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.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Year One Review

Over in podcast land, the Single File put out a new episode this past week which takes a look at the last year and provides an update on the highest and lowest rated songs they've covered.

Well, I'm nothing if not totally devoid of original ideas and/or any shame at all in copying others.  So, yes!  We here at the Breakdown are also going to do a year end review thingy that sort of explains what entries were seemingly the most/least enjoyed over the prior twelve months.  Ain't I creative?

The thing is, the rankings over there were based on actual input from the listening public.  I have no listeners.  Nor, public, to be brutally honest.  However, I can provide a form of popularity countdown to suss out and review.  It likely has less to do with song quality, though, and more to do with how many drunkards incorrectly clicked the link to my site thinking they were ordering a chimichanga (happens more than you'd think).  Yup, instead of basing my standings on votes, I can only use page visits. Your mileage may certainly vary with this approach, especially with all of those Russian bots out there (my views will go through the roof if we ever get to post about some Gorky Park hits).

I understand that it's not the soundest metric to judge the songs we looked at.  But, it's really all I've got to use.  Unfortunately, beyond the inherent flaws I've circled above, this method has some other glitches as well.
  • I can't include ten of the chart toppers we've covered.  That's because I didn't do individual posts for those releases.  Instead, I took the easy way out in those cases and blogged in bulk (just like those Costco-brand internet commentators).  So those hits cannot be judged the same.  Instead, I'll pull those out and describe which two of those would be the best and worst to do karaoke to.  In a way, that's totally more important data.
    • Best choice for karaoke of those ten songs - Prince "Batdance"
      • Any chance I get to simply say "Vicky Vale" over and over, I'm going to take it.  And you should too.
    • Worst choice for karaoke of those ten songs - Milli Vanilli "Blame it on the Rain"
      • You can't cover a song that wasn't actually sung by the band itself.  It's a technically impossible concept.  This is what Inception 2 will be about, if they ever get around to it.

Call me about the script Leo.  Or else.
  • I also can't include the final two songs of the year in my list.  I never got a chance to write about them, so they get no score.  If you haven't heard them yet, allow me to explain these number ones thusly:
    • Belinda Carlisle "Heaven is a Place on Earth"
      • A sappy pop tune about love and heaven and how those things are available here on Earth for the low low price of your eternal soul.  I think.
    • Rick Dees and his Cast of Idiots "Disco Duck"
      • This song totally refutes everything Belinda just told you.  There is no love and no heaven.  We're all doomed to live in this world which is dark and full of musical awfulness that nobody can possibly survive.  Disco.  Disco ducks.  What else can I tell you that you don't already know.  Be afraid.

We are all doomed


Anyway, let's move on to the ratings.  Per pure, Google calculated click-throughs, here are the ten most popular posts I provided.
  1. Billy Joel "We Didn't Start the Fire"
  2. TLC "No Scrubs"
  3. Ricky Martin "Livin' La Vida Loca"
  4. Survivor "Eye of the Tiger"
  5. Dave Seville and The Chimpmunks "The Chipmunk Song"
  6. Beck "Loser"
  7. The Monkees "I'm a Believer"
  8. Starship "We Built this City"
  9. Vanilla Ice "Ice Ice Baby"
  10. Men at Work "Down Under"
Some thoughts:
-Billy was way ahead on my chart.  Perhaps Dan and Henry over at the Firestarters Pod helped fuel the excitement and runaway success of Mr Brinkley's history lesson.

-Ricky Martin held the top spot for quite a while.  It's also one of the favorite things I wrote, as it made me laugh frequently in putting it together.  Guess I'm a scrub after all.

-The most detested song on the pod is my fifth most-read entry.  Proving once and for all, um, reading is for saps.  Chimpmunk-lovin' saps.

-As bad luck would have it, I wrote the Monkees column just after Peter had passed away.  It's one of the few times when I actually had something nice and heartfelt to say about a band rather than just making dumb jokes.  I don't know what I was thinking.

-There's been a lot of Australia content for a music blog from some guy in Oregon.  Seriously, look back.  Men at Work owes me a meat pie. 

And, just as Dillon did, here are the five least read posts of the past year.  Buckle your failure belts tight.
  1. A-ha "Take on Me"
  2. (tie) Peter Gabriel "Sledgehammer" and Hole "Celebrity Skin" and Outkast "Ms Jackson"
  3. The Beach Boys "Kokomo"
Some thoughts:
-Number one is a pretty decent song, but in re-reading my post, yeah, I kind of phoned that one in.  I understand the low tally.  No argument from me.

