Top 5: One on One
Twenty-two years ago this weekend, The Mrs. and I became Mr. and Mrs. And here are five songs on the radio that week--perhaps even as we were driving away from the church.
"Mr. Roboto"/Styx. If you were in high school in the late 70s, you, or somebody you knew, owned The Grand Illusion and/or Pieces of Eight. You can't go wrong with either of these albums, if you dig Midwestern teenage prog-rock. (As many did.) Cornerstone was OK and Paradise Theater had its moments, but then came 1983's Kilroy Was Here. At the time, I proclaimed it one of the worst albums I'd ever heard--and of all the Styx singles you can name, "Mr. Roboto" has worn the least well of all.
"One on One"/Hall and Oates. I heard this again not long ago for the first time in a while, and it occurs to me that this is far and away the best makeout record H&O ever made. "Take your time, baby, we've got all night."
"Swingin'"/John Anderson. One of the most bizarre crossover hits of all time, this record made the top five at WLS in Chicago--and they weren't even playing it. (They were playing "Mr. Roboto" every half-hour, though, and Anderson's country honk would have sounded just too weird anywhere near it.) At my station, "Swingin'" blew out the phones to a degree unseen since the Oak Ridge Boys' "Elvira" a couple of years before. Maybe the record was just too damn weird not to be a hit.
"Come on Eileen"/Dexy's Midnight Runners. And speaking of too damn weird not to be a hit, there's this. It was a sort of anthem for my radio station's softball team during the summer of '83. (You know you're a radio oldtimer if you can remember when stations had enough staffers to field an entire softball team.) We sang it to encourage our pitcher: "Come on Elaine . . . ."
"Billie Jean"/Michael Jackson. The same spring The Mrs. and I got hitched was the spring of Motown 25, the landmark TV special on which Michael Jackson moonwalked his way to immortality while singing this, the Number One song on the Hot 100 22 years ago today. No matter what becomes of him at his current trial, "Billie Jean" remains extremely important, as the one that kicked open the doors at MTV for black artists. It probably would have happened eventually, but Jackson made it happen at this particular moment with a record that's deceptively simple and almost terminally funky.