Outrageous! Raise Your Glass in Honor of Lionel Richie


Remember when Lionel Richie hosted the 1986 American Music Awards? That night, he single-handedly attempted to pimp the use of the word “Outrageous!” into our everyday lexicon. Instead, I think the American public cringed and slowly backed away from Lionel. And, unfortunately for us, the man who was on the hottest songwriting and production streak since Barry Gibb masterminded the rise of the late-Seventies Bee Gees empire. It seems that after that fateful night, we basically stopped hearing new music made by Richie while he tried to push the reset button on his life by dealing with those dreaded demons of success.

It seems that over the years, many people have forgotten just how good Lionel Richie was not only as a solo artist, but also as a member with the great funk/soul band Commodores. At one time, the Commodores were mentioned with George Clinton’s “P-Funk” Family, Earth, Wind & Fire and the Ohio Players as the greatest funk band of the Seventies. FYI: My wife and I have a “song”, which is the Style Council’s “You’re the Best Thing”. Unfortunately, we did not dance to that song at our wedding reception 32 years ago today. Instead, bowing to external pressures that we don’t have “weird” music played at our Southern Indiana wedding reception, and danced to Lionel Richie’s “Truly”. To this day, we always dance to the Style Council first, followed by “Truly”. So, here it is, to my man Lionel Richie, My Top Twenty Favorite Songs by Lionel Richie and the Commodores.

20. “We Are the World” – USA for Africa (1985 – We Are the World). Yep, Lionel co-wrote the song with Michael Jackson. ‘Nuff said.

19. “Endless Love” – duet with Diana Ross (1981 – Endless Love OST). I wish I could have ranked this one higher, but honestly, Lionel has a bunch of better songs that he did without Diana Ross.

18. “Penny Lover” (1984 – Can’t Slow Down). Okay, so this song’s not really better than “Endless Love”, but if Richie had big enough balls to know it was going to be a hit song, then you’ve got to give the song some props.

17. “Say You, Say Me” (1985 – Dancing on the Ceiling). This song was technically included on the soundtrack of some long forgotten movie, but that movie’s soundtrack had TWO number one hit songs: this one and “Separate Lives” by Phil Collins & Marilyn Martin. The movie? White Knights.

16. “Hello” (1984 – Can’t Slow Down). Yes, the video is stalker-creepy, but the song isn’t that bad. Still, it’s so difficult to separate the two…

15. “Oh No” – Commodores (1981 – In the Pocket). This song proves that Lionel’s songwriting talent is so great that this ballad, without a chorus or hook, could go Top 10 AND cause emotional responses.

14. “Sweet Love” – Commodores (1975 – Movin’ On). This is the song that started me down the whole Commodores/Richie path.

13. “My Love” (1983 – Lionel Richie). C’mon! This song is so heartfelt and not saccharine! I will fight you about this song.

12. “Dancing on the Ceiling” (1986 – Dancing on the Ceiling). See, Lionel CAN have fun. We almost forgot by 1986.

11. “Just to Be Close to You” – Commodores (1976 – Hot on the Tracks). I love the lyrics of this song! And, then, there’s what I call the Earth, Wind & Fire hook: “Yeow!” Hmmm! I so dig that when Lionel unleashes it!

10. “You Are” (1983 – Lionel Richie). Pound for pound, this song my be Lionel’s finest love song. The downside, if there is one, is that the song is a mid-tempo song and not a slow jam. Still, those lyrics describe every guy’s true love.

9. “Sail On” – Commodores (1979 – Midnight Magic). This is my favorite country song that wasn’t really a country song. Or is it? This is a very underrated song.

8. “Still” – Commodores (1979 – Midnight Magic). This is another great love song from the brokenhearted point of view. And when Lionel whispers “Still!” at the end of the song, man, you feel the pain.

7. “Three Times a Lady” – Commodores (1978 – Natural High). This was a great ballad, until Eddie Murphy stole it for a classic Buckwheat bit on Saturday Night Live, back when SNL rarely had anything that was funny.

6. “Nightshift” – Commodores (1985 – Nightshift). This is the post-Lionel Commodores’ last hit that was in honor of their late Motown brother Marvin Gaye. I still love this song.

5. “Brick House” – Commodores (1977 – Commodores). This song taught me so much when I was young. Who knew that 36-24-36 was a Brick House? And, I never forgot it either.

4. “All Night Long” (1983 – Can’t Slow Down). I remember the dance floors at dance parties I DJ’ed back in the day would fill up when this song would come on. By the way, the African-sounding chant in the song is nonsensical words that only sound African. Lionel invented a language on this song but didn’t tell us what it meant.

3. “Truly” (1982 – Lionel Richie). I rank my wedding dance third on this list? Yes, because Lionel really did write a couple of better songs.

2. “Stuck on You” (1984 – Can’t Slow Down). I can remember vividly the moment when I noticed that I was in love with my wife. We were together when this song came on the radio, and I said this song reminds me of her. And, she laughed, because she thought I was being my usually sarcastic self. Boy, did she feel sheepish when you finally figured out that I was being sincere. When laugh about it to this day.

1. “Easy” – Commodores (1977 – Commodores). This is such a Seventies song. It could have been sung by the Eagles or Jackson Browne, but Lionel gives it a touch of soul to the song that makes it jump above the country rock/west coast stuff that was popular at the time.

At this point, I want to give special mention to Kenny Rogers’ 1980 hit “Lady”, which was written and produced by Lionel Richie. I often wonder how great that song would have been if Lionel would have recorded it. As is, the song was the finest one recorded by Mr. Rogers.

So, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame voters: Put Lionel Richie, with OR without the Commodores, in the RRHOF! This man helped define the music from 1974 to 1981 with the Commodores and 1981 to 1987 as a solo artist. That’s 14 years of radio domination of songs mainly written by one main – Lionel Richie.

The First Modern Diva: Diana Ross


Yesterday, I saddled Whitney Houston with the Greatest Diva of the Rock Era title, even enough I never really said such a thing nor is she alive to really worry about such a title of hyperbole. Anyway, I would like to turn our attention to one of the first divas to emerge during the rock, Miss Diana Ross. The Supremes burst onto the rock scene as an all-girl singing trio from the Motown family. After a  run of five straight number one hit singles, Berry Gordy took his infatuation with singer Diana Ross to new levels, where he first gave Miss Ross top billing in the group’s name, then had her break away from her two long-time friends to pursue a solo career. Along the way, Diana Ross developed into a true diva, by hitting number one on the Hot 100 Singles Chart a whopping 17 times (both with and without the Supremes) and earning an Oscar nomination for her lead performance in the 1973 movie Lady Sings the Blues.

Although, Gordy was highly motivated to make Ross into an across-the-board star, Diana was most successful as a singing diva. So, today, I present to you My Top 10 Diana Ross Solo and the Supremes Songs. Let’s get going.

