The Hits of 1987: Rock Fights Back
Dance pop and real rock battle it out on the charts
In 1987 AIDS sufferers finally got a treatment that worked - AZT was approved by the FDA put on the market after years of study and trials. In England, the first criminal to be convicted through the use of DNA evidence was Robert Melias, and two major public tragedies in transportation happened - the capsizing of a ferry and a fire in the subway at King's Cross station. A worldwide stock market crash started cascading in the US and soon spread to other countries. The Unabomber's second victim was a computer store owner in Utah, and a super cheap and lightweight computer made by Clive Sinclair was all the rage first in the UK and then in the US. For the first time consumers could buy disposable contact lenses, putting to an end the old ritual of looking for alense on the gym floor. President Reagan admitted that the Iran Contra affair had gotten out of control, but the country still loved him.
What happened in 1987's music?
The first woman was inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame - Aretha Franklin. The year's other inductees were Bo Diddley, Marvin Gaye, Eddie Cochran, Bill Haley, Carl Perkins, Smokey Robinson, Ricky Nelson, Roy Orbison, The Coasters, Clyde McPhatter, and Jackie Wilson. Something happened that nobody could ever have guessed - the Grateful Dead finally had a hot hit song and even a popular video with Touch of Grey, from their album In the Dark. One of the great reggae stars, Peter Tosh, was the victim of violence, killed by hooligans in his native Jamaica. And for some reason, 3 number 1 hits in 1987 were covers of 60s tunes - I Think We're Alone Now, Mony Mony, and You Keep Me Hangin' On. Nostalgia is a money maker.
Top Hits of 1987
The top 5 worldwide hits for the year were La Bamba by the Latino band Los Lobos, Never Gonna Give You Up by Rick Astley (that face, that video!), I Wanna Dance With Somebody Who Loves Me by everybody's darling Whitney Houston, It's a Sin by Pet Shop Boys, and With or Without You by U2. Other number ones during the year were A Wing and A Prayer by Bon Jovi, Bob Seger's Shakedown, I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For by U2, and Faith by George Michaels. Lovers of rock all over the world thanked God for U2.
Credit: pixabay.comAn actual Joshua tree
Still being released on CDs and vinyl, some of the best albums of the century came out this year. The standout was of course The Joshua Tree by U2, but there was also Guns and Roses' Appetite For Destruction, Pleased to Meet Me from the Replacements, Kiss Me x3 by the Cure, Tunnel of Love by Bruce Springsteen (his first record without the E Street Band), Lonesome Jubilee by John Mellencamp, and Solitude Standing by Suzanne Vega. And of course, Michael Jackson was Bad, and George Michaels had Faith. Rockers everywhere had faith in U2.
All Hail U2
The great Irish rock band finally figured out what they should sound like with their classic album The Joshua Tree. Their last album, the Unforgettable Fire, had some wonderful songs, but for many it was a step backwards from the previous album War, having some successfully moody pieces, but a little too much gossamer noodling. The Joshua Tree was tightly sequenced, sounded live in the studio (some of it was), was beautifully produced, and had great song after great song. Even if it had featured only had 3 songs worthy of being on the hit charts, it would have been a classic. It remains one for the ages today.