Various Artists

Billboard Top Hits: 1986

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If there's anything the Billboard Top Hits compilations documenting 1985 through 1989 indicate, it's that the period covered wasn't exactly pop music's most glorious era. Not only was there a lot of rock music being made that aged almost instantly; the mainstream had yet to fully embrace rap music, and a lot of the production qualities infiltrating nearly every genre of music -- the overbearing use of mid-range and the blazing guitar solos, for two -- haven't aged well at all. Still, these cheap and concise compilations function as accurate scrapbooks of the years being covered, and they're especially fascinating for pop fans who like to keep tabs on trends, changes, and developments. As evidenced on the the 1986 installment of Billboard Top Hits, little changed that year to distinguish it from 1985. That doesn't just go for the styles and sounds that were on the airwaves -- it also goes for some of the groups. Starship ("Sara"), Billy Ocean ("When the Going Gets Tough"), and Mr. Mister ("Kyrie") each make their second straight Billboard Top Hits appearance. The remainder is filled out by rock veterans like Eddie Money ("Take Me Home Tonight"), Kenny Loggins ("Danger Zone"), and Huey Lewis & the News ("Stuck With You"); and then there are Bananarama ("Venus") and the Bangles ("Walk Like an Egyptian"), both of which deliver two of their weakest -- but most popular -- hits.

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