It is about time I get back to these Billboard posts, cause they make me happy. They will remind me of music I haven't listened to in a while, and some times I haven't thought about. Like, for instance, 1988. I was on my own, living in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and doing freelance work in Manhattan. Mainly my work was based out of Chelsea, with a company named Zink Communications. It was here I met some great friends, men I still keep in touch with. I worked with Mal and Brian, and in a while, James. We worked on 'How To' videotapes, and other projects. Actually, I had met Mal working at the Circle Repertory Theatre Company [damn, back in 1983, I think], but continued on with him for many years on non-theater projects. Although they often had their fair share of drama. Between the clients, who were corporate in nature, and the company paying us free-lancers, there were plenty of great people, and plenty of those who might have lacked a bit of charm. But that is life, right?
This was also back in the day when I had long, curly/wavy hair that was well below my shoulders, my John Lennon round metal glasses, and was wont to wear my shorts and flip-flops to work. Or wear all-black. Or show up to a meeting with the clients and have my hair held up with a pencil. Yeah, that always impressed the clients like AT&T, Northern Telecom, and IBM. It was also the place where one Christmas party, many of the employees had too much to drink, although many of us free-lancers were fairly sober, cause we had work to do. And one of the women in scheduling not only gave me a full-on 'Christmas' kiss on the lips, she also tried to slip me some tongue. I was a bit shocked, as I was not particularly closeted at all, and she was married. I decided to blame the alcohol and ignore the situation, and it was never brought up again. Such is life.
But it is impossible for me to think about 1988 without coming up with the #5 song of the year, Wild, Wild West by the Escape Club. The song was fun, and the boys were sexy, a combination that means only good. I loved the band, and bought the album right away. In fact, I covered them in a post over a year ago, here. So, without further ado, here is the video.
The #4 song on the list is somewhat of an oddity, not only because it tore up the charts and was played at every conceivable chance, but also because of the way it was produced. Bobby McFerrin's Don't Worry Be Happy was kinda magical, but also, there was no instrumentation on it. The incredibly talented McFerrin created all the sound himself, using his voice and a gifted imagination. In many ways, you could consider McFerrin the earliest beat-boxer there was.
I have to be honest with you, when I read the name of the #3 song, I didn't have a clue. When I think of Cheap Trick, I think of rockers from the Live A Budokan album. When I read The Flame, I was like, WTF? Then I found the video and immediately knew the song, cause it was played all the time. It is a good power ballead, but when push comes to shove, I'll take I Want You To Want Me any day of the week.
Billy Ocean had a bit of a spree in the late 80s, scoring several hits, often affiliated with movies. The #2 song was not tied into a film, but it was part of an album that went platinum, helped no doubt bu the big hit Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car. The international Pop sound that Ocean had was natural, as he was born in Trinidad, and lived much of his life in England.
In the 80s and 90s, singer Gloria Estafan ruled the airwaves. Truthfully, I thought, and still think, she has a beautiful voice, rich and full. She started out as the singer for the Miami Sound Machine, and in 1988 was fronting the band, now billed as Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine. With top billing, Gloria had the #1 song of the year according to Billboard with Anything For You. The song was a worldwide hit, topping the charts on both the Pop and Adult Contemporary side.
I have another admission I need to make. Not only was I a fan of Gloria Estefan, I liked this song way better in Spanish, despite the fact I didn't, and still don't, speak or understand the language. (I think Gloria was setting me up for my fascination with all things Ricky Martin. Damn you, Gloria!] And because I am just in that kind of mood, I want to offer up my favorite version of the song, so give it a try should you so desire.
There you have it, the Top 5 songs of 1988 according to the folks at Billboard. Another strong group, well worth listening to. Especially if you have great memories attached, something I am very guilty of. Enjoy.