One Hit Wonders (not!)
Yesterday (Sept. 26) was the 50th Anniversary of Abbey Road, the Beatles last recording session together and the second last album before Let it Be was issued May 8, 1970. And also Happy belated One Hit Wonder Day! (Sept. 25th) so I thought it would make a good blog topic.
The simplest definition I found is from music journalist Wayne Jancik “any recording act that place just one 45 rpm single on Billboards Top 40 chart” this from The Billboard book of one-Hit Wonders’ (1998). The term is a bit antiquated now as we no longer have 45 rpm singles, but the concept of only one hit single remains. So we aren’t talking one #1 hit. It’s not a term I like as it implies (and some truth to that) these artists have had just a brief moment in the spotlight, perhaps undeservedly so and then fallen off the music map. I know other and deeper definitions are a bit more broad and go beyond the absolute single hit idea. They also consider many artists that have still maintained a quality career and just not reproduced another ‘top 40 hit’ song and or may be from another country/language and snuck in a single hit, enter ‘Nena’ who (including her band “Nena”) had a very respectable career in her native Germany but just the one english language version of “99 Luftballons“. In some cases the definition includes a single song that listeners strongly identify with to the point of ignoring the artist (that may have had other hits). I think this strays way off the path of the ‘one hit’ concept. Strongly ‘identified’ song does not mean in my opinion that the artist is a “one hit wonder”. If you ask 10 people to name one Led Zeppelin song 9 are going to say “Stairway to Heaven”. Most lists should be labelled “Billboard Top 40 One Hit Wonders” to be fair, but I give examples below that disqualify songs from that list as well.Read More »
Old Country/New Country
What exactly I am about to attempt to demonstrate I confess I’m not 100% certain, but what I do know is that there has been a bit of a downward sliding scale regarding the enduring quality of mainstream Country Music songs. Apologies in advance for rambling and ranting at various points. This is not a history of Country Music but my opinion on the current state of things in general with the genre.
It’s murky waters that I’m swimming in here as there is an evolution involved in any music genre so direct comparisons are perhaps inappropriate. I am somewhat aware of the influence the so called Country Music “establishment” has had on this evolution. One need only look at examples like Taylor Swift, Shania Twain and Garth Brooks and others who were criticized and in some cases “shunned” for their unconventional approaches who are now celebrated as part of that same ‘establishment’. So there is some hypocrisy at play in my opinion, which further confuses the definition of what the term “Country Music” actually means? I mentioned in my Country Rock blog there are so many subgenres of Country, and now I’m thinking there is no longer a catch-all definition available to describe it, I myself hear songs on ‘Country Music’ stations that I would not identify as being a ‘Country song’ at all.Read More »
When talking about the band I have to confess I’m out of my depth so I will tread lightly. We should however get right to their beginnings and major influence, that being the ‘Talking Heads’ and their namesake song “Radio Head“. The band had been called ‘On a Friday’ but their record label requested they change it before signing a contract (with EMI records) in 1991.
Radiohead are one of the most successful and influential Rock bands since their debut album “Pablo Honey’ (Jerky Boys) in February of 1993. All their songs are credited to the entire band Colin Greenwood, Jonny Greenwood, Ed O’Brien, Phil Selway and Thom Yorke. And there’s the ‘sixth member’ producer Nigel Godrich who’s done all their albums since 1994. Their song “Creep” charted top 40 across the world and it’s depressing tone eventually wore the band down to the point they stopped playing it live for a long period of time. The songs melody borrows from “The Air that I Breathe” a song ‘The Hollies‘ successfully covered in 1974. A lawsuit was settled quite amicably and songwriter and original singer of “The Air that I Breathe” Albert Hammond and his collaborator Mike Hazlewood were paid royalties and added as co-writers. Also from the album is “Anyone Can Play Guitar” and “Stop Whispering” a tribute to another big influence, the ‘Pixies‘.Read More »