Best #1 single of the year retrospective: 1987

Our survey brings us now to 1987. Like the previous year, we have 30 songs in the top spot with “Walk Like An Egyptian” carrying over, and no song staying on top for more than four weeks at a time. (I think this was because record companies were already starting to move away from heavily promoting singles since compact discs were starting to take over and an album could sell for more money with the same production cost, but I’m not entirely sure how the economics of it shook out year by year.)

You know the drill. What’s your favorite?

Previous polls: 1955-56 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 2012 2013

I really wanted to pick U2, but neither option is my favorite track from that album (that would be “Where the Streets Have No Name.”). I came close to choosing Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” – it’s not a bad song, and it evokes 1987 like nothing else (for me) – but it’s not really a great song.

In the end, I surprised myself, and picked that “Time of my Life” duet. My 17-year-old self looked down on it at the time, but my 44-year-old self recognizes it as well-crafted pop with a nice melody.

I definitely started tuning out music at this point. This is where my slow fade away from pop music began. There are about a dozen songs on this list that I don’t even know. U2 was reaching global fame at this point and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” was a good tune.

U2 - With or without you. One of the best #1 hits of the decade. Probably the best.

The album was “The Joshua Tree.” No?

I really wanted to pick U2 as well, but unlike you, I have no problem choosing Bon Jovi.

I liked both U2 songs, but I picked “With or Without You”. I also liked Madonna’s entry. Otherwise, this list is still meh, though not as bad as 1986. :stuck_out_tongue:

I’m not a huge U2 fan, but With or Without You is one of my favorite songs, ever. It was an easy choice.

Mmm, 1987 marks the transition between my carefree chilhood and awkward teenager years so most of these songs don’t bring back good memories. No real bad ones either but that whole 1987-early 1989 period was a time of perpetual boredom, utter cluelessness and general uneasiness for me.

I’ll go the power ballad route: Heart - Alone. It’s pretty much the only song I liked at the time and I still listen to it occasionally. The big, slightly syncopated guitar chords are effective if not really inventive.

I picked “Bad” in a tight contest over the U2 songs and “Heaven is a Place on Earth” (a guilty pleasure for me).

Dead-ass last place belongs to “Always,” with “At This Moment” a close second-to-last.

Correct. I would’ve picked Where the Streets Have No Name as well. U2 seems the likely choice, but nothing on this list stands out to me. Could easily pick Bad, Faith, or Whitney Houston as era-defining - or pick one of the covers, like Mony Mony since they were pretty big, too.

A lot of meh.

I really ought to have voted for Madonna again, but since I’ve voted for her in the past, I gave it to the runner-up spot, Lisa Lisa’s Lost in Emotion. I think it still holds up well (for the most part, never liked the tacked-on ending).

“Bad” is one of my favorite U2 songs. :rimshot:

Picked “With or Without You” - easiest choice of the decade, actually.

Did I mention that I can’t stand Tommy James and the Shondells? And to have two remakes of that crap hit #1 on consecutive weeks was a pure misery? Ugh. If it weren’t for the two U2 songs, this could have been the Worst Year Evah, imho.

Lean on Me?
Mony, Mony?
I Think We’re Alone Now?
You Keep Me Hanging On?

What year is this, anyway?

This is the first list in the 80’s where nothing has really resonated with me. I suspect that “Bad” is going to sweep the balloting, but I’ve never been able to tolerate Michael Jackson. So U2 gets the vote. It’s pretty much a coin flip, but I’ll pick “With or Without You”.

For me as well, this is the year when I start to not know several of the songs on the list, while remembering others only dimly.

Of those I didn’t pick, I would single out “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” as one of Michael Jackson’s better songs. The Belinda Carlisle song is OK, though not up to my favorite of hers, “Mad About You.”

There’s no need for any comment on the remakes of the 60s songs, which were both unnecessary and generally awful.

As usual, the rest are non-entities.

I went with “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” It’s hip in some circles to say how much you hate U2 (or Bono specifically). But a good song is a good song, and at least in their earlier days, U2 had an approach that truly was unique to them. I’m glad to see both of their songs doing so well.

I was tempted to go with either one of the U2 songs (one of which will most likely emerge the victor of this particular poll), because they certainly are both very good, very iconic songs. But in the end, I had to go with the pure pop deliciousness that is George Michael’s “Faith” (and it very likely won’t be the last time I vote for one of his songs in these polls; foreshadowing).

As far as the rest, well, '87 is, to me, sort of a harbinger of the creative drought soon to come when we enter the early 1990s. Um, I guess “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” and “Jacob’s Ladder” (and “Alone”, I suppose) are perfectly affable little pop tunes, but they come nowhere near achieving the greatness of “Faith”, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”, and “With or Without You”.

In the early balloting, the two U2 songs are neck and neck!

I went with “With Or Without You” which I’ve always preferred to “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”

I second DChord’s sentiments about Belinda Carlisle. And give me the Tommy James & Shondells originals over the remakes, any day.

I have a soft spot for Heart and Ann Wilson’s terrific vocals. They still tour, and her voice is still as clear and powerful as always.

Because you mentioned “Where the Streets have no name”, it reminded me of a an Ian McCulloch quote from the excellent book Mad World: An Oral History of New Wave Artists and Songs that Defined the 1980s that I just had to share (and don’t get me wrong, I adore both the song and the album it came from, and I largely have not one single problem with Bono):

Ha! Like you, I like Bono for his music (not a great voice, but a great frontman), and don’t mind his political/NGO activism at all (as far as I know, he’s brought helpful exposure to some important things). But, also like you, I dig that rant.