With Saturday Night Live set to return for a new season this weekend, this week's playlist title alludes to one of the show's most enduring bits, as well as the fact that we've had five Thursdays in this little project's first month. So to close September, here's the gimmick: Every song title on this week's mixtape has five words in the title!
  1. Steve Winwood, "While You See A Chance"
    To me, this is the perfect choice to open the show, thanks in part to its iconic, synth-driven intro. But did you know Winwood didn't design it that way? The beginning of the song was originally supposed to feature drums prominently, but the artist accidentally erased the tape...forcing him to come up with a part the song now wouldn't be the same without.
  2. John Cougar, "Hand To Hold On To"
    American Fool was the album that allowed Cougar to leave his stage name behind and begin using his given last name, Mellencamp, starting with Uh-Huh in 1983. "Hand To Hold On To" was the third-most successful hit off the former album, the first two -- "Jack And Diane" and "Hurts So Good" -- being the Coug's signature songs.
  3. Janet Jackson, "When I Think Of You"
    Minnesota-based Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis first came to prominence as a sought-after writing and production team with Jackson's 1986 blockbuster Control, off which this dance-pop gem was one of the many memorable hits (need I say more than "Bass."?)
  4. Rick Springfield, "I've Done Everything For You"
    Singer-turned-actor-turned-singer Springfield followed up the #1 smash "Jessie's Girl," which would prove to be one of the decade's most enduring singles, with this Sammy Hagar-penned rocker that reached #8 on the U.S. charts. It was just the beginning of a tremendously successful couple of years for Springfield as one of rock music's most bankable stars.
  5. REO Speedwagon, "Take It On The Run"
    This has long been one of my favorite '80s songs, with an instantly recognizable opening lyric. It's mid-tempo, but with a little more grit than its companion soft-rock staple from the Hi Infidelity album, "Keep On Loving You," not to mention later power ballads like "Can't Fight This Feeling."
  6. Michael Bolton, "How Can We Be Lovers"
    Speaking of soft rock, before Bolton crossed completely over into that arena with '90s hits like "Missing You Now" and "Said I Loved You...But I Lied," he showed he could still rock out a little with late-80s singles like this one, which has a vague Bon Jovi feel to it (and is my wife's go-to karaoke song).
  7. Dan Hartman, "I Can Dream About You"
    Hartman wrote this pure pop classic with Hall & Oates in mind, but they declined as their Big Bam Boom album was just about to be released. So Hartman -- who'd written and sung "Free Ride" with the Edgar Winter Group in a previous musical life -- kept it for himself and it became a Top 10 hit. H&O finally got around to releasing a version in 2004, 10 years after Hartman's death.
  8. The Police, "Spirits In The Material World"
    A virtuoso performance by Sting, who in addition to vocals and bass plays saxophone and synthesizer (at that point, synths were a rarity in the group's repetoire). It's the leadoff track on their fourth album, Ghost in the Machine, but is often overshadowed by the massive hit that directly follows it on the LP, the practically perfect "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic."
  9. Joy Division, "Love Will Tear Us Apart"
    A highly influential entry in the post-punk catalog (see the Wombats' 2007 song "Let's Dance To Joy Division," inspired by the track), "Love Will Tear Us Apart" was written partly as a sarcastic response to the Captain & Tennille's "Love Will Keep Us Together." It still resonates 36 years after its release, and writer-singer Ian Curtis' suicide that followed not long after.
  10. The Waitresses, "I Know What Boys Like"
    The fact that this song has had such a long shelf life despite only reaching #62 on the U.S. charts is a testament to its quirkiness and charm, primarily provided by the slack-jawed, wink-and-nod vocals of the late Patty Donahue. Of course, you also know the Waitresses from their theme song to the early Sarah Jessica Parker TV series Square Pegs, and their perennial holiday favorite, "Christmas Wrapping." Also...this was written by a man.
  11. The Romantics, "What I Like About You"
    Similarly low-charting, "What I Like About You" has found a second life as the commercial anthem for many a chain restaurant. It's been relentlessly covered ever since (and John Mellencamp's "R.O.C.K. In The U.S.A." bears more than a passing resemblance), though the Romantics' 1983 follow-up, the fabulous "Talking In Your Sleep," was their biggest hit in terms of sales.
  12. Men at Work, "Who Can It Be Now?"
    In a decade dominated by saxophone solos, the hook of "Who Can It Be Now?", the first single from this Aussie band, is singularly distinctive. Add to that the arresting vocals of Colin Hay, and you have the beginnings of a band that would make a major impact on the pop world, at least for a few albums.
  13. Glenn Frey, "You Belong To The City"
    With word that the Eagles may reunite following Frey's death earlier this year, it's worth it to revisit this 1985 smash first featured on the TV show Miami Vice, presented in its full version so you can grasp the full effect of the saxophone here. Kept out of the #1 spot on the charts, quite undeservedly, by Starship's "We Built This City."
