Power ballads have been around for decades. Some of the best known songs of all time could fall into that category. (“Stairway to Heaven”, anyone?) Quite honestly, most of the songs that would be classified as power ballads would be most at home on classic rock stations, and there are many that still get lots of airplay. With that said, there have been power ballads from groups whose music was of a different type entirely. Could you, for example, picture a power ballad from a group best known for freestyle dance music?
In my last post, I wrote about a song, “In My Dreams”, that appeared, briefly, on the Hot 100 during early 1986 for a hair metal band named Dokken. Some of my readers definitely still remember, and appreciate, that song (even if American radio doesn’t). But were you Dokken aficionados aware that another group took a somewhat similar version of that same song not only into the Hot 100 but all the way into the Top 40? Show of hands: who remembers The Party?
It’s not uncommon at all to see a song hit the charts in multiple versions. Heck, some artists built their reputations through remakes. (For example, a good percentage of Linda Ronstadt’s released singles were covers.) It’s less common, however, to see a song hit the charts twice in versions from bands much further apart in genre than the two bands which hit the charts with a song, originally released in 1985, called “In My Dreams”.
Occasionally, a band that has had a long history will be well remembered solely for its earlier hits. In these cases, those early hits will continue to receive airplay on classic hits and/or classic rock stations even today, while its later hits seem to vanish from the airwaves. To a point, that was the case with the final hit of Starship.
In the late 1980s, hair bands (or glam metal, or whatever you want to call that type of music) were at the height of their popularity. (The author here takes a moment to remember his now-departed grandfather greeting the image of, I believe, Twisted Sister on his television with “Look at them ugly girls!”) Glam metal was all over the pop charts at the time, thereby making it the perfect time for a girl group called Vixen to make it big. And I suppose they did that, ever so briefly.
Vixen’s eponymous first album, released in late 1988, should have (in my opinion, of course) been a bigger hit. It spawned two top 40 hits, one of which, I just learned, was co-written by very popular (at the time) singer Richard Marx.
(Vixen peaked at #41 on the Billboard 200. Album ℗1988 EMI-Manhattan Records. Photo courtesy Amazon.com.)
The debut single, “Edge of a Broken Heart” (produced and co-written by Mr. Marx), spent a respectable 21 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #26 the week of November 19, 1988 (chart).
The follow-up, “Cryin'”, peaked higher (at #22 the week of March 25, 1989 (chart)) but only stayed on the Hot 100 for 13 weeks, perhaps due to its rock ballad nature.
After that, the group only barely brushed the charts with one further song before breaking up in 1991 (though they have since re-formed).
An appearance by all four of the 1988-era members of Vixen on VH1 in 2004 led to EMI’s re-release of Vixen (and its followup, Rev It Up!), but this did not translate into renewed airplay for the group. I think I may have heard “Edge of a Broken Heart” on the radio once in the 90s. I definitely haven’t heard “Cryin'” on the radio since its top 40 run.
An interesting side note: lead singer Janet Gardner and drummer Roxy Petrucci were both born on the same month, day, and year: March 17, 1962. Just a little tidbit of information about a group that is now mostly (unfairly) forgotten.