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First posted August 31, 2011. Last updated September 2, 2018.
Dirty Dancing (soundtrack)
Released: Sept. 1, 1987
Sales (in millions):
The fall of 1987 marked the onset of my junior year in college. One of the hottest movies around was Dirty Dancing. I wasn’t interested, but ended up going – with five women. Hey, who would turn that down? Well, I thought the movie was cheesy and eye-rolling, but my movie companions loved it. They swooned over Patrick Swayze and all but danced in the aisles to the music.
Ah, yes. The music. As popular as the movie was and as much as women loved Swayze, this wasn’t the formula for a monster soundtrack. In the mid-‘80s, soundtracks to movies like Flashdance, Footloose, and Top Gun became huge sellers on the strength of well-done pop songs by acts who weren’t necessarily top rung, but were known commodities. Each album mustered a couple of top ten hits and at least one #1 each and then peppered the album with filler.
Dirty Dancing opted for artists best known for decades-old hits. Eric Carmen hit #2 in 1975 with “All By Myself” while Bill Medley had huge hits as part of the Righteous Brothers duo in the 1960s (“You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’”, “You’re My Soul and Inspiration”, “Unchained Melody”).
The best-known commodity was Medley’s duet partner, Jennifer Warnes, who had topped the charts in 1982 with “Up Where We Belong,” a duet with Joe Cocker from the movie An Officer and a Gentleman. Sure, she’d had a #1 hit, but who would’ve gambled that she had any more hits in her?
In addition, there were still a couple fillers…and even what would have seemed a cringe inducing concept of handing a song [“She’s Like the Wind”] to “Patrick Swayze, who played the male lead in the movie.” TH
On top of that, the album sprinkled in some well-known hits from the ‘50s and ‘60s, which certainly fit the setting of the movie, but didn’t seem like a winning formula for a successful soundtrack.
Somehow, though, it worked – primarily because these are well-done slices of pop music from the present and the past that, unlike many soundtracks, often tie in well with scenes in the movie. “While this may not be ‘the time of your life,’ as the album cover advertises, it is a fun collection.” TH
Review Sources/Related DMDB Links:
|First posted 7/21/2013; updated 6/14/2019.|
Appetite for Destruction
Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.)
“Guns N’ Roses’ debut, Appetite for Destruction was a turning point for hard rock in the late ‘80s – it was a dirty, dangerous, and mean record in a time when heavy metal meant nothing but a good time.” AMG Guns N’ Roses embraced “the wasted rock star lifestyle with such earnest determination that you’d think they invented it.” GW As guitarist Slash said, “When we had to go up against whatever was going on at the time, there were no gritty rock bands, and we were sort of a break-through rock band, sort of a fluke in a way.” GW
On the surface, Guns N’ Roses may appear to celebrate the same things as their peers – namely, sex, liquor, drugs, and rock & roll.” AMG In addition, this is music “wallowing in a bluesy, metallic hard rock borrowed from Aerosmith, AC/DC, and countless faceless hard rock bands of the early ‘80s.” GW However, GNR were an “L.A. blend of surface glamour and nasty underbelly.” BL Their debut album is a mix of “exquisite pain, uncorked rage and pure rebellion meet[ing] in a full metal racket.” UT The band “played lacerating music that was tough, ugly and sometimes misogynistic.” GW “There is a nasty edge to their songs, since Axl Rose doesn’t see much fun in the urban sprawl of L.A. and its parade of heavy metal thugs, cheap women, booze, and crime.” AMG Their music was “tough, ugly” GW and built on a “sleazy sound that adds grit to already grim tales…[which made] Rose’s misogyny, fear, and anger hard to dismiss as merely an artistic statement; this is music that sounds lived-in.” AMG
Initially radio and MTV didn’t embrace the album, but label honcho David Geffen finally convinced the video music channel to give the band a chance. “Once music fans got a look at Guns N’ Roses, they liked what they saw: five tough dudes who weren’t all gussied up like Cinderella.” GW but made “raw, hard-driving, classic-sounding rock and roll.” GW It was “metallic enough for metalheads but melodic enough for the chicks. Glam Metal kids weren’t embarrassed to be seen with it, yet Bob Seger fans could drink beer to it.” GW
The band also demonstrated an ability to write hits. On Sweet Child O' Mine, Rose showed the band wasn’t just about being fast and loud. He showed he also was vulnerable. AMG It was unique as power ballads went – it rocked out even as it went straight for the heart.