10. “Love Hangover” (1976 – Diana Ross). What a great disco ballad! Did Ross knock this outta the park…or what? Rhetorical, just being rhetorical.

9. “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” (1970 – Ain’t Know Mountain High Enough). Personally, I love Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell’s version better, but Ross sang the crap out of this song in such a majestic manner that the song single-handedly anointed Ross a diva. This song is the blueprint for the careers of Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Katy Perry and the rest of the divas who have followed.


8. “Stop! In the Name of Love” – Supremes (1965 – More Hits by the Supremes). This is simply an iconic song.

7. “Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To)” (1975 – Diana Ross). This song was playing during one of my first slow dances ever at a school dance, so forgive me that memory. Oh, and the song is great too.

6. “Endless Love” – Duet with Lionel Richie (1981 – Endless Love OST). First, this song is easy to make fun of because it’s on the schmaltzy side. But, Richie wrote this one when he was just beginning to hit his stride as the writer of 80s ballads. Controversially, this song was used in the sexploitation film of a naked underage Brooke Shields. If you throw out the yucky pedophilia context of that stupid film the song was recorded for and focus on the great lyrics Lionel wrote, it is a great song. Thank goodness the movie association has been lost to history.

5. “You Keep Me Hanging On” – Supreme (1966 – The Supremes Sing Holland-Dozier-Holland). According to my mom, the three-year-old version of myself used to dance through the house whenever the song came on the radio she was listening to.

4. “Upside Down” (1980 – Diana). From the album that was produced by the Chic Organization, this was the first single from that album and Diana Ross’ last solo number one hit.

3. “Where Did Our Love Go” – Supremes (1964 – Where Did Our Love Go). This one kicked off the Supremes’ domination of the charts, as well as Diana’s.

2. “Baby Love” – Supremes (1964 – Where Did Our Love Go). This song, like so many from the early Motown period, is timeless and holds up when other artists cover it.

1. “I’m Coming Out” (1980 – Diana). This great piece of Chic Organization production is Ross’ ode to her gay fans as well as a statement of independence from Motown, whom she was about to leave as an artist. Personally, I love the drum intro; and, I was hooked.

So much for my quick overview of Diana Ross. I hope it inspires you to check out deeper cuts in her magnificent catalog.

Whitney Houston: Didn’t She Almost Have It All?


Wikipedia defines the term diva like this:

A diva is a celebrated female singer; a woman of outstanding talent in the world of opera, and by extension in theatre, cinema and popular music. The meaning of diva is closely related to that of prima donna.

If you were born in the Sixties, like me, then we missed out on the European opera divas of the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries, who were renown throughout the Old World. We, as well, missed out divas from the blues such as Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith, along with gospel divas like Mahalia Jackson. We are left to dig into the history of music to discover recordings of those early divas.

For most of us, we learned about the term diva when it was attached to such pop/rock/R&B singers as Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Dusty Springfield, Karen Carpenter, Donna Summer and Janis Joplin. Then, the Eighties and Nineties rolled around, and all of a sudden, we were blessed with some many talented females singers, or as they collectively became known as divas. Ponder these names: Deborah Harry (Blondie), Cyndi Lauper, Tina Turner, Madonna, Janet Jackson, Chaka Khan, Patty Smyth (Scandal/solo), Terri Nunn (Berlin), Annie Lennox (Eurythmics/solo). They were but a few of the women who burst during the first decade of MTV. Then, those ladies were followed by Sinead O’Connor, Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, Faith Evans, Christina Aguilera, to name but a few very. Yet, in my mind, we have one beautiful woman who casts such a large shadow over all of these women, that it is difficult for the most of these talented singers to get much of the spotlight. But, when drugs and alcohol had robbed this diva of her superpower, we still loved her. The diva who knocked us out with her 1985 debut album, eponymously titled album is none other than Whitney Houston.

Whitney hit us hard with a crystal clear voice that emerged from the body of a supermodel. She was the perfect “package”. Unfortunately, no amount of success could ever take away the pain she long felt. So, even during her most successful days, the path of self-destruction had been set in motion, and most probably hasten her ultimate fate. Yet, we are still left with some of the finest music ever recorded by a female, or diva.

Today, I bring to you My Top 20 Whitney Houston Songs.

20. “Love Will Save the Day” (1988 – Whitney). I always used to ask why Whitney sang such crappy songs like this, and not great songs like the ones I ranked in the Top 10.

19. “I Believe in You and Me” (1996 – The Preacher’s Wife OST). Once in a while, Whitney actually got a decent song to sing. Too bad it wasn’t this one.

18. “I Learned from the Best” (1999 – My Love Is Your Love). Here, Whitney’s talent transcends the song.

17. “Didn’t We Almost Have It All” (1987 – Whitney). This was a decent song that Whitney made better.

16. “My Love Is Your Love” (1999 – My Love Is Your Love). Much of Whitney’s career was singing the hell out of crappy songs, instead of giving her classy blues/rock/R&B song, and this song is proof of the former instead of the latter.

15. “Where Do the Broken Hearts Go” (1988 – Whitney). Another nice Whitney pop song.

14. “It’s Not Right but It’s Okay” (1999 – My Love Is Your Love). Here is the album where we start to hear Whitney’s gift leaving her.

13. “All the Man I Need” (1990 – I’m Your Baby Tonight). Whitney made this crappy song into a good song, which she seemed to do all too often during her lifetime.

12. “Greatest Love of All” (1986 – Whitney Houston). Now, I really do prefer George Benson’s version of this song. But, the way radio overplayed this version only drove the point home.

11. “Exhale (Shoop Shoop)” (1995 – Waiting to Exhale OST). For some reason, this song sounds like Whitney doing a Motown song.

10. “Heartbreak Hotel” (1998 – My Love Is Your Love). I don’t know why, but I’ve always liked this song.

9. “I Have Nothing” (1993 – The Bodyguard). In retrospect, maybe Whitney connected to this summer all

8. “I’m Your Baby Tonight” (1990 – I’m Your Body Tonight). Here is a fun pop song that Whitney just sings the hell out of it.

7. “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” (1987 – Whitney). Once again, “fun” Whitney from this video was a ruse.

6. “I’m Every Woman” (1993 – The Bodyguard). Somehow, Whitney made me forget that Chaka Khan did this song first.

5. “Saving All My Love for You” (1985 – Whitney Houston). This song was a natural for the “Quiet Storm” playlists of those types of radio formats.

4. “How Will I Know” (1985 – Whitney Houston). This song showed the world just how much fun this young lady could be. Unfortunately, it was just a video and not reality.

3. “You Give Good Love” (1985 – Whitney Houston). This song hooked me onto the Whitney Houston train. I’ve always felt this song had a double meaning.

2. “I Will Always Love You” (1992 – The Bodyguard). Sure, we were all tired of hearing this version of Dolly Parton’s song, but, you know what? This is Whitney’s signature song.

