College Countdown: CMJ Top 40 Cuts, March 16, 1990 — 36 – 33

girl like you

36. The Smithereens, “A Girl Like You”

As I’ve previously acknowledged, the Smithereens were the quintessential band of my college radio experience, so thoroughly in sync with the internal vibe of my station at the time I was there that some sort of invocation of them should have been worked into the daily sign-on statement. “A Girl Like You” was the lead single from 11, the band’s third full-length, and it had all the characteristics that made the Smithereens’ music irresistible to us. It was straightforward guitar rock, built around a hook stronger than carbon fiber and packed with simple, singalong lyrics. The song was originally penned for Cameron Crowe film Say Anything…, but it was dropped when Pat DiNizio, the chief songwriter for the Smithereens, scrapped with producers about potential changes. DiNizio and his bandmates could later claim so vindication. The track became the first Top 40 hit for the Smithereens, edging into the Billboard chart to peak at #38.

This cut was down from 18 the previous week.


35. The Beloved, “Hello”

Jon Marsh was a drummer of moderate success on the British music scene when, in 1983, he placed an ad. “I am Jon Marsh, founder member of the Beloved,” it read. “Should you too wish to do something gorgeous, meet me in exactly three year’s time at exactly 11am in Diana’s Diner, or site thereof, Covent Garden, London, WC2.” The gambit worked, and Marsh had some cohorts to begin making music with. Eventually, the Beloved was pared down to a duo and started crafting lithe, catchy pop songs. They’d had earlier singles, but “Hello,” appropriately, was the one that truly announced the band, coupling a chugging electronic melody with lyrics that namechecked a bevy of famed figures, including Fred Astaire and John-Paul Sartre.

This cut was making its debut on the chart.


fools gold

34. The Stone Roses, “Fools Gold”

“Fools Gold” became the first major U.K. hit for the Stones Roses in the U.K., pushing in to the Top 10. Initially, the band wasn’t that keen on it, though. They’d spent months working on the track, in tandem with the song “What the World is Waiting For.” The band intended “Fools Gold” to serve as the B-side, but reps from the record label intervened, insisting the musicians were misjudging which of their ways had the making of a hit. A compromise was reached, and the two songs were released together as a double A-side. Technically the songs charted together, but there was little doubt as to which cut captured music fans’ collective fancy. Sprawling to nearly ten minutes, the track wasn’t initially included on the U.S. version of the band’s self-titled debut, showing up instead as a 12-inch single. That was the format being spun when radio programmers called in their lists to CMJ in the spring of 1990.

This cut was making its debut on the chart.



33. The Silencers, “Razor Blades of Love”

Typing for myself, there was no way I was going to be able to resist the song “Razor Blades of Love.” The lead single from A Blues for Buddha, the second album from Scottish band the Silencers, the appeal of the cut is right there in the title. As I embraced my self-forged identity as a cynical romantic on he cusp of my twenties, the idea of romance that draws blood fit perfectly into my worldview. If that weren’t enough — and, I assure you, it was — the open passage of the song includes the lyrics “And my record player answers me/ A crying song for a fool like me.” That couplet might as well have served as the epigraph at the start of my theoretical autobiography. Maybe it still could. Surely I couldn’t have been the only swoony, dramatic soul who identified with the song so strongly. It got onto the chart somehow.

This cut was down from 25 the previous week.


I wrote about the chart we’re tracking through at the beginning of this particular Countdown. Previous entries can be found at the relevant tag.

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.

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