1989 marked the tail end of the hair metal days, the emergence of some great new acts, and the comebacks of some others. What else happened? Ted Bundy was executed, Time and Warner merged, the Exxon Valdez oil spill happened, the Sky Dome in Toronto opened, and there was a major earthquake in San Francisco during the World Series. Below is a playlist of songs from 1989 that should bring back memories of all kinds for all kinds of people.
"A Girl Like You," the Smithereens (11)
The Smithereens had a lot of songs that were hits on the modern rock charts but they never really had a top ten single. Still, they were a solid band that wrote hooky songs--songs that were especially good for drinking lots of beer to.
"Who Loves You," Alannah Myles (Alannah
A Canadian hottie that I keep picturing with tight black leather pants on. Must have been a video, a dream, or both. Anyway, Myles could sing her ass off, and even though "Black Velvet" was the big hit, this song was less sexy but more powerful.
"Eat for Two," 10,000 Maniacs (Blind
Before she decided she was better than the other 9,999 Maniacs, Natalie Merchant and her band made some really awesome records. This song was a modest single and still one of their best.
"Love Shack," B-52’s (Cosmic Thing)
It’s not that the B-52’s didn’t already have a nice following and some big hits, but this album was their coming out party. In fact, this track may be one of the most played party songs in history.
"Heaven," Warrant (Dirty Rotten Filthy
You can joke all you want about hair metal being cheesy, but most of these bands sure knew their way around a melody. In fact, with hits like this, you could say Warrant was just Journey with longer hair and tighter pants.
"Roni," Bobby Brown (Don’t
Most people know Bobby Brown because he’s a wife-beating drunk who is married to Whitney Houston. But back in the day the dude had some big hits, with and without New Edition.
"Talent Show," the Replacements (Don’t
Tell a Soul)
The Replacements had some great albums, but for my money it doesn’t get any better than Don’t Tell a Soul. When I’m asked for my favorite albums of all time, I always forget to mention this one, so I’m making up for that right here and now.
"Free Fallin’," Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
(Full Moon Fever)
Tom Petty and his Heartbreakers never really went away, but this was a comeback album of sorts. A top ten hit, this is an anthem of a song that rivals Petty’s Damn the Torpedoes days.
"Wicked Game," Chris Isaak (Heart
As I write this 18 years after its release, I remember one thing and I’m betting all of you do too: the black and white video of Isaak and that super-hot chick on the beach.
"Tonight I’m Falling," TNT (Intuition)
This Norwegian group was a hair band that never really got the recognition it deserved. I’d put this song up against any pop hair metal song in history.
"So Alive," Love and Rockets (Love
One of a multitude of songs hat reminds me of a great radio station on Long Island I listened to growing up, WLIR, 92.7. They were always on the cutting edge, and were probably one of the first stations anywhere to play Love and Rockets.
"Toy Soldiers," Martika (Martika)
There’s always room for one-hit wonders on these lists, especially when they help us identify with a particular moment in history. I mean, does anyone, and I mean ANYONE, know what Martika is doing right this minute?
"Don’t Rush Me," Taylor Dayne (Tell
It to My Heart)
True story: I lived in the same Long Island town as Taylor Dayne, and bumped into her on a train going to New York City. I know none of you care, but she used to be pretty freaking hot.
"If I Can Just Get Through the Night,"
Phoebe Snow (Something Real)
Ms. Snow had a big hit with "Poetry Man" in the seventies, so this was something of a comeback and this song really showcased her enormous vocal range.
"Mixed Emotions," Rolling Stones (Steel
There are about 100 Stones songs you think of before this one, but Steel Wheels was a comeback album for them because they wound up touring in support of it, and it was their first tour in seven years. Regardless, this song has always rocked in my book.