1. “So Emotional” (1987 – Whitney). I don’t know why, but when Whitney talks at the beginning of the song about not knowing why she likes it, she just does, I’m hooked.

From the Mind of George Clinton: It’s More Than Just Parliament and Funkadelic

Greetings everybody! Sorry about my writing the past couple of days. I know it was nothing but crappy drivel. I had fallen on Saturday, so my back spasms were way out of control, not that my spasms are ever under control. But they have been worse than normal. Then, Monday morning I got a call from my step-father called me to say that he was having trouble getting my mother out of bed. Long story short, Mom has pneumonia and is in the hospital. As most of you know who are around my age or older, watching your parents’ health deteriorate is heartbreaking and stressful. So, instead of not writing and just listen to music, I chose to write two crappy entries. Oh well…

So, I have been listening to lots of music. Recently, I had received George Clinton’s autobiography. I have not started reading it, but it is next on my list. But, I have been pulling out my records/CDs/mp3s of the various artists of his empire. I did not limit myself to his Parliament, Funkadelic and solo stuff, but his Bootsy’s Rubber Band, Eddie Hazel and Zapp music as well. This musical empire has yet to have been matched by anyone. Some people have compared Clinton to Frank Zappa, and maybe artistically they were attacking their music from a similar muse, but where Zappa always likened himself to classical composers, Clinton was more about fusing different forms of rock and R&B musics into his own, recognizable sound. His basses and synths melted into each other, providing a bedrock of whizzes, pops and farts, not the simple dance sounds of traditional sounds. Clinton’s funk was an amalgamation of space sounds, rock guitars, fuzz basses and adapted reggae/funk beats colliding head on with James Brown’s funk. Clinton’s music is busy, strange and quite possibly the sound of funk rock on acid. And, yet, you can dance yo’ butt off on the dance floor to this music.

When Clinton started, his band was called The Parliaments, and the band had a hit in the 60s with the song “(I Wanna) Testify”. After that hit, a lawsuit arose about the band’s name. So, Clinton, under the influence of late-60s rock music and his own use of LSD lead to a rechristening his band under the banner of Funkadelic. Funkadelic was created as an R&B-based rock.

Then, after a few years, Clinton won the right to his original band’s name, but he decided to drop the “The” and the ending “-s”, renaming this band Parliament. Clinton’s genius was his ability to use the same crack musicians while creating two completely difference musical identities. Thus, Parliament became the funk band. As the years moved on, various members of the bands produced solo albums for various members, such as guitar god Eddie Hazel, bassist extraordinaire Bootsy Collins and leader of the Horny Horns Fred Wesley. Then Clinton created two girl groups to give him his own “Supremes” in the form of Parlet and a more rocking R&B girl group like Labelle called The Brides of Funkenstein.

The strange thing is that as the 70s moved toward the 80s, there was very little difference in the sounds of Parliament and Funkadelic. Parliament got more guitars in their, and Funkadelic got more horns. Still, with a huge stable of some of the finest, and wildest, musicians who played in every form of the bands, Clinton could establish a concert tour that featured five or more bands with the same musicians playing all night long. Add to that the crazy recording scheduling, from which they could release five albums in a calendar year while touring during their “off” time. This led to mass defections of the musicians, leading to financial problems for Clinton.

But, what saved George Clinton and his empire’s reputation was the rise of rap music and it’s reliance on samples from music. Clinton was a huge supporter of rap music and was the friendliest musician toward rap’s use of samples. Those samples gave Clinton the cash flow that was desperately needed. So, through the 90s, Clinton and all of his Motown-inspired bands’ reputations were on the rise, recognizing the genius of the Parliafunkadelicment Thang. Now, Clinton and his posse are musical gods .

With that said, here are My Top 20 Albums from George Clinton’s P-Funk Empire, along with an album rating, from 0 to 5, from the website AllMusic.com.

20. Bootsy’s Rubber Band – Bootsy? Player of the Year (1978). 4.5

19. Fred Wesley and the Horny Horns – A Blow for You, a Toot for Me (1977). 4

18. The Brides of Funkenstein – Funk or Walk (1978). 4

17. Parliament – Up for the Down Stroke (1974). 4

16. Bootsy’s Rubber Band – Stretchin’ Out in Bootsy’s Rubber Band (1976). 4.5

15. P-Funk All-Stars – Urban Dancefloor Guerillas (1983). 4

14. Funkadelic – Uncle Jam Wants You (1983). 4.5

13. Funkadelic – Standing on the Verge of Getting It On (1974). 4

12. Funkadelic – Free Your Mind…And Your Ass Will Follow (1970). 4.5

11. Parlet – Invasion of the Booty Snatchers (1970). 4

10. Bootsy’s Rubber Band – Ahh…The Name Is Bootsy, Baby? (1977). 4.5

9. Parliament – The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein (1976). 4.5

8. Funkadelic – Funkadelic (1970). 4.5

7. Parliament – Motor Booty Affair (1978). 4.5

6. Eddie Hazel – Games, Dames and Guitar Thangs (1977). 4

5. George Clinton – Computer Games (1982). 4.5

4. Parliament – Funkentelechy vs. the Placebo Syndrome (1977). 5

3. Funkadelic – Maggot Brain (1971). 5

2. Funkadelic – One Nation Under a Groove (1978). 5

1.Parliament – Mothership Connection (1975). 5

I love the music from the mind of George Clinton, and his lasting legacy has been galvanized by the rise of rap music on the samples used from his music. It’s never too late to discover the main source of many of the young people’s favorite rap songs. Don’t be afraid!

For Black History Month, Let Me Honor Some of the Blacks Who Have Rocked the World

Happy Valentine’s Day to you all! I thought about writing about romantic songs, but that’s such a cliche. So, I decided to turn my back on the Valentine’s Day theme altogether and turn to an important Black History Month topic. I wanted to pay respect to all of the great music that African-Americans and blacks from the rest of the world have given us. During the late 70s and early 80s much was done through radio playlists to separate black and white artists. Simply put, white artists played rock, and black artists played R&B, which was complete bunk.

Most of us all know the importance that black musicians have played in the development of early rock & roll, in addition to the music’s move toward rock music and beyond. Many of us continue to hold Ray Charles, James Brown, Fats Domino, Little Richard and Chuck Betty as some of the important pioneers of 50s rock & roll. We should acknowledge all of the great blues artists whose influence became more apparent as the 60s progressed. Motown songs were the cover songs of choice for many of the white English bands to cut their teeth on. On the early Beatles album, you will find that the Fab Four covered many Motown songs. And, on the other hand, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton/Jeff Beck/Jimmy Page looked for records to American Blues artists, who were black, on which to base their modern sounds.

