Sunday, May 12, 2013

Blast from the Past: Hit Songs from 25 Years Ago (1988)

This week's edition of Blast from the Past is less about nostalgia, and more about the rapid forward motion of time. 1988 sounds like a long time ago, and in many ways was a long time ago. It was the late 80s, but still the day-glo, big hair, stupid clothes 80s. Ronald Reagan was still president. Cell phones were rare, expensive and huge. A person with an internet connection was rarer still, and there were no web sites as we know them now. A kid thrown from today into 1988 would feel very disconnected, very anonymous. And probably be very, very bored.

But to those of us who remember it, there are things about the late 80s that feel quite recent. My first CD was George Michael's Faith, a smash album that produced several hit songs, several of them in 1988. While I've ditched all of my audio cassettes, vinyl records, VHS tapes and laser discs, I still have that first CD. I wonder though, for how much longer. I still wonder if your average kid today hears a song from 1988 and has the same feeling toward it that I might have about Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley and the Comets. It's the same amount of time.

1. Faith by George Michael - This was the title track of Michael's first solo album after WHAM! split up. The video was iconic, and was much loved and also widely lampooned. Michel himself literally blew up the items from the video in a later one. This was the number 1 song of 1988.

2. Never Gonna Give You Up by Rick Astley - This cheesetastic ditty came from the Stock Aitken Waterman music factory of interchangeable singers. They could plug anyone into a song and make a hit, for a while there. But nobody knew that this song would give birth to "Rick Rolling." Number 4 in 1988.

3. Wild Wild West by Escape Club - People think this band was a one-hit-wonder. Not so! They actually cracked the top 40 three times in the US, though this was the only one that went to number 1. The video was awesome in its day. Number 18 for 1988.

4. Pour Some Sugar on Me by Def Leppard - This song was supposedly written as something of an afterthought, but it's by far my favorite song by the band. It's one that doesn't seem like it's 25 years old to me. And it pissed off Pat Robertson, so that made me like it even better. Number 19 for 1988.

5. Simply Irresistible by Robert Palmer - This was the last major "lip girls" song by Palmer, and of all the songs on the list, the most evocative of its era. For some reason, this song was also a Pepsi commercial. Number 23 for 1988.

6. The Way You Make Me Feel by Michael Jackson - MJ was on his second 80s wave, the first being from his album Thriller, and at this stage from Bad. This was just one of many hits from the latter, and it was number 36 for 1988.

7. Don't Worry, Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin - You could likely make a whole list of embarrassing hits from 1988. Along with this one, you could throw in Kokomo by The Beach Boys, anything by the likes of Poison and Whitesnake or Debbie Gibson and Tiffany, and of course that Rick Astley one. This one was number 37 in 1988.

8. What Have I Done to Deserve This? by Pet Shop Boys, featuring Dusty Springfield - This is one that transcends the era. It doesn't feel like an 80s song to me, maybe just because the Pet Shop Boys have a unique sound. It was Number 50 in 1988.

9. What's On Your Mind by Information Society - Notable for its inclusion of Leonard Nimoy as Spock saying the words, "pure energy." I loved the song, the video I could do without. But check out the coloring of that one with the one that follows. This one was number 51 for 1988.

10. Tell it to My Heart by Taylor Dayne - Dayne seemed to get stuck in the late 80s, though I thought she was wicked talented. I don't know what the heck happened. This was just one of her short burst of hits, number 53 in 1988.

And that is my selection of notable hits out of the Billboard top 100 from 1988. Much of it is pure dreck, though notable for its pop culture value. But remember, the past is colored with nostalgia. Our clothes were silly, our hair was silly, and a lot of our music was sillier. Jody Watley? Exposé? Pebbles? Billy Ocean? Blecchhh. Of course there were other good ones, but this column can only be so long. If I were going to throw in a few more, they'd include INXS, Elton John and Whitney Houston. Maybe for a part two before the year is out. And you know what's weird? No Madonna on the 1988 chart whatsoever.

But for now, that was the pop chart 25 years ago. When you stop crying about where all the time went, try to have a good week. Happy Monday!

Source: Music Outfitters

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