Saturday, 27 October 2012

The Best Of 1987 - part 3

JUMP TO: 100-76 II 75-51 II 50-26 II 25-1

One interesting shift in music trends in 1987 was the return of the teen singer. For years, the majority of the artists that had scaled the charts had been in their 20s and 30s (or older), but in 1987, three teenage female singers arrived on the scene. In Australia, we had Kylie Minogue, who was 19 when "Locomotion" debuted, while over in the States there were Debbie Gibson (17) and Tiffany (16).

Debbie Gibson helped change the face of music in 1987

Of course, there had been teenage (and pre-teen) megastars before - Michael Jackson, Donny Osmond, Stevie Wonder, the boys from Musical Youth and New Edition - but they tended to be one-offs, and, more often than not, male. In the wake of Debbie, Tiffany and Kylie's success, the charts would see a more consistent stream of teen or teen-oriented artists in the next few years (Glenn Medeiros, Tracie Spencer, New Kids On The Block, Martika and Sonia, to name a few).

We'll see a couple of pop princesses in this portion of my list, and, as in the first two parts, I'l be discussing the songs I haven't already mentioned elsewhere and providing links for the ones I have.

Number 50 "Criticize" by Alexander O'Neal
Another artist who would have received a good airing on Night Tracks is this soul/funk singer from the US, who was produced by Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, the team behind Janet Jackson's Control album (and most of her subsequent ones). Alexander had been in The Time with Jam & Lewis before departing for a solo career and released a string of singles that were surprisingly much more successful in the UK than the US. In fact, the album this single was from, Hearsay, was a multi-platinum smash in Britain, yielding other hits like "Fake", "Never Knew Love Like This" (with Cherrelle) and the title track. In Australia, he pretty much went completely unnoticed.

Number 49 "Something In My House" by Dead Or Alive
Another great song from Pete Burns and co from the Mad Bad And Dangerous To Know album, "Something In My House" has something you can't say for that many songs produced by Stock Aitken Waterman: memorable lyrics. That could be because the producers had no hand in writing them, since the band composed all their music themselves. This song (unliked the last three I've talked about) was actually a hit in Australia, reaching number 19.

Number 48 "Shattered Dreams" by Johnny Hates Jazz
Previously featured here

Number 47 "Suddenly" by Angry Anderson
Previously featured here

Number 46 "Electric Blue" by Icehouse
Previously featured here

Number 45 "What Have I Done To Deserve This" by Pet Shop Boys / Dusty Springfield
Previously featured here

Number 44 "F.L.M." by Mel & Kim
Previously featured here and here

Number 43 "Who's That Girl" by Madonna
Previously featured here

Number 42 "We Connect" by Stacey Q
The second of two awesome dance/pop singles (and the second of two number 7 hits here in Australia), "We Connect" was incredibly catchy. Cutesy lyrics and a relatively weak vocal aside, it's a damn good song that could be given a 2012 overhaul and fit right in with the club-based sound dominating the charts at the moment. Interestingly, Stacey was nearly 30 when "We Connect" was a hit - I'd always assumed she was much younger.

Number 41 "Just Like Heaven" by The Cure
I've talked in other posts about the gradual commercialisation of The Cure. In 1987, the band reached a major turning point in their career when they became a top 40 act in the US. In fact, "Just Like Heaven" was the song that saw them break through, and just two years later they'd have a number 2 hit Stateside with "Lovesong".
Both "Just Like Heaven" and "Why Can't I Be You?" were taken from the Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me album (along with another classic, "Catch"), but despite it clearly being a hit-laden album, I don't think I've heard any of the non-singles from it. I've always been a Cure singles fan - and the only two albums of theirs I own are singles collections Standing On A Beach and Galore. I'm sure that means I'm missing out on some undiscovered gems, but with singles this good, I'm more than satisfied.