Today, I would like to pay tribute to some of my favorite, and I hate to write it this way, all-black rock bands, as well as my favorite integrated bands. Personally, I never really thought of these bands and artists as black, white, red, brown, purple or yellow. Yet to say that I am racially blind is false. But, to say that I only see people who happen to be different colors is true. I will NEVER know or understand the struggles of my non-white friends, but I was given the gift of empathy, which means to me that I must treat everyone with equal respect.

Okay, enough of my effort to help race relations. Allow me to naively list my favorite black artists who play rock music.

  1. Bad Brains – This highly influential 80s punk/hardcore was recently nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. One day, I hope…
  2. Ben Harper
  3. Benjamin Booker – The latest guitar god.
  4. Bo Diddley
  5. Bob Marley & the Wailers
  6. Body Count – Ice-T’s controversial hardcore band.
  7. Curtis Mayfield – NO ONE SHOULD EVER FORGET THIS SOUL MAN OF THE 60s AND 70s. Can you hear me now?
  8. Death – Most of us recognize these guys’ Detroit proto-punk brethren: The Stooges and MC5. So how, this all black punk band was buried by time but recently rediscovered.
  9. Don Letts – This London native did more to put punk rock on the map than nearly anyone else. Plus, his 80s dreads were nearly as big as his body, which makes him cool in my back.
  10. Fishbone – This all-black band came up at the same time as the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Both bands fused funk, rock, blues and pop into a great exciting sound. The difference was that Fishbone never broke through, which I always felt was a racist thing because they are awesome.
  11. Funkadelic – This band started as George Clinton’s acid rock persona of his Parliament band, though by the end of the 70s you could hear very little difference between the two.
  12. Garland Jeffreys – This guy was compared to Bruce Springsteen when he first arrived on the scene.
  13. Gary Clark, Jr. – The Stevie Ray Vaughn of the millennials.
  14. Gnarls Barkley
  15. Howlin’ Wolf
  16. Ike & Tina Turner
  17. Joan Armatrading – In the late 70s and early 80s, it was so unusual to hear a black man playing rock music, let alone a black woman. She was part of the first wave of strong women who preferred to rock out.
  18. John Lee Hooker
  19. Labelle – This trio of strong female personalities was much more than their “Lady Marmalade” hit song., though
  20. Lenny Kravitz
  21. Living Colour – Guitarist Vernon Reid was bringing back visions of Hendrix to fans in the 80s and 90s.
  22. Mykki Blanco – This black woman is new on the corner of Rock & Roll.
  23. N.E.R.D. – Anyone remember Pharrell Williams’ funk/rock band from the early part of the 21st century. Too bad he has.
  24. Pure Hell – Pure Black metal in the new century though it’s NOT black metal that they play.
  25. Richie Havens
  26. Robert Johnson
  27. The Isley Brothers
  28. Thundercat – The Stanley Clark jazz bassist of the new century never backs away from musical challenges, like playing rock on his latest solo album or rap music on Kendrick Lamar’s two most recent releases.
  29. Tracy Chapman
  30. WZRD – If Pharrell could do it, then so could Kid Cudi. Or at least Cudi thought he could.

Now, how ’bout a taste of my favorite interracial bands. The list is MUCH longer!

  1. 24-7 Spyz – An English punk band from the 70s and 80s.
  2. 3rd Bass – This Hip Hop band was popular in the late 80s.
  3. Alabama Shakes
  4. Alice in Chains (current line-up)
  5. Apollonia 6
  6. Bloc Party – One of my favorite Gang of Four-influenced bands to pop up in the 2000s.
  7. Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band
  8. Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band
  9. Culture Club
  10. Cypress Hill
  11. Dave Matthews Band
  12. dc talk
  13. Dead Kennedys
  14. Doobie Brothers
  15. Fine Young Cannibals
  16. Fitz & the Tantrums
  17. Foo Fighters
  18. Funboy Three – Three former members of the ska band The Specials broke away to write an enduring pop ditty called “Our Lips Are Sealed”. Unfortunately, that song broke The Go-Go’s to the world and not Fun Boy Three.
  19. General Public – The English Beat broke into two bands in the mid-80s: the more successful Fine Young Cannibals and this brilliant pop/rock band.
  20. Germs – One of the original members of the LA hardcore scene.
  21. Guns N’ Roses – Slash, baby!
  22. Haircut 100 – Anyone remember this new wave band from the early 80s?
  23. Hootie & the Blowfish
  24. Hot Chocolate – This English pop/rock outfit had a couple of hits in the 70s, most famously “You Sexy Thing”.
  25. Jimi Hendrix Band of Gypsy – Jimi’s short-lived second line-up.
  26. Jimi Hendrix Experience
  27. KC & the Sunshine Band – After Chic, they are my next favorite disco band.
  28. King’s X – These guys were kind of a cross between Rush, Triumph and Kansas, but I’m not sure what that tells you?
  29. Little Feat – This 70s jam band has been forgotten to time, otherwise they’d be in the RRHOF.
  30. Love – They took off where with folk rock where the Byrds had left off when that band started leaning toward country rock.
  31. Massive Attack – Remember Trip Hop that originated in the UK in the 90s? No? Then, check out this duo.
  32. Nirvana – Became interracial when the trio added guitarist Pat Smear for their last album and tour.
  33. Paul Butterfield Blues Band
  34. Prince & the New Power Generation
  35. Prince & the Revolution
  36. Prince & Third Eye Girl
  37. Rage Against the Machine – Tom Morrello is a guitar god!
  38. Robert Randolph & the Family Band – If Stevie Wonder fronted a R&B-based jam band while playing a steel pedal guitar, for a touch of gospel, you would nearly get this band.
  39. Rufus
  40. Run the Jewels – My newest rap group obsession is an interracial duo consisting of rap stars Killer Mike and El-P.
  41. Santana
  42. Sepultura – South American metal gods.
  43. Sevendust – Part of that alternative-based goth metal groups from around the turn of the century.
  44. Sly & the Family Stone
  45. Suicidal Tendencies – 80s alternative metal gods.
  46. The Allman Brothers
  47. The Average White Band
  48. The Busboys – These guys played music similar in sound to the J. Geils Band. You can hear them in the first Ghostbusters movie (“The Boys Are Back in Town”). I still have their great debut album.
  49. The Chambers Brothers – Another 60s band that you might remember some of their songs that have been used in commercials.
  50. The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy – A political rap group that gave us Michael Franti.
  51. The Electric Flag – This was the original hard rock/jazz/big band band, predating Blood, Sweat & Tears and Chicago.
  52. The English Beat – The great UK ska band from the original 70/80s Two Tone wave.
  53. The Family – Prince’s post-Time protege band.
  54. The Funk Brothers – I am not kidding you when I tell you that Motown’s session band was an interracial group.
  55. The Rolling Stones (current line-up)
  56. The Selecter – Another Two Tone ska band.
  57. The Specials – The most popular of the Two Tone groups until they imploded two years later.
  58. The Spin Doctors – “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong”
  59. The Time
  60. The Wrecking Crew – These West Coast session hot shots played on all kinds of
  62. Thompson Twins
  63. Tom Tom Club
  64. Tower of Power
  65. TV on the Radio – I have heard them referred to as America’s Radiohead. Personally, I prefer TV on the Radio, but that’s just me.
  66. UB40
  67. Vanity 6
  68. Village People
  69. War
  70. X-Ray Spex  – Only during the 70s punk era in the UK could a band be fronted by a young black female. Then again, only one band could write tough songs from a female’s perspective.

