A few weeks ago I laughed at someone’s musical taste. I feel kind of bad about it. See, a buddy of mine asked me if I had heard the new Staind CD yet, with the qualification that “You might like it. They’ve really grown up as a band.” I totally busted out laughing at that notion. Like, right in his face, full-blown laughter. At the time all that was crossing my mind was “He knows what I listen to — why would he think I’d like this?” and “They’ve ‘grown up’?” But when I really thought about it, who am I to judge what people enjoy? (Except when it comes to Nickelback. There is really no excuse for that.) At least half of the songs you’re about to see below are total shit, yet if my iPod shuffles to any of them, I’ll listen straight through. I’ll listen to a Cover Girls song, followed by Mike Patton making ungodly noises in Fantomas. My taste in music is just as shitty if not shittier than most people’s.
I know it, too — it’s not like I think all the songs in this series should’ve been Grammy winners. So of course now I feel bad thinking about all the crap I listen to and laughing at someone for digging what they enjoy. I did actually go to iTunes and listen to the 30-second samples of Staind’s new songs just so I could see if they’d really “grown up.” Sure enough, they now sound like Air Supply. Something tells me this isn’t what my friend was trying to express, though. So I still feel I can say he’s wrong in his assessment, but if he wants to listen to Staind, so be it.
In an effort to drive my point home that I was a total bag-o-douche in this situation, let’s take a look at what’s crossed my iPod in the last 20 minutes while I wrote this intro. (Yes, 20 minutes for this little bit. I get distracted!)
Motley Crue, “Hooligan’s Holiday”
Paul Lekakis, “Boom Boom (Let’s Go Back to My Room)”
Alan Parsons Project, “Days Are Numbers”
Stars On, “More Stars (ABBA Medley)”
Manowar, “Brothers of Metal”
I mean, if that doesn’t confirm it, what would?
NEW SOUNDS FOR THE COLLECTION:
B-52’s, Bouncing Off the Satellites
The Bible, Eureka
Boogie Boys, City Life
This week we get deeper into the letter D as we mosey on through the bottom end of the Billboard Hot 100 charts.
“Leaving L.A.” — 1980, #71 (download)
We may be on the letter D right now, but Deliverance had the Cs working against them: they were both a Contemporary Christian group and Canadian. That just reeks of disaster. You know what else reeks?Â (Wait for it … wait for it …) This song.
John Denver & Placido Domingo
“Perhaps Love” — 1982, #59 (download)
John Denver & Sylvia Vartan
“Love Again” — 1984, #85 (download)
If you had asked me, “Steed, what’s the worst way you could start off one of your posts?,” ball-less Contemporary Christian pop music and John Denver would have been a pretty good answer. Although I have been way wrong before, I have a feeling there are a lot of John Denver fans who may well disagree with that statement. As I’ve mentioned before, I really have no context of what an artist did before the ‘80s. Unless you’re talking about someone like the Stones, Zeppelin, or the Beatles, I really never bothered learning about or listening to music before the ‘80s. I can’t explain why it doesn’t interest me, but it doesn’t. That isn’t to say I lived under a rock and haven’t heard the hits, and I completely understand the appeal of “Take Me Home, Country Roads” and “Annie’s Song.” But my real experience with John Denver is through terrible albums like Seasons of the Heart and 1985’s Dreamland Express as well as a duet with Placido Domingo that the world definitely could have done without. So maybe you can see why I dislike John Denver so much.
“Happy Hour” — 1982, #70 (download)
Brazil’s Eumir Deodato was always known for being a bit eclectic, mixing his jazz flavors with R&B and funk, as heard on his offbeat rendition of Strauss’s “Also Sprach Zarathustra,” a #2 hit in 1973. “Happy Hour” was his fourth and final Hot 100 hit.
If you started at the top of this week’s post and actually made it this far, congratulations! And if you immediately jumped to the first good artist featured here, welcome!
