Category Archives: Music

The Best Albums of 1987


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What if I told you the two biggest hit songs of 1987 were by Gregory Abbot and Billy Vera & the Beaters?

Well they were. The songs in question are “Shake You Down” and “At This Moment,” two tunes I haven’t given a second thought to in the intervening thirty years. If you had asked me to name the top hits of the year without doing any research I never would have thought of these two. Go a little further down the list and you’ll start to find artists you may associate more with the era, like Madonna, Michael Jackson, U2, George Michael, Whitney Houston, and Bon Jovi. If you know me well, you probably know that not many of those folks are likely to make my list of the best albums of the year from thirty years ago. If you don’t know me well, check out last year’s article about the Best Albums of 1986 and the previous year’s highlight of the top long-form recordings of 1985. That should drive the point home. Since I turned 17 in 1987, I not only developed some intense attachment to the popular art forms of the time, but I also learned a bit of distaste for the stuff that I found less appealing. I’m sure most people who take art seriously go through this at some point in time and over the next few years it would develop for me pretty significantly.

Despite this, you should find some of my choices for the best of 1987 to be accessible enough.

Take a deep breath and dive in!
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Daffy Does Disney – Singing Around the World!


A quick word of warning…The Singing Around the World project is irretrievably silly and sophomoric ….and incomplete. Let it be known that I have no problem embarrassing my self and others and that I had planned to do even more of it! So now that you’ve been warned, let’s dig in!

I told you, didn’t I? Horrifyingly enough, the project was originally conceived as including pretty much every attraction that features a song prominently. In fact, if you know your Walt Disney World jingle history you know that at least one of the songs we sang here is no longer a part of its attraction. Why didn’t we follow through all the way? My travel companions were enthusiastic about the idea, but it really came down to a matter of having enough time. Getting the three targeted shoots done in Hollywood Studios wasn’t hard at all, and we got off to a strong start at Epcot the next day, but as I started to focus on my “Snacking Around the World” videos and the park started to fill up and stuffing our faces became a priority, I went ahead and let a few of the songs slide. Strong light for shooting video was also a concern as night fell and that really cut into the available time for shooting songs the next day in the Magic Kingdom, where we only had from 4pm until whenever it got dark. We just didn’t have enough hours to complete the project fully. With a planned dinner at Be Our Guest and multiple parades/fireworks/shows a priority for the evening I decided to just be happy with what I had…but not before pushing for one last shoot over in Tomorrowland. If you’ve already seen the above video then you know what I’m talking about.

Hopefully everyone watching the video will take it in the good humor it was intended and won’t expect too much from my performance or production values. If anybody feels cheated by the exclusion of “Grim Grinning Ghosts” or “It’s a Small World” or some other classic we didn’t manage to follow through on, well I challenge you to complete the whole project where I failed. I believe in you!

LeBlog’s Cheesetastic Classics: Rick Astley vs Starship


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Welcome to the next matchup in our continuing search for the most satisfyingly cheesy pop songs of all time! A LeBlog Cheestastic Classic should be both undeniably corny or over-the-top while also possessing some quality that makes some of us grin and pump our fists in gleeful irony. Some people might also use the term “guilty pleasure.” But I’m not going to. For our purposes here, these are “LeBlog’s Cheesetastic Classics.” The skill and talent involved in producing some of these songs may, in fact, be quite impressive and at their core these songs might actually be rather superior to some which are considered cool. But somewhere along the way the songwriter or performer took that wrong turn at Albuquerque and landed themselves in the land of cheese.

