Feeling That Won't Subside: John DeNicola's 'Hungry Eyes' Is Latest 'Dirty Dancing' Cover to Hit Billboard Charts

Patrick Swayze Jennifer Grey Dirty Dancing.
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Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing.

DeNicola co-wrote the classic, originally a hit for Eric Carmen in 1988.

Nearly 33 years after its release, Dirty Dancing remains a reliable springboard for new Billboard chart hits.

John DeNicola's "Hungry Eyes" debuts at No. 29 on the Adult Contemporary tally (dated July 11). The song updates the original by Eric Carmen, which hit No. 2 on AC and No. 4 on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100 in 1988.

Carmen's classic became one of three top five Hot 100 singles recorded for and released from the blockbuster film's soundtrack in 1987-88. Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes' "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" reigned for a week and Patrick Swayze's "She's Like the Wind," featuring Wendy Fraser, breezed to No. 3.

The movie, starring Swayze and Jennifer Grey, has reportedly grossed nearly $220 million worldwide since its August 1987 premiere, while its soundtrack dominated the Billboard 200 for 18 weeks in 1987-88. The LP, which also includes multiple chart hits from the '50s and '60s, as the movie is set in 1963, is one of only 10 albums to lead the Billboard 200 for at least that long, dating to, coincidentally, 1963, when it became a combined stereo and mono survey.

Reflecting the film's enduring popularity, no one has been able to put its songs in a corner.

Here's a look at notable charted covers of those three Dirty Dancing smashes.

"She's Like the Wind"
Lumidee's version, which adds tempo and R&B/hip-hop touches to Swayze's ballad, hit No. 8 on Hot Singles Sales, as well as the top 25 of the Pop Songs and Rhythmic Songs airplay charts in spring 2007.

"(I've Had) The Time of My Life"
Over 23 years after the release of Medley and Warnes' duet, two reworkings peaked on the Hot 100 the same week. On the Dec. 4, 2010, chart, The Black Eyed Peas' "The Time (Dirty Bit)" hit No. 4, while the Glee Cast's "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" spent its lone week on the chart, at No. 38. The former interpolates the chorus of the original, while the latter is a largely faithful cover.

"Hungry Eyes"
DeNicola makes his Billboard chart debut as a recording artist with his version of "Hungry Eyes," although his name appeared on the Hot 100 throughout the chart run of Carmen's, in the songwriters field, as he penned it with Franke Previte. (Previte himself hit No. 10 on the Hot 100 in 1981 as frontman of Franke & The Knockouts, with "Sweetheart.")

DeNicola and Previte also co-wrote "(I've Had) The Time of My Life," with Donald Markowitz. Along with its chart success, it struck further gold in 1988, winning the Academy Award for best original song (which honors songs' writers) and the Grammy Award for best pop performance by a duo or group with vocals.

DeNicola recorded his own takes of both songs for his first album, The Why Because, released last October. "Hungry Eyes" mirrors the style of Carmen's version, while "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" gets a stripped-down makeover. "The challenge was how to do them that would be different and interesting," DeNicola mused earlier this year. "For 'Hungry Eyes,' my son, who is a filmmaker/musician, suggested that many contemporary indie rock bands are influenced by '80s synth-pop and maybe I could approach it that way. I think it was a great suggestion."

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