The History of Pop Music – 1987

Featured song:

Freddie Mercury – The Great Pretender

This is a series of articles looking at pop music from 1955 when in my opinion proper pop music began up to 1999 when they stopped making it. One article for each year.

I am only going to select one featured song for each article, which makes it hard. I am going to try and select a different artist for each year.

For many people, and I include myself, you tend to still like the tunes you heard during childhood, which your parents often played. So rather than just pick the top 10 hits of each year, I shall let you know what they were, but also the tunes of that year not necessarily in the top 10 or so, what were in my view classics.  I also add a couple of events in history for that year, it helps bring back memories, and hopefully happy ones.

Not everyone will like my choices of course, and you may remember some from each particular year that you feel should have been included, so do please post a link to the song.

So, on we go with memories from 1987: (Thank you Wiki)

This year was about:  Bit nippy at the start.  Lots of snow.  Terry Waite kidnapped.  Herald of Free Enterprise capsizes.  General Election, The Great Storm.  There was not much in the way of good news this year, mainly the usual death and destruction.

What was I doing in this year?  – I was 32. In the middle of summer, I left the Army and having been on the Maidstone Council housing list for several years, I managed to move straight into a decent council house, which was bare, I mean nothing, even light bulbs had been removed.  That day, the lads who had loaded all our boxes onto a 4-tonner, arrived and unloaded it all for me.  I had been on leave for the last 28 days and just prior to that my choice of any free course lasting up to 28 days was to learn to drive a car.  I did a *crash* course in Liverpool, passed my test after 3 days.  I started a new civilian job at TML, who were the company created to build the Channel Tunnel.  My job title was “Computer Operator”, I was given an IBM/PS2 with a 20MB of hard disk and the full 256K or RAM.  I was asked if I knew DOS.  “Yes”, I said, then took the book home to learn it.  I learned from that day that if you work hard, you will get the rewards.

TV programmes included

: Princess Anne appears on the sports quiz A Question of Sport, a matter of weeks after team captain Emlyn Hughes famously mistook a picture of her on a horse for jockey John Reid. The episode gains a record audience of 19 million viewers.  That actually was funny.  A drunken Oliver Reed appears on the ITV chat show Aspel & Company.    Opportunity Knocks returns after a decade-long break, now on BBC1 and presented by Bob Monkhouse.  The Tube ends after 5 years, I liked this.  It’s a Royal Knockout was shown; it was pretty bad as I recall.  Sylvester McCoy becomes the seventh Doctor (my least favourite).


Prime Minister – Margaret Thatcher (Conservative)

January – Most of Britain is affected by heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures.

2 January – Golliwogs are banned from Enid Blyton books by their publisher and replaced by politically correct gnomes following complaints that golliwogs were offensive to Black people.  I had a complete collection of badges on my school blazer.

4 January – Heavy snow falls across Britain leaving houses, towns, roads, railways and motor vehicles stranded and blocked.

20 January – Terry Waite, the special envoy of the Archbishop of Canterbury in Lebanon, disappears in Beirut whilst negotiating for the release of hostages.

26 February – Church of England’s General Synod votes to allow the ordination of women.

6 March – British ferry MS Herald of Free Enterprise capsizes while leaving the harbour of Zeebrugge, Belgium, killing 193 on board.

1 April – MPs vote against the restoration of the death penalty by 342–230.

6 April – Conservative MP Harvey Proctor appears in court charged with gross indecency.

29 April – Chancellor Nigel Lawson promises that the UK will soon have an income tax rate of 25p in the pound.

11 May – Margaret Thatcher calls a general election for Thursday, 11 June; with most of the opinion polls pointing towards her securing a third successive election victory for the Conservatives, with the Labour opposition expected to increase its share of votes and seat tally at its first general election under the leadership of Neil Kinnock.

