Saturday, December 12, 1987

George Michael hit #1 with “Faith”

First posted 11/26/2020.

Faith

George Michael

Writer(s): George Michael (see lyrics here)


Released: October 12, 1987


First Charted: October 23, 1987


Peak: 14 US, 15 CB, 13 RR, 5 AC, 2 UK, 14 CN, 11 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.6 UK, 1.79 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 28.17 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

George Michael started his transition from half of the bubblegum-pop duo Wham! to a more serious artist in 1987. First, he dueted with Aretha Franklin on the #1 song “I Knew You Were Waiting for Me.” He followed that with the controversial “I Want Your Sex,” a #2 solo hit with a decidedly more adult message. The title cut from his first solo album, Faith, could arguably be viewed as Michael finally planting his flag in the “now I’m a serious artist” land for good.

“Faith” topped the charts at the end of 1987 and was followed to the #1 spot by “Father Figure,” “One More Try,” and “Monkey,” giving the album four chart-topping hits. This one, however, spent the longest time on top and was named the song of the year by Billboard magazine. The album went on to win the Grammy for Album of the Year.

The “rockabilly-tinged title track” AMG was supposedly written as a rock and roll pastiche, which is demonstrated by the incorporation of Bo Diddley’s classic rock and roll beat WK which is also present on Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away” and U2’s “Desire.” SF While the video depicted Michael playing guitar, he didn’t know how to play. SF Thank Scottish session player Hugh Burns for the guitar lick which harkened back to the ‘50s Sun Records-era and Bo Diddley. SF Michael worked with Burns for hours to synch the guitar sound to his vocals. SF

However, the song definitely had a modern touch as well. It was one of the first digital recordings, meaning he could write and record lyrics line-by-line and even word-by-word. Whie the process was tedious, it let Michael scrutinize every syllable to create the polished track he wanted. SF


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Saturday, November 28, 1987

The Rainmakers charted with Tornado

Tornado

The Rainmakers


Charted: November 28, 1987


Peak: 116 US


Sales (in millions): --


Genre: roots rock


Tracks:

Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Snakedance [3:58] (11/14/87, 31 AR)
  2. Tornado of Love [4:11]
  3. The Wages of Sin [3:39]
  4. Small Circles [3:27]
  5. No Romance [3:18]
  6. One More Summer [3:30]
  7. The Lakeview Man [2:59]
  8. Rainmaker [4:21]
  9. I Talk with My Hands [6:30]
  10. The Other Side of the World [4:30]

All songs written by Bob Walkenhorst.


Total Running Time: 40:23


The Players:

  • Bob Walkenhorst (vocals, guitar, keyboards)
  • Rich Ruth (bass, vocals)
  • Steve Phillips (guitar)
  • Pat Tomek (drums)

Rating:

3.934 out of 5.00 (average of 9 ratings)


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“The Rainmakers' second album finds their basic Midwestern rock sounding a little tired, despite more studio polish and Steve Phillips’ solid guitar work. While the band sounds more accomplished than on their 1987 debut, Tornado lacks anything as arresting as ‘Rockin' at the T-Dance’ or ‘Let My People Go-Go’ on that album, or ‘Reckoning Day’ on their next one, although Snake Dance and Wages of Sin come close.” AMG

“For most of Tornado, Bob Walkenhorst tones down his yelp of indignation, which is both the most distinctive and potentially annoying characteristic of the band’s sound. The restrained Small Circles shows how conventional the band could be, suggesting how easily the Rainmakers could have carved out a comfortable career as a standard AOR act.” AMG

“Nice as that track may be, Tornado generally sticks to the Rainmakers’ strengths: being wry, provocative, and confrontational. Only the overly long I Talk with My Hands is truly a poor effort, seriously bogging down the album with a misguided attempt at dance-oriented rock.” AMG

“Even when they come up short on melody, though, as on the bland No Romance, Walkenhorst’s lyrics usually provide something to listen for. The Rainmakers’ next release, The Good News & the Bad News, would offer more of Walkenhorst’s outrage, which may have been what Tornado needed to register as one of the band’s better efforts.” AMG

Resources and Related Links:

  • AMG All Music Guide review by James A. Gardner

    First posted 3/24/2008; updated 6/2/2021.

