Best #1 single of the year retrospective: 1988

The year is now 1988. This year and 1989 are second only to 1974-1975 in terms of the number of songs in the poll; with “Faith” carrying over, we have 33 songs to choose from. Michael Jackson’s multiple chart-toppers this year made him the first artist to ever score five number-ones off a single album, and one of only two ever to achieve that feat (Katy Perry is the other), while George Michael joined the slightly larger group of artists with four number-ones off an album. We also have the final #1 by a Beatle (appropriate enough as we’re pretty much at the tail end of the ‘classic rock era’ here) and a #1 with a rap verse (though it’s going to take us until 1991 to get a full-fledged rap at #1). It’s a pretty mixed bag, and I honestly have no idea where this poll is going.

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 1987 2012 2013

Damn, there were a lot of #1 hits this year.

I had to go with Guns n’ Roses. While there’s a lot of sentimental favorites on this list, Guns n’ Roses kicked the ass of all those hair metal bands with Appetite for Destruction, and “Sweet Child O’ Mine” is just a great song.

Runner up is INXS. Michael Hutchence was probably my first rock n’ roll crush.

Terrence Trent D’Arby - “Wishing Well” is the only one of that bunch that made my 32 gB USB stick for the car… I don’t care for the rest, and really hate some of them.

Nothing in this year’s group really stands out for me. I voted for “Get Out of My Dreams, Get Into My Car” because it’s just a fun song.

I couldn’t help noticing that Rick Astley had a couple of #1’s this year (including, of course, “Never Gonna Give You Up”). I guess you could say he was on a Rickroll. (**:D&R:)

Wow. What a pitiful year.

I was sorely tempted to vote for Rick Astley so I could say I rickrolled the SDMB, but I think that is agin the rules. So I went with Every Rose Has Its Thorn, which is as close as this list comes to something memorable. For a year with so much Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, and George Michael in it, it seems to have faded from memory rather soon.

Kokomo was fun, Got My Mind Set on You is good, but nothing jumps out and gets incorporated into memory. I was thirty one at that point - probably explains it.


Have to say, after slagging G n’ R in that thread about big artists that really only had one great album, Sweet Child jumped out to me.

I really love George Michael’s album. Haven’t listened to it in 15 years - I can look at the CD case and get a hit off it.

Really love Need You Tonight - just a great groove. More of a groove than an actual song :wink:

Ok, this one was a bad 80s year too. But Sweet Child O Mine is the best of the bunch…

Went with INXS, though I imagine Guns ‘n’ Roses will win the poll.

Not a good year, IMHO.

I went with the Beach Boys, though I was tempted to click on either of Rick Astley’s songs. Nothing else jumped out at me.

I loathe “Got My Mind Set on You.” The bookstore where I worked in grad school had it on the loudspeakers constantly, until I snipped the cord on the tuner with a pair of long-nosed scissors one day when no one else was around. Blissful silence for the rest of my tenure there! :o

Yeah, kind of a weak year. GnR for me, with INXS close behind. Besides the George Michael, not much else is really sticking out for me, though I do enjoy “The Way You Make Me Feel.” Had no idea George Michael did this well on the charts in one year. ETA: oh, and I do like the Rick Astkey, too. I’m with the poster above. “Got My Mind Set On You” is annoying as hell.

…and, by the way, as a native SF Bay Area person: man, did Starship just lose its way. We Built this City, Nothing’s Gonna Stop us Now. They’d come a long way from Surrealistic Pillow.


New Wave had run its course,…bands like The Police, The Cars had broken up college rock and bands like REM would dominate for a few short years until Grunge took over. In the meantime, industrial and ‘club industrial’ (Ministry, Front 242…that sort of thing) would carve out a niche.

I went back and forth on this one several times before I ultimately decided what I wanted to vote for, because there are several songs on this list that are, in my opinion, the best song by the artist that recorded them.

  • “Sweet Child O’ Mine”. One of the best guitar riffs ever, GnR’s best track, and eminently rock-out-to-able. Didn’t go with it because, let’s face it, the lyrics are mediocre at best and don’t make a lot of sense. “Her hair reminds me of a warm safe place where as a child I’d hide - what?

  • “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”. Poison’s best song, and one of the best power ballads ever, IMO. It’s a good enough song that even Miley Cyrus wasn’t capable of ruining it for me. Still a little too cheesy to vote for, though.

  • “Red Red Wine”. One of those great examples of how you can take a sad song and make it sound happy based on how you arrange it. The rap section is groundbreaking, though it doesn’t really make a lot of sense. and doesn’t really fit with the rest of the song.

  • “One More Try”. George Michael’s best song, and my runner-up. This is a song that comes across as personal and vulnerable, and Michael puts a lot of soul into it. It’s nearly six minutes long, but doesn’t feel like a long song - it takes exactly as long as it needs to to say what it needs to say. This one I almost voted for, but decided not to in favor of the one I did pick…

  • “Man In The Mirror”. MJ’s best solo effort IMO - and not surprisingly, like the two above, it’s a song about personal desperation and sadness. MJ puts his heart and soul into the lyrics and comes off as heartbroken about the state of the world, but optimistic for a better day. The production is slick, and, well, no message could have been any clearer. It’s worth noting that when Jackson died in 2009, this song made it all the way back up to #2 on the Hot 100, and was within a hair’s breadth of making it to #1 again - that’s how much this song meant to people. (It got shut out by the Black Eyed Peas, which is just plain tragic, though it saves the 2009 poll from being a complete slam dunk.)

This song’s got nothing to say
But I’m recording it anyway
I know if I put my mind to it
I know I could find a good rhyme here

-"(This Song’s Just) Six Words Long," words by Weird Al Yankovic

There isn’t a single song on the list I would voluntarily listen to. Pass on the whole year.

Fortunately, I must not be very picky because I think there are a bunch of great songs here. Sweet Child, Every Rose, the MJ songs…but I’m the sole vote for Look Away because I absolutely love it.

Red Red Wine – a Neil Diamond song (circa 1970?), recorded by some reggae band in Jamaica (circa 1975?), then by the British/Jamaican band UB40 for their covers album, *Labour of Love *(circa 1982?).

What on God’s green earth is it doing on our 1988 list?

Kokomo is good enough to get my vote, but the rest of this is really awful. Red, Red Wine may be in my top 10 most hated songs of all time. Of all time!

I was wondering the same thing. Wiki just says it was re-released in 1988 but doesn’t say why. Was it used in a movie, perhaps?