(Pictured: Janet Jackson on American Bandstand, 1986.)
At this website we often noodle with the idea of greatest Top 10 or greatest weekly chart of all time. But it’s a fact that sometimes, pop music goes through fallow periods, and there’s plenty of evidence for that on the American Top 40 show from June 21, 1986.
40. “Glory of Love”/Peter Cetera
38. “Modern Woman”/Billy Joel
32. “Love Touch”/Rod Stewart
24. “If You Leave”/OMD
22. “Danger Zone”/Kenny Loggins
9. “Who’s Johnny”/El DeBarge
4. “Live to Tell”/Madonna
It was the golden age of the movie soundtrack song, punctuating a scene or just playing under the closing credits. “Glory of Love” and “If You Leave” are still part of the 80s canon today, and “Danger Zone” and “Live to Tell” ought to be.
37. “Out of Mind, Out of Sight”/The Models
36. “Be Good to Yourself”/Journey
33. “Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money)”/Pet Shop Boys
29. “One Hit (To the Body)”/Rolling Stones
28. “Is It Love”/Mr. Mister
18. “Vienna Calling”/Falco
12. “I Wanna Be a Cowboy”/Boys Don’t Cry
This is what I mean by “fallow period.” The Models, Journey, the Stones, Prince, and Mr. Mister are all just dull, but “Opportunities,” “Vienna Calling,” and “I Wanna Be a Cowboy” are actively horrid, as is “Love Touch” at #32. The nine songs represent over 20 percent of the countdown.
35. “Digging Your Scene”/Blow Monkeys. I like “Digging Your Scene,” even as I acknowledge that it sounds like what you’d get if you fed a songwriting bot all the Motown, Stax, and Philly soul it could eat, but turned the whiteness up to 100.
34. “If She Knew What She Wants”/Bangles
10. “Nothin’ at All”/Heart
3. “Crush on You”/The Jets
Introducing “Crush on You,” Casey says that in the rock era, only four bands (as distinct from singing groups) with at least two sisters have hit the Top 40. The first was Fanny, in 1971. The other three bands are in this week’s countdown: the Bangles, Heart, and the Jets, an eight-member family group made up of three sisters and five brothers. That’s the kind of trivia you could win money with.
31. “Mad About You”/Belinda Carlisle
21. “Your Wildest Dreams”/Moody Blues
20. “Like a Rock”/Bob Seger
16. “Tuff Enuff”/Fabulous Thunderbirds
14. “Nasty”/Janet Jackson
13. “Something About You”/Level 42
8. “Holding Back the Years”/Simply Red
One of these is the best record on the show. I played “Tuff Enuff” on the radio the other day, but like “Deacon Blues” in 1978, it’s a one-song genre all its own in this company. So it’s probably “Nasty,” which, in a way far different from “Tuff Enuff,” also kicks every ass in the neighborhood. My fondness for the sadly nostalgic “Your Wildest Dreams,” “Like a Rock,” and “Holding Back the Years” will not surprise you at all.
26. “Rain on the Scarecrow”/John Cougar Mellencamp. I bang on Mellencamp a lot, not because I don’t like his music, but because I find his legacy and influence to be greatly inflated. His greatest achievements are probably his ongoing support of Farm Aid and “Rain on the Scarecrow,” an angry and honest song about the toll taken on families by the cratering farm economy of the 1980s.
LDD: “Against All Odds”/Phil Collins
25. “When the Heart Rules the Mind”/GTR
19. “All I Need Is a Miracle”/Mike and the Mechanics
17. “Invisible Touch”/Genesis
15. “Sledgehammer”/Peter Gabriel
Introducing “Sledgehammer,” Casey tells the story of how British pop star Jonathan King discovered Genesis and produced their first album, thereby starting several successful careers. (GTR is led by former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett.)
LDD: “The Long and Winding Road”/Beatles. In which the daughter of American hostage David Jacobsen wants him to know he and the other Americans currently being held hostage by Islamic Jihad in Lebanon have not been forgotten. (Jacobsen had been taken hostage in May 1985; he would be released in November 1986.) She has received letters from her father, and he has told her he has access to a radio. Casey says, “We’re not sure American Top 40 can be picked up in Lebanon right now, but that certainly doesn’t change the spirit of your dedication.”
I honestly have no idea how to feel about this.
6. “No One Is to Blame”/Howard Jones. Back in 2007, a fellow blogger asked me to write about the day-to-day life of a radio DJ, so I wrote about the summer of 1986. I don’t like “No One Is to Blame” quite so much 15 years later, but the piece remains a pretty good description of what that summer felt like.
1. “On My Own”/Patti Labelle and Michael McDonald. Which Casey introduces with a story about the theft and recovery of a $5000 necklace belonging to Patti. Nearly every story he tells on the show goes on just a little bit too long, but on the four-hour shows, that’s a feature, not a bug.