It’s music awards time and what better chance to look back over the last year in rock ’n’ roll to see who was hot and who was not?
In the still-hot-items column are Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, and Bruce Springsteen. But, some new faces are also proving there’s room for more at the top—rising talents this year include Bon Jovi and Whitney Houston, while a new group, Glass Tiger, is making a very strong showing as well.
The surprise of the year is The Monkees, who broke through a 20-year time barrier to make an unprecedented comeback. Speaking of comebacks, Duran Duran is back on the scene after two years of those “other projects.” Others we watched and listened to closely included A-ha, Huey Lewis, Howard Jones, and George Michael.
Proving that gimmicks are not necessary when you have talent, 23-year-old Whitney Houston soared to the top of the charts with her debut, self-titled album. While she appeared to come from out of nowhere, Whitney, daughter of singer Cissy Houston, trained for this success for some time before attaining it. Her broad-based appeal has helped Whitney, who sings gospel music in church on Sundays, sell well over seven million albums. She’s probably the top performer of the year.
Whitney’s competition, though, is strong. With a changed, more mature image, a married Madonna retained her popularity this year and not just on the music front. While her album True Blue is doing well and critics have credited her with growing up musically, Madonna did not concentrate solely on a singing career. Instead, this very hot property moved from movie project to movie project, and she says after 1987, she plans to dedicate all her time to acting.
Still sizzling is Cyndi Lauper, who this year followed up her smashing first album with an equally successful second LP, True Colors. Unlike Madonna, Cyndi’s maintained her wild look, but the fans just love it. And, they love her music too. The singles “True Colors” and “Change of Heart” both took off immediately after their release. And, why shouldn’t Cyndi’s album be a success? She managed to get the likes of Billy Joel, Nile Rodgers, and The Bangles to help her out. While her professional life is as hot as ever, Cyndi is ready to settle down personally and marry longtime boyfriend David Wolff. But, Cyndi says he’ll have to wait ’til she finishes her tour.
For this year’s fastest moving band, Bon Jovi, their current popularity is a dream come true. A year ago, although popular in Japan, the New Jersey band was still playing high schools and small clubs, but now they’ve caught fire. The Slippery When Wet sound, with its metal edge, spread rapidly across the country. And the good-looking band tasted the sweetness of success with singles like “You Give Love A Bad Name” and “Living On A Prayer.”
The revived Monkees enjoyed being a phenomenon. No one expected their reunion tour to be such a smashing success, but the Monkees found sell-out crowds everywhere they played. Now Davy, Micky, and Peter plan to continue to perform together, cut a new album, and maybe even do a movie. Meanwhile, the New Monkees, with an all-new young cast, will be hitting the tube next fall.
After great speculation that Duran Duran would split as a result of The Power Station and the the not-so-successful Arcadia efforts, three of the five originals re-joined forces to put out Notorious, the group’s fifth hit album. But, the final word isn’t in yet on this front. No one knows for sure if Duran has the staying power to maintain its popularity despite the loss of Roger Taylor and Andy Taylor.
Speaking of staying power, how about the Boss’s latest release? The five-record live album set highlights Bruce Springsteen’s concerts from 1975 to 1985. But, despite outrageous sales, some Bruce critics say they’d much rather hear the studio cuts.
With Andrew Ridgeley and Wham! behind him, George Michael faded from the airwaves to work on his solo album and a movie, while the Human League is back in action with its new album Crash and the top 40 single “Human.” And, Huey Lewis is going strong with his sort of double life. While he kept a low-key image, we told Huey that we’re happy to be stuck with him as we ate up his “Hip To Be Square.”
Janet Jackson’s Control marked the shocking entry of a hot young performer, tired of being Michael Jackson’s baby sister and ready to prove she can combine sex appeal and singing.
Howard Jones is not new to success, so it comes as no surprise that this singer/composer/keyboardist’s third album, One To One, which shows synthesizer-based music can have some depth, is going strong. Likewise, innovative Peter Gabriel is so hot with on-target singles like “Sledgehammer.” And Corey Hart’s latest Fields Of Fire, has shown us a new side of the Canadian.
That’s the good news in rock ’n’ roll. As for the bad, well, after Hunting High and Low, A-ha appears to be in some trouble. The group’s second LP Scoundrel Days appears to be going nowhere fast.