First recorded (as “Now We’re Starting Over Again”) by Dionne Warwick (UK #76 1981).
Other hit version by Natalie Cole (MOR #5/CAN #12/UK #56 1990).
From the wiki: “‘Starting Over Again’ was composed by Michael Masser and Gerry Goffin as ‘Now We’re Starting Over Again’, and was first recorded in 1981 by Dionne Warwick to augment the live performance tracks released on her album Hot! Live and Otherwise. Produced by co-writer Masser, and not released in the US as a promotional single, ‘Now We’re Starting Over Again’ did see distribution as a single in other countries and did chart in the UK where it peaked at #76.
“Natalie Cole’s arrangement of ‘Starting Over Again’, also produced by Masser, was released in late 1989 in the UK and early 1990 in the US, the fifth of five promotional singles released from her 1989 album Good to Be Back. Although the single did not chart Hot 100 or R&B, it did peak at #5 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, and also charted in Canada and the UK.”
First recorded by Sheena Easton (1987).
Hit version by Celine Dion (MOR #22/CAN #16 1991).
From the wiki: “‘The Last to Know’, written by Brock Walsh and Phil Galdston, was first recorded by Sheena Easton for her 1987 album, No Sound But a Heart.
“Canadian singer Celine Dion covered ‘The Last to Know’ for her first English-language album, Unison (1990), produced by British record producer, Christopher Neil. The song was released by Columbia Records as the album’s fourth single in Canada in March 1991. Later, in September, it was issued as a single in the rest of the world. While not charting in the Billboard Hot 100, Dion’s recording did chart Top-20 in Canada and on the US Adult Contemporary music chart.”
Written and first recorded by Stephen Bishop (1985).
Hit version by Phil Collins & Marilyn Martin (US #1/MOR #1/CAN #1/UK #4/IRE #1/AUS #14 1985).
From the wiki: “‘Separate Lives’ was written and first recorded in 1985 by Stephen Bishop (‘On and On’, 1977; ‘It Might Be You’, 1982). Released only in Hong Kong by Polydor Records on Bishop’s vinyl LP, Sleeping with Girls (a cassette format would later be released in 1986 in the US and Canada), the song would be chosen to be used in the movie White Nights in 1985. Sung by Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin, ‘Separate Lives’ would reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts as well as topping the charts in Canada and Ireland.
“Bishop received an Academy Award nomination in 1986 for Best Original Song, losing to Lionel Richie’s ‘Say You, Say Me’ from the same film.”
First recorded (as “It Must’ve Been Love (Christmas for the Broken Hearted)”) by Roxette (SWE #4 1987).
Hit version by Roxette (US #1/UK #3/CAN #1/AUS #1/NED #3/JPN #2 1990).
“And it’s a hard Christmas Day
I dream away”
From the wiki: “The song, written by Per Gessle, was first released as ‘It Must Have Been Love (Christmas for the Broken Hearted)’ in December 1987. It was composed after EMI Germany asked the duo to ‘come up with an intelligent Christmas single.’ It became a top five hit in Sweden, but was not released internationally. This version of the song was never included on any Roxette studio album until the 1997 re-release of their debut Pearls of Passion.
First recorded by Isley-Jaspar-Isley (US #51/R&B #1/NETH #21 1985).
Other hit version by The Housemartins (UK #1/IRE #1/AUS #7/NETH #3/SWE #1 1986).
From the wiki: “‘Caravan of Love’ was a 1985 R&B hit written and originally recorded by Isley-Jasper-Isley for their 3+3 album. The song became the trio’s biggest hit, going to #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart and #51 on the Billboard pop chart in 1985, but would be their only prominent hit before they splintered into solo careers in 1988.
First recorded by Linda Ronstadt (1989).
Hit album version by Glen Campbell (2017).
Also recorded by Jimmy Webb (1993).
From the wiki: “‘Adiós’ was written by hit songwriter Jimmy Webb (‘Up, Up and Away‘,’By the Time I Get to Phoenix‘), and was first recorded by Linda Ronstadt in 1989 for her album Cry Like a Rainstorm, Howl Like the Wind. Webb recorded his own arrangement in 1993 for his album Suspending Disbelief.
“The song became more widely, and poignantly, known, in 2017 when Glen Campbell’s recording was released two months before his death in August, 2017, and also used as the title song of his final album, Adiós. Featuring twelve songs Campbell had long loved but never recorded, the album was made with the help of producer and longtime collaborator Carl Jackson. Singers Willie Nelson, Vince Gill and Campbell’s children Ashley, Shannon and Cal also make guest appearances.
