Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Top 100 Songs of 1986*: #10-1

In 1986, discussions between U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in Reykjavik, Iceland to scale back intermediate nuclear weapons in Europe failed.  Also that year, The Phantom of the Opera, the longest-running play by far in the history of Broadway, opened at Her Majesty's Theatre in London.  

And these are the 10 songs from 1986 that have best weathered the storms of time:

Stuck With You
Huey Lewis and the News

This San Francisco group originally called the Clovers moved to the U.K. during the latter part of the '70s before moving back to the Bay Area.  Shortly after, the Clovers merged with another group called Soundhole and that combination eventually became Huey Lewis and the News.  This song stayed at #1 for three weeks in the U.S. and also reached #1 in Canada.

These Dreams

Martin Page, who would later record the great song "In The House Of Stone And Light" in 1994, scored a big songwriting credit with the #1 song "We Built This City" for Jefferson Starship in 1985.  The following year, he combined with Bernie Taupin, longtime collaborator of Elton John's, to write this song.  The pair originally offered the song to Stevie Nicks who turned it down.  Meanwhile, Heart had just inked a new recording contract with Capitol Records and thought the song would fit perfect on their new album.  It did, going all the way to #1 and 30 years later, it's among the year's 10 best.  

The Way It Is
Bruce Hornsby and the Range

Bruce Hornsby and the Range, signed to RCA Records in 1985, wasted no time in getting started.  The first single from their debut album roared to #1 in the U.S., Canada and the Netherlands.  It sold over two million copies and helped the group win the Grammy Award for Best New Artist.

Take My Breath Away

Giorgio Moroder, who had a big hand in the success of Donna Summer, wrote the backing track for this song and, after Tom Whitlock penned the lyrics, began to shop it around.  Tony Scott, director of the movie Top Gun, liked it and decided to film more romantic scenes between Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis to feature the song.  When the group the Motels declined to record it, Moroder thought of the group Berlin, who had recorded "No More Words", which Giorgio had produced two years earlier.  "Take My Breath Away" won Best Original Song honors at both the Academy Awards and the Golden Globe Awards.

That's What Friends Are For
Dionne Warwick and Friends

This song, written by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager, was originally written for the great Ron Howard movie Night Shift in 1982 and sung by Rod Stewart.  Four years later, it was revived by Dionne Warwick.  Warwick, devastated by the death of a friend to AIDS, recruited friends Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Gladys Knight to record the song as a charity single.  It presided at #1 for four weeks,  raised over $3 million for the American Foundation for AIDS Research and won Grammy Awards for Song of the Year and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.  

Papa Don't Preach

This powerful song which dealt with teenage pregnancy and abortion, showed the depth Madonna was capable of after giving us "Like A Virgin" and "Holiday".  It became her fourth career #1 song and one of the biggest songs of the year, going to #1 in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Italy and Belgium and reaching the Top 10 in seven other countries.  Thirty years later, it is still going strong with continued strong airplay, sales and YouTube numbers.

Say You, Say Me
Lionel Richie

This song, recorded for the movie White Nights, became Lionel Richie's ninth #1 song on the Adult Contemporary chart.  Richie, one of the great mass appeal artists of our lifetime, also hit #1 on the Popular and Black Singles charts and captured Best Original Song honors at the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes.

Higher Love
Steve Winwood

This artist became something of a boy genius when he joined the Spencer Davis Group as a keyboardist at age 14.  He later formed the groups Traffic and Blind Faith before going solo.  Winwood wrested the #1 spot away from "Papa Dont' Preach" with "Higher Love" and won Record of the Year and Best Pop Male Vocal Performance at the Grammy Awards.

How Will I Know
Whitney Houston

We've seen examples of songs in the Top 10 turned down by other artists and here's another.  Janet Jackson declined to record this one, which became a monster hit for Whitney Houston.  The song achieved a rare triple #1--#1 on the Popular chart, #1 Adult Contemporary and #1 R&B and earned at least Gold status in three of the world's biggest Rock music markets--the U.S., the U.K. and Canada.  The video was nominated for Best Female Video and Best New Artist in a Video at the MTV Video Music Awards.

Greatest Love Of All
Whitney Houston

In 1977, George Benson took this song written by Michael Masser and Linda Creed to #24.  Nine years later, Houston recorded it for her debut album and took it to #1 in the United States, Canada and Australia.  As you know, the competition a song faces is one of the most important factors in considering its popularity.  Every one of the 15 best songs that "Greatest Love Of All" faced in its run up the charts is featured in The Top 100* for 1986 and no less than five of the Top 10 for the year were out at the same time.  "Greatest Love Of All" was nominated for Record of the Year at the Grammy Awards, has now sold over four million copies worldwide, has led to album sales of 13 million, airplay of over two million and tremendous YouTube numbers to this day.

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