Yes, this list is a bit daunting. Still, it is conversation starter. One last thing: this topic was to shed light on blacks in rock music, not to patronize my black friends. I hope you found it interesting, if nothing else. Peace to you all!

Here’s to Stevie Wonder and My Favorite 25 Songs of His

Last night’s Grammy Awards Show got me to reminiscing about those shows from the Seventies, when it appeared that the musicians had been served a meal AND an endless flow of drinks. Because of that, you never knew what kind of speech would be given. Personally, I miss Stevie Wonder’s speeches where he thanked all of God’s children for the inspiration for his song or album that had one. His speeches would last like what seemed like tens of minutes before the officials could pull him off the stage. Then came Guns N’ Roses’ fantastic drink and high-influence thank you speeches on the American Musical Awards in 1988 or 1989. Between those, and probably Yoko Ono’s tear-filled thank yous for hers and John Lennon’s last album ‘Double Fantasy’ for winning the Album of the Year in 1981 whose speech was cut off by many local stations. All of these and more incidences led to time limits on those thank you speeches and five-to-ten-second delay that the channels run to keep our tender ears from hearing foul language. So, we are missing out on these great moments now.

Now, the nominees for the awards were sort of boring to me, but the performances were entertaining, with a couple even transcendent. I loved the pairing of Alicia Keys & Maren Morris pairing; those two might consider actually recording together. It was fun for this old guy to see Prince’s greatest proteges, The Time, perform truncated versions of “Jungle Love” and “The Bird”. Of course, I love the rock and roll chaos of A Tribe Called Quest’s performance. And, the Metallica/Lady Gaga match-up was more fun than we have gotten at one of these shows in years. Beyoncé’s act was just plain strange. I just couldn’t get the image of Keenan Thompson and Tracy Morgan acting like her twins in utero the night before on Saturday Night Live. The funniest thing I heard last night was what my wife said to me about her music. My wife thinks it would be hilarious to hear some rapping in the middle of one of her songs. Now, that’s something to contemplate.

Anyway, in honor of last night’s Grammy Awards Show, I am giving to you My Top 25 Stevie Wonder Songs, since he always seemed to be winning awards during the those shows in the Seventies.

25. “Happy Birthday” (1981). Was a hit in the UK. This was written in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. back when people were pressing the US government for a holiday in his honor.

24. “Part-Time Lover” (1985). When I heard this song, I knew his magic had been used up.

23. “We Can Work It Out” (1971). Only Stevie Wonder could take one of my favorite Beatles’ song and turn it into a Motown standard.

22. “Ebony and Ivory” with Paul McCartney (1982). Yes, the metaphor was tired, and so seemed the duo’s performance, but their hearts were in the correct place during the early days of the Reagan era.

21. “Send One Your Love” (1979). Yes, the album from which this song comes IS dopey. Still, the tune remains one of Stevie’s finest ballads.

20. “Do I Do” (1982). In 1982, Stevie released something of a double album greatest hits collection. At the end of each side of the two albums had a new song, and this light funk number was one of them.

19. “Blowin’ in the Wind” (1966). Stevie takes Bob Dylan to church and changes this song into a gospel song.

18. “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)” (1965). Stevie took the Motown sound as far as he could. He was ready to take over the creative reigns for his music.

17. “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” (1970). That transition from Stevie as part of the Motown factory to being his own self-contained music production company.

16. “Living for the City” (1973). Now, we are getting to hear the benefits of allowing Stevie to run loose within a studio on the album from which this funky song with sociological lyrics.

15. “Fingertips” (1963). Hello music lovers! This is Little Stevie Wonder, and he’s only 12 years old. And he can sing like that? And blow that harp too? Yes, he’s our newest musical genius.

14. “Skeletons” (1987). Here is Stevie embracing hip hop into his repertoire, and he doesn’t miss a beat either.

13. “You Haven’t Done Nothin'” (1974). Stevie was at his creative peak between the years of 1972 through 1980, as this funky single proves.

12. “I Ain’t Gonna Stand for It” (1980). This underappreciated slice of rhythm & country was just a minor hit in 1980/1981. Still, the song displays two thing about Mr. Wonder. First, he is a genius at melding these two genres that had drifted far apart, and to predict the direction in which country music would move 30 years later.

11. “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” (1973). Just to prove he could battle the Carpenters on equal ground, Stevie Wonder releases this timeless display of love.

10. “I Wish” (1976). This beautiful cut comes from his classic double album Songs in the Key of Life. It will always remind me of my youthful optimism.

9. “I Was Made to Love Her” (1967). This is Stevie at his Motown machine’s best.

8. “Boogie on Reggae Woman” (1974). Few had heard of reggae or Bob Marley before this song. But, Stevie was finding inspiration everywhere for his seemingly insatiable musical appetite.

7. “For Once in My Life” (1968). Stevie shows his growth as a musician as he fits in with Sly & the Family Stone.

6. “My Cherie Amour” (1969). That’s right! Stevie melts women’s hearts all over the world with this song.

5. “Superstition” (1972). Originally written for guitar god Jeff Beck for his band to perform. But, Stevie was creatively antsy and recorded the definitive version himself. And what a great funk/rock song he made here.

4. “Sir Duke” (1977). This salute to Duke Ellington displays Stevie flexing his musical muscles by now amalgamating big band, pop, rock, soul and a tincture of disco into this brilliant song.

3. “That Girl” (1982). This slinky make-out song was the last truly great Stevie Wonder song ever released.

2. “Higher Ground” (1973). I cannot hear this song and not think of the ABA-playing Julius “Dr. J” Erving showing all of his moves in that old Converse basketball shoes commercial as this thick slice of George Clinton-style funk plays on. The whole thing just reeks cool.

1. “Master Blaster (Jammin’)” (1980). Stevie Wonder goes back to the Bob Marley well for an even better tribute to the reggae legend who was dying at the time from cancer. Stevie turned up the bass on this one to make a timeless work of art.

Stevie Wonder played a huge role in my musical life, but I did not fully appreciate it until I got in college. Nevertheless, the Grammys will never be the same as when he was showing us a sanitized version of rap in his seemingly endless acceptance speeches. Everything Stevie Wonder did was always iconic, plain and simple.

