Saturday, October 28, 1989

Janet Jackson hit #1 with Rhythm Nation

First posted 3/25/2008; updated 12/2/2020.

Rhythm Nation 1814

Janet Jackson


Released: September 19, 1989


Peak: 14 US, 13 RB, 4 UK, 5 CN, 14 AU


Sales (in millions): 8.4 US, 0.3 UK, 15.3 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: R&B/pop


Tracks:

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

  1. Interlude: Pledge
  2. Rhythm Nation (11/11/89, 2 US, 1a RB, 23 UK, sales: ½ million)
  3. Interlude: T.V.
  4. State of the World (2/16/91, 5a US, 23a RB)
  5. Interlude: Race
  6. The Knowledge
  7. Interlude: Let’s Dance
  8. Miss You Much (9/2/89, 1 US, 1 RB, 22 UK, sales: 1 million)
  9. Interlude: Come Back Interlude
  10. Love Will Never Do without You (10/27/90, 1 US, 2 RB, 33 AC, 34 UK, sales: ½ million)
  11. Livin’ in a World They Didn’t Make
  12. Alright (4/7/90, 2a US, 2 RB, 20 UK, sales: ½ million)
  13. Interlude: Hey Baby
  14. Escapade (1/20/90, 1a US, 1 RB, 16 AC, 17 UK)
  15. Interlude: No Acid
  16. Black Cat (9/15/90, 1 US, 10 RB, 15 UK, sales: ½ million)
  17. Lonely
  18. Come Back to Me (1/27/90, 1a US, 2 RB, 1 AC, 20 UK)
  19. Someday Is Tonight
  20. Interlude: Livin’…in Complete Darkness


Total Running Time: 64:34

Rating:

4.024 out of 5.00 (average of 24 ratings)


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“After shocking the R&B world with 1986’s Control – a gutsy, risk-taking triumph that was a radical departure from her first two albums – Michael and Jermaine Jackson’s younger sister reached an even higher artistic plateau with the conceptual Rhythm Nation 1814.” AMG

The title was inspired by her idea “that it would be great if we could create our own nation…that would have a positive message and that everyone would be free to join.” WK “1814” represents the year the national anthem was written. WK

Label executives wanted something like the hit-laden Control, but Jackson wanted to address social issues such as racism, poverty, and substance abuse. WK “In 1989, protest songs were common in rap but rare in R&B – Janet Jackson, following rap’s lead, dares to address social and political topics on The Knowledge, the disturbing State of the World, and the poignant ballad Living in a World (which decries the reality of children being exposed to violence).” AMG

That isn’t to say she didn’t still create a commercially viable record. There were “nonpolitical pieces ranging from the Prince-influenced funk/pop of Miss You Much and Alright.” AMG She incorporated new jack swing, pop, dance, and rock such as “pop/rock smoker Black CatAMG in songs ranging “from mechanized dance rhythms to soft balladry, giving it appeal across multiple radio formats.” WK

Rhythm Nation became the only album in history to land seven top-5 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It was also the only album to produce #1 hits in three separate calendar years. WK “Miss You Much” topped the charts in 1989; Escapade and “Black Cat” were #1 songs in 1990, and Love Will Never Do Without You accomplished the feat in 1991.

She also turned again to ex-Time bandmates Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, “one of the more soulful production/songwriting teams of 1980s and ‘90s R&B.” AMG “Jackson’s voice is wafer-thin, and she doesn’t have much of a range – but she definitely has lots of soul and spirit and uses it to maximum advantage.” AMG Despite her vocal shortcomings, she turns out “caressing, silky ballads Someday Is Tonight, Alone, and Come Back to Me.” AMG

“For those purchasing their first Janet Jackson release, Rhythm Nation would be an even wiser investment than Control – and that's saying a lot.” AMG

Resources and Related Links:

Tuesday, October 24, 1989

Madonna “Oh Father” released

Oh Father

Madonna

Writer(s): Madonna, Patrick Leonard (see lyrics here)


Released: October 24, 1989


First Charted: November 4, 1989


Peak: 20 US, 15 CB, 18 RR, 16 UK, 14 CN, 59 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): --


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 9.3 video, -- streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Madonna was only five years old when her mother died from breast cancer. That left her father to raise four kids on his own. Two years later, he married the housekeeper and had two more children. The song “Oh Father” deals with Madonna’s feelings of loss regarding her mother and anger toward her father.

The song and its accompanying video (which Rolling Stone named one of the top 100 videos of all time) suggests Madonna may have been physically abused, although she has never confirmed that. She has said that “her father was a disciplinarian and her stepmother was hard on her.” WK In the book Madonna: Like an Icon, author Lucy O’Brien says the song is more about the emotional neglect Madonna experienced when her grief-ridden father wasn’t able to be there for her. WK Madonna has also said the song is about “me dealing with all authority figures in my life” SF and coming to terms with all the men in her life who had hurt her. SF

Patrick Leonard, who produced and co-wrote many of Madonna’s late ‘80s hits, said, “My favorite thing that we ever recorded…is ‘Oh Father’…because we knew when we did it that there was something about this that was in a way kind of the most ‘real’ thing.” WK He created the basic melody outline and different chord progressions and she wrote lyrics to fit the melody.

