Number Ones: #118


  • Week Ending 26th December 1987
  • 1 Week At #1


Barely a month had passed since the jaw-dropping lead single from Eurythmics’ Savage album had been in situ. Beethoven (I Love To Listen To)’s five week reign was the longest by any of the #1s on my chart during 1987, and the longest since a-ha’s The Sun Always Shines On T.V. spent 7 weeks at the summit in 1985/6.

On the actual Top 40, Beethoven… had done alright in strictly numerical terms (#25) but there was clearly some concern amongst the folks at RCA that it might have frightened off too many of the punters who’d helped make Be Yourself Tonight and Revenge multi-platinum successes. That, and the possible presence of church-y bells on the intro to Shame, can perhaps explain why it was chosen ahead of the natural follow-up, I Need A Man.

Because, frankly, very little else about the decision made sense. Shame is gorgeous (I seemed to unintentionally gravitate towards the future singles when buying albums at the time), but was it the kind of record to put the Savage campaign back on track, especially with the traditional Seasonal madness in full swing?

Also, part of Beethoven’s power was the narrative of that demented, frustrated housewife finally flipping her wig (as it were), and marching off into the sunset, ready to unleash her alter-ego upon the world. Or, in terms of the album’s story, onto the stage to let rip with I Need A Man. After which, Shame‘s critique of the fashion world, the media, the whole “don’t you want to be famous?” culture, serves as a sobering final act of the trilogy. Ah well. What’s the loss of a little thematic chronology when there are heaps of unsold albums needing to be shifted over Christmas?

The plan didn’t work, though. For only the second time since Eurythmics broke through with Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) in early 1983, one of their singles came up short of the Top 40. In January 1985, it was Julia (from the “1984” film soundtrack), and that did feel like a genuine jolt, ending an imperial phase that saw the duo notch up six consecutive Top 10 placings.

Shame‘s failure, by comparison, was at a point in their career where genuine hits were no longer guaranteed although it was still regrettable that such a lovely track (and one of their finest singles, in fact) fell by the wayside due to bizarre scheduling.



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