I think there are only another handful of duds behind this bunch…which bodes well for the quality of #1s, I suppose.
Still, getting through this last bit was kind of a chore…
210. “Closer Than Close” by Jean Carne (#1 for 2 weeks, August 1986 | Amazon)
209. “Do You Get Enough Love?” by Shirley Jones (#1 for 1 week, August 1986)
Both these ladies share a Philly soul pedigree. Carne was signed to Philadelphia International in the late Seventies, with her best known song probably being “Don’t Let It Go To Your Head.” Jones, meanwhile, is best known as 1/3 of The Jones Girls. In the twilight days of Philly International, they scored smashes with “You’re Gonna Make Me Love Somebody Else” and “Nights Over Egypt.” If you’re interested in exploring the music of these ladies further, I’d suggest those three songs. Hell, I’d suggest any songs over these two, that incidentally followed one another into the #1 spot in late summer 1986. While my gut tells me that there was a little…uh, financial incentive offered radio stations and retailers to move these songs to the top of the charts, their chart-topping status may also be due to the fact that Janet Jackson (in conjunction with Jam & Lewis) and hip-hop (in the form of Run-DMC and others) was beginning to take over youth culture and Carne’s dead-boring slow jam was sort of a last stand of the old guard. At least Jones’ song had kind of a beat-and there might have been an edict over at Philly Intl’s new distributor, EMI, to take songs to the top of the charts in a show of commitment. With Phyllis Hyman’s stunning Living All Alone album on deck, they chose this song to take to Billboard’s summit? Sigh. The video for “Do You Get Enough Love,” though…HILARITY, YO.
Weirdly: the only versions of “Do You Get Enough Love?” on sale at amazon.com are…by Jean Carne.
208. “Don’t Waste Your Time” by Yarbrough & Peoples (#1 for 1 week, May 1984)
Yarbrough & Peoples, still looking for a second hit after “Don’t Stop The Music” ruled the airwaves in early 1981, decided to marry their one hit with the sentiments of the S.O.S. Band’s “Just Be Good To Me” (a song that, shockingly, did not top the charts.) So they’re docked for not only ripping off someone else’s hit badly, but ripping off their own hit badly. Very few songs are more aptly titled.
207. “Home” by Stephanie Mills (#1 for 1 week, November 1989| Amazon)
I love Stephanie Mills. She was one of my first crushes back in the day. I also like The Wiz. Although I’ve never seen the stage show, I’ve seen the movie approximately eleventy billion times (particularly in my youth, when my MJ fandom was insane and The Wiz came on network TV seemingly once a week.) However, the Broadway histrionics of “Home” never sat well with me. It’s just way too show tune-y for me, and I hate show tunes. Yes, I’m gay. No, they took my card away a long time ago.
206. “It’s Gonna Take A Miracle” by Deniece Williams (#1 for 2 weeks, May 1982 | Amazon)
I don’t like Deniece Williams as much as I like Stephanie Mills, but I still have a ton of respect for her voice. Despite the fact that neither of her ’80s #1s is very good, she’s absolutely worth the pickup of a singles collection if you have any interest in soul music. This cover of the doo-wop classic “It’s Gonna Take A Miracle” is serviceable and well-performed. It’s also dead boring, with the only injection of life coming by virtue of Niecy’s end-song ad-libs. I do not remember seeing this video before, though. Had I caught this a little earlier, I might have moved the song up a few places. Oh, 1982. What a simpler time. And Deniece should’ve embarked on a second gig as a motivational speaker.
205. “Girlfriend” by Bobby Brown (#1 for 2 weeks, December 1986-January 1987 | Amazon)
Pitch correction technology was apparently still in its infancy in the mid-Eighties. That’s the only way I can explain the extremely off-key vocalizing on Bobby’s first solo hit. I was only ten years old when “Girlfriend” hit #1 and even then, I was like “this dude can’t sing.”
Here are two things I find funny about this track/video: 1) Bobby’s departure from New Edition was generally described by the artist, his label and his PR flacks as an opportunity to stretch his wings musically. So of course MCA picks the song that sounds like a New Edition castoff as his first solo joint. 2) I love the fact that Bob is being cast in dreamy teen idol mode here. Dude already had a kid! For what it’s worth, “Girlfriend” came out around the same time as New Edition’s horrible album of doo-wop covers, Under The Blue Moon. So, neither entity was exactly winning at this point.
204. “Love Overboard” by Gladys Knight & The Pips (#1 for 1 week, January 1988)
By now, you’ve (maybe) noticed that several of the songs in this portion of the list are by veteran artists who were trying hard to retain the youth audience without embarrassing themselves. Gladys & the Pips didn’t embarrass themselves on “Love Overboard.” Quite the contrary-it gave them the last of their ten #1 R&B hits. It also became their biggest pop hit since the mid Seventies and won them a Grammy. Truthfully, I can’t explain why I dislike “Love Overboard” as much as I do. Might be the fact that you couldn’t escape it on the radio in the early part of 1988. Then again, you couldn’t escape “The Way You Make Me Feel.” Or “I Want To Be Your Man.” And I like both those songs just fine. So, there you go…I don’t know why I’m not fond of “Love Overboard.” I’m just not fond of it. Hell, it’s my list. My explanations don’t have to make sense.
Sorry about the blurry video–just wanted to share with y’all a scene from the TV show A Different World which shows Jasmine Guy (as Whitley Gilbert) and Dawnn Lewis (as Jaleesa Vinson) performing “Overboard” alongside Gladys. It’s more exciting than the actual video, for what that’s worth.
203. “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” by Roger (#1 for 2 weeks, November 1981 | Amazon)
“I Heard It Through The Grapevine”: Marvin > Gladys > Creedence Clearwater Revival > Roger.
Some songs don’t need to be filtered through a talk box. Shit, did I place this next to an actual Gladys Knight song? Completely unintentional.
202. “Have You Had Your Love Today?” by The O’Jays (#1 for 2 weeks, June 1989)
Some veteran artists do embarrass themselves when they try to go for a younger sound. Case in point: The O’Jays’ new jack swing adventure. I guess Eddie, Walter and Sammy figured if LeVert could through a little hip-hop bounce into their jams, so could the dads. It didn’t really work. This is some “you’re too damn old for the club!”-type mess, and not even a rap from The Jaz (now best known as the dude who first put Jay-Z on) can help.
201. “Hello” by Lionel Richie (#1 for 3 weeks, May 1984 | Amazon)
The song and video are camp classics. However, does anyone really, unironically like “Hello?” This is wuss rock to the Nth degree. Lionel’s made more than his share of wimpy songs, but the only one of his tracks to come close to “Hello” on the You Have No Penis scale is “Ballerina Girl.” Which, thankfully, did not hit #1.
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