Aerosmith – “What It Takes”

“What It Takes” was released as the third single from Aerosmith’s 1989 album, Pump. The single was released on February 27, 1990, and peaked at number nine on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

I was 14 years old and in the ninth grade when this song was released as a single. It grabbed me right away, due in large part to the fact that it sounded so different than other songs that I knew from the band at that point in my life. Now that I’m older, I can better understand that there was a strong blues influence on “What It Takes,” which accounts for some of why the song sounded so different to me. There’s also the noticeable accordion that shows up at least twice in the song. The other thing that helped grabbed my attention with the song were the lyrics, because it seemed like I could respond to the words that focused on a breakup, even though I hadn’t personally been in a relationship in that point in my life.

I’ve continued to enjoy “What It Takes” over the years, and to me, the song is still just as strong today as it was 25 years ago. The song has withstood the test of time, and I enjoy it just as much now as I did when it was first released.

There were two music videos released for “What It Takes.” The first one shows the band becoming a “surprise band” performing at a bar, and a bar room brawl breaks out while they’re performing. The other video shows the band in the studio, with footage taken from a making-of film. Personally, I’ve always preferred the bar video to the studio one. Sure, the one in the bar is rather cheesy, but it’s more interesting to watch than the band in the studio.

I am embedding the video below, and I apologize in advance to any of my readers who are unable to view it due to region blocking.

Sinead O’Connor – “Nothing Compares 2 U”

“Nothing Compares 2 U” was released as the second single from Sinead O’Connor’s 1990 album, I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got. The single was released on January 8, 1990, and peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song was written by Prince and was originally recorded for The Family, one of his side projects, in 1985. The Family never released the song as the single, so Sinead O’Connor’s rendition has become the version that most people think of.

I was 14 years old and in the ninth grade when this single was released. This was a song that grabbed my attention from the very first time that I heard it. It sounded different from other songs that were coming out at the time, yet the sound was very accessible to pop audiences. The lyrics were also easy for many people to relate to, since it’s a song about losing someone who had been an important part of the speaker’s life. When the song was recorded by The Family, the song was about losing someone from a romantic relationship. But when Sinead recorded the song, she was reflecting on the death of her mother five years earlier. It’s a song I absolutely loved at the time, and 25 years later, I still like it a lot. It’s a song that’s been able to withstand the test of time, both on its lyrics and on its musical arrangement. It’s a song that doesn’t sound “dated.”

The music video is on the simple side, but it’s the type of video that this kind of song needs. A lot of the video has a close-up on Sinead’s face as she lip-syncs the song. But sometimes this footage will be intercut with shots of statues and outdoor scenes. It’s a good video for what it is, and the director did a good job of making sure that the images flowed well with the music.

I am embedding the music video below, and I apologize in advance to any of my readers who are unable to view it due to region blocking.

Best Love Songs

When you’re in a relationship with someone, there usually ends up being a love song that represents your relationship. I enjoy music from a lot of different genres and from several different decades. but over the years, these songs have remained some of my favorite love songs:

Bryan Adams – “Heaven”: This was the big “power ballad” single from Bryan Adam’s 1984 album, Reckless. I first heard this back in the mid-1980s, when I was in late elementary school. Over the years, as I got older and started understanding more about relationships, this song made an even stronger impression on me than when I first heard it. While it may be a ballad, it’s very celebratory in its tone. It’s no wonder why, in the early 2000s, DJ Sammy came up with a dance cover version of “Heaven.”

Chicago – “You’re the Inspiration”: This was another song that I first heard in the mid-1980s. It was one of the last Chicago hits to feature Peter Cetera before he left the group. While Peter’s solo song, “Glory of Love,” was a strong contender to make this list, I ultimately ended up going with “You’re the Inspiration.” Like “Heaven,” it was one of those songs that made an even stronger impression on me as I got older. I have always liked how the song talks about how the other person in the relationship inspires the speaker, and how they will love that person until the end of time.

Jim Croce – “Time in a Bottle”: This song originally came out in the 1970s, and it’s one I grew up hearing through my parents. For me, it wasn’t until the mid-1990s when this song became one of my top ten love songs. It’s a song my husband and I both enjoy. For me, I like how the song talks about how, if the speaker could save time in a bottle, they would save and cherish the moments they have had with their significant other.

Celine Dion – “Because You Loved Me”: This song came out in 1996, and was the theme song for the film Up Close and Personal. While Celine is known for recording many love songs over the years, I believe this is one of her best. It conveys the emotion of love without becoming too overly sappy and saccharine. I also appreciate how the message of the song is about how the speaker has become who they are because of their significant other.

Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell – “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”: A classic Motown song from the 1960s. My first exposure to this song actually came through the “DTV” clips that the Disney Channel aired back in the early 1980s; these were music videos made using footage from various productions in Disney’s vaults. This particular DTV clip made a strong impression on me as a kid, and I came to love the song. It was nice to finally get a copy of it on a compilation CD. What I’ve come to like about this song is how the speakers talk about how no obstacles that get in their way will keep them apart.

Elton John – “Your Song”: This song originally came out in the very early 1970s, but I don’t personally have any real memory of it until the mid-1990s. This is one that my husband introduced me to, and it’s become one of “our” songs. I really like the simplicity of this song, and I especially like the lines, “I hope you don’t mind that I put down in words how wonderful life is while you’re in the world.”

Journey – “Faithfully”: This is another “power ballad” from the 1980s. This is one of those songs that I grew to truly appreciate as I got older. I like how the main theme of the song is “I’m forever yours, faithfully.” It’s a simple song about being faithful, but the message is delivered in such a way that it doesn’t sound like a “simple love song.”

