College Countdown: KROQ-FM’s Top 40 Songs of 1987, 28 and 27

28. “Crazy” by Icehouse
So let’s dial back to the way perceptions of bands were shaped circa 1987. For those, like me, who were stuck is relatively small suburban areas, well removed from the major culture centers, there weren’t many ways to find out about new music, especially given the ever-increasingly caution of local radio. This led to the disproportionate influence of MTV, which served as a de facto nationwide radio station back when they were more interested in music videos than reality shows. So the first time I heard of Icehouse was when the video for “Crazy” started getting saturation airplay on the network, thanks largely to its aural resemblance to recent channel heroes Simple Minds, Tears for Fears and (you know it’s true) Mr. Mister. That led me to believe that the Australian group was relatively new, grabbing onto the long coattails of a certain brand of emotive, orchestral pop in a quest for fame. Not quite. Icehouse had been around for almost a decade at that point, releasing their first album in 1980 and producing music with some regularity after that. They’d even had a couple minor U.S. hits before “Crazy,” which really shows how little I was paying attention. None of their music is all that good, so I wasn’t missing much. Still, it’s at least better than the “beer” that shares the band’s name. Now the band may have caressed their sound to suit what was then in vogue, but they weren’t exactly upstarts as I believed.

27. “It’s a Sin” by Pet Shop Boys
While were on the subject of my misconceptions, I tend to forget just how big the Pet Shop Boys were during their nineteen-eighties heyday. I erroneously think of them as “West End Girls” (which was their very first single, amazingly enough) and then a bunch of also-ran releases that garnered them just enough dance club goodwill to keep the residuals rolling in. While “West End Girls” was undoubtedly their commercial peak (Top 5 on charts around the world and topping the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S.), they had a series of significant hits, including four more visits to the U.S. Top 10. “It’s a Sin,” the lead single off of the album Actually, was a member of that particular quartet. Besides its Top 10 placement in the States, it also became their first #1 back home in the U.K. since “West End Girls.” This is the first of two Pet Shop Boys songs on the countdown.

An Introduction
40 and 39: “4th of July” and “Bizarre Love Triangle”
38 and 37: “Heartbreak Beat” and “Not My Slave”
36 and 35: “Alone Again Or” and “Absolute Perfection”
34 and 33: “Love Removal Machine” and “The Passenger”
32 and 31: “It’s Still Warm” and “Hourglass”
30 and 29: “Alex Chilton” and “We Care a Lot”

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