Top Ten Summer Music Hits of 1986: A Look Back

On this here blog, we have some summer traditions now. One of them will be a look back at the movies that dominated (and didn’t dominate) the box office from 20 years ago in 1996 and 10 years ago in 2006. Those posts will be coming to the site soon.

However, before we get to that… let’s get to bumping some music in here, shall we? As I did last summer, let’s recount the top ten summer music singles from 30 years ago, 20 years ago, and a decade ago according to the Billboard charts. With each track, we can take a trip down memory lane and I’ll give you my thoughts on each song and, most importantly, whether it’s on my iTunes.

I’ll rate each track (my personal opinion of course) on a scale of 1 (awful) to 10 (summer hit masterpiece).

We begin today with the summer of 1986!

10. “Mad About You” by Belinda Carlisle

You may have just seen Ms. Carlisle rocking out with her group The Go-Go’s on the Billboard Music Awards, but “Mad About You” was her first solo success after the band broke up over three decades ago. It’s a perfectly reasonable summer ditty that gave her a pretty solid start on her own, though it’s not particularly memorable.

My Rating: 6 and a half

Is It On My iTunes? No

9. “Venus” by Bananarama

As for girl groups that weren’t broken up in 1986, Bananarama had their signature tune with the dance hit “Venus” and it’s easy to see why. A remake of a #1 1970 hit, it’s catchy as hell and still receives plenty of airplay.

My Rating: 8

Is It On My iTunes? No

8. “Holding Back The Years” by Simply Red

From their debut album, this soulful ballad remains the group’s largest hit and it features fine vocals from front man Mick Hucknall.

My Rating: 8

Is It On My iTunes: No

7. “Higher Love” by Steve Winwood”

Winwood’s first #1 hit, it’s got Nile Rodgers on rhythm guitar and Chaka Khan doing backing vocals. As summer songs should be, it’s built for belting out with the top down when no one is hopefully looking.

My Rating: 8 and a half

Is It On My iTunes? No

6. “On My Own” by Patti LaBelle & Michael McDonald

Patti and Michael could sing the phone book and it would be riveting. This is the biggest hit of both of their careers in this Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager production. They’ve both had much better tracks, but those voices!

My Rating: 7

Is It On My iTunes: Yes, thanks to McDonald’s greatest hits

5. “Invisible Touch” by Genesis

The first single off their album that bared the same name, “Invisible Touch” is Genesis’s highest selling song. They’ve had better as well, but this is undeniably catchy stuff with some seriously sinister synthesizers.

My Rating: 8 and a half

Is It On My iTunes: Yes

4. “There’ll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry)” by Billy Ocean

Mr. Ocean has had plenty of memorable hits, but I’ll be honest in that I’d kinda forgotten this one. It’s perfectly passable, but it is a little forgettable in a way that “Caribbean Queen” is not.

My Rating: 6

Is It On My iTunes: No

3. “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel

Now we’re talking! This signature tune from former Genesis front man Gabriel has an iconic video and is just a total jam. Love those horns.

My Rating: 10

Is It On My iTunes: Yes

2. “Glory of Love” by Peter Cetera

Chicago lead singer Cetera had his first solo smash with this single from The Karate Kid Part II soundtrack. The David Foster produced ballad is schmaltzy as hell, but it’s also the definition of that song you’ll belt when no one is watching.

My Rating: 8 and a half

Is It On My iTunes? Yes

  1. “Papa Don’t Preach” by Madonna

Coming on the heels of her classic ballad “Live To Tell”, this track continued Madonna’s musical growth in the mid 80s with edgy lyrics dealing with pregnancy and abortion wrapped up in a groovy pop blanket.

My Rating: 9 and a half

Is It On My iTunes: Yes

We’ll get to 1996 soon, my friends!

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