Elsewhere “the charging Welcome to the Jungle” AMG and the driving Paradise City showed that there was still a place in the top ten of the pop charts for the rockers as well. These were gritty tales in which Rose was “conveying the fears and horrors of the decaying inner city.” AMG He did the same thing on other album cuts, such as the well-known “heroin ode Mr. Brownstone.” AMG
“But as good as Rose’s lyrics and screeching vocals are, they wouldn’t be nearly as effective without the twin-guitar interplay of Slash and Izzy Stradlin, who spit out riffs and solos better than any band since the Rolling Stones, and that’s what makes Appetite for Destruction the best metal record of the late '80s” AMG and the “hardest-rocking outfit since Aerosmith.” BL
Monday, July 6, 1987
image from music100.info
|Sing, Sing, Sing (With a Swing)
Writer(s): Louis Prima, Leon Berry (see lyrics here)
First Charted: 4/9/1938
Peak: 7 US, 12 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)
Sales *: -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US + UK)
Radio Airplay *: --
Video Airplay *: --
Streaming *: --
* in millions
By the start of the Swing era in 1936, Benny Goodman was its king. He started playing clarinet professionally at the age of 16 and formed his own permanent band by the time he was 25. “Sing, Sing, Sing” was the band’s most renowned performance with solos by Benny as well as drummer Gene Krupa (on his last hit before leaving the band) and trumpeter Harry James. This instrumental includes interpolation of “Christopher Columbus,” PM-179 a Chu Berry song which was written for Fletcher Henderson. SS-42
“Sing, Sing, Sing,” which Goodman called a “killer diller,” NPR’99 was the closer at the bandleader’s legendary Carnegie Hall concert on January 16, 1938. It was the first time jazz comprised a full concert instead of being part of a larger show SS-42 and marked the birthplace of the legitimacy of the genre. NPR’99
“Sing, Sing, Sing” was written by Louis Prima in 1936, but was dramatically reworked as an instrumental by Goodman to become what Steve Sullivan called “the all-time house rocker of the swing era” in his book Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings. SS-42 He credited the song with exemplifying “the sky-high excitement of Big Band jazz at its greatest.” SS-42
Helen Ward, who was initially slated to sing on the track, noted that Gene Krupa was supposed to stop drumming at the end of the third chorus, but when he kept going, Goodman chimed in with his clarinet. The reslt was an eight-minute cut which took up both sides of a 12-inch 78 rpm record, a break from the traditional three-minute recordings which could fit on a 10-inch 78. WK The recording was immediately well-received: Down Beat magazine’s Tom Collins said the performance “will make record history.” SS-43
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Note: Footnotes (raised letter codes) refer to sources frequently cited on the blog. Numbers following the letter code indicate page numbers. If the raised letter code is a link, it will go directly to the correct page instead of the home page of a website. You can find the sources and corresponding footnotes on the “Lists” page in the “Song Resources” section.
Saturday, June 27, 1987
|First posted 11/13/2019.|
I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)
Writer(s): George Merrill/Shannon Rubicam (see lyrics here)
Released: April 30, 1987
First Charted: May 8, 1987
Peak: 12 US, 12 CB, 13 RR, 13 AC, 2 RB, 12 UK, 11 CN, 15 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)
Sales *: 3.0 US, 1.1 UK, 8.0 world (includes US + UK)
Radio Airplay *: 2.0
Video Airplay *: 258.8
Streaming *: --
* in millions
Songwriters George Merrill and Shannon Rubicam met when both were singing at a wedding. A few months later, Shannon auditioned and won the part as a singer for George’s band Sparrow. The band didn’t stay together, but the pair started writing demos together. Their big break came when Whitney Houston recorded their song “How Will I Know” and it topped the Billboard Hot 100. The pair were asked to come up with another song for Whitney. Their first effort was “Waiting for a Star to Fall,” which Arista passed on, but the duo recorded it under the name Boy Meets Girl and had a top 10 hit with it in 1988. They went back to the drawing board and came up with “I Wanna Dance with Somebody.” BR1
Shannon explained that the concept “wasn’t ‘I wanna go down to the disco and dance,’ really. It was, ‘I wanna do that dance of life with somebody.’” BR1 When they finished the demo, George rushed it to the airport to meet Arista’s Clive Davis, who listened to it on the plane. SF He loved it, but producer Narada Michael Walden thought it was too country, saying “It reminded me of a rodeo song with Olivia Newton-John singing…There’s gotta be some way I can make it…funkier.” BR1
The song was released as the first single from Whitney Houston’s sophomore album, Whitney. It topped the charts in 14 countries and was her biggest hit until “I Will Always Love You” in 1992. WK It was her fourth chart-topper on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. It also returned to the top 40 in the wake of her death in 2012.
The song got mixed reviews from critics. Rolling Stone’s Vince Aletti criticized the song for “not taking any chances” and referring to it as “How Will I Know II.” WK Robert Hilburn of the Los Angeles Times called it “a deliciously raucous tune with a bit of the synthesizer underpinnings and giddy zest of Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun.’” WK Slant magazine called it “definitive ‘80s dance-pop.” WK
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