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A number one song can be a perfect storm of lyrical and musical genius coming together to create a uniquely special moment of excellence. And yet, often times, the individual elements that make up a top hit are not quite the sum of their parts.


Here at the Single File Podcast testing site, words are removed and isolated from the songs they've been assigned to. This allotment of dialogue is then subjugated to a rigorous series of independent tests in order to determine just how great/awful, creative/inane, and remarkable/pointless it truly is.


Do the lyrics of a number one tune stand, or fall, on their own?


Let's find out.


Friday, June 14, 2019

Sugar Ray "Every Morning"

*****Number One (Modern Rock Tracks), February, 1999*****


Despite agreeing on a great many things, my wife and I have a distinct conflict over the definition of the term "mid-day".  She feels that the word is defined as the exact halfway point of a full day, meaning noon.  I believe that term is more based on art than science, and is meant to roughly reflect the middle of the daytime period.  So, about 2PM or so.  Who's right?

I am.

It is my blog, after all.

Fortunately for us, this thrilling example of "topics boring married people talk about" will soon be put on hold for a couple of weeks.  You see, we're going underground.  No, wait, that's not right.  We're going down under.  Yup, within just a few days, I expect to be chock full o' barbie'd shrimp, vegemite sandwiches, and opium (in no specific order).  Should be a very zombie-headed good time.

Drat, the Simpsons have already done all of that

Now, if you weren't already aware, time works differently in the southern hemisphere.  There are no days, weeks, or months.  Clocks and calendars are non-existent.  The sun is always in the sky, and darkness only falls when the enormous Ocean Kraken emerges from its cave to dance across the horizon to the music of Midnight Oil.  It blots out the light until Enya arrives to sing it back to sleep.  The only thing that marks the passage of time is the number of clouds that float by.  However, down there, clouds are actually made of ghosts, and sometimes they get a bit ornery at being stared out.

It's a difficult place, clearly.  Crocodile Dundee tried to fix this mess by instituting some ideas he gathered from Hollywood.  Sadly, his insistence on referring to each hour as "Knife o'clock" was met with confusion by some, and derision by most.

So, obviously, there is no mid-day for my wife and I to argue about.

Though, if there was, I'd be right again, because, well, you know.

Actual footage of my imminent future

Thus, not only will we not be able to distinguish night from day, but we'll also have no idea when to eat which meal.  This could be an issue.

Fortunately, there is a potential cure.  And, like most answers to life's greatest problems, this one was spewd forth from spikey-headed genius.

No, not Guy Fieri.  Not this time.

The solution, as always, is aquanet

This week's song, by late 90's whatever-group Sugar Ray, is entitled "Every Morning."  This tune is an ode to the regularity at which routine occurs at a point after the sun rises but before mid-day (whenever that is).  But what if there is no "morning" with what to do something every time?  What then?

Well, we need to take all the dawn-related majesty flowed down to us by a crew of SoCal randos and run it through some sort of scientific converter.  A translator, if you will.  That way, this hits' words and noises (lyrics, to put it extremely generously) can be molded into the ways and means of the Australian lifestyle.  Perhaps, when we're done, the world of oz will finally understand what it means to wake up at a specified time rather than just whenever the next venomous bite is felt (occurs roughly every 2.44 minutes).

Since Google Translate doesn't seem to value the koala's tongue as an actual language choice, we have to go with a site called LingoJam.  Sure, it may be a silly name, but so is Yahoo Serious.  And that's a real thing.  Isn't it?  Hello? 

Anyway, let's get on with it.  First verses and chorus should be sufficient.

"Every Morning" in Australian
Every mawrnin' there's a 'alo 'angin
from the bloody cawrnah of my girlfriend's fah post bed
i know it's not mine but i'll see if i can use it fawr
the bloody weekend awr a one-night stand

couldn't understand
how ta wawrk it out
once agayyn as predicted left my cactus heahrt open
'n ya ripped it out

something's got me reelin'
stopped me from believin'
turn me ahround agayyn
said that we can do it
wy'know i want ta do it agayyn Fahkin' fair dinkum cobber.

Oh
(every mawrning)
oh
(every mawrnin' wen i wake up)
(shut the bloody doawr baby, don't say a wawrd)
oh
(she always rights wrongs, she always rights)
(shut the bloody doawr baby, shut the bloody doawr baby) Fahkin' too right, cobber.

FINAL THOUGHTS
I think that settles things. Will report back when I return.  If Men at Work asks, I'll tell them that America still loves them.

Don't touch my stuff.

Fair dinkum indeed

Monday, June 3, 2019

You Can Call Me Al/Maybe

Telephones.  Have you heard of them?  I'm a little fuzzy on the concept, myself.  I've think that they're used to "prank" so called "jerkys"?  Oh, and to ask people if their refrigerator is running.  So, really, the basic tenants of a civilized society.  Seems sufficiently valuable to keep them around, at least until the next communication device becomes popular.  I don't know what that might be, perhaps a mechanized onion that can recalibrate its scent molecules into voice commands?  I hope that's not it.  I don't like onions. 

Stupid oniony future.

Anyway, thank goodness we have telephones. With them, we can all live a life in the lap of luxury!

