Ranking #19 singles, U.S. edition: 1987-1991


Did my readers know Salt-n-Pepa didn’t go top ten until 1993 with TLC? Smutty and catchy as fuck, “Push It” stopped at #19 despite an omnipresence in major cities; Miami played it as if Hurby Azor replaced Francis Scott Key. “Veronica,” my intro to Elvis Costello, ranks a close second. Maybe co-writer Paul McCartney tightened it; few Costello singles after 1981 get to verse-chorus-verse without sacrificing pathos for intensity. About “Seven Wonders,” the lowest charting on the top 40 but most influential, my readers already know.

Y’all remember “The Honeythief”? The hell is that about?

Y’all remember when Bill Medley singlehandedly re-recorded “Unchained Melody”?

The Hague

Slaughter – Fly to the Angels
Kansas – All I Wanted
Michael Bolton – That’s What Love is All About


Winger – Headed for a Heartbreak
REO Speedwagon – In My Dreams
Elton John – A Word in Spanish
Firehouse – Don’t Treat Me Bad
After 7 – Heat of the Moment
Grayson Hugh – Talk It Over

Sound, Solid

Robert Palmer – Early in the Morning
Sheena Easton – What Comes Naturally
Joan Jett & The Blackhearts – Little Liar
Motley Crue – Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)
Stevie Wonder – Skeletons
Pat Benatar – All Fired Up

Good to Great

Salt-N-Pepa – Push It
Elvis Costello – Veronica
Fleetwood Mac – Seven Wonders
Louie Louie – Sittin’ in the Lap of Luxury
Hipsway – The Honeythief

Double Jeopardy

The Righteous Brothers – Unchained Melody 1990


5 thoughts on “Ranking #19 singles, U.S. edition: 1987-1991

  1. Mami playing “Push It” makes total sense. The latin heritage in the synth riff (synthsalsa speeded down as hip hop motif) is pretty obvious
    The late 80s was a good place for Latino-derived music in every genre. They took the charts by storm.

    I think that harrowing Costello masterpiece could be traced in Costello’s idol John Prine’s “Hello parents lost for dementia-derived causes. I took care of them. I saw how some of the care-takers stole them and poked fun. It’s a well.paid job, anyway. but the miseries of everyone surrounding them grow exponnecially worse. I saw my mom talking abou me as a 8 years-old kid he remembered.
    It’s crushing, but like “Luka” around the time, he refused to wallow on these miseries by channeling a crip, twinkling melody with upbeat arrangements. So we can see it’s only a pop song, not a statement or a novel or a film. It’s just what it is and sounds more crushing for this. That’s affection for the subject matter, too.

  2. Man, I forgot how many bad hair-metal (and hair-metal adjacent) acts reached the top echelon of the Billboard charts during this era. Firehouse was the one from this list that most frustrated me most, simply for the fact that their name was too close to the much-better fIREHOSE. And when I went to the record store, I knew I wanted something by the Mike Watt fronted trio, but was unsure if it was Firehose or Firehouse. Oh, those pre-internet days.

    Thankfully Firehouse’s reign was brief and they were pretty much forgotten about by 1993.

    1. A buddy and his wife, whose sensibilities align with mine, used “Love of a Lifetime” at their wedding.

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