Mainstream Rock: Bryan Adams, “Run to You” (1984)
Darren Robbins: This song was the exact turning point for Adams. Up until then, his music has a certain us-against-them quality. While “Run To You” is not a bad song per se, it and the entirety of Reckless (the album on which it appears) is much too polished for my taste.
I like to think that if time travel really were possible, the first thing I’d do is travel back in time and tell Bryan Adams 1984 that I have two songs I’d like to play for him: “All For Love” & “I Wanna Be Your Underwear”. Why, you ask? Because I wanna see Bryan 1984 wrinkle his nose and shout profanities and struggle to find the “off” button before being subjected to another note, all the while trying to keep his lunch down. By doing so, I think I could make the world a better place for everyone.
Dw. Dunphy: About a year ago I got the Live Aid DVD set. I was flipping through chapters and somehow landed on Bryan Adams. Not literally, of course, ’cause I’d have killed him. (Ba-doo-sha! Try the brisket!) At any rate, my brother John walked into the room intrigued. Then he noticed what he was hearing and said, “Oh, I forgot Bryan Adams used to be a rock guy.” And with that one statement the entirety of the Reckless album was put into perspective.
Beau Dure: The first Bryan Adams song I heard was “Cuts Like a Knife.” Good solid rock song. He has spent the rest of his life slowly and painfully sliding into uselessness.
Maybe not that slowly — “Summer of ’69” makes me wish the electric guitar had never been invented.
Mike Heyliger: Welcome to yet another episode of Mike Goes Against Popular Popdose Opinion. I’m not the world’s biggest Bryan Adams fan, but I like “Run To You.” It certainly has way more energy than most of his later work, and it sounds a lot fresher than “Summer of ’69,” which the radio completely killed for me. Of course, I also like the Adams*Stewart*Sting collaboration. Whatever. Bite me.
Will Harris: For those who grew up in the “Everything I Do (I Do It For You)” era and beyond, it’s hard to fathom a day when Bryan Adams was actually pretty cool, but for my money, he was one of the great pop-rockers of the early ‘80s, and this song encapsulates many of the reasons why. Between Cuts Like a Knife and Reckless, the man earned every minute of his chart success…though, okay, Bob Clearmountain deserves some of the credit, too.
David Medsker: Adams may have pissed away his rock cred with the Robin Hood and Three Musketeers songs — not to mention the skeezy 18 Til I Die album — but Reckless was a damn fine record (SIX singles charted, all at #15 or higher), and this was a hell of a leadoff single.
Zack Dennis: This song seems like it is tailor-made for the beginner level of Guitar Hero. A simple, familiar riff, not too many changes, and an occasional flourish from the lead guitar. I don’t really have anything against this song, though it is doing a hell of a poor job commanding my attention for more than fifteen seconds at a time.
Jeff Giles: I love to make fun of Bryan Adams — in fact, one of the first things I ever did at Jefitoblog was a series running each of his albums through the Cliche-O-Meter — but I think even if you don’t frame it in the context of his later, shittier work, “Run to You” is a fine single. It’s moody, it’s got some nice guitar work, and it boasts one of the few relatively honest vocal performances I think Adams has ever given. I think it’s aged pretty well, too.
Jon Cummings: Back when Bryan Adams was someone Canada could celebrate, rather than apologize for (see South Park), “Run to You” already felt redundant — not a bad pop-rocker, but kinda meat-headed and a bit of a comedown from “Cuts Like a Knife” the year before. It’s funny, in retrospect, that “Run to You” and the entire Reckless album already felt dumbed-down and compromised compared to Adams’ earlier work (my brother had played the You Want It, You Got It album and the single “Lonely Nights” to death in ’82, after we saw Adams open for Loverboy — shut up!). Oh, Bryan — you emasculated soundtrack sissy — how we long for the days when something as decent as “Run to You” seemed like a drop in quality! The video, however, does have the benefit of opening with two MTV-certified visual cliches: the electric guitar shoved into the ground, and the footsteps in the snow leading to the brooding protagonist.