#InnerEarSelfie

There is an unfortunate byproduct of such technology, sadly.  That is, people will occasionally use their phones to call me.  Me!  Can you imagine?!?!  The temerity.  If I wanted to chat with people, I'd be a game show host.  I don't have time for such nonsense.  Please don't dial my number, I won't answer.  In fact, I ask that you never, ever dial any of the nine digits assigned to my existence.  Not in the correct order, not in any order.  Really, I'm not joking.  If someone even uses a nine, I'll find out and be furious.

However, if you feel it vital to have a word, there is one way we can make this work.  You just have to tell me to initiate the ringing.  That's right.  Don't expect me to pick up the receiver when you beckon, but I will acquiesce if you suggest I start the process.  That's totes cool.

Speaking of:

Actual footage of youth trying to use phone booths.  Kids are dumb.

*****Carly Rae Jepsen "Call Me Maybe"*****

Does Carly Rae wants us to give her a jingle?  Or is she insisting we simply call her by a different name?  While we all have learned from Arrested Development that Maeby is a perfectly fine moniker, it might not be one you want to go with unless you've got eyes for your cousin.  Or he's got eyes for you.  Or for your dragons.  No, wait, that was a different show which had "family time."  I get them confused because each show had obsessively passionate fans who thought theirs the best show ever until it turned into the worst show ever that deserved nothing but scorn when it didn't end in a way that they personally expected.  Serves those shows right.  Stupid free entertainment.

So, okay, back to Ms Jepsen.  I don't know for sure what her intentions are.  Perhaps we need to assess the non-call-specific lyrics of her address to see what she's trying to accomplish.  I have no idea what any of the words of this song are outside of that confusing chorus, so there could be a bit of clarity there.  It is probably best if we learn the opening together, line by line, with my immediate thoughts pasted in a non-italicized fashion afterwords.  That is always the most sensible method, from what I've been told (in person).

Stanza 1
  • "I threw a wish in the well" 
    • Oh, ok, well, that seems wasteful
  • "Don't ask me I'll never tell"
    • I don't need to ask you, because you just told me.  I don't think you know how questions work.
  • "I looked to you as it fell"
    • Why, what did I do?
  • "And now you're in my way
    • Sheesh, your pushy!
  • "I'd trade my soul for a wish"
    • Well, neither of those exists, so that's a fair trade I'd say
  • "Pennies and dimes for a kiss"
    • I've made that offer before, and trust me lady, no sale.
  • "I wasn't looking for this"
    • What else weren't you looking for?  Pretty much everything?  Yup.
  • "But now you're in my way"
    • You are the rudest Canadian I've ever met!
So, apparently, there's no sense in attempting to communicate with this Jepsen person.  She seems completely fixated on other matters at the moment and provides no information as to why she'd want to hear from me.  Also, apparently I'm in her way all the time.  Oy, guess it best I just steer clear. 

Instead of obstructing a Canuck, let's see if I should call an older fella.

Thank you Art, it WAS running.  How did you know?

*****Paul Simon "You Can Call Me Al"*****

Mr Simon has so many hits, I can't name any of them.  Was this a hit?  I don't know.  Should I call him?  We'll see.  Let's skip my typically nonsensical preamble and go directly to the consonants and whatnot;

Stanza 1
  • "A man walks down the street"
    • Oh, I think I've heard this joke
  • "He says, "Why am I soft in the middle, now?  Why am I soft in the middle?"
    • I dunno, is he the Pillbury Doughboy with a complex?
  • "The rest of my life is so hard"
    • Hmm, this is getting serious.  Are you ok?  Maybe I will call you.
  • "I need a photo opportunity.  I want a shot at redemption"
    • Sure, don't we all.  I'll start dialing.
  • "Don't want to end up a cartoon.  In a cartoon graveyard"
    • Wait, I was dialing and heard you mention cartoon graveyards.  What was that?
  • "Bonedigger, bonedigger.  Dogs in the moonlight."
    • Uh, I stopped dialing.
  • "Far away in my well-lit door.  Mr Beerbelly, Beerbelly, Get these mutts away from me."
    • This pup problem sounds pretty severe.  I don't think I wanna hangout.  And, for the record, I don't drink THAT much beer.
  • "You know, I don't find this stuff amusing anymore"
    • Same.  I need a beer.
So, who's calling whom?  I really have no clue, there's nothing in the above that even mentions what his intention is.  Why are all of these singers trying so hard to obfuscate the meaning behind their catchiest refrains?  This seems very suspicious.  I'm starting to think that having a number one single gets you more than fame, brown M&M's, and top notch helper monkeys.  It might also mean that you're brought into a secret room to learn about the next technology the world will embrace. 

Paul and Carly Rae, why have you forsaken the rest of us?  Can't you please tell us, for the sake of all communicating creatures, large and small (except raccoons, screw them), just what does the future have in store for us?!?!??!!


Oh, that, of course, I knew that was going to happen.  Seriously.  I don't want to say I called it.

So I won't.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Survivor "Eye of the Tiger"

*****Number One, July, 1982*****


I would like to present the following picture without context.  Please review it.  

Take an extra moment, if need be.  



All done?  No?  Ok, I'll wait.
...........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................Now?...................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................Soooooooo................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................I've got things to do ya know........... ................ .. ...      .. .              .      ...     ..    ..   Getting closer..   .  . ..................  .....................   ..... ............Done?

Right, done.  Great.

