The 1980s, among many things, provided a lot of successful dance artists who weren’t really able to duplicate that same success on the pop charts. Perhaps one of the most prominent artists on that front was the mononymous Alisha, who had five tracks hit the top 10 of Billboard’s dance chart, but never got a track into the top half of the Hot 100. Even the track that actually topped the dance chart didn’t get any traction on the pop chart. You might not even remember “Baby Talk” today…or do you?
Remakes are a mixed bag. Some are quite good in reimagining the song in a whole new way, while others are, well, terrible. And then, of course, there are the note-for-note remakes which are, in most cases, completely unnecessary. One of the great, and most forgotten, remakes came out in the mid-80s and sounded completely different from the disco song it remade. You’ll probably remember the original disco version of “Funkytown”, but do you remember the remake by Pseudo Echo?
Michael Johnson, despite a terribly common name, made that name fairly well known on the pop charts for a short period in the late 1970s. Even the casual listener of popular music* at the time knew his biggest hit, even if he or she didn’t know the artist too well. (Your author admits here to misreading the name, upon seeing it on a K-Tel compilation album – on vinyl – in the 90s, as “Michael Jackson”. Apologies to everyone for that.)
1980 was, to put it mildly, a year of upheaval in the world of top 40 music in America. The disco era was ending rapidly, its end having been hastened by several causes, not the least of which was a changing in listeners’ tastes toward music such as “My Sharona”, which had been the previous year’s #1 song. While some listeners embraced the new wave movement from whence “My Sharona” came, others moved toward a resurgence of a mellower sound.