Saturday mornings when I was a kid were mostly about cartoons. There was the occasional live-action show like “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse” or “Saved By the Bell”, but a good 90% of my repertoire was animated, whether it was “The Smurfs” or “Bugs Bunny” or one of a lengthy list of one shots like “Foofur” or the New Kids on the Block cartoon (yes, I watched it. No, I’m not proud.)
Once noon hit, though, it was all about the music shows. Early on, there was “American Bandstand” and “Soul Train”, and in 1980, “America’s Top Ten” came on board. A truncated version of the wildly popular radio show “American Top 40”, (which was based on Billboard magazine’s charts) it ran through the remainder of the decade into the early Nineties. Like the radio show, it was hosted by Casey Kasem, who doubled up on Saturdays as the voice of Shaggy on “Scooby-Doo”. The show usually started off with a look at the top ten pop singles of the week, followed by brief recaps of the top ten on the albums chart, the country chart and/or the soul chart. Early on, Casey would just show an image of the artist with the song playing in the background, and as the Eighties progressed (and we got further into the video age), AT10 began using bits and pieces of the actual video clips to announce the Top Ten.
“America’s Top Ten” ended in 1992, just as the pop chart began to fragment wildly and record companies stopped releasing singles. Looking at clips from the show now, it’s amazing how primitive it was (especially when you look at some of the country clips, which look like they were made for less than $50), and also kinda bizarre when you look at how white-bread the charts were. You can still find AT10 clips (like this one) on YouTube, so if you’re in my age range (and as much of a music geek as I am), you’ll appreciate this little trip down menory lane.
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