Flashback to September 1992 for the 10 Biggest Songs In America

This is how the radio sounded like back in September of 1992. The top 10 biggest songs in America.

I was just starting out in college in upstate NY and remember every single song from this list.

How many of these do YOU remember…? Dig a little deeper with this treasure trove of vintage radio charts & more


#10: “Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad?” – Def Leppard

Def Leppard was coming off two multi-platinum pop-metal juggernauts in 1983’s Pyromania and 1987’s Hysteria. When Adrenalize dropped in the spring of ’92, rock tastes were already starting to drift from big hair to worn flannel. The lead single, “Let’s Get Rocked” got some pretty good album rock and MTV play (and the cassette single sold well), but it failed to really last at pop radio. The follow-up, “Make Love Like A Man” was essentially a flop. So for the 3rd single- the band’s record label decided to take the “low-hanging fruit” approach and release this tepid, by-the-numbers “Mutt” Lange written power-ballad that sounds more ’88 than ’92. Either way- it crept into the American top 10 pop airplay chart for a second.

#9: “Nothing Broken But My Heart” – Celine Dion

And while we’re on the subject of syrupy ballads… Here’s a lady who is no stranger to that sub-genre – Celine Dion. Who, as of the fall of 1992, still hadn’t approached household name status. She had already scored a few top 10 hits – her American debut, “Where Does My Heart Beat Now?” in early ’91, her Peabo Bryson movie duet with the theme to Beauty & The Beast, and her own, “If You Asked Me To”, which had become her biggest solo success to date. The follow-up was very much cut from the same cloth. A VH-1 Classic for sure.

#8: Please Don’t Go – K.W.S.

Okay- at least now we got some tempo! This is a remake… of a remake. The original version was a mid-tempo, couples-only rollerskating favorite, written and recorded by KC & The Sunshine Band in 1979. That version of the song also earns the distinction as the very first #1 song of the 1980’s. Flash-forward to 1991, when the Italian outfit, Double You covers the song as a European dance track. It becomes a big hit there, inspiring the British studio group, K.W.S to remake Double You’s arrangement of the KC & The Sunshine Band song. Follow all that? By the way, K.W.S. stands for King, William, St. Joseph – the three guys who make up the band. Doubt that will ever be on Jeopardy, but ya never know.

If you were alive and listening to pop radio in 1992, you know this song.

#7: When I Look Into Your Eyes – Firehouse

There’s this false narrative going around that when Nirvana entered the public consciousness in late ’91, they instantaneously flipped the off switch on hair metal overnight. Not quite. There was plenty of that stuff sprayed throughout the entirety of 1992- From Ugly Kid Joe & Wayne’s World to “November Rain”, the aforementioned Def Leppard, and pop-metal schlock like this. Basically an attempt to recreate the magic of their superior 1991 top 5 hit, “Love Of A Lifetime”. They’d replicate the same concept a few years later with 1995’s “I Live My Life For You”. Why write new songs when you can just re-hash the old stuff? By the way guys, Journey’s “Faithfully” called. That intro!

#6: Forever Love – Color Me Badd

Oklahoma City’s contribution to early 90s new jack boybands. These guys already racked up some serious hits with 1991’s “I Wanna Sex You Up”, “I Adore Mi Amor” and “All 4 Love” – which all hit either #1 or #2. Impressive! By the end of 1992, the wheels were already coming off. A few follow-ups (“Thinkin’ Back” and “Slow Motion”) had really failed to take off.  Next-up was this nasally snoozer from the  Mo’ Money Soundtrack – which also included the often forgotten about Janet Jackson/Luther Vandross collab, “The Best Things In Life Are Free”.

By the way, is Mo’ Money available on Criterion Collection/Deluxe DVD/Blu-Ray/4K?

Yeah. I didn’t think so.

#5: Do I Have To Say The Words? – Bryan Adams

Your ears don’t deceive you. This DOES have a similar sound to the song at #10 (see above). That’s ‘cuz it was co-written by the same guy. Robert “Mutt” Lange. Who also produced and sang back-up on this one. (And who would later produce and marry, and later divorce from, another Canadian, Shania Twain). This would be the final single from Bryan’s 1991 album, Waking Up The Neighbours (emphasis on the “u” in “Neighbours” – he is Canadian, after all). Trivia: Did you know that Princess Diana was a HUGE Bryan Adams fan. Rumors flew that they had an affair while Diana was still married to the Artist Formerly Known As Prince Charles. Bryan even wrote and recorded a song about her called… “Diana“.

