Thursday, March 19, 2009

Looking Back at the Careers of the Grammy Nominated Best New Artists of The 1980's - Part 2

A couple of days ago, I looked at the Grammy Best New Artist winners and nominees from 1980-1984. Today, let's look at those from the second half of the decade known as the 1980's...

1.) Best New Artist of 1985: Sade

Other nominees: A-Ha, Freddie Jackson, Katrina & The Waves, Julian Lennon

Analysis: This is an interesting lot. Sade easily has had the most sustainable career with a string of hits like "Smooth Operator", "Sweetest Taboo", "Paradise" and that wedding song dirge "By Your Side". I own her "Lovers Live" CD and its not a bad driving CD when I'm on a trip with Hungiewoman.

As for the others, you have two of the biggest one hit wonder hits of the entire music history, much less the 1980's, in A-Ha's "Take On Me" and Katrina & The Waves "Walking On Sunshine". Julian Lennon had one major hit in "Too Late For Goodbyes" and a pretty cool secondary hit in "Valotte" but that was pretty much it for him. Its eerie how much he sounded like his famous father. Freddie Jackson carved out a nice R&B career with hits like "You Are My Lady" and "Rock Me Tonight".

* Did the Grammy's get it right?: I think its safe to say that Sade had more hits than the other four combined.

2.) Best New Artist of 1986: Bruce Hornsby and the Range

Other nominees: Glass Tiger, Nu Shooz, Simply Red, Timbuk 3

Analysis: Bruce Hornsby put together a decent string of hits like "The Way It Is" (T'Pac, were he alive today, would be sending Bruce a Christmas card every year for that sample he took), "Mandolin Rain" (a personal favorite), "Every Little Kiss" (featuring the most annoying synthesizer sound), and "The Valley Road". Hornsby also wrote a couple of number one hits for Don Henley ("End Of The Innocence") and Huey Lewis and The News ("Jacob's Ladder"). I believe he still tours today.

As for the others...oh boy. I literally stared at those nominees for a good minute before even trying to formulate a thought. Glass Tiger had that one hit "Don't Forget Me When I'm Gone"...the one where Bryan Adams mysteriously appears at the end to sing a few words. Nu Shooz had that goofy song "I Can't Wait" which features a pretty cool synthesizer bass line and the staccato line "Ba-ba-baby, I-I-I can't wait"...hah, funny stuff. They also had a good song in "Point Of No Return" yet it features one of the most whiny voices. Simply Red was a super serious band who had that hit "Holding Back The Years" and a couple of other minor hits like "Stars" and a remake of "You Make Me Feel Brand New". I have no idea who Timbuk 3 so let's go to wikipedia...whoa! They did that song "The Future So's Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades". Okay, that makes them a tiny bit respectable.

* Did the Grammys get it right? Can't complain with this one although Simply Red still puts out albums...I can't say if Bruce Hornsby has in the past few years.

3.) Best New Artist of 1987: Jody Watley

Other Nominees: Breakfast Club, Cutting Crew, Terence Trent D'Arby, Swing Out Sister

Analysis: Interesting group here. Jody Watley had that one monster hit "Looking For A New Love" and a decent one in "Real Love". Other than that, I can't say I know many of her songs off the top of my head.

The others feature some of my favorite songs of all time. Breakfast Club did that song "Right On Track" which has to be one of the most underrated songs of the 80's. That's all from them though. Cutting Crew was another one hit wonder with "I Just Died In Your Arms". I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall in the studio when they recorded that "Woooo-AHHHHH, I just died in your arms tonight!!!" beginning part. Terence Trent D'Arby thought he was the next John Lennon but ended up with two hits "Wishing Well" and "Sign Your Name" instead of Lennon's 1,000 hits. Plus he has three names and you all know how I hate people with three names. Finally, Swing Out Sister had a pretty cool hit in "Breakout". What a nice uplifting song...great little horn part in there.

* Did The Grammys Get It Right? Its slim pickings here in terms of a long career. You could have gone with any of these and still be okay looking back.

4.) Best New Artist of 1988: Tracy Chapman

Other Nominees: Rick Astley, Toni Childs, Take 6, Vanessa Williams

Analysis: Damn it, I've been Rick-Rolled! How could he not win here. Just kidding...Tracy Chapman was a pretty good singer-songwriter with two monster hits, "Fast Car" and "Give Me One Reason". Other than that, her image was greater than her music capabilities in my opinion.

As for the others, Rick Astley had two major hits "Never Gonna Give You Up" and the graduation anthem "Together Forever". Toni Childs and Take 6 are people I've never heard of and looking at their chart performances, didn't even have a top 40 hit. I'd pass that off to slim picking but wasn't 1988 when Guns and Roses was eligible? Vanessa Williams was the former Miss America, former Playboy centerfold, who got into singing and had maybe two decent hits with "Saved The Best For Last" and "Running Back To You". Other than that, she's better known as hosting third rate award shows and a quasi acting career.

Did The Grammys Get It Right? I think this will solve the debate. Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" was selected by an overwhelming margin to be the New York Mets theme song last year before the team overrode the contest. Also, the only person on this entire 1980's New Artist list that performed at last year's Thanksgiving Parade in NYC? Mr. Rick Astley.

5.) Best New Artist of 1989: Milli Vanilli

Other Nominees: Neneh Cherry, Indigo Girls, Soul II Soul, Tone Loc

Analysis: , I loved Milli Vanilli...not only did they have some great singles, they also had one of the most memorable "Behind The Music" episodes ever...who can't think of that part when they're performing and the "girl you know its, girl you know its, girl you know its" part starts skipping. Anyway, the Grammys took the award away from them but didn't appear to give it to anybody else. I would have given it to the grizzly Jamaican and the two chicks that actually sang on the album. I can't remember which one, Rob or Fab, ended up killing himself. Sad story...but at least some great music came out of it.

As for the others, Neneh Cherry had a super 80's hit in "Buffalo Stance" (super cool synthesizer line in that song). The Indigo Girls brought about "lesbian rock"...I could never get into them (no pun intended). Soul II Soul had a great dance hit that I still love today "Back To Life" and Tone Loc...well I guess he was the first major rap act to be nominated for best new artist but his two hits "Funky Cold Medina" and "Wild Thing" sound exactly alike.

* Did the Grammys get it right? Another "slim pickings" category. I think Milli Vanilla has the longest legs of this group but for all the wrong reasons...

"Girl you know its, girl you know its, girl you know its..."

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