Top 10 lists used to be a regular feature here on Kickin' it Old School. Interviews have sort of dominated my content lately and hopefully you have been enjoying those as much as I have. I still have many Top 10 lists just waiting to be published and here is another random one that has been patiently waiting its turn.
Everywhere you look there are numbers. Whether it's a date, address, price, time, quantity, speed limit, phone number, age... numbers are all around us. So it's not surprising that numbers appear in many song titles. Go ahead, start thinking of songs with numbers in the title. The list should start flowing quickly. The title of one of my all time favorite songs, "One" by U2, is simply a number. That song is from 1991, but there are quite a few from my favorite decade of the 80s which include a number in the title. Those numbers appear in many forms sometimes even replacing another word like "2" instead of "to" or "4" instead of "for". I have narrowed down my list to that decade, so here is OLD SCHOOL'S TOP 10 SONGS OF THE 80s WITH NUMBERS IN THE TITLE (+ Bonus 20):
30. "19" (1985) by Paul Hardcastle
29. "Five Minutes of Funk" (1984) by Whodini
28. "Two Tribes" (1984) by Frankie Goes To Hollywood
27. "'65 Love Affair" (1981) by Paul Davis
26. "With One Look (The Wildest Dream)" (1985) by Rupert Hine sung by Cy Curnin & Jamie West-Oram of the Fixx from the Better Off Dead soundtrack
25. "18 and Life" (1989) by Skid Row
24. "1-2-3" (1988) by Miami Sound Machine
23. "I'll Tumble 4 Ya" (1983) by Culture Club
22. "I Can't Drive 55" (1984) by Sammy Hagar
21. "Two of Hearts" (1986) by Stacey Q
20. "Two To Make It Right" (1980) by Seduction
19. "Two Hearts" (1988) by Phil Collins
18. "9 to 5" (1980) by Dolly Parton
17. "Goody Two Shoes" (1982) by Adam Ant
16. "Edge of Seventeen" (1981) by Stevie Nicks
15. "99 Luftballons" (1983) by Nena
14. "Seven Bridges Road" (1980) by Eagles which is a live cover of the 1969 Steve Young song on their Eagles Live album
13. "One Heartbeat" (1987) by Smokey Robinson
12. "Another One Bites the Dust" (1980) by Queen
11. "Breaking Us In Two" (1982) by Joe Jackson
10. "One In a Million You" (1980) by Larry Graham
9. "Just The Two Of Us" (1981) by Grover Washington Jr. & Bill Withers
8. "I Would Die 4 U" (1984) by Prince
7. "2000 Miles" (1983) by The Pretenders
6. "Love Plus One" (1982) by Haircut 100
5. "867-5309/Jenny" (1981) by Tommy Tutone - The single was released in November of 1981 and would end up peaking at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. There are discrepancies, but co-writer of the song, Alex Call, confirms that both the phone number and person were just made up. Just think of how many times that phone number has been called and someone has asked to speak to Jenny. Many people think that Tommy Tutone is the name of the singer, but it is just the name of the band. The lead singer's name is Tommy, but his last name is Heath. The band's original name was Tommy and the Tu-tones, but would later be shortened to just Tommy Tutone.
4. "One Thing Leads To Another" (1983) by The Fixx - This song was released on the London-based band's 1983 album, Reach the Beach, and peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in November of that year. It was produced by the great Rupert Hine and features Cy Curnin on lead vocals. The song received lots of radio airplay and the video was in heavy rotation during the early years of MTV which probably helped make it one of my favorites especially from the early part of the decade.
3. "It Takes Two" (1988) by Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock - The platinum-selling single is certainly one of the most successful and popular hip-hop/rap songs of the 80s. It was produced by Teddy Riley and samples heavily from Lyn Collins' 1972 song "Think (About It)" including a lyric sung by her and the iconic James Brown "Woo, yeah!" drum break which she originated as well. It is not uncommon to hear people be able to recite at least the entire first verse of this song. I'll get you started, "I wanna rock right now. I'm Rob Base and I came to get down."...
