In the 1980s, the discrepancies between chart toppers on Billboard and its biggest competitor, Cash Box, were more manageable than the previous decade.
There were only 42 total versus nearly 100 for the 1970s.
With that amount, this third installment of Fantasy Number Ones should be a breeze to read and play along.
It’s fun to do, and I’m sure your picks will differ from mine…. Or maybe not?
Anyway, here we go. All peaked at Number Two on the Hot 100 unless otherwise noted.
Coward Of The County (peaked at 3)
Cruisin’ (peaked at 4)
The Rose (peaked at 3)
The S.O.S. Band
Take Your Time (peaked at 3)
Master Blaster (peaked at 5)
Smokey Robinson was so smooth with Cruisin’, arguably his best work ever. As a tribute to Bob Marley’s reggae music, Master Blaster is a perfect companion to what Stevie Wonder did for Duke Ellington’s sound in Sir Duke. Since Midler once said, “’The Rose:’ The one song that didn’t come back and bite me in the ass!” I’ll take pick that too. I’m not too keen on the rest.
Cruisin’, Master Blaster and The Rose take the fantasy place atop the Hot 100 over Do That To Me One More Time by the Captain and Tennille, Sailing by Christopher Cross and Lady by Kenny Rogers.
Being With You
Oak Ridge Boys
Elvira (peaked at 5)
Theme From “The Greatest American Hero”
Hoo boy… Elvira is an irritating novelty. Some may like the Theme From “The Greatest American Hero,” but like the series it’s from, its impact was ephemeral. I wouldn’t rank it among even my Top 20 TV Theme Songs.
And as much as admire John Lennon and Smokey Robinson, these songs aren’t among the top tier of their work. Sorry: but I see nothing worth changing here.
That Girl (peaked at 4)
Hurts So Good
I’m fine with approving Open Arms, Hurt So Good and Gloria, especially since Journey and Laura Branigan never got to number 1 on the Hot 100. I’ll take that trio over Chariots of Fire by Vangelis, Ebony and Ivory by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder, and Truly by Lionel Richie.
Do You Really Want To Hurt Me
Mr. Roboto (peaked at 3)
Puttin’ On The Ritz (peaked at 4)
Men Without Hats
The Safety Dance (peaked at 3)
Union Of The Snake (peaked at 3)
Ugh, this is novelty heavy. Only Do You Really Want To Hurt Me and Electric Avenue are quality hits. They stand out strongly than the rest here. I’ll gladly have them replace Maniac by Michael Sembello and Tell Her About It by Billy Joel anywhere anytime.
Girls Just Want To Have Fun
Dancing In The Dark
I Feel For You (peaked at 3)
The Wild Boys
This is a year where I regret that I have only three picks. All of these except The Wild Boys would be great chart toppers at any time, so some tough decisions must be made.
Eliminating 99 Luftballoons for its one-hit wonder status leaves Girls Just Want To Have Fun, Dancing In The Dark, Purple Rain and I Feel for You. Which means one must go. Oh, man ….
OK: sorry, Bruce. But I’m going with Girls Just Want To Have Fun, Purple Rain and I Feel for You. We’ll say goodbye to Hello (heh heh!) by Lionel Richie, Ghostbusters by Ray Parker Jr. and I Just Called to Say I Love You by Stevie Wonder.
Philip Bailey & Phil Collins
Take it from someone who was there: there was plenty of Phil Bailey, Madonna and Prince on the radio in 1985. Even though it might be overkill, I do think Easy Lover and Material Girl have held up well enough to merit a number one spot, Raspberry Beret not so much.
The former two will assume the spots held by Can’t Fight This Feeling by REO Speedwagon and Separate Lives by Marilyn Martin and, uh … Phil Collins.
When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going
Why Can’t This Be Love (peaked at 3)
Everybody Have Fun Tonight
I’m not sure what it means to “Wang Chung tonight.” But the song is so infectious that I’m willing to give it the top slot. The rest don’t merit that distinction to me. Let’s swap Everybody Have Fun Tonight with There’ll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry) by Billy Ocean. (Hey, he’ll still have other number ones, OK?)
There were no differences between Billboard and Cash Box number ones in 1987. So, onto …
Pet Shop Boys & Dusty Springfield
What Have I Done To Deserve This?
Pour Some Sugar On Me
Both of these can claim a number one in my opinion. Even if they’re not up to West End Girls, Son of a Preacher Man or Love Bites. Give me them over Could’ve Been by Tiffany and Baby, I Love Your Way/Freebird Medley by Will To Power.
Don’t Rush Me
Girl You Know It’s True
Tears For Fears
Sowing The Seeds Of Love
(It’s Just) The Way That You Love Me (peaked at 3)
Except for Jody Watley, all of these were Billboard chart toppers. While I’d like to grant her that status, Real Love isn’t quite a real Number One for me. Taylor Dayne, Tears for Fears and Paula Abdul have done better, and of course Milli Vanilli is a joke.
That leaves two numbers from Madonna. Cherish is just cutesy, but Express Yourself is anthemic and obviously influenced Born This Way by Lady Gaga. I’ll switch it with When I See You Smile by Bad English.
This ends this series for me.
In 1992, Cash Box announced:
Interrupting Whitney’s Houston run at the top with I Will Always Love You?
The Letter by Wayne Newton.
Wayne’s album cut was receiving very little airplay on any contemporary hits radio station.
Many thought this was blatant chart manipulation. Cash Box’s reputation suffered as a result, no doubt contributing to its disappearance in 1996.
Kind of a downer for a fun contest like this.
But hey, if you feel that The Letter is better than Whitney’s song or something else that topped the Cash Box chart in 1992, be my guest…
…and write your column about Fantasy Number Ones…
… for the 1990s!
I’ll be happy to participate.
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