26. “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” by U2
The Joshua Tree, the fifth studio album from U2, was released on March 9, 1987. I think it’s quite far to tag that as the date that everything changed decisively for the Irish quartet. It’s not like they hadn’t enjoyed a taste of success previously, especially back home in the U.K., where they were an established Top 10 act. Even in the presumably tougher-to-crack United States, their previous two studio albums had peaked just outside of the Billboard Top 10, and the single “Pride (In the Name of Love)” snagged them their first stateside visit to the Top 40. Still, that was merely insufficient prelude to the colossal commercial achievements of The Joshua Tree, which has sold over 25 million copies worldwide. It spent nine consecutive weeks atop the Billboard album charts, and each of the first two singles from the record also went all the way to #1. “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” was the second of those singles, spending a week at the top during the summer, both preceded and followed in that position by soundtrack offerings that are not especially well-regarded now (or, arguably, then). This is the first of four U2 songs on the countdown.
25. “Rules and Regulations” by Public Image Ltd.
I think we’re long past the point where a commercial radio station–even one as daring as KROQ-FM–actively uses their own musical judgment in determining which songs get played from which albums, ignoring the dictates of the labels and promotion agencies if it suited them. That seems to be the case with “Rules and Regulations,” a song off of the Public Image Ltd. album Happy?. I’ll admit the probable incompleteness of the information at my disposal, but I can find no mention of the song’s release as a single, a distinction afforded both “Seattle” and “The Body.” Those two tracks are probably the best-known off that album, offering some conformation of that factoid. Neither shows up on KROQ’s year-end chart, though. Instead, “Rules and Regulation” is the melding of Johnny Lydon’s distinctive bray and post-punk/post-punk disco rhythms that did well enough at the station to outrank one of U2’s biggest hits when the tally was done. There may be some other explanation for the incongruities, but I prefer to happily chalk it up to a bygone brand of non-conformity. After all, that explanation is well-suited to a band featuring Lydon, who has his own history marked by bucking against society until the entertainment industry shifted and time came to pay bills.
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”
28 and 27: “Crazy” and “It’s a Sin”