I'll be honest, I changed my source for the Billboard Top 5 songs because the songs that were in the last one just didn't make sense to me. This new source, well, it makes more sense, at least for the most part. I can tell you that 20 years ago, three of these top 5 were part of my record collection, and songs I listened to on a regular basis. That could not be said of the former source material, so rightly or wrongly, I am switching it up. And might have to revisit at least 1989, if I get a chance, cause that list, well it was causing me to struggle a bit.
Twenty years ago, I was working my but off in New York City as a freelancer, working long hours when I was in town, and traveling a great deal for the projects. I spent a lot of that time listening to my Walkman or Diskman, whichever I had at that time. Music was definitely starting to shift, as New Wave was fading, Pop was on a bit of a resurgence, but there was a new rock sound that was bubbling up from the Pacific Northwest, which was just coming together as we entered the new decade. Seattle was the home of Grunge music, and the scene was alive there, but not yet hit the rest of the country or really starting to hit the charts - yet. In 1990, the #5 song of the year was a fantastic R&B song from the amazing Janet Jackson, sister to the King of Pop. Escapade was the third single from Janet's breathtaking album Rhythm Nation 1814, which you can rest assured is in my collection. It was also the third single to hit the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 from the album, and it had a great video. Here it is.
Starting in the 60s, drag balls were held and the competition was fierce betwixt and between a variety of 'fashion houses' in the gay community in New York City. The majority of the balls were held in Harlem, and the competitors were the drag queens (and occasionally drag kings). The houses were African American and Latino American, and they competed in what were essentially fashion shows, trying to capture the 'realness' of certain looks. The events are best chronicled by a great documentary released in 1991, Paris Is Burning. Out of these competitions came a strong style of dancing that emphasized and magnified expectations of femininity. The dance was called Voguing, and was said to be established and perfected by Benny Ninja of the House of Ninja. Ninja has become best known for his participation on Tyra Bankss' show America's Next Top Model, which has been employing drag queens to teach women how to be models for the last 7 or so years. And it was on the skirts of the Harlem drag queens that Madonna rode to the #4 song of the year when she released Vogue.
In 1990, Mariah burst on to the music scene with the release of of her eponymous debut album on the Columbia label. The album was held controlled closely by the President and CEO of the label, Tommy Mottola. It was later discovered that his interest might have been more than just artistic integrity, as Carey and he would marry in 1993. But the first single from the album, Vision of Love, quickly soared up the charts on the strength of Mariah's amazing voice and vocal histrionics. Her popularity grew quickly, although if I were being honest, and at the risk of having my gay card pulled [once again], I have to admit I have never been a big fan of Ms. Carey's, as I found her vocals to be rather over the top and self-indulgent. But Vision of Love was the first of tree straight singles that were certified as Gold selling singles for the up-and-coming star.
The #2 spot belongs to a rather stunning Irish lass, whose style and ability to speak her mind angered people from the Pope to Frank Sinatra. But when she sang Nothing Compares 2U, Sinéad O'Connor had the world stopping and listening to her. The video for the song featured to singer shot in a tight close up, with her beautiful big eyes and closely cropped hair, kept the world's attention at the beginning of the year. O'Coonor took a little-known B-side written by Prince and made it the second ranked song of 1990. Here is the video for Nothing Compares 2U.
I have to admit that I just don't remember the #1 song of 1990, even after checking out the video. Nor do I really remember the singer, Stevie B. But the top song of the year was named Because I Love You (The Postman Song) and sung by the aforementioned Stevie B. And I just don't know what else to say about it, save that it could be my least favorite #1 since I started doing this lists. So here is the video.