Today we are going for a fun song for the Song of the Day – “Neutron Dance” by The Pointer Sisters. The song was written by Allee Willis and Danny Sembello. Allee Willis also wrote Earth, Wind & Fire’s hits “September” and “Boogie Wonderland“. Danny Sembello was the younger brother of Michael Sembello.
This song featuring Ruth Pointer on lead vocal was introduced on the Pointer Sisters’ October 1983 album release Break Out. There had already been four singles released from that album. But “Neutron Dance” was issued as a single in November 1984 thanks to its addition to the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack.
In March 1985 “Neutron Dance” became the fourth Top Ten single issued from the Break Out album rising as high as #6. It would be their last Top 10 hit. “Dare Me“, from their follow-up album Contact, peaked at #11.
In honor of Eric Clapton’s 77th birthday, today’s Song of the Day is his 1986 hit, “It’s in the Way That You Use It”. This song was the first track on the album August, which was named after the month Clapton’s son Conor was born. It was also was written for the movie The Color Of Money, directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Paul Newman and Tom Cruise as pool sharks. It appeared on the soundtrack before Clapton’s album was released. Clapton wrote this with Robbie Robertson, who’s work with The Band in the ’60s encouraged Clapton to get away from the long, heavy solos he was playing with Cream. Robertson was in charge of the music for The Color Of Money, but because he was not finished with his first solo album, his record company would not let him sing on any of the songs. He got around it by contributing instrumental songs to the soundtrack.
Surprisingly, this song did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. However, it reached #2 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart in 1986 and eventually positioned itself at the top of the charts one year after.
Today’s Song of the Day, “Love Is” by Alannah Myles, was the first single off of her self-titled debut album in Canada, and was the second single released after “Black Velvet” in the rest of the world. In 1990, the song was nominated for the Juno Award for Single of the Year, losing to the Canadian singer/songwriter’s own “Black Velvet”. “Black Velvet” had also won the 1991 Grammy for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance.
“Love Is” was released as a single in April 1989 in Canada, the song peaked at #16, in June of that year. In the U.S., it peaked at #36 on the Billboard Hot 100.
While Myles only charted with “Black Velvet” and “Love Is” in the U.S., she had several Top 40 hits throughout the ’90s in Canada, and even topped the charts with “Song Instead of a Kiss” from her 1992 album Rockinghorse.
In honor of Elton John’s 75th birthday, today’s song of the day is his 1989 hit, “Healing Hands”. This was the lead single from his Sleeping With the Past, with the follow-ups being “Sacrifice” and “Club at the End of the Street“. In the U.S., the song peaked at #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and reached #1 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. In the U.K., the song didn’t even reach the Top 40. However, after Steve Wright of BBC Radio One added “Sacrifice” to his station’s playlist, “Sacrifice” was re-released in the UK as a double A-side with “Healing Hands”. The double A-side record topped the UK Singles Chart for five weeks starting 23 June 1990, becoming the first solo No. 1 hit of Elton John’s career in his native country.
“You Might Think” by The Cars is the first single released off of their fifth studio album, Heartbeat City (1984). It by was written by the late Ric Ocasek (March 23, 1944 – September 15, 2019) and produced by Mutt Lange and the Cars, with Ocasek also providing the lead vocals. The song peaked at number seven in the United States and number eight in Canada.
The song is best known for its groundbreaking video. The music video is one of the first to use computer graphics. The video features Ocasek and model Susan Gallagher in a series of quirky encounters. “You Might Think” won the first MTV Video Music Award for Video of the Year and was nominated for five more awards (Best Special Effects, Best Art Direction, Viewer’s Choice, Best Concept Video and Most Experimental Video) at the 1984 MTV Video Music Awards. The video also won five awards (Best Video, Best Conceptual, Most Innovative, Best Editing and Best Special Effects) at Billboard’s 1984 Video Music Awards and four awards (Best Achievement In Music Video, Best Editing In Music Video, Best Engineering In Music Video and Best Camerawork In Music Video) at the Videotape Production Association’s 1985 Monitor Awards.
On this day in 1986, “These Dreams” by Heart hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 becoming the band’s first song to top the charts. Singer-songwriter Martin Page, who co-wrote other successful songs including “We Built This City” and “King of Wishful Thinking“, and Bernie Taupin, longtime collaborator of Elton John, wrote this song. It was originally offered to Stevie Nicks, but she was not interested in it. Heart had just recently signed with Capitol Records, and while the band had previously recorded their own material, they were impressed by “These Dreams” and agreed to use the song on their upcoming self-titled album.
Nancy Wilson sang lead on this track. Her sister Ann typically handled lead vocals, but when they heard the demo the group thought it suited Nancy’s voice. Nancy had a nasty cold when she first recorded her vocals, but their producer Ron Nevison liked some of the raspiness. When Nancy was feeling better, they recorded more takes in her healthy voice, with Nancy doing her best to re-create the raspy parts Nevison liked.
