(real) one-hit wonder of the week – “I Don’t Want A Lover” | TEXAS | 1989.

Between late 1979 and the end of 1989, there were nearly 500 (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s that reached the BILLBOARD Hot 100 just one time, a list that includes Soft Cell, Gary Numan, Timbuk 3, The Church, Bronski Beat, Nik Kershaw, The Buggles, The Waitresses, Ultravox and two different bands named The Silencers.  Once a week, I’ll highlight a (real) one-hit wonder for you.  

One quirky thing about the 80s (and maybe for other decades, too) is that certain (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s actually had more than one hit.  How do you do the math on that, you ask?  Well, it’s when you’re NOT a (real) one-hit wonder somewhere else.  In the 80s, the amazing Boomtown Rats just had one hit on the BILLBOARD Hot 100, as did frontman (and Band Aid co-founder and Live Aid co-organizer), Bob Geldof (with 1979/1980’s “I Don’t Like Mondays” and 1986/1987’s “This Is The World Calling,” respectively).

tainted love

Soft Cell’s 1981 12″ single of “Tainted Love / Where Did Our Love Go” (also the first 12″ single I ever owned).

Soft Cell was one of the biggest (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s here in America with “Tainted Love,” and singer Marc Almond was also a (real) one-hit wonder with his 1989 college hit, “Tears Run Rings.”  But over in the U.K., Soft Cell had 13 Top 40 hits between 1981 and 2018, and Marc Almond had 9 solo Top 40 hits.

altered images

Altered Images, 1981.

The name Johnny McElhone might not ring an immediate bell for most music fans here in the U.S., but along with Bob Geldof and Marc Almond, he’s a (real) one-hit wonder of the 80s twice here as well.  The Scotsman was a bassist for the three albums by Altered Images in the early 80s (that’s his bass you hear on “Happy Birthday”).  In the U.K., Altered Images scored three Top 10 hits, though no American hits (but a noteworthy appearance in the 1984 John Hughes classic, SIXTEEN CANDLES).

Hipsway

Hipsway, 1987.

From the ashes of the 1983 breakup of Altered Images was another Scottish band featuring Johnny McElhone: Hipsway.  In 1987, they scored a Top 20 U.S. hit with “The Honeythief,” Hipsway’s only American hit single.  But, a year before the success of “The Honeythief,” a busy Johnny, along with Scottish vocalist and guitarist Sharleen Spiteri, formed another Scottish band — Texas, a four-member Alt-Rock / Pop-Rock band who got their name from the 1984 Wim Wenders film, PARIS, TEXAS, which starred the late, great Harry Dean Stanton.  Texas even modeled their original band logo from the poster.

paris texas

30 years ago this month (March 1989), the debut album by Glasgow’s Texas, SOUTHSIDE, was released to much acclaim across the globe.  Within three weeks of its release, SOUTHSIDE had reached No. 3 on the U.K. singles chart and was already certified Gold in the U.K. for selling more than 100,000 copies.

southside

The album’s first single, “I Don’t Want A Lover,” was released in late January 1989, in advance of the album.  The five-minute gem starts off with this gorgeous bluesy slide guitar, and after a half minute, a sweet drum beat kicks in, followed by the strong and infectious vocals of Sharleen Spiteri.

It didn’t take long for “I Don’t Want A Lover” to catch on in the U.K. and other parts of the globe, reaching No. 3 in Switzerland, No. 4 in Australia (a Gold single there), No. 8 in the U.K. and Ireland, and the Top 20 in France, Germany, New Zealand and Spain.

i don't want a lover

It, did, however, take awhile for Americans to embrace the song from a band with the namesake of one of its own 50 United States.  But, perseverance won out, and “I Don’t Want A Lover” finally debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in early September 1989 at No. 96.  It was unlike anything on the chart that week, whose Top 5 included Richard Marx, Warrant, Gloria Estefan, Paula Abdul and New Kids On The Block.  Yikes.

Naturally, with a song so good and so original and unlike the sound of the songs in the upper realm of the chart, “I Don’t Want A Lover,” debuting at the bottom realm of the chart, didn’t match the chart feats here like the other countries around the globe.  Three weeks later, it spent a week at No. 77 and six weeks total on the Hot 100.  Texas wouldn’t grace the BILLBOARD Hot 100 again.  They did,  however, have a following on college stations here in America, and “I Don’t Want A Lover” reached No. 11 on BILLBOARD’s Modern Rock chart.

