The End of the Trilogy: Adult Contemporary for the Win!

When I initially wrote that first blog about Adult Contemporary songs that didn’t cross over to the “pop side of the house,” also known as the Billboard Hot 100, I didn’t realize how much it would reignite my interest in exploring so many fantastic songs from yesteryear! Last week, I wrote a second blog about the topic, and now that I’m in this deep, I figured I better complete the trilogy, as it were, by writing a third blog on the topic! But don’t worry, I don’t think there will be a fourth blog, as that might be considered excessive, and my producers probably wouldn't want to fund the project anyway. For what it’s worth, I have no producers, and maybe this is why? There certainly is no accounting for good taste...just ask anyone who has attempted to help me over the years with my fashion choices.

So, without further ado here is the final in the three part series on Adult Contemporary songs that did not cross over to the Billboard Hot 100. And just like my previous blogs, the songs are arranged chronologically, based on when they were originally released.

New World In The Morning by Roger Whittaker.  This is probably the most apropos song to kick off this list, and also one of the most appropriate songs to help us through the current challenging times! I imagine each of us is wishing for a new world in the morning, when we go to sleep each night. With the current pandemic continuing its relentless impact, social justice issues on the forefront for so many these days, rampant unemployment, and the daily struggle of trying to stay positive, this wonderful tune may just be a step in the right direction. And, what is so good about this song, is that it is empowering, inviting us to create "our own new world in the morning!" If we all work together, and collaborate on solutions, we just might see that new world sooner rather than later. Not only is this song spiritually uplifting, but it also features some amazing whistling by Mr. Whittaker! I dare you not to sing and whistle along as you listen to it! Although this song was perhaps a little too “soft” for the pop charts at the time in 1970, it made itself at home on the Easy Listening chart, as it was called in those days, where it peaked at Number 12.

Coney Island by Herb Alpert and the TJB.  Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass Band (TJB) were on fire on the Billboard Hot 100 from the mid-1960's until the early 1970's. Many of their instrumental hits went Top 10, and the classic vocal, This Guy’s In Love With You, topped the Hot 100, in addition to the Easy Listening chart, in 1968. For a while, it seemed like there was no stopping that wonderful trumpet-playing from dominating the radio landscape. But then the disco format hit the scene, and suddenly, Herb’s music wasn’t so much en vogue anymore.  Fortunately, the Easy Listening radio stations welcomed disco to their format a bit later, allowing some of Herb’s fantastic mid-1970's music to still be featured on its charts, including the instrumental tune Coney Island, which allows the listener to picture the carnival rides, the hot dog on a stick, the cotton candy, and the warm sultry nights of Coney Island so vividly! This song rose to number Number 19 on the Easy Listening chart in 1975.

Candle On The Water by Helen Reddy.  Helen made a strong impact on the Billboard Hot 100 through much of the 1970's with her society-shaking (at the time) declarations, including, I Am Woman, and also deftly displaying her theatrical music skills, on songs such as I Don’t Know How To Love Him, from the musical Jesus Christ Superstar. Another one of her songs, which was probably a little too soft for the disco-fueled Hot 100 charts of 1977 was featured in the movie Pete’s Dragon. This film also starred Helen, as well as her really emotional and sensitive hit, Candle On The Water.  This is one of those songs I fondly remember from childhood, and it always evokes a sense of security, comfort, and perseverance. In other words, it’s a perfect song for these strange new times. Unfortunately, this candle did not “blow over” to the Billboard Hot 100, but it did manage to stay lit long enough to hit the Top 30 on the Adult Contemporary chart, peaking at number 27 in 1977.

Bright Eyes by Art Garfunkel.  This beautiful tune by Art Garfunkel was probably almost too soft even for the Adult Contemporary chart at the time! I remember this song getting a lot of airplay on “Beautiful Music“ stations, including the legendary KABL in San Francisco. Beautiful Music stations primarily played instrumental hits and very soft vocal tunes by established artists.  Although this song is very “soft,” that is not to say it isn’t a fantastic tune! It features the beautiful airy vocals of the legendary Art Garfunkel, strong lyrics, and a production quality that has always resonated with me. If you haven’t heard this tune before, I recommend checking it out, as it likely will give you a new appreciation for Mr. Garfunkel, and his wonderful work. This song peaked at Number 29 on the Adult Contemporary chart in 1979.

