These posts are about the songs that can accurately claim to crossed the key line of chart success, becoming Top 40 hits on Billboard, but just barely. Every song featured in this series peaked at number 40.
Evelyn King got the nickname “Champagne” because she had a bubbly personality, which couldn’t have hurt when she was recording music designed for the discotheque. King’s first album, Smooth Talk, was released in 1977 and it was meant for the dance floor as surely as Tony Manero’s white suit. Supposedly, King was working as a cleaning lady at a record label when a producer overheard her singing a bathroom and took her under her wing, a mentorship that eventually led to a deal with RCA Records. They were the ones that released that debut album and its lead single, “Shame,” which was a top ten hit. King hit the Top 40 three other times, but her first single remained her biggest.
Her fourth album came out in 1981, a time when many artists who trafficked in disco were trying to figure out how to redefine themselves as their genre of choice was not only fading but reeling from an astounding backlash. Titled I’m in Love, the album was meant to represent a significant change for King, a shift no doubt inspired by her previous effort being considered something of a bust. For one thing, she dropped the “Champagne” nickname from her official billing for the first time. It may have been a somewhat superficial adjustment, but it also a means to establishing the artist as something more than a novelty. To some degree, it worked. The title track and lead single was a significant hit on the R&B and Dance charts, topping both of those lists, the first time King accomplished that feat.
On the main Billboard chart, King had to settle for a little less impressive achievement. “I’m in Love” tipped into the Top 40 in the fall of 1981, right in the middle of a stretch during which one of the most treacly songs to ever top the charts was enjoying a ridiculous nine weeks in that position. King’s song may not be a masterpiece, but it’s surely better than that. King made it into the Top 40 one more time with “Love Come Down,” another song that topped both the R&B and Dance charts.
—“Just Like Heaven” by The Cure.