In order to pass the time while we all slide into a J.G. Ballard story, I decided to do this annoying music list thing that went around a while back. Here's the drill: go here
and search for the year you graduated high school in the little box on the left. The first result will be a list of the top 100 songs for that year. Copy that list and fiddle with it in tedious ways. My preferred tedium includes bolding
the songs I like,
the ones I don't like, and (per Scott, below) italicizing
the ones I have no memory of whatsoever, or have perhaps blocked out for my own protection. Oh, and I'm supposed to underline my favorite. (Blame Christopher
and, ultimately, Nalo
As anyone can see from looking at this list, 1989 was not a good year for music. Because of this, I set my standards fairly low. Basically, if I wouldn't dive across a sparsely populated room to turn off one of these songs when it came on, I bolded it. And, well, some of them are genuinely charged with nostalgia and/or a good beat, or have some irrational emotional resonance for me, or I just like them and I can't even begin to explain why.
1. Look Away, Chicago
No clue. But by this time, even after Cetera left, Chicago was the band of bland.
2. My Prerogative, Bobby Brown
For a while there (thanks largely to L.A. Reid and Babyface), Bobby had a shot at something enduring. Oh, that's right, he's got a reality TV show. Never mind.
3. Every Rose Has Its Thorn, Poison
Massive cheese factor, but come on! It's the only decent song these hair farmers ever recorded.
4. Straight Up, Paula Abdul
I don't know. It's catchy, and I liked the video. I'm sorry.
5. Miss You Much, Janet Jackson
You know that one dancer that's in all of Janet's videos? The white girl with the dark hair? I've always had a crush on her. Not sure I've ever really listened to this song, come to think of it.
6. Cold Hearted, Paula Abdul
I have to blame this one on the video, too. Dancers are lean
Wind Beneath My Wings, Bette Midler
You know, I can't remember how or when it happened, but I actually saw Beaches
. That's probably where my crush on Mayim Bialik
began. No, I'm not kidding. I can't explain it, but I've seen just about every episode of Blossom
(and they were all Very Special).
Girl You Know Its True, Milli Vanilli
The lip-synching in Naked Lunch
was more entertaining.
9. Baby, I Love Your Way/Freebird, Will To Power
I feel like I heard "Baby, I Love Your Way" every day of my senior year, but damned if I can remember a remake of "Freebird" being tacked on to it.
10. Giving You The Best That I Got, Anita Baker
Maybe I heard this in an elevator once? Did En Vogue do a song with a similar title?
11. Right Here Waiting, Richard Marx
Get thee behind me, mullet boy.
12. Waiting For A Star To Fall, Boy Meets Girl
13. Lost In Your Eyes, Debbie Gibson
God, I don't know. It's saccharine and she's a bland Barbie doll. I have no excuse.
Don't Wanna Lose You, Gloria Estefan
She should never have left the Miami Sound Machine.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.
Girl I'm Gonna Miss You, Milli Vanilli
17. The Look, Roxette
I guess it's just that, if I'm doing something else and not really listening, inane repetition doesn't necessarily bother me. If it's got a beat, at least.
18. She Drives Me Crazy, Fine Young Cannibals
If only Roland Gift hadn't decided he was an actor. (OK, Sammy and Rosie Get Laid
is great, but so was this.)
19. On Our Own, Bobby Brown
Hum me a few bars, maybe I could fake it.
Two Hearts, Phil Collins
You know, I used to like Phil Collins. But then, I used to like Terry Brooks.
Blame It On The Rain, Milli Vanilli
It's been said. How many songs did these losers have?
Listen To Your Heart, Roxette
I'll Be There For You, Bon Jovi
I don't like Bon Jovi songs unless they're sung by Alan Deniro
24. If You Don't Know Me By Now, Simply Red
It's grown on me. But I remember the story about how the band got its name, and it's always bugged me. They were going to do their first gig and when the emcee asked them what they were called they told him they were simply red. Like, "Just Jack." Simply Red. Ugh. Plus he has stupid hair.
25. Like A Prayer, Madonna
I can't explain it. I don't know if I want to know that about myself.
I'll Be Loving You (Forever), New Kids On The Block
27. How Can I Fall?, Breathe
Baby Don't Forget My Number, Milli Vanilli
29. Toy Soldier, Martika
Whatever it was, it wasn't memorable.
Forever Your Girl, Paula Abdul
Must have been a boring video.
The Living Years, Mike and the Mechanics
Mike Rutherford always seemed so nice. So nice, and so very dull.
Eternal Flame, The Bangles
I still think the Bangles' first two albums are great pop; great harmonies, great hooks. This ballad is as bland and toothless as it gets.
33. Wild Thing, Tone Loc
I thought Tone Loc was so cool. In that older-guy-at-the-concert-who-offers-you-a-drink-of-his-Mountain-Dew-spiked-with-vodka sort of way.
When I See You Smile, Bad English
I just . . . do I really need
to say anything?
If I Could Turn Back Time, Cher
36. Buffalo Stance, Neneh Cherry
Um. I actually own this album. I'm still trying to figure out why.
37. When I'm With You, Sheriff
38. Don't Rush Me, Taylor Dayne
I remember Taylor Dayne, but not this song.
39. Born To Be My Baby, Bon Jovi
No clue. But see #23.
40. Good Thing, Fine Young Cannibals
The song I really
liked was their remake of "Suspicious Minds," but that's not on this list.
41. The Lover In Me, Sheena Easton
I feel like the whole Prince thing was some kind of turning point for Sheena, but I honestly can't say in what way. Did he turn her from bland and irrelevant to skanky and irrelevant? Maybe that's it.
