(Pictured: Paula Abdul, 1989.)
I have mentioned that for all the time I’ve spent listening to American Top 40 over many years, I’ve never heard a full show hosted by Shadoe Stevens, who became the host when Casey Kasem left in August 1988. Reader Adam kindly sent me links to several Shadoe shows, and here’s what I noticed from the one dated April 8, 1989.
39. “Straight Up”/Paula Abdul
27. “Forever Your Girl”/Paula Abdul
Before playing “Forever Your Girl,” Shadoe reports that a few weeks ago he’d said that “Straight Up” was Abdul’s first hit, but a listener wrote in to correct him that two other singles from the Forever Your Girl album had charted in 1988. “Straight Up” was her first Top-40 hit. I was tempted to call it an enormous howling error, but I think it’s more likely that Shadoe simply misread the script and nobody on the production staff caught it.
33. “Paradise City”/Guns ‘n’ Roses
30. “Cult of Personality”/Living Colour
20. “Rocket”/Def Leppard
Bang your head, everybody.
28. “You’re Not Alone”/Chicago. Our friend Tom Nawrocki, who has a vote for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, suggested that Chicago’s 80s output hits caused the band to play itself out of the Hall. “You’re Not Alone” would have been enough all by itself.
25. “Orinoco Flow”/Enya. Shadoe asks whether Enya’s music is “pop, new age, classical, or what?” and says that some people even compare it to Gregorian chant. “Orinoco Flow” is the most unusual sound on the show this week by many miles.
24. “More Than You Know”/Martika
23. “Thinking of You”/Sa-Fire
Before playing “More Than You Know,” Shadoe plays a quick audio clip of Martika asking, “Hey Shadoe, where’s my song on this week’s Top 40?” Before playing “Thinking of You,” he does one of those who-cares time-filling special reports, listing the 10 most-popular gemstones. (Sapphire—get it?) Casey often did this kind of thing straight, but Shadoe delivers it with the wisecracking tone it deserves. And after he back-announces Sa-Fire, he says, “Martika is Cuban and Sa-Fire is Puerto Rican. I’m Shadoe Stevens, Norwegian.”
LDD: “Born to Be My Baby”/Bon Jovi. Casey’s gone but the LDDs continue. This one is from a 17-year-old girl from Barcelona, Spain, to the boy she fell in love with during an exchange-student visit in South Carolina last year. She gains points for not choosing a sappy love ballad, but gives them right back for choosing “Born to Be My Baby,” which had gone to #3 in February 1989, and which is not good.
19. “Room to Move”/Animotion. Shadoe profiles the new lead singer of Animotion, Cynthia Rhodes, who has already appeared in several big movies and is also Mrs. Richard Marx, which she would be until 2014.
18. “Second Chance”/.38 Special. Is “Second Chance” my favorite record on the show? Yes. Is Rock and Roll Strategy a really terrible album title? Also yes.
14. “The Living Years”/Mike and the Mechanics. Shadoe says that while each Beatle had #1 hits as a solo act in the 70s, three members of Genesis have done the same in the 80s: Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, and Mike Rutherford, who hit #1 two weeks previously with “The Living Years.”
12. “You Got It”/Roy Orbison. After Roy, Shadoe plays a montage featuring the top five hits from the same week in 1976 and I AM HERE FOR IT.
11. “Superwoman”/Karyn White
7. “Dreaming”/Vanessa Williams
These are both really good, but it seems to me like they aren’t on the radio as much as they should be today, while lesser 80s hits are getting more exposure.
10. “Funky Cold Medina”/Tone-Loc
9. “Walk the Dinosaur”/Was Not Was
5. “Like a Prayer”/Madonna
4. “She Drives Me Crazy”/Fine Young Cannibals
3. “Girl You Know It’s True”/Milli Vanilli
Any of these might be considered peak 1989.
2. “Eternal Flame”/Bangles
1. “The Look”/Roxette
Roxette knocks the Bangles out of the top spot this wek, becoming the third Swedish act to hit #1, joining Blue Swede and ABBA. Shadoe says that all three of them hit #1 on the same date. Not exactly, but they did hit during the same week: Blue Swede on April 6, 1974; ABBA on April 9, 1977; and Roxette on April 8, 1989. But even with that quibble, it’s quite an oddity.
Shadoe Stevens has a big boss-jock voice, but also a touch of Gary Owens—with a friendly sparkle that makes clear there’s a real human being behind the voice. (A lot of boss jocks have only the voice, without the humanity. ) I liked him a lot more than I expected to. And thanks to Adam, I’ve got a few more of his shows to listen to.