(Pictured: Paula Abdul; also pictured: a whole lot of the 80s.)
Because some amongst the readership are not as elderly as I, here’s a record chart that’s not quite as elderly as our charts usually are, from WKTI in Milwaukee, dated February 17, 1989.
In February 1989, I was still doing afternoons on the elevator music station in the Quad Cities. At some point within the previous year, I had half-heartedly pursued the overnight gig at the big Top 40 station in town, which I didn’t get. The program director—who may have been trying to soften the blow—told me that he figured I probably wouldn’t want to go from afternoon drive to overnights, and being the idiot I was, I agreed with him. But the guy who got the job was moved up to afternoons himself within six months—and he wasn’t nearly as good on the air as I was.
So anyway: the songs on WKTI during that February week did not make it on my station, even though we were tweaking the format to make it slightly hipper. We thought hard about adding “The Living Years,” and “Eternal Flame” by the Bangles and Sheriff’s “When I’m With You” could have been made to fit. We would eventually play other hits by New Kids on the Block (“I’ll Be Loving You Forever”) and Breathe (“How Can I Fall”). I was still listening to Top 40 in the car sometimes, so I would have heard many of the hits of the day, and in the early 90s, at another station, I would play a lot of them. Read about a few of them on the flip.
1. “Straight Up”/Paula Abdul (up from 2). The Mrs. bought Forever Your Girl, and although it was never something I was going to put on for an evening’s listening, it’s got some solid tunes. “Straight Up” is the best of its six (!) singles, with a hypnotic groove unlike anything else Paula ever did.
10. “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”/Poison (down from 5). Bad-ass rock band does a ballad, and teenage fans of bad-ass rock band lose their shit. See also KISS (“Beth”), Nazareth (“Love Hurts”), Aerosmith (“Dream On”), and so forth. You just know that America today is full of people in their early 40s who lost their virginity to this, and twentysomethings who were conceived to it.
11. “Where Are You Now”/Synch (up from 14). “Where Are You Now” rode the charts twice, once when it came out in 1987, and again in ’89. The second time around it was billed to Jimmy Harnen and Synch, and it made #10 on the Hot 100 and #3 on the AC chart. (Come to think of it, we may have considered this one for airplay on the elevator-music station too.) Harnen eventually became a record executive in Nashville, and today is president of Republic Nashville, one of the most successful labels in country.
13. “The Living Years”/Mike & the Mechanics (up from 20). There are lots of reasons to hate “The Living Years,” including the children’s chorus and the overstuffed production, but I can’t do it. Sometimes the sap rises too high to ignore. When I play it on the radio today, I sometimes say it’s a public service announcement reminding you to call your parents.
17. “What I Am”/Edie Brickell and New Bohemians (up from 18). I really liked the weird quality of Brickell’s voice and the odd lyrics of “What I Am,” so I bought Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars—probably from Columbia House, for I was a member in those days. But I only played it a time or two before it got put on a hidden shelf with the other CDs that weren’t going to make the regular rotation. A year or so ago I ripped it to the laptop stash, and it’s come up on shuffle a couple of times in recent weeks. And as it played, both times I found myself wondering how much longer this tripe was going to go on.
And I know from tripe. I’ve been writing this blog since 2004.