“I’ve Had the Time of My Life” hit #1

First posted 11/27/2020.

I’ve Had the Time of My Life

Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes

Writer(s): Frank Previte, John DeNicola, Donald Markowitz (see lyrics here)


Released: July 10, 1987


First Charted: August 8, 1987


Peak: 11 US, 11 CB, 11 RR, 14 AC, 6 UK, 11 CN, 16 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.8 UK, 2.03 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 448.1 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

No one could have guessed how big the soundtrack for Dirty Dancing would be. The album mixed iconic songs from the late ‘50s and early ‘60s alongside new material from, well, has-beens. The most bankable commodity was Jennifer Warnes, who’d had a #1 with Joe Cocker on “Up Where We Belong,” another film song from five years earlier. But Eric Carmen, who was best known for “All by Myself” from more than a decade earlier? Bill Medley? His biggest hits were with the Righteous Brothers in the ‘60s. And Patrick Swayze, the film’s star, was going to sing? This didn’t sound like a surefire hit.

However, Swayze’s “She’s Like the Wind,” Carmen’s “Hungry Eyes,” and Medley & Warnes’ “I’ve Had the Time of My Life” all hit the top 5 and the latter went to #1. It gave Medley the distinction of the longest gap between #1’s – 21 years and 7 months from the time of the Righteous Brothers’ “You’re My Sould and Inspiration” and “Time of My Life.” BR1 The song also won an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and a Grammy.

Jimmy Ienner, the producer and head of Millennium Records, approached Frankie Previte, whose band Frankie & the Knockouts had a top 10 hit in 1981 with “Sweetheart,” about writing songs for the movie. According to Previte, when he told Ienner he was busy with another project, Previte told him “I suggest you get in on this because if you get a song in this movie, it’s going to change your life.” BR1 Previte was convinced and wrote several songs for the film, including “Hungry Eyes” and “I’ve Had the Time of My Life.”

Ienner gave Previte a rough idea of the plot and said they needed a song which started slow, ended up fast, and incorporated a Mambo beat. BR1 After tapping former bandmate John DeNicola and his friend Don Markowitz, for the music, Previte recorded a demo with singer Rachelle Cappelli. It wasn’t in the film, but it was used as a backing track while Swayze and Grey practiced their dancing.

The song was offered to Donna Summer and Joe Esposito, but she said no because she objected to the title of the movie. Ienner approached Medley repeatedly about recording the song, but Medley was skeptical after recording a duet with Gladys Knight for the Sylvester Stallone movie Cobra and seeing it flop. He was also expecting a child and didn’t want to travel for fear of missing the birth. BR1 After Medley’s daughter was born SF and the session was moved from New York to California, where Warnes also lived, Medley agreed. BR1 Warnes had already said she’d do it if Medley would. WK


Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Bill Medley
  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Jennifer Warnes
  • DMDB page for parent album, the Dirty Dancing soundtrack
  • BR1 Fred Bronson (2007). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (4th edition). New York, NY; Billboard Books. Page 683.
  • SF Songfacts
  • WK Wikipedia

Saturday, November 14, 1987

Dirty Dancing soundtrack hit #1 for the first of 18 weeks

Last updated 11/27/2020.

image from fanpop.com

Dirty Dancing (soundtrack)

Various artists


Released: September 1, 1987


Peak: 118 US, 4 UK, 114 CN, 18 AU


Sales (in millions): 11.0 US, 2.44 UK, 32.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: pop/oldies


Tracks:

