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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Records of the Year

The Grammy Awards are being presented tonight. Woo. It’s billed as “music’s biggest night,” just as May 7 through May 16 is billed as “the biggest week in American birding,” if only because ten days is a lot for one week. Birders. Am I right, people? Performers at this year’s Grammys include Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak doing their new song, because what better way to celebrate the music of 2020 than with a single that was released last week? Performers I’m looking forward to include Miranda Lambert, Cardi B, HAIM, Megan Thee Stallion, Brittany Howard, Doja Cat, Dua Lipa, and Billie Eilish, whose “Everything I Wanted” is up for Record of the Year. That’s my favorite of the nominees, though I think the award will go to Beyoncé for “Black Parade,” and I have no problem with that. However, if the award goes to that record I never heard of until I started typing this sentence, sneakers will be thrown at my television (though that record may be good for all I know). For Album of the Year my vote goes to Fiona Apple’s Fetch the Bolt Cutters, as it was handily the best album of 2020. It probably won’t win, seeing as it wasn’t nominated. What was nominated over Apple’s album? That Coldplay album you forgot about and the Jacob Collier album you never heard of until you started reading this sentence (though that album may be good for all you know). Of the albums nominated, I’d pick HAIM’s. It’s very good. Not Fetch The Bolt Cutters good, but very good nonetheless. If HAIM win I hope they hand their award to Fiona Apple live on the telecast, which would be super impressive, seeing as they won’t be in the same room. I’m sure tonight’s show will include a tribute to dead people done by living people who are no match for said dead people. I’d rather want a montage of clips of the dead people performing when they were living people. <Fill in the blank> screaming is not representative of what made Aretha Franklin amazing. No disrespect to <fill in the blank>, but there’s more to being the Queen of Soul than having a mic and ovaries.

It’s easy to shit on the Grammys, as they are so shittable, but to be fair, not every Record of the Year is as terrible as 1988’s recipient, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” Here are thirty of the better winners:

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Throwback Thursday – 1986

By 1986, Aerosmith appeared to have had their best years behind them. Sales of their releases that decade lagged significantly behind their hits in the 1970s, and the group’s members were struggling with drug addictions.

They did have fans, though. One was music producer Rick Rubin. He was working with rap group Run-D.M.C., who were known in hip hop circles and with music critics for incorporating rock guitars and beats in their boastful raps, such as “Rock Box” and “King of Rock.”

Rubin suggested Run-D.M.C. do a remake of Aerosmith’s 1977 hit “Walk This Way,” but the rappers had no interest in doing a cover. However, the group’s DJ, Jam Master Jay, was open to the idea, and Rubin called Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Joe Perry to come into the studio. Perry was familiar with the rappers, as his stepson was a fan. Jam Master Jay convinced Run and D.M.C. to give the remake a shot, seeing as Tyler and Perry were in the studio with Rubin.

The Run-D.M.C./Aerosmith version of “Walk This Way” was not only massively successful, but highly influential as well. It became Run-D.M.C.’s first crossover hit, and the first rap track to make the top ten of Billboard’s Hit 100, peaking at #4, six notches higher than Aerosmith’s original peaked. It opened the door to future song/rap collaborations, something that continues to dominate the charts to this day, not to mention bringing “rock rap” to a wide audience.

Steven Tyler went to rehab in 1986, and the other members of Aerosmith also sought treatment for their drug addictions. On the heels of the success of the “Walk This Way” remake, Aerosmith released the Permanent Vacation album in the late summer of 1987. Its first single, “Dude (Looks Like a Lady),” became the group’s first hit single outside the Run-D.M.C. collaboration since 1978’s “Come Together.” They followed that single with a string of big hits over the next few years, including “Love in an Elevator,” “Cryin’,” “Janie’s Got a Gun,” “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” “Livin’ on the Edge,” and “Jaded.”

This week’s Throwback Thursday playlist spotlights the best of 1986, kicking off with the groundbreaking “Walk This Way,” performed by Run-D.M.C. and featuring Aerosmith’s “Steven Tyler and Joe Perry.


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grammy plaque

Did You Know Sara Bareilles Released An Album This Year?

grammy plaqueI’ve worked on nearly every Grammy compilation release since the first one.

The nominees for the 56th annual Grammy Awards were announced last Friday. The nominations always elicit strong reactions from music fans. I’m pleased with many of the Academy’s selections (Go Kendrick Lamar and Daft Punk!) and puzzled by others (Ed Sheeran is nominated for Best New Artist. Last year he was nominated for Song of the Year. Was he pre-new then?).

Today’s Tunes du Jour playlist consists of some of the tracks that have won Record of the Year. I choose to focus on the positive. I refuse to bash the Grammy voters for when they got it wrong (such as, for example, when they gave Record of the Year to Bobby McFerrin for “Don’t Worry Be Happy.” What the hell was that about? That record won over Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car.” Are you kidding me?).

Herewith are some of the better Record of the Year winners.