A little over a month ago, I wrote a blog on songs that charted on the Billboard Adult Contemporary charts without crossing over to the Billboard Hot 100. It was so much fun discovering, and re-discovering, songs that haven’t been heard on the radio in years! Because it looks like this pandemic will be with us for a while yet (sigh), I thought it might be a good time to explore some more songs, on the lighter side of the musical spectrum, that may provide some comfort at this time. When times get tough, my music interests go “soft,” and the Adult Contemporary charts are the perfect format for that type of music! So without further ado, let’s delve into ten more songs that appeared on the AC charts, without appearing on the Billboard Hot 100. And, once again we will go in chronological order, starting with the year 1984, the year that the Summer Olympics took place in Los Angeles. Time flies when we’re having fun!
Theme from "St. Elsewhere" by Dave Grusin. Every time I hear this song, I’m transported back to sleepovers at my grandparents house when I was kid. I remember when the St. Elsewhere program would come on TV, and that would mean it was time for me to go to bed! My Nana really liked watching this program, and so I always think fondly of her when I hear this beautiful instrumental tune! Unlike many other television theme songs from the 1970's and 1980's, this one did not cross over to the Billboard Hot 100. It might have been a little too soft for radio at that time, which was featuring the likes of Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Prince. Had it been released a couple of years earlier, it probably would’ve crossed over to the Billboard Hot 100, but instead it had to settle for a Number 15 showing on the AC charts in 1984. In any case, I still really dig this song!
One Wish by Hiroshima. Two instrumental hits featured, back to back! This is something that you hardly ever hear these days on the radio, let alone one instrumental hit. But in the 1980's, instrumental music was still featured prominently, including the big Number One Hot 100 hit in 1985 by Jan Hammer, the theme from the television show Miami Vice. That instrumental hit, featured a much more aggressive baseline and sound, which likely limited its play on some AC stations, allowing it to only go to Number 16 on the AC charts in 1985. But, another instrumental hit was released the following year, in 1986, and this tune jazzed its way up to number 20 on the AC charts, and it did it all with “One Wish!” This was the kind of song that was featured on Smooth Jazz stations back in the 1980s, including a very prominent one in San Francisco, KKSF 103.7 FM. It’s perfect Sunday brunch music; it goes along quite nicely with eggs Benedict with homemade Hollandaise sauce, a fresh squeezed OJ mimosa, and French roast coffee. This song was probably a little too light and airy to cross over to the Billboard Hot 100, but that’s OK, as we AC fans were happy to keep it to ourselves!
Turn Back The Clock by Johnny Hates Jazz. Everybody always, pardon the expression, “shares” that song from Cher, If I Could Turn Back Time, on social media when daylight savings time ends. But, I think this fantastic song by Johnny Hates Jazz, should enjoy some of the limelight as well. It’s such a cool song, that received a lot of airplay on AC stations in 1988, peaking at Number Five, without crossing over, surprisingly, to the Billboard Hot 100. For whatever reason, it just never made a dent on the pop charts. But in any case, this song about longing, and wanting to do things over, still resonates with many. The next time you are sad, turn it on, and I think the lyrics will resonate!
Oasis by Roberta Flack. Yet another song that received airplay on many stations specializing in the smooth jazz format that really proliferated in the mid and late 1980's. As always, Roberta is sounding in top musical form on this oasis of a tune! This song did well on the AC charts, peaking at Number 13 in 1988. By the time this song was released, pop music had definitely gone in a more dance and rock oriented direction, so it was no surprise that this song did not cross over to the Billboard Hot 100. It’s such a beautiful song, and truly one of the forgotten hits by the most talented Roberta Flack. Give it a listen, and I’m sure it will bring back good memories for many of you!
Walking On Air By Stephen Bishop. So many know Stephen based on the song from the film Tootsie, It Might Be You, or his earlier hit from the late 1970's, On and On. But, Stephen was more than just a two-hit wonder! Much like the song from Tootsie, this song is about finding love, reveling in it, and simply enjoying it! It’s such a fun song, and if you’re having a bad day, it will make you feel better. It was produced by Phil Collins, and you can also hear him providing background vocals. In addition to being a really fun song, the video is also a lot of fun. It’s too bad that this song did not cross over to the Billboard Hot 100, but it was likely a little too “soft,” even if it was energetic! No matter, it still did fine on the AC chart, peaking at Number 13 in 1989!
Happy Ever After by Julia Fordham. Talk about your long forgotten gem! This song is simply stellar. Julia Fordham never crossed over to the Billboard Hot 100, but the AC charts welcomed her with open arms, where three of her songs charted within the top 40! Happy Ever After was her biggest AC hit, reaching Number 24 in 1989. Her voice is so sultry and soulful, and lures you in, demanding attention. People often criticize AC songs for being background or elevator music; this music is anything but that! If you haven’t heard this song before, you’re in for a treat. If you have heard this song before, you are in for rediscovered treat!
We’re Not Making Love Anymore by Barbra Streisand. Barbra’s powerful vocals and tone, combined with the strong production quality, perfectly create the drama that constitutes this fantastic song, co-written by Michael Bolton and Diane Warren. You can truly feel the angst, sadness, as well as resolution, that the protagonist is feeling in the song. By 1990, pop radio wasn’t readily playing songs by Miss Streisand anymore, but the AC stations were still a familiar home, allowing this song to reach Number 10 on the AC charts. It seems like this would make a good karaoke song. Someday, once the pandemic has passed, I hope to test out the theory!
Castle of Dreams by Dave Koz. Earlier, I had mentioned how instrumentals were still appearing with some regularity on the AC charts in the 1980's...well, Dave Koz made sure that still happened in 1990 as well, with this tune that peaked at Number 13 on the AC chart. His song was a staple, and probably still is, at many wedding receptions (virtual ones?). It’s another one of those songs that was featured, with regularity, on smooth jazz radio stations at the time. For what it’s worth, I still think it’s a fantastic tune (that soaring saxophone makes me happy, what can I say?) even though I’m sure the song is derided by some. No one necessarily want the same type of castle, nor has the same type of dream. It’s all good...I’m jazzed by this castle of dreams!
Obsession by Desmond Child featuring Maria Vidal. Such a haunting and mysterious song, and Maria’s vocals just add to that feeling. It’s a song that still gives me goosebumps, and I’m not exactly sure why. Is it the lyrics, the vocals, the unusual production quality, or some combination thereof? It doesn’t sound like anything else that gets played on the radio, and I’m actually surprised it did as well as it did on the AC charts, peaking at Number 19 in 1992. The pop charts in 1992 definitely weren’t playing this kind of music in 1992, so it’s no surprise that it did not cross over to the Hot 100. If you haven’t heard it before, check it out, and maybe you, too, will become “obsessed?“
Notgonnachange by Swing Out Sister. With a title like this, it feels very antithetical to all that’s going on these days! Feels like everything is changing, but of course there are still those who are fighting against some of those changes, for better or worse. Regardless, when Swing Out Sister sing about “not changing,” it sounds as wonderful as anything else they do. This song features those light and airy vocals, warm production quality, and that sound that we’ve all come to know and love about Swing Out Sister! By this time, in 1992, their music wasn’t really hitting the pop charts anymore, but the AC charts were still featuring their music, and this lovely ditty danced up to Number 22!
Well, there you go! Ten more songs that appeared on the Adult Contemporary chart without crossing over to the Billboard Hot 100. I’m pretty sure this won’t be the last time I blog on this topic, as I am really enjoying this blast to the past of songs that make me feel good. I hope they make you feel good too...Send me a message and let me know what you think. And as always, thanks for reading!