11 June – The 1987 general election sees Margaret Thatcher secure her third term in office. However, her parliamentary majority is reduced to 102 compared to the 144-seat majority gained at the election four years earlier. High-profile casualties of the election include: the former SDP leader Roy Jenkins (once a Labour Home Secretary) and the Ulster Unionist Party’s 75-year-old Enoch Powell (a former Conservative MP).  Four ethnic minority candidates are successful: Diane Abbott (FFRC – ©Rick), Paul Boateng, Bernie Grant and Keith Vaz (best known as Jim the washing machine salesman).

22 June – Race riots break out in the Chapeltown area of Leeds

12 July – £60,000,000 is stolen during the Knightsbridge Security Deposit robbery.

29 July – The Channel Tunnel is given the go-ahead after Margaret Thatcher and François Mitterrand ratify the Treaty of Canterbury. It is expected to be open within six years.

6 August – Dr. David Owen resigns as Leader of the Social Democratic Party after its members vote to merge with the Liberal Party.

10 August – One person a day in Britain is now reported to be dying of AIDS.

19 August – Michael Ryan shoots dead fourteen people in the Berkshire town of Hungerford, before taking his own life with a rifle. 16 people are injured, some of them seriously.  Death count goes to 16.

9 September – 25 Liverpool football fans are extradited to Belgium to face charges of manslaughter in connection with the Heysel Stadium disaster more than two years ago.

15–16 October – Great storm: hurricane force winds batter much of south-east England, killing 23 people and causing extensive damage to property.

18 October – Two days after the end of the storm in south-east England, some 250,000 homes in the region are still without electricity.

19 October – Black Monday: Wall Street crash leads to £50,000,000,000 being wiped of the value of shares on the London stock exchange.

3 October – Retired English jockey Lester Piggott is jailed for three years after being convicted of tax evasion.  He is still going strong and will be 84 this year.

8 November – Enniskillen bombing: Eleven people are killed by a Provisional Irish Republican Army bomb at a Remembrance Day service at Enniskillen.

17 November – The Government announces that the Poll tax (community charge) will be introduced in April 1990. – Did not go down that wee as I recall.

18 November – A fire at Kings Cross on the London Underground kills 31 people.

9 December – <spoiler>The England cricket team’s tour of Pakistan is nearly brought to a premature end when captain Mike Gatting and umpire Shakoor Rana row during a Test Match.</spoiler> (I know it does not work in articles, but another chance to show people how to hide text in a comment no one will read.

15 December – Channel Tunnel construction is initiated, and it is expected to open in 1993 or early-1994.  I started at the company in September, we all had a meeting in a pub in December, as I recall there was about 50 of us in total.

25 December – ITV enjoys a record-breaking audience when more than 26,000,000 viewers tune in for the Christmas Day episode of Coronation Street, in which Hilda Ogden (Jean Alexander) makes her final appearance on the show after 23 years.

The Top 10 Singles with a You Tube hyperlink on the title:

Top tip: Right-click and open in new tab)

Top Hits of 1987
   1 Rick Astley Never Gonna Give You Up
   2 Starship Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now
   3 Whitney Houston I Wanna Dance With Somebody
   4 Bee Gees You Win Again
   5 T’Pau China In Your Hand
   6 Mel & Kim Respectable
   7 Ben E King Stand By Me
   8 Pet Shop Boys It’s A Sin
   9 MARRS Pump Up The Volume
   10 The Firm Star Trekkin’

Great year for Stock, Aitken and Waterman and yes, much of it sounded the same.  Still, they did well.  Pete Waterman is now 72 and worth about 40 million.  The music this year, apart from a couple of classics and a few great tunes was very poor.  Bee Gees not exactly breaking new ground with You Win Again.  T-Pau would have been featured with  China In Your Hand  if they had done a few more decent records.  Michael Jackson had Bad and a couple of others, but they do not make my cut, just do not like him, George Michael had Faith, but again, just do not like him.

Queen have been the featured song earlier with Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody but this is Freddie on his own (ish).

“The Great Pretender” is a popular song recorded by The Platters, with Tony Williams on lead vocals, and released as a single on November 3, 1955. The words and music were written by Buck Ram,[1] the Platters’ manager and producer who was a successful songwriter before moving into producing and management. “The Great Pretender” reached the number one position on both the R&B and pop charts in 1956. It also reached the UK charts peaking at number 5.  My uncle had all The Patters LP’s and I liked them when I was very young.  How wonderful that Freddie did this recording.