-In "Sledgehammer", I did something that I hoped someone would mention to me.  Of course, getting that mention would only occur if someone(s) had actually read the piece.  Oh well.  To spoil the fun surprise (if you're still planning on going back to last August to read this post, um, you're more of a procrastinator than I am), take a look at the list of bawdy lyrics I reprinted from the song.  Among them, I stuck in the chorus from Naughty by Nature's magnum opus "O.P.P."  I didn't footnote it or call it out.  I just put it in there, for me.  This is the type of absurd stuff that makes me laugh and laugh.  It also explains why nobody reads this stupid blog.

-Speaking of stupid, "Kokomo".  Really deserves a place in the bottom five.  What a stinker.

So, there you have it!  A year, almost, sort of.  

And now, for a moment of utmost sincerity.  To anyone who has taken the time to read any of the inane babble I've put up on these www's, I can only offer you the humblest thanks.  It's an honor for me when people take the time that could otherwise be used on fantasy football or cat memes or twitter feuds and use a piece of it to scan my words for some entertainment/funny/typos.  Really, you guys are just the best.  This blog is just meant to be an enjoyable and occasional side-hobby, and I'm extremely pleased when it gets an eyeball or two.  I appreciate y'all tons and tons!

Finally, a special shout out to the man who kicked this whole number one empire-thing into gear.  Dillon has done a great job with his show, putting out some amazing material on a weekly basis.  Thanks to him for allowing me to ride the coattails along the way.  If you haven't yet, go out and give the Single File a listen or twelve.  Season two starts soon.

Yep, for both of us.

Anywho, thanks again, and allow me to leave you with you the first thing I wrote for this enterprise nearly twelve months ago.

"Here's the problem with poetry."

Yeah, now the failure makes complete sense. 

Totally worth it!

And, as always, turn down your lights (where applicable)

Sunday, July 7, 2019

4 / 4 Time (Australia Edition)

Back in May, I took a deep breath and retreated to the comforting warmth that is covering four songs in one post.  Such extravagance provides me with additional hours of available nothingness that otherwise would have been wasted on dealies like "thinking" or "writing".  Pfft, nuts to those things. 

At the time, I claimed this modified blog style was necessary due to being busy. Super busy.  Surely, you know that's a lie.   

You don't?  That's adorable.

Fact is, nothing feels quite as soothing as choosing laziness and pretending it is for aesthetic reasons.  In fact, for reference, I like to picture the following conversation as a hopeful goal:

ME - "Hello literary agent.  I would like to write a book about doing absolutely nothing except eating Mexican food and occasionally getting up to drink a beer or pet a dog.  I will do this for somewhere between twelve months to the rest of my life, and will write about my experiences as the mood strikes (probably only when tacos/alcohol/pooch are out of reach)."

AGENT - "Brilliant!  When can you start?"

ME - "That's the best part, I already have."

Someday, my friends, someday.

Until then, I'll only be able to engage in such a detached approach to life when real-world obligations force my unmotivated hand.  Moments such as...this week!  

You see, I just returned from traipsing about the underneathy bit of the planet.  And, boy, are my traipses tired!  Nearly fourteen days in Australia (which is about twenty with the exchange rate) wore me out.  However, the adventure has presented another opportunity to talk of NOPR selections in bulk.  So, with a little bit of down under-inspiration, and some good ol' American blog technology, I'll make a futile attempt to try and catch the runaway beer truck that is the Single File.  

Thus, let's make like Crocodile Dundee and call this a knife.  Or, yeah, whatever.

*****The Doobie Brothers, "What a Fool Believes"*****
Number One, April, 1979

Australian equivalent - The Flat White

So, here's a nugget I learned; drip coffee isn't a thing in Australia.  Nobody, either at home nor in coffee shops, makes coffee in such a way.  I can only assume this is because of the whole being-upside-down-all-the-time thing.  Water doesn't drip up, right?  Sounds logical.

Instead of caffeinating like us in such an Isaac Newtonion way, they make the drink using other methods.  And, because of this, you can't just go somewhere and order a "coffee".  There's not really such an item available.  Even worse, though, is that there aren't any massive/never ending pots of bitter energy percolating at breakfast restaurants.  Instead, you have to order an oddly named coffee creation to get one (only one?!?!?) cup of joe (not joey, to be clear).  That's all you get.  To hell with your addiction!

I settled into this crazy world and picked my obligatory go-to.  No long black for me, I'm apparently a flat white guy.  That's right, now you know.  Adjust your scorn/praise accordingly.

Now, how does this link up with the Doobie Brothers?  Well here is the Doob's chorus from this particular number one:

But what a fool believes, he sees
No wise man has the power to reason away
What seems to be
Is always better than nothing
Than nothing at all.

See?  Strangely applicable to my coffee escapade.  Perhaps I'm a fool for believing that another country half a world away would give me my morning boost in the exact same manner as I get it at home.  But, really, would it have been so difficult for them to brew in our style?  We're not talking about a complex process here, just grind and strain the silly plant through a filter.  Easy!  I don't get it, Aussies.  However, in the end, as the bros say it was better than nothing at all.

Wouldn't be a proper post without a Simpsons image

*****The Offspring, "Come Out and Play"*****
Number One (Modern Rock), July, 1994

Australian Equivalent - kangaroo skewers

Ya see, guys, Offspring.  SPRING!

Kangaroos jump a lot.  You might say they have SPRING in their legs!

Boom.  Nailed it.

I could really end this mini-post (and my writing career) with such untouchable brilliance, but I will continue.  You're welcome.

Anyway, I did get the chance to munch on some roo meat during my trip.  I know some people might be taken aback by eating a critter with long ears and a pouch, but I found it pretty tasty.  And, honestly, I'll tuck a fork into pretty much any animal that's placed on a plate in front of me.  Cute, ugly, hairy, stinky, bring them all on.

Speaking of, The Offspring guys clearly embraced this mentality in their music.  Rock, punk, rap, SoCal scene, bad hair, they definitely approached the musical table with open minds and ready appetites.  Was it all good?  No.  However, they took chances.  That's something.

Sad that they didn't do any hip hop though.  Really sad.

I typed "kanagaroo" and "hip hop" into google images.  This.

*****Lil Nas X, "Old Town Road"*****
Number One, April, 2019

Australian Equivalent - Bundaberg Rum

This artist has one of the biggest hits of all-time, and he's not old enough to legally drink in this country.

Jeez I feel old.

Fortunately(?) for him, he can drink the boozy-booze in the land down under.  The legal age is eighteen in those parts rather than twenty-one as it is up here.  Not sure why the youngers are allowed there.  Perhaps it's the heat.  Or the koalas.  Or just plain, dumb logic.

I mean, it's pretty ludicrous that 18-20 year olds can get busted for alcohol here.  It isn't a deterrent to drinking, it just forces them to consume in non-business places like parks and cars and doghouses (don't ask).  That means they ingest more and potentially cause themselves and others more harm.

So, the land founded by criminals has a more sensible policy towards booze (and many other vices) than the one founded by puritans.  Huh, color me utterly un-shocked.

Oh, and you can't even get Bundaberg rum in the states!  Seriously, what is wrong with this country?

Ah, yes, I remember now.  That guy.  Thanks for the reminder.  So glad to be home.

Pre-made cocktails in cans.  Come on USA!

*****Eminem, "Lose Yourself"*****
Number One, November, 1994

Australian Equivalent - Tim Tams

If you've never eaten a Tim Tam, I'm sorry for your loss.  They are chocolatey biscuits of awesomeness, and they should be available everywhere immediately starting right this second.

And, truthfully, I feel that's what Eminem was actually talking about in this chart-topper.  Here's the main part of the tune to back up my claim:

You better lose yourself in the music, the moment
You own it, you better never let it go
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime you better

The original version had replaced the word "music" with "bite-sized snack".  Yup.  I know!  Do you see the connection now?

Thought so.  This pasty Detroit rapper knows all about the tasty that's underneath said plastic wrapper.

We all live in the same world after all.  When it comes right down to it, there's not much difference between the states and Australia.  It was a lovely place to visit, and I'm sure The Doobie Brothers, The Offspring, Lil Nas X, and Eminem would all echo my sentiment.  Because if there's something that brings together 70's rockers, 90's punks, teenage hitmakers and legendary rappers, it' blogpost.

Yeah.  That's really the only thing.

Still, thanks Australia, it was fun.  But, honestly, fix your damn coffee.  Sheesh.

Can confirm.  But their insides are delightful!

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.

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

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!


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.


*****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.


*****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.


*****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?


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 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>

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:'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.

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.