When The Cheese Fry was but a tater tot entering the 10th grade in the fall of 1987 and considering such topics as Algebra II and Economics, the following songs were on the Billboard Hot 100. The soundtrack of Generation X, whether on MTV or your local Kiss-FM radio station. Issue date: August 29, 1987.
1. Los Lobos "La Bamba" - Here's a song no one's likely clamoring to hear again. They played it a whole lot on the radio. But it sure came in handy in Spanish class when you had to recite a Spanish poem from memory. Mr. Hidalgo let us use this song.
2. Madonna "Who's That Girl" - Forgettable song from a forgettable movie.
3. Richard Marx "Don't Mean Nothing" - There's undeniably a guilty pleasure aspect to the repertoire of Mr. Marx's cheesy college-creative-writing-class lyrics, "tender" sensibility, and perfectly arranged power chords. This was his first hit; his prom power ballads ("Hold Onto the Night" and "Right Here Waiting") hadn't yet invaded our culture. "Don't Mean Nothing" is his most interesting song, cynically exploring the many ways that Hollywood screws artists over.
4. Suzanne Vega "Luka" - We can all agree that this is an Important Song, but do you really want to ever hear it again? The radio played the hell out of this. Luka lives on the second floor, upstairs from you, perhaps you've seen him before. Yadda yadda. We get it. And in hindsight, it's really pretentious.
5. Debbie Gibson "Only In My Dreams" - Textbook 1980s bubble-gum pop, all synthesizers and drum machines.
6. Michael Jackson "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" - Kind of hard to enjoy Michael Jackson music these days (exception: "Thriller" and "Billie Jean") knowing What We Know Now.
7. The Whispers "Rock Steady" - The first surprise of the list, one of those catchy R&B funk songs that you forgot how much you liked until someone reminds you of it. "And we begin to rock (dee-deeee) steady... steady rockin' all night long." Good stuff.
8. Whitney Houston "Didn't We Almost Have It All" - Typical Whitney ballad. Boring verses, great chorus. Whatever.
9. Starship "It's Not Over (Til It's Over)" - Seriously?
10. Dan Hill and Vonda Shepard "Can't We Try" - Very VH1.
11. U2 "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" - The only song on this list considered today to be a classic. Those guys are the real deal, it seems. The perfect song representative of The Joshua Tree.
12. Dionne Warwink "Love Power" - We don't remember it, either.
13. George Michael "I Want Your Sex" - If you were going to put a 1980s mix tape in a time capsule, this song would have to be on it. So tame now, but it created a firestorm of controversy when it first hit the airwaves. And the jingle-jangle, woodblock backbeat still seems fresh.
14. Huey Lewis and the News "Doing It All For My Baby" - We all know Huey Lewis plateaued with the Sports LP. But an argument could be made for "Hip to Be Square." Maybe.
15. Whitesnake "Here I Go Again" - Hell yeah. Make the devil horns! One of the few on the list that could easily go back into heavy rotation on the radio.