While nearly every other high school senior in 1988 was likely preoccupied with forging his or her professional career path, one was adding a historic punctuation to her already impressive résumé.
Debbie Gibson rose to No. 1 on the June 25, 1988, Billboard Hot 100 with her saxophone-infused ballad of longing for lost love, “Foolish Beat.” (The song replaced Rick Astley’s “Together Forever” and fended off Michael Jackson’s “Dirty Diana,” which darted 4-2 on its way to No. 1 the following week.)
With the coronation, Gibson became the youngest woman to write, produce and perform a Hot 100 No. 1, a record that still stands. How did the then-17-year-old and friends celebrate the feat? She graduated Merrick, Long Island’s Calhoun High School days later.
Gibson told Billboard in 2013 that “Foolish Beat,” the fourth top five Hot 100 hit from her debut album Out of the Blue, is her favorite of her entire catalog.
“I find that people have kept ‘Foolish Beat’ with them,” she shared. “I think it’s because the lyrics are simple, but you can fill in the blanks with your adult experience. I know that I can, as a singer now. When I was writing it, I was guessing what love would be like … and then also guessing what it would be like to lose love. Now that I’ve been through all that, I can sing the very simple lyrics and really fill it.”
Gibson currently hosts Debbie Gibson’s Mixtape on SiriusXM’s The Blend, while her first album of all-new material in two decades, The Body Remembers, is due Aug. 20. She’s also set to co-headline shows at the Venetian Resort Las Vegas in August and September with New Kids on the Block’s Joey McIntyre.
Echoing her perspective on “Foolish Beat,” “I’ve lived a lot of life up to this album, and it’s all reflected here,” Gibson told Billboard earlier in June. “I knew that the next time I put something out I wanted it to be a drop-the-mic ‘wow’ moment. I feel like this is that album.”