We’re halfway through this long journey through the bottom of the Hot 100. We have an assortment of songs today ranging from R&B to grunge – plus two artists that we’ve already seen in our list.
“Lights” – Journey – #68 (1978). We previously discussed what happens when you don’t have Steve Perry as a lead singer – your song peaks at #83 (“Anytime”). Unfortunately, Journey didn’t do much better with “Lights,” a warm, refreshing number with nice harmonies and Perry’s trademark yelp. It would be another two years before the began to consistently hit the Top 10 with their singles.
“Solsbury Hill” – Peter Gabriel – #68 (1977), #84 (1983). Another song that tried twice to become a hit. Gabriel first released it as a single from his debut solo album; it reached #13 in the U.K but flopped in the U.S. Gabriel released a live version of the song in 1983, and it fared even worse. Trivia: It’s one of the few pop songs written mainly in 7/4 time and is in the key of B major – another rarity in pop music.
“Blue Monday ’88” – New Order – #68 (1988). This song was first released in the U.K. in 1983 and reached #9 – New Order’s first top 10 hit in the country. “Blue Monday ’88” was a remix produced by Quincy Jones, and it hit #3 in the U.K. Overall, the song has sold 3 million copies worldwide. Not many of those were in the U.S., though, as the song stalled at #68.
“The Oak Tree” – Morris Day – #67 (1985). Morris Day was the Time; or at least, he thought he was. His first solo album away from Prince’s protege group was expected to be a success (After all, it was called “Color of Success”), but the first single was a ripoff of “The Bird” – another song based on a dance move! – and it stalled at #67. He would have more luck two years later with “Fishnet,” which reached #23.
“Freak-A-Zoid” – Midnight Star – #66 (1983). If you were living in north Georgia in 1983-84, you would have thought Midnight Star was the biggest group in pop music. Yes, north Georgia. We blasted “Freak-A-Zoid” and another single, “No Parking on the Dance Floor,” from our jam boxes and from the sound systems at dances. Alas, the rest of the country didn’t see it our way, and the robotic, futuristic “Freak-A-Zoid” failed to hit the top 60.
“Rockaway Beach” – The Ramones – #66 (1978). This is by no means the Ramones’ best song, but it’s representative of their chart success – or lack thereof. Only three of their 35 singles charted, and this is the highest one. Even classics such as “Blitzkrieg Bop,” “I Wanna Be Sedated” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School” didn’t make the Hot 100. The godfathers of punk deserved better.
“Goodbye To You” – Scandal – #65 (1982). Wow. This song is overplayed on 80s stations, classic rock stations, and those “Steve FM” stations that play pretty much everything. And it’s a good song – much better than “The Warrior,” which managed to hit #7 in 1984. I guess America wasn’t ready for Scandal in 1982.
“Silent All These Years” – Tori Amos – #65. Really, I’m not surprised that this song didn’t do better on the charts because it doesn’t fit a niche. A heartachingly beautiful ballad with piano and strings, it was neither alternative enough nor radio friendly to catch on. It didn’t even chart when it was originally released in 1992, but managed to reach #65 when it was re-released in 1997 to raise awareness for the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.
“You Have Placed a Chill In My Heart” – Eurythmics – #64 (1988). A song that showed Eurythmics’ versatility, “You Have Placed a Chill In My Heart” hearkens back to their electronic pop stage. Backed by a drum machine and a synthesizer, the song has an upbeat, charming feel to it, countered by Annie Lennox’s recitation of the song’s name in the chorus. You don’t know whether to smile or be creeped out. Such is the genius of Eurythmics.
“Lithium” – Nirvana -#64 (1992). The third single from arguably the album of the 1990s, Nevermind, showed that single success was not an indication of album success anymore. After all, the anthem of the ’90s, “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” reached only #6, and their follow-up, “Come As You Are,” hit #32. Meanwhile, Nevermind has sold 30 million copies worldwide.