First recorded (as a demo) by Franke & the Knockouts (1987, released 1998).
Hit version by Jennifer Warnes & Bill Medley (US #1/MOR #1/UK #6 1987 |UK #8 1991).
From the wiki: “‘(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life’ was composed in late 1986 or early 1987 by Franke Previte, John DeNicola, and Donald Markowitz. Previte, the ‘Franke’ of the group Franke & the Knockouts, had had solo success with the song ‘Sweetheart’ in 1981 but, by 1986, was without a recording contract. Producer and head of Millennium Records, Jimmy Ienner, asked Previte about writing some music for ‘a little movie called Dirty Dancing‘. Previte initially turned the request down because he was still trying to get a record deal, but Ienner was persistent, and got Previte to write several songs for the film, including ‘Hungry Eyes‘, later recorded by singer Eric Carmen.
“After getting further approval, Previte created a demo of the song, performing on it himself with singer Rachele Cappelli. The demo showcased how the harmonies were to be used, employing a ‘cold open’ and a slow build-up of the song to its finale.
Written and first recorded by Leonard Cohen (1984).
Hit versions by k.d. lang (US #61/CAN #2 2004), Epsen Lind (NOR #1 2006), Rufus Wainwright (ROCK #34/UK #97 2007), Jeff Buckley (recorded 1994, released UK #65 2007 |US #102/UK #2 2008), Alexandra Burke (UK #1/IRE #1/EUR #1 2008), Justin Timberlake & Matt Morris (US #13/UK #91 2010), Pentatonix (US #23/GER #1/SWZ #7 2016).
Also recorded by John Cale (1991), Allison Crowe (2003).
From the wiki: “‘Hallelujah’ was written by Canadian poet-singer Leonard Cohen, and was originally released on his album Various Positions (1984). Achieving little initial success, the song found greater popular acclaim through a recording by John Cale, which inspired a recording by Jeff Buckley. It is considered as the ‘baseline’ of secular hymns. Cohen wrote around 80 draft verses for “Hallelujah”, with one writing session at the Royalton Hotel in New York where he was reduced to sitting on the floor in his underwear, banging his head on the floor.
“His original version, as recorded on his Various Positions album, contains several biblical references, most notably evoking the stories of Samson and treacherous Delilah from the Book of Judges. Following his original 1984 studio-album version, Cohen performed the original song on his world tour in 1985, but live performances during his 1988 and 1993 tours almost invariably contained a quite different set of lyrics, with only the last verse being common to the two versions. Numerous singers mix lyrics from both versions, and occasionally make direct lyric changes; for example, in place of Cohen’s ‘holy dove’, Canadian-American singer Rufus Wainwright substituted ‘holy dark’, while Canadian singer-songwriter Allison Crowe sang ‘Holy ghost’.
First recorded by Talk Talk (US #31/CAN #30/UK #46/FRA #25/GER #33/ITA #7 1984).
Other hit version by No Doubt (US #10/UK #17/CAN #9/AUS #7/SWE #4 2003).
From the wiki: “‘It’s My Life’ was written by Mark Hollis and Tim Friese-Greenem, and was first recorded in 1984 by the English new wave band Talk Talk as the title track on the band’s second album. Released as the album’s first single in January 1984, it would peak at #31 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #46 on the UK Singles chart (but chart higher on several other European charts).
“No Doubt recorded a cover version of the song in 2003 to promote their first greatest hits album The Singles 1992–2003. Because the band was on hiatus, while lead singer Gwen Stefani was recording her solo debut studio album, the group decided to record a cover to avoid having to write an entirely new song.”
Written and first recorded by Dean Friedman (1981).
Also recorded by Barenaked Ladies (1992)
Hit version by The Blenders (NOR #1 1998).
From the wiki: “‘McDonald’s Girl’ was a track from Dean Friedman’s third album, Rumpled Romeo, and found him falling in love with a girl who works at McDonald’s – ‘an angel in polyester.’ Friedman’s previous album had produced hits in the UK, with ‘Lucky Stars’ and ‘Lydia’, but this one ran into a problem: the BBC refused to play any song where the name of a product or company was mentioned in a way they could be considered an endorsement. The Kinks had gotten around this in their song ‘Lola’ by swapping out ‘Coca-Cola’ for ‘cherry cola’, but there was no way to edit ‘McDonalds’ out of this one. Friedman recalls, ‘I thought ‘McDonald’s Girl’ was a surefire hit. It was released by CBS Records in the UK. But it was immediately banned by the BBC.’
