1988 Countdown: Lacuna

I’m on the road today, so you’ll have to wait until next Tuesday to find out what the #91 video is. But I’ll take the opportunity to tell you about one song that isn’t on this countdown at all: Debbie Gibson’s “Foolish Beat.” The ballad hit #1 on the Billboard singles chart in June 1988, and did even better on MTV, ruling the countdown show Dial MTV for weeks on end. So why wasn’t it anywhere in the network’s top 100 videos of the year? The best theory my friends and I came up with on that New Year’s Eve (after our outrage simmered down a bit) was that the channel had no good place to put it on the countdown. By rights, it should have been in the top ten, but they presumably believed it wasn’t a hip enough song to warrant that placement. (We’ll revisit that judgment when we hit the actual top ten.) But if it was much lower, it would have been obvious that the fix was in. So they left it off altogether, assuming that nobody would be obsessive enough to watch the entire top hundred, and that reasonable people would assume that an unseen video was in a part of the countdown that they missed. Well, we showed them. Never underestimate the obsession of music geeks (or the willingness of MTV to cook the books).

posted 26 June 2008 in 1988 and tagged , . 4 comments

4 Comments on 1988 Countdown: Lacuna

  1. Chris M. Says:

    I don’t want to force you into more spoilers, but: Did any Gibson videos make the list?

    IIRC, “Foolish” was the fourth and final single from Out of the Blue and the only ballad, and the first two singles were solidly 1987 hits (“Only in My Dreams,” “Shake Your Love”). Which leaves the title track, which was a big hit and I believe straddled ’87 and ’88.

    So did “Out of the Blue” make the list? That would at least suggest that MTV can only be accused of discriminating against girly ballads, not Gibson in toto. (I say “girly” because I fully expect we’ll see “Love Bites” and “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” before this countdown is over.)

  2. Chris M. Says:

    Quick followup:

    Oops, I forgot — there was a fifth single, (which kind of flopped): “Staying Together”.

    Shoulda done the Wiki check before I commented. I would assume, though, that if there was a video for that song, it didn’t make the MTV list, either.

  3. gavin Says:

    I don’t have the ability to provide many spoilers! I’m watching the videos (and ads) as I post about them, so the only information I have on what’s coming up in the countdown is my twenty-year-old memories (and VJs saying “coming up in the next hour,” which is how I know that there is indeed another Pet Shop Boys video on the way, as you predicted). But I do remember (because of our surprise at the “Foolish Beat” omission) that there was at least one other Gibson video, so I have to assume that “Out of the Blue” made it. I would guess that “Staying Together” didn’t, although I’m not sure.

  4. Tom Nawrocki Says:

    I think there’s probably a very good explanation for why “Foolish Beat” didn’t make it: somebody goofed. Never ascribe to chicanery what can be explained by simple incompetence, I always say, and in this case, we’re dealing with a bunch of 23-year-old RTVF grads from SUNY Oneonta. I assume it got left out for the same reason that Metallica got left out of the last edition of the Rolling Stone Record Guide.

    Having said that, Out of the Blue was awesome, or at least it was real good, and using Bill James’ theories of ballplayers’ aging, I thought that if Debbie Gibson could come up with that at age 17, by the time she was 24, she’d be Bruce Springsteen, or at least George Michael. Alas, not.

Leave a Reply

Keep up to date with new comments on this post via RSS.