song of the day – “Dancing In The Dark” | BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN | 1984.

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On June 15, 2014, Casey Kasem, host of the longtime countdown program, AMERICAN TOP 40, passed away at the age of 82.  From my first blog post (and prolly some more inbetween then and now), I explained how, in 1979, I was a geeky, lanky and somewhat lost 12-year-old living in Central Maine, had a few friends and not a lot of interest in much of anything, but at some point early that year, I discovered AMERICAN TOP 40, and was glued to it every weekend.  Not only could I hear the 40 biggest songs in the country every week, but also Casey’s cool trivia and facts about the songs and the artists, a trait I treasure to this day.  For me, the show was No. 1 with a bullet.  And still is (thanks to the re-airing of broadcasts of AT40 on iHeart Radio).american-top-40-casey-kasem

In honor of my radio hero, Casey Kasem, since the start of June, I have been highlighting songs that peaked in the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100 (including five (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s), just like on AMERICAN TOP 40, the hits have gotten bigger with each post.  On June 1, 2017, I featured a song that peaked at No. 40.  With the next post, I’ll feature a “song of the day” that went all the way to No. 1. 

As Casey used to say on AT40, “And on we go!”

If you listened to AMERICAN TOP 40 as faithfully as I did back in the 80s, before Nos. 2 and 1 were announced, he’d usually take a commercial break before announcing them, and would usually say, “The two biggies are coming right up!”  “The two biggies.”  Always cracked me up and still does.

But, when it came to AMERICAN TOP 40, “the two biggies” were, in fact, a big deal.  There a few positions on the chart that are the most frustrating, like Nos. 101, 41 and 11, but no other peak position on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 (or any singles chart, for that matter) was more frustrating to stop at than No. 2.

Foreigner endured the No. 2 position the longest in the 80s, spending 10 weeks in the runner-up spot in 1981 and 1982 with “Waiting For A Girl Like You,” a chart record Foreigner still shares to this day.  And I believe Madonna, who has six No. 2 songs to her credit (four of them in the 80s), still holds the chart record for most No. 2 singles in Hot 100 history.

waiting for a girl like you

All told, nearly 100 songs reached No. 2 between 1979 and 1989, including songs by three Beatles (Paul McCartney, John Lennon, and George Harrison, whose 1981 No. 2 hit, “All Those Years Ago,” was a tribute to John Lennon), two Jacksons (Michael and Janet), and a couple of (real) one-hit wonders, including the Cold War Classic by Nena, “99 Luftballons.”

99 luftballons

danger zoneSome of the biggest songs in history that maybe you thought were No. 1 hits in America were actually No. 2 hits, such as “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper, “Easy Lover” by Philip Bailey and Phil Collins, “We Got The Beat” by The Go-Go’s, “Electric Avenue” by Eddy Grant, “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins, “Hurts So Good” by John Mellencamp, “Start Me Up” by The Rolling Stones and “Purple Rain” by Prince And The Revolution.

Several artists peaked at No. 2 between 1979 and 1989 with two songs, including The Bangles, Culture Club (with their first two hits), Air Supply, Duran Duran, Glenn Frey, Kool & The Gang, John Mellencamp, Billy Ocean (including the guilty pleasure, “Loverboy,” which a DJ back in the day once referred to as “Heavy Metal Disco”; I would disagree), plus Robert Palmer, Pointer Sisters, Linda Ronstadt (in two big duets with James Ingram and Aaron Neville), Tina Turner and Jody Watley. 

loverboy

Michael Jackson gets an honorable mention, as he peaked at No. 2 with “The Girl Is Mine” with Paul McCartney, and he is featured in an uncredited role backing up Rockwell on “Somebody’s Watching Me.”  Likewise with Sheena Easton, who backed up Prince uncredited on “U Got The Look” and had her own No. 2 hit in 1989 with the sexy Dance hit, “The Lover In Me” (a long way from when she took that “Morning Train” to No. 1 in 1981; I’m sure Prince may have had something to do with it).

the lover in me

Speaking of Prince, he had three No. 2 hits between 1979 and 1989, or in this case, 1984 through 1987, with the aforementioned “Purple Rain” and “U Got The Look,” but also with “Raspberry Beret.”  He, too, gets an honorable mention, as he composed the No. 2 hit for The Bangles, “Manic Monday.”

lovesong

And a number longtime recording artists saw their biggest hits stop at No. 2, like The Cure (“Lovesong”), Journey (“Open Arms”), The Greg Kihn Band (“Jeopardy”), and Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing In The Dark.”

If there was any one huge artist in the 80s I wanted to see reach No. 1 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 singles chart, it was Bruce Springsteen.  I was first introduced to Bruce’s music with 1980’s “Hungry Heart,” from his first No. 1 album, THE RIVER.  At the time, I had no idea he had already released four critically-acclaimed and successful albums.

hungry heart

After “Hungry Heart,” I was a Bruce fan for life – granted, not the superfan that Hope is, but I don’t think anyone loves Bruce’s work more than Hope, except maybe for Bruce’s wife, Patti Scialfa.

“Dancing In The Dark” was released in early May 1984, a month before the BORN IN THE U.S.A. album was released.  And, right out of the gate, it was a hit.  “Dancing In The Dark” blasted onto the BILLBOARD Hot 100 the last week of May 1984 all the way into the Top 40, at No. 36.  By the next week, it was already No. 18, with its eyes set on No. 1.

dancing in the dark

Bruce had hit No. 1 before – as a songwriter.  A song from his 1973 debut album, GREETINGS FROM ASBURY PARK, N.J. – “Blinded By The Light” – was recorded by the London Rock band, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, in 1977, and spent a week at No. 1 on the Hot 100 in February 1977, exactly four years to the month when Bruce’s original was released as a single.

bruce blinded

“Dancing In The Dark” had a lot going for it – a popular video directed by Brian de Palma (SCARFACE, THE UNTOUCHABLES, CARRIE, DRESSED TO KILL and the first MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE film) with actress Courtney Cox (FAMILY TIES, FRIENDS) dancing with Bruce on the stage (the video would win the MTV Video Music Award for Best Stage Performance). 

courtney n bruce

It also had a 12” Dance remix courtesy of Arthur Baker (who’s remixed songs for Daryl Hall & John Oates, Afrika Bambaataa, Cyndi Lauper, Pet Shop Boys and New Order).  The “Blaster Mix” was miles away from anything on 1982’s NEBRASKA or 1980’s THE RIVER, but people loved it.  Not only did it reach No. 7 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart, it was the biggest-selling 12” single for all of 1984.  Arthur Baker would also go on to remix the follow-up Bruce singles “Cover Me” and “Born In The U.S.A.” as well.

blaster mix

As much as “Dancing In The Dark” had going for it in its second week on the Hot 100, another single debuting on the same chart that early June was “When Doves Cry” by Prince, released in advance of the album and film, PURPLE RAIN.  “When Doves Cry” reached the Top 40 a week later, and just like “Dancing In The Dark,” made a big move into the Top 20 the following week.

By late June 1984, “Dancing In The Dark” had climbed to No. 4, while “When Doves Cry” was closing in at No. 8.  The following week, “When Doves Cry” had jumped to No. 3, and “Dancing In The Dark” was at No. 2, right behind Duran Duran’s “The Reflex.”

“When Doves Cry” proved to be too powerful for “Dancing In The Dark,” which stayed for four weeks in the runner-up position.  “When Doves Cry” was the biggest song of 1984 here in America.

when doves cry back

Though “Dancing In The Dark” didn’t reach No. 1, Bruce Springsteen still had a lot to be proud of.  The song gave Bruce his first Grammy Award, winning for Best Rock Vocal Performance.  In the 1984 ROLLING STONE readers poll, “Dancing In The Dark” was voted “Single Of The Year.”  It’s also listed as one of The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame’s 500 Songs That Shaped Rock And Roll.”  It sold a million copies in the U.S. alone, and the single’s B-side (one of the best ever), “Pink Cadillac,” was a Top 5 hit for Natalie Cole in 1988.

pink cadillac

Around the globe, “Dancing In The Dark” was an international smash (though in some countries it took awhile), reaching No. 1 in Belgium and the Netherlands, No. 2 in Ireland, New Zealand and Sweden, No. 4 in South Africa and the U.K., No. 7 in Canada and Norway, No. 11 in Finland and No. 12 in Italy.  In Australia, though it stopped at No. 5, it was the No. 1 song of the year, spending 40 weeks on the singles chart there.