#4: She’s Playing Hard To Get – Hi-Five

One of only three non-ballads in this top 10. Jeesh! What? Did people not like to dance in 1992?!? Anyway- this R&B/new jack trio from Waco, Texas had already gone #1 with 1991’s “I Like The Way (The Kissing Game)”, plus a top 10 slow jam with “I Can’t Wait Another Minute”.  I remember hearing this one a lot when I started my freshman year of college. Shout-out to SUNY Oswego, yo! Ah, the days of Mad Dog 20/20! Ugh. Okay- I like this one. Peep a shot of the World Trade Center in the music video’s intro. Sadly, lead vocalist, Tony Thompson passed away in 2007; his body discovered by an air-conditioner. Tony had a history of “freeon huffing”. That’s just awful.

#3: Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough – Don Henley & Patty Smyth

Don Henley was an A-lister in 1992. He was coming off a huge 1989 album with The End Of The Innocence, which spawned at least a half dozen pop, rock & adult contemporary radio hits. Plus, his band the Eagles were still selling millions of copies of their greatest hits collections, even though they had broken up 11 years prior. Meanwhile, Patty Smyth was having middling solo success after splitting from her band, Scandal, best known for 1982’s new-wavey blast of power-pop, “Goodbye To You” and the summer of ’84’s top 10 anthem, “The Warrior”. This straight-down-the-middle pop-rock-for-soccer-mom-power-ballad was ALL over the radio that summer and well into the fall.  Chart-wise, it was Patty’s greatest success. Don’t hear this one much these days, but man, it was huge.

#2: Humpin’ Around – Bobby Brown

Originally conceived as the less radio-friendly “(Expletive) Around”, the lead single from the highly-anticipated follow-up to his multi-platinum 1988 album, Don’t Be Cruel. That record, chock full of state-of-the-art R&B bangers and above-average slow jams, catapulted the former New Edition member into the upper-echelon of the pop elite.  All five of the album’s singles went top 10, including the #1 New Jack masterpiece, “My Prerogative”, produced by Teddy Riley, the man who would later give us equally awesome thumpers like “Rump Shaker” and “No Diggity”. By the time 1992 rolled around, R&B tastes had gotten much harder and this… Well, this just seemed corny. His last top 10 pop hit would be the follow-up, “Good Enough”, a goopy mid-tempo slink co-written and produced by the same bunch behind the much, MUCH better song at #1.

#1: End Of The Road – Boyz II Men

Okay. I’m over here complaining about all these ballads. But this.. This is the best of the bunch.

The 2nd single off the soundtrack to the 1992 Eddie Murphy-Halle Barrie-Robin Givens rom-com, Boomerang. Written & produced by the prolific team of Babyface, L.A. Reid & (the unsung hero that no one talks about) Daryl Simmons. Aside from their 1991 breakthrough, “Motownphilly”, the “Boyz” had mostly released slow jams, like their cover of the Cooley High Soundtrack hit, “It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday”, plus – quiet storm mid-charters like “Uhh Ahh” and “Please Don’t Go”.

This one was a “throwback” (altho- the term “throwback” really wasn’t yet in the lexicon) to the classic R&B doo-wop sound. A damn-near-perfect break-up tune in 3/3 time that ended up spending an astounding 13 weeks at #1. The most purchased and played single from the summer straight thru Halloween season.

It also was the longest-running #1 song since Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical”, which stayed at the top for 10 weeks back in ’81-82. Whitney Houston would come a few months later and smash their record with her version of “I Will Always Love You”, which spent 14 weeks at #1. Not to be outdone- a few years later, the Boyz would tie Whitney when their song, “I’ll Make Love To You” would also spend #14 weeks at #1.

Then – a few years later, they’d break their OWN record when their collab with Mariah Carey, “One Sweet Day”, would spend an incredible 16 weeks at #1 in late ’95 into early ’96.

Long story, short – These guys did some serious time in the #1 spot.

And this… This is their Sgt Peppers.

So- That is the creme of the crop back in September of 1992. Which ones do you remember? Which ones do you still love? Which year should we do next?

Photo Credit: You Tube / BoyzIIMen 

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