2. "1999" (1982) by Prince - The title track from the 1982 album of the same name, it remains one of Prince's most popular songs. When first released as a single, it did not even make it into the Top 40 in the U.S., however after "Little Red Corvette" hit the Top 10, "1999" was re-promoted and this time peaked at #12 on the Billboard Hot 100. The premise of the song is that the apocalypse would take place in the year 2000 which seemed so far away when the single was originally released. It certainly received a resurgence that year for millennium celebrations and continues to be popular over a decade later. Rolling Stone ranked the song #212 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
1. "Summer of '69" (1985) by Bryan Adams - Written by Adams and Jim Vallance, it was the fourth single released from the album Reckless in June of 1985. Surprisingly, the song only peaked at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100, but continues to be a favorite for many. There are discrepancies regarding the intended meaning of "69" in the song. Adams himself has come out more recently stating, "A lot of people think it's about the year, but actually, it's more about making love in the summertime. It's using '69 as a sexual reference." This contradicts what Adams has said previously and what co-writer Vallance has said as well. It's one of those mysteries that may never really get solved, but either way the song will remain one of the most loved rock songs of the 80s.
There's my list. I included the videos for the top 5, but you can surely find all of the others on YouTube. Are there any 80s songs with numbers in the title that you feel I have overlooked? If so or if you'd rank any differently, please leave them in the comments section below or on Facebook. The numbers "two" and "one" appeared on the list the most with nine and eight song titles respectively. If we were doing album titles instead, Van Halen would likely dominate with 1984, 5150 and OU812 all being released in the 80s. Numbers are all around us and song titles are certainly no exception. Well at least now you will remember 30 songs from the 80s that prove it.
That does it for another issue of Kickin' it Old School. Thanks so much for reading. If you are interested in reading more of my Top 10 lists, please click there for a summary. If you are interested in reading any of my other 80s related issues, please click there for a summary of those. You can also always click on the Archives in the upper left hand column or use the Google Search Box at the top of the right hand column to find any other issues you may have missed. If you are a fan of Kickin' it, PLEASE CLICK ON THE FACEBOOK LOGO in the upper right hand column. This will take you to the Fan Page where I ask you to then click on the "Like" button. Even if you are not a Facebook member yet, please consider joining and registering as a fan at that page. You can also follow @OldSchool80s on Twitter by clicking on the FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER LOGO also in the upper right hand column. This will take you the page and you can just click on the box that says "Follow". I am sending daily 80s tweets, so sign up to get those. Let other 80s fans know about it as well! Peace and much love.
Check this out: One of the most quoted lines from the original Star Wars comes as some Stormtroopers are searching for R2D2 and C3PO outside of Mos Eisley spaceport. After they stop the landspeeder and it looks like they are busted, Obi-wan takes care of it with a jedi mind trick. A quick wave of his hand and the statement, "These aren't the droids you're looking for" and they are allowed on their way with a "move along." Well, I have come across some humorous photos related to that scene and I wanted to share some with you. Enjoy!
Quote of the day: "A good decision is based on knowledge and not on numbers." -Plato
As I say each time, I am so pleased that interviews continue to be a legitimate part of this little blog of mine! When the opportunity presents itself to ask a few questions to someone who contributed to the awesomeness of the 80s, I will continue to share those answers with you right here. Again, lucky for me (and hopefully you), I do get to share a little more awesomeness with you.
This time that awesomeness is Michael Winslow. He is the "Man of 10,000 Sound Effects" and 80s fans should remember him well from the Police Academy movies among other roles. He has the amazing and uncanny ability to recreate countless sound effects with his mouth. This unique talent has landed him many movie roles and commercial spots as well as supported his work as a stand-up comedian, host and motivational speaker. You will find out a little more about his background, his memorable film roles and more as we get on to some selections from my interview with Michael Winslow...
Q: At what age did your extraordinary sound effects talent begin to develop? How much, if any, came naturally?
Michael: From birth...I have pitch perfect hearing according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
Q: At what point did you realize that this could help become a career?
Michael: I have always wanted to be an actor and make noises. I took drama classes in high school then fled to L.A. I was mobile homeless until I went on The Gong Show and won $516.32, got a job at the American Beverage Company, got a car, some roommates with the same desire and never stopped.....
