"Just Like Heaven" - The Cure
from the album Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me (1987)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #40 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 1
Today's Song of the Day comes from the British band the Cure, who started out in southern England as a post-punk outfit led by singer Robert Smith in the late 70s. With drummer Lol Tolhurst, they released their first indie single, the controversial "Killing An Arab" (inspired by the books of French writer Albert Camus), in 1978. A second release, "Boys Don't Cry", snuck onto the Australian singles chart at #99 the following year and popped on to the American dance chart at #70.
As the 80s loomed and the post-punk and new wave movements really gained steam, the Cure's star brightened, as they landed their first top-40 hit in England with "A Forest" (#31). During the first half of the decade the band, who had undergone a member shift with half of the band replaced, were coalescing into a sound that tapped both those two genres. Releasing singles separate from the albums, their exposure (much like the Smiths) grew twofold, first scoring their first top-40 dance hit with "Primary" in 1981 (#25), then just missing the American pop chart in 1983 with "Let's Go To Bed" (my first exposure to the group). It was a big hit Down Under, reaching the top-20 in both Australia and New Zealand. But by that time bassist Simon Gallup again was replaced by Phil Thornalley. With the synth-heavy follow-up "The Walk" (like a sister song to New Order's "Blue Monday") going top-20 in the the UK, and the campy "The Love Cats" making it to #7 right after,
it seemed like mainstream pop radio was catching up with the band.
In 1985, the Cure released their Head On The Door album, which sold a half a million copies in America and got them their first Hot 100 chart hit with the college rock anthem "In Between Days". The goth answer to the bright and shiny bands of the new wave era, the misfits of the youth had a band they could claim as well. They put out a compilation of their singles, Standing On A Beach/Staring At The Sea, which ended up selling over two million copies in the U.S., and provided their new American fans a complete overview of what their music was about. It also perfectly set up for their next album, which broke them on American radio.
Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me was released in 1987, when Smith and Tolhurst were again joined by Gallup (who replaced his replacement) and Porl Thompson, with Boris Williams taking over drums from Tolhurst, who had switched over to keyboards. The first single, "Why Can't I Be You?", was a bright, spastic burst of energy, with keys sounding like horns the prevalent part of the production. It reached #54 on the pop chart in the U.S., and the top-30 of our dance chart. The second American single was a much more traditional alt-rock nugget in the spirit of "In Between Days". "Just Like Heaven", written by the band and produced by Smith with David Allen, it focused on the rhythm guitar strum and the bouncy bassline...
"Just Like Heaven" became the Cure's first American top-40 pop hit in January of 1988, while making it to #28 on Billboard's Dance Club Play chart. Internationally, the record made the top-40 in Ireland (#15), Spain (#25), New Zealand (#31), France (#33), and their native Britain (#29).
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