College Countdown: KROQ-FM’s Top 40 Songs of 1987, 1

1. “Just Like Heaven” by the Cure The third single from the Cure’s 1987 double album release, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, was a clear breakthrough for the band, at least in the United States. It was their first song to cross into the Billboard Top 40, although just barely. What’s more, the band that MTV had been toying with for a couple of years found themselves with a very secure place on the trend-setting cable network. Maybe that was in part because the smitten exuberance of the song helped the band shake off some of gothy cobwebs that … Continue reading College Countdown: KROQ-FM’s Top 40 Songs of 1987, 1

College Countdown: KROQ-FM’s Top 40 Songs of 1987, 2

2. “Girlfriend in a Coma” by the Smiths “Girlfriend in a Coma” was the first single from Strangeways, Here We Come, the final studio album from the Smiths. Indeed, by most accounts the band was in the midst of splintering apart as the track was slipping up the U.K. charts. The B-side even houses the last song the Smiths ever recorded, “I Keep Mine Hidden.” The A-side is, of course, pretty notable all on its own, inspiring countless covers and even the title to a novel by an author who never tires of clinging at references that will make him … Continue reading College Countdown: KROQ-FM’s Top 40 Songs of 1987, 2

College Countdown: KROQ-FM’s Top 40 Songs of 1987, 4 and 3

4. “Lips Like Sugar” by Echo & the Bunnymen I was still playing catch-up with college rock in 1987, so my true first impression on many of the bands that prospered there, including those that had been around for a while, was based on how fans were viewing the music they were making right that moment. So I was under the impression that Echo & the Bunnymen were some sort of perpetual disappointment. I’ll admit it: I was sort of a dumb kid. The British band’s fifth album was released in 1987. Self-titled, it was inspired a lot of agitated … Continue reading College Countdown: KROQ-FM’s Top 40 Songs of 1987, 4 and 3

College Countdown: KROQ-FM’s Top 40 Songs of 1987, 6 and 5

6. “Need You Tonight” by INXS The Australian band INXS could reasonable claim that they’d already broken through on the U.S. charts when they released Kick, their sixth studio album, in October of 1987. Their prior effort, 1985’s Listen Like Thieves, just missed the Top 10 of the Billboard album charts and yielded a Top 5 hit in the lead single, “What You Need,” which MTV seemed to play about as much as their top of the hour astronaut bumper. That taste of success was a grain of salt compared to the deluge of flavor that came with Kick, an … Continue reading College Countdown: KROQ-FM’s Top 40 Songs of 1987, 6 and 5

College Countdown: KROQ-FM’s Top 40 Songs of 1987, 8 and 7

8. “True Faith” by New Order New Order’s 1986 album, Brotherhood, may have still had an impact in 1987 (see #39 below), but it was the two-record set released during the year proper that represented a major turning point for the band. Called Substance or Substance 1987, depending on how deeply one feels the need to accede primacy to the Joy Division collection of the same name released the following year, the album compiled all of New Order’s singles and b-sides up to that point, although some of them in rerecorded or otherwise modified form. To help fill out the … Continue reading College Countdown: KROQ-FM’s Top 40 Songs of 1987, 8 and 7

College Countdown: KROQ-FM’s Top 40 Songs of 1987, 10 and 9

10. “Never Let Me Down Again” by Depeche Mode The second single from Depeche Mode’s Music for the Masses, “Never Let Me Down Again,” was the a fairly weak performer, by some measures anyway, compared to the other tracks released in the first wave of the album’s promotion. Of the first three singles, for example, it was the lowest charter on the U.K. charts and the only one that didn’t manage a Top 5 showing on the U.S. Dance charts (lead single “Strangelove” even managed to top that particular chart for two weeks). Nonetheless, it was one of those songs … Continue reading College Countdown: KROQ-FM’s Top 40 Songs of 1987, 10 and 9

College Countdown: KROQ-FM’s Top 40 Songs of 1987, 12 and 11

12. “A Hazy Shade of Winter” by the Bangles “A Hazy Shade of Winter” was first recorded and released as a single by Simon & Garfunkel in 1966, about a year-and-a-half before it took up residence deep on Side Two of their album Bookends. The song charted at #13 for the duo, making it their fifth straight entry in the Billboard Top 40. Around twenty years later, the Bangles were recruited to contribute a song for a movie soundtrack, because it was the eighties and that was what happened then. The band was still basking in the enormous success of … Continue reading College Countdown: KROQ-FM’s Top 40 Songs of 1987, 12 and 11

College Countdown: KROQ-FM’s Top 40 Songs of 1987, 14 and 13

14. “Where the Streets Have No Name” by U2 There’s nothing like a collegiate existence defined by college radio to absolutely ensure there are lots and lots of earnest late night conversations about the deeper meanings of songs. I remember one night, probably fueled by steady consumption of blue bullets, when my roommate and I swapped theories about various songs. At one point, he theorized that the U2 hit “Where the Streets Have No Name” was about Heaven, which seemed extremely profound at the time. Of course, it’s also entirely wrong. Bono’s lyrics were instead inspired by a story the … Continue reading College Countdown: KROQ-FM’s Top 40 Songs of 1987, 14 and 13

College Countdown: KROQ-FM’s Top 40 Songs of 1987, 16 and 15

16. “Is It Really So Strange?” by the Smiths As previously noted, the Smiths released Strangeways, Here We Come, their final studio album, in 1987. That same year also brought Louder Than Bombs, a double album compilation consisting almost entirely of singles and other songs that hadn’t yet been released in the United States. “Is It Really Strange?” is the track that leads off the album, and it also appeared as the B-side to the “Sheila Take a Bow” single. The version that appears on Louder Than Bombs was recorded as part of the band’s fourth and final John Peel … Continue reading College Countdown: KROQ-FM’s Top 40 Songs of 1987, 16 and 15

College Countdown: KROQ-FM’s Top 40 Songs of 1987, 18 and 17

18. “The Sweetest Thing” by U2 Having the natural contrarian spirit of a teenager, I was somewhat dismissive of U2’s The Joshua Tree at first. For one thing, my sensibility was well into the process of being shaped by the cranky irony of David Letterman’s late night endeavor, so the thudding sincerity of Bono and the boys instinctively rankled me. There was a point when even I had to concede that the record was exceptional, though. The thing that finally broke my defiant stance was “The Sweetest Thing.” The track was originally released as one of the B-sides on “Where … Continue reading College Countdown: KROQ-FM’s Top 40 Songs of 1987, 18 and 17