USA for Africa – “We are the World” – (1985)

Charity singles. The U.K. goes crazy for them and has them all the time. It doesn’t work so well here in the U.S. Perhaps it’s because this track. I’m not sure. It’s definitely cheesy and a part of 1980s culture. This was a group of singers who came together to perform a song written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie and sell it to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia. The whole thing was inspired by Band Aid (from the U.K.). It ended up raising $100 million and selling over 20 million copies (impressive). Annoyingly, USA for Africa stands for “United Support of Artists for Africa” and that’s because a few of the artists weren’t American. Here’s everyone other than Jackson and Richie who were involved: Dan Aykroyd, Harry Belafonte, Lindsey Buckingham, Kim Carnes, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Sheila E., Bob Geldof (who was responsible for Band Aid), both Hall and Oates, James Ingram, Jackie Jackson, La Toya Jackson, Marlon Jackson, Randy Jackson (the one from the Jackson 5… not the one from American Idol), Tito Jackson, Al Jarreau, Waylon Jennings, Billy Joel, Cyndi Lauper, Huey Lewis and the News (the whole band), Kenny Loggins, Bette Midler, Willie Nelson, Jeffrey Osborne, Steve Perry, all three Pointer Sisters, Smokey Robinson, Kenny Rogers, Diana Ross, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner, Dionne Warwick, and Stevie Wonder. Yeah, pretty impressive. Look at how many of those people are respectable and/or legendary (many of them) and think about how that would play out today. Do we really need Bieber and Kesha and company coming together for charity? That’s the exact reason charity singles don’t work in the U.S. anymore. The current crop of North American are trash. Also: not how hilariously out of place Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan sound here.

Bruce Willis – “Respect Yourself” – (1987)

It would be pretty easy to make a joke about Bruce Willis needing to respect himself by not releasing albums full of songs sung by him, but the fact is this song isn’t that terribly bad. It was a top 5 hit in the U.S. The song is pretty catchy and the music is, um, very appropriate for the year in which it was released. It sounds like something that should have appeared on the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack (it didn’t) – but that might have to do with one of the Pointer Sisters being featured in the song. I do like the song, but I’m glad Bruce spends most of his time acting these days.

#78 – The Pointer Sisters – “Neutron Dance” – (1983)

The Pointer Sisters were three sisters from Oakland whose best and biggest hits (there were multiple) were the kind of upbeat dance track characterized by the “Neutron Dance.” This particular song stands out for one big reason: its inclusion on the soundtrack of one of the very best movies of the decade, Beverly Hills Cop. In fact, it is the opening song to the movie, where Axel is in the back of a stolen truck of cigarettes being chased through Detroit. And this song playing in the background makes for the perfect match and preview of what to expect from the rest of the movie.