1982 was a banner year for former Runaway Joan Jett — “I Love Rock & Roll” was number one for a kajillion weeks, “Crimson and Clover” followed it into the Top 10, and even a remake of Gary Glitter’s “Do You Wanna Touch” sneaked into the Top 20. That’s a tough year to follow for anyone.
So it’s understandable that all eyes were on Joan and the Blackhearts when their next album, er, Album, came out the following year. In what was probably a calculated effort to spotlight Jett’s songwriting skills, the first single chosen from the project was “Fake Friends,” the first Top 40 hit Joan scored that wasn’t a cover. A bluesy, glam-seasoned stomp, “Fake Friends” was a bit more lighthearted than previous Jett hits, which may have accounted for its low chart showing. The video matched the light nature of the song — I’m guessing the running motif of people turning into cardboard cutouts is to reflect how fake friends are pretty flimsy? Maybe?
The relative failure of “Fake Friends” may have spooked someone, since Album‘s next single was yet another remake, a cover of Sly & the Family Stone’s “Everyday People.” That also barely squeaked into the Top 40, clearing the way for a third single, another Jett original called “The French Song,” a tune about what else but a mÃ©nage Ã trois, a subject that, when combined with the French chorus, left radio programmers cold although I quite dig it. And the video, with its implied three ways, oral sex, S&M overtones, and, um, well-placed Dobermans was pretty kinky and daring considering Jett’s high profile at the time:
Was there ever any doubt Joan is a total top?Â Unfortunately, “The French Song” flopped, Album sank off the charts, and Joan wouldn’t see the Top 40 again until five years later, thanks to yet another cover, Springsteen’s “Light of Day.”
“Fake Friends” peaked at #35 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1983.
“The French Song” peaked at #30 on the Mainstream Rock Chart that same year.
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