November 2013

John Mayer – “Neon” – (2001)

Room for Squares is a great album. Just about every song is a winner and this is one of the best. This was the early, more pop-focused John Mayer so it’s upbeat yet soft. This was never a single, but knowing how well the singles did from his first album, I have little doubt this would’ve been a solid adult contemporary hit back about 2002. This is one of my favorite songs of his.

AC/DC – “Ballbreaker” – (1995)

“Ballbreaker” was the title (and final) track on AC/DC’s 1995 album. This is the only song I’ve ever heard from this album, and it was never a single (the album had three singles and only one of them charted). In any case, this is not AC/DC’s best work – but the album is still certified 2x platinum (that’s over two million sales) by the RIAA. Which is crazy. AC/DC is one of the biggest selling musical acts in history and it’s no wonder – whatever they put out people buy.

Phil Collins – “Take Me Home” – (1985)

Phil Collins had a lot of hits in the 80s and No Jacket Required was responsible for a good number of them. I like this song because it has that good mid-80s sound with a drum machine and electric keyboard. It was a top 10 hit on the Hot 100. This song also takes over two and a half minutes to reach the chorus… which seems like a really long time. And the music video must’ve taken forever too because it seems to have been shot in quite a few major world cities. Fun fact: apparently Sting and Peter Gabriel both provided backing vocals for this track.

Rob Zombie – “Feel So Numb” – (2001)

I used to be a big Rob Zombie fan. Can’t quite explain why now. I couldn’t even tell you when the last album was that he released. For all I know, this was it (just checked, it isn’t). This album only had one official single, yet I seem to have half the album. This was a “promotional single” that I definitely recall hearing on rock radio a little over 10 years ago. I think the reason I like his music is that, for being hard rock, most songs seem to usually have a cool groove to them. Yeah, his lyrical delivery is more akin to yelling than singing, but the songs all feature some cool element in them.

Tonic – “Open Up Your Eyes” – (1996)

“Open Up Your Eyes” was the first track on Tonic’s 1996 album Lemon Parade. It was also the first single and by no means the biggest. But I do remember hearing it on the radio back in the day (although, not nearly as much as “If You Could Only See”). This song is highly underrated today as an example of mid-90s post-grunge alternative rock. If you’re a fan of that era and kind of music (as I am), this is a must-have.

Elton John – “I Don’t Wanna Go On With You Like That” – (1988)

Elton John’s 1980s music isn’t his best. I mean, it’s not bad. But what he was doing in the 1970s was brilliant and then he had this wonderful resurgence in the 1990s. Songs like that are often forgotten, even though this one peaked at #2 on the Hot 100. This was the biggest hit from 1988’s Reg Strikes Back. Just another Elton John tune.

Michael Buble – “Lost” – (2007)

Michael Buble does a lot of vocal standards. That’s most of his repertoire, but occasionally he puts out a pop song (to try and gain airplay and sell records) that is original to the album it appears on. This song was actually co-written by Buble himself and it’s not a happy one. It was an adult contemporary hit, reaching #2 on that specific chart, though it could only manage #97 on the Hot 100.

2 Unlimited – “No Limit” – (1993)

Like 90s techno-errrr… eurodance? Eurodance was a nice way of saying “techno” back in the 1990s. They were songs by European artists that had pumping, electronic beats. 2 Unlimited was from the Netherlands and this definitely has a pumping, electronic beat. I’ve always wondered where this music was playing in the U.S… presumably at rave-y clubs that you’d see on a show like Nash Bridges. Crazily enough, this was Europe’s biggest-selling song in 1993, hitting #1 in nearly every European country. Watch the video… if you thought the 90s were weird in the U.S. – Europe had it pretty bad.

Billy Joel – “Pressure” – (1982)

Billy Joel was one of the kings of the 1980s. He released so many good songs. This happens to be a rather popular one. It was a top 20 hit on the Hot 100 and – coming out in the early-80s, used a synthesizer (which is weird as he is the Piano Man). This may not have been his biggest album ever, but it did produce a few memorable songs, this among them.

Lenny Kravitz – “Where Are We Runnin’?” – (2004)

This song was Lenny Kravitz’s first hit in five years. It only reached #69 on the Hot 100, but at least it charted. It’s an upbeat rock song and I feel like it had to have appeared on a commercial for something, but maybe I just remember hearing it on the radio – primarily rock radio. It’s classic Kravitz and he really hasn’t had this big of a hit since. But he’s a great musician and you should never count him out.

Britney Spears – “From the Bottom of My Broken Heart” – (1999)

Ah Britney in the good ol’ innocent days. This was the last single from Britney’s debut album in 1999 and it peaked at #14 on the Hot 100. It had some TRL airplay but nothing compared to the three singles that preceded it nor the one that would follow it – which just shows that the TRL audience didn’t care for the emotional ballad-type songs put out by artists who were supposed to make us happy.

.38 Special – “Caught Up In You” – (1982)

Apologies to mega-fans, but there are only two .38 Special songs that really stand apart (at least to me). This is one of them and the newer of the two. I always kind of assumed .38 Special was a poor-man’s Lynyrd Skynrd, but I guess that’s not really true as this band was all-80s, whereas Skynyrd was mostly the 1970s. There is a piece of this song – or, more correctly, a piece of the bassline at one specific part of the song that sounds identical to the Police’s “Roxanne.” Listen for it around the 2:13 mark in the song. Also, this song peaked at #10 on the Hot 100 and topped the Mainstream Rock chart.

Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine – “1,2,3” – (1987)

Okay, 1, 2 or 3 – which do you think this song peaked at on the Hot 100? Answer: 3. This is one of the more upbeat singles that Gloria Estefan ever had. It’s pure 80s with that slight Latin vibe that made her so successful and interesting. This song came from the last official Miami Sound Machine album, as the band more or less imploded (an always-changing version of the band still backs her today, but they are no longer billed separately). This is one of my favorite Estefan tunes.