’90s No. 1s Revisited: “Another Day In Paradise”
Welcome to the inaugural post for ‘90s No. 1s Revisited, a feature where we’ll walk through every No. 1 song of the 1990s on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in order, give it another listen, and answer two critical questions: Was it dope? And does it hold up?
We start with the first No. 1 song of the decade: “Another Day in Paradise” by Phil Collins, which hit the top of the chart dated Dec. 23, 1989, and stayed there for four weeks. Collins, who as of this writing is staging a comeback, was no stranger to the top of the charts by this point. “Paradise” was his seventh No. 1 song as a solo artist, and his eighth if you include his band Genesis’ single summit-climber, 1986’s “Invisible Touch.” Collins has not returned to No. 1 in the United States since “Paradise,” a song he wrote to bring attention to the homeless epidemic.
Let’s give “Another Day In Paradise” a fresh listen:
The 1980s influence on this track cannot be missed, from the synthy hook to the earnest lyrics designed to make you feel guilty. Homelessness tripled in the U.S. between 1981 and 1989, bringing particular attention to this serious issue. So this type of song was actually quite on-trend; in fact, it was preceded at No. 1 by Bill Joel’s “We Didn’t Start The Fire,” which also was about social turmoil and unrest.
Phil Collins was never quite dope, but he had a few things going for him in the 1980s, the most important being a talent for songwriting. He penned “Paradise” himself, and it has a very nice melody. This is certainly an Adult Contemporary track, but as we’ll see going forward, Adult Contemporary was never more mainstream than in the early ’90s, so in many ways the widespread popularity of this song foreshadows the 18-24 months to come.
Does it hold up? We suspect you will find very few people with “Another Day In Paradise” on their playlist in 2016. Income inequality is obviously still relevant today, but these days it generates hostility toward the rich more than sympathy toward the poor. This is a song without an audience. There hasn’t been widespread interest in Phil Collins nostalgia in the way there has been for, say, Journey. Moreover, ballads that are popular these days tend not to be this electronically stylized and over-produced. Most hit ballads nowadays are much more stripped down and make heavy use of piano and strings, such as “Hello” by Adele, “Stay” by Rihanna f/ Mikky Ekko and “Say Something” by A Great Big World f/ Christina Aguilera.
Dopeness: 3 out of 5 Birkenstocks
“Another Day In Paradise”
4 weeks at No. 1 , starting Dec. 23, 1989
Preceded by: “We Didn’t Start The Fire,” Billy Joel
Followed by: “How Am I Supposed To Live Without You?” Michael Bolton