Mike Reno and Ann Wilson – “Almost Paradise”: This duet was released as a single in the mid-1980s from the Footloose soundtrack. It’s a very powerful “power ballad” duet, where the speakers share their feelings for one another. This is one of those songs that is really appropriate in the very early stages of a relationship.

REO Speedwagon – “Can’t Fight This Feeling”: This is another “power ballad” that I first heard in the mid-1980s. I really liked it at the time, but this song grew on me more and more as I got older and understood more about relationships. It’s a song where the speaker realizes that they want to be more than friends with the person they’re interested in, and they can’t “fight this feeling anymore.”

Savage Garden – “Truly Madly Deeply”: This was the third single from the duo’s 1997 self-titled album, and it became a number one hit in the United States. It’s a song where the speaker is affirming their devotion to their significant other, and it’s done in such a way that it isn’t overly sappy or cheesy.

Michael Bolton – “How Can We Be Lovers”

“How Can We Be Lovers” was released as the third single from Michael Bolton’s 1989 album, Soul Provider. The single was released in 1990 and peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

I was 14 years old and in the ninth grade when this single was released. I’d fallen in love with his previous single, “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You,” and I was just amazed when I heard “How Can We Be Lovers” for the first time. Prior to this single, all I’d heard from Michael had been midtempo songs and ballads, so hearing him do something that was this upbeat and much closer to rock was different. But it was a good kind of different, and I fell in love with this song. 25 years later, I can easily say that “How Can We Be Lovers” is still one of my all-time favorite songs by Michael Bolton. When I was 14, what attracted me to the song would have been more the sound of it than its lyrics, since I basically had no experience with love at that point in my life. Now that I’m older, I have a much greater appreciation for the lyrics of this song.

The music video has a strong focus on Michael Bolton lip syncing the song with a band and female backing singers behind him. Intercut with this are shots of Michael and actress Nicolette Sheridan portraying a couple that seems to be developing a distance between them. It’s not a bad video for what it is, all things considered.

I am embedding the music video below, and I apologize in advance to any of my readers who are unable to view it due to region blocking.

Cher – “Heart Of Stone”

“Heart of Stone,” the title track for Cher’s 1989 album, was released as the third single from the album. The single was released on January 23, 1990, and peaked at #20 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

I was 14 years old and in the ninth grade when this single was released. I fell in love with this song the first time I heard it. A single remix was done for the song, which was used in the video, and I didn’t think the remix sounded as good as the album version did. I think what really grabbed me were the lyrics to the song; even at 14 years old, I had an understanding of how poignant the words were, and Cher’s vocal delivery helped to emphasize their poignancy. Honestly, I think the lyrics are just as poignant today, if not more so, than when this single was released 25 years ago.

The music video sees Cher lip-syncing in the middle of a room that has projections going on behind her. At first, the images being projected behind her is footage from throughout her career up to that point as well as footage from old home movies. As the song progresses, the images behind her expand out to the world as a whole, including shots of historical figures (Martin Luther King Jr., Ronald Reagan, John F. Kennedy, Oliver North, etc.) and major historical events (Woodstock, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the fall of the Berlin Wall, etc.) It’s a simple video, yet effectively illustrates the meaning of the song.

I am embedding the music video below, and I apologize in advance to any of my readers who are unable to view it due to region blocking.

Motley Crue – “Without You”

“Without You” was released as the third single from Motley Crue’s 1989 album, Dr. Feelgood. The single was released on March 12, 1990, and peaked at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100.

I was 14 years old and in the ninth grade when this single was released. This was an era where power ballads were common to hear on the radio, and I liked quite a few of them. So it was no surprise that I liked “Without You” from the first moment I heard it; of course, it also helped that I had heard a couple of previous singles from the album that I had enjoyed as well. I really liked the sound of this particular power ballad.

At the time the single was being promoted, I liked the music video that was made to accompany it. But re-watching the video right before writing this up, I could see that it really hasn’t withstood the test of time. While some of the effects and shots they went for looked surreal and interesting back in 1990, now they look rather cheesy and dated. And I have to admit that I never did understand why the shots of the live jaguar were included. Oh well. I still enjoy the song, even if I’m not as impressed by the video as I was when I was a teenager.

I am embedding the music video below, and I apologize in advance to any of my readers who are unable to view it due to region blocking.

Calloway – “I Wanna Be Rich”

“I Wanna Be Rich” was released as the third and final single from their 1989 debut album, All The Way. The single peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

I was 14 years old and in the ninth grade when this single was released. It’s such a catchy and upbeat song that it’s no wonder that I, as well as a lot of the pop audience at the time, liked it as much as we did. The lyrics see the speaker talking about their money woes, yet trying to be optimistic about finding ways to turn their situation around. While most of the song talks about wanting to be rich in terms of money, the last line of the chorus sees the speaker wanting to be “full of love, peace and happiness.” Even though this song did well for the duo, they never had another pop hit on the charts, which makes them another one of the “one-hit wonders” from the 1990s. From doing some research, I learned that the Calloway brothers were songwriters before recording All The Way, and after their own recording career dried up they went on to become producers. So they’re still active in the music industry, just not as performers.

The music video intercuts footage of the brothers being regular “Joe Schmoes” at home (either dealing with bill collector or just hanging around their house) with performance footage. Admittedly, the video isn’t anything terribly special and is rather simple, but it works for a song like “I Wanna Be Rich.”

I am embedding the music video below, and I apologize in advance to any of my readers who are unable to view it due to region blocking.