“The Barenaked Ladies played ‘McDonald’s Girl’ at many early concerts and, in 1992, they also performed it on an appearance on the Toronto radio station CFNY. In 1998, the Minnesota a capella group, The Blenders, released their version as a single. It went to #1 in Norway. In 2011, their version was used in a commercial for McDonald’s.”
First recorded by Dusty Springfield (recorded ca. 1989, released 1997).
Hit version by Sadao Watanabe & Patti Austin (US #6 1990).
From the wiki: “‘Any Other Fool’ was written by Diane Warren (‘Set the Night to Music‘, ‘Because You Loved Me’) and Robbie Buchanan. It was first recorded in late 1988 or early 1989 by Dusty Springfield for a planned inclusion on her album, Reputation.
“But, Springfield was said to have been upset that Warren had also given the song to someone else when it had been promised to her. She then chose not to include her own recording when Reputation was released in 1990. But, in 1997, when the album was repackaged and re-released (only in the UK), as Reputation and Rarities, Springfield’s recording of ‘Any Other Fool’ was included as a bonus CD track.
“That ‘someone else’ were Sadao Watanabe and Patti Austin, whose recording of ‘Any Other Fool’ was released as a single on Dec. 9, 1989 from Watanabe’s Front Seat album. Their single peaked at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 on Feb. 24, 1990, spending a total of 23 weeks on the chart.”
Written and first recorded (as a demo) by Steve Porcaro (1983).
Hit version by Michael Jackson (US #7/MOR #2/R&B #27/CAN #11 1984).
From the wiki: “‘Human Nature’ was written by Toto band member Steve Porcaro about a playground incident his daughter had at school earlier in the day. (A boy had hit her after she fell off the slide – Porcaro said ‘she asked [me] why?’ and he replied ‘it was human nature.’) Procaro wrote the song that night in a studio while the band was mixing their single, ‘Africa’, in another studio.
“Soon after, bandmate David Paich called Procaro one day to make a cassette tape of 2 songs David had written for Michael Jackson’s new Thriller album project, for someone to pick up for delivery. Procaro happened to use the cassette he recorded ‘Human Nature’ on, putting Paich’s songs on the opposite side and switching the labels to read Side-A. It was a happy accident that auto-playback kicked in while Jackson producer Quincy Jones was in his car listening to Porcaro’s cassette demo. Jones got to hear ‘Human Nature’ on Side B, and loved it.”
First performed and recorded by Elaine Paige (UK #6 1981).
Similar to “Bolero in Blue” by Larry Clinton (1940).
Other hit versions by Barbra Streisand (US #52/MOR #9/UK #34 1982), Barry Manilow (US #39/MOR #8 1982), Elaine Paige rerecording (UK #36 1998).
From the wiki: “‘Memory’, often incorrectly called ‘Memories’, is a show tune from the 1981 musical Cats. Its writers, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cats director Trevor Nunn, received the 1981 Ivor Novello award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically. (Prior to its inclusion in Cats, the tune was earmarked for earlier Lloyd Webber projects, including a ballad for Perón in Evita, and as a song for Max in his original 1970s draft of Sunset Boulevard.)
“The lyric was based on T. S. Eliot’s poems ‘Preludes’ and ‘Rhapsody on a Windy Night’. Composer Lloyd Webber feared that the tune sounded too similar to Ravel’s ‘Bolero’ and to a work by Puccini, and also that the opening – the haunting main theme – closely resembled the flute solo (improvised by Bud Shank in the studio) from The Mamas & the Papas’ 1965 song ‘California Dreamin””.
“Lloyd-Webber asked his father’s opinion; according to him, his father responded ‘It sounds like a million dollars!’ While Lloyd Webber does acknowledge Ravel’s ‘Bolero’, there is no mention of similarity to ‘Bolero in Blue’ written by Larry Clinton, replicating note-for-note the first several measures from Clinton’s composition.
First recorded (as demos titled “My Life” and “Don’t Be Crazy”) by John Lennon (1980).
Hit version by John Lennon (US #1/UK #1/CAN #1/AUS #1 1980).