The song was re-popularised in 1987 by Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of Queen. Mercury’s version reached number four on the UK Singles Chart. In one of his last videotaped interviews in spring of 1987, Mercury explained that the song was particularly fitting for the way he saw his career and being on stage.

Mercury’s music video for the song featured him parodying himself in many of his Queen guises through video medium over the years, including visual re-takes of “Radio Ga Ga”, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”, “It’s a Hard Life”, “I Want to Break Free”, “One Vision”, and “I Was Born to Love You”. It was directed by David Mallet in February 1987 and featured fellow Queen member Roger Taylor and actor Peter Straker in drag.

More writings on this song here:  The Great Pretender

In my view the best songs of the year, after the featured track and most of the above top ten are below (best to right-click and open in a new tab):

From the top 10 sellers, T’Pau and Ben E King stand out (please check the link above,1987 live version).

T’Pau – Heart and Soul – great tune

The Communards – Never Can Say Goodbye – Very talented that Ian Hislop.

Bruce Willis – Under The Boardwalk – Not really sure why he has the legends that are The Temptations as his backing group.

Jackie Wilson – Reet Petite – classic, re-released, again.

George Harrison – Got My Mind Set On You – Bit more upbeat than his usual dirge’s, but respect nevertheless.

Los Lobos – La Bamba – Excellent cover

Madonna – Who’s That Girl

The Proclaimers – Letter From America – Charlie and Craig Reid, proper singers, love their stuff.

Boy George – Everything I Own – Only as it is Friday

Curiosity Killed The Cat – Down To Earth

Tom Jones –   – I like a bit of Tom

Elkie Brooks – No more the fool – I like her a lot.

Ferry Aid – Let It Be – Charity song, but a good one for a worthy cause for a disaster that was very close to home for me.

Sinitta – Toy Boy

Kiss – Crazy Crazy Nights

Pet Shop Boys – Always on My Mind – most excellent cover version

Heart – Alone – I was reminded of this band a couple of weeks whilst not reading the comments.  I am pleased they appear.

Alison Moyet – Is This Love – Wonderful voice.

Fleetwood Mac – Little Lies – Love this band.

Fleetwood Mac – Big Love

A-Ha – The Living Daylight – One of the better Bond tunes.

Randy Crawford – Almaz – Lovely

Full Metal Jacket – I Wanna Be Your Drill Instructor – Not a pop song as such, but very listenable.  RIP R Lee Ermey, former Marine who made a career in Hollywood playing hard-nosed military man Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket”.  Sadly died last year.

Percy Sledge – When a man loves a woman – Another re-release, but of a superb song, I found his 1987 live version.

Fat Boys & The Beach Boys – Wipeout – It was fun though.

Billy Idol – Mony Mony – Big year for covers and re-releases, good one from Billy.

Pet Shop Boys With Dusty Springfield – What Have I Done To Deserve This – Superb tune, Pet Shop Boys and Dusty.

Living In A Box – Living In A Box – Very eighties

Whitesnake – Is This Love

Whitesnake – Here I Go Again

Jackie Wilson – I Get The Sweetest Feeling – Another re-release of a classic.

Man 2 Man Meet Man Parrish – Male Stripper – This is the sort of gay electro music that was popular in *special* bars.  I thought if I did not post it, then several of you lot would.  *cough*, Brett *cough*.

Bananarama – Love In The First Degree

John Farnham – You’re the Voice

The Pogues Featuring Kirsty MacColl – Fairytale Of New York – I know it is not Christmas, but this is a great classic.

Fun Song: – The Firm – Star Trekkin’

Just 36 songs for 1987 in my favourites list, pretty shite year for tunes sadly.  Still, the good ones were good though.

Hat tips to:  these give the top 100 selling charts for each year   these give the top 10 songs for each year  you know them.

Next Time 1988.

© Phil the test manager 2019

The Goodnight Vienna Audio file