100 Songs That Didn’t Make the Top 40 – Part 4

Oh good, I get to bellyache about the lack of support for the Cure and R.E.M. again.

  1. Rain In The Summertime” – The Alarm – #71 (1987). The Alarm was supposed to be the next U2, having toured with them a few times, and their sound was similar to the Irish rock band. Eye of the Hurricane was supposed to be their breakout album, but “Rain in the Summertime,” the first single, could only manage a #71 placing (#18 in the U.K.). They still maintain a fervent following, though.
  2. Pictures of You” – The Cure – #73 (1989). It’s a bit overplayed on alt-rock stations, but “Pictures of You” may be the Cure’s finest effort. With just the right amount of angst, depression and beauty, it’s the perfect Goth love song. Then again, Goth never really was a success in the Top 40.
  3. Rockit” – Herbie Hancock – #71 (1983). Remember the record scratching? The creepy video of animated mannequin parts? “Rockit” was ahead of its time; it was well-respected by critics but didn’t catch on with the general public, hence the low ranking.
  4. Basketball” – Kurtis Blow – #71 (1985). I consider myself an old-school rap lover, when the words were spoken on the beat, there was no “flow,” and no misogyny or vulgarity. You can’t get much cleaner than a song about basketball. But rap had not reached the general public yet, and it only managed a #71 ranking. It’s only when it started to suck that it became a popular genre.
  5. All Along” – Blessid Union of Souls – #70 (1996). I can’t explain why I like this song. It sounds like an R&B ballad, with inventive chord progressions and a beautiful chorus being the highlights. Given that their first single, “I Believe,” went to #8, there’s no excuse for this single performing so poorly.
  6. Walking In L.A.” – Missing Persons – #70 (1983). You can still hear this song on 80s stations, despite its low chart position. Missing Persons was a great new wave band who, surprisingly, never had a Top 40 hit.  This one should have made it.
  7. Fast as You” – Dwight Yoakam – #70 (1994). Yoakam’s honky-tonk country was in line with other pop acts such as the Georgia Satellites and the Stray Cats – country meets rockabilly. By this time, Garth Brooks mania had reached an all-time high, so it’s shocking that Yoakam’s upbeat song didn’t chart higher. And the best song on the album This Time, “A Thousand Miles from Nowhere,” didn’t even chart. Go figure.
  8. Controversy” – Prince – #70 (1981). Given the success of 1980’s “Dirty Mind,” you’d think Prince was on the edge of a breakthrough in 1981. But the first single, the title cut from his album Controversy, flopped, and the album peaked at #21 on the US charts. It’s a fine funk song that deserved better. And we’d have to wait a year for Prince to break into the mainstream with “1999” and “Little Red Corvette.”
  9. It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” – R.E.M. – #69 (1987). What is now considered an R.E.M. classic, maybe third to “Losing My Religion” and “Man on the Moon” in popularity, could only manage a #69 showing on the pop chart. And this was after “The One I Love,” the group’s first single from Document, hit the top 10. I can’t explain this one.
  10. Thorn In My Side” – Eurythmics – #68 (1986). Another example of the Brits having better taste in music than us. “Thorn In My Side” reached #5 in the UK but stalled in Billboard’s charts. Perhaps U.S. fans preferred the quirky, synth-pop of “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” over a straight-up pop song with an acoustic guitar.
Series Navigation<< 100 Songs That Didn’t Make the Top 40 – Part 1100 Songs That Didn’t Make the Top 40 – Part 5 >>

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Peter Lee

One Comment

  1. As an old school rap fan myself, I love that you included Kurtis Blow. This song takes me back to multiple summers of basketball camp where the staffers would practically put this song on repeat every day over the speaker system in the gym. It either drove you to loath Kurtis Blow with a passion, or drove you to believe you could be the next Pistol Pete.
    To the hoop, ya’ll.

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