Chart Week: March 8, 1986
Song: “Kyrie” – Mr. Mister
Chart Position: #1, 12th week on the chart, second week at #1.
One of my favorite things to do when I hear old music is consider artists who had really brief, but really amazing runs. “Did so-and-so have the best year ever?” I’ll ask myself when I hear a song by an artist who was massive for a few months and then disappeared.
One of the best artists to do this with is Mr. Mister. They were a mostly unknown band with one single that had peaked at 57 on the Hot 100 before the fall of 1985 rolled around. Then, over a nine-month stretch, they were as big as any band in the world. After that, they pretty much disappeared.
The run began with “Broken Wings.” Released in September of 1985, it topped the charts for two weeks that November. Next up was “Kyrie,” which also spent two weeks at #1. From October ’85 through April of ’86, Mr. Mister was inescapable on pop radio. The strength of those two singles pushed the band’s second album, Welcome to the Real World, to #1 on the album chart as well. Eventually it sold over a million copies in the US. A third single, the perfectly fine “Is It Love,” peaked at #8 on the Billboard charts in July of 1986.
The band did have another Top 40 hit, 1987’s “Something Real,” which stalled out at #29. But I almost guarantee none of you remember that. I don’t remember it, and I pride myself on remembering obscure songs by bands that had one or two huge hits.
That was a pretty solid run. And I bet Richard Page and the rest of the band had a thoroughly incredible 1986, as they toured the world opening for Tina Turner, got fat checks for their songs topping the charts, and did an endless series of interviews with TV and print journalists who wanted to know their story. I bet the women around them were a lot hotter, the cocaine a little purer, and the pre-show catering a little bit nicer when they were on top of the world.
Other artists had better and bigger music years in the 1980s. Michael Jackson in 1983. Prince and Bruce in 1984. Madonna in 1985. But those were all massive stars that remained massive stars. Mr. Mister’s 1985–86 could be one of the best stand-alone years of the decade.
We like to make fun of artists like Mr. Mister, who made music that seemed perfectly suited for a specific moment but were unable to adjust as time passed. But how many artists would give anything to have one top ten hit, let alone three, including two #1’s, from a single album? Yep, the Mr. Mister guys are laughing last.
Quick trivia from this countdown: Casey shared that lead single Richard Page was offered the frontman spots in both Toto and Chicago after each of those bands lost their lead singers in the mid–80s. But he chose to stick with the band he had started years earlier. Smart move. I’m sure he’d rather look back on his success with Mr. Mister than have spent years singing other people’s songs with Toto or Chicago.