From the wiki: “‘(Just Like) Starting Over’ was written and performed by John Lennon for his album, Double Fantasy. Although its origins were in unfinished demo compositions like ‘Don’t Be Crazy’ and ‘My Life’, it was one of the last songs to be completed in time for the Double Fantasy album sessions. ‘We didn’t hear it until the last day of rehearsal,’ producer Jack Douglas said in 2005. Lennon finished the song while on holiday in Bermuda, and recorded it at The Hit Factory in New York City just weeks later.
“The original title was to be ‘Starting Over’. ‘(Just Like)’ was added at the last minute because a country song of the same title had recently been released by Tammy Wynette.
“While commercial releases of the song (original 45 rpm singles, LP’s and Compact Discs) run a length of three minutes and 54 seconds, a promotional 12” vinyl single originally issued to radio stations features a longer fade-out, officially running at four minutes and 17 seconds. This version is highly sought by collectors.
“It became Lennon’s biggest solo American hit, posthumously, staying at #1 for five weeks.”
Co-written and first recorded by Carole Bayer-Sager (1981).
Hit version by co-writer Neil Diamond (US #27/MOR #4 1982).
From the wiki: “‘On the Way to the Sky’ was written by Neil Diamond and Carole Bayer Sager. First recorded and released by Bayer-Sager in 1981. on her album Sometimes Late At Night, the song would become a chart hit for co-writer Diamond in 1982 when released as the title track promotional single for his fourteenth studio album, On the Way to the Sky.”
First recorded (as a demo) by Lionel Richie (1981, released 2003).
First performed by Shea Chambers (1981).
Hit versions by Diana Ross & Lionel Richie (US #1/MOR #1/R&B #1/UK #7 1981), Mariah Carey & Luther Vandross (US #2/R&B #7/CAN #6/UK #3/IRE #4/AUS #2 1994).
From the wiki: “‘Endless Love’ was written by Lionel Richie, and was first recorded by him as a demo in 1981. It would not be released until 2003, as a bonus track on the remastered CD version of his debut solo album, Lionel Richie.
“‘Endless Love’ was performed in the 1981 movie Endless Love by Shea Chambers (an uncredited lip-sync performance) but whose vocal did not appear on the subsequent motion picture soundtrack album release. An arrangement recorded as a duet by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie was instead used, which was subsequently released as the promotional single for the album. (Released while Richie still officially was a member of The Commodores. The success of the duet encouraged Richie to branch out into a full-fledged, and very successful, solo career.)
“The Ross/Richie duet became a #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, and nearly 30 years after its release it still remains the best-selling single of Ross’ career. The single stayed at #1 for no less than nine weeks from August 9 to October 10, 1981, making it the biggest-selling single of the year in the US. It also topped the Billboard R&B chart and the Adult Contemporary chart as well as becoming a Top ten hit single in the UK, peaking at #7.
First recorded by Belinda Carlisle (1987).
Hit versions by Boy Meets Girl (US #5/MOR #1/UK #9/CAN #1 1988), Cabin Crew (UK #4 2005), Sunset Strippers (UK #3 2005).
From the wiki: “‘Waiting for a Star to Fall’ was written by Shannon Rubicam and George Merrill, inspired by an actual falling star that Rubicam had seen at one of Whitney Houston’s concerts at the Greek Theatre. Initially, the duo did not consider recording it and, instead, submitted the song to Clive Davis to consider including it on Houston’s next album. But, he rejected it, alleging that the song did not suit her. The song was then offered to and recorded by Belinda Carlisle for her 1987 release, Heaven on Earth. But, Carlisle disliked the song and refused to include it on the album.
“Merrill and Rubicam decided to record the song themselves, as the group Boy Meets Girl, for their second album Reel Life, becoming a Top 10 hit in the US, the UK and Canada.”
First recorded by The Family (1985).
Hit version by Sinead O’Connor (US #1/UK #1/CAN #1/IRE #1/AUS #1 1989).
Also recorded by Prince & The New Power Generation (1993), fDeluxe (aka The Family) (2016).
From the wiki: “‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ was written and composed by Prince for one of his side projects, The Family. It was later made famous by Irish recording artist Sinéad O’Connor, whose arrangement was released as the second single from her second studio album, I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got. This version, which O’Connor co-produced with Nellee Hooper, became a worldwide hit in 1990.