42. Bust A Move, Young M.C.
Great party song. Complete rip-off of the Sugarhill Gang, but great party song.
Once Bitten, Twice Shy, Great White
44. Batdance, Prince
You know, I like
the Batman soundtrack. That scene in Shaun of the Dead
hurt me a little bit.
Rock On, Michael Damian
Is this that "Hey kids, rock and roll" song? If so, then it sucks.
46. Real Love, Jody Watley
I seem to recall at one time thinking Jody Watley was sort of talented. Probably that just means she looked good in her videos.
47. Love Shack, B-52's
I prefer the Chris Barzak
48. Every Little Step, Bobby Brown
I can't decide if I like this one or have no memory of it.
Hangin' Tough, New Kids On The Block
My Heart Can't Tell You No, Rod Stewart
How far he had fallen . . . and how far still to go . . .
51. So Alive, Love and Rockets
I much prefer the earlier stuff, like "Rainbird" and "Yin and Yang and the Flowerpot Man." (I was never much for Bauhaus.) But it's passable pop.
You Got It (The Right Stuff), New Kids On The Block
53. Armageddon It, Def Leppard
C'mon, it's so inane it's genius. "Armaggedon it? Yes Armaggedon it." These guys are the Piers Anthony of hair metal. (Or is that Aerosmith?)
54. Satisfied, Richard Marx
55. Express Yourself, Madonna
It's preachy, but it moves.
56. I Like It, Dino
57. Soldier Of Love, Donny Osmond
I choose to forget this.
Sowing The Seeds Of Love, Tears For Fears
I like some Tears for Fears, but talk about taking yourself too seriously. Give me "Head Over Heels" any day.
60. When The Children Cry, White Lion
White Lion, White Tiger, Whitesnake, Night Ranger--oops, sorry about that one. Sure were a lot of stupid band names back then.
61. 18 And Life, Skid Row
Gotta love the Bach.
62. I Don't Want Your Love, Duran Duran
I don't know why I like Duran Duran. They're pretty boys and I don't like pretty boys. But I like these guys.
63. Second Chances, .38 Special
.38 Special? Didn't they suck a lot?
64. The Way You Love Me, Karyn White
White Lion, White Tiger, Karyn White . . . oh, that's her name. Sorry.
65. Funky Cold Medina, Tone Loc
66. In Your Room, Bangles
Meh. This one is also part of the blanding of the Bangles. But it's kind of sexy, so I'm giving it a pass.
67. Miss You Like Crazy, Natalie Cole
Maybe I do remember this, but not enough to make a judgment.
68. Love Song, Cure
It's not the only happy song Robert Smith wrote in his career, but it's probably the best
happy song he wrote. Love the Cure.
69. Secret Rendesvous, Karyn White
I do not know you, Karyn White.
70. Angel Eyes, Jeff Healey Band
I do not know you, Jeff Healey.
71. Patience, Guns N' Roses
I do not wish to know you, Axl Rose. But you wrote some decent songs.
72. Walk On Water, Eddie Money
Was this part of Eddie's big comeback? Guess that went pretty well.
73. Cover Girl, New Kids On The Block
I don't remember this, but I suspect it's crap.
74. Welcome To The Jungle, Guns N' Roses
I still occasionally bust out with a shriek of "You're in the jungle, baby--you're gonna diiiieeee! Hooah." Really. I do.
75. Shower Me With Your Love, Surface
76. Stand, R.E.M.
Probably one of R.E.M.'s worst songs of this era, but it works.
77. Close My Eyes Forever, Lita Ford
I prefer the duet with Ozzy.
78. All This Time, Tiffany
You don't drop the last name when you're best known for playing malls. I'm just saying.
79. After All, Cher and Peter Cetera
I just threw up a little in my mouth.
80. Roni, Bobby Brown
I'm not sure what the etymological roots of the term "Roni" are, and I suspect they're less than complimentary. But, but . . . I have no excuse.
81. Love In An Elevator, Aerosmith
Good for a laugh.
Lay Your Hands On Me, Bon Jovi
83. This Promise, When In Rome
84. What I Am, Edie Brickell and The New Bohemians
I can't think of Edie Brickell without thinking of Beavis and Butthead
's critique of this video--if you've seen it you know what I'm talking about. But, OK song.
85. I Remember Holding You, Boys Club
I don't remember hearing you.
86. Paradise City, Guns N' Roses
"Where the girls are green and the grass is pretty."
87. I Wanna Have Some Fun, Samantha Fox
It's just so damned ridiculous that you have to laugh. Don't you?
88. She Wants To Dance With Me, Rick Astley
89. Dreamin', Vanessa Williams
Again, total blank.
90. It's No Crime, Babyface
91. Poison, Alice Cooper
I feel like I should remember this, but I don't.
92. This Time I Know It's For Real, Donna Summer
93. Smooth Criminal, Michael Jackson
Probably my favorite MJ song--nah, that's probably "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough." Still, this one has a driving bass, plenty of needless howling, and a what-the-fuck-is-he-talking-about chorus (who in god's name is Eddie, and why are we so worried about him?). Something like genius.
94. Heaven Help Me, Deon Estus
95. Rock Wit'cha, Bobby Brown
I used to own the album, and I don't remember this one.
96. Thinking Of You, Sa-fire
William Safire made it into the charts? Holy shit.
97. What You Don't Know, Expose
98. Surrender To Me, Ann Wilson and Robin Zander
Not this one, either.
The End Of The Innocence, Don Henley
Hate Don Henley. Never even liked the fucking Eagles. Go away, losers.
100. Keep On Movin', Soul II Soul
Jazzie B. mixed the soundtrack to my life.