Number 40 "Call Me" by Spagna
It's usually the other way round - singers find success in their home country in their native tongue before crossing over to the English-speaking market by recording in English. However, Ivana Spagna sang in English from the start (originally being involved in Fun Fun, whose track "Colour My Love" was a minor hit in Australia) and only later recorded in Italian. Europop classic "Call Me" would be her biggest hit, a number 2 in the UK and a somewhat disappointing number 98 in Australia.

Number 39 "Down To Earth" by Curiosity Killed The Cat
We saw them in Part 2 with "Misfit", but "Down To Earth" would be the biggest hit for the group led by beret-wearing Ben. In the UK, it reached number 3 and in Australia, once again, it only got to a somewhat disappointing number 88. The band scored a couple more hits back home before the end of the '80s and then, in 1992, they returned simply as Curiosity (new line-up, new record label) and had a top 3 smash with a cover of "Hang On In There Baby" before swiftly disappearing down the dumper.

Number 38 "Right On Track" by Breakfast Club
Previously featured here

Number 37 "I Think We're Alone Now" by Tiffany
Here's our first teen queen: Tiffany Darwish, with her cover of the Tommy James and the Shondells song from 1967. November 1987 was a great time for the Tommy James back catalogue with this track and Billy Idol's version of "Mony Mony" (also originally recorded by the group) swapping places at number 1 on the Billboard chart.
Back to Tiffany, who famously toured the shopping malls of the US throughout 1987 until "I Think We're Alone Now" climbed the chart and she became an "overnight" sensation. Subsequent hits "Could've Been" and another remake, "I Saw Him Standing There" (a slightly altered version of The Beatles song), kept her chart fortunes alive, but by 1989 it would all be over, with the singles from second album Hold An Old Friend's Hand failing to match the highs of her earlier releases.
Throughout the '90s and '00s, Tiffany popped up every now and then with new music, acting roles, reality TV appearances and even a Playboy shoot - and recently starred alongside (and sparred with) '80s rival Debbie Gibson in Syfy flick Mega Python vs Gatoroid.

Number 36 "Flames Of Paradise" by Elton John / Jennifer Rush
Previously featured here

Number 35 "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" by Starship
Previously featured here

Number 34 "Alone" by Heart
Previously featured here

Number 33 "So Emotional" by Whitney Houston
In 1987, Whitney could do no wrong. Everything she released went straight to the top of the charts in the US, including this uptempo track, which came out between mega-ballads "Didn't We Almost Have It All" and "Where Do Broken Hearts Go". As good as those ballads were, I preferred the upbeat singles from the Whitney album - and so did Australia, with the number 26 peak of this track making it the second most successful single from the album locally. The biggest hit from Whitney is still to come on my list - but I'm sure you can work out what it is.

Number 32 "Love And Devotion" by Michael Bow
Previously featured here

Number 31 "Toy Boy" by Sinitta
In recent years, Sinitta has popped up regularly on the UK version of The X Factor thanks to her friendship with Simon Cowell - a relationship that stems back to the mid '80s, when the aspiring record company mogul guided the singer to UK top 5 success with "So Macho" (in 1986) and again with this song in 1987. The first fruits of Sinitta's work with producers Stock Aitken Waterman, "Toy Boy" would only reach number 49 in Australia, with her biggest hit here a couple of years away.

Number 30 "Let's Go" by Wang Chung
Previously featured here

Number 29 "GTO" by Sinitta
Previously featured here

Number 28 "Boom Boom (Let's Go Back To My Room)" by Paul Lekakis
Previously featured here

Number 27 "Positive Reaction" by Mandy
Previously featured here

Number 26 "Only In My Dreams" by Debbie Gibson
Here she is, America's other sweetheart, who, unlike Tiffany, wrote all her own songs. In Australia, Tiffany's success came first (with Debbie not hitting our charts until 1988), but in the US, Debbie's top 100 debut pre-dated Tiffany's by three months - with this, her debut single, going on to reach number 4 over there. We'll see Debbie again before this list is over - and in fact, she was one of my favourite singers for the rest of the decade.

That just leaves my favourite 25 songs from 1987, which I'll unveil in the next few days in Part 4...

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