Wednesday, February 29, 2012

February 29, 1980

Wrapping up our special Leap Year Countdown with the Ten Most Popular Songs on this date in 1980!

(click to enlarge)

February 29, 1980:

10. Coward Of The County - Kenny Rogers
This song has ALWAYS reminded me of the 1971 flick "Straw Dogs" starring Dustin Hoffman and Susan George, even though it came out a full decade later.  (The film was recently remade ... to less than flattering reviews ... and justifiably so, I might add!)  
Personally, this is one of my LEAST favorite Kenny Rogers tunes ... but I always enjoyed his little "in joke" poking fun at his quite-often touring partners, Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers.

9. Do That To Me One More Time - The Captain and Tennille: 
Making another appearance on our very special Leap Year Countdowns, we you the low-down on The Captain and Tennille in our 1976 edition.
"Do That To Me One More Time" would prove to be their LAST big hit ... however, it topped The National Charts earlier this month.

8. Cruisin' - Smokey Robinson: 
In our 1976 Leap Year Countdown, Smokey's former bandmates The Miracles were at the #1 position with their disco hit "Love Machine".  It would take Robinson four more years before HE would enjoy the same honor ... and this is the song that put him there.  (In addition to reaching #1 independently of one another, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles also topped the charts together in 1970 with their mega-hit "The Tears Of A Clown".  "Shop Around" and "I Second That Emotion" came close, peaking at #2 and #3 respectively.
A nice remake of "Cruisin'" by Huey Lewis and Gwyneth Paltrow (from the movie "Duets") saturated the airwaves and eventually topped Billboard's Adult Contemporary Chart in 2000 (despite never officially making their Hot 100 listing).
7. Working My Way Back To You / Forgive Me Girl -
The Spinners: 
The Spinners started their recording career nearly FIFTY years ago when they were discovered by the legendary Harvey Fuqua of The Moonglows and had their first Top 40 success with his Tri-Phi Records label back in 1961 ("That's What Girls Are Made For", #27).  The Top 40 Hits continued as they moved on to Motown Records ("I'll Always Love You", #35 in 1965) and V.I.P. Records ("It's A Shame", #14 in 1970) before signing with Atlantic Records in 1972, where their unique sound went through the roof. Between 1972 and 1976, The Spinners hit The Top Ten six times on the Pop Charts, with soulful pop classics like "I'll Be Around" (#1 in 1972), "Could It Be I'm Falling In Love" (also #1, 1973), "One Of A Kind Love Affair" (#8, 1973), "Then Came You" (yet ANOTHER #1 Record, this time recorded with Dionne Warwick ... or do you say "Warwicke", as SHE did on the record label for this tune?), "Games People Play / They Just Can't Stop It" (#2, 1975) and "The Rubberband Man" (also #2, 1976.) 
Their medley of the old Four Seasons hit "Working My Way Back To You" (coupled with a brand new piece of music called "Forgive Me Girl") also shot straight up the charts, peaking at #2 early in 1980. The Spinners would try the medley-thing a couple more times ... once, quite successfully (their version of the Sam Cooke classic "Cupid", couple with "I've Loved You For A Long Time", would hit #4 later that year in 1980) ... and once NOT so successfully (they also took The Carpenters' hit "Yesterday Once More" and "medleyed" it with "Nothing Remains The Same", #52 in 1981.) By the way, ALL of these new tunes were written by Michael Zager, who had some chart success of his own in the mid-'70's after leaving Ten Wheel Drive.

6. Rock With You - Michael Jackson: 
It was a much darker (and a lot less controversial) Michael Jackson that made a remarkable comeback with his "Off The Wall" album in 1979. It revitalized his solo career and spawned FOUR hit singles including this one (which had already hit #1 in January), "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough" (also #1 in 1979), the title track, "Off The Wall" (#10) and my personal favorite, "She's Out Of My Life" (also #10). He followed "Off The Wall" with one of the biggest selling albums of all time, "Thriller".
Of course, since our last Leap Year Countdown ran, we've lost Michael Jackson ... yet another senseless death of a musical superstar who had it all in the palm of his gloved hand at one time.  So sad ... but the music lives on (and always will). 

5. Desire - Andy Gibb: 
Andy Gibb is another one who seemed to have it all when he first broke through on the pop charts back in the late 1970's. He was the youngest brother of The Bee Gees and all seven of his first chart singles were written by his big brother Barry and made The Top Ten. Soon he was on the cover of every teenage magazine, playing to sell-out crowds all over the world, appearing on Broadway, dating "Dallas" Actress Victoria Principal, and co-hosting the television series "Solid Gold".  Sadly, drink and drugs got the better of him and we lost Andy in 1988. Today's #5 song, "Desire", written by all three of the older Brother Gibb, would be Andy's last Top Ten Hit.

