Best #1 single of the year retrospective: 1989

(Sorry this one’s going up so late, folks. Long night at work.)

It’s time to round out the '80s with the last of the truly big lists. Like last year, 33 songs topped the Hot 100 this year, with Poison carrying over.

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 1988 2012 2013

FYC in a walk. I think perhaps '89 is when I started drifting away from a lot of pop/rock offerings, as many of those songs are unfamiliar to me and the others are mostly schlock.

I agree with Chefguy. Not a lot of good music on this list – the MTV-fueled creativity of the early-to-mid 80s was over, and the good songwriting which will sprinkle through the 90s (Nirvana, Beck, the Peppers, Radiohead…) has yet to commence.

“She Drives Me Crazy” was also the obvious choice for me. Catchy, of the moment, still listenable today.

This vote was tighter than a Texas tick on a bull’s scrotum on the Fourth of July. 1989 is a very memorable year for me. It was the year of my bar mitzvah, and it was the first time the Cubs made the playoffs since I started following them. (They also made the playoffs in ’84, but I wasn’t yet a baseball fan.) There are lots of good songs from that year also.

The Fine Young Cannibals’ “Good Thing” finishes just barely ahead of several other songs in the world-famous Ponch8 Music Rating System. Other songs I considered were “Lost in Your Eyes,” “Like a Prayer,” “Baby Don’t Forget My Number,” “Toy Soldiers,” and “Girl I’m Gonna Miss You.”

It’s too bad the Fine Young Cannibals were just a two-hit wonder in the US. “Good Thing” has that very simple but unforgettable piano playing throughout.

“Lost in Your Eyes” was also awesome, but I just couldn’t bring myself to vote for Debbie Gibson two years in a row.

I remember how much “Toy Soldiers” was hated. On a July 1989 family vacation to Washington DC, I remember hearing it on the car stereo somewhere in Pennsylvania. The DJ sang over the first few seconds of the song, singing “I’m sick of this stupid song” or the like. However, it was good enough for Eminem to sample, so Martika surely did something right. I have no information on that DJ’s employment status in August 1989.

Say what you will about Milli Vanilli. Those sure were some catchy songs, no matter who was singing them. Their producer Frank Farian was a dick, putting all the blame on Rob and Fab when the lip synching scandal came to light. My opinion of Farian isn’t a whole lot higher than is my opinion of this Dr. Luke motherfucker.

There was no contest for the dreaded dead-ass last spot. “I’ll Be Loving You Forever” by NKOTB is the musical equivalent of a dog’s vomit after he’s eaten his own diarrhea. Simply Red’s “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” is second-to-last and would probably finish last in most years.

Mike & The Mechanics for* The Living Years*, a song that still wrecks me as my father died in early '89. So many of the songs at the top of the list remind me of him and those last times I shared with him.

Wonder if Milli Vanilli will get any votes? :slight_smile:

I have a soft spot in my heart for Paula Abdul after working out for years to her exercise video. Otherwise this is all meh.

Almost voted for “Listen to Your Heart,” but I stopped to listen to “The Living Years” first, and damned if that isn’t a beautiful song!

In second place (the top two tied for first, but I could only vote for one) is “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” (I also love the Chi-Lites’ version).

I voted for “Good Thing” but missed “She Drives Me Crazy.” Either’s fine. It’s a weird year with many #1s and yet most of them are forgettable - indeed, I do not for the life of me remember this version of “Rock On” although I am familiar with the original, by David Essex, which was a pretty good song.

The weirdest #1 of the year and maybe all time was “Batdance.” The song is absolutely, utterly baffling; it has no clear melody or beat, and the lyrics are an incoherent random collection of lines from the movie and random insertions of the word “Batman.”

It’s impossible to shake the feeling that they went to Prince and offered him a zillion dollars for a Batman song, and he didn’t feel like writing one, but he did feel like getting the money, so he took parts from three or four other things he was working on, stuck them together, sampled dialogue from the movies and boom, it’s technically a Batman song. It is perhaps a testament to the huge pop culture sensation the 1989 “Batman” movie was, that you could release a song that is pretty much a totally random collection of samples, slap the “Bat” label on it, and have it hit #1.

I just like the sound of it.

Would you believe that I never actually knew “The Living Years” by name until just now when I actually bothered to look it up on Youtube? I’ve been hearing it on soft rock radio for years but never knew what it was called or identified it with Mike and the Mechanics, who I’ve always known better for “Silent Running”. It is a rather nice song, though not one that does much for me personally (my relationship with my father was never that good, I last saw him 16 years ago, the last words I recall him saying to me were “FUCK YOU!”, and when I found out last year that he had died I didn’t feel sad at all, but I digress).

I voted for “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”, which I wanted to do in last year’s poll but just barely opted for “Man In the Mirror” instead. The only real runner-ups for me were “We Didn’t Start the Fire”, which is just plain catchy, and “Wind Beneath My Wings”, which was my aunt’s wedding song when she got married in 1990 and I got dressed up in a tuxedo and got to light candles.

(PS: Anyone who votes for Milli Vanilli will be taunted and booed until my throat is sore.)

Since my favourite Madonna tune - Into The Groove - didn’t make No 1 in the US, I’ll vote for my second fave here.

I’m only familiar with about half of these though, and fare only slightly better with the UK chart. I wasn’t hearing much chart stuff back then.

Ah, yes… 1989. How sad.

Musically, the best thing about 1989 is that it’s when Dream Theater released their first album, but I wouldn’t discover them until 1997. (And, to be fair, it was a pretty sorry album by Dream Theater standards).

As for things that made it to the charts: Roxette and Bon Jovi were still doing OK in this year. But, ultimately, I’ll vote Poison Every Rose Has It’s Thorn.

This is where the long stretch of almost unlistenable hits begins in earnest for me. I went with Madonna, just a touch ahead of “Good Thing”.

As I telegraphed in the '88 poll, I voted for Madonna’s “Like a Prayer”, easily. Though it’s not the best song from the Like a Prayer LP (that would be “Oh Father”), it is a great song, with Madonna at the peak of her talent and firing on all cylinders.

Other good tracks from this list are: “Miss You Much”, “Toy Soldiers”, “My Prerogative”, and the two FYC tunes.

Big-fucking-fan-of-Prince that I am, I’ve never been all that enamored of “Batdance”. Though the Batman soundtrack is one of the Purple One’s weaker efforts (hello, “Arms of Orion”), it does have three pretty friggin’ terrific songs on it, and “Batdance” ain’t one of 'em (they are, in descending order: “Vicki Waiting”, “Partyman”, and “Electric Chair”).

But the rest of this list? Varying degrees of crap, man. And it only gets worse from here.

The Bangles, clearly. A few others that made the car MP3 USB stick (M&M, Gloria E, Madonna).

I went with Miss You Much. JJ at her peak. Great groove and video. Good bid for era-defining…

Not that I necessarily expect any of these acts to score a #1 single. I really have no idea – I’m not “cheating” by looking ahead (I find it fun to see what, ahem, rises to the top…or should that be sinks to the bottom?).

All this is true (you can also kind of make the same kind of accusations against most dance/industrial in the coming years).

It’s still the only song up there I want to listen to. Plus, the third “Vicki Vale/electric chair” groove rules.

Voted for “Toy Soldiers” by Martika, just ahead of Mike and the Mechanics, Bangles. Glad to see Madonna and FYC getting love, seems Madonna will walk away with this.

The Bangles: “Eternal Flame.” It’s the only choice. It’s such a beautiful song it gives me goosebumps. It’s one of the best songs I’ve ever heard.