Thanks to the brilliant Google Books archive of almost every issue of Billboard, it's now possible to travel back in time and revisit charts of the past. I thought it would be fun to take a look at the Hot 100 as it stood exactly 25 years ago — mostly so I wouldn't have to listen to any fucking Katy Perry songs this week.
1_MADONNA — "PAPA DON'T PREACH" | In my estimation, this is the shittiest of the major Madonna singles. First, she didn't even have a significant hand in writing it. Second, it's a damn joyless bummer. Third, it generated a tedious controversy about teen pregnancy and abortion and whatnot. Fourth, and perhaps most unforgivably: of all the controversies Madonna ignited in her career, this was the only one you couldn't jerk off to.
2_STEVE WINWOOD — "HIGHER LOVE" | I listened to this like three times in a row, but found myself totally unable to process it. After a quarter-century of mental conditioning, I can't stop my brain from editing this song out.
3_BANANARAMA — "VENUS"| Suffered permanent and irreparable artistic devaluation at the hands of lady-razor commercials. No big loss, because it was a horseshit song to begin with.
4_BELINDA CARLISLE — "MAD ABOUT YOU" | Not to be counted among Belinda's major contributions to pop music. It's got kind of a weak tune and that '80s everything-is-buried production, but it's not all bad. About three-quarters of the way through the track, there's kind of a machine-gun guitar seizure for about two seconds — more of that, please. Also, Belinda Carlisle is featured prominently in the video, which excuses everything else.
5_PETER CETERA — "GLORY OF LOVE" (THEME FROM THE KARATE KID PART II) | After Huey's number one hit with "The Power of Love" (from Back to the Future), Chicago's Peter Cetera knew he had to up the ante to survive in the competitive movie theme climate. And boy howdy, did he: Pete replaced "power" with an even godlier word and cranked up the camp dial to critical levels. The result is comically inappropriate for the movie — Daniel-san could be riding a white horse through hell and swinging a flaming broadsword at Satan to save the princess, and "Glory of Love" would still be a little much. But that's precisely the genius of the thing.
6_LIONEL RICHIE — "DANCING ON THE CEILING" | After hearing a lot of really awful production ("Higher Love," I'm looking at you), it's nice to listen to something that sounds as if it were produced by and for human beings.
7_BERLIN — "TAKE MY BREATH AWAY" (LOVE THEME FROM TOP GUN) | It doesn't quite hit "Glory of Love" heights, but this timeless Giorgio Moroder composition still holds up as a soundtrack classic. Not only is it a top-notch tune in its own right, but it's clung to its movie association much better than Cetera's piece — after all these years, it still beautifully evokes the sizzling volleyball chemistry between Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer.
8_JERMAINE STEWART — "WE DON'T HAVE TO TAKE OUR CLOTHES OFF" | A sexless night of fully-clothed fun, brain stimulation, and cherry wine? It would sound like a lame scene if this weren't such a boss jam. Actually, yeesh, I don't know — cherry wine? Have you ever had that stuff? It's like fermented Care Bear pee. Dealbreaker!