2. “Just Play Music” by Big Audio Dynamite
I’m sure the expectation was that Big Audio Dynamite would have a significant breakthrough with their 1988 album, Tighten Up, Vol. ’88. The main preoccupation for Mick Jones after departing the Clash has enjoyed some amount of success with their first two outings, especially garnering some attention when Jones reunited with his former bandmate Joe Strummer on B.A.D.’s sophomore release, No. 10, Upping Street, with Clash co-producing the record and co-writing several songs. They’d spent a chunk of 1987 opening for U2 on a world tour that just so happened to be in support of a fairly major album. The band, it seemed, were poised to explode. I’m not sure how accurate that term actually is, but the record certainly continued Big Audio Dynamite’s success on the college charts and the newly conceived modern rock chart. Lead single “Just Play Music” wound up becoming the second song to top the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. In the inaugural week, though, it had to settle for runner-up. Success dwindled somewhat after this, at least until Jones reconfigured the band and dubbed it B.A.D. II, eventually releasing a couple of singles that endured better than the earlier, perhaps superior material.
1. “Peek-A-Boo” by The Siouxsie and the Banshees
I’ve expended a lot of words throughout the Billboard countdown grousing about how this tally of the biggest modern rock songs of the fall of 1988 didn’t match my recollections as a novice DJ with sudden access to a great array of amazing music and two turntables and a microphone hooked up to a transmitter that allowed me the privilege of sharing it all with the listeners of central Wisconsin. Here at #1, it’s a different matter. This song was all over college radio, and, if I recall correctly, topped the equivalent CMJ chart for weeks and weeks. The lead single from Peepshow, the band’s ninth studio album, was apparently intended to be a b-side, but everyone agreed it was too good to be lost like that. Built on backwards sample from an aborted cover of “Gun” by John Cale, the song is a feverish, deliciously dark dance track with evocative, enticing lead vocals by Siouxsie Sioux. By any measure, it was the band’s biggest U.S. hit to date, only topped by a surprisingly foray into the Billboard Top 40 a couple years later. There are some really terrible songs that can boast taking the #1 position on this particular chart in the ensuing years, but at least the first track to claim that honor is as worthy as can be.
20 and 19: “All I Wanted” and “Don’t Walk Away”
18 and 17: “Back on the Breadline” and “Motorcrash”
16 and 15: “Dumb Things” and “Don’t Go”
14 and 13: “Liar Liar” and “High Time”
12 and 11: “Up There and Down There” and “Christine”
10 and 9: “What’s On Your Mind (Pure Energy)” and “What’s the Matter Here”
8 and 7: “Wild Wild West” and “All That Money Wants”
6 and 5: “Intoxication” and “Tumblin’ Down”
4 and 3: “Breakfast in Bed” and “Crash”