College Countdown: CMJ Top 250 Songs, 1979 – 1989, 163 – 161

163 christine

163. The House of Love, “Christine”

Released in 1988, “Christine” was the third single by the London-based band the House of Love, but it was the one that made all the difference. Their first two releases, “Shine On” and “Real Animal,” sold softly, and there was a clear sense that their label, Creation Records, was close to slotting them in the interesting failure category. The label was reportedly weighing whether or not to fund a third single when the band delivered an attention-getting live performance at London’s the Town & Country Club. Wanting to capitalize on that buzz, Creation sent the House of Love back into the studio. The result was “Christine,” which, perhaps importantly, was the first song singer/guitarist Guy Chadwick wrote with the band in mind. It broke through just enough to convince Creation to further invest in a full-length album. As the ever-colorful British music press put it, “That’s when everyone realised they were fed up with looking for anemic pop bands in toilets and wanted a rock band with sense of panache, with a precious sense of exhilaration.” Though they were now ascendent, a slightly unsettled quality that typified their tenure was also in play. Andrea Heukamp, a rhythm guitarist and singer the band recruited in part because they liked the dynamic of female vocals in the mix, quit after the song was recorded, a choice that Chadwick later characterized as, “a massive, massive blow for me.”


162 hoodoo

162. Hoodoo Gurus, “Good Times”

In 1987, Elektra Records were convinced Hoodoo Gurus could be huge. In their Australian homeland, the band were signed to the relatively modest label Big Time, which was largely content to let them settle in to a place of mid-range solidity, bolstered by the legal requirement faced by Down Under radio stations to favor their countrymen. Elektra, however, wanted more, undoubtedly spurred by watching other boisterous bands with finely tuned pop sensibilities enjoy crossover success. Somewhat against the band’s wishes, Elektra saw to it that producer Mark Opitz, whose most impressive and telling prior credit was probably INXS’s Shabooh Shoobah, was brought in for the sessions that would become Blow Your Cool!, the band’s third full-length. According to Opitz, the label told him, “These guys are great on the college circuit, but we want them to break into the stadium circuit.” Maybe seeking a transfer of magic from a band who’d made precisely that transition, the song “Good Times” was recorded with the Bangles, who’d shared a tour with Hoodoo Gurus at precisely the point “Manic Monday” became a smash hit. Even the music video for “Good Times” tried to parlay the gentle connection between the two bands, stringing together clips of the various members genially hanging out together on tour. Hoodoo Gurus didn’t need to shift their concerts to arenas on the basis of the song. Once again, though, it did dandy on the college circuit.


161 goody

161. Adam Ant, “Goody Two Shoes”

By the time he released “Goody Two Shoes,” his official solo debut, Adam Ant was well-known in the U.K., which also meant his comings and goings were fiercely documented by the notoriously intrusive and salacious British press. As lead singer and namesake of the band Adam and the Ants, the man born Stuart Leslie Goddard was front and center on seven U.K. Top 10 hits, including a pair that made it all the way to the top of the chart. Though the attention from music writers and gossip columnists certainly stoked the flames of his celebrity, Ant loathed the press, particularly what he viewed as their penchant for concocting fictional scandals to make up for his teetotaler lifestyle, which, to those scribes, seemed particularly at odds with the flamboyant persona he adopted for the stage. In early 1982, Ant told NME, “I’m sick and tired of being told that because I don’t drink or smoke or take drugs that I’m a goody two-shoes. Y’know? So what. I don’t like drugs, and that is a threat to the rock ‘n’ roll establishment…rock ‘n’ roll has become the establishment.” By the middle of that calendar year, Ant had set the gripe to music. “Goody Two-Shoes” made for a stellar solo bow, spending two weeks atop the U.K. chart and serving as his breakthrough in the United States, where it became his first charting single, peaking at #12.


As we go along, I’ll build a YouTube playlist of all the songs in the countdown. The hyperlinks associated with each numeric entry lead directly to the individual song on the playlist. All images nicked from Discogs.

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