Song Title (ACT) (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. I’ve Had the Time of My Life (BILL MEDLEY/ JENNIFER WARNES) (8/8/87, 1 US, 6 UK, 1 AC, sales: 0.5 m)
  2. Be My Baby (THE RONETTES) (8/31/63, 2 US, 4 UK, 4 RB)
  3. She’s Like the Wind (PATRICK SWAYZE/ WENDY FRASER) (12/19/87, 3 US, 17, 1 AC)
  4. Hungry Eyes (ERIC CARMEN) (11/7/87, 4 US, 2 AC)
  5. Stay (MAURICE WILLIAMS & THE ZODIACS) (9/26/60, 1 US, 14 UK, 3 RB)
  6. Yes (MERRY CLAYTON) (4/23/88, 49 AC)
  7. You Don’t Own Me (THE BLOW MONKEYS)
  8. Hey! Baby (BRUCE CHANNEL) (1/27/62, 1 US, 2 UK, 2 RB, sales: 0.5 m)
  9. Overload (ALFIE ZAPPACOSTA)
  10. Love Is Strange (MICKEY & SYLVIA) (12/22/56, 11 US, 1 RB)
  11. Where Are You Tonight? (TOM JOHNSTON)
  12. In the Still of the Night (THE FIVE SATINS) (3/56, 24 US, 3 RB)


Total Running Time: 39:25

Rating:

4.048 out of 5.00 (average of 18 ratings)


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

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 practically danced in the aisles to the music.

Ah, yes. The music. As popular as the movie was and as much as women loved Patrick Swayze, the driving force was the music. The soundtrack was an unlikely blockbuster. In the mid-‘80s, soundtracks to Flashdance, Footloose, and Top Gun became huge sellers on the strength of well-crafted pop songs by known commodities. Each album mustered a couple of top ten hits and at least one #1 each and filler artists deemed unfit for their own albums.

Dirty Dancing opted for new songs by artists with decades-old hits. Eric Carmen (Hungry Eyes) hit #2 in 1975 with “All By Myself” while Bill Medley (I’ve Had the Time of My Life) 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 she had more chart-toppers in her?

And who would have guessed Patrick Swayze had a top 10 hit in him? In a move that seemed like it could be cringe-worthy, the soundtrack opted to give its lead – not known for singing – a shot at tackling lead vocals on She’s Like the Wind. Swayze’s foray into music ended up being the album’s third (new) top ten hit.

The distinction that it was a “new” hit is important considering that the album is also sprinkled with well-known hits from the ‘50s and ‘60s like the Ronettes Be My Baby and Stay by Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs. They certainly fit the setting of the movie, but it 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 Hey, it’s hard to beat going to a movie with five women who want to dance in the aisles because of the music.


Notes: The soundtrack was so successful it spawned a sequel – More Dirty Dancing – in 1988. It was dominated by instrumentals and more oldies, but led to The Contours’ “Do You Love Me” recharting – and peaking at #11 – more than 25 years after its original debut.

Resources and Related Links:

Thursday, October 29, 1987

200 years ago: Mozart’s Don Giovanni first performed

Last updated 11/16/2020.

Il dissoluto punito, ossia il
Don Giovanni, opera, K. 527

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (composer)


Composed: 1787


First Performed: October 29, 1787


Peak: -- US, -- UK, -- CN, -- AU


Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US and UK)


Genre: classical > opera


Parts/Movements:

  1. Overture, Andante

Act I

  1. Introduzione ("Notte e giorno faticar")
  2. Recitative & Duet ("Ma qual mai s'offre, oh Dei, spettacolo funesto... Fuggi, crudele, fuggi")
  3. Aria ("Ah! chi mi dice mai")
  4. Aria ("Madamina! Il catalogo e questo")
  5. Duet with Chorus ("Giovinette che fate all' amore")
  6. Aria ("Ho capito, Signor, si")
  7. Duet ("La ci darem la mano, la mi dirai di si")
  8. Aria ("Ah, fuggi il traditor")
  9. Quartet ("Non ti fidar, o misera")
  10. Recitative & Aria ("Don Ottavio, son morta!... Or sai chi l'onore")
  11. Aria ("Dalla sua pace la mia dipende")
  12. Aria ("Finch' han dal vino calda la testa")
  13. Aria ("Batti, batti, o bel Masetto, la tua povera Zerlina")
  14. Finale ("Presto, presto! priach' ei venga, por mi vo'")