“Dancing In The Dark” was just the first part of an amazing journey for Bruce Springsteen and the BORN IN THE U.S.A. album.  Seven out of the album’s 12 songs were released as singles, and all seven reached the Top 10 on the Hot 100 between 1984 and 1986, tying a record set in 1984 by Michael Jackson’s THRILLER album. 

born in the usa LP

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The first compact disc manufactured in the U.S.A. was BORN IN THE U.S.A.

BORN IN THE U.S.A. was No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s album chart twice, in July / August 1984 and January / February 1985.  PURPLE RAIN may have been the album of the year here in the U.S. for 1984 (BORN IN THE U.S.A. was No. 28), but for 1985, BORN IN THE U.S.A. was the No. 1 album of the year in America (and even No. 16 for 1986).

NERDY FUN FACT: BORN IN THE U.S.A. was the first compact disc manufactured in the U.S. for commercial release.  I remember seeing it at a DeOrsey’s in Waterville, Maine, and think it sold for something like $25.00.  And the record album still sounds better.

NERDY FUN FACT 2: According to a 1984 ROLLING STONE interview, the “Dancing In The Dark” Blaster Mix by Arthur Baker happened because Bruce had heard the remix Arthur did for Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want To Have Fun,” and he thought it was incredible: “It sounded like fun, so I hooked up with Arthur.  He’s a character, a great guy.  He had another fellow with him, and they were really pretty wild.  They’d get on that mixing board and just crank them knobs, you know?  The meters were goin’ wild.”

cyndi girls

Bruce Springsteen is one of those rare artists who have been on the same record label from the start – Columbia.  Two other Columbia artists instantly come to mind – Barbra Streisand and Bob Dylan.  There won’t be anyone else like them.  Ever. 

bob n bruce

Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen (along with many other familiar faces) at the “We Are The World” recording session, 1985.

If you pull away the catchy dance beat, “Dancing In The Dark” is a personal song about the difficulty of writing a hit song and Bruce’s frustration of trying to write songs that will please everyone.  Though I’m thinking Bruce would have liked to have another of his more personal songs become his biggest hit, I would almost bet my record collection he’s alright with that hit being “Dancing In The Dark.”

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Bruce Springsteen with The E Street Band, 1984.

“You can’t start a fire / You can’t start a fire without a spark / This gun’s for hire / Even if we’re just dancing in the dark…”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=129kuDCQtHs

bruce 84

song of the day – “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” | TEARS FOR FEARS | 1985.

The other night, I was at a get-together in South Portland, Maine, at the home of my friend Melissa, and there was a conversation going about The British (music) Invasion.  I chimed in and said, “Which one?”  They were talking about the one in the mid-1960s, while I was referring to the one in the mid-1980s.  When questioned about the 80s British Invasion, I then tried to remember all the big British hits in the U.S. during 1985, and had a huge gaping brain cramp.  So, I’ll properly answer that question here.

Human-League-SecondsI’ve prolly said on the bloggy thing here that the New Wave era here in America started and ended with The Human League.  Their big 1982 hit, “Don’t You Want Me” spent three weeks at No. 1 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in July 1982, and for the next four years, New Wave artists were prominent on the Hot 100 singles chart.  In November 1986, their hit, “Human,” reached No. 1 on the Hot 100, and was replaced the following week by “You Give Love A Bad Name” by Bon Jovi.  I’ve also prolly said here (half-jokingly) that Bon Jovi killed New Wave.

