Saturday, July 11, 2009

Ten Great Songs From One Great Year

1987 v.2

This was the year that President Ronald Reagan implored Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall. While it was only the beginning of the final demise of the Soviet Union, can anyone honestly say they could see the current President be so bold?

But Reagan’s successes were few and far between at this point. Congress was once again in the control of the Democrats and the battle lines were drawn as the Congress rejected Robert Bork for the Supreme Court. But a battle the President won was the repeal of the nefarious, and poorly named, Fairness Doctrine. This opened the airwaves to Rosh Limbaugh and others who forever had been in the shadow of the liberal media.

But the media was too interested in the Jessica McClure rescue to notice. Just 5 days later, the stock market crashed. But to combat the inevitable fallout, Prozac debuted in the US on December 29th and not a moment too soon

Livin' On a Prayer – Bon Jovi

This tells the story of Tommy and Gina, 2 kids working to make it on their own despite constant hardships. It struck a chord with America's youth, especially the ones from New Jersey. The characters in the song relate to the working class fans Bon Jovi played to. "Tommy" works on the docks, while "Gina" works in a diner. Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora wrote this with help from Desmond Child, a prolific songwriter who was brought in by the record company to give them a more commercial sound. Child has also written hits for Kiss, Aerosmith, Michael Bolton, and Ricky Martin.

Keep Your Hands to Yourself – The Georgia Satallites

Riding the wave of popularity, forged by other Athens, GA locals R.E.M. and The B-52’s, lead singer Dan Baird wrote this about the problems their drummer was having with his girlfriend. He wrote it in one sitting on their tour bus. The video portrayed a This was the only hit for the Georgia Satellites. Baird had a hit as a solo artist in 1992 with "I Love You Period."shotgun wedding, complete with very pregnant bride and actual shotgun.

The Final Countdown - Europe

On VH1's 100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders, Joey Tempest said: "It was quite a surprise that the song 'The Final Countdown' became such a big hit because it was written for the band, it was written for our concert, it was written to be the opening song in our concert. It was almost 6 minutes long, it was never intended to be a short Pop hit or anything, it was very much a surprise and its been used for all kinds of events, anything from Formula 1 to boxing. It's been used for a lot, sort of like an anthem. I know there's been some cover versions of it as well and I know when the Berlin Wall (fell), at the same time that all thing happened I know a lot of other people from that area saw the song as an anthem. I get a lot of letters about that. So its been interpreted in many ways."

Moonlighting Theme – Al Jarreau

This song, about night owls who unexpectedly find love with each other, turned out to be one of Jarreau's biggest hits. It is the theme song to the comedy/mystery series Moonlighting, which is the show that made Bruce Willis a household name and gave Cybill Shepherd a career resurgence. Inside the entertainment industry, the show is remembered for the bitter on-set feuding between Willis and Shepherd, both of whom vowed to never work with each other again after the show ended.

Alone – Heart

Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly wrote this. They are a very successful songwriting team who have written several other #1 hits, including "So Emotional," "Like A Virgin" and "Eternal Flame." Most of their songs start with a lyric Steinberg comes up with. Kelly writes most of the music and sings on the demos. After their 1983 album Passionworks, Heart left Epic Records and signed with Capitol, where they had enormous success with soaring ballads like "What About Love" and "These Dreams." The band wrote most of their early hits, which were rockers like "Barracuda" and "Magic Man," but starting with their 1985 album Heart, they got a lot of help from some top songwriters. In addition to Steinberg and Kelly, Heart recorded songs by Diane Warren, Bernie Taupin and Martin Page.

Jacob's Ladder – Huey Lewis & the News

This was written by Bruce Hornsby and his brother John Hornsby. Huey Lewis had previously sang a duet with Bruce Hornsby on "Down the Road Tonight" on Hornsby's The Way it Is album. This song is about someone for who life is a struggle but has rejected the approaches of a hypocritical religious evangelist who was more interested in her money than her spiritual well-being. Instead she is intent on gradually improving herself. Hornsby recorded a version which is included on his second album, Scenes From The Southside. He regularly sings this in concerts as well.

Lost in Emotion – Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam

Following their breakthrough smash, “Head to Toe,” this song turned out be the biggest hit for the pop trio, reaching #1 on the billboard top 100. The song is about a woman who's in love with a man that everyone she knows thinks is wrong for her, but she will disregard them and follow her heart. However, even though they continued recording, they were only able to achieve minimal success, reaching the top 40 just two more times before 1992.

Ballerina Girl – Lionel Richie

The 80’s were very kind to the former Commodore’s front man. The success of his first two LP’s, 1982’s Lionel Richie and 1983’s Can’t Slow Down, were two of the best selling albums of the decade. If not for Michael Jackson, Richie would have been the number one selling black artist alive. His third album, Dancing on the Ceiling, further cemented his place in the annals of 80’s legends. This ballad was the third single from the LP and it reached #7 on the Billboard charts. It was his 13th and final top 10 hit as a solo artist, which included five #1 hits.

I've Been in Love Before – Cutting Crew

This melancholy ballad was written by Cutting Crew lead singer Nick Van Eede, and was the follow up to their massive hit "(I Just) Died in Your Arms," which according to Van Eede, was inspired by a real relationship. This song may be about the same person, but Van Eede isn't saying, leaving us to ponder the line, "The hardest part is when you're in it." The first two chords of this song are similar to the first two chords of the 1998 Cher hit "Believe." That's because Nick Van Eede co-produced the original demo for "Believe."

Someone Like You – Daryl Hall

What Lionel Richie was to black artists, Daryl Hall and John Oates were to duos. In fact, Hall & Oates are the biggest selling duos in the history of recorded music. But success doesn’t last forever and by 1987, the hits were no longer easy to come by. It was at this time that Daryl Hall decided to try something different and so he recorded and released a solo album (actually, he did this as well in 1980, prior to the band’s rejuvenation). For his diehard fans, it was a welcome effort. For most everyone else, it sounded like any other Hall & Oates album. The only difference was that it was more personal and introspective. Perhaps the best example of that was this heart-wrenching ballad that was a big hit on the Adult-Contemporary chart.

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