The Final Day for My Top 100 Songs Countdown of the Jackson Family


Wake up everyone! It’s Friday. We are on the cusp of another weekend. Sports-wise, there is no football, but plenty of basketball, as the college teams are trying to begin their push toward the tournament, March Madness. The biggest thing this weekend will be the Grammys, Sunday, on CBS. I usually spend the program on Facebook making snarky remarks about the show, winners, clothing, music, whatever makes me feel better about myself.

Well, enough about the Grammy Awards Show, let’s get going with My Top 20 Jackson Songs! I’m sure you have been wanting this countdown, so here we go!

20. The Jackson 5 – “ABC” (1970 – ABC). At the time this song was released, the J5 were riding high with several consecutive number one songs, including this one.

19. Michael Jackson – “Ben” (1972 – Ben). Here was the first clue that Michael had a creepy song, as he sang this song about a rat with so much emotion.

18. The Jackson 5 – “The Love You Save” (1970 – ABC). Here is another J5 song that was part of the original number one streak that started their career.

17. MJ with Siedah Garrett – “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” (1987 – Bad). Michael wrote this song with the hopes of singing a duet with Barbra Streisand. He ended up sharing the song with an up-and-coming Siedah Garrett, from whom I haven’t heard much ever since.

16. Janet Jackson – “Runaway” (1995 – Design of a Decade). You never know what kind of song you will get when an artist tacks a song or two on their latest greatest hits. In the case of this song, we got a classic.

15. MJ – “Remember the Time”/”Come Together” (1992 – Dangerous). This double-sided hit was a great pairing.

14. MJ – “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” (1979 – Off the Wall). This is where the adult version of Micheal Jackson started. Which meant he was leaving his brothers behind.

13. MJ – “Beat It” (1983 – Thriller). Although many dance/disco songs had guitar solos, none of them featured Eddie Van Halen, who was the Guitar God of the moment.

12. JJ – “Doesn’t Really Matter” (2001 – All for You). This album was the last great Janet Jackson album. You can still hear the Janet magic in every song.

11. The Jackson 5 – “I Want You Back” (1969 – Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5). This is the song that started the whole Jackson phenomenon off. To this day, this song sounds very bit as urgent as it did when it was released.

10. MJ – “Rock with You” (1979 – Rock with You). This is Michael’s first great make-out record. And, it was performed long before we found out how strange he was.

9. JJ – “Again” (1993 – janet.). Janet did go through a stage where she was titling her songs with single, monosyllabic words, but how great were they all?

8. The Jackson 5 – “I’ll Be There” (1970 – Third Album). What a great ballad! And the brothers cut this during their initial streak of number one hits.

7. MJ – “Black or White” (1991 – Dangerous). This song was Michael’s largest statement on race relations ever. Side note: anyone remember who knocked Dangerous from the top spot on Billboard‘s Top 200 Chart? Nirvana’s Nevermind.

6. JJ – “Together Again” (1997 – The Velvet Rope). This is Janet’s big hit from her soft porn hit album, The Velvet Rope.


5. Paul McCartney & MJ – “Say Say Say” (1983 – Pipes of Peace). This song was recorded during the same sessions that resulted in that schlock classic “The Girl Is Mine”. This song, however, was saved for the next McCartney album. And thank goodness that it was, because that was the only good song on that album. Think about what would have happened if the songs had been switched on albums. Thriller would have sold another 5-10 million copies, and Pipes of Peace would have been completely forgotten over time.

4. MJ – “Billie Jean” (1983 – Thriller). This song changed everything. First, supposedly, the video got other black artists’ videos on MTV. Next, it blew Thriller into the stratosphere. Finally, when Mike performed this song on the Motown 25 TV show, he gave us “The Moonwalk”. And, did you know that this song hit #1?

3. MJ – “You Are Not Alone” (1995 – HIStory). Unfortunately, this was MJ’s last gasp of true greatness. Still, what a beautiful way to end one of the greatest runs of songwriting in rock history.

2. JJ – “All for You” (2001 – All for You). Can you believe Janet has the second biggest selling single ever? If this is a surprise, guess what? No one should have underestimated the Jacksons’ youngest sister.

1. JJ – “That’s the Way Love Goes” (1993 – janet.) That’s right! Janet Jackson has the biggest selling song of the Jackson Family. Timing had everything to do with this. This fantastic song was released at the beginning of the “Go-Go Nineties”. Think about this: how many copies of Thriller would have been sold if it have been released in the 90s? Honestly, who cares, but the 90s were a great decade for music sales.

And, that’s the Top 100 Songs by the Jackson Family. I was every bit as surprised to find out that Janet had the top two best-selling songs of the family. I think that list should go a long way to proving that she belongs in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, joining Michael and her other brothers. Hey Hall! Make It Happen!

The Jackson Family Top 100 Songs, #21-40

Welcome to Day 4 of my countdown of the Top 100 Songs by Members of the Jackson Family. Since we are now beginning the Top 40 portion today, please try to read this with Casey Kasem’s voice in your head. The only thing is that I am leaving out a long distance dedication. Sorry! So, on with the countdown.

40. Michael Jackson – “In the Closet” (1992 – Dangerous). Yeah, I’m surprised how high this one was ranked by vfmusic.com.


39. The Jackson 5 – “Never Can Say Goodbye” (1971 – Maybe Tomorrow). That’s right! The J5 did the original version, in ballad form, of a song that Gloria Gaynor made into one of the first Top 10 disco songs.

38. Janet Jackson – “What Have You Done for Me Lately” (1986 – Control). This is the song that ignited Janet’s career with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis as her producers. Miss Jackson, welcome to the Minneapolis sound. It’s a match made in heaven.

37. JJ – “Someone to Call My Lover” (2001 – All for You). Sure, we are on the backside of Janet’s career, but she still can pull off a good pop/R&B song like this one.

36. MJ – “Man in the Mirror” (1988 – Bad). So, lyrically speaking, this song sounds like Michael’s most personal confessions. Then, we find out that this song was written by Siedah Garrett and Glen Ballard. Personally, I was a little disappointed that Michael was not capable of this kind of personal reflection. Still, it’s a great song no matter who wrote it.

35. JJ – “I Get Lonely” (1998 – The Velvet Rope). Here is Janet’s “Let’s Get It On” in the age of Prince.

34. MJ – “Dirty Diana” (1988 – Bad). This is Bad‘s attempt at “Beat It”, with the guitar solo performed by Billy Idol guitarist Steve Stevens. I wonder what this song would have sounded like if Michael had used Dave Mustaine, Scott Ian or one of the other thrash metal guitarists for this solo?

33. JJ – “Let’s Wait Awhile” (1987 – Control). Here’s an ode to maintaining one’s virginity. That’s all I’m gonna say about that.

32. JJ – “When I Think of You” (1987 – Control). This is Janet’s pure pop song and first number one. The video is an endearing Eighties relic.

