021

Musical Monday - What's Love Got to Do With It by Tina Turner


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: September 1, 1984 through September 15, 1984.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: August 25, 1984 through September 8, 1984.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: Never.

Tina Turner reached the top of the charts for the first (and only) time at the age of 44. She had already lived an entire show business lifetime before this song came out - beginning in 1957 when she first started hitting the charts as part of the Ike and Tina Turner Revue. Her career had already peaked in the 1960s, petered out, and died before the end of the 1970s. By 1980, she was a former star. She was also estranged from Ike, who it turns out had been an abusive husband who had badly mistreated Tina for years. For most artists with Tina's career trajectory, the 1980s would have been an empty decade. She might have returned for the nostalgia circuit a decade or two later, but functionally, her career would have been over.

That's not what Tina did. Starting with the album Private Dancer, on which this song appears, she launched a second, even more successful career. Tina Turner was a bigger star after the age of 45 than she had ever been before the age of 45. Even though she was never able to fully replicate the success of What's Love Got to Do With It, she established herself as an act that could fill an arena for the rest of the 1980s and beyond. There were other artists who reivented themselves in the 1980s - Heart, David Bowie, even the Bee Gees - but none came from as far down as Tina did, and few reached similar heights.

Previous Musical Monday: Careless Whisper by George Michael
Subsequent Musical Monday: I Just Called to Say I Love You by Stevie Wonder

Previous #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Ghostbusters by Ray Parker, Jr.
Subsequent #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Missing You by John Waite

Previous #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Ghostbusters by Ray Parker, Jr.
Subsequent #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Missing You by John Waite

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

Tina Turner     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Monday, May 24, 2021

Musical Monday - Careless Whisper by George Michael


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: February 16, 1985 through March 2, 1985.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: February 16, 1985 through March 2, 1985.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: August 18, 1984 through September 1, 1984.

At the outset, I will admit that I didn't much like George Michael's music in the 1980s. I'll also go ahead and admit that I don't much like George Michael's music now. I can appreciate his talent, and the artistry, he just doesn't perform a style of music that appeals to me. That there is music that is immensely popular that I don't personally find particularly appealing should not be particularly surprising. I'd venture that pretty much everyone has some piece of popular culture that just doesn't appeal to them. George Michael (and Wham!) fall squarely into that category for me.

Disliking popular things other people like is perfectly okay. Being a dick about disliking popular things other people like is well, being a dick. I don't care for Michael's music, but if you like it, I hope you get a lot of joy from listening to this video.

One odd thing I noticed about this song is that it is often presented crediting George Michael as the artist. it is true that he sings the song, but it appeared on a Wham! album by Michael was a member of Wham!, so I wonder why the song is presented this way. This isn't universal - sometimes the song is presented crediting Wham! as the artist, which makes the mystery a little deeper. I don't know if this has any meaning, but it is quirky.

Previous Musical Monday: Ghostbusters by Ray Parker, Jr.
Subsequent Musical Monday: What's Love Got to Do With It by Tina Turner

Previous #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: I Want to Know What Love Is by Foreigner
Subsequent #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: I Can't Fight This Feeling by REO Speedwagon

Previous #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Easy Lover by Philip Bailey and Phil Collins
Subsequent #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: I Can't Fight This Feeling by REO Speedwagon

Previous #1 on the U.K. Chart: Two Tribes by Frankie Goes to Hollywood
Subsequent #1 on the U.K. Chart: I Just Called to Say I Love You by Stevie Wonder

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

George Michael     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Monday, May 17, 2021

Musical Monday - Ghostbusters by Ray Parker, Jr.


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: August 11, 1984 through August 25, 1984.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: August 11, 1984 through August 18, 1984.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: Never.

Ghostbusters the movie was probably the first blockbuster comedy. Hit comedies always did reasonably well at the box office, but Ghostbusters pulled in nearly $300 million at the box office against a production budget of about $30 million, which was an entirely new level of success for the genre. For comparison, the most famous collaboration between Harold Ramis and Bill Murray prior to Ghostbusters was Stripes, which grossed $85 million at the box office - a profitable movie, but not nearly in the same stratosphere as Ghostbusters.

Ghostbusters the song was the main theme for the Ghostbusters movie. There is usually some synergy between the success of a movie and the success of a song, and in this case, the synergy worked to launch both to extreme success. This song was written well into the movie production process, after Reitman passed several clips of the movie along to Parker for him to use as inspiration. And this fact is where this story gets interesting.

When Reitman was filming Ghostbusters, he used the Huey Lewis song I Want a New Drug as placeholder music for some scenes, with the intent that it would be replaced by music tailored specifically to the movie before it was ready for release. These scenes ended up using Ray Parker's Ghostbusters song instead, which some people (including Lewis) noticed bore a lot of similarities to I Want a New Drug, resulting in a copyright lawsuit that was resolved via a confidential settlement agreement.

Since no one knows the details of the settlement, it is difficult to say whether Parker actually lifted Lewis' work, or if the songs were similar because they needed to fit the same scenes and thus necessarily shared a lot of tempo and pacing requirements in common. Either way, Ghostbusters was Parker's biggest hit.

Previous Musical Monday: When Doves Cry by Prince
Subsequent Musical Monday: Careless Whisper by George Michael

Previous #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: When Doves Cry by Prince
Subsequent #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: What's Love Got to Do With It by Tina Turner

Previous #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: When Doves Cry by Prince
Subsequent #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: What's Love Got to Do With It by Tina Turner

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

Ray Parker, Jr.     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Monday, May 10, 2021

Musical Monday - When Doves Cry by Prince


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: July 7, 1984 through August 4, 1984.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: July 14, 1984 through August 4, 1984.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: Never.

Prince's career can be divided into two parts. The first is everything that took place before the release of the Purple Rain album and movie of the same name. The second is everything that came after that. Before Purple Rain, Prince was a successful musician. After Purple Rain, Prince was an icon, launched into the company of the top tier performers in the world. I had been aware of Prince prior to Purple Rain, but he was the guy who had a couple of very successful almost novelty-ish songs like 1999 and Little Red Corvette. He was the sort of musician who could reliably turn out profitable albums and make a high-profile living with his music. After Purple Rain, Prince was the sort of performer who could sell out a giant arena in minutes. And When Doves Cry was the flagship song from Purple Rain.

In the early 1980s, I was kind of out of step with what was the dominant thrust of pop music. I wasn't much of a Michael Jackson fan, and I wasn't particularly enamored of the variety of acts trying to occupy the same post-disco dance friendly territory he had claimed. Although Prince was descended from the same musical heritage as Jackson and other similar artists, the Purple One took the musical style into an entirely different and refreshing direction. Where Jackson's performances were smooth and polished, with every note and movement refined to a high sheen, Prince's were raw and visceral, throbbing with barely contained sexual energy.

When Doves Cry is, in my estimation, one of Prince's best songs. Proving that he was one of the funkiest men around, he managed to produce this song, which is almost the epitome of funk, without a bass line, which is a pretty stunning accomplishment. The only thing I can say is that I, a decidedly non-funky teenager, was drawn into Prince's orbit by this song, which I distinctly remember dancing to with my girlfriend at the time and thinking the world couldn't get any better than that.

Previous Musical Monday: Dancing in the Dark by Bruce Springstein
Subsequent Musical Monday: Ghostbusters by Ray Parker, Jr.

Previous #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Dancing in the Dark by Bruce Springstein
Subsequent #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Ghostbusters by Ray Parker, Jr.

Previous #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: The Reflex by Duran Duran
Subsequent #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Ghostbusters by Ray Parker, Jr.

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

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