Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Billboard Top 5 - 1987

billboard,top 5

Wow, this was an interesting year for me - the first time I hadn't worked in the theater for several years. I was working for a multimedia firm, mainly doing slide shows for real estate ventures. Yes, you read that right, slide shows. They were multi-projector shows particular to corporate real estate, and every bit as boring and awful as it sounds. But it paid well. Very quickly I worked my way up to the job of line producer, and was traveling with photographers, overseeing photoshoots of various real estate around the country. While driving around in rental cars, I would listen to the radio, hearing all the songs listed below. And what a great list it is, starting with former lead singer of The GoGos, Belinda Carlisle singing Heaven Is A Place On Earth. I was, and still am a fan of Belinda. When the solo album was released, I ran out to buy it and loved it.And I would be remiss if I didn't mention Belinda's strong support of LGBT rights, having embraced following her own son's coming out. Only made me love her more.

Anyone who watched Family Ties is familiar with Billy Vera & The Beaters romantic song At This Moment. The song was the score to the love scenes between Alex P. Keaton and Ellen, played by Micheal J. Fox and the woman who became his real life wife, Tracy Pollan. Lore has it that Billy Vera had already given up on his musical career, playing occasional dates for the bucks, when a Family Ties producer caught his show, and decided the song would be perfect for the show. The song was originally released in 1981, with minimal success. But when fans of the show started wanting a copy, the album was not available - the record company had gone under. So Rhino Records put out an album, and the song hit #1 on the chart, and remained on the Pop chart for 15 weeks.

George Michael had recently left Wham!, and was wanting to work with one of his all-time favorite singers, Aretha Franklin. So he worked on I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me) to get that done, and it was actually an amazing performance. And while it would be tough to think of many bad efforts by Aretha, I really loved this, and was surprised to see George hold his own [insert giggling here]. The song hit #1 in the US and in the UK. While it was not George's first, it shockingly was Franklin's one and only UK #1. Who'd a thunk it?

Written by Albert Hammond and Diane 'Queen of the Power Ballad' Warren, Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now managed to get Starship back on top of the charts in April of 1987. This enabled the amazing Grace Slick to be pegged with the dubious honor of being the oldest woman to have a number one song. She was later displaced by Cher, who had the 1999 hit Believe, which I blame for the popularity of autotune, which still is killing much pop music to this day. Anyway, the Starship song also appeared on the soundtrack to the wacky comedy Mannequin, and it was nominated for an Academy Award. It lost the award to (I've Had) The Time Of My Life, performed by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack.

This is the year U2 released their monster album, Joshua Tree. The band was already crowned the Band of the 80s by many because of their popularity, both on records and in concert. But the new album took it to a new level, as did the ballad off the album, With Or Without You. I was already crazy for the band, having gotten on the bandwagon when my sister Kim, still in college, gave me the War album in 1983. I instantly loved the Irish boys, and went and bought their earlier music. In fact, Kim and I, along with another friend, went to see them on this tour, during the stop at Giants Stadium. This is a great song, and deserves to be the #! song of the year.


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