Okay people, here it is. The ultimate matchup of cheesy ’80s pop songs that have become more and more notorious as the years have worn on. If you had asked members of the graduating class of 1988 about these two songs you probably would have gotten one of a couple of responses. One would be some version of “Ugh. Those mass-produced pieces of fluff? Who cares about them. I’m trying to forget them.” The other would go something like “Oh, those are fun songs! Have you heard ‘Together Forever’ yet?” Both of these responses might have suggested that “We Built This City” and “Never Gonna Give You Up” would have relatively short lives in the collective pop culture consciousness…but that’s not what happened.
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LeBlog’s Cheesetastic Classics: Barbra Streisand vs. Charlene


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Welcome to the next matchup in our continuing search for the most satisfyingly cheesy pop songs of all time! A LeBlog Cheestastic Classic should be both undeniably corny or over-the-top while also possessing some quality that makes some of us grin and pump our fists in gleeful irony. Some people might also use the term “guilty pleasure.” But I’m not going to. For our purposes here, these are “LeBlog’s Cheesetastic Classics.” The skill and talent involved in producing some of these songs may, in fact, be quite impressive and at their core these songs might actually be rather superior to some which are considered cool. But somewhere along the way the songwriter or performer took that wrong turn at Albuquerque and landed themselves in the land of cheese.

This is a touchy one, isn’t it? I’ve paired these two songs quite purposefully because I want to throw myself down this particular chasm and try to walk away without having to face one of them another week. Yes, both songs have thematics based on female sensuality, but I’ll argue that while that does have a hand in making them both cheesy, it’s not judgmental to label them so. After all, it’s the execution here that helps to lay on the gouda heavy and well, if you’re talking judgmental…just get a load of one of our nominees.
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LeBlog’s Cheesetastic Classics: Supertramp vs Smash Mouth


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Welcome to the next matchup in our continuing search for the most satisfyingly cheesy pop songs of all time! A LeBlog Cheestastic Classic should be both undeniably corny or over-the-top while also possessing some quality that makes some of us grin and pump our fists in gleeful irony. Some people might also use the term “guilty pleasure.” But I’m not going to. For our purposes here, these are “LeBlog’s Cheesetastic Classics.” The skill and talent involved in producing some of these songs may, in fact, be quite impressive and at their core these songs might actually be rather superior to some which are considered cool. But somewhere along the way the songwriter or performer took that wrong turn at Albuquerque and landed themselves in the land of cheese.

Today we’ve got another inter-decade matchup with a high concept, high-production rock band taking on a group that quickly revealed themselves to be a serial novelty act. The question in both cases will likely be whether the tongue they may or may not have planted in their cheeks gets them off the hook for inclusion alongside people like Melissa Manchester, Meatloaf, and Dan Hill. Join us after the break and let’s talk!
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LeBlog’s Cheesetastic Classics: Eric Carmen vs the Proclaimers


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Welcome to the next matchup in our continuing search for the most satisfyingly cheesy pop songs of all time! A LeBlog Cheestastic Classic should be both undeniably corny or over-the-top while also possessing some quality that makes some of us grin and pump our fists in gleeful irony. Some people might also use the term “guilty pleasure.” But I’m not going to. For our purposes here, these are “LeBlog’s Cheesetastic Classics.” The skill and talent involved in producing some of these songs may, in fact, be quite impressive and at their core these songs might actually be rather superior to some which are considered cool. But somewhere along the way the songwriter or performer took that wrong turn at Albuquerque and landed themselves in the land of cheese.

Depending on who you talk to, we might be dealing with a couple of Cheesetastic goliaths today. One is from the heart of the cheese era of the mid 1970s while the other didn’t appear until that golden age had mostly run its course in the late 1980s. Both have had lives in the popular consciousness far beyond the time of their initial release. But are they Cheesetastic Classics? Come join the conversation and vote your conscience!
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LeBlog’s Cheesetastic Classics: Harry Nilsson vs Elvis Presley


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Welcome to the next matchup in our continuing search for the most satisfyingly cheesy pop songs of all time! A LeBlog Cheestastic Classic should be both undeniably corny or over-the-top while also possessing some quality that makes some of us grin and pump our fists in gleeful irony. Some people might also use the term “guilty pleasure.” But I’m not going to. For our purposes here, these are “LeBlog’s Cheesetastic Classics.” The skill and talent involved in producing some of these songs may, in fact, be quite impressive and at their core these songs might actually be rather superior to some which are considered cool. But somewhere along the way the songwriter or performer took that wrong turn at Albuquerque and landed themselves in the land of cheese.

