Music that transcends time is truly timeless, and many songs from 1989 have done just that. Relive some of pop culture’s greatest moments by taking a look back at some of its greatest hits from this groundbreaking decade!
This upbeat song from New Kids On The Block is an inspiring reminder that you can persevere when times get difficult. Plus, it’s a fun tune that’ll get you up and dancing too!
Bette Midler’s “Wind Beneath My Wings”
Bette Midler is an acclaimed multi-hyphenate, a singer and actor acclaimed for her work both onstage and in films as well as TV. Over the past two decades she has earned accolades like an Emmy, Grammy, Golden Globe award nominations, special recognition Tony awards, and Oscar nominations.
She has earned a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame and been honored with a Kennedy Center Honor. Additionally, she has released numerous albums and starred in films such as For the Boys (1991), Hocus Pocus (1993), The First Wives Club (1996) and The Stepford Wives (2004).
Her career took off with the 1989 hit “Wind Beneath My Wings,” featured on the soundtrack of Beaches. This heartbreaking ballad features in a scene where CC Bloom, who plays Midler’s character, sings it to her friend Victoria before she succumbs to cancer.
Arif Mardin’s acoustic-pop production is too sweet to compete with Midler’s grand, majestic voice. Furthermore, there are the sentimental lyrics which compare one’s ability to fly to that of an eagle.
This song became an international success, reaching the summit of the charts and becoming a massive hit. It was recorded by various artists such as Colleen Hewett, Lou Rawls, Gladys Knight & the Pips and Garry Morris; all were huge successes; however Colleen Hewett’s version became particularly well-known at that time; peaking at 52 on Kent Music Report’s Australian chart.
Technotronic’s “Pump Up the Jam”
Technotronic’s 1989 debut album features the iconic dance/house/rap crossover hit “Pump Up the Jam,” which became one of the first hip-house songs to become a global success and helped define its distinctive style.
The song begins with an energetic synth and hi-hats, soon joined by a heavy bass drumbeat. Fashion model Felly Kilingi sings over the top as this global hit becomes an international sensation – first in the U.K., then around the world.
Technotronic have made a great start, using their unique blend of hip-hop and house to create an upbeat, infectious sound. Their first single was number one hit in Belgium, Finland, Iceland, Portugal and Spain.
Years later they reunited with Ya Kid K, who sang the vocals on their second single “Move This,” which reached #10 in the US and #22 in the UK. Since 2009 the duo has performed to critical acclaim; however their follow-up album Body To Body failed to chart in the UK.
The third single was This Beat Is Technotronic, featuring MC Eric as the lead singer. While it didn’t chart as high as other tracks, it’s still an enjoyable listen with some nice sample work. Take It Slow follows, which is slower and mellow but feels a bit like filler at times; and Come On isn’t particularly captivating but offers up some nice instrumental backing tracks.
New Kids On The Block’s “Hangin’ Tough”
In 1989, New Kids On The Block made history with their album Hangin’ Tough. It was an enormous success for them and cemented their place as a household name through both its music and videos.
The group’s success was fuelled by merchandise sales and television appearances. The first two singles released from their album, “Please Don’t Go Girl” and “You Got It (The Right Stuff”) both reached the top ten charts.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what made the song such a success, but it certainly contributed to the merchandising boom for the group. Their faces were plastered everywhere as they ran around with baseball bats in an attempt to prove America that they were tough-hewn hooligans.
On the song, Donnie Wahlberg didn’t rap, but he did chant inspirational tough-kid talk and the other New Kids did some call-and-response back. It was sort of a bubblegum version of the delinquent-chic goonery introduced to pop charts by Beastie Boys several years earlier.
“Hangin’ Tough” had an endearing charm to it despite its crudeness. Its brazen attitude might have had some resonance with a certain wild-boy energy which still resonates today in pop music, but the song never intended to be dangerous or provocative.
David Hasselhoff’s “Mixed Emotions”
David Hasselhoff’s Baywatch was the highlight of NBC’s late 80’s and early 90’s prime time lineup in the late 80s and early 90s. It went on to become their best-selling TV program ever with an incredible global audience in excess of one billion viewers, leading it to become a smash success in syndication. Part of its success could be attributed to its generous marketing department budget as well as having some notable stars free to roam freely within their hive.
Young MC’s “Real Love”
If you were alive in 1989, chances are you listened to a lot of great music. Whether you were an older baby boomer or had just come of age later in life, there was no shortage of captivating tunes that you couldn’t help but sing along to.
This year will be remembered for many reasons, but one of them being the groundbreaking collaborations between R&B artists and rappers. Mary J. Blige’s 1990 album Love & Life served as a prime example of this phenomenon; it featured Al Green’s single “Just Coolin'”, her only number one hit single in history (though no record has ever been broken since).
In addition to being the best selling and successful album of its genre, It was also one of the sexiest looking rap albums ever. The track listing offered an eclectic mix of song and sample tidbits that nodded towards multiple musical styles and genres.
The album received widespread acclaim, but it was the alpha trio that really set the standard for listeners to follow. From its sleek production to inventive sonic and visual details, we were thoroughly entertained by this collection of songs we hadn’t experienced in some time.
Jody Watley’s “Real Love”
Grammy award-winning, multi-platinum singer/songwriter/producer/independent label owner Jody Watley is widely credited as one of the architects of 21st century Pop/R&B/Dance music. From her groundbreaking marriage of rap & R&B (1987’s “Friends,” featuring hip-hop legends Eric B & Rakim), to her visionary marriage of high fashion with street fashion in the ’80s (long before it became common), to her seamless integration of jazz with underground club culture that still continues today – Watley created a template now followed by many in this genre today.
In 1989, her video for “Real Love” earned six nominations at MTV Video Music Awards including Breakthrough Video, Best Art Direction and Best Dance Video. Additionally, it made it onto one of the Top 10 US Dance and R&B singles of that year.
As a solo artist, Watley released two albums and numerous singles on MCA. Her debut album, Jody Watley, reached number ten on the charts and sold over one million copies worldwide.
Her subsequent two albums, Affairs of the Heart and Intimacy, showcased more mature material. Additionally, she was featured vocalist on the soundtracks to Dr. Dolittle and White Men Can’t Jump, as well as recording several AIDS benefit album songs for them.
Her success has led her to become involved in a variety of causes, such as women’s empowerment and LGBTQ rights. Additionally, she is an outspoken advocate for HIV-AIDS awareness and prevention, serving on numerous advocacy groups that make changes happen at the legislative level.