April 1986: The Art of Noise and Max Headroom Link Up

Max Headroom in the "Paranoimia" video
Photo Credit
video screenshot/London Records

We won't even stutter when we tell you that one of 1986's strangest hit singles was a collaboration with a talking head. No, not Talking Heads, and not the people on CNN. We mean The Art of Noise's "Paranoimia," a collaboration with '80s icon Max Headroom.

In case it's been some time since you traveled to this corner of the decade's history, The Art of Noise was a unique British dance-pop group, a collective of musicians and producers (including Trevor Horn, who produced hits for Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Yes). Horn would exit the group in due time, but not before guiding a U.K. Top 10 hit, "Close (to the Edit)," which was a Top 5 dance hit in America (preceding single "Beat Box" went all the way to No. 1 on the dance charts).

As for Max Headroom, he was a renaissance...man?...of the era: created in 1985 as a host for a British music video program, the character - portrayed by actor Matt Frewer with the aid of make-up and primitive computer effects - went on to become a pitch man for Coca-Cola's ill-fated "New Coke" recipe as well as the star of a short-lived sci-fi drama.

The Art of Noise's first post-Horn album, In Visible Silence, included a hit cover of the theme to the TV show Peter Gunn, and the follow-up was "Paranoimia" (a combination of the words "paranoia" and "insomnia"). On the single version, Max was recruited to deliver a monologue in his signature pitch-shifted, stuttering style. The track reached No. 12 in the U.K. and even managed a respectable Top 40 placement in America. (The group would have even more success with a 1988 cover of Prince's "Kiss" with Tom Jones on lead vocals.)

Read More: February 1986: Prince Releases "Kiss"

Headroom might have glitched out of the spotlight by 1987, but made a brief return to British television in 2007 to advertise - what else? - Channel Four's switch to all-digital signals.

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VEVO
In April '88, hitmaker Houston made history as the first artist to set a record of seven consecutive No. 1's on the Billboard Hot 100. Which of these singles, including "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" and "Where Do Broken Hearts Go," is your favorite?
The Bruce Springsteen-penned song first premiered in a 1987 movie starring Jett alongside Michael J. Fox.
(Fryderyk Gabowicz/picture alliance via Getty Images)
The song soared to #1 on the Hot 100 for three straight weeks.

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