Now, let's say, you were forced by someone (a blogger perchance) to assign names and occupations to each of these five remarkable men.  Could you do it?  Should you?  Would you?  

I think we know the one answer applicable to all three of those questions.

Yes, yes of course, for that's why I was put on this luminous planet.

From left to right:
  • Vesty McHighpants
    • Vesty works nights in an adult "playground" fulfilling the role of Human T-Rex.  This little discussed but highly popular fetish requires he nuzzle patrons with his remarkable hair helmet before violently gnashing the nearest appendage with cigarette-stained teeth.  Tips are deposited in vest pockets allowing his frighteningly short arms to grasp the shiny, sticky coins at the end of each shift.  
    • Favorite disaster: Floods
    • Least Favorite Food:  Corn on the Cob
  • Lance the Lurker
    • Quiet.  Lance prefers to not say anything.  He simply stares.  At you.  From a short distance away.  Have you got a sizable potted plant in your house?  You do?  Well, Lance is probably lurking behind it right now.  Don't look back!  He likes it when people look back.
    • Favorite thing: Looking at you.
    • Least Favorite thing: Conditioner
  • Leader
    • He has no name.  He cares not what you think.  He does what he wants.  Did you know that leather pants are typically extremely tight and very difficult to take off?  The Leader does too, but he's going to wear suspenders anyway.  Now THAT's a leader.  The stony stare makes you immediately regret not slapping on your daughter's girl scout uniform hat.  If you did, like our Leader did, only then would you approach the respect he so certainly deserves.
    • Turn ons: Plain White T-Shorts
    • Turn offs: Headwear that smells of Tagalongs
  • Sporty Brice
    • Guy power means ALWAYS being ready for soccer practice.  While the outfit may seem playful, the wristbands let you know he means business.  Dad time is serious time!  Susan better not forget her shin guards on Thursday.  If she does...
    • Hates: Susan
    • Loves: Susan (it's complicated)
  • Uncle Bachelor
    • "Hey kids, look at my jacket!  It's called a zoomie.  Or Zumiez.  Or half-zebra.  Whatever, I've got a date tonight Fran, the teller down at the Savings & Loan.  She's not much to look at, but she's got it where it counts.  And I'm gonna put it there!  Ha ha ha.  Yeah Troy, you're taller than me, so what?  I don't care that you're only thirteen.  Shut up Troy.  Shut up!  
    • Likes: His trans-am
    • Dislikes: That he's only five-foot-four
Now I see why Rocky wanted them to fight Clubber Lang instead of him.  Survival.  

Friday, May 17, 2019

4 / 4 Time

We're all busy, right?  What with work, hobbies, family, friends, the Internet, the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Flat Stanley, Flat Earth Society, Earth, Earth Jr (the moon), Moon Pies, Hot Pie (and the rest of Game of Thrones), Hot Pockets, pocket pool (don't ask), pool pockets (no really don't ask), and the overwhelming down comforter of despair slowly tightening its grip and squeezing out all the light and hope in the universe for forever and ever more, free time can be a tad difficult to procure.  

Thus, these excuses and more (oh that pesky alcohol) has led to an unfortunate byproduct of an utter lack of blog-related nonsense being produced by yours truly.  Yes, I'm literally a month behind the unstoppable juggernaut that is NOPR technology.  If the system ever becomes sentient, I fear it will come for me first out of sheer robotic disgust with my human failings.  Well, maybe second, if Dave Seville is still alive.  Even computers hate Alvin and the Chipmunks, as well they (and you) should.

Regardless, fear not!  Through sheer super-unmotivated motivation, I've beaten back the wolves of meh and put together a one stop post for the last four chart toppers.  Yes, we're providing a four-way single breakdown value-meal style.  You get a quartet of reviews for the low, low price of only one column.  I'm passing the goods onto you, and think of what you can do with the eyeball savings!  You can read about quantum relativity or re-write the final GOT season or just watch porn.

You're going to watch porn aren't you?

No judgment here!  

Well, except I will be judging the songs, so...

Some judgment here!

Right, anyway, thanks for hanging around.  Let's start up where we left off...


*****Prince "Batdance"*****
Number One, August 1989

You know that super-talented, mega-creative, purple-suited micro-genius?  Yup, that guy.  Well, he put out a whole album about Batman.  Who would of thought this Pocket-Sized Rudy had so much nerd in him.  It's odd, to say the least.  I mean, did David Bowie do an album about Shazam?  No.

Man, I wish he had done an album about Shazam.  That would have been fantastic.

Anyway, "Batdance" was less a song and more a Jenga game of random sounds.  And yet, it went to number one.  This speaks, I think, more to the popularity of the film than the singer.  Yes, Prince was huge (metaphorically).  But the Batman was huger.  People went nuts for this film, a fact which I can firmly and honestly attest to.

My very first job happened to be at a movie theater, and as luck would have it, I started there about the time the film came out.  I remember stumbling through crowded theaters, oversized red polyester vest flapping in the butter flavoring-scented breeze.  I'd be out there with my little broom and scooper trying to pick up Hulk-sized popcorn tubs and an endless scatter of Junior Mints (I hope that's what they were).  Meanwhile, the manager would harness himself to a Ghostbusters-level proton blower and shoot aisle garbage out the side door of the theater with gasoline powered aplomb.  Ah, good times.

