Built on the strength of frontman Richard Page's anthemic, passionate vocal style and some unforgettable melodies during the mid '80s, Mr. Mister became one of the decade's most recognizable and quintessential pop/rock acts. Taking its cue at times from the synth-reliant melodicism of new wave, the band scored a string of major hits that attracted pop fans of many stripes happy to enjoy fist-clenching soft rock with few discernible jagged edges. Here's a chronological look at the top songs from the brief if memorable career of Mr. Mister.
Though not the lone single from the band's 1984 debut I Wear the Face - that distinction belongs to the somewhat tepid power ballad "Hunters of the Night" - this mid-tempo track perhaps best expresses the Mr. Mister fusion of prominent keyboards and rollicking guitar. The group's anthemic nature certainly presents itself immediately on this first record, and Page's vocals and spiritually searching lyrical concerns help this song to a reasonably stirring musical destination. The melodies aren't as strong as Mr. Mister can muster, but this is serviceable mainstream rock of a prime '80s music period.
Everything changed for Mr. Mister in late 1985, upon the release of sophomore LP Welcome to the Real World, an album that would become at least a Top 10 hit in North America and much of western Europe. Lead-off single "Broken Wings" reached the top spot on Billboard's pop charts in the band's native U.S. and had a lot to do with a similarly ultimate chart position for the album itself. The song itself stands undoubtedly as one of the most iconic emotive singles of the era, featuring a great vocal from Page and a tasteful arrangement combining creative percussion, keyboard and guitar work. It's a top hit that simply doesn't lose its luster despite much exposure over the years.
Mr. Mister ventured into more obvious spiritual territory with this memorable tune, inspired by a traditional Christian prayer in both title and lyrical thrust. However, that didn't stop the song from reaching the top spot just like its less overtly religious predecessor. Ultimately, the success of the song helped cement the band as one of the most successful pop/rock bands of its ilk throughout 1985 and 1986. Anthemic almost to a fault, the song depends heavily on its core biblical phrase "kyrie eleison" (translated roughly to "Lord, have mercy"). Even so, it is also a stirring mainstream rock pop song that often transcends its dated musical shortcomings.
4. "Is It Love"
When this track reached the U.S. Top 10 as well, Mr. Mister officially secured ownership of one of the decade's top-selling LPs. Peaking at No. 8 during the summer of 1986 and also appearing in the credits of the 1987 buddy thriller Stakeout (featuring the alluring, mysterious Madeleine Stowe), the song managed to keep the band on the popular radar consistently for more than a year. Certainly a slice of solid, straightforward romantic pop/rock, the tune may fail to distinguish itself from a lot of similar rock of the period. Nevertheless, it still provides some genuine listening pleasure.
Though 1987's final first-wave Mr. Mister release, Go On, fared disappointingly on the charts, this third single from that record has its moments of compelling bluster. However, association with a successful 1988 triumphant-against-the-odds-educator big-budget movie with the same title failed to assist the band in continuing to chase its aspirations. Part of this can be attributed to weaker material, but certainly the late-'80s rise of hair metal and hip-hop could have contributed to the decline of such pop-flavored arena rock. Probably with good reason, Mr. Mister will always be remembered for its three biggest hits, which also happen to be the group's finest efforts.