Another blog in less than a week? Yes, but today's blog is "time-sensitive," as it is to commemorate a special occasion that took place 30 years ago, on Saturday May 26, 1990, when the Saint Patrick-Saint Vincent High School in Vallejo, California, Class of 1990 achieved graduate status and were ready to take on the world! And let it be noted that we were “special” in several ways...and of course, I am not (too) biased.
First, we were the last graduating class at the high school to remember what it was like to go to an all-boys school or to an all-girls school, during our freshman year. After that, the all-girls St Vincent High School merged with the all-boys St Patrick High School, and from then on out, the young men and young women coexisted peacefully; well, at least most of the time!
Second, we were also the first class of the 1990's decade to graduate from SPSV! We carried the torch for the rest of the graduating classes for the last decade of the 1900's...quite the responsibility!
And, for a weather nerd like myself, there was another significant event that took place on May 26, 1990. A rather strong late season pacific storm moved into California that evening, dropping a record .86 of an inch of precipitation in my rain gauge in Vallejo! But Mother Nature was kind to us during the day, as our outdoor graduation ceremony featured partly cloudy skies and light winds. Timing is everything.
Of course, I have always been a big fan of pop music, and that was also certainly the case in May 1990, at the time of our high school graduation. As discussed in my previous blog, the 1990's were a time of significant transition in the popular music world, with many artists achieving their last Top 40 hits, while a new generation of artists were just starting to take hold of the pop charts and make their musical presence known. The Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on May 26, 1990, certainly reflected this. So, without further ado, let’s delve into the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 from Saturday, May 26, 1990, when the SPSV Class of 1990 went from students to alumni!
#10. This Old Heart Of Mine by Rod Stewart featuring Ronald Isley Rod Stewart was a regular fixture on the Billboard Hot 100 since the 1970s, with rock, disco, and a lot of pop music too. In the late 1980s, he was releasing more ballads and adult contemporary hits, including this fine number originally covered by the Isley brothers back in 1966! On this cover, one of the Isley brothers, Ronald Isley, was featured, making it a “homecoming” of sorts for the song. Another interesting tidbit about this tune is that it was covered by Rod previously in 1976, peaking at Number 83 on the charts! I guess Rod's cover version was just originally released 14 years too early?
#9. U Can’t Touch This by M.C. Hammer One of the new artists at the time experiencing his very first Top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 was none other than Oakland-born M.C. Hammer, with a rap song that samples Rick James’ Super Freak. It’s a song that gets in your head, and doesn’t quickly disappear. I remember this song playing on lots of boomboxes “back in the day!”
#8. It Must Have Been Love by Roxette The late '80's and early '90's were the heyday for the Swedish group known as Roxette. Nearly everything they recorded went Top 10, if not all the way to Number One, including this song which hit the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100, just three weeks later on June 16, 1990. Being featured in the blockbuster film Pretty Woman didn’t hurt this song’s exposure either!
#7. Sending All My Love by Linear Music often identified or described as “freestyle dance music” was becoming more prominent in the late '80's and early '90's, and this tune is a great example of that sound! Linear were a group out of Florida, and embodied that party jam ethos. This is another song I remember hearing from many a boombox!
#6. Poison by Bell Biv Devoe There are certain songs that transport one immediately to a particular time and place, and this is certainly one of those songs! I still like to yell the word “poison!” at the top of my lungs when listening to it, much to the chagrin of the folks around me. This upbeat R&B song, including members of the group New Edition, was in heavy rotation on many radio stations around the time of our high school graduation. It’s one of those songs that rarely gets radio air play these days, seeming to have it “frozen in time” and firmly entrenched in the spring of 1990.
#5. Alright by Janet Jackson By 1990, Michael Jackson’s younger sister Janet was really giving him a run on the pop music charts! The majority of her upbeat, danceable, and funky songs were going to the Top 5 on the Billboard Hot 100, including this song, which is definitely “all right!” Relatively speaking, this song was slightly less stellar chart-wise, “only” managing to reach Number Four on the Billboard Hot 100, after Janet had previously achieved two Number One singles and one Number Two single from the Rhythm Nation 1814 album! Most musicians wouldn’t be too upset with that accomplishment however!
#4. Hold On by Wilson Phillips A new wave (pardon the expression) of adult contemporary music was making inroads in 1990, with the torchbearers being the group known as Wilson Phillips. This was their first Billboard Hot 100 hit, eventually going all the way to the pinnacle on the charts! Their sound really harkened back to an earlier time, with more emphasis on lyrics, and vocal delivery, and less on heavy production and “danceability.” In any case, their style worked, and their sound resonated with a broad audience, as they enjoyed a number of Top 40 hits in the first part of the 1990's.
#3. Nothing Compares 2 U by Sinead O’Connor Take one prolific, multi-talented songwriter and artist known as Prince, and add the beautiful vocals of the Irish Sinead O’Connor, and you’ve got yourself a massive hit! That was definitely true in this case, as the song previously peaked at Number One for four weeks on the Billboard Hot 100. Such a plaintive song, it still sounds incredibly fresh, real, and contemporary, even 30 years later! Some of the songs on this Top 10 haven’t aged that well, but this one certainly has. Other than for this song, Sinead has never experienced a lot of chart success in the States, probably at least in part due to her often controversial protest actions over the years. But there is no controversy when it comes to her fine singing!
#2. All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You by Heart Speaking of controversies, this tune by Heart certainly received its fair share! This song about pursuing "adult relations" outside of marriage wouldn’t be a song you would hear emanating from the teachers' lounge, especially at a Catholic high school! In any case, the controversy didn’t seem to hurt it too much, or perhaps helped it, as it peaked at Number Two on the Billboard Hot 100. Production quality on this song is classic Heart. Unfortunately this was also their last Top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. Their next best charting single was Stranded, which was "stranded" at Number 13 in late 1990.
#1. Vogue by Madonna Many would argue that Madonna was at her peak, commercially, and artistically in 1990, and it would be hard to argue otherwise. This is another song that has aged very well, still sounding fresh and relevant 30 years later! The production, lyrical content, and sound are all top form. And, I was fortunate enough to be able to see Madonna in concert in May 1990, during her Blonde Ambition Tour! To this day I remember those golden cylindrical cone things she was wearing...for what it’s worth, I think I remember some of the music she performed as well. But, in all seriousness, this is one excellent song, and a nice one to be at the top of the pop music charts while the SPSV Class of 1990 was graduating from high school.
There you have it! I want to do a special shout out to all my fellow SPSV Class of ‘90 alumni. Some of us connect regularly in person and/or on Facebook, and it’s always nice to see what you’re up to, and also hear from you. Keep the Bruin Pride alive!