Todd in the Shadows: [on the #9 entry: "Shake You Down"] Gregory Abbott mania was in full effect. You couldn't walk down the street without seeing dozens of Gregory Abbott t-shirts and backpacks. Little girls ran screaming at Gregory Abbott every time he stepped out in public... I assume, at least. I mean, I wasn't really paying attention at the time; most of the songs I knew came from "Sesame Street". I just kinda figured that's how it was because Gregory Abbott is right at #3 on the list. #3 - higher than Michael, higher than Madonna, higher than Prince and Bon Jovi, U2, Whitney, Janet, George Michael, higher than all of them. And that's astonishing to me because I'd never heard of this song. Have you? I mean, I guess you might have if you were there. But I sat through quite a few VH1 80s marathons, and this song has had virtually no staying power. But still, it's not hard to see how this got so popular. Abbott had the smoldering good looks of C. Thomas Howell in "Soul Man", and he had a singing voice so good, he might be able to place ninth on a bad season of "American Idol".
Todd in the Shadows: [on the #9 entry: "Shake You Down"] This is what happens when you let quiet storm ballads be written by people who probably spent the entire 80s wearing Cosby sweaters. Seriously, "shake you down"? I get "love you down", "lay you down", "rub you down", maybe. But "shake you down"? I might not have known what Usher meant when he said "break you down", but I do know what shaking someone down means. A shakedown is an extortion. Gregory Abbott is threatening to mug you. Isn't that right, Bob Seger?
[Clip of Bob Seger's "Shakedown"]
Todd in the Shadows: Yeah, Seger knows what he's talking about. By the way,
[checks the Billboard Top 100]
Todd in the Shadows: "Shakedown" by Bob Seger - another hit from 1987 this was bigger than.
Todd in the Shadows: Chicago are the Nickelback of the 80s. It wasn't just that they were bad, it was also that maintained such an unblemished and consistent track record of being completely awful yet inexplicably successful from the very beginning of the decade to the very end. This was off their eighteenth album. Other bands might've had smellier shit, but no one had more of it.
Todd in the Shadows: So, how do you take a band like this...
[Clip of Jefferson Airplane's "Somebody to Love"]
Todd in the Shadows: ... and then eventually led them to make this?
[Clip of Starship's "We Built This City"]
Todd in the Shadows: I don't have any answers for this one either. "We Built This City" is the song everyone thinks of when they pick on Starship. But their big hit in '87 was "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" off the "Mannequin" soundtrack, if you can believe that, and that song is really, honestly, and truly one of my favorite songs of the decade. No, I'm not kidding. Let's see what else we got on this list. We got..."Mandolin Rain", that's a good song; "Always" by Atlantic Starr, also good; "Didn't We Almost Have It All" by Whitney Houston, all good songs. So I've made my point, right? It's not like I hate everything out of the soft-rock genre. I do like some of it; it's just... I have a line. So going back to the original question: who turned this into this?
[Clips of Chicago's "25 or 6 to 4" and "You're the Inspiration"]
Todd in the Shadows: This guy! Peter Cetera is one of the true real-life villains of the 80s, right up there with Ayatollah Khomeini, Pablo Escobar, the guy who shot the Pope. Peter Cetera is a war criminal, Peter Cetera made the stock market crash, Peter Cetera killed my dog, and apparently Peter Cetera was also worried that he might not be able to suck as hard without Chicago, so he actually recruited a contemporary Christian singer to duet with him - a move so evil, I cannot believe James Bond never showed up to assassinate him.
Todd in the Shadows: [on the #1 entry, "Songbird"] I refuse to believe that the general public of 1987 put actual literal elevator music on the hit parade. No, no, no, no, no. 1987, you have gone too far!
Todd in the Shadows: 1987 - what the fuck is going on? Well, I'll tell you, not a whole lot. This was not a good year for the pop charts if this list is any indication. Sure, there were a few classic 80's hits in there, but for the most part, this list is just crap. Anyone who thinks the 80s is nothing but DayGlo fashions and new wave hairdos, all I can tell you is expect a lot less Flock of Seagulls and a lot more Richard Marx. It was hard for me to find ten songs distinct enough to be even worth hating. Whatever shock and energy that'd been provided by MTV at the beginning of the decade, is at this point beginning to devolve into a big goopy mess of synth cheese. And that's a trend that's going to continue as we move into the utter horror that is the early 90s. How bad is this list? Here's all you need to know - the Cutting Crew have two songs in the Top 100. And meanwhile I wasn't expecting to see any like Sonic Youth or anything, but I don't think it's that far out of line for me to ask to see a little something from contemporaneous bands like R.E.M., the Cure, New Order, or freaking Aerosmith. Seriously, Sting is too left of the dial for 1987. That's how bad it was.
Todd in the Shadows: See, that's the problem with this list. Most of the worst songs of this year aren't hilarious or wacky, they're just dull as shit. Lionel Richie's "Ballerina Girl" is a father-daughter song so saccharine and sentimental and boring, it makes "Butterfly Kisses" sound like "Enter Sandman." I realize there's a place in this world for quieter songs, but this song is so slow, I think the tempo is written in negative numbers.
Todd in the Shadows: Now if you were going to guess which of their songs I don't like, judging by the rest of this list you'd probably pick the slow adult-contemporary ballad "In Too Deep". But you know what? I think I actually like "In Too Deep". In fact, I think it's the most moving pop song of the 1980s. It's about monogamy and commitment. The song is extremely uplifting. Their lyrics are as positive and affirmative as anything I've heard in rock.
Patrick Bateman: [from "American Psycho"] Christy, get down on your knees so Sabrina can see your asshole.
Todd in the Shadows: No, instead of the dull easy-listening piece, I went with the edgy, angry single. What kind of critic am I? I'll tell you what kind of critic - the kind that hates "Tonight, Tonight, Tonight" by Genesis. This song is apparently about drug addiction, and if they intended to make a song that sounded as appealing as heroin withdrawal, they succeeded.
Todd in the Shadows: [on the #3 entry, "The Next Time I Fall"] This song is just a giant beige avalanche burying you in suck.