This Week In 1987: November 22, 1987
Originally posted as 25 Years Ago This Week in 2012. Updated in 2017.
I've always preferred female recording artists to male. Even when it comes to groups, I'll usually take a girl group over a boy band. Back in 1987, aside from George Michael, Rick Astley and Michael Jackson (who pretty much everyone liked), only 12 of my favourite 100 songs for the year featured male singers - and a handful of those were duets with female performers anyway.
So a week like this one in 1987 when all seven of the new entires were by male singers or male-fronted groups, I wasn't as excited as in other weeks when female performers dominated. It's also another week when older performers proliferated, with a 24-year-old George Michael the only debuting act to be under 30 years old. You'd never see that these days, which may or may not be a good thing.
Meanwhile, after seven long weeks, Los Lobos were finally knocked from the number 1 spot. After patiently waiting at number 2 for five weeks, Icehouse moved up a spot with "Electric Blue".
Off The Chart
Number 98 "All Fired Up" by Rattling Sabres
Peak: number 94
This song might not have worked for the short-lived Australian band (whose members included future Dancing With The Stars musical director Chong Lim) but it would be massive a year later once Pat Benatar got her hands on it.
Peak: number 82
Their first top 100 appearance since 1985, "Never Let Me Down Again" was the second single from Music For The Masses and yet another underappreciated classic from one of my favourite bands of all time.
Number 50 "We'll Be Togther" by Sting
Peak: number 13
The Dream Of The Blue Turtles, the debut solo album by the former frontman for The Police, had been a big success - and in 1987, the singer born Gordon Sumner returned with his second studio album, Nothing Like The Sun, which featured this as its lead single. I was a little surprised to discover "We'll Be Together" peaked so high, since I don't remember it being quite that big a hit, but the charts don't lie! Despite lifting several more singles from Nothing Like The Sun (including "Englishman In New York" and "Fragile"), none got anywhere near the top 50, although the album did reach number 3.
Number 44 "Unchain My Heart" by Joe Cocker
Peak: number 17
Another song that reached a much higher position than I would have guessed, Joe's version of the 1961 Ray Charles song was also the title track of his 1987 album. Growly-voiced Joe was pretty big in Australia throughout the '80s. From his chart-topping An Officer And A Gentleman duet with Jennifer Warnes, "Up Where We Belong", to his 1986 cover of future stripping anthem "You Can Leave Your Hat On", he made regular appearances in our top 50. This would be the second last of those, with only "When The Night Comes" making a brief visit, peaking at number 39 in 1989. Since then, he's popped up on the albums chart every few years with a new greatest hits collection.
Peak: number 33
And here's a song I thought would've performed better - the first single from the Hunners' What's A Few Men? album. In fact, the group fronted by singer Mark Seymour didn't crack the top 20 on the singles chart until 1993, when "True Tears Of Joy" and "Holy Grail" finally did the trick. Like Boom Crash Opera and Crowded House (but not The Party Boys!), Hunters & Collectors were an Aussie rock group I liked - and one that seemed to be getting better with each album.
Number 42 "Glory Road" by Richard Clapton
Peak: number 42
Back in the charts with his first album in three years, the revered Aussie singer/songwriter wasn't really an artist who was on my radar at the time. I don't think I was even aware of classic single "Girls On The Avenue" until some years later. From the album of the same name (which was produced by INXS drummer Jon Farriss), "Glory Road" wouldn't get any higher than this debut position.
Number 38 "Bridge To Your Heart" by Wax
Peak: number 17
As I revealed in my personal 1987 countdown, this was my first ever 7" single purchase. Even though Wax had scored a minor hit in 1986 with "Right Between The Eyes", I think I knew I would never end up buying a full album by the British duo, and so ever-economical 12-year-old me could justify the $2.99 (or whatever it cost for a 7" in 1987) to spend on this record. It did pretty well on the Australian chart - and although many people have probably forgotten all about this song, one burst of the "Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh" from the chorus would no doubt jog their memories.
Number 33 "Mony Mony" by Billy Idol
Peak: number 8
First recorded by Billy back in 1981 when he was just starting out as a solo artist following the demise of punk band Generation X, this song was resurrected in a live version in 1987. It would prove to be a stroke of genius to release this new take on the classic anthem (originally released by Tommy James & The Shondells in 1968) since it would give Billy his one and only US number 1 hit. In Australia, it was his fifth top 10 hit in as many years.
Number 27 "Faith" by George Michael
Peak: number 1
"I Want Your Sex" had gained him a stack of publicity - and record sales - but for his next single, George went with a more straightforward pop tune. The title track to his debut solo album, "Faith" would eventually manage a single week at number 1 in Australia, but George had to wait until January when Rick Astley's stranglehold on the top spot ended. He'd also have to wait until March for Faith (which entered the chart at number 11 in seven days' time) to reach its peak position of number 3 on the albums chart.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1987:
Think seven new entries is good? Next week, we have eight debuts to recap - and there's even one song by a female singer among a second deluge of male-dominated tracks. Naturally, she's singing about a guy...