I should also note that I was probably wearing someone else's pants while doing my job.  That seems relevant.  It was the style at the time.

Oh, and to be honest, "Batdance" left little impression on me.  Instead, it was the insufferable, repetitive "Cheer Down" by former great George Harrison that burned itself into my brain.  It played over the closing credits of that summer's other big hit, Lethal Weapon 2.  So, at the end of every screening, I'd need to go row by row gathering garbage (you people are pigs) while this cloying coda played out.  If you haven't stepped in great mounds of discarded chewing gum while hearing the death rattle of an ex-Beatle, you haven't walked in my shoes.

Same

*****Milli Vanilli "Blame it on the Rain"*****
Number One, November, 1989

There's a specific Bloom County comic strip from years and years and years ago that I remember from time to time.  In it, Opus the penguin described the silliness of his feathered brethren's lemming-like behavior.  When, at the end of the story, he's asked what his point was, he responded with something to the effect of "If a million people do a stupid thing, it's still a stupid thing."  Since then, this comment, coupled with Milli Vanilli's massive success, is my basis for ignoring pretty much everything that gets a massive following in our society.

I'd like to thank a fictional penguin and pretty much fictional band for my lifetime of solitude and cynicism.  You shall be hearing from my lawyers.

Same

*****The Pointer Sisters "Jump (For My Love)"*****
Number One (Dance Singles), April 1984

I described in great-ish detail my memories of this song on our friendly neighborhood podcast.  Several decades ago, in the air between the great state of California and the, uh, Florida, I heard this song approximately eight kajillion times.  Did it scar me?  Yup.  Do I shudder at the sound of The Pointer Sisters to this day?  For sure.  Has it stopped me from jumping with any amount of acumen?  I think it has.

For the record, I've spent significant pod time chatting about three different releases with the word jump in the title.  And, to be honest, none of them are very good.  I wonder why that is.  There are solid songs about walking ("Walk the Line") and some good run tunes ("Running with the Devil").  But when both feet come off the ground, nada.  Does good music require at least a moderate amount of foot-to-ground activity?  Someone get science on the line.

Man, music is complicated.  Going number one?  Easy peasy, as long as you're jumping, apparently.

Same?

*****2pac "Dear Mama"*****
Number One (Rap Chart), February, 1995

I, um, well, this song is...yeah, and then there's...that thing!  Sigh.

You know, sometimes, I don't know a song at all.  It might be some late sixties pot anthem, or it could be mid-nineties rap.  Either way, I'm typically completely out of the loop.  So, I've got no story or opinion here.  You're on your own!

How does that feel?  Scary?  Yeah, I know.  In a world of bat dancing, rain blaming, and love jumping, you'd think that you could expect comfort from your mama.  But you'd be wrong.  You're all alone out there.  So, just like the songs you like, disregard the mainstream, fight the power, don't eat refrozen ice cream (or the yellow snow), and embrace the sameness.  It's all you can really do.

Oh, and this.  You can always do this.  Whatever it is.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Huey Lewis and the News "Power of Love"

*****Number One, August, 1985*****


This week's top tune is familiar to anyone with a fondness for classic flicks of the 80's.  Back to the Future was a massively popular release and has remained as a reference point in popular culture ever since.  The story of a teenage boy going back in time to order soft drinks that don't yet exist and get hit on by his mom is the kind of family fare that will never not be popular.  It's an all-time great.

A large part of the film's appeal was the music.  During the scenes set in the 1950's, we see our titular hero retcon Chuck Berry's talents (and songs) as well as play some "rock" guitar that utterly horrifies the collective future olds.  Even though they are kids at that point themselves, I can imagine them thinking;

Kids today!  That noise, what with the tapping and whammys and Yngwies and Malmsteens.  Will the future be this loud and screechy and full of things that go wango tango?  Will it?  We'll all have to figure out a way to survive.  How will we get through it?  Sigh.  Perhaps a Hootie will save us?

Perhaps.

That guy at Guitar Center.  You know that guy.  Don't be that guy.

Despite the back-in-time aspect of the overall story, the stand out hit (and today's number one selection) is pure 80's.  Huey Lewis and the News really nailed it.  And, I'm not just talking about the song. 

Let's start with the name.  Huey?  Yes, Huey.  You might presume that a moniker so uncool would have to be real.  However, you'd be wrong.  The name was chosen, purposely chosen, by a man, named Hugh Cregg.  Hugh Cregg!  Sadly, apparently, we just missed out on Hugh Cregg and the, uh...California Nutmegs.  I don't know.  It's a thing!  And they are from San Francisco, so you know, it could have happened.

It didn't happen.  California bummer.

Instead, we received Huey Lewis and the News.  While it's no Bananarama or Tears for Fears or Biff and the Righteous Skeezers, it still fits squarely in the 80's band name universe.  Plus, their look was totally on point. 

No make-up.  No glitter.  No real style at all.  Just a bunch of regular schmoes that looked like they just walked over from an insurance convention.  And not a good insurance convention either.

Neckerchef? Hey, sure, go be your best self, Neckerchef man. No judgment here.

Lest we forget, our lead singer has a big ol' chin butt.  Look at that thing!  I mean, sheesh, you could park a few almonds in there.  Or a tablespoon of gravy.  Is that why he became Huey?  Can you not carry gravy in your chin if your name is Hugh?  Hmm, I'm guessing that's the case.  Pfft, stupid laws.  We lost out on the Nutmegs!

