She came from nowhere out of the blue, with electric youth and then disappeared in a foolish beat! Remember Debbie Gibson?
Oh the 80’s. Music as it should be. And what a great time for female singers as well. First there was Madonna. Then Janet. Then Tiffany…Belinda…Kylie…and, oh what was her name? The young American girl…ah yes, Debbie Gibson! She sang “Only In My Dreams” and “Shake Your Love” and “Lost In Your Eyes” and a few others. But what’s happened to her since? Was that it?
Well firstly Deborah Ann Gibson was born in New York in August 1970 and had loved singing since a very young age. In 1986 one of her demo tapes found its way onto radio and she was subsequently signed to Atlantic Records. Young Deborah had been songwriter from an early age and already had “Only In My Dreams” penned by the time she was signed at the age of 15. What perhaps isn’t known is that she also had a successful film career, appearing in the 1984 smash hit ‘Ghostbusters’, albeit in an uncreditied role. Atlantic released “Dreams” in December 1986 and it quickly found a following on radio which swept the single up to No.4 on the US singles chart. Reception was lukewarm outside of The States. It missed the top 50 in the UK in 1987, although it was eventually re-released in 1988 and made No.11 the second time around.
Recording of her debut album took just four weeks and in August 1987, “Out Of The Blue” took to the US charts where it would reach No.7 and sell over three million copies there. It was supported by a second single “Shake Your Love” that equalled “Dreams” chart placing Stateside. UK audiences had to wait until early 1988 for the single which would peak at No.7 there at the same time becoming a chart hit across Europe and ‘down under’. The video was choreographed by dancer Paula Abdul, who had just filmed and choreographed dance sequences in Eddie Murphy’s hit film ‘Coming To America’. She would later pursue her own successful music career.
“Out Of The Blue” saw a global release that year and would reach No.26 in the UK, No.22 in Canada and just about make the top 40 charts across the rest of the world. It has sold five million copies, so someone liked it! The title track was released in early 1988 this time hitting No.3 in the US, her highest chart position yet, No.19 in the UK and No.8 in Israel! But it was the album’s fourth single “Foolish Beat” that went the full distance and topped the US singles chart, making Debbie Gibson the youngest singer ever to top the chart with a song she had both written and produced. She did so at the age of 17. The single made No.9 in the UK as well as reaching the top ten in Canada and much of mainland Europe.
A fifth single “Staying Together” was released in the Autumn of 1988 making No.22 in American and No.53 in the UK. But by then writing and recording for her second album was already underway. “Lost In Your Eyes” was the first taste of that album and it came in January 1989, less than four months after the final track from “Out Of The Blue” was released and promoted. The single gave Gibson her second US chart topper, spending three weeks there. It was less successful in the UK where it could only stagger to No.34 and reached lower positions throughout the rest of the world. It did make No.1 in Canada, however. The song has been covered many times, but perhaps its best known performance was by none other than Stewie Griffin in an episode of Family Guy that see’s Stewie audition for America’s Got Talent! He was also out to kill his mother Lois in the same episode!
The album “Electric Youth” was released the same month and topped the Billboard 200 selling over two million copies there. It reached the top ten in the UK and Australia and has sold over four million copies globally since. The title track was released as a single in April 1989 and made No.11 Stateside, No.14 in the UK and reached the top 40 in many countries throughout Europe and in Australia too.
A third single “No More Rhyme” made No.17 in the US and No.25 in Canada but saw limited released outside of America. The only other single of note to mention is “We Could Be Together”, released in the Summer of 1989. It made No.22 in Great Britain and No.23 in Ireland.
The advent of the 1990’s was a test for every artist and group to see if their success in the 80’s was still credible for a new decade. Some met the challenge, whilst many simply fell by the wayside. And judging by the response to Debbie Gibson’s final two releases for Atlantic, she would join this bag of 80’s has beens. “Anything Is Possible” came at the end of 1990 and whilst the title track reached No.26 in the US, the takeup on the album itself was lame. Peaking at No.41 in the US and just scrapping in at the bottom of the top 100’s elsewhere, worldwide sales of 700,000 copies failed to match the success of her two previous releases.
Worse still came in 1993 with the “Body, Mind, Soul” album that entered the US chart at No.109 and rapidly sank without trace. The lead single “Losin’ Myself” could only get as far as No.86 Stateside and made no appearance anywhere else. Debbie Gibson did, however, enjoy one brief return to the UK singles chart that same year with her version of “You’re The One That I Want” from the stage production of Grease. She duetted with Australian singer and actor Craig McLachlan, better known as Henry in the Australian soap opera Neighbours.
Once Atlantic had released a greatest hits album in 1995, Gibson was free to record and release albums independently. And she has been far from inactive, delivering “Think With Your Heart” in 1995, “Deborah” in 1996, “M.Y.O.B.” in 2001 and “Coloured Lights” in 2003, although none of these charted anywhere. Her most recent album “Ms. Vocalist” was released in 2010, a collection of Japanese english language hits. Unsurprisingly the album has only seen the light of day in Japan itself! In 2006 she wrote and recorded the single “Say Goodbye” with ex-NKOTB star Jordan Knight. She re-released “Electic Youth” in 2012 under the new title of “Electric Youth Reloaded” and in 2017 returned to the UK dance charts with “I Am Peaceman” with US hitmaker Sir Ivan. It reached No.26 on that chart.
Debbie Gibson has continued to act and has appeared in a number of films, most notably three of the ‘Mega Shark vs. ___’ series. She has also appeared on television in episodes of Beverly Hills 90120 in 1991, That 80’s Show in 2002 and most recently Dancing With The Stars in 2017. It has been over twenty five years since she achieved chart success, but Debbie Gibson still writes and records music, ever in search of that elusive comeback…