Debbie Gibson became a pop phenomenon in the late '80s, scoring a string of hit singles when she was only 17. Although she was still a teenager, Gibson showed signs of being a talented pop craftsman, capable of making catchy dance-pop in the style of Madonna, as well as lush, orchestrated ballads. Gibson's time at the top of the charts was brief, but it was quite successful, producing five Top Ten singles, including two number ones, and two multi-platinum albums.
Gibson began writing songs in her early childhood, taking piano lessons from Morton Estrin (who also taught Billy Joel) from the age of five. At the age of six she wrote "Make Sure You Know Your Classroom," but it was "I Come From America," which she wrote at age 12, that earned wide recognition for her talents. "I Come From America" won 1,000 dollars in a songwriting contest, prompting her parents to sign a management contract with Doug Breithart. Breithart helped Gibson learn several instruments, as well as teaching her how to arrange, engineer, and produce records; she would record over 100 of her own songs by 1985.
While she was still in high school, Debbie Gibson signed with Atlantic Records and began recording her debut album with producer Fred Zarr. "Only in My Dreams," her debut single, climbed to number four when it was released in the summer of 1987. It was followed in the fall by the dance-oriented "Shake Your Love," which also peaked at number four; the single also became a hit in Britain, reaching number seven. Out of the Blue, her debut album, was released in the fall of 1987, and by the spring of 1988, it had reached the American Top Ten. The title track became a number-three hit that spring and it was followed by her first number one single, "Foolish Beat," making her the youngest artist ever to write, perform, and produce a number one single. Following the success of "Foolish Beat," Gibson graduated from Calhoun High School in Merrick, NY, with honors. "Staying Together," released in the fall of 1988, didn't perform as well as her previous four singles, stalling at number 22. By the end of 1988, Out of the Blue had gone triple platinum in the U.S.
"Lost in Your Eyes," the first single from her second album, Electric Youth, became Gibson's biggest hit early in 1989, staying at number one for three weeks. Electric Youth, released in the spring of 1989, also hit number one, spending five weeks at the top of the charts. However, her popularity began to slip by the end of the year -- "Electric Youth" just missed the Top Ten and her next two singles did progressively worse, with "We Could Be Together" unable to climb past number 71. At the end of 1990, she released her third album, Anything Is Possible; it peaked at number 41. Two years later, she released Body Mind Soul, which produced only one minor hit single, "Losin' Myself." After its release, she starred in a production of Les Miserables. Gibson returned to pop music in 1995, recording a duet of the Soft Boys' "I Wanna Destroy You" with the Los Angeles punk band the Circle Jerks and releasing a considerably softer album of her own, Think With Your Heart, which marked a departure from the dance-pop that made her famous. What You Want was released in fall 2000. M.Y.O.B. followed in early 2001, and Colored Lights: The Broadway Album two years later. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine