1989 was a very strange year for the pop charts. Very strange.
Stalwarts like Chicago and Cher were still generating hits, albeit forgettable hits, with songs like “Look Away” and that really stupid one Cher did that I won’t even mention the name of, lest it get stuck in anyone’s head. You’re welcome. Cripes, there was even a hit duet (“After All”) with Cher and Chicago frontman Peter Cetera. Desperate times.
Novelty rap of all things was all the rage, too, with Tone Lōc’s “Funky Cold Medina” and Young MC’s “Bust A Move.”
And then your typical pop-fluff from artists like Paula Abdul, Bobby Brown, Surface, Rick Astley, etc. (No, I’m not going to Rickroll you here.) And too many teen bands to name, starting with New Kids On The Block and cruelly not ending there.
But it was also the year New Wave made something of a comeback, with big hits from the B-52s (“Love Shack,” “Roam”), Duran Duran (“I Don’t Want Your Love”), and Adam Ant (“Room At The Top”).
And the charts were, above all, dominated by that lip-syncing duo, Milli Vanilli.
Then something very strange happened. Alt/Goth made the pop charts. The Cure had a big hit with “Love Song.” Love And Rockets sold about a jillion copies of “So Alive.” And Peter Murphy, darkest of the dark, former lead singer of ultra-Goth band Bauhaus, hit with “Cuts You Up.” I think what grabbed people was the opening lines:
I find you in the morning
After dreams of distant signs
You pour yourself over me
Like the sun through the blinds
That’s just a pretty lyric right there, but I can tell you it was very odd to be playing music so dark and languid at seven AM on a Morning Zoo-format radio show. No matter: I promptly “borrowed” a promotional cassette of the whole album, then almost as promptly wore it out. It’s that good, and I suspect we’ll be getting to other tracks on other Friday nights.
Until then, enjoy one of the most memorable singles from a very strange year.