8. “Wild Wild West” by The Escape Club
Well, yuck. The divide between the Billboard chart and my memories of the fall of 1988 is no vaster than it is right here. Maybe it’s some sort of protective blackout in my brain, but I don’t remember the title cut from the goony British quartet’s sophomore release crossing our airwaves at all. It was surely everywhere else, though, going to very top of the Billboard Hot 100 charts, a pretty damning indictment of the state of Top 40 radio that fall, especially when the chart-toppers from before and after its one week run are entered into evidence. (Warning: clicking on the hyperlink connected to the word “before” in the prior sentence will mercilessly trap a truly horrible song in your head for the remainder of the day, and there won’t be a damn thing you can do to alleviate the pain.) According to Wikipedia, this is also the only song by a U.K. band took #1 in America without even showing up anywhere on the equivalent British charts, so bully for them (although their top song from the equivalent time period isn’t exactly “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay,” either). At least one of the approved artists on the Dr. Demento show eventually got some mileage out of it.

7. “All That Money Wants” by Psychedelic Furs
Greatest hits collections need to have a new song. That was a given by the late eighties, even for those bands (maybe especially for those bands) who were stretching the definition of the term “hit” for their compilations. Though a staple of college radio, the band was probably best known for providing the title to one of many cinematic tales of comic teen angst released under the John Hughes brand during the eighties. They were also the band that college rock fans loved to yell “Sell out!” at, first receiving the particular ire when they rerecorded the single “Pretty in Pink” for the previously mentioned movie, and then again for the 1987 album Midnight to Midnight, which may very well be a blatant stab at commercial success, but god, I love it so. Even the All of This and Nothing collection was criticized for omitting earlier work in favor of later, slicked-up efforts. “All That Money Wants” was the new song recorded especially for the release, which of course forced completists to buy a record filled with songs that they otherwise had. Just another log on the “sell out” pyre. To hear the track in question, I need to send you elsewhere.

An Introduction
20 and 19: “All I Wanted” and “Don’t Walk Away”
18 and 17: “Back on the Breadline” and “Motorcrash”
16 and 15: “Dumb Things” and “Don’t Go”
14 and 13: “Liar Liar” and “High Time”
12 and 11: “Up There and Down There” and “Christine”
10 and 9: “What’s On Your Mind (Pure Energy)” and “What’s the Matter Here”

7 thoughts on “College Countdown: First Billboard Top 20 Modern Rock Tracks, Fall 1988, 8 and 7

  1. Okay, well, first things first: Now I’m listening to “Kokomo” and remembering that I had the “Cocktail” soundtrack but in my defense I bought it for the John Cougar cover of “Rave On.”

    (Rarely will “In my defense, I bought it for the John Cougar cover” actually suffice as a defense, though.)

    Secondly, how can you not like a little British reggae rap intrusion? I confess to loving “Wild Wild West” more than it ever merited, and I still know all the words. I am going to sing them to myself softly to drive the song Kokomo out of my head.

    (True fact: if you want to get any song out of your head, sing “The Star Spangled Banner.” It works.)

    On Psychedelic Furs: I had “Midnight To Midnight,” too, although when I listen to my now nearly 3-decades old cassette tape I wonder why I bothered.

    1. I don’t think anyone needs to defend themselves over any embarrassing soundtrack they purchased during the eighties. The decade had that sort of sway over us. We were helpless before the “Soundtracks” section of the record store. Say you, say me.

      I’m not prepared to sing that praises of the entirety of Midnight to Midnight, but, man alive, do I love “Heartbreak Beat.”

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