Another interesting thing about The Human League’s two bookend reigns at No. 1 on the Hot 100 – not only did New Wave come into play (pun intended) during this time – with the tremendous help of MTV – it was also the time of the Second British (music) Invasion. 

reign-again

every-breath-you-takeOn the BILLBOARD Hot 100 dated July 16th, 1983, British music acts shattered the record established in 1965, where 14 songs by British recording artists were in the American Top 40 at the same time.  On this July 1983 chart, HALF of the Top 40 were songs by British artists, and of those 20, seven of the Top 10 singles that week were by Brits: “Time (Clock Of The Heart)” – Culture Club (No. 10), “Is There Something I Should Know” – Duran Duran (once called The Fab Five; No. 9), “Our House” – Madness (No. 8), “Too Shy” – Kajagoogoo (No. 7), “Come Dancing” (The Kinks, who were part of the original British Invasion; No. 6), “Electric Avenue” – Eddy Grant (a Londoner from Guyana, which was known as British Guiana at the time of his birth in 1948; No. 2), and “Every Breath You Take” – The Police (for the second of eight weeks at No. 1).

everything-she-wantsIn April 1984, 40 of the singles on the Hot 100 were by British acts, and on the Hot 100 chart dated May 25, 1985 (the year of the height of the Second British Invasion), a record EIGHT of the Top 10 singles that week were by Brits: “Things Can Only Get Better” – Howard Jones (No. 10), “Some Like It Hot” – The Power Station (No. 9), “Suddenly” – Billy Ocean (of British origin; No. 8), “One Night In Bangkok” – Murray Head (No. 7), “Smooth Operator” – Sade (No. 5), “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” – Tears For Fears (No. 3), “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” – Simple Minds (No. 2), and “Everything She Wants” – Wham! (No. 1).

For three months between May 18, 1985 and August 17, 1985, and starting with “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” songs by acts from Britain would rule the U.S. music world for all but two weeks – the aforementioned “Everything She Wants” and “Everybody Wants To Rule The World,” plus “Sussudio” by Phil Collins, “A View To A Kill” by Duran Duran, Paul Young’s cover of the Daryl Hall song, “Everytime You Go Away,” and “Shout” by Tears For Fears.

When Bon Jovi claimed their first No. 1 song on the Hot 100 in late November 1986, and in the process signaling the end of the reign of New Wave and the Second British Invasion, the No. 1 songs for the better part of the rest of the 80s were dominated by Glam Metal and Dance acts, though in 1988, many songs by Brits did manage to reach No. 1 on the Hot 100.songs from.png

One of the British acts who had a banner year in 1985 – in the U.S. and all over the globe – was Bath, England’s Tears For Fears.  Led by Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith, Tears For Fears had been around since 1981, but despite a brilliant debut album (THE HURTING), they hadn’t been able to break through to the U.S. market until the success of “Everybody Wants To Rule The World,” their third single from their second album, SONGS FROM THE BIG CHAIR.

“Everybody Wants To Rule The World” (with vocals by Curt Smith) was the first single released here in the U.S., and for awhile in the Spring and Summer of 1985, Tears For Fears did rule the world with their incredible hit.  It spent a couple of weeks at No. 1 on the Hot 100 in June 1985, as well as reaching No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart for two weeks.  The love for this song was felt through many different genres, and it reached No. 2 on BILLBOARD’s Rock and Adult Contemporary charts – no easy feat.  Here in America, it rightfully ranked at No. 7 for all of 1985.

everybody-wants-us

everybody-wants-to-runAround the globe, it reached No. 1 in Canada and New Zealand, and the Top 10 in the U.K., Australia, Belgium, Holland and Ireland.  A year later, Roland and Curt returned to the Top 10 of the U.K. and Ireland charts with a rework of their big hit, titled “Everybody Wants To RUN The World,” in support of Sport Aid, which was a sports-themed offshoot campaign of Live Aid, to aid in the effort to help the famine problem in Africa.  The highlight of this campaign was the Race Against Time, a 10K fun run simultaneously held in 89 countries.  $37 million was raised for Live Aid and UNICEF.

For many years, Roland Orzabal kept performing under the Tears For Fears name while Curt Smith had left the band, but they have been together again since 2000, released an album in 2004 (EVERYBODY LOVES A HAPPY ENDING) and are currently on the last dates of their rescheduled U.S. and Canada tour. 

tff-today

Though overall Tears For Fears may not be the household name they were in 1985, it’s great to see them still together and so wonderful to hear their songs like “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” on the radio.  It’s one of those songs I have always loved from the start and a song I always love driving to.  One of the lyrics of the song goes, “Nothing ever lasts forever.”  Clearly, Roland and Curt aren’t referring to their own song, as this song will live on in radio eternity, and as I’ll love this song forever…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ST86JM1RPl0

tff