Q: Who or what inspired you when you were just getting started?
Michael: I lived on an Air Force base and had a regimented childhood. Life taught me that I wanted to do something different.
Winslow has also said, "Growing up on an Air Force base made it difficult to have friends, so I created imaginary friends, dogs, cats, trucks, anything that would keep me occupied for the moment."
Q: Please tell us about the role that Count Basie played in getting you your big break getting cast in Police Academy as a result?
Michael: The producer Paul Maslansky and director Hugh Wilson were there to see Count Basie and picked me up, gave me creative freedom, named me "Larvell Jones" and it was on....
Winslow was the opening act for two shows for Count Basie and his orchestra at the Long Beach Theater in the Spring of 1983. Maslansky and Wilson, who would be the producer and director respectively of Police Academy, just happened to be in attendance for one of them and were very impressed with Winslow. In another interview, Winslow recounted meeting with Maslansky and Wilson after that show: "We got a chance to sit with Count Basie in the same room, one of the things he said was 'you guys take real good care of this young man, make sure that they see him and they enjoy what they see him do'." That's quite an endorsement!
Q: What were your expectations heading into the first Police Academy? Were you nervous at all? Did you ever expect that it would go on to have one sequel, let alone six sequels?
Michael: There were no expectations. No one thought it would make it, but here we are. I just did my best as I do now. Every show is nerve racking!
Police Academy was released in theaters in March of 1984. The R-rated comedy was a surprising worldwide commercial success and ended up as the sixth highest grossing film of 1984 in the U.S. The original featured an ensemble cast of mostly relative unknowns including Steve Guttenberg, Kim Cattrall, Bubba Smith, Marion Ramsey, David Graf, Leslie Easterbrook, George Gaynes and G.W. Bailey, but it was Michael Winslow as "Larvell Jones" which grabbed my attention and made me laugh the most. Here is the scene from Police Academy where we are introduced to "Jones" as well as some of his other finer moments...
Q: The Police Academy cast included some real characters. First, please tell us a little about Steve Guttenberg and working with him. How about the rest of the cast? Did you become close as a cast during filming the first one? Other than obviously making a sequel every year, did you continue to stay in touch after and even today?
Michael: Steve is my friend and awesome to work with. We are all still friends. We miss Bubba Smith ["Hightower"]....and David Graf ["Tackleberry"] who are now policing Heaven!! We are close and look forward to working together again.
Q: I personally find humor in all of the sequels, but they have received mixed reactions especially by the fourth, fifth, sixth. You have appeared in all of them, but some others did not return for all of them. Did you ever consider walking away from the "Jones" character?
Michael: Never will I walk away from my alter ego!!
There have been six film sequels released: Their First Assignment (1985), Back In Training (1986), Citizens On Patrol (1987), Assignment Miami Beach (1988), City Under Siege (1989) and Mission To Moscow (1994). In addition, there was an animated television series which ran for 64 episodes in 1988 and a live-action television series which lasted 26 episodes in 1997-98. Michael Winslow is the only cast member to star in all of these projects. Overall, the Police Academy franchise has been very successful grossing about $250 million in U.S. theaters alone and that does not include video rental/sales and worldwide gross. The original and first three sequels performed admirably at the box office, but none ever received much critical praise. The popularity continued to decrease and the franchise took a well-deserved break at the end of the 80s. It attempted a comeback with a 1994 sequel and the 1997 television series, but neither proved to resurrect the franchise at that time. Now, it's nearly two decades since the last sequel and maybe the time is now to return to the academy again.
Q: There have been rumors, but do you anticipate ever doing another Police Academy sequel?
Michael: Police Academy 8 has been announced for 2012.
It is also rumored that Steve Guttenberg may be reprising his role as "Carey Mahoney" in this latest installment. If they get the old cast back together, I will definitely see it.
Q: You did voice work in 1984's Gremlins. I have seen conflicting information of which voices you did. Did you do the voice of "Stripe"? How did the opportunity come to you?
Michael: I am the voice of "Stripe" the ugly Gremlin leader. I got the job because I auditioned for a voiceover part.
