Our Friday theme is usually a random list of tunes, but let’s try something different this time. What if we picked a random year, looked at the record chart from this date in that random year, and then picked 10 records from that chart at random? What kind of a Random 10 would we end up with?
The random year is . . . 1985. (I was getting ready to begin my yearlong tenure hosting a Top 40 morning show, which would debut the week after Thanksgiving.) The random records from the chart that week are as follows:
3. “Head Over Heels”/Tears for Fears. (peak) In the sweep of history, Tears for Fears came and went in a hurry, with three big hits in 1985 and little else afterward. This one is nowhere close to “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” but miles better than “Shout.” They both made it to Number One; this didn’t.
9. “Saving All My Love for You”/Whitney Houston. (falling) Remember how impressive she was when she first appeared? Her debut album contained several songs that were good enough to have become standards, although they really didn’t. But as the rest of her career attests, it’s hard to be that good all the time.
23. “Oh Sheila”/Ready for the World. (falling) This record had been Number One for a week earlier in the fall of ’85, but now it’s one of the most obscure chart-toppers of the 80s. Listening again from 20 years’ distance, it’s a bit hard to understand why it was so big to begin with.
29. “Sisters Are Doin’ it for Themselves”/Eurythmics and Aretha Franklin. (climbing) In which Aretha takes Annie Lennox to soul school, and pretty much demonstrates who the principal is.
44. “Emergency”/Kool and the Gang. (climbing) For a while in the mid 80s, few groups were as reliable as Kool and the Gang–although today, when you run down the song titles (“Misled,” “Fresh,” “Emergency,” “Victory”), it’s hard to recall what some of those reliable hits sounded like.
80. “Four in the Morning”/Night Ranger. (falling) Despite their hard-rock credentials, Night Ranger actually specialized in singalong pop songs: “Sentimental Street,” “Goodbye,” and this.
85. “Communication”/Power Station. (falling) Quick, who were the guys in Power Station? Very good: 40 percent of Duran Duran, one guy from Chic, and Robert Palmer. Although he left the group shortly after the album was released, several of his later hits in the 80s and early 90s were clearly influenced by Power Station’s drum-heavy sound.
90. “A Love Bizarre”/Sheila E. (debut) Being a Prince protege couldn’t hurt at this moment in the 1980s, and while this song turned out to be a fairly sizeable hit, Sheila E. had already had her best moment a year earlier: “The Belle of St. Mark.”
97. “Don’t Lose My Number”/Phil Collins. (falling) Remember also that 1985 was a high point in Collins’ solo career, with a boatload of hits from No Jacket Required. Although this one was on its way off the charts, Collins’ duet with Marilyn Martin, “Separate Lives,” was in the Top 10.
100. “Freedom”/Wham. (falling) I still own a copy of Make It Big, and regardless of how you feel about Wham, there’s no denying that it contains several singles that are essential to understanding what the 1980s sounded like. “Freedom” wasn’t really one of them, but still.
(This post has been edited since it first appeared because it contained only nine songs when I first put it up. Christ, what a moron.)