“The Family’s origins started with the disintegration of The Time in 1984. Lead singer Morris Day had left the band to pursue a solo career and guitarist Jesse Johnson became the de facto band leader. Prince invited the remaining members of The Time – Jellybean Johnson, Jerome Benton, and Paul Peterson – to his home and presented them with his new project. They agreed to become a new band called The Family, with Peterson renamed ‘St. Paul’ as the new frontman and bassist. The Family was a relatively important album in Prince’s musical career because it allowed him to test several musical concepts that he would later fully integrate in his music. ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ appeared on the album but it was not released as a single, and received little recognition. (A mix of the song, featuring Prince on vocals, was released in 1993 under the guise of The New Power Generation.)
First recorded (as “In Your Arms”) by Diana Ross (1982).
Hit version by Teddy Pendergrass & Whitney Houston (US #46/MOR #6/R&B #5/UK #44 1984).
From the wiki: “‘Hold Me’, originally titled ‘In Your Arms’, was written by Linda Creed & Michael Masser (‘The Greatest Love of All‘), and was first recorded by Diana Ross for her 1982 album Silk Electric.
“In 1984, the song was recorded as a duet by Teddy Pendergrass and Whitney Houston. That recording was released simultaneously as a single in 1984 by both Pendergrass (from his album Love Language) and Houston (from her self-titled debut album, Whitney).”
Written and first recorded by Larry John McNally (1986).
Hit version by Rod Stewart ft. The Temptations (US #10/MOR #3/UK #10 1991).
From the wiki: “‘The Motown Song’ was written by Larry John McNally and was originally recorded by McNally in 1986 for the Quicksilver movie soundtrack. In 1991, Rod Stewart covered ‘The Motown Song’ with the Temptations, for Stewart’s album Vagabond Heart.”
Written and first recorded by Suzanne Vega (1982).
Hit versions Suzanne Vega (UK #58 1987), DNA (as “Oh Suzanne!”) ft. Suzanne Vega (US #5/R&B #10/UK #2 1990/CAN #4/AUS #8/GER #1), Giorgio Moroder ft. Britney Spears (2015).
From the wiki: “Tom’s Diner’ was written and first recorded by Suzanne Vega in 1982. The song’s orgin can be traced back to a story published on November 18, 1981, in the New York Post, thanks to this set of lines:
‘I open up the paper, there’s a story of an actor / Who had died while he was drinking, it was no one I had heard of / And I’m turning to the horoscope, and looking for the funnies.’
“By cross-referencing the New York daily papers operating in 1981, fans of the song isolated the star in question as William Holden, an Academy Award winner who died alone and drunk in his apartment.
First recorded by Katrina & the Waves (1983).
Hit version by Katrina & the Waves (US#9/UK #8/CAN #3/IRE 2/AUS #4 1985).
From the wiki: “‘Walking on Sunshine’ was written by Kimberley Rew for Katrina & the Waves’ 1983 debut album of the same name. The band recorded – at their own expense – an LP of their original material designed to be sold at gigs. The album was shopped around to various labels, but only Attic Records in Canada responded with an offer.
“Consequently, although Katrina & the Waves were based in England, the first album, Walking On Sunshine, was released only in Canada. The title track garnered enough critical attention and radio play (especially for the title track) to merit a Canadian tour and a follow-up album in Canada (Katrina and the Waves 2, in 1984).
Written and first recorded by John Stewart (1987).
Hit version by Rosanne Cash (C&W #1 1988).
From the wiki: “‘Runaway Train’ is a song written by John Stewart and was first released by Stewart on the album Punch the Big Guy. Rosanne Cash released her released in July 1988 as the fourth single from the album King’s Record Shop. It would become her ninth #1 hit on the Country chart as a solo artist.”
First recorded by R.E.M. (1981).
Hit version by R.E.M. (US #78 1983).
From the wiki: “‘Radio Free Europe’ was written by R.E.M., and was first recorded and released in 1981 as the group’s debut single on the short-lived independent record label Hib-Tone. The single received critical acclaim, earning the band a record deal with IRS Records. R.E.M. then re-recorded the song for its 1983 debut album on IRS, Murmur.
“R.E.M. formed in Athens, Georgia in 1980. The band quickly established itself in the local scene. Over the course of 1980 the band refined its songwriting skills, helped by its frequent gigs at local venues. One of the group’s newer compositions was ‘Radio Free Europe’. The other members of the band were reportedly awestruck when they heard the lyrics and melodies singer Michael Stipe had written for the song. By May 1981 the band added ‘Radio Free Europe’ to its set-list.”
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