Gremlins was directed by Joe Dante, written by Chris Columbus and produced by Steven Spielberg. It was released in theaters in June of 1984 (the same day as Ghostbusters) and was a huge commercial success ending up as the fourth highest grossing film of 1984 in the U.S. It has to be one of the scariest PG movies of all time and some of that is due to Winslow's "Stripe" voice. In fact, along with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, it helped influence the MPAA to create the PG-13 rating which went into effect in August of that year. Here is a scene from the end of Gremlins featuring the evil "Stripe"; he's the one with the white mohawk and Winslow's scary voice...
Again, in another interview, Winslow discussed it further: "One of the things about working on Gremlins, you learn the value of a great story. And just to be a part of it, even a little bit of it. And I know a lot of folks who told me that when they were kids, and when they saw Gremlins, they had to look under their beds. I didn't mean for it to be like that. But you know what was scary for me? Spaceballs. Mel Brooks is Mel Brooks. You better be ready."
Q: What can you tell us about Mel Brooks and your experience as the "Radar Technician" in 1987's Spaceballs?
Michael: I love Mel Brooks and loved the opportunity to be in Spaceballs. I wish there were a Spaceballs 2! He is Awesome. The set and experience was indescribable fun.
Spaceballs is a comedy parody of the Star Wars trilogy directed, produced and co-written by the legendary Mel Brooks. It was released in theaters in June of 1987 to moderate success, though it has gone on to become a cult classic and one of Brooks' most popular films. Winslow is featured as a "Radar Technician" in a small role that utilizes his incredible sound effects ability. The following scene includes Winslow's appearance in Spaceballs...
Q: Some 80s stars "run away" from the 80s and some embrace the success and fans from that decade. (If at all) How do you personally deal with and keep the 80s alive and in perspective?
Michael: I love the 80s and everything about it!
Q: What is your favorite sound effect that you do? Which one gets the biggest reaction when you do it?
Michael: It is difficult to say, that is like asking which child is your favorite. Musical instruments get the biggest reactions....Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin.
Here is a recent video of Winslow performing Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" (originally from 1969) on a Norwegian talk show. It starts a little slow, but then goes to another level. I can't believe he is doing that all with his mouth including the distortion. Who needs an electric guitar? Unreal...
He is still out there amazing the world with his talents. In addition to the occasional film and television appearance (including the upcoming Police Academy 8), Michael Winslow is out performing literally all over the world with his unique comedy show. Pure genius and certainly worth seeing if he makes a stop in your town.
I am grateful that Michael took some time to answer my questions so I could share them with you here. Special thanks go to his wife, Sharon, who helped coordinate the effort. Please be sure to visit his official website at www.michaelwinslow.net to stay up to date with everything he is doing now including his tour schedule and iPhone apps. I want to take this opportunity to again thank Michael Winslow for his incredible contributions to 80s pop culture especially through his Police Academy character and, even more, for going back to the 80s with us here for a little while as well.
That'll wrap up another special issue of Kickin' it Old School. Thanks as always for reading and hope you are enjoying the interviews as much as I am. If you want a summary of all of my Back to the 80s Interviews posted thus far, please click on that link. Be sure you haven't missed any of them. If you are interested in reading any of my other 80s related issues, please click there for a summary of those. You can also always click on the Archives in the upper left hand column or use the Google Search Box at the top of the right hand column to find any other issues you may have missed. If you are a fan of Kickin' it, PLEASE CLICK ON THE FACEBOOK LOGO in the upper right hand column. This will take you to the Fan Page where I ask you to then click on the "Like" button. Even if you are not a Facebook member yet, please consider joining and registering as a fan at that page. You can also follow @OldSchool80s on Twitter by clicking on the FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER LOGO also in the upper right hand column. This will take you the page and you can just click on the box that says "Follow". I am sending daily 80s tweets, so sign up to get those. Let other 80s fans know about it as well! Peace and much love.
Check this out: See above for Michael Winslow's incredible performance of Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love". In 2004, the song was ranked number 75 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and in March 2005, Q magazine placed it at number three on its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks. It was placed 11 on a similar list by Rolling Stone. In 2009, it was named the third greatest hard rock song of all time by VH1.
Quote of the day: "Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration." -Thomas Edison
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