Today’s competitors were released just two years apart from one another, but also more than forty years ago so most of us probably don’t remember when they were current. To be honest, I find it a little bit alarming that these “oldies” were less than a decade old when I started hearing them on my little clock radio in the fourth grade. Time sure does speed up as it goes along. Another thing that both of these artists have in common is that they passed away well before their time. Let’s talk about both of these songs so we can decide if they belong on our list of wonderfully corny recordings!
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LeBlog’s Cheesetastic Classics: Corey Hart vs. Richard Harris


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Welcome to the next matchup in our continuing search for the most satisfyingly cheesy pop songs of all time! A LeBlog Cheestastic Classic should be both undeniably corny or over-the-top while also possessing some quality that makes some of us grin and pump our fists in gleeful irony. Some people might also use the term “guilty pleasure.” But I’m not going to. For our purposes here, these are “LeBlog’s Cheesetastic Classics.” The skill and talent involved in producing some of these songs may, in fact, be quite impressive and at their core these songs might actually be rather superior to some which are considered cool. But somewhere along the way the songwriter or performer took that wrong turn at Albuquerque and landed themselves in the land of cheese.

Today we’re looking at two of the most notoriously cheesy pop songs of all time; one from the 1960s and another from the 1980s. It can be argued that neither song could have been conceived, financed, and become popular in anything but their own decade. Let’s have a chat and decide whether these recordings fit our understandings of Cheesetastic.
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LeBlog’s Cheesetastic Classics: Melissa Manchester vs. Meatloaf


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Welcome to the next matchup in our continuing search for the most satisfyingly cheesy pop songs of all time! A LeBlog Cheestastic Classic should be both undeniably corny or over-the-top while also possessing some quality that makes some of us grin and pump our fists in gleeful irony. Some people might also use the term “guilty pleasure.” But I’m not going to. For our purposes here, these are “LeBlog’s Cheesetastic Classics.” The skill and talent involved in producing some of these songs may, in fact, be quite impressive and at their core these songs might actually be rather superior to some which are considered cool. But somewhere along the way the songwriter or performer took that wrong turn at Albuquerque and landed themselves in the land of cheese.

Today’s pairing features an over-the-top ballad from the 1970s and a comeback hit by a fellow ’70s artist who specialized in dramatic pop. Come help us decide which of these songs belongs on our list!
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LeBlog’s Cheesetastic Classics: Rebecca Black vs. Foreigner


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When I introduced LeBlog’s Cheesetastic Classics by pairing it with one of my “Nope, Not a 1-Hit Wonder” articles I included a poll at the end of the piece asking you readers whether you thought its subject, Dan Hill’s “Sometimes When We Touch,” deserved the Cheesetastic Classic label. The result was historic for LeBlog, in that every single vote was cast with the same response. Hill’s touchy-feely ballad was declared awesomely cheesy by 100% of the participating readers. No previous poll here at LeBlog shares this distinction. This got me to thinking. Did the simple yes/no nature of the poll lead to this unanimity? Would future Cheesetastic Classics tend to be identified with such certainty? My solution to this quandary is to present candidates for LeBlog’s Cheesetastic Classics in competing pairs, giving readers the chance to vote for the most recent entry. Let’s see how that works!

