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Rewinding The Charts: In 1988, Debbie Gibson Bopped To The Top

On this date, the then-17-year-old high schooler-turned-pop star became the youngest female artist to write, produce and perform a Hot 100 No. 1.

Twenty-six years ago, while most high school seniors likely were looking for a summer job, one precocious overachiever was adding a historic punctuation to an already impressive résumé. The year before, Debbie Gibson became a sensation thanks to her aptly titled debut album, “Out of the Blue,” which eventually produced five top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100.

But on June 25, 1988, the then-17-year-old hit the record books when the set’s biggest smash, “Foolish Beat,” reached No. 1 (replacing Rick Astley’s “Together Forever” and fending off Michael Jackson’s “Dirty Diana,” which topped the chart the following week). With the coronation, Gibson became the youngest artist to write, produce and perform a Hot 100 No. 1; she remains the youngest female artist to do so. How did she and her friends celebrate the feat? By graduating from Calhoun High School in Merrick, N.Y., days later.


In an interview with Billboard last year, Gibson, now 43 and who recently bowed as a judge on ABC’s fun costumed singing competition “Sing Your Face Off,” said that the song, a saxophone-laced ballad of longing for lost love, is her favorite in her catalog. “I find that people have kept ‘Foolish Beat’ with them,” she said. “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.”