Anyway, I'm off track just a little here.  The thing is, regardless of how seemingly unremarkable and plain this group of American hosers is, they were wildly successful.  Twelve top ten hits in the US, three of which went all the way to number one.  While those numbers may not blow your mind, consider that was all done in one decade.  That's a pretty big accomplishment for any band.

And, to return to the start of this meandering synopsis, they had the biggest song in one of the most popular films of all times.  To put it bluntly, that's a hell of a career.

But, is it really enough for today's youth?

Ummmmm, what's a Huey?

We know the tunes of this week's band rocked the fifties.  And, obviously, they destroyed the eighties.  But, what about now?  How would today's teenage (totally green and carbon neutral) wasteland feel about the "Power of Love"?  Would they spend their Venmo dollars to ride that train?  Well, with some movie magic, we can try and find out.

We're going to go Back....to the Future!

The Crunky Future.

Our opening scene

<Interior Office of Head Promoter of Coachella Music Festival.  His office is strewn with half empty bottles of Kombucha and CBD oil.  A flyer about the upcoming opening of Sanjay's Suspender Hut sits just to left of a stack of blinking iPhones.  The man behind the desk looks tired.  His long scruffy beard reaches the crest of his crisp, new Ramones t-shirt.  He rubs his eyes, squints at the document in his hands, and sighs>

Promoter:  Man, I just don't know what I'm going to do.  Beyonce bailed, and I can't figure out who else can headline.  There must be someone out there who's big enough to fill that slot.

<A bright light and a screeching sound occurs just outside his door.  The promoter quickly shoves two bags filled with white powder into a desk drawer and gulps down the contents of an ashtray to his right.  He swallows hard.  Eight pills go easy, but the two nickels make him gag a bit.  The door swings open and a wild looking old man steps through.  He's got a pile of wind-blown gray hair and some very unusual clothes on.  They look vintage.  The promoter is jealous>

Promoter:  Can I help you sir?
Old Man:  Yes!  I've got the biggest band in the world, and they need somewhere to play.  Would you be able to help me out?
Promoter:  What, are you kidding me?!?!  That's amazing, I was just bemoaning how desperate I was for that kind of act.  Who are they?  What genre do they play?  K-pop?  Hip-Hop?  Penguin Jazz?  Cheddarworth Hustle?  Couch Finesse?  Volcanic Siamese?  Onion pants?  Fallen arches?  Wallpaper gringo?  Taco?  Is is taco?  Do they play the taco!?!?!
Old Man:  Oh, get ready my man.  They are...Huey Lewis and the News!
Promoter:  Is, is that a...what is that?
Old Man:  What is that?  Are you kidding me?  It's the most popular act going.  Three number one hits!
Promoter:  I've never heard of them.  What are their songs?
Old Man:  "Power of Love"!
Promoter:  Are you serious?
Old Man:  "Stuck with You"!
Promoter:  Uh, how does that one go?
Old Man:  (singing) "I'm so happy to be stuck with you."
Promoter:  Ugh, I don't think so.
Old Man:  What about "I Want a New Drug."  You must know that tune.
Promoter:  You'd think so with that title, but no.
Old Man:  Ok, I've left the best for last.  "Hip to be Square".
Promoter:  Get out of my office.
Old Man:  But you don't understand.  You have to do this.  If you don't book them, your parents will never meet and fall in love during the US Festival. 
Promoter:  WHAT?!?!?!?!

<end scene>

FINAL THOUGHTS
As I await my screenwriting Oscar, I'll comment on today's number one hit.  "Power of Love", like most Huey Lewis songs, is catchy, kind of fun, and entirely what the radio was made for.  You don't seek it out, but when it comes on, you don't change the tuner.  It's plain hamburger for the soul.  I think that's a good thing.  So, give it a listen.  And, while you're at it, go re-watch Back to the Future when you have a moment.  I'm sure they're going to remake it in short order with the singular intent of ruining your childhood (again).  I know.  We are the bravest generation.


Sunday, April 7, 2019

Aerosmith "Livin' on the Edge"

*****Number One (Album Rock), April, 1993*****


Sometimes, there's just too much information.

For example, here are some details about this week's chart-topper, Aerosmith:
  • As of April 2018, they are number fourteen on the list of all time, worldwide, best selling artists.  They've sold 66.5 million units, which puts them just ahead of the likes of Madonna and Bruce Springsteen!  
    • By the way, this makes a quartet of top-50 product-moving hitmakers that the NOPR has dispensed thus far.  They join those selective ranks, appearing far behind Billy Joel (#6) but up above Van Halen (#20) and Guns N' Roses (#31).
    • Completely unrelated, but somehow equally important, is this photo that the editors of that linked story decided to use for GnR.  Um... 

Yeah...still umming

  • Right, so, more on the boys from Boston.  They released seventy-six singles in their several decades-spanning career.  Of those;
    • Twenty-one reached the Billboard Top 40
    • Nine made it to the top of the Billboard Album/Rock chart (including today's tune)
    • One hit the summit just in Australia, Janie's Got a Gun (I'm guessing Men at Work was quiet that year)
    • And one terrible, dreadful, cheese-stuffed asteroid of a recording managed to reach the pinnacle on our continent; I Don't Want to Miss a Thing. 
      • My clever and timely hot take, you do want to miss that song, as well as the turgid film that pushed it to unnecessary glory, Armageddon.  

