Top Ten Summer Hits of 1988: A Look Back

Today marks the first official day of summer 2018 and that means some seasonal traditions are back on the blog! For the past few years, I have recounted the top summer tunes from the last 30, 20, and 10 years. It’s a chance to put on our nostalgia goggles and for me to take a look back on if the songs are a summer smash or summer bummer in hindsight. We begin with the tracks of 1988. As in posts from previous summers, I rank each ditty on a scale of 1 (awful) to 10 (classic) and reveal the most important detail of all – whether said song is on my personal Apple Music collection.

In the coming days, we’ll travel to 1998 and 2008. In July, I’ll get to the movie side recounting the top 10 hits, notable pictures, and flops of ’88, ’98, and ’08.

Let’s get to it!

10. “I Don’t Wanna Live Without Your Love” by Chicago

This group that’s been around for decades scored numerous power ballad smashes in the 1980s. This is… one of them. And it’s not nearly as memorable as many of their others from earlier in the period. That said, it nearly deserves an extra half star for its gloriously cheesy music video.

My Ranking: 5

Is It On My Apple Music: Yes (but only because I have their greatest hits downloaded… I never listen to this one)

9. “I Don’t Wanna Go on with You Like That” by Elton John

Keeping on with the “I Don’t Wanna…” themed hits of three decades ago… ok, so it may not be one of the legend’s classic tunes, but this synth heavy concoction is a well-crafted effort at a time when Elton’s career needed a boost.

My Ranking: 8

Is It On My Apple Music? Yes

8. “Make Me Lose Control” by Eric Carmen

Best known for “Hungry Eyes” from Dirty Dancing, Carmen’s follow-up is a decent sing-along in the car with the windows down experience.

My Ranking: 7

Is It On My Apple Music?: No

7. “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns n Roses

One of the signature tracks from the band with its unmistakable guitar riff to start it off, “Sweet Child O’ Mine” is part of our DNA now. That said, there are certainly songs from GnR I would rank higher.

My Ranking: 8 and a half

Is It On My Apple Music?: Yes

6. “Hands to Heaven” by Breathe

The London pop group came and went fairly quickly, but ballad “Hands to Heaven” was their initial smash. Cheesy, sure. Solid chorus – yes.

My Ranking: 6 and a half

Is It On My Apple Music?: No

5. “Pour Some Sugar on Me” by Def Leppard

VH-1 ranked it the second best song of the 1980s in a poll and it certainly is the signature tune of the rock group’s career. I wouldn’t go quite that far, but it’s pretty darn iconic. I will, however, confess that the hair bands fad isn’t totally my cup of tea for the most part.

My Ranking: 8 and a half

Is It On My Apple Music?: No

4. “Hold On to the Nights” by Richard Marx

Another rather cheesy power ballad, this was nevertheless a smash from Marx that actually kept Leppard’s “Sugar” from hitting #1.

My Ranking: 6

Is It On My Apple Music?: No

3. “Monkey” by George Michael

The fourth single from his landmark Faith album, this uptempo dance track (with production assistance from Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis) gets the job done even if it doesn’t quite rank with some other classics from the 1987 multi-platinum effort.

My Ranking: 9

Is It On My Apple Music?: Yes

2. “The Flame” by Cheap Trick

A bit of a comeback single from the Illinois group, it found them traveling down the power ballad lane that dominated this particular summer. It’s fine. I don’t love it. Give me “I Want You To Want Me” any day.

My Ranking: 6 and a half

Is It On My Apple Music?: No

1. “Roll With It” by Steve Winwood

Is it catchy? Sure, but I was surprised to recall just how much of a hit this was. Four weeks at #1 and multiple Grammys, but I find it just perfectly adequate and far from a summer classic.

My Ranking: 7

Is It On My Apple Music?: No

I’ll have 1998 up soon! “I Don’t Wanna” keep you waiting long…

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