From a chart standpoint, this song ended Madonna’s streak of 16 consecutive top-5 singles and 17 consecutive top10 singles in the United States when it peaked at #20. On a personal note, however, this is my favorite song by Madonna. All Music Guide’s Stewart Mason called it “one of the most personal songs Madonna has ever performed and arguably her finest ballad performance ever.” AMG In Madonna: The Complete Guide to Her Music, Rikky Rooksby says the song “was the most compassionate and generous moment in Madonna’s musical career.” WK


Resources:


Related Links:


First posted 8/22/2022.

Tuesday, October 17, 1989

Billy Joel’s Storm Front released

First posted 5/9/2011; updated 9/22/2020.

Storm Front

Billy Joel


Released: October 17, 1989


Peak: 11 US, 5 UK, 4 CN, 12 AU


Sales (in millions): 4.0 US, 0.3 UK, 8.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: pop/rock singer-songwriter


Tracks:

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

  1. That’s Not Her Style (12/2/89, 18 AR, 77 US, 97 UK)
  2. We Didn’t Start the Fire (9/27/89, 1 US, 5 AC, 6 AR, 7 UK, 2 CN, 2 AU, platinum single)
  3. The Downeaster ‘Alexa’ (4/14/90, 57 US, 18 AC, 33 AR, 76 UK, 25 CN)
  4. I Go to Extremes (1/13/90, 6 US, 4 AC, 10 AR, 70 UK, 3 CN, 48 AU)
  5. Shameless (1/4/92, 40 AC)
  6. Storm Front
  7. Leningrad (53 UK)
  8. State of Grace
  9. When in Rome
  10. And So It Goes (10/20/90, 37 US, 5 AC, 30 CN)


Total Running Time: 44:34

Rating:

3.293 out of 5.00 (average of 12 ratings)


Awards:

About the Album:

For 1989’s Storm Front, Joel was looking for a new sound. He jettisoned most of his longtime band and producer Phil Ramone. He hired Mick Jones, “the Foreigner fat cat, not the Clash founder,” DB in pursuit of “big-rock pomp and power chords” DB in the vein of “Foreigner’s big AOR sound.” AMG

“Joel packed all the strongest numbers into the first half of Storm Front.” AMG The album opened with “That’s Not Her Style, a weirdly defensive song about his model wife, Christie Brinkley.” AMG It then transitioned to “the boomer-centric history lesson We Didn’t Start the FireDB, Joel’s third and final Billboard Hot 100 chart-topper.

Next up is his ode “to the fisherman's plight” AMG with The Downeaster ‘Alexa’, which is followed by I Go to Extremes, which gave Joel another top-10 hit. Then we get “the power ballad Shameless, which Garth Brooks later made a standard.” AMG

The second half, however, isn’t quite as strong. It “perks up only mildly with Leningrad and And So It Goes.” AMG “It’s upbeat, varied, melodic, and effective, but when it’s compared to…such high-water marks as The Stranger or Glass Houses…it pales musically and lyrically. The five singles…were catchy enough on the radio to propel the album to multi-platinum status, but in retrospect, Storm Front sounds like the beginning of the end.” AMG

Resources and Related Links:

Tuesday, October 3, 1989

Tracy Chapman “All That You Have Is Your Soul” released

All That You Have Is Your Soul

Tracy Chapman

Writer(s): Tracy Chapman (see lyrics here)


Released: October 3, 1989 (album cut)


First Charted: --


Peak: 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): --


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 14.6 video, -- streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Folk singer/songwriter Tracy Chapman was born in 1964 in Cleveland, Ohio. She was signed to a record contract with Elektra Records in 1997 and released her self-titled debut album the next year. Buoyed by the top-10 hit “Fast Car,” the album was a surprise success, reaching #1 in the United States and selling 20 million copies worldwide. She won the Grammy for Best New Artist, the song won for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, and the album won for Best Contemporary Folk Album.

Some artists might have been overwhelmed by the success such that they would take several years to release a follow-up. Instead, Chapman went right back in the studio to record her sophomore album, Crossroads. It didn’t match the success of its predecessor, but it was still a top-10 album in the United States where it sold a million copies.

The title cut was released as the lead single, stalling at #90 on the Billboard Hot 100. It would, however, be a top-10 hit on the modern rock chart. The album’s second and third singles, “All That You Have Is Your Soul” (which was covered in 2008 by Emmylou Harris) and “Subcity” respectively, failed to chart. In the All Music Guide of Crossroads, Alex Henderson describes “Subcity” as a “compelling…lament for the poor, disenfranchised underclass that stands on the outside of the American dream looking in.” AMG Overall, though, Chapman “isn’t going for immediacy – introspective and subtle songs like…’All That You Have Is Your Soul’ require at least several listens in order to be fully appreciated.” AMG

At BahaiTeachings.org, David Langness acknowledges exactly that, saying he didn’t really discover “All That You Have Is Your Soul” until 30 years later. He says”it sounds like it comes directly out of her lived experience and you can hear that conviction in her voice, her phrasing and her quiet intensity.” BT In the song, Chapman heeds her mother’s advice to “never give your or sell your soul away.” Langness says, Chapman “tells us that we can only really own and truly possess one thing in this world and the next – the spiritual core of our being we call the soul.” BT


Resources:


Related Links:


First posted 9/23/2022.