30 years ago this week: Billboard’s Top 40, November 29, 1986

To close out the Thanksgiving weekend, we made a trip to Chicago to celebrate with my dad as he turned 70. One of the things I normally listen to in the car on weekend trips into the city is Sirius XM’s 80s on 8 channel.  While the novelty of the original MTV VJs on the air has largely worn off (except for Alan Hunter, who sounds damned good and puts some actual prep into his shows), I enjoy the VJ Big 40 Countdown feature.  Each week they go back and pull out a Billboard Top 40 chart and play all of the songs on it.  (This begs a question: why the hell doesn’t this channel play all of these songs all of the time?  They’re dealing in TSL, not cume.)

This week the VJs went back to the week ending November 29, 1986, and there were a lot of great songs on the chart.  There were also songs that made me remember how quickly I was to turn the channel when they came on. In the fall of 1986 I was just out of high school and not yet into radio (that weird “first attempt” at college). I was also very single and in no mood to hear anything remotely sappy, which – after hearing this chart again – reminded me that I wasn’t missing anything.  Let’s take a look at some highlights:

39. “You Be Illin'” – Run D.M.C.  I still love this record.  It was at the core of a mixtape I had called “Obnoxious Cruising Music” along with the Bullwinkle record.

38. “Someday” – Glass Tiger. This one, while sappy, didn’t bother me as much.  Their first effort, “Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone),” was the “off to college” song that caused tearing up and gnashing of teeth just months earlier.

37. “Welcome To the Boomtown” – David and David. I covered this one already.

35. “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades” – Timbuk 3.  A song that has not aged well.  50 thou a year no longer buys a lot of beer.

18. “The Rain” – Oran “Juice” Jones.  This is a fantastic lost record that had an answer song – “Thunder and Lightning” by Miss Thang. When I dug out “forgotten hits” on the WLLI morning show in 1991, this one, while only 5 years old at the time, lit up the phones.

11. “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” – Wang Chung.  Am I remembering wrong, or did MTV pull this video for a while because it was causing seizures?

8. “The Way It Is” – Bruce Hornsby & the Range. An album I bought the day I first heard this song.  I was not disappointed.

7. “Amanda” – Boston.  Barf.  I was so, so eager to hear Third Stage when it finally came out, and we got… this?

6. “Word Up” – Cameo.  It is required that you sing along with this if you are able.

2. “Human” – Human League. This fell from #1 last week.  Guilty pleasure alert: I liked it.  There.  It’s out.

1.  “You Give Love A Bad Name” – Bon Jovi.  It was from the popularity of this that we got every other single off of that album.  I can’t recall how many times “Never Say Goodbye” came up at WLLI, or how many times I threw in “Edge Of a Broken Heart” on my college shows.  This one?  I could have done without it, but it’s at the top of the chart.


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