Throwback Thursday: 1986

For many years I’ve been saying that 1986 was a crap year for music. I prove myself wrong with this week’s Throwback Thursday playlist. Listen to these gems! How did I get this so wrong until now? My theory is this: In 1986 I was still listening to top 40 radio more than other formats. While there were many great hit songs in ’86 (as evidenced by the playlist below), there was also a lot of garbage songs that were successful on the pop chart. My thoughts of all those garbage songs outweighed my fond memories of all of the good songs. Well, no more, missy! Nineteen eighty-six was a good year for music. The proof is in the pudding (pudding meaning this week’s Throwback Thursday playlist).

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A Fiona Apple Playlist

If I had to recommend just one Fiona Apple album, it would be Tidal. Or Extraordinary Machine. Or Fetch the Bolt Cutters. Or The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver Of The Screw And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do. Or When The Pawn Hits The Conflicts He Thinks Like A King What He Knows Throws The Blows When He Goes To The Fight And He’ll Win The Whole Thing ‘Fore He Enters The Ring There’s No Body To Batter When Your Mind Is Your Might So When You Go Solo, You Hold Your Own Hand and Remember That Depth Is the Greatest of Heights and If You Know Where You Stand, Then You Know Where to Land and If You Fall It Won’t Matter, Cuz You’ll Know That You’re Right. Heck, all of her albums deserve a home in your collection. Hopefully today’s playlist demonstrates why.

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A Beyoncé Playlist

I was working in the international licensing department at Sony Music when Destiny’s Child released their debut album in 1998. I would field requests to include their first single, “No, No, No,” on compilation CDs. Matthew Knowles, the group’s manager and father of their usual lead singer, Beyoncé, was in favor of granting all the license requests. “I want them to become a household name” he told me. Look how far Beyoncé has come. Today’s playlist consists of my 30 favorite Beyoncé tracks. She’s had bigger hits than some of the songs included, though if I must choose, I’d choose these.

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Throwback Thursday: 1974

In 1974 Grandpa Abe gave ten-year-old me a radio. Very quickly that radio became shy me’s best friend. I hadn’t paid much attention to music previously, only hearing what played in the family care when we went out to eat or to Sunday school or the orthodontist. With my best friend Radio by my side I was exposed to so much more. Mostly I listened to the top 40 station WABC. By the autumn of 1974 I was making weekly treks on my bicycle to Melody Manor to buy whatever single entered the top 40 that week, unless it was something truly heinous like “Cat’s in the Cradle.” It’s a habit I kept up until the mid to late eighties, when “Lady in Red,” “The Final Countdown,” “Hip To Be Square” and Milli Vanilli convinced me to eschew that habit and only buy records that were tolerable. Today’s playlist celebrates the music of the year I started collecting records.

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A Bee Gees Playlist

Back when I handled the licensing for the Bee Gees, they turned down requests to be included on disco compilations. They rejected the disco label, as it limited them. Fair enough. As performers the trio placed 42 entries on the Billboard Hot 100. Do you know how many entries they placed on Billboard’s Disco chart? Three. “You Should Be Dancing” went to number one on that chart, “Tragedy” peaked at number 22, and the three new uptempo songs they recorded for the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack – “Stayin’ Alive,” “Night Fever” and “More Than a Woman” – constituted one entry, which peaked at number three. It’s the association with Saturday Night Fever,a movie where much of the action takes place at a disco, that saddled them with the disco label. That said, those five disco songs are nothing to be ashamed of. All are great. Today’s playlist spotlights their work in and outside of the disco genre, and it includes extracurricular production and songwriting activities one or more of the guys did for other acts.

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