Sometimes memory plays tricks on you. For instance, one might hear a song played on the radio enough times that, 25 years later, one would think it had to have been a big hit back then…only to find out that it wasn’t. And that is exactly the case with my faulty memory of the Los Umbrellos song “No Tengo Dinero”.
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?
When you think of an artist like Natalie Cole, you might think of all sorts of things. You might think of her very famous father or her famous duet with him. Or, perhaps, some of her big hits from the 1970s (“This Will Be” or “I’ve Got Love On My Mind”, for starters) come to mind. Sandwiched between the 70s hits and her duet with her father, though, Natalie Cole had some lean years, but she also had one huge comeback album, which featured one of her biggest hits ever. Remember “Pink Cadillac”?
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 the minds of many people, some of the best music from the 1970s was Southern rock. Best exemplified by groups such as The Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd, the rock subgenre reached its zenith in that decade amid a bunch of other genres that sounded nothing like it (which perhaps helped its success). Among the many, many bands that appeared in the 70s specializing in Southern rock was a band from Alabama called, for some reason, Wet Willie.
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.
I’ll readily admit that some of what inspires me to call out specific songs is the appearance of the artist (or a member of the group) in the news. Once already this year, unfortunately, I have done so because of the news of a divorce after a long marriage. Sadly, this is the case a second time, this time the dissolution of the 25-year marriage of Richard Marx (who has been mentioned on this blog before for reasons not related to his own hit music) and actress/singer Cynthia Rhodes, of the group Animotion.