Modern Rock: The B-52’s, “Good Stuff” (1992)
Darren: Sigh. I like to think that if time travel really were possible, the first thing I’d do is travel back in time and tell the B-52’s 1980 that I have two songs I’d like to play for them: “Good Stuff” & “Dreamland”. Why, you ask? Because I wanna see the B-52’s wrinkle their noses and shout profanities and struggle to find the “off” button before being subjected to another note, all the while trying to keep their lunch down. By doing so, I think I could make the world a better place for everyone.
David: Oh man, did I want to like this. I think I even forced it down a few times, but then I bought the record, and was not amused. There were some interesting experiments here and there (I confess to liking “Dreamland”), but this is the sound of a band trying really, really hard to sound spontaneous and wacky, and failing miserably.
Dunphy: It’s like a movie with an extremely positive title that the critics twist, turn and then impale said movie with. For all the band’s kitschy charm, there’s nothing good about this stuff.
Beau: Can’t believe people are hating on this song. It goes a little too long, but you simply can’t go wrong with a call-and-response between Fred and Kate, particularly when you follow up with some jazzy harmony in the chorus. This one’s proof of some professional competence in the party band. Keith Strickland isn’t just there because women think he’s cute. (And, statistically, a few of the men, to borrow a Sabrina Matthews line.)
Mike: Even at the age of 16 when this came out, I remember listening to this song and saying to myself “Is every song they make from now on going to rip off ‘Love Shack’?” Another question I’ve always wanted to ask — how come you never saw Fred Schneider and Charles Nelson Reilly in the same room at the same time?
Will: “Take me down where the love honey flows”? Nice. I think we all know that this album was a miserable failure compared to its predecessor. The only song on the record that I really love is “Is That You, Mo-Dean?” Otherwise, I can take or leave it.
Jon: For some reason I tend to lump this single, and the Good Stuff album in general, together with REO Speedwagon’s “Keep the Fire Burnin'” and their Good Trouble album — in the category of Most Pointless Follow-Up to a Hugely Successful Album. (As long as my brain is stuck in the early ’80s, I could easily add Kilroy is Here to that list, but that album wasn’t pointless. Many other bad things, yes, but pointless, no.) One thing the world did not need in 1992, in the wake of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and the advent of grunge, was a warmed-over “Love Shack.”
Zack: I think my own personal version of hell would consist of being locked into a chair, Hannibal Lecter style, and having Fred Schneider sing at me for all eternity. That said, I think this is actually a decent song. If rating redheads on a scale from Kathy Griffin (1) to Jenny Lewis (10), I’d have to say that Kate Pierson comes in somewhere around a six — just below Katie Sagal.
Beau: But Kate is in her own category. She’s simply Kate. Comparing her to Jenny Lewis is like comparing Studio 54 to the Taj Mahal. Both impressive but in completely different ways.
Jeff: I’m with Zack on his personal vision of hell — I’ve never been able to stomach Fred Schneider’s constant mugging, although I do think the first three minutes or so of his cover of Harry Nilsson’s “Coconut” is pretty funny. I guess what I’m saying is that I was never a fan of the B-52’s, but even I could tell they were trying too hard with this album, and it made me a little sad. Much as I hated “Love Shack,” it represents a golden era for modern rock radio.
Zack: Fred Schneider is New Jersey’s answer to Einar Orn.
Jeff: I believe this is the second Einar Orn reference in Chartburn history, which should make us eligible for some sort of Webby Award.
Beau: I say, “Ouch, this really hurts.” Especially if that would make Kate the B-52s equivalent of Bjork. You’ll never see Kate wearing poultry. And even my 5-year-old knows to recognize Kate’s voice, even if she’s just doing backup on an Iggy Pop or R.E.M. tune. (I prefer “Me in Honey” to “Shiny Happy People,” but the latter led to the creation of a Kate Muppet, who appears with R.E.M. on Sesame Street when they sing “Furry Happy Monsters.”)
Also, I have to point out that Fred may be from Jersey, but the B-52s are from my hometown. Which is only part of the reason I’m arguing against the Chartburn consensus here. And speaking of redheads, I should point out that the episode of MythBusters on the air at the moment includes Kari Byron rating guys sober and then rating them while being legally inebriated. I smell a hit.