31. JJ – “Miss You Much” (1989 – Rhythm Nation 1814). This is by far my favorite Janet song. I just cannot believe it is ranked so low!

30. JJ – “If” (1993 – janet.). Janet’s janet. album was so full of hits that I think the company kept running songs out to the radio stations hoping to boost album sales. It was all so easy back in the Nineties.

29. Luther Vandross & JJ – “The Best Things in Life Are Free” (1992 – Mo’ Money OST). Who knew that the big cuddly balladeer could be so much fun trading lyrics with Miss Jackson to a playful pop/dance beat, yet this seemingly mismatched duo pulled off one of the more fun songs of 1992.

28. MJ – “Got to Be There” (1971 – Got to Be There). That’s correct! Michael was on the soul side of bubblegum music back in the early 70s, and this little heartfelt ode to puppy love proves it.

27. JJ – “Escapade” (1990 – Rhythm Nation 1814). This may truly be Janet’s most fun video to watch, but only because the song is so endearing.

26. JJ – “Anytime, Anyplace” (1994 – janet.) Yet, another big hit song from Janet’s third LP done with Jam and Lewis.

25. MJ – “Bad” (1987 – Bad). So, remember “Weird Al” Yankovic’s parody of this song called “Fat”. My older son was two at the time, but he was with my wife and mother-in-law at a store in my wife’s hometown. Of course, this large woman passed by the trio, and my son begins to sing, “Because I’m fat! Shaamar! I’m fat!” Needless to say, my wife yanked him out of the store in total embarrassment. It wouldn’t be the last story like this that my boys went off script to write on their own.

24. MJ – “The Way You Make Me Feel” (1987 – Bad). Who’s idea was it to turn Michael into a stalker of a beautiful woman for the video? Like his ever-changing facial features wasn’t creepy enough, Mike’s best dance move for 1987 was to grab his crotch and do a couple Rocky Horror Picture Show pelvic thrusts around the young woman. And, yes, the song is great!

23. MJ & Paul McCartney – “The Girl Is Mine” (1982 – Thriller). This piece of pop schlock was released first from Thriller. I honestly wanted until I heard “Billie Jean” BEFORE buying this album. The song should have been re-titled “Your Beatles Songs Are Mine”, after Mike took Paul’s advice to buy rights to songs.

22. MJ – “Rockin’ Robin” (1972 – Got to Be There). Yet another song from Michael’s bubblegum era. Still, there’s a certain charming innocence in the song.


21. MJ & JJ – “Scream” (1995 – HIStory). This is the only song the two siblings ever recorded and released. It never really lived up to it’s expectations.

That’s 80 songs down and 20 to go. Tomorrow we will finish this whole thing off. So, keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.

Day 3 of My Countdown of the Jackson Family’s Top 100 Pop Songs, #41-60


It’s Hump Day! Those three words were magical in college. Most of the time, Wednesday meant basketball intramurals night. My dorm never really had try outs for their different teams, so when I was a scrawny 5’11”, 150 lbs freshman, I was never taken too seriously. So, I bid my time that first year with one guy I knew from another school and four other scrubs. After proving my worth, I quickly jumped up to the C team. During an all-day tournament, my team got ousted in two games, but I had averaged nearly 30 points a game. Anyway, the A lost one of their guys to an injury, so they quickly picked me up.

Now, the A team had two starting football players, one a 6’8″ offensive lineman and the other a very athletic 6’5″, 250 lb defensive end. Now, when you play with horses like that, all you have to do is two things: dump the ball down to them, and find the open spot around the perimeter for a jumper. Easy enough. In this game, we were playing the defending campus champions. Needless to say, the other team had NO scouting report on me, leaving me open all day long. So, I lit them up for 33 points, to go along with the big fellas’ 22 and 15 points as we trounced the Lambda Chi team by 20 points.

In the championship game, we met up with a team that was stacked with two former Ball State players and a couple of highly regarded high school players. We lost that game by 4 points, but this time the defense made me work for my points, so I got to use my shot-fake and drive. I finished with 13 points and 14 assists to the big guys. But we were no match for them. They, by the way, was my last organized basketball game, and it was on a Wednesday. Which always meant that “Thirsty Thursday” was just around the corner! AND, Thursday were fun for ALL!!!

Some of the songs on this portion of the countdown remind me of Hump Day in the dorm, getting ready to play basketball. In my early days of high school basketball, I would listen to AC/DC, Ted Nugent or Aerosmith. Once I figured out that funk and soul music truly held the rhythm of the basketball, I completely changed my pregame music to funk, rap and R&B. And, over night those earworms seemed to help me stay within the game a little bit better. And, needless to say, The Jacksons’ and Michael’s music were part of the pregame ritual. So, let’s continue on with the middle portion of our countdown: numbers 41-60.

60. Michael Jackson with Justin Timberlake – “Love Never Felt So Good” (2014 – Xscape). This song is from Michael’s second posthumous release. LA Reid took a demo, gave it a 21st century sheen and got Timberlake to record his vocals after the fact. Still, the song holds up to Michael’s catalog and is a great addition.

59. The Jacksons – “Show You the Way to Go” (1977 – Goin’ Places). This single is from the boys’ uneven sophomore release.

58. Herb Alpert with Janet Jackson, Bell Biv Devoe & Ralph Tresvant – “Diamonds” (1987 – Keep Your Eyes on Me). Okay, so Herb Alpert is the “A” in A&M Records and is a great trumpet player. So, he grabs some of his hot young acts to help put him back in the Hot 100 Singles Chart with this great song.

57. MJ – “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin'” (1984 – Thriller). Easily the best dance/party song on Thriller is famous for it’s African-sounding nonsense lyrics. The dance floor was ALWAYS full when this song was played.

56. MJ – “You Rock My World” (2001 – Invincible). An okay song from a mediocre album.

55. The Jacksons w/Mick Jagger – “State of Shock” (1984 – Victory). The long-awaited first single from the big reunion tour. The song was never as good as it should have been, but not really as bad as people make out to be.

54. MJ – “She’s Out of My Life” (1980 – Off the Wall). The best part of this song? Eddie Murphy’s comedy bit about Michael crying at the end of the song. “Tito, get me a tissue.”

53. Janet Jackson – “You Want This” (1994 – janet.). Yet another hit from Miss Jackson’s most successful album.

52. JJ – “Alright” (1990 – Rhythm Nation 1814). What a fun song! I cannot believe this song stalled at #4.

51. MJ – “Thriller” (1983 – Thriller). The song from the greatest video ever only got to #4. Maybe, if the record company released the song at the peak of that video’s popularity, the song would have gone to the top of chart. Instead, the song is finally released as a single nearly six months after the video’s popularity had waned.

50. JJ – “Nasty” (1986 – Control). “My name ain’t baby. It’s Miss Jackson, if you’re nasty!”


49. Jermaine Jackson – “Let’s Get Serious” (1980 – Let’s Get Serious). This is Jermaine’s most successful song of all-time…and it’s only #49 on this chart.