As you know if you read the Dan Hill article, a Cheesetastic Classic for our purposes here is defined as a song, most likely of some renown at the time of its release, which is both painfully trite or corny and undeniably wonderful. Ideally, these two qualities should collide head-on in your brain while you’re listening. Since we’re still so early in this activity, I can only guide you by sharing this vaguely specific definition and saying that “Sometimes When We Touch” is the inaugural inductee onto our list of cheese. Let’s move forward with those instructions and see how today’s entry turns out.
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Nope, Not a 1-hit Wonder/LeBlog’s Cheesetastic Classics: Dan Hill


You might have noticed that the “Nope, Not a 1-hit Wonder” parade has slowed down a little since its introductory burst onto the LeBlog scene a couple of years ago. Between Jeff the Wildman and I, we’ve covered more than twenty artists who common perception might have, through forgetfulness or some other whim of fate, inaccurately labeled as one with just a single claim to fame. While I’m hoping we’ll continue to cover these artists as the fancy strikes us, I also want to start up a new series that might help to soften the landing as Lebeau’s long-running analysis of the Golden Raspberries catches up with the current day in just a couple of weeks.

The schadenfreude associated with watching someone aim high (or very low) and somehow end up the target of derision is both personally shameful and undeniably delicious. What I’m hoping to do is to take that same experience, as is often delivered by Razzie winning movies, and apply it to popular music forms. This will manifest itself as “LeBlog’s Cheestastic Classics,” which will attempt to aim somewhere near that delectable spot that a movie like Mommie Dearest inhabits. A LeBlog Cheestastic Classic should be both undeniably corny or over-the-top while also possessing some quality that makes some of us grin and pump our fists in gleeful irony. Some people might also use the term “guilty pleasure.” But I’m not going to. For our purposes here, these are “LeBlog’s Cheesetastic Classics.”

The skill and talent involved in producing some of these songs may, in fact, be quite impressive and at their core these songs might actually be rather superior to some which are considered cool. But somewhere along the way the songwriter or performer took that wrong turn at Albuquerque and landed themselves in the land of cheese. This is almost certainly the case with our first case study, an artist who manages to fulfill the requirements to take a place in both the “Nope, Not a 1-hit Wonder” and “LeBlog’s Cheestastic Classics” canons, thereby becoming the ideal introduction to the new series through connection to the prior one. Here comes Dan Hill.
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Nope, Not A 1-Hit Wonder: The Motels


The early 80s were kind of a weird time for pop music. On one hand, you had a ton of post-disco stuff and much AOR (album-oriented rock) like REO Speedwagon and Foreigner. Yet there was also the beginnings of rap and the resurgence of R&B.  And of course post-punk and new wave.

It was the new wave scene that gave birth to the band focused on here: The Motels. Yeah, they were the group led by the talented Martha Davis who scored a big hit in 1982 with “Only The Lonely” only to have no more hits.  Right?

Not quite.

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This Year’s Best Original Song Nominees


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Starting in 1934, the Academy Awards began nominating and awarding songs that were written specifically for a movie released in the year being honored. Due to a series of ever-changing and unwieldy rules directing how songs have been able to receive a nomination for this category, the number of nominees has varied wildly over the years. For example, there were fourteen nominated songs for 1945 when the Rodgers and Hammerstein song “It Might as Well be Spring” won, but only two for 2011 when “Man or Muppet” took home the prize. Voting patterns have changed over the years, too. For a while, the Oscar-winning song was almost always a well-known top40 hit. During my high school years this meant little golden men for pop recordings like “Flashdance…What a Feeling,” “I Just Called to Say I Love You,” and “Take My Breath Away.” The category was just another opportunity for all-important cross-promotion.

In recent years, however, the Academy voters seem to have made an effort to introduce some previously obscure music through their nominated songs. I’m of two minds about this. While I love the idea of trying to find the best songs available and absolutely believe that those songs might very well be relatively obscure, I’m also not sure if that necessarily does the job of representing the year in film long into the future. Absolute classics like “Over the Rainbow,” “When You Wish Upon a Star,” “White Christmas,” “Mona Lisa,” “Moon River,”  and “A Whole New World” best represent the ideal Oscar-winning song in that they are not just great, but also beloved. Can you remember the melody and lyrics to recent winners like “Things Have Changed,” “We Belong Together,” or “Al Otro lad del Rio?”

Will this year’s winner be memorable? My first instinct is to say “no way.” Have a look and listen after the break and see what you think.
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