Many times an artist who hits the top ten is better known for acting. For example, within a three-year period during the 80s, actors Don Johnson, Bruce Willis, and Patrick Swayze hit the top ten for their first and only time. For an artist to be better known for his work on an animated children’s show, though, is a much rarer instance. Such is the case for Austin Roberts, one of those artists now thought to be a one-hit wonder…even though he wasn’t.
The late 1980s brought a lot of new British acts to the United States, several of which charted over here before (or instead of) charting in their native Britain. The Eighties had also, by this time, brought forth the dance-pop genre from the ashes of disco. It was natural, then, that some of those British acts which were successful in the US first would have that chart success with dance-pop music. One such act which had success at the time but which, 30 years later, is largely forgotten by radio, was Giant Steps.
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?
Enter Sweet Sensation.
In the late 1970s, disco ruled the airwaves.* Some artists, such as the Bee Gees, made a full-blown dive into the genre., while others made occasional forays into the field. And as the disco craze went on, even artists who many people might not have pictured doing so went and made disco records. Remember disco hits from Cher, KISS, and others? Well, if you don’t, that’s what this webpage is for.
With all that said, if you hadn’t previously heard today’s spotlighted hit, could you have pictured a song with a disco sound coming from the progressive rock group The Alan Parsons Project?
Yeah, me neither. But it happened. And it was glorious.
Actors have crossed over to singing top 40 hits, and vice versa, almost as long as there has been a top 40 chart at all. Obviously there were Elvis and Sinatra doing quite well on both fronts, but there were many, many others who had various degrees of success. Do you remember Shaun Cassidy, Rick Springfield, Jack Wagner? You might even recall the top 40 entries by Bruce Willis, Don Johnson, and Eddie Murphy. Now – show of hands – who remembers when there was a very successful top 40 hit from…Joey Lawrence?
In 1982, top 40 music was working its way through an identity crisis which started with the disco backlash three years earlier. As the prevailing sound of rock music evolved, a lot of recording acts had their first hits, while many others had their last. And, there were several acts which had their only hit during that time period. One of those was the American-Canadian duo Chéri.
Occasionally, an artist will have a hit single but not be happy with the song. Sometimes, artists get tired of having to perform their biggest early hits after some time; occasionally, you might even read of an artist expressing disgust, or even hatred, toward one or more such songs. It’s rarer, though, that an artist expresses disgust at the recording process so much that the hit single doesn’t appear on best-of compilations, but that appears to be what happened with the highest charting single of Paul Davis.
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.)
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”.