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That conversation is clearly going on at corporate radio as well. Mike Kaplan is the program director for the Alternative format stations owned by radio conglomerate Entercom; they own so many stations that whatever Kaplan adds as his "pick of the week" immediately makes the Billboard Top 40 Alternative Radio chart (if only for one week). And he's clearly been trying to add more racial diversity to the format, with picks including Foushee's "Deep End" and a couple of songs by Tai Verdes (as well as by KennyHoopla).
Glad to see KennyHoopla getting some attention from the Gum. I've been enjoying his stuff ever since the Bloc Party-ish "How Will I Rest in Peace..." started climbing up the Modern Rock charts last year. I also really liked "Estella," but "Hollywood Sucks" might be a little too Blink-inspired for my taste; there's so much Travis Barker-produced pop-punk out right now, it's starting to all blur together.
I'll give a slight edge to Canada on this one, on the basis of "Always on my Mind," "Desire," and "Fast Car." But I wonder what they had against Escape Club. To my ears, "Wild Wild West" doesn't sound that different from the quirky Men Without Hats/Kon Kan Can Con bands that were having Canadian hits that year.
And Now For Something Completely Different: I couldn't let virtual 1988 pass us by without sharing one of my favorite songs from the year, Deacon Blue's "Real Gone Kid." It actually reminds me of a slightly grittier, more Scottish take on Prefab Sprout, with the interplay between Ricky Ross and Lorraine McIntosh's voices. And it's full of hooks that make me want to bounce up and down every time I hear it. The song deservedly became Deacon Blue's first UK Top 10 hit, but it never made any charts in the US; it was too pop for the Modern Rock charts and too quirky for the US pop and AC charts. https://youtu.be/5SD4lI9GKUE
Yep, December 1988 is when it peaked at #11 on the Modern Rock charts, which is why I'm featuring it here. And I wouldn't call myself a "dedicated fan" of TMBG, even though I like a lot of their songs. I just sat down to write a few sentences on "Ana Ng," and realized I could barely recall the lyrics at all. But then lyrics tend to be one of the last things I notice about a song (unless they're ostentatiously awful).
And Now For Something Completely Different: Usually it’s the lyrics that make They Might Be Giants songs so memorable. (Think of the riddle that comprises the lyrics to their biggest hit, “Birdhouse in Your Soul.” Or lyrics like “I'm not partial to the martial/Or the plutocrats, in their beaver hats” from my favorite recent TMBG song, “The Communists Have the Music”). And yet I love “Ana Ng,” even though the staccato lyrics go by so quickly, I couldn’t really tell you what they’re saying. I think it does a great job of packaging left-field musical ideas into an amazingly catchy pop song. https://youtu.be/MEjutUbgpH8
I don't recall this song at all. Thank god.
No, the one in "Reality Bites" was the Big Mountain cover of "Baby I Love Your Way," which is awful in its own way.
I think Trevor Horn's production is probably the secret sauce that makes "Left to My Own Devices" especially great.
It is fascinating to wonder what made the late 80s/early 90s American record-buying public go so hard for flavorless cover versions of previous hit songs. (And keep in mind that some of the worst is still to come; Mariah Carey and Michael Bolton are waiting in the wings). It's even more remarkable when you consider that, between Summer 1979 and Spring 1986, none of the songs that made #1 were a cover of a previous hit. So what exactly changed?
What a weird chart period this was. 7 of the songs on this list range from pretty good to great. And then you get the three songs that actually hit #1, which all suck in their own distinctive ways.
A 2 is about right for this gloop, but a 4 seems way too low for Frampton's "I'm in You," a great rock ballad that sits at the intersection of Kiss's "Beth" and the Babys' "Isn't It Time."
Also, "(Believed You Were) Lucky" is, as Aimee Mann might say, "fucking great." A massively underrated Til Tuesday song.
It's too bad that's the Adele Bertei song which charted, not her much better collaboration with Scritti Politti from three years earlier: https://youtu.be/tLqX5ccp_xU
And Now For Something Else Completely Different: Dublin band (and bane of search engines everywhere) A House packed a lot of song into “Call Me Blue,” which is just over two minutes long, but has a ton of energy and a hook that instantly gets stuck in your head. It’s no surprise that the song became a Modern Rock hit in the US, although it is a little surprising that none of their other songs made that chart (although I distinctly recall hearing 1995’s “The Strong and the Silent” a lot on my local radio station). https://youtu.be/jfOUypFxwfE
Instrumentally, I think it's even closer to "Loaded." https://youtu.be/Y3ixEzKA4k0
I think that Tom and some of the commenters are overrating it because it's not a ballad. Because "Bad Medicine" is lousy--completely uninspired sleazy bar band dreck. And it's got even more of a "belongs in a late 80s beer commercial" vibe than any of Steve Winwood's hits. 2/10.
I love the Mondays! I think "Lazyitis" is the peak song from this period of the band.
And Now For Something Else Completely Different (Making Up for a Day I Missed): Julian Cope had a long and varied career in the 1980s, dating back to his UK hits with the Teardrop Explodes. He even had a minor US hit with 1986’s “World Shut Your Mouth.” But the baroque pop ballad “Charlotte Anne” might just be my favorite Julian Cope moment. Maybe it’s the reeds that come in at the 1 minute mark, or the spoken word passage at the 2 minute mark. https://youtu.be/qfhw4Gc8CS4
And Now For Something Completely Different (to get that "Bad Medicine" taste out of your mouth): As the third single from Diesel and Dust, “Dreamworld” didn’t get the same attention as “Beds are Burning” or “The Dead Heart.” That’s a shame, because it’s really a perfect encapsulation of the Midnight Oil sound: driving guitars and great harmonies, paired with bracingly political lyrics, in this case about the destruction of Queensland’s cultural heritage by greedy developers. https://youtu.be/OcKcjpSWmm0
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