A look at songs that aren’t necessarily good or bad, merely ones that, because of the climate of the music world during their release, somehow, someway, were not the massive hit songs they should logically have been.
It was still basically the ’80s in 1994. I mean, the biggest group of the year was Ace of Base, and all of the Friends wore acid wash and poofy bangs. And big movie theme songs could still be big hit songs even if the movies that spawned them were not, such as “Stay” from Reality Bites, “Baby I Love You Way” from Reality Bites, and “All for Love” from The Three Musketeers. It was still so ’80s that even Taylor Dayne could still get work. Unfortunately, for Taylor Dayne, the ’80s abruptly ended in the summer of 1994.(Consequently, it was right around the time the ’60s ended, with Woodstock ’94, brought to you by Pepsi).
Had the big-budget film adaptation of The Shadow been released in the summer of 1989 or 1992 well, it still would have bombed, because the idea of a superhero who can read minds and cloud thoughts is so hokey and dated that it could work only as a radio show in the 1930s, and also because it starred Alec Baldwin, who only ever had, like, one movie that was a bona fide hit. But had The Shadow‘s theme song “Original Sin” been released in 1989 or 1992, it probably would have hit the top 10.
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After listening to that song, one thing is for certain: it was written and produced by Jim Steinman. In the summer of 1994, he was just coming off the surprise comeback smash for his frequent collaborator (and, okay, muse) Meat Loaf, “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That).” “Original Sin” should have benefited from that association.
It’s actually a cover, because Jim Steinman, as original a sound he creates, ironically loves to remake his own stuff. For example, around 1980, he wrote some Meat Loaf songs that Meat Loaf didn’t record because Meat Loaf lost his voice, so Steinman recorded them himself, including “Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through.” It hit #32 on the Hot 100…but #13 when Meat Loaf finally recorded it and released it as the follow-up to “Won’t Do That.” Similarly, Steinman wrote and recorded this song with his early ’80s girl-group Pandora’s Box (which included Meat Loaf’s lady singing partner, Ellen Foley, among others). Maybe if Steinman had given the song to Meat Loaf instead of Taylor Dayne it would have been a histrionic, Andrew Lloyd Webber-approved mega-hit? No, because Steinman actually recycled “Original Sin” again…giving it Meat Loaf for his 1995 album Welcome to the Neighborhood.
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“Original Sin” did not chart for Taylor Dayne, her first ever complete and utter flop. It didn’t chart for Pandora’s Box. And it didn’t chart for Meat Loaf.