These posts are about the songs that can accurately claim to crossed the key line of chart success, becoming Top 40 hits on Billboard, but just barely. Every song featured in this series peaked at number 40.
There were few bands that benefited more clearly and distinctly from the launch of MTV than Culture Club. The music video channel launched in the summer of 1981, and Culture Club’s debut album, Kissing to Be Clever, arrived just over a year later. Boasting a sunny, catchy sound that often melded to more melancholy lyrics, the band benefited from their charismatic, attention-getting lead singer. If there were anyone who seemed primed for a solo career among that first class of MTV heroes, it was Boy George. Of course, that was before the band slowly but clearly faded from favor throughout the nineteen-eighties until they sputtered to an end (at least before the eventual desperate revival several years later) with 1986’s widely ignored From Luxury to Heartache.
A year later, Boy George released his first solo outing, an album entitled Sold. He got a #1 hit in the U.K. with the lead single, a cover of Bread’s “Everything I Own,” but it went nowhere in the States. None of the singles made it into the Billboard Hot 100, and the album peaked at a dismal #145. This was partially due to the significant legal troubles related to his heroin addiction that the performer was having at the time, troubles that effectively prevented him from traveling to U.S. to promote the record. Regardless, the album did so poorly that his label declined to even release his next two albums stateside (they eventually cobbled together tracks from both albums into the hybrid collection High Hat). His first taste of chart success as a solo artist came not from any of those full-length efforts, but was from a throwaway track on a soundtrack album to a movie that practically no one saw.
Hiding Out was one of several misbegotten star vehicles (and one supporting turn that was even more unfortunate) for Jon Cryer in 1987, all meant to capitalize on his success as Ducky in Pretty in Pink. The soundtrack full of pop songs–an absolute requirement through much of the eighties–was far more successful than the film, yielding a Top 10 hit in Pretty Poison’s “Catch Me (I’m Falling).” Boy George had a Top 40 hit himself, albeit one that just barely crossed into that range. “Live My Life” was co-written by Danny Sembello, whose brother Michael of course had his own soundtrack success. Boy George only made it into the Billboard Top 40 one other time–to date, anyway–once again with a soundtrack song, although one that was far more haunting.
—“Just Like Heaven” by The Cure.
—“I’m in Love” by Evelyn King
—“Buy Me a Rose” by Kenny Rogers
—“Who’s Your Baby” by The Archies
—“Me and Bobby McGee” by Jerry Lee Lewis
—“Angel in Blue” by J. Geils Band
—“Crazy Downtown” by Allan Sherman
—“I’ve Seen All Good People” and “Rhythm of Love” by Yes
—“Naturally Stoned” by the Avant-Garde
—“Come See” by Major Lance
—“Your Old Standby” by Mary Wells
—“See the Lights” by Simple Minds
—“Watch Out For Lucy” by Eric Clapton
—“The Alvin Twist” by Alvin and the Chipmunks
—“Love Me Tender” by Percy Sledge
—“Jennifer Eccles” by the Hollies
—“Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Olympics
—“The Bounce” by the Olympics
—“Your One and Only Love” by Jackie Wilson
—“Tell Her She’s Lovely” by El Chicano
—“The Last Time I Made Love” by Joyce Kennedy and Jeffrey Osborne
—“Limbo Rock” by The Champs
—“Crazy Eyes For You” by Bobby Hamilton
—“Violet Hill” and “Lost+” by Coldplay
—“Freight Train” by the Chas. McDevitt Skiffle Group
—“Sweet William” by Little Millie Small