6. “Need You Tonight” by INXS
The Australian band INXS could reasonable claim that they’d already broken through on the U.S. charts when they released Kick, their sixth studio album, in October of 1987. Their prior effort, 1985’s Listen Like Thieves, just missed the Top 10 of the Billboard album charts and yielded a Top 5 hit in the lead single, “What You Need,” which MTV seemed to play about as much as their top of the hour astronaut bumper. That taste of success was a grain of salt compared to the deluge of flavor that came with Kick, an album that carried four Top 10 songs, including its lead single, which became the band’s first and only stateside chart-topper. Again, MTV was a mighty contributor to the song’s success, especially when the video was rereleased with a tag of “Mediate,” the song that “Need You Tonight” segues into on the original album, delivered in a riff on Bob Dylan’s famed “Subterranean Homesick Blues” proto-video from the opening of the 1967 documentary Dont Look Back. In those heady days of 1987, giving the MTV VJs something new to talk about was guaranteed to provide a boost to a song’s commercial prospects.



5. “Why Can’t I Be You” by The Cure
Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me was the seventh studio album by The Cure, so their collective persona was well-established. They may not have had huge hits in the U.S. by this point, but they were just well-known enough that upending their gloomy, goth reputation had a lot of charm to it. Music video director Tim Pope knew that, and he’d also worked with the band often enough to know that they were totally game to push against the caricature of their image. As Pope explained at the time, “The Cure are not afraid to do anything, and Robert doesn’t particularly want to look cool. Because of that, you can make great films with them. There’s none of this pop star pretension with him at all.” To that end, Pope got the band to dress up in silly costumes (notably, Smith adorned in a bear suit) and clumsily dance to simple choreography for the music video connected with “Why Can’t I Be You?,” the first single from the double album. The song was a perfect introduction to the more jubilant sound (still merged with some fairly glum lyrics) the band adopted on the new record, and it was quite the success. However, an even greater success was yet to come. This is the first of two songs by The Cure on the countdown.


Previously…
An Introduction
40 and 39: “4th of July” and “Bizarre Love Triangle”
38 and 37: “Heartbreak Beat” and “Not My Slave”
36 and 35: “Alone Again Or” and “Absolute Perfection”
34 and 33: “Love Removal Machine” and “The Passenger”
32 and 31: “It’s Still Warm” and “Hourglass”
30 and 29: “Alex Chilton” and “We Care a Lot”
28 and 27: “Crazy” and “It’s a Sin”
26 and 25: “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and “Rules and Regulations”
24 and 23: “Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before” and “Twenty Killer Hurts”
22 and 21: “We Close Our Eyes” and “Please”
20 and 19: “Rain in the Summertime” and “Behind the Wheel”
18 and 17: “The Sweetest Thing” and “Rent”
16 and 15: “Is It Really So Strange?” and “The Motion of Love”
14 and 13: “Where the Streets Have No Name” and “No New Tale to Tell”
12 and 11: “A Hazy Shade of Winter” and “The One I Love”
10 and 9: “Never Let Me Down Again” and “With or Without You”
8 and 7: “True Faith” and “Dear God”

5 thoughts on “College Countdown: KROQ-FM’s Top 40 Songs of 1987, 6 and 5

  1. I remember the first time I heard “Need You Tonight” – It was almost time for Moonlighting (remember that?) and I passed a room at my godmother’s house where the radio played the opening beats, soon followed by jangly chords. Cybill and Bruce waited while I took in the magic, thinking that this song would become the biggest sexy hit since “Light My Fire.” Aw, yeah.

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