First Hit #1: January 24, 1987
The influence of film and television are not to be denied in the ’80s. Never mind MTV, just songs featured on a soundtrack can change what lands on the top of the charts, as we can see with At this Moment. At the time, the song was six years old and hadn’t made a massive impact on the charts, but that changed due to a sitcom. Family Ties put the song in a pivotal moment involving Alex P. Keaton and his girlfriend and then suddenly, the song was a must-have.
Of course, the label was smart, released a live version and reaped the benefits.
The song does benefit from the live setting, because they can’t really do the ’80s production tricks. It’s just Billy Vera and a piano for a lot of the song, and while there are drums – they’re called the Beaters dammit – and other instruments, it’s a very pared back production. It’s a song that’s crying out for that, a song about heartbreak that would dissolve into treacle if it got too much production. Instead, Vera plays off the emotional resonance of the song, sung by a boy – and it’s definitely a boy, there’s a very distinctly adolescent vibe to the confusion, even if Vera has a more mature voice – confused about how to react to a girlfriend’s breaking up with him.
It’s nice that the song got a revival later on, because it is actually really enjoyable.