Another supersized AOR number one, but “Heaven” is more unashamedly bubblegum than Starship or T’Pau, and a great deal more effective for that. Its fat-free, chorus-led songwriting cuts out most of the portentiousness or instrumental high-fiving that often works against AOR’s pop impact. And it’s happy to let its roots show: behind the bombast are layers of pleasingly plasticky new wave keyboards and Flashdance-style synth-rock moves. In fact, beyond the echo and the heads-down chugalong rhythm there’s hints of the spirit of ’84 about “Heaven Is A Place On Earth” – that giddy season of American music when rock and pop and disco and funk all melted together under the MTV studio lights; what the US did instead of New Pop.
Maybe it’s just the singer that has me following those trails though – ex-Go Go Carlisle was a living link to New Wave (and further back – this is the only Number One hitmaker to have played in The Germs!). “Heaven” sets the tone for pretty much all her solo stuff – take care of the chorus and the rest will sort itself out. As a result her hits are hardly ever less than likeable: at the time, having no memory of the Go-Gos, I thought of Belinda C as broadly a Good Thing without ever crossing over into exciting, and I’ve never really changed my mind. And as a solo vocalist she fit the needs of the times – plenty of volume and passion papering over some very flimsy content, with “Heaven Is A Place On Earth” no exception: it feels like a lyric built to fit a title and a song built to fit a chorus. An undeniable, surging, chorus, one of her best, but still a record I can imagine being enjoyed by everyone while mattering to no-one.