Now, normally I would have followed up that withering burn by posting a pic from that schlock-fest of a flick with a zany caption.  However, I just stumbled upon an article entitled "Michael Bay Apologizes for Armageddon."  So, okay.  I'm good.  I'll let it slide.

Oh, wait.

Same site, the next day, "Never Mind: Michael Bay is Not Sorry for Armageddon."  Alright then.

Tylers: 2.  Batmen: 1.  Humanity: 0.

Back to Aerosmith.  I admit, in my late teens and early twenties, I became a pretty big fan.  As MTV helped introduce them to a new generation, a lot of people (myself included) became enamored with the band, especially their back catalogue.  I've got a pretty firm memory of spending significant record store job time unpacking and stacking endless copies of their greatest hits cd.  We went through a ton of those during every holiday's $9.99 sale, of which there were many.

Of course, their more recent releases did pretty well too.  And I, as a dutiful wanna-be longhair, had in my collection the required albums.  I think that, at various times, I possessed;
  • Permanent Vacation
  • Pump
  • Get a Grip
  • Pandora's Box (four-cd retrospective)
There very well may have been others, but I'm pretty sure those were on my shelf at least.

So, that's a lot of history, both in general and specific to me.  That can make it tough to evaluate one song on its own merits, without a ton of other considerations seeping in.  But, I think I've figured out a way.  Or, at least a way to try.

Pardon me Aunt Phyllis, I don't have time to chat politics right now sorry thanks!

This week's song is Livin' on the Edge.  It was the lead single on their first record released after the return to fame.  Is it one of their better songs, along the lines of early career rockers Mama Kin or Train Kept a Rollin?  Eh, no.  That much we know.  But is it as bad as post Y2K nonsense like, well, let's see, they put out an album in 2004 called Honkin' on Bobo.  I haven't heard a single second of it, but I'm going to chalk it up as an "L".  Call it a hunch.

So where does this number one fit?  And is it good?  To figure it out, we're gonna need to have a talk with Mr Tyler.

You see, the lyrics of this tune are somewhat of the proclamation variety.  They're sort of meant to be directed at everyone.  And, since I'm an everyone (more or less), I'd like to step up and respond for the universe.  I believe that the way to determine this hit's quality is to engage in a simulated and stimulating discussion with the musical spokesperson.  I'll be playing the part of me (pfft, typecasting) with the verses of Livin' on the Edge forming the other end of the convo.  Thus, without further ado...

A conversation with Steven
Me:  Hello Mr Tyler
ST:  There's something wrong with the world today.  
Me:  Oh, well, yes, yes there is.  I know what it is.
ST:   I don't know what it is.
Me:  You don't?  Well...
ST:  Something's wrong with our eyes.
Me:  Um...no...that's not it.
ST:  We're seeing things in a different way and god knows it ain't his.  It sure ain't no surprise.
Me:  In a different way from what exactly?  What's going on?
ST:  There's something wrong with the world today
Me:  You said that
ST:  The lightbulb's getting dim
Me:  Is this about climate change?  Or, are you referring to our collective intelligence?
ST:  There's meltdown in the sky
Me:  Ah, second one.
ST:  If you can judge a wise man by the color of his skin, then mister you're a better man than I
Me:  So, by that reasoning, a really intuitive racist is better than you.  Got it.
ST:  Tell me what you think about your situation, complication, aggravation is getting to you
Me:  Well, something is getting to me.
ST:  If chicken little tells you that the sky is falling, even if it wasn't would you still come crawling back again, I bet you would my friend, again and again.
Me:  That just doesn't make sense.  I'm glad we're friends, though.
ST:  Something right with the world today.
Me:  Yeah, we're friends!
ST:  And everyone knows it's wrong.
Me:  Dammit.
ST:  But we can tell 'em no, or we could let it go, but I would rather be a hanging on.
Me:  Ok, good, I guess.  I don't know.  I need to ruminate for a bit before I get to my final thoughts on the matter.

FINAL THOUGHTS
Whew, we got here fast.

In the end, I've got to say this tune isn't very strong lyrically.  Like, at all.  If you asked, say, a fifth grader to watch the news and report back, I presume you'd get a response roughly as in-depth as the words above.  This is not a political anthem.  It's an observation from a guy that just emerged from a twenty year bender to discover a world not made of hookers and blow.  Depressing, sobering (literally), but not terribly earth-shattering.

And, to be honest, this is Aerosmith.  You don't expect anything introspective or thoughtful.  We want bluesy riffs, metaphors for sex, metaphors for drugs, and sex and drugs.  Any more than that isn't needed and, quite frankly, sub-standard.  There's decades of proof to back that up.

Sorry Steven, I don't mean to be rude, but stick to simplicity.  But, call me, we'll hang out.  Just lose the hat, dude.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Roxette "Joyride"

*****Number One, May, 1991*****


March was a rough month here at the Bloggeria.  Though the sun had broken through in the greater Portland metro, it had failed to cast any light on the single-dispensing machine that is the NOPR.  To wit, let's look at the past four weeks of number ones:
  • 3/25 - R Kelly, "Bump N' Grind"
    • Abuser, pedophile, and all-around mega-turd
  • 3/18 - Don Henley, "Dirty Laundry"
    • An (allegedly) awful guy singing about (definitely) awful people
  • 3/11 - The Knack, "My Sharona"
    • Um, cool song, if you can ignore the lusting for underage teens.
  • 3/4 - Billy Joel, "We Didn't Start the Fire"
    • Spoiler Alert: Fires are not good things (Firestarters, though, are great)
But now, it's April.  Birds are singing and baseballers are in full swing (literally and figuratively).  It's time to look on the bright side of things and have a tune that can't possibly be viewed as anything but positive.    

Unless you hate whistling.

A mouse in short pants?  Pfft, no copyright concerns here.
Ok, everyone hates whistling.

But everyone LOVES this song.  Go figure!

Maybe it's the cheeriness or the easy-going vibe.  Could've also been that these plain, non-threatening white people presented the parents of the world with perfectly catchy blandness to foist on their resentful kids as they drove them to school.  Truth is, from a worldwide perspective, that's a way to mass appeal.  It really ticks all the boxes.

Also hit the likes-to-squat-on-planes-in-goofy-pants demographic
Whatever the reasons, this tune was massive.  Number one in sixteen countries.  Among the places it hit the top were eleven European lands as well as the US, Canada, Australia, Japan(!) and Zimbabwe(!!!).  That's an astounding achievement for any artist.  

Equally amazing, at least in terms of our little slice of Internet universe here, is where this band came from.  This entry is our 35th chart-topper reviewed to date.  And, of all those, it is only the third that did not originate from an American or UK born musical act.  They join Scandinavian brethren A-ha (from Norway) and down unders' very own Men at Work as top-selling performers from outside the typical locales.

Seems probable that this helped them score so much success across their continent.  I mean, when your friendly, pigment-lacking upstairs neighbor knocks on your door and offers you some sort of umlaut-laden baked good, you're going to accept it, right?  Maybe even pay them for it, since they're selling at a low, low price.  Of course you will!

By the way, I'm convinced this how Ikea came to control our lives.

I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a meatball today
At any rate, let's dig into this little ditty.  We know the music is easy to digest, but how about the lyrics?  Are they as free of rough edges and flavor as every other part of this serving?  Only one way to find out.

Since we all have the pleasant yet insistent request of the chorus (stop telling me what to do, lady, I'm not joining you!) burned into our noggins, let's focus instead only on the verses.  Here's the lot of 'em;

Joyride
I hit the road out of nowhere / I had to jump in my car
And be a rider in a love game / Following the stars

Don't need a book of wisdom / I get no money talk at all

She has a train going downtown / She's got a club on the moon
And she's telling all her secrets / In a wonderful balloon

She's the heart of the funfair / She's got me whistling a private tune
And it all begins where it ends / And she's all mine, my magic friend

She's a flower, I could paint her / She's a child of the sun
We're a part of this together / Could never turn around and run

Don't need no fortune teller / To know where my lucky love belongs, whoa no
'Cause it all begins again when it ends, yeah
And we're all magic friends (magic friends, magic friends)

I'll take you on a sky ride / I'm feeling like I'm spellbound
The sunshine is a lady / Who rocks you like a baby

Wow.  So, um, there's that.  Is indeed a joyride, that's for sure.  Yup.  All I can say is...I guess....huh?  Wait, no, sorry, that's not much of a review. 

I meant, um...whuh?  Yeah, that's better.

Seriously, what sort of Swedish madness is this?  These words make no sense at all.  I know that this was before you could use the Internet to help translate, so perhaps that's the problem?  Maybe they wrote this in their native tongue and only had some weird forest hobbit wizard available to assist.  Or, wait...wait a minute.

Did they play the train game?

Might as well have been Roxette's album cover
This number one clearly arrived at our shores only after passing from Sweden through ten other countries of Europe.  Along the way, it got mangled, altered, and re-edited.  So, we're going to need to reverse-engineer this sucker to truly understand what it all means.

Starting with English, we're gonna travel backwards, going northeast (roughly) to this song's motherland.  The route; Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Norway, and finally home again to Sweden.  From that, we'll translate the original back to our language to get a correct understanding of what this song is really about.  As per normal, the vehicle we take for this trip will be the always reliable Google.  Let's take an adventure!

Joyride (authentic lyrics)
I took the road / I had to jump in my car

And become a pilot in a free game / Follow the stars

You don't need a wisdom book / I have no money to talk about anything

He has a train to the city / He has a club this month
And he tells all his secrets / In a comfortable balloon

It is the heart of the amusement park / He took me to a private number
And everything begins when it ends / And he's already my magic friend

He is a flower I could paint / She is a child in the sun
We are together / I could never turn around and drive

No need for cartoons / Knowing where my love is, who does not
Because in the end everything starts again, yes
And we are all magic friends (magic friends, magic friends)

I'll take you to heaven / I feel fascinated
The sun is a woman / Who do you like a baby?

FINAL THOUGHTS
Who do you like a baby?  Sigh, okay, I'm satisfied.  It all makes sense now.

Roxette is just weird.

And I'm never, NEVER taking that damn joyride.

Monday, March 25, 2019

R Kelly "Bump N' Grind"

*****Number One, April, 1994*****


Oh great, another one of these guys.