On the album, this song was dedicated to Sharon Hess, a good friend of Nancy Wilson’s who died of Leukemia. Sharon’s sister, Shannon Hess-Terlop, told Songfacts the story:
“Sharon was a fan who had a custom, handmade blue acoustic guitar made for Nancy. It was her dying wish to meet Nancy and give it to her. She did get her wish, and was able to spend several days in the recording studio with the band while they were working on this album. She died four weeks later, on Nancy’s birthday.
The reason for choosing that particular song for the dedication was simply because it was the only song on the album where Nancy sang lead vocals.
Today’s Song of the Day, “Fight the Power” by Public Enemy, was the theme song for the 1989 film, Do the Right Thing which is directed by Spike Lee, who turned 65 yesterday. The song reached number one on Hot Rap Singles and number 20 on the Hot R&B Singles. It was named the best single of 1989 by The Village Voice in their Pazz & Jop critics’ poll. It has become Public Enemy’s best-known song and has received accolades as one of the greatest songs of all time by critics and publications.
The song’s music video was filmed in Brooklyn on April 22, 1989, and presented Public Enemy in part political rally, part live performance. Public Enemy biographer Russell Myrie wrote that the video “accurately [brought] to life … the emotion and anger of a political rally”.
Spike Lee produced and directed two music videos for this song. The first featured clips of various scenes from Do the Right Thing. In the second video, Lee opened the video with film from the 1963 March on Washington and transitioned to a staged, massive political rally in Brooklyn called the “Young People’s March to End Racial Violence”.
The song first appeared on the movie soundtrack, released in June 1989 a month before the movie hit theaters. It plays in the opening scene where Rosie Perez dances to it, and is used as the motif, playing from Radio Raheem’s boombox (adorned with a Public Enemy sticker) throughout the film until a climactic scene where Sal smashes it with a baseball bat.
Today’s Song of the Day is my favorite song by Irene Cara, who was born on this day in 1959, “The Dream (Hold On to the Dream)”. Irene Cara is a singer, songwriter, dancer, and actress. Most people know her from the song “Flashdance… What a Feeling” (which she wrote and is from the film Flashdance), for which she won an Academy Award for Best Original Song. She is also known for playing the role of Coco Hernandez in the 1980 film Fame, and for recording the film’s title song “Fame“.
This song was written by Irene, along with Giorgio Moroder, Pete Bellotte, for the film D.C. Cab. The movie starred Mr. T, Max Gail (Barney Miller), Adam Baldwin (My Bodyguard), Charlie Barnett, Gary Busey, Marsha Warfield, and Bill Mahr, and Paul Rodriguez.
“The Dream” reached number 37 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1984. The music video was broadcast on MTV and interspersed clips from the film with scenes of Cara performing the song in various London locales.
In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, today’s song of the day is not a U2 song, but it is “Orinoco Flow” by the Irish singer, Enya, who also happened to be born on this day in 1961. This song was released on October 3, 1988 off of Enya’s second album, Watermark. It became a hit all over the world reaching number one in several countries, including Belgium, Ireland, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, where it stayed at the top of the UK Singles Chart for three weeks. In the U.S., the song peaked at number 24 on the Billboard Hot 100 in April 1989.
This song was totally different from anything else that was on U.S. radio at the time. Thanks to this song, Enya is considered “Queen of New Age”. Enya is the best-selling Irish solo artist in history, and second-best-selling overall behind U2.
Today’s Song of the Day is a deep track duet by James “J.T.” Taylor and Regina Belle that is underappreciated. James “J.T.” Taylor had been the lead singer of Kool & the Gang. This song is off of his debut solo album, Master of the Game, which was released in 1989. It also appeared on the soundtrack for the movie Tap, which starred Gregory Hines and Sammy Davis Jr. (in his last film role).
Taylor joined Kool & The Gang in 1979, and remained with the group for 11 years. His tenure as lead singer was the most successful era in the band’s history, with the albums Ladies’ Night (1979), Celebrate! (1980), and Emergency (1984), and hit singles including “Ladies’ Night“, the US No. 1 “Celebration“, “Get Down on It“, “Joanna“, “Misled“, and “Cherish“.
Taylor left the group in 1989 to begin a solo career, but has reunited with the band a few times in concerts, and recorded one last album with them in 1996. He has released four solo albums to date.
Regina Belle had a couple of solo single hits with “Baby Come to Me” (1989) and “Make It Like It Was” (1990). But, she his probably best well known for two hit duets, both with Peabo Bryson: “Without You“, the love theme from the comedy film Leonard Part 6, recorded in 1987 and “A Whole New World“, the main theme of the Disney’s animated feature film Aladdin, recorded in 1992, with which Belle and Bryson won the Grammy award. The theme song “Far Longer than Forever” from the animated movie The Swan Princess, performed with Jeffrey Osborne, was nominated for a Golden Globe in 1995 for Best Original Song.
This is a great duet, written by the legendary Diane Warren, that needs more attention. Each of these singers sound incredible on their own. But, together they are magic. There were a lot of incredible duets throughout the ’80s, and this fits in well.