(Pictured: participants in Hands Across America try to span the Arizona desert on May 25, 1986.)
After listening to the American Top 40 show from April 26, 1986, earlier this week, here’s the usual look into the Bottom 60 of the same week to see what’s interesting.
44. “Crush on You”/The Jets. “Crush on You” takes four minutes to do not very much, but it was the first of five Top-10 hits the Jets would score in the next two years.
48. “Nothin’ at All”/Heart. Heart’s mid-80s comeback had so far consisted entirely of bombast: “What About Love,” “Never,” and “These Dreams.” “Nothin’ at All” was more like the rockin’ Heart of old. It would make the Top 10 like the others, but it didn’t get much radio play after it dropped off the charts. The video looks great, although much of the budget seems to have gone for hair styling, flowing scarves, and animal wrangling.
49. “Right Between the Eyes”/Wax. In 1981, singer, songwriter, and session man Andrew Gold (best known for the singles “Lonely Boy” and “Thank You for Being a Friend”) was invited to record with 10cc as the group worked to finish an album. Later, he was extended a formal invitation to join the band. He didn’t, but a couple of years later, he and Graham Gouldman, longtime 10cc member and a prolific songwriter, formed Wax, which recorded three studio albums in the late 80s and a fourth a decade later. “Right Between the Eyes” sounds great, and the video is directly in the mid-80s pocket, with Gold and Gouldman performing in front of random whimsical images, intercut with a pretty dancing girl and clips from silent movies and old TV shows.
57. “A Different Corner”/George Michael. This was the highest-debuting record on the Hot 100 in this week, and was the first single George Michael released under his own name, although two records credited to Wham would hit the American charts later in 1986. Your average adult-contemporary or oldies radio station is gonna play “Faith” 100 times before they play “A Different Corner” once, which don’t seem right.
69. “Hands Across America”/Voices of America. In retrospect, this seems like an incredibly strange thing: an attempt to create a human chain stretching through 16 states from coast to coast to raise money to fight hunger in the United States. But at the time, a year after Live Aid and “We Are the World,” it had great appeal, and USA for Africa was instrumental in organizing it. It was announced with a Super Bowl TV ad in January, and on May 25, 1986, nearly five million people were said to have participated, including President and Mrs. Reagan. About $15 million supposedly went to charity, a lot of it from corporate sponsors, but it could have been more if people had actually paid the participation fee USA for Africa sought.
My radio station was involved in our local event, although I can’t recall many specifics. We were on the national route, but we couldn’t form hands across our own town, let alone join up with anyone else. Playing “Hands Across America” on our air was easier. It’s a power ballad featuring a couple of anonymous singers doing the leads backed by the New Jersey Mass Choir, with several members of Toto handling the instruments. It got a celebrity-studded video but didn’t have much radio appeal, topping out at #65 during the week of May 17.
There’s going to be an attempt to make a virtual human chain on social media for the 35th anniversary of Hands Across America on Tuesday, May 25 of this year, as a benefit to help the homeless. It will not have a song.
77. “Tuff Enuff”/Fabulous Thunderbirds
79. “Bop”/Dan Seals
Amidst all the English haircuts, proto-hip-hop records, and gated reverb came a blues-rock band from Texas with a highly unlikely hit, which would eventually make #10, and a #1 country hit by the erstwhile England Dan, which had stalled just outside the Top 40.
81. “Your Wildest Dreams”/Moody Blues. The Moodys had charted singles right along during the first half of the 80s and would continue to do so after 1986, but “Your Wildest Dreams” became the third and last Top 10 hit of their career, joining “Go Now” and “Nights in White Satin.” The video is one of my two or three favorites of all time, about the hold that love, memory, and music have on us, a subject that always has been directly in my wheelhouse: “When the music plays / I hear the sound / I have to follow.”