  14. Clarence Clemons feat. Jackson Browne, "You're A Friend Of Mine"
    Talk about saxophone: In the aftermath of Bruce Springsteen's massively successful Born in the U.S.A. album, the Big Man laid down a record of his own. This was the big single, with Jackson Browne (ironically, now rumored as a candidate to replace Frey in the Eagles) on co-lead vocals, and a goofy video featuring Browne's then-girlfriend Daryl Hannah.
  15. Toto, "I Won't Hold You Back"
    After the undeniable successes of "Rosanna" and "Africa," the third Top 10 hit off the Toto IV album was this heartfelt ballad with several outstanding individual performances: Steve Lukather's lead vocal and guitar solo, David Paich's twinkling piano, the always-tasteful drumming of Jeff Porcaro, and a conspicuous backing vocal cameo by the Eagles' Timothy B. Schmit. Paich's father Marty and noted film scorer James Newton Howard did the arrangements.
  16. Queen, "Another One Bites The Dust"
    Part of the fun of this song is imagining alternate pronunciations of some of Freddie Mercury's vocal line, or listening to it backwards to see what you can come up with. Oh yeah...and writer John Deacon's bass line, directly influenced by Bernard Edwards' performance on Chic's "Good Times," has itself become widely mimicked.
  17. Jeffrey Osborne, "On The Wings Of Love"
    Shamelessly appropriated for a season of The Bachelor on which the title contestant was an airline pilot (Osborne sang live during the finale!), this piano-driven song reached only #29 on the charts -- #13 R&B -- but is one of the best hit ballads of the early '80s. The bridge and key change is particularly good.
  18. The Rolling Stones, "Rock And A Hard Place"
    Opinions of Steel Wheels seem to polarize a lot of people, but it's maybe the best Stones album, front to back, of the last 30 years. That doesn't mean it's consistently great, but this is one of two songs (the terrific "Beast Of Burden" redux "Almost Hear You Sigh" being the other one) that to me, tops the lead single and biggest hit "Mixed Emotions."
  19. Journey, "Any Way You Want It"
    The title is grammatically correct (instead of "Anyway"), and therefore merits consideration on this list. It came before Journey's true chart peak, but in terms of both radio and commercial endurance, it is one of the songs most identified with the group. And I once saw someone recite the entire lyric sheet as a spoken-word poem. It was college. It was weird.
  20. Cutting Crew, "I've Been In Love Before"
    Cutting Crew is essentially a two-hit wonder in the U.S., and this song deserved its #9 placing on the pop charts. It's one of those songs that you don't recognize by name until you realize you've heard it a billion times in doctor's offices, supermarkets, etc. Every band needs a great token ballad.
  21. Al Jarreau, "We're In This Love Together"
    Jarreau's biggest pop hit was impeccably produced by Jay Graydon, who was also behind the boards for George Benson's smooth-jazz classic "Turn Your Love Around," but is maybe best known for being the guitar solo sweepstakes winner on Steely Dan's "Peg." Listen for the ridiculous Steve Gadd drum fill leading into the fadeout on this one.
  22. James Ingram, "I Don't Have The Heart"
    Ingram had been both a sought-after collaborator ("Just Once" and "One Hundred Ways" with Quincy Jones) and duet partner ("Baby, Come To Me," "Yah Mo B There," "Somewhere Out There") as well as an in-demand background vocalist for the entire decade. In 1989, his hard work paid off: This epic ballad, released as a solo single, under his own name, topped the charts.
  23. Duran Duran, "I Don't Want Your Love"
    There's no denying that DD became a different band when the original lineup fractured into the Power Station and Arcadia side projects in 1985, not to reunite in full until 2004's Astronaut album. "I Don't Want Your Love," from 1988's Big Thing, would be the group's last major U.S. hit for five years, when "Ordinary World" and "Come Undone" returned them to the public's conscience in an out-of-left-field 1993 comeback.
  24. Genesis, "Taking It All Too Hard"
    It took a while to fully transition, but several years after Peter Gabriel's departure, Genesis stripped away all but a skeleton of its prog rock roots and became a really, really good pop band. The lines between their work and that of Phil Collins' solo career began to blur around this time, and "Taking It All Too Hard," from 1983's self-titled LP, could have fit in nicely on "Hello, I Must Be Going!", Collins' record from the year prior.
  25. Melissa Etheridge, "Like The Way I Do"
    There is a chance you didn't hear this song until about 1995, when it was re-released to radio stations in the midst of Melissa's mid-90s success. But in many ways, even more than stuff like "Similar Features" and "Bring Me Some Water," it's the centerpiece of her 1988 solo debut. In my opinion, she's never written a better song.