48. JJ – “Rhythm Nation” (1989 – Rhythm Nation 1814). We all need a little 1984/Metropolis themes integrated into a highly militaristic choreographed dance routines.

47. The Jacksons – “Dancing Machine” (1974 – Dancing Machine). This song represents the beginning of the adult Jacksons upon their signing with Epic Records, which means the Jackson 5 moniker had been put to rest.

46. JJ – “Come Back to Me” (1990 – Rhythm Nation 1814). Sure, Janet hit the big time with Control, but she became the Janet Jackson we know today with Rhythm Nation 1814. Plus, this song is sooooo good.

45. JJ – “Black Cat” (1990 – Rhythm Nation 1814). So, if Rhythm Nation 1814 is the closest album Janet will have to being Thriller, then “Black Cat” is her “Beat It”, including a hot guitar solo.

44. MJ – “Will You Be There” (1993 – Dangerous). Seriously, Michael, were you just trying to prove that you were the “King of Pop” by releasing yet another song from Dangerous.

43. The Jacksons – “Shack Your Body (Down to the Ground)” (1978 – Destiny). This is easily the best song ever done by The Jacksons. Still makes me want to dance to this day.

42. The Jackson 5 – “Mama’s Pearl” (1971 – Third Album). I had honestly forgotten about this gem until I started compiling this list.


41. JJ – “Love Will Never Do (Without You)” (1990 – Rhythm Nation 1814). Does anyone else remember being shocked when we saw Janet dressed down in jeans and a tight “wife beater”? Couple this video with the one for “The Pleasure Principle”, and you KNOW how sexy Janet is.

What a way to end today’s list with one of Janet’s sexier videos. I continue to develop a greater appreciation for the talent well this family was able to drink from.

The Jackson Family’s Top 100 Songs: Day 2, #61-80

Hi all! I hope the rush of Tom Brady’s Super Bowl comeback (begrudgingly here – I’m a Colts fan!), Saturday Night Live‘s brilliant performances, 18 Executive Orders signed by our new President and a third straight weekend of marching protests. I know my head is spinning. So, when I get sociological sensory overload, I always go back to my “Music Room” and, my apologies to MC5, “Kick out the jams!”

I am certain many of you do the same thing: find refuge from the world by hiding in a world of our own design, listening to music under our control, possibly reading books/magazines of our own choice. That room represents the freedom that we all wish to have. And no law or Presidential decree should take away from that, regardless of the “pie in the sky” promised outcomes from said law.

So, let’s check out the research that I completed last week about the greatest musical family from Indiana…er…the world (?)…uh…the universe(?). Whatever! Let’s see what I discovered about the Jackson family’s single chart action on Billboard‘s Hot 100 Singles Chart over the years. Today, I am tackling #61-80.


80. Michael Jackson – “They Don’t Care About Us” (1996 – HIStory). Who else could write an existential song about one’s marriage except for Michael. It’s songs like this one that make us all wonder if the child molestation charges/rumors were true.

79. MJ – “Jam” (1992 – Dangerous). This was back in the days of the first Olympic basketball Dream Team, with the other “MJ” of the time, Michael Jordan, decided to shoot some hoops with the singing genius MJ. The highlights of the video for the song were Jordan’s soaring dunks. I guess no one wanted video of Larry Bird’s creaky back “jump” shot.

78. MJ – “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)” (1983 – Thriller). This song was the lowest performing song of the singles from Thriller. To me, this was a great pop song. I prefer to think this song is about the pretty young coeds just entering college at the time, and not for some other group of young things.

77. Jermaine Jackson – “Daddy’s Home” (1972 – Jermaine). Sorry, Jermaine, this song is nothing but a shlock-fest.

76. MJ – “Another Part of Me” (1988 – Bad). Of all the great singles released from the Bad LP, this is the one I never can remember was a single.

75. MJ – “Human Nature” (1984 – Thriller). What a great slow dance/make-out song! ‘Nuff said. [Microphone drop].


74. The Jackson 5 – “Looking Through the Windows” (1972 – Looking Through the Window). A song that sounded so innocent at the time, now just sounds creepy. Take it away!!!

73. The Jacksons – “Lovely One” (1980 – Triumph). First off, I was shocked that this song ranked so low. And, finally, doesn’t this song sound like a dry run for Michael’s next solo, which ended up to be Thriller.

72. MJ – “One Day in Your Life” (1981 – One Day in Your Life). This “sucky” song comes from Motown’s first vault raid of Michael’s and his brothers’ earlier rejected songs. Sorry Motown! You all ready released their best songs.

71. MJ – “Blood on the Dance Floor” (1997 – Blood on the Dance Floor). Was anyone fooled by Michael’s attempt to make some “gangsta pop music?” Me neither!

70. Jermaine Jackson – “Do What You Do” (1984 – Jermaine Jackson). All of the Jacksons were riding Michael’s long Thriller coattails. This really isn’t a bad song.

69. MJ – “Earth Song” (1995 – HIStory). Michael was becoming very concerned about the health of Mother Earth, and many of his song signaled this. Not only was he trying to save Planet Earth or the rain forests, but he was also freeing Willy.

68. MJ – “Who Is It” (1992 – Dangerous). Is it just me, or did the label release ALL of the songs from this album.


67. Janet Jackson – “State of the World” (1991 – Rhythm Nation 1814). It’s almost like Janet and Michael were playing some form of musical poker, with Janet saying, “I’ll match your ‘Man in the Mirror’ and raise you a ‘State of the World’.” Oh, Janet! Michael’s just getting started.

66. The Jacksons – “Enjoy Yourself” (1976 – The Jacksons). The brothers proved they could write their own stuff on this song.

65. MJ – “Off the Wall” (1980 – Off the Wall). This song set a quaint record back in the day as Michael scored his FOURTH Top 10 hit off of one album. He will change everything with his Bad album.

64. MJ – “Heal the World” (1992 – Dangerous). Welcome back to our Janet vs Michael Jackson’s Battle of the Socially-Conscious Songs, as Michael ups the ante with this song.

63. JJ – “Because of Love” (1994 – janet.). Well, here’s the first song from Janet’s best album, janet. Yes, her hot streak is about to end, but what a battle she and her brother waged for the better part of a decade.

62. MJ – “Smooth Criminal” (1988 – Bad). C’mon! Forget that stupid cover version of this song by Alien Ant Farm, because this song was Michael’s most muscular song to date, including “Beat It”.

61. JJ – “Control” (1986 – Control). This was the song that Janet used to signal to her family that she was going to exert her independence. Or, in other words, stand down Joseph!

Can you believe that some of these songs are not in the family’s Top 10, let alone the Top 50? Other artists would kill for hits like any of these first 40 that I have listed, yet they have all been created by the offspring of two parents. Mind-boggling thought.