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: 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