How much does Mute Records owe Depeche Mode for their survival? Not only has the band sold 70 million records for Mute, they helped pave the way for 100 other clones on the label. At least when you grabbed a Mute product in the ’80s, you knew what you were getting — an electronic dance record or experimental industrial music. Depeche Mode actually only had two other Hot 100 hits in the ‘80s — “People Are People,” which reached #13 in 1985, and “Personal Jesus,” which barely counts since it entered the Hot 100 at the tail end of ’89.
Teri DeSario & KC
“Dancin’ in the Street” — 1980, #66 (download)
I know many people, myself included, hate the David Bowie-Mick Jagger cover of Martha & the Vandellas’ classic, but even that version is better than this ridiculously poor one. “Dancing in the Street” just wasn’t made for KC’s voice.
“I Don’t Need You Anymore” — 1980, #86 (download)
“I Don’t Need You Anymore” was from the movie Together? and was written by Paul Anka and Burt Bacharach, which I’m assuming is the only reason this was even a minor hit. DeShannon did have two shining moments in the ‘80s, though: (1) when Annie Lennox and Al Green covered her song “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” in 1988, and (2) when she won a Grammy for Song of the Year in ‘82 for writing the second biggest song of the decade, Kim Carnes’s “Bette Davis Eyes.”
“Who Says” — 1986, #79 (download)
Device was led by Holly Knight, who was known more for her songwriting than her performing. She began her career in the early ‘80s with the group Spider, writing “Better Be Good to Me,” which Tina Turner would later record. Around this time she also wrote and recorded “Obsession,” which later gave Animotion their biggest hit, and she wrote “Love Is a Battlefield” for Pat Benatar. The male vocalist here is Peter Engemann, who joined the reanimated corpse of Animotion in ’89 and can be heard on their hit “Room to Move.” “Who Says” is the second single off Device’s only album, 22B3. The first single was “Hangin’ on a Heart Attack,” which peaked at #35.
I give it up to Devo for always doing what they wanted despite very little commercial success. Their music, while always pretty damn quirky, was brilliant straight through their career. It’s really fun to pull out Oh No! It’s Devo or Shout every now and then and listen to just how unique they were. “Working in the Coal Mine” is from the Heavy Metal soundtrack, and, well, you can tell where the other track is from. “Theme From Doctor Detroit” is actually my second favorite Devo track of all time, right behind “Post-Post Modern Man,” from their 1990 release Smooth Noodle Maps. (Bet you don’t hear those mentioned in conversations about Devo very often.)
Dexys Midnight Runners
“The Celtic Soul Brothers” — 1983, #86 (download)
For some reason I can remember this song being played a lot in my house growing up. I don’t remember many songs from before I started buying them for myself, and I’m not sure why my mother liked this one in particular, but she did and that’s all that matters. One of the things I do remember upon listening to “The Celtic Soul Brothers” for the first time is asking my mother why these guys were mispronouncing the name of the Boston Celtics and which players were the soul brothers. Ah, the funny things you say as kids. I like this song more now than I ever did — it’s such a great burst of energy. This would probably be one of my favorites of the decade if it wasn’t for the fact that I can’t sing along with it since I don’t understand a damn thing singer Kevin Rowland is saying.
Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto! Styx receives a lot of undeserved ridicule these days. To me, they were the best of the theatrical rock bands out there, and after hearing both Paradise Theatre and Kilroy Was Here, they were one of the few groups whose ‘70s catalog I did check out. And yes, you heard that right — I listened to “Mr. Roboto” first, and that got me interested in Styx. “Don’t Wait for Heroes” certainly didn’t sway from the tried-and-true Styx formula very much, but I guess radio had had enough by that point. Both “Call Me” and “This Is the Time” are from DeYoung’s second solo album, Back to the World, and are solid singles.
Best song — Devo, “Theme From Doctor Detroit“
Worst song — Teri DeSario & KC, “Dancin’ in the Street”
(This was by far the toughest choice for worst song that I’ve made yet!)
Next week we look at a man who’s cooler now than ever before, and what it’s like to box a superstar.