No Lookin’ Back

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(Pictured: the hottest mom in the neighborhood, circa 1985. Hang on, I’m being told that’s Pat Benatar.)

I wasn’t really gonna tap out of the American Top 40 show from August 31, 1985, so here’s the rest of it:

40. “No Lookin’ Back”/Michael McDonald
37. “Every Step of the Way”/John Waite
36. “Live Every Moment”/REO Speedwagon
34. “State of the Heart”/Rick Springfield
27. “There Must Be an Angel”/Eurythmics
24. “Mystery Lady”/Billy Ocean
16. “Dare Me”/Pointer Sisters
14. “Freedom”/Wham
9. “You’re Only Human”/Billy Joel
4. “We Don’t Need Another Hero”/Tina Turner

Many artists with iconic records are on this show, but with songs that either aren’t all that great, or are largely forgotten.

35. “When Your Heart Is Weak”/Cock Robin. “When Your Heart Is Weak” didn’t do much for me in 1985, but hearing it again for the first time in a long time, it sounded a lot better.

32. “Glory Days”/Bruce Springsteen
31. “Saving All My Love for You”/Whitney Houston
11. “Don’t Lose My Number”/Phil Collins

10. “Money for Nothing”/Dire Straits
8. “Cherish”/Kool and the Gang
3. “Freeway of Love”/Aretha Franklin

Here are some icons being iconic. “Saving All My Love for You” might be the best of Whitney’s 80s singles, although its jingly keyboards and luxuriant saxophone make it sound dated now. “Don’t Lose My Number” is probably the most Phil Collins-y of all his 80s hits. I’m not sure anybody needs to hear “Money for Nothing” again, but there hasn’t been anything that sounds like it since.

29. “Cry”/Godley and Creme
26. “Oh Sheila”/Ready for the World
I’m indifferent to most of what’s on this show, but I actively dislike some of it. “Oh Sheila” is boring as hell but would end up #1 anyway. “Cry” stops any radio show’s momentum dead, and its octave-jumping conclusion should be shot into the sun.

28. “Take on Me”/a-ha
19. “Every Time You Go Away”/Paul Young
7. “Never Surrender”/Corey Hart
One of these could be the best record on the show, but keep reading.

25. “Shame”/The Motels. Which Casey introduces with a long and not-all-that-interesting feature on lead singer Martha Davis, in which he casually mentions that she got married when she was 15 and now, at the age of 34, has daughters who are 19 and 17.

17. “Smokin’ in the Boys Room”/Motley Crue. A bad and unnecessary but inevitable remake, which Casey follows with a feature on the 1955 hit “The Ballad of Davy Crockett.” I might have put the feature nearly anywhere else in the show.

15. “What About Love”/Heart. “The two-woman, three-man band formed in 1972 in Seattle, and that’s where they’re based, Seattle, Washington.” Later in the show Casey will say, “Here’s Aretha, Aretha Franklin, with “Freeway of Love.” The repetition is a bit, right? It’s gotta be a bit.

12. “Invincible”/Pat Benatar. Casey introduces “Invincible” with a lengthy story about how Benatar was discovered, which repeats her name unnecessarily only once and is written in clear and direct English.

LDD: “Count on Me”/Jefferson Starship
LDD: “One Hundred Ways”/Quincy Jones with James Ingram
Casey believed that apart from the music, the Long Distance Dedications were the most valuable thing on the show, although there were dissenting opinions on his own staff. If we’ve got to sit through the sort of mawkish letters featured on this show (one of which contains details that sound fake), it helps if the songs are good. In fact, it’s “One Hundred Ways” that’s the best thing on the show.

6. “Shout”/Tears for Fears. At the end of the show, when Casey reviews the #1 songs on the other charts, he notes that a disco remix of “Shout” is #1 on the dance chart this week. “These are the things I can do without”? Yeah, I’d say so.

5. “Summer of ’69″/Bryan Adams. “Summer of ’69” is probably the single most enduring record on this show, unless it’s “Take on Me” or the song at #1. Casey introduces it with clips of the five songs that hit #1 in the summer of 1969: “Get Back,” Henry Mancini’s “Romeo and Juliet,” “In the Year 2525,” “Honky Tonk Women,” and “Sugar Sugar.”

1. “The Power of Love”/Huey Lewis and the News. If Huey never had another hit, we’d still be playing this one on the radio several times a week today because it’s perfect: seriously, you can’t name a single thing that would improve it. It was featured in the perfect place (Back to the Future) and at the perfect time, blasting out of radios across a hot-and-happening American summer.

Looking back across the whole show, however, I didn’t enjoy it all that much. Mid-80s Casey is hard to take, with his announcer-y delivery. And despite 1984 to 1986 being my Top-40 radio years, I find myself decades later respecting a lot of the music, but loving very little of it.

12 thoughts on “No Lookin’ Back

  1. mikehagerty

    …in which the wheels start to come off the great CHR revival of 1982-83.

    As for “Hot Mom Pat Benatar”, she was 32 in that photo…

    1. porky

      …and not quite a mom, though she was pregnant in ’85 and wore loose clothing in the video of “Ooh Ooh Song” to conceal that fact.

  2. Wesley

    If what Casey and the AT40 crew reported here is true, then Martha Davis is 15 years older than me, yet her eldest daughter is only one year younger than me. I’d sit down after reading this if I wasn’t already sitting down.

      1. Brian Rostron

        The “I Want My MTV” oral history mentions a couple of times how Davis’ daughter went with a young David Fincher for a while. Every one of the anecdotes about it ends with “It didn’t end well.”

  3. mackdaddyg

    What’s crazy to me is that I was still listening to top 40 radio at this time, but these songs do not ring a bell at all.

    40. “No Lookin’ Back”/Michael McDonald
    37. “Every Step of the Way”/John Waite
    36. “Live Every Moment”/REO Speedwagon
    34. “State of the Heart”/Rick Springfield
    27. “There Must Be an Angel”/Eurythmics
    24. “Mystery Lady”/Billy Ocean
    16. “Dare Me”/Pointer Sisters
    35. “When Your Heart Is Weak”/Cock Robin
    29. “Cry”/Godley and Creme
    7. “Never Surrender”/Corey Hart
    25. “Shame”/The Motels
    12. “Invincible”/Pat Benatar

  4. mackdaddyg: Almost right there with you. “There Must Be An Angel” is probably my favorite Eurythmics song, partly (but not entirely) because of Stevie Wonder’s harmonica solo (3:10 in, if you don’t want to wait):

    And I like Godley & Creme’s “Cry” considerably more than JB does:

    Beyond that, I remember the chorus of “Never Surrender”, but that’s all.

    Like you, I was absolutely still listening to Top 40. This was just a really weak period of unmemorable songs from people who had done so much better fairly recently.

    1. mikehagerty

      Well, crap. Always wait until the song finishes before posting. JB’s right about the end of “Cry” needing to be shot into the sun. Damn, I remembered that as a whole lot less annoying.

  5. John Gallagher

    24. “Mystery Lady”/Billy Ocean
    16. “Dare Me”/Pointer Sisters
    29. “Cry”/Godley and Creme
    7. “Never Surrender”/Corey Hart
    12. “Invincible”/Pat Benatar

    These are the most familiar of this list to me. In 1985, I worked at a CHR that was a bit different when it came to research and their playlists so all of the above were played where I worked.

  6. Pingback: Express Yourself – The Hits Just Keep On Comin'

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