Songs that peaked at #6: 1986-1990

On seeing sometime in the nineties the title of Babyface’s second top ten, I thought this modern master of mechanized R&B had written its first S&M song. “Whip Appeal” isn’t “Venus in Furs,” but it at least shares a lineage with, say, “Pale Blue Eyes.” This era of #6 peaks was like that; these top five wannabes acted like Yeats’ description of Keats, “face and nose pressed to sweet-shop window.” The most longing face and nose? Swing Out Sister’s, whose “Breakout” remains a model of sophisti-pop soul and how to sell optimism without Orwellian vibes, although I’ve friends who resist what they see as a coercive positivity.

The Hague

Pseudy Echo – Funkytown
Rod Stewart – Love Touch
Billy Joel – I Go to Extremes
Dan Hill and Vonda Shepard – Can’t We Try
Cher & Peter Cetera – After All (Love Theme from Chances Are)
UB40 – The Way You Do the Things You Do


Jody Watley – Don’t You Want Me
Elton John – Candle in the Wind
Rick Astley – She Wants to Dance with Me
Bryan Adams – Heat of the Night
The Outfield – Your Love
After 7 – Can’t Stop
Huey Lewis and the News – Doin’ It All For My Baby
Lou Gramm – Just Between You and Me
Tyler Collins – Girls Nite Out
Billy Idol – To Be a Lover
Ann Wilson & Robin Zander – Surrender to Me
Dino – Romeo
Gloria Estefan – Here We Are
Foreigner – Say You Will
Steve Winwood – Don’t You Know What the Night Can Do?
Luther Vandross – Here and Now

Sound, Solid

Cameo – Word Up!
David Lee Roth – Just Like Paradise
Cyndi Lauper – I Drove All Night
Poison – Nothin’ but a Good Time
Prince – Thieves in the Temple
The Jets – Rocket 2 U
Mike + the Mechanics – Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground)
Mötley Crüe – Dr. Feelgood

Good to Great

Swing Out Sister – Breakout
R.E.M. – Stand
Bruce Springsteen – My Hometown
Karyn White – Secret Rendezvous
Brenda Russell – Piano in the Dark
Tracy Chapman – Fast Car
Babyface – Whip Appeal
.38 Special – Second Chance

2 thoughts on “Songs that peaked at #6: 1986-1990

  1. To Be a Lover is electronic rockabilly. Unheard of and totally convincing to me as a piece of music. The barrel piano! He oversells his singing antics, as always. A quibble. Funny the two songs I can stand from his solo output are in Whiplash Smile (the other is Sweet Sixteen)
    The cocaine-fueled version of Candle in the Wind makes total sense to me. It’s totally desperate, loud and bad sung. Camp singing about it. Just as Marylin would have liked. Gone is the naif and corny preciousness of the original. Very good to great list. Roy Orbison kills his own song.

    1. Coercive positivity? That’s a whole lotta crap. The ones who said this should stop seeing the video and listen. The video, indeed, is coercive fancy fabrics, two sidemen who seem like idiots and a beau who can’t dance for her life (but strikes poses). Your friends can’t seem to separate it from the fab song within. A pity.

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