While the 80s were coming to a close, the music was still hitting many a high note. My own life had taken a bit of a back seat, for I was working full-tilt as a freelancer in NYC, and spent much of my time on the road at a variety of trade shows, from Comdex in Las Vegas, to smaller trade shows in Boston, Washington, DC, San Diego, and, well, anyplace with a convention center. I had sworn off dating - I wasn't really very good at it - and instead would work hard, and when I had some free time, visit the family in Delaware. I would hop on AMTRAK with my Sony Walkman in place, playing my cassettes. Somewhere about this time, I might have shifted to the Sony Discman, but I can't be sure...
At this point in musical history, Gloria Estefan was pretty much an unstoppable force. At the beginning of the year, she became a 'solo' act, as the billing became Gloria Estefan, losing the Miami Sound Machine from the title. However, the band, lead by Gloria's husband Emilio, continued to play the dates backing Estefan. The first solo album was Cuts Both Ways, released during the summer. The first single, Don't Wanna Lose You, zoomed up the charts, scoring #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US, as well as many other places worldwide. Surprisingly enough, it lands at #5 on the year-end chart. I thought it would score much higher.
Martika was setting a precedent that we are still fighting today. She was the Hillary Duff/Miley Cyrus of her day, moving from teen/tween programming to the record charts. She went from a lead in the show Kids Incorporated to a movie with Mr T to her first album which spawned the hit Toy Soldiers, her only #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Her kiddie pop went fairly unnoticed by me, so I don't really have any fun anecdotes or charming stories. Somehow it lands at #4 on the year-end chart.
The next group brought together two bands that were coming to an end to form what was thought of as a rock supergroup. John Waite was the lead singer for The Babys and this group before moving on to solo success later. Keyboardist Jonathan Cain and bassist Ricky Phillips had played with Waite in The Babys. They were joined by guitarist Neal Schon and drummer Deen Castronovo were part of the Journey lineup as that band was breaking up. As a group, they became known as Bad English, with attitude and big hair to burn. With the second single off their debut album, they topped the Billboard Hot 100 with When I See You Smile, the #3 song of 1989.
While she might have been the teen queen of her day, Debbie Gibson, who later changed her name to Deborah Gibson, got her title the old fashioned way, she earned it. She put out her first album at 16, having toured the country playing clubs and bars. On her first album, she had five singles, and all but one landed in the Top 5, and the fifth just missing the Top 20. Expectations were high for the young lady for her second album, Electric Youth. There was no need to worry, as the first single, Lost In Your Eyes, landed at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, her second chart topper, both written by the youngster. Here she is with the #2 song of 1989, Lost In Your Eyes.
Richard Marx broke on to the musical charts in 1987 with the pop/rock song Don't Mean Nothing. He was discovered by Lionel Richie, and was singing background vocals and musician gigs in LA for a variety of artists. He was also writing music, including top hits for Kenny Rogers, Kim Carnes, James Ingram, Freddie Jackson and Chicago, to name a few. This earned him some studio time, and he took full advantage. His second album, Repeat Offender, was a quadruple Platinum selling effort, and much of that success can be attributed to the second single, Right Here Waiting. The touching power ballad caused heart to go all-aflutter, and earned Marx to top single of the year.