The next installment of my project to review the year-end Hot 100’s of every year of my existence takes us to a kind of K-T line for pop music. 1991 was a very interesting year in that music is on the brink of a major shift, so the rules are kind of different. Dance pop rules the airwaves, hair metal is making its last gasps at life and soft rock is king. The charts are just kind of… weird. After listening to the top 100 songs on the charts from that year I think the best way to describe 1991 is meh. There were few songs that I would term “bad”, but there’s not a ton of “great” either. The middle ground, however, is packed with singles of all stripes. With that in mind, here’s how the bottom of my rankings shaped up. If you want to see Billboard’s full list, you can click here.
Before we really dive into the list, here’s a few tracks that were just good enough to miss the bottom 10:
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– The Escape Club – I’ll Be There – Some shaky vocals on an otherwise lifeless track, even for an early 90’s ballad.
– UB40 – Here I Am (Come and Take Me) – Pretty standard reggae cover that manages to drain all the soul and feeling from the original.
– Warrant – I Saw Red – Written after the lead singer caught his girlfriend in bed with Richie Sambora, it’s weak sauce given the subject. It takes two-and-a-half minutes to get to any shred of a passion in the vocals.
– Paula Abdul – The Promise of a New Day – Man, are the back-up vocals distracting and not in a good way. Add the weird synth bells and you a track musically trying way too hard.
Since I’ve been tasked to be the site’s judge of new pop music, I thought it would be interesting to look to the past in-between weeks when I’m looking at the present. With that in mind, I foolishly gave myself the project of covering the years that we’ve collectively been alive (1982-2019) and today we start with the landmark year 1984. The world gathered in Sarajevo for the Winter Olympics, Ghostbusters hit theaters, Reagan was gonna start the bombing in five minutes and I was born. Big year.
This is briefly the nuts and bolts of how this series will go. I’ll take the Billboard Year-End Hot 100 chart, listen to each song, give them arbitrary scores and then write about the top and bottom ten on my list. There’s almost certain to be a song in the worst list that’s one of your favorites. I can guarantee you’ll question my sanity with one of the entries on the best list and that’s the point of all of this. I’m certain Jeremy and Zack will throw verbal rocks at me on the next podcast.
One of the hardest parts of looking back at songs this old is the nostalgia factor, which is probably where most disagreements will start. Looking up and down this year’s list I see a ton of songs I heard all the time growing up. We were a pop household and I’m pretty sure early Chicago was the “most rock and roll” my parents record collection got at the time. It was tough to look at many of these songs with a critical eye, but here’s the best go that I could give. Without further ado, I give you the ten worst hit songs of 1984.
10. Lionel Richie – “All Night Long (All Night)” – Year-End: #12, Peak: #1
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The first single from Can’t Slow Down, this “party” track was released in October 1983, but peaked on the charts later that winter and hung around until the spring of ’84. Centered around a light yet infection rhythm and a breakdown full of nonsense lyrics that were intended to be another language (Richie admitted he didn’t have time to hire a translator like he wanted), it’s been hailed as a fun party song. I was confused that this mid-tempo meh track passed for a party anthem in the early 80’s, but then I remembered cocaine and it all made sense. There just doesn’t seem to be enough of all of the traits that this song is hailed for to justify it’s position in the 80’s music pantheon.