Walk Away by Michael Bolton. Michael Bolton was just starting to really hit his stride on the Hot 100 in the late 1980's, with his biggest chart days yet to come in the early 1990's. But, his style of music has always been more at home on the Adult Contemporary charts, where his songs generally peak higher than they do on the Hot 100. This was one of the few early songs of his career, that appeared only on the AC charts, without crossing over to the Billboard Hot 100. It’s one of those songs that most of you will probably recognize, since it got a fair amount of radio airplay back in 1988. It went Top 20 on the AC chart, peaking at Number 14 that year. The song is classic Michael Bolton, smooth and sultry. This was back before there was a lot of backlash against Mr. Bolton, as there was in the mid-1990's, when many people grew weary of his style of music, which resulted in less frequent appearances of his songs on either the Billboard Hot 100 or on the Adult Contemporary charts. I guess many just wanted him to walk away?

No More Lies by The Moody Blues. This is just one of the many wonderful songs that are part of The Moody Blues canon!  If this song had been released five or 10 years earlier, it certainly would have been a big hit on the Billboard Hot 100, but by 1988, this style of music was generally left on the sidelines, in favor of more dance and rock oriented fare. In any case, Adult Contemporary radio stations welcomed this song onto their airwaves, allowing it to rise to Number 15 in 1988 on the AC chart! Relationship troubles always make for a good song it seems, and this song by The Moody Blues is certainly no exception to that rule! I’m not lying, this is good music!

Compared To Nothing by Jude Cole.  I miss hearing songs like this on the radio! Jude Cole’s distinctive voice was featured on many songs on the AC charts in the early 1990's, along with several that also crossed over to the Hot 100. This song is a straight-ahead ballad, and another song dealing with relationship issues. The production quality and lyrical content made it right at home on Adult Contemporary radio in 1991, where it peaked at Number 23 on the AC chart. This song seems like it could have crossed over to the Billboard Hot 100, but music tastes were changing so quickly at that time, and so it was probably a little “too soft” for most pop radio stations to consider.

Theme From Dying Young by Kenny G. Up to this point, in 1991, each of the songs by Kenny G that appeared on the AC chart, also crossed over to the Billboard Hot 100, including his biggest Hot 100 from 1987, Songbird. And that, in and of itself, is an unusual feat, since instrumental hits were rapidly on the decline in radio airplay and popularity in the later 1980's. In any case, this particular instrumental might have been just a little too soft for pop music stations, and perhaps even for most AC stations, as it only managed to reach number 32 on the AC chart. Had more of those aforementioned Beautiful Music stations still been around in 1991, this song might have done a little better on the AC charts. For what it’s worth, I think it’s a great song, but I haven’t seen the film, starring Julia Roberts, for which it is the theme. Perhaps I need to add that movie to my pandemic viewing list?

Soul Drifter by Lindsey Buckingham.  Most folks know Lindsey Buckingham from all of his work over the years with Fleetwood Mac. But Lindsey has dabbled in some solo work, which includes his big Top 10 hit, Trouble, on the Billboard Hot 100 in early 1982. In 1992, he had several solo songs appear on the AC charts, including this upbeat, poppy, and effervescent hit. This is one of those songs that doesn’t sound like anything else that radio was playing at the time. That’s probably one of the reasons why it didn’t chart as well as it could have, only scraping the bottom portion of the AC Top 40, peaking at Number 38. But, if you haven’t heard it before, you’re in for a treat, as it really is just a fun song, with good lyrical content, and that classic voice of Lindsey’s.

River Of Dreams by Glenn Frey. Nope, this is not a cover of the almost exact titled song by Billy Joel, that came out in 1993, the massive hit, The River Of Dreams, that went to Number One on the AC charts for 3 months. Nope, this song actually came out a year before, in 1992, and it’s another rather fitting song for our current times. So many are likely yearning for a change to the current situation, searching for their own river of dreams. I’ve always appreciated the honesty, the sincerity, and the “relatability”of the lyrics in this tune. It feels like one of those “every man“ songs, or “every person“ songs! And, of course the song takes on additional significance, as Glenn Frey passed away several years ago, likely now exploring his own “river of dreams.“  This song went to Number 27 on the AC charts in 1992. Definitely recommended listening, and especially relevant during these unprecedented times!

And there you have it, 10 more songs to complete the trilogy that started about a month ago, and kind of just grew from there! I could say I “planned” it this way, but, honestly, the music writing muse “grabbed me,” and I was simply the instrument through which it appeared. I hope you’ve enjoyed this journey as much as I have, and either reconnected with some old favorite songs, or perhaps discovered new songs for the first time. I am already working on some future music blog ideas, so please stay tuned for more musical journeys in the not too distant future. Be well, and stay safe! Oh, and of course, keep smiling! :-)