The band’s disappointing chart performance in America didn’t deter the band; very much quite the opposite.  The band released two more albums in the early 90s, MOTHERS HEAVEN in 1991 and RICKS ROAD in 1993, but it wasn’t until 1997’s WHITE ON BLONDE that propelled the band into superstardom.  The album was the first of three consecutive No. 1 U.K. albums for Texas, and went six-times Platinum there.  It also gave them their biggest hit to date, the big Pop hit, “Say What You Want,” which reached No. 3 in 1997, while a Hip-Hop reworking in 1998 featuring Method Man and RZA of Wu-Tang Clan, “Say What You Want (All Day, Every Day),” reached No. 4.

the face dec 97

Wu-Tang Clan’s Method Man and Texas’s Sharleen Spiteri gracing the December 1997 cover of THE FACE magazine.

NERDY FUN FACT: Texas co-founder, vocalist and frontwoman Sharleen Spiteri was a hairdresser who was still cutting hair when Texas released SOUTHSIDE in 1989.

I have long-adored “I Want A Lover” and SOUTHSIDE.  I think it’s one of the best, solid debut albums ever for any genre.  Oddly enough, somehow after MOTHERS HEAVEN, I kinda lost touch with Texas and their music.  But writing this blog post makes me want to rediscover them again.  They truly are worth a listen.  You should definitely start with SOUTHSIDE though; it’s absolutely brilliant.

texas1989

Since 1989, Texas has released nine studio albums, 38 singles, an EP, a live album and three compilations.  Their most recent studio album is 2017’s JUMP ON BOARD, a Top 10 album in the U.K. and France.

jump on board

As of 2017, the band has sold over 40 million albums.  Not bad for a band that was a (real) one-hit wonder here in America.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qaMT5Fbc8UA

texas 1

Texas in 1989, from L to R: bassist Johnny McElhone, vocalist and guitarist Sharleen Spiteri, guitarist Ally McErlaine, drummer and vocalist Stuart Kerr.

 

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song of the day – “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’” | MICHAEL JACKSON | 1983.

casey-kasem-at40-abc-billboard-650

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, for the entire month of June (and now through July), I will be highlighting a song each day (some days will have two songs!) that peaked in the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100 (including five (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s), and with every blog post, just like on AMERICAN TOP 40, the hits will get bigger with each post.  On June 1, 2017, I featured a song that peaked at No. 40.  Sometime here in July, 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!”

Well, we’re finally into the Top 5!  Normally it would have taken Casey Kasem three-and-a-half hours to reach this point, but he had a script, a chart already set up courtesy of BILLBOARD magazine, and he didn’t have to write everything out.  Not that I mind.  While it’s taken me quite a bit longer than I had hoped, I have really been enjoying this series, and hope you have too.

The songs that peaked at No. 5 between 1979 and 1989 are, so far, in a class all by themselves.  More than 100 songs reached that position, including some memorable cover songs, like “Respect Yourself” by Bruce Willis (originally by The Staple Sisters), “Cum On Feel The Noise” by Quiet Riot (Slade), “Once Bitten, Twice Shy” by Great White (Ian Hunter) and “Pink Cadillac” by Natalie Cole (Bruce Springsteen, who also had three No. 5 hits of his own).

hungry heart

One of three singles to reach No. 5 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 for Bruce Springsteen between 1979 and 1989.

Many artists had more than one No. 5 hit, including Pat Benatar, Gloria Estefan (with and without the Miami Sound Machine), Exposé, Lou Gramm (with and without Foreigner), Daryl Hall (solo and two with John Oates), Janet Jackson (solo and with Herb Alpert), Madonna, Sade, Willie Nelson (solo and a duet with Julio Iglesias), George Michael (solo and as a guest vocalist for (real) one-hit wonder, Deon Estus), Olivia Newton-John, Eddie Rabbitt, Rolling Stones, Bob Seger and Rod Stewart.  Australia’s Air Supply had four No. 5 hits.

angel

One of two singles to reach No. 5 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 for Madonna between 1979 and 1989.