4. On The Radio - Donna Summer: 
Disco Queen Donna Summer made her chart debut on our 1976 Leap Year Chart with "Love To Love You Baby".  By the time "On The Radio" came along four short years later, she'd already had NINE more Top 40 hits, including the #1 Records "MacArthur Park", "Hot Stuff", "Bad Girls" and her duet with Barbra Streisand, "No More Tears".

3. Longer - Dan Fogelberg: 
Dan Fogelberg had already had a couple of Top 40 Hits prior to "Longer"'s release at the end of 1979, but THIS is the one that put him on the map (as well as the song lists of virtually EVERY wedding performer from this point forward!) Despite recording some very interesting and engaging uptempo tunes, Fogelberg was forever branded a wimpy, soft-rock artist after "Longer" topped the charts in early 1980. (It would remain the biggest hit of his career.) A very clever (and hysterical) parody ... that sounds EXACTLY like Dan Fogelberg singing ... takes pot shots at one of his future hits and reworks it as "Leader Of The Bland"!  Sadly, we lost Dan to cancer in December of 2007, just a few months before our last Leap Year countdown ran. 

2. Yes I'm Ready - Teri DeSario with KC: 
Harry Casey (as the leader of KC and the Sunshine Band) enjoyed one of the most successful disco-era careers in the mid-to-late '70's with HUGE hits like "Get Down Tonight" (#1, 1975), "That's The Way I Like It" (also #1, 1975), "Shake Your Booty" (#1, 1976), "I'm Your Boogie Man" (yet ANOTHER #1 hit, 1977) and "Keep It Comin' Love" (pretty much a chart failure by comparison ... it stopped at #2 later in '77). 
He also scored the very first #1 song of the new decade when his pretty ballad "Please Don't Go" topped the charts on January 5, 1980. Meanwhile, Teri DeSario was trying to hitch a ride on the enormous Bee Gees bandwagon in 1978 when she cut "Ain't Nothing Gonna Keep Me From You", a song written and produced by Barry Gibb.  (It was a very rare Bee Gees flop at the time ... in 1978, NOBODY dominated the charts more than The Brothers Gibb!)  The following year, she was asked to duet with KC on the old Barbara Mason hit "Yes, I'm Ready" and their remake out-performed the original, peaking at #2. (Barbara's original version stopped at #3 in 1965.) 
Both KC and Teri were born in Florida (he in Hialeah, she in Miami) and they grew up as childhood friends. When her first single stopped at #43, she reportedly called KC and asked if there was anything he could do to help. He agreed to produce her follow-up, but then had to convince her to record the remake. Supposedly, on a flight together to Los Angeles, KC got Teri to at least CONSIDER recording the song by singing it with her as a duet on the airplane!  When she saw the positive reaction of the other passengers, she thought it just might have a chance. A follow-up remake of the old Martha and the Vandellas song "Dancing In The Streets" didn't fare as well ... it stopped at #66 ... and Teri DeSario never hit the pop chart again! 

***1***  Crazy Little Thing Called Love - Queen: 
Somehow it almost seems fitting that the #1 Song from our 1980 Leap Year Countdown would feel just as at home back in 1956 (where this Special Leap Year Countdown first began several hours ago.) 
Freddie Mercury, the driving force behind Queen, HAS to be one of the most under-rated songwriters of our time. This guy could take ANY musical style and adapt it to Queen's sound. His classic "Bohemian Rhapsody" encompasses operatic technique, a beautiful ballad intro and ending, a head-banging (or at least head-bobbing ala "Wayne's World") hard-rock mid-section, some of the most incredible vocal work EVER recorded ... and ties them all together coherently in a musical masterpiece. Queen enjoyed commercial success with pure pop hits like "You're My Best Friend", dramatic love ballads like "Somebody To Love", foot-stomping arena rock like "We Will Rock You" and letter-perfect disco funk with "Another One Bites The Dust" ... EVERY musical style seemed to work for the band! Then, in 1980, Mercury went as far away from type as may be humanly possible and recreated the letter-perfect rock-a-billy sound that first came to light in the earliest days of rock and roll ... yet STILL made it contemporary sounding enough to be a MAJOR hit of the times.


(How sad is it that FOUR of our Top Six artists are no longer with us today as we celebrate their 1980 chart achievements!)

Thanks to everybody who stuck with us throughout the day for this year's Special Leap Year Countdown.  (Hey, I'm sure we'll do it again in 2016 ... so you've got THAT to look forward to!!!)