Adult Contemporary: David Cassidy, “Cherish” (1972)
Darren: I like to think that if time travel really were possible, the first thing I’d do is travel back in time and tell David Cassidy 1972 that I have two songs I’d like to play for him. That would be a lie, though. In truth, all I would have is a set of nunchucks and written permission from the people of the future to use deadly force if necessary.
Will: I actually like David Cassidy’s voice, but I see no reason to prefer this version over the Association’s.
Zack: Someday, hopefully the Matchup Monkey will throw David Cassidy into the ring against Kool and the Gang so they can give him the beatdown he so richly deserves. Watching those hordes of hysteric fans wave banners is profoundly disturbing, especially considering they’re showering their adulation upon a mediocre vocalist and uninspiring songwriter.
Beau: Apples and Orange Crush. The fans waving banners don’t care about his vocals and probably don’t even know he didn’t write this song. He was McDreamy back before Shonda Rhimes imposed her muddleheaded post-feminist male objectification on a generation of gullible women.
I remember Danny Bonaduce in some sort of VH1 special talking about how Cassidy had become successful twice, citing his Broadway/Vegas career. He said it took tremendous balls to do so. That said, I also remember Cassidy getting really annoyed when Beth Littleford asked him about his anatomy on “The Daily Show.”
All I can say about this recording is that if I had been in any way involved with it, I would suffer guilt by Association. (Thank you! Try the portobello surprise!)
Dunphy: David Cassidy: “Why can’t I have a comeback? Why? Why?”
Popdose: “Cherish, 1972.”
David Cassidy: “Oh. Yes. Spot on… Are you going to eat those pizza crusts?”
Jon: I don’t have a problem with Keith’s (I mean David’s) version of this song. On the one hand, because it’s a love song it’s nice to hear it sung by a solo dude, rather than the Mitch Miller-style chorale that was the Association. On the other hand, I miss all the harmonies and the bom-bom’s of the Assn.’s version. So, all told, it’s pretty much a wash. All that said, I reject the Chartburn crew’s general rejection of Cassidy. Sure he’s a bland milquetoast, but I choose to remain loyal to the memory of my adoration (as a 6-year-old, and ever since) of the Partridge Family’s Up to Date album. (Hell — I even listed the Razor & Tie CD release of Up to Date among my Top 10 albums of 1994, back when the Billboard staff all got our picks published in the year-end issue.)
Mike: This is the stuff that was popular in 1972? Between this and that Bread song from the last Chartburn column, I’m not so upset anymore that “Love Hangover” was the #1 song the week I was born. I’m also now eternally grateful for Debbie Gibson, Tiffany, The Jets, New Edition and New Kids on the Block. The teen idols of my generation may have sucked to some folks, but none of them ever made a song as bad as this one.
Jeff: If he wasn’t so obviously a self-important douche, I might be more inclined to give Cassidy a mulligan for his crappy teen idol records, and maybe even rest an elbow on the revisionist Cassidy-as-decent-songwriter bandwagon that started rolling in the ’90s. But I’ve heard what’s supposed to be his best album (1990’s David Cassidy), and although it isn’t as bad as “Cherish,” it isn’t that much better. Shaun’s brother needs to get over himself.
David: Is it just me, or are there times in this video where David Cassidy looks just like Lindsay Lohan?
R&B/Hip-Hop: The Gap Band, “Outstanding” (1983)
Jeff: All of a sudden I want a Members Only jacket.
David: Wow, this seems reserved for a band that I associate with full-on disco funk. I like it, though.
Will: For years, I only thought of The Gap Band for one song and one song only: “You Dropped a Bomb on Me.” But the more I expand my knowledge of their work, the more I find that pretty much everything they’ve ever done is good funky fun.
Zack: It kind of feels like if you dirtied up the lyrics, this could just as easily be a B-side from a Tony! Toni! Tone! single. I mean, it’s okay, but when it comes to bands financed by corporate clothing store chains, I’m a bigger fan of the Bananarama Republic.