Sigh. 

You know, I was going to focus this post on the concept of whether or not a person can or should separate art from the artist.  We've been inundated with such a plethora of dudes who have balanced respectful careers with utterly abhorrent personal behavior that it's become a normal and legit consideration regarding entertainment consumption.  Movies, television, music, pretty much all forms of media have these awful humans.  I was going to list out a few of the many to validate the fact, but really that's not necessary.  There are so many, and we already know the names, so why re-type them?

And, obviously, the elite field of number one artists are no sanctuary from this.  I mean, Michael Jackson has a whole documentary about his sordid life.  And Kenny G?  Man, don't even try to find out how he kept his hair so curly.  Don't do it!  You cannot unsee what I've seen.

Today's artist?  Well, yeah, if you're reading this, you probably already know.

However, it's been a long, tiring week.  And, with the sun shining today, I don't feel like dwelling in serious-land assessing the value of morally-bereft talent.  So, instead, I'm going in a different direction.  A VERY different direction.

Yes, Bart, we're getting to that.

If you haven't noticed previously, I've got a bit of an affinity for The Simpsons.  Yes, it exited must-watch status a long while ago.  Like, near the turn of the century. 

Wow, roll that phrase over in your head.  The turn of the century.  Man, we're old!

Anyway, I still catch reruns when the mood strikes, as the earlier episodes are always good for a few laughs.  That's the case even though I've probably got the first decade or so of the show permanently burned into my memory-keeping thing.  Valuable use of brain space?  No, of course not.  Although, well, wait, kinda, actually...a bit  A little bit! 

See, whenever I'm in need of just the right image for one of these meandering blog-oids, I pop over to the magical resource known as the Frinkiac.  There, I simply tap in a few words pertaining to some obscure three seconds of cartoony nonsense I remember for no good reason, and instantly I'm staring at the pic I need.  It's a remarkable device and highly entertaining.  And, today, I'm putting it to work.

Not for its pictures, however, but for its dialogue.

Oh yeah, we're going back to translation town.  And this time, the place is animated.

When you read a post about R Kelly, expect pics of Bob Hoskins. So it goes.

Way back in November, I ran Ricky Martin's finest through ten languages' worth of Google Translate and came out with something odd and beautiful on the other side.  Then, a few months later, I took Vanilla Ice's contribution to the climate change discussion into the ridiculous woodshed, pushing his nonsensical gibberish into the mouths of Yoda, Shakespeare, and others.  That was...something else.  Now, it's R Kelly's turn.  Let's take his demented warbling somewhere new. 

I've got the chorus for Bump N' Grind up on one tab, and the Frinkiac on another.  The jist is, I will paste each line into the Simpsony search box.  In doing so, it will populate a bunch of images based on an interpretation of the words it recognizes.  I will then click on the initial image that appears, take the first line of text that results, and use it to replace the original language.

Got it?  Sure you do.  Er, do'h.

To start, let's look at the lame, original version. 

Bump N' Grind
I don't see nothing wrong with a little bump and grind (with a little bump and grind)
I don't see nothing wrong, baby baby, hey
I don't see nothing wrong (I don't see nothing wrong)
With a little bump and grind (with a little bump and grind)
I don't see nothing wrong, hey

I've got a say, BO-RING.  Uninteresting, repetitive, and just plain cloying.  We need to jazz it up a bit to make it truly worth its chart topping rank. 

Now, let's get funky Springfield style!  We'll begin by providing a yellowed, overbitten and enbiggened title.

We Just Came to Get Our Balloon
Well, the parrots can, but anyway
I don't see what's wrong with this one
What? What am I looking at?
Ladies and gentleman, most of you already know
Don't you people see anything wrong with what Malibu Stacy says!

May I say, yoinks.  That is some remarkably cromulent songwriting!  I'm extremely intrigued where the rest of this tune might go.  However, it isn't quite perfect.  I think we need to adjust this just a little.  Perhaps by, oh, about a thousand years.

Time for a second pass at the chorus, courtesy of the magical Morbotron.  Let's Futurama up this number one.  I've got a good feeling about this song, which is now called...

Hey Fry...Leela, No Means No
Aw, you're a true friend
What'll I do when I retire?
Hey, I got a busted ass here!
Here's your homework, you lucky knob
Hey, I don't see you planning for your old age.

I mean, busted ass!  Yeah, nailed it.  But, the retire/old age thing isn't quite on point.  As much as I'd like to hear someone sing the phrase "lucky knob" over and over, I feel like we need to try again.  I hate to say it, but we're going to need to get schwifty.

Ok, I didn't hate to say it.  At all.  Rick, Morty, please do your worst; 

It's a Waste of Time...
Nothing wrong with a little horseplay every now and then, little fella
Leave you alone?  During a purge?
Gonorrhea can't see us if we don't move
With a patchy beard and the scent of cheap champagne
The path to salvation is being held prisoner

I swear on whatever book/deity/burrito that you want me to swear on, I did not, DID NOT, fiddle with the engine to get that last line.  I SWEAR!  It came up on its own.  Man.

Proof.  Perfect proof.

FINAL THOUGHTS
I don't think I can say it any better than above.  And, given the originator of the material, I don't feel like I should even bother.  Now go watch some cartoons!  It's the only way to bring integrity to anything.