Remembering when I was younger and constantly listening to the local pop station, I discovered a lot of new music of all genres that would influence the way my chart operated when I officially began it in September 1999. However, this particular station also added some older tracks into the mix, ones that the CHR format would absolutely never go for today. It was the place where I discovered “Connected” by Stereo MC’s and “Hey Jealousy” by the Gin Blossoms, two of my favorite songs from the decade. I also took a liking to Bon Jovi and Madonna through their constant play on there. However, not all of their choices were commercially recognizable; some of them were straight out of left field.
One of those songs was called “Just Like Heaven”, which I would later find out was by a band called The Cure. It was written by frontman Robert Smith about a trip to the sea with future wife Mary Poole and recorded in France. It was my first exposure to the band and a song that particularly liked, though I knew it didn’t sound new even when I was 9. There was something about the guitar line that I instantly loved. It was the synths, it was the attitude, it was the “Show me how you do that trick/The one that made me scream, she said,” opening line that just got me. There’s an instant nostalgia about it, a remembrance of a happier time in the heat of love. So, later in life, when I found out more about the band and how the song did in the U.S., I was shocked at how little attention it was paid when actively being promoted by Elektra Records.
On this date, January 9, in 1988, “Heaven” spent its one and only week at #40 on the Billboard Hot 100, a “one-week wonder” as some of the chart community likes to call these cases. (On rival Cashbox, it peaked at #42, while on the airplay-based Radio & Records, it went to #30.) Given the much faster speed of the charts in the late 1980’s, it had an uncharacteristically slow run up, losing its bullet several times before finally edging in a week at that #40 spot on a slow week following the holidays. However, a top 40 hit is a top 40 hit, no matter what it takes to reach its final destination. After spending four months on the Hot 100, it faded away in February 1988. In Europe, the results were much the same.
“Heaven” may not have been the band’s first charting hit nor their biggest in their catalogue as a whole, but it did start what would be a particularly commercial time for the band. Parent album Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me became their first Platinum certified album in the U.S. and their first to reach the top 40. One year later, they would rise to #2 on the Hot 100 with “Lovesong” and go even further with a string of six consecutive top 20 studio albums, including 1992’s Wish, which went to #2. Though new material has been released from the band since 2008, they have toured a bit, ending The Great Circle Tour a few weeks ago here in the States. It’s unclear whether the members will be out with anything this year.
This may not have received its due justice on the national surveys back in the day, but it’s certainly well-remembered today. In fact, I think I hear “Heaven” more often on satellite radio today than I do of most of the other charting entries. Both emotionally satisfying and musically pleasant, it’s a classic in my book. If you find a moment, give it a spin today.