Dunphy: Well, the song is called “Outstanding,” but it’s not. We’ll say it’s good enough, though. Certainly better than “Good Stuff,” I think. It goes on forever, but the first four minutes are pretty darn fine. Aw, what the hey. Sure, why not, it’s “Outstanding”…
Beau: If I were dancing to this, would I be less bored? Probably not. My “moves” are as limited as this R&B-by-numbers tune.
Mike: It’s a little difficult to hear this song now in its original context, considering that there was a time in the early Nineties when “Outstanding” had to be sampled at least once on every single rap album. This is probably my favorite Gap Band song. I was scarred for life later this same year by seeing lead singer Charlie Wilson in a banana hammock during the “Party Train” video.
Jon: I’m gonna ignore this song that never made any impact on me, and instead tell a story about a different Gap Band single that is forever burned into my subconscious. In 1992 my then-girlfriend (now wife) Gwen and I moved to Philly and settled into a refurbished apartment building. The walls and ceilings were less than paper-thin, as we discovered on our first night when we were awakened at 1:30 a.m. by the massive sound of a hot-rod revving and then peeling out. The noise ended, then repeated again and again, until I got out of bed and banged on the wall.
That ended the agony, but the next night it picked up again, so I banged again — this time hard enough to knock something off the neighbor’s side of the wall, at which point he stomped into the hallway threatening bloody murder. Finally Gwen went out to make peace and beg for quiet, at which point our giant clubfoot of a neighbor (he had a broken ankle) explained that he’s usually quiet, but his brother was in town and wanted to party — and just loved the opening of the Gap Band’s “Burn Rubber (Why You Wanna Hurt Me)” so much that he had to play it over and over in the middle of the night at 120 dB. Clubfoot never gave us any more problems, but it was a couple weeks before we felt confident going to sleep at a normal hour.
Hot 100: The Everly Brothers, “Crying in the Rain” (1962)
Zack: I don’t really love this song, but I’m very impressed by the technical side of it — a magnificent recording of a live performance, perfectly balanced levels, and some really nice harmonies.
Beau: The Wikipedia entry says the Everlys gave a-ha a couple of guitars after their successful (in Europe) cover. Wonder if Carole King sent over a piano.
Dunphy: Did the Everly Brothers ever do anything that was awful? Never. “Walk Right Back,” “Bye Bye Love,” and “Cathy’s Clown” are all eminently worthy contenders, but this particular song always took the prize as far as I’m concerned. Take that, David Cassidy, you dumpster-diving dork.
Will: Would you believe I knew a-ha’s version of this song before I knew the Everly Brothers’? Actually, you probably would, given how many commenters on YouTube have said the exact same thing. But the combination of this song and the stuff that I already knew by Phil and Don led me to invest in the Rhino Records four-disc box set…and what an awesome investment it was. I still find it hard to believe that Warren Zevon used to play keyboards for them, though.
David: Like Will, I heard a-ha’s version first, but haven’t heard it in years, so I don’t remember what they did with it. Given what a fan of Marshall Crenshaw and all things Finn that I am, I really should pick up an Everly Brothers compilation one of these days. I know I’d love it.
Jeff: Wow. Up until this week, I’d assumed I was the only person on the planet who heard a-ha do this song before the Everlys, and I’ve been carrying this secret shame with me for almost 15 years. I want to thank David and Will for letting me know I’m not alone.
Jon: Speaking on behalf of the vast majority of American music-lovers who put a-ha in the rear-view mirror immediately after the moon rose on “The Sun Always Shines on TV,” please allow me to submit that you people frighten me. Their version of this song is haunting, if inconsequential. For years, all I knew of the Everlys’ version was the three seconds they would sing on one of those TV-compilation commercials. It’s a nice minor-key song, though it’s performed a bit too much like a revamp of “Let It Be Me.”
This was one of the Everlys’ last two Top 10 hits, as they continued a chart decline that must have been a huge bummer for Warner Bros. (which had stolen them away from Cadence two years before). Interestingly, right after they signed with Warners they lost access to the Acuff-Rose Publishing catalog, whose songwriters included not only Felice & Boudleaux Bryant (the authors of their early hits), but the Everlys themselves. They couldn’t sing songs they had written themselves! Carole King and Howard Greenfield wrote “Crying in the Rain.”