Gee whiz that’s a great melody. And I guess it should be since it was kind of lifted from a piano sonata by Schubert. There are other versions I like better, but we’ll get to at least one of those below. Yes, Doris Day is undeniably square by today’s standards, but she also had one of the clearest, cleanest singing voices you’ll ever hear in the style. That probably contributed to her squeaky clean image which fell out of fashion in the late 1960s. The reputation is not entirely undeserved, as the tone of her films failed to change with the times and she refused the role of Mrs Robinson in The Graduate, saying in her memoirs that she had done so on moral grounds. People began calling Day “the world’s oldest virgin” and her once boffo film career cooled relatively quickly. It has been generally forgotten what a big star she actually was.
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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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Hip-hop artist Nicki Minaj turns 34 today. In a musical genre that tends to be male-dominated, Minaj has been one of the most successful women. Born in Trinidad, she moved to the US at a young age, and after graduating from high school, she began working as a musician. Truly a 21st Century musician, she was initially “discovered” through recordings she posted to her Myspace page. She then released a series of mixtapes that earned increasing attention, and by the end of the 2000s she had a recording contract, releasing several singles and her first album in 2010.