The late, great John Lennon and his son, Julian Lennon, both hit No. 5 within a two-year period of each other, and some of my favorite 80s songs peaked at No. 5, like Thomas Dolby’s “She Blinded Me With Science,” “When Smokey Sings” by ABC, “In Your Room” by The Bangles, The Dazz Band’s “Let It Whip,” “What You Need” by INXS, “Stand Back” by Stevie Nicks, “Sister Christian” by Night Ranger, “I’m Coming Out” by Diana Ross, “(She’s) Sexy + 17” by The Stray Cats, “On The Radio” by Donna Summer, “Master Blaster (Jammin’)” by Stevie Wonder, and “All Through The Night” by Cyndi Lauper, which set a BILLBOARD Hot 100 record for Cyndi as she was the first female recording artist who would reach the Top 5 with four chart hits from a debut album.  And she wouldn’t be the last.

she's so unusual

Another of my favorite No. 5 hits belongs to the man who was not only the biggest recording artist of the 1980s, the entire year of 1983 belonged to him.  Of course, I’m talking about the late, great Michael Jackson.  The THRILLER album spent a massive 37 weeks at No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s album chart.  THRILLER was so big, in fact, that it was the No. 1 album in America for two consecutive years.

By now, everyone and their mother (and grandmother) knows all about the Quincy Jones-produced THRILLER album and the success it has had.  It’s still the biggest-selling, non-compilation album of all time.

thriller

The first song on the THRILLER album was the fourth (of seven) singles released from the album – “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’.”  What a heluva way to start off an album!  From the opening drum beats, you just knew Michael Jackson had something special with this album.

“Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’” (a song about strangers – i.e. the press – spreading rumors to start arguments for no apparent reason), was released in early May 1983 and didn’t waste any time debuting on the BILLBOARD Hot 100.  It debuted on the chart at No. 41, three weeks after its release, and with “Billie Jean” still on the chart (at No. 42) and “Beat It” at No. 3. 

The following week, “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’” roared to No. 22, looking like a third No. 1 hit in a row from THRILLER (the album’s first single, “The Girl Is Mine,” with Paul McCartney, peaked at No. 2).  After a few slow chart weeks, it reached the Top 10 by early July 1983, and a couple weeks later, spent a quick two weeks at No. 5.  THRILLER’s fifth single, “Human Nature,” had already reached the Top 40 while “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’” was still in the Top 10.  It was one of five singles from THRILLER to finish the year in the Top 100 here in the U.S. in 1983.

wanna be startin' somethin'

Around the globe, “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’” spent two weeks at No. 1 in the Netherlands, and reached No. 3 in Belgium, No. 5 in Ireland, No. 8 in the U.K., No. 11 in Canada, No. 14 in Spain and No. 16 in Germany.

“LET’S ALL GO TO COURT, LET’S GO MAKE SOME LAW NOW” FACT:  As talented as Michael Jackson was, he had a bad habit of “borrowing” other people’s music for his own songs – without their consent.  At the “We Are The World” recording in 1985, he confessed to Daryl Hall that he used the beat of “I Can’t Go For That” for the beat in “Billie Jean.”  Daryl Hall didn’t seem to mind, but for “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’,” that catchy vocal bit near the end, you know the one – “Mama-say mama-sah ma-ma-coo-sah” – was actually taken directly from a 1972 Disco song by Manu Dibango called “Soul Makossa” (Manu Dibango is a saxophonist from Cameroon, and Makossa is a type of music and dance in that country), and the bit was used without permission. 

soul makossa

For years, there was no lawsuit about this, but when current Pop star, Rihanna, used the bit in one of her songs from 2007, both she and Michael Jackson were sued.  In early 2009, just months before Michael Jackson died, Michael had admitted he “borrowed” the line, and he ended up settling out of court.  Apparently, when Rihanna asked Michael Jackson to see if she could use the line in her song, that’s when the fit hit the shan, and once again, Manu Dibango was not contacted by Michael Jackson prior to the song’s use, hence the lawsuit.MJ 1958-2009

It’s hard to believe Michael’s been gone nine years already.  He was 50 at the time of his death, the age I’m at right now (don’t worry – I’m not leaving anytime soon), and I’m convinced that Michael had a big comeback in the works when his life was cut short on June 25, 2009.  While I have my own theory about what really happened with his death, I would much rather choose to celebrate his music, in this case “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’,” which is six minutes of pure Post-Disco joy and dance floor gold.  Honestly, who do you know that WOULDN’T get out on the dance floor and dance to this as soon as they heard it?!

“Lift your head up high / And scream out to the world / I know I am someone / And let the truth unfurl / No one can hurt you now / Because you know it’s true / Yes, I believe in me / So you believe in you…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KWf_-ofYgI

MJ 83