Act II

  1. Duet ("Eh via buffone, eh via buffone")
  2. Trio ("Ah, taci ingiusto core")
  3. Canzonetta ("Deh, vieni alla finestra")
  4. Aria ("Metà di voi quà vadano")
  5. Aria ("Vedrai, carino, se sei buonino")
  6. Sextet ("Sola, sola in buio loco palpitar")
  7. Aria ("Ah, pieta, signori miei! Ah, pieta, pieta")
  8. Aria ("Il mio tesoro intanto")
  9. Recitative & Aria ("In qualieccessi, o Numi... Mi tradi quell' alma ingrata, quell' alma ingrata")
  10. Duet ("O statua gentilissima")
  11. Recitative & Aria ("Crudele! Ah no, mio bene... Non mi dir, bell' idol mio")
  12. Finale ("Gia la mensa e preparata")


Average Length: 164:20

Rating:

4.465 out of 5.00 (average of 5 ratings)


Quotable: --


Awards:

About the Album:

Don Giovanni is a two-act opera was billed at the time as “drama giocoso”, which refers to a mix of serious and comedic action. WK It tells the story of seducing legend Don Juan (“Don Giovanni” in Italian) and how he is destroyed by his excesses. WK

Mozart was in Prague during the first couple months of 1787 to attend and conduct performances of several works, most notably Le nozze di Figaro, his most recent opera. While there, he was commissioned to create a new opera by impresario Pasquale Bondini. JH

It premiered in Prague on October 29, 1787. Reports suggest Mozart didn’t complete the work until that day or the day before. WK It was well-received, as was generally the case for Mozart’s work in Prague. The Prager Oberamtszeitung reported, “Connoisseurs and musicians say that Prague has never heard the like.” WK By contrast, reviews of the opera’s first Vienna performances in 1788 “suggested mild dissatisfaction with the work’s extended length and unnecessary plot elaborations.” JH According to Operabase, it is the seventh most-performed opera worldwide. WK

The final score used double woodwinds, horns, trumpets, timpani, and strings. WK He used three onstage ensembles for a ballroom dance scene at the end of the first act. WK In addition, “Mozart creates levels of dramatic expression through recitativo secco, recitative accompagnato, and aria styles…Recitativo accompagnato is reserved for moments of great emotion, in which the accompanying orchestra virtually assumes a dramatic role. In Act Two, Scene Ten (d), the orchestra virtually speaks for the conflicted Donna Elvira… conveying her rage and slurred couplets giving musical voice to her sighs.” JH

“The dramatically stagnant da capo aria that was the mainstay of the operas of George Friedrich Handel is virtually absent from Don Giovanni. Leporello’s so-called ‘catalog aria’ (Madamina, il catalogo è questo) in Act One, Scene Five, for example, suggests both through-composed and bi-partite formal elements. Some arias in Don Giovanni, however, such as Don Ottavio’s Act One, Scene Fourteen aria (Dalla sue pace), contain traces of the ternary form idea of returning to beginning material after a section of contrasting music. Donna Elvira’s aria in Act Two, Scene Ten(d) (Mi tradì quell'alma ingrate) juxtaposes ternary and rondo form ideas, reinforcing through musical form Donna Elvira’s returning to the same position of pity and longing for Don Giovanni.” JH

“In keeping with the function of the opera overture to introduce the opera’s important themes, the music that begins the overture, marked by alternations between the D minor tonic and its dominant, returns in the Commendatore’s scene in Act Two, Scene Fifteen. The drama of this scene is set in relief by the light use popular music in the preceding party scene, where the on-stage musicians play melodies from arias by Martín y Soler, Sarti, and even Mozart’s own Le nozze di Figaro during Don Giovanni’s party. Don Giovanni’s canzonetta (Deh, vieni alla fenestra, o mio Tesoro) in Act Two, Scene Three, an airy strophic song scored for pizzicato strings and mandolin, is a similarly witty musical juxtaposition of planes of realism.” JH

Resources and Related Links: