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, February 10, 2019

TLC "No Scrubs"

*****Number One, April, 1999*****

(Don't post a pic of the show Scrubs)
(Don't post a pic of the show Scrubs)
(Don't post...)

Wha?  Was I typing that out loud?!?  Oh, jeez, that's so very embarrassing.  Now you know where my brain thingy goes first, and just what sort of microscopic-level link I'm willing to exploit to fill content on this blog.

I mean, yes, the name of the song and that cheezy sitcom are virtually the same.  Thus, it is the easiest, shortest path to an image I could possibly take here.  So it would be perfectly understandable (if tremendously lazy) for me to post a gif here of Zach Braff or the guy from Office Space or whatever, despite literally no other connection to this week's tune.

But would it?  Maybe I can find something, anything, to pair this late nineties hit and 2K comedy show.  Perhaps there might be a wormhole we can travel down to find a story that's amazing and shocking and...

No.  Full stop.

Unless!  How about we take a look one more time and...

No.  Nothing.  Sigh.

Alright, fine, fair enough.  I'm going to take responsibility here to be better.  We're not gonna go lowest common denominator.  Instead, let's chat just about TLC's chart topper and give it the deep-study it deserves.  It's a good song!

How 'bout we start with the lyrics?  That seems like a serious, thoughtful, not shortcutty thing to do.  Right, so:

Verse 1
A scrub is a guy that thinks he's fly
And is also known as a Buster

Hang on.

I admit, I have a problem

Look, music can touch us in a great many ways.  Inspiration, sadness, belonging, longing, hope, and countless other feelings can come from the songs we listen to.  When you hear a tune, the way you identify with it and process it is an entirely personal process.  And, the end result is an entry within your mental database that is completely unique with a fully formed sense of opinion.

And in addition to that, whenever a random moment brushes up against that bit of lyric, a connection is born.  The tune becomes suddenly attached to a bunch of other pieces from that person's life.  The references can generate and multiply and go on and on for just one release.  It's an amazing thing, really.

Why do I feel compelled to mention the above?  Because "No Scrubs", and to be honest, TLC as a whole, holds absolutely no spot in my noggin.  None.

Pretty much every review of the band and this song is positive, and I totally can see why.  They had a great sound and put out a handful of clever and catchy releases which were highly regarded.  Their approach and look set them apart from the rest of the late nineties scene.  It's really easy to listen to this week's top hit and immediately think, yeah, I see why this was so popular.  That definitely isn't something that can be said for every number one we've been dealt.

However, all that said, I've got nothing here.  I existed in a totally separate world from this song as I drunkenly stumbled through my twenties.  It didn't make an impact on me in any way.  And, hearing it now, I have to say, well, nothing has changed.

My head pockets are empty.

Scrub-like behavior?

No disrespect is intended here at all.  Although, as I ruminate a bit more, I do have to wonder why I'm not getting some sort of feeling listening to this band.  I mean, we've had artists like Ke$ha and Donovan on our list so far.  Neither of their hits were pointed in my direction, but both of them stimulated some sort of reaction, whether it be amusement or downright contempt (dumb, stupid Superman).  TLC just isn't bringing any sort of thing out of me.  I wonder...

Hmm, I just...wait...hmm...


No, don't say it. DON'T SAY IT!!!

Am I...a scrub?  Is that why I don't care about this song?  What the hell is going on here, TLC?  My god.

Oh great, now I did this.  Maybe I am a scrub!

We need to find a computer or something to figure this out.  This is serious!  Isn't there some kind of test or quiz or exam I can take to figure this out?!?!  Somehow I need to be evaluated!

Are you a scrub?
PART I - Give yourself one scrub point for each of the following if you;
  • Think you're fly
  • Talk about what you want
  • Sit on your broke ass
  • Hang out the passenger side of your best friend's ride trying to holler
Hoo boy.  Um, I don't think I'm fly.  I do talk about what I want, though that usually only concerns burritos and beer.  And I can afford those, thank you very much.  Regarding the last item, let's see, best friend, hanging your head out a dog is a scrub!  Damn Ollie!  I never knew.  I'm in the clear, but my furry friend clearly needs a talking to.  SCRUB POINTS - ONE

PART II - Give yourself two scrub points for each of the following chorus items, if you;
  • Don't have a car and you're walking
  • Live at home with your mamma
  • Have a shorty but don't show love
  • Wanna get with TLC but have no money
Ok, I have a car AND I don't live with my mamma.  Plus, as established above, my ass is positively fixed with beer and burrito cash.  Now, do I have a shorty?  Pulease.  Look how long this blog entry is!  That's right, they don't call that one writer guy Longfellow for no reason.  Well, it's because his name is Longfellow.  That's a reason!!!  SCRUB POINTS - NONE

TOTAL SCRUB SCORE - 8.33% (1 of 12 possible points)

Whew, I think I'm safe.  Guess I'll do some hollerin'.  I'm sure it will be well received.  Oh ladies...

Yikes, I'm a scrub now, aren't I?  

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Michael Damian "Rock On"

******Number One, June, 1989*****

This week's number one tune is unusual in that it gained fame two separate times, and in the hands of two different artists. 

Originally, in 1973, famed British singer and actor David Essex released it.  Apparently, the people thought that song the bee's knees, and before you knew it, Bob's your uncle, it became the ace of the UK charts.  Clearly folks thought it brilliant, and there's no doubt Mr Essex felt well chuffed with the experience.

FYI, I may have pilfered some of those terms.  Bollocks.

Every Brit is snickering at this right now.  If only they were classy like us.

Sixteen years after "Rock On" initially left people gobsmacked and knackered, American Michael Damian took a turn, recording and releasing his own version.  And, in doing so, he did what mister knickers couldn't quite do; reach number one in the states.  USA!  USA!  USA!

See, this is why they're Brexiting and we're not. 

I'm pretty sure that's the reason.  I mean, uh, I guess it is.  Ok, I don't know for sure.  Brexit sounds really bad though, right?  Why are they doing it?  Does it have something to do with their elected leader being a racist and ignorant circus peanut?  Because, well, uh, that's a bit of a problem, at least on our side of the Atlantic.  So, wait, who's worse off?

Sigh, let's call it a draw.  A big, fat, imminently depressing draw.

Kirk Van Houten is the metaphor for politics in 2019.  Yikes. 

In looking a bit deeper at both singers, it became apparent there are a lot of similarities between them.  Aside from getting a lot of airplay for the same song, they also follow somewhat similar career trajectories.

Screen Things
David Essex starred in the movie That'll Be the Day alongside rock luminaries Ringo Starr and Keith Moon.  Michael Damian worked in soap opera The Young and the Restless for twelve years.  Both things are pretty cool.  I mean, yeah, The Beatles and The Who are all-timers.  But were there any long lost twins?  Separated-at-birth murder fantasies?  The relish.  The RELISH!  Yeah, thought not. 

Stage Things
David appeared in the West End onstage in Evita, while Michael did  Joseph and the Amazing Technicolar Dreamcoat on Broadway.  Both impressive achievements.  Or, so I'm told.  I'm not great with musical knowledge.  And, to be honest, I'm still bummed that those songs Luke Skywalker sing weren't really in Guys and Dolls.  What a waste.

Cool Things
The fine sir Essex was named "Officer of the Order of the British Empire", which seems like a pretty big deal.  How can Mr Damian compete with that?  Oh, just by marrying the daughter of James Best. 

That's right, THE JAMES BEST!

Who's that you ask?  Well, you stupid millennial, just Rosco P Coltraine, the greatest cop this side of Barney Fife.

Get those Duke boys!  Their car doors don't even work.

So, yeah, winner winner, American dinner.

But, we don't need to stop there.  Surprisingly, there's even more oddly-connected awesomeness than the remarkableness of the above.  This song has lived on (or rocked on, I suppose I should say) in many other ways. 

Musically, it has a lengthy history with a multitude of other artists doing their own versions.  Def Leppard, Smashing Pumpkins, Blondie, even Toni Basil(!) have taken turns rocking on in their own distinguished way. 

It has also been used in a wide range of flicks, from the horror movie The Devil's Rejects to the seldom-seen yet remarkably-casted comedy Dick (Will Ferrell, Harry Shearer, Ryan Reynolds, and TWO Kids in the Hall!).  The Sopranos also shoehorned it into a particular episode.

And, then, there are the Corey's

There's a lot that can be said about those guys, more than we have time for today.  Suffice it to say, this week's song certainly had its greatest impact at about the same time they did.  And, getting to include them in the same post as a Beatle and a Deadpool pretty much sums up popular culture, I think.

Before starting this post, I figured that I'd spend most of the writing about Dream a Little Dream, the Corey's film that helped carry this song to number one.  Instead, I got wrapped up in the singers themselves, and what connections a number one hit can sometimes forge.  It was a fun path to take, and somewhat interesting, I think.  However, I am slightly disappointed in omitting a discussion of the movie.

You see, I never saw Dream a Little Dream, and I really had no idea what it was about.  I assumed, based on the attractive girl on the film's poster, that this was some sort of teenage John Hughes-esque romantic comedy.  And then, I read the film's description.


So, instead of rating "Rock On" or Michael Damian or David Essex or anything else, I'm going to end today's rambling by pasting just the first paragraph from the Wikpedia entry of this movie.  It's bizarre and all over the place.  And, in a way, it represents the twists and turns songs can take after it leaves the hands of its creator.  I like that.  And, I've really got to see this movie.  It truly sounds like the bee's knees.

"Bobby Keller (Corey Feldman) is a slacker high school student who, while running through a short cut through a backyard in his neighborhood one night, collides with Lainie Diamond (Meredith Salenger), over whom Bobby has recently been obsessing. During the collision, elderly professor Coleman Ettinger (Jason Robards) is performing a meditation exercise in the yard with his wife Gena (Piper Laurie), theorizing that if he and his wife can enter a meditative alpha state together voluntarily, they will be able to live together forever. However, just as the Ettingers are on the verge of completing their meditation experiment, the teenagers' collision renders both teens unconscious, enacting a type of body switch between the four characters"

Yeah.  Rock on indeed.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Poison "Every Rose Has Its Thorn"

*****Number One, December, 1988*****

Well, lessee, should I treat this song seriously?

When a reaper in a sun hat sings your lyrics, you've really made it 

Hmm, guess not.  And, how could I, really?  Anyone who's heard this song knows that it oozed forth from the Play-Doh cheese mines into a perfectly formed chunk of overwrought inanity.  It is a total package of commercialism (for the 90's) and was without a doubt a record label's absolute ideal of what a power ballad should look like.  Every company in the business sought out the special kind of tune that could spread its ooze over onto as many platforms as possible.  That's how you make piles and piles of money, of course.  You need a hit that ticks all the boxes.

This rose is that white whale.

And the television and radio programmers of the day made sure to stick the smelly fish (it's a mammal) into our face at every possible opportunity.  Just pick a station and it was there.
  • Rock? Well yeah, it's a metal band!
  • Country?  Yeehaw!  He's wearing a hat, y'all!
  • Pop?  Hear those heartfelt lyrics, it's about love!
  • Adult Contemporary?  Uh, well, they sort of look like Michael Bolton!
It was relentless.  People kept propping this up as a good song instead of what it actually was, a charmless mockery of what music, especially acoustic music, can be.  They just pummeled us.  

You think there's no soul in today's music?  No talented bands performing from the heart?  Just listen to the ennui bursting forth from these lyrics.  These guys get it.  I mean, every cowboy really does sing a sad, sad song.  This is real life!  Plus, look at how earnest these men are. 

True, you don't get this disheveled unless you are in touch with your emotions.  Or, perhaps, drugs.

When the grocery store runs out of peroxide AND Coors Light

Ok, probably drugs.

Because, of course, we were also made to see the accompanying video half a kajillion times.  MTV anointed it our new god, so we prayed until the next savior was chosen.  It was a dark time.


So, I just realized how much I don't like this song.  You likely figured that out, uh, a little bit earlier.

I'm somewhat surprised, in all honesty, about my reaction to "Every Rose".  The song is derpy, without a doubt, and really doesn't hold up at all.  But, it never agitated me to such an extent previously.

I wonder why.  We should figure out why.

If only there was some retro-smart super computer that can help us understand such phenomena.

Hey guys, the NOPR wants to know if my refrigerator is running?!

Prior to this week, twenty-five chart-toppers have been spat out by our friendly neighborhood hit machine.  The releases spanned a half-century of music and come from several different genres.  Some of them were staples of my youth (note to self, if I ever become a blues musician, choose name Youth Staples), while others had danced outside my regular listening zone.

What I'm curious about now is if/how researching and writing the weekly post has affected my opinion of each tune.  I'm going to break this down as simply as I can.  Below, the songs are split up into three outputs; Like it More now (>), Like it Less Now (<), or Pretty Much the Same (=).  The "Pretty Much" category also covers hits I hadn't heard until I did that week's post.

It's all about immediate reactions here.  I will scan the name of every past entry and paste their spot in line below.  Let's get computerized!
  • >
    • EMF, Men at Work, Coolio, 
  • <
    • Robert Palmer, Van Halen, The Beach Boys, Dire Straits, Peter Gabriel, The Doors
  • =
    • Montell Jordon, Vanilla Ice, Starship, Mark Ronson, The Chipmunks, Guns N Roses, Ricky Martin, The Bangles, A-ha, Outkast, Donovan, Robin Thicke, Wham, Ke$ha, Kris Kross, Hole
Curious.  Based on this, with each new release, there's about a 10% chance I'll like it more after digging in, and a 25% chance the dislike will grow.  And, more interestingly (at least to me), is the half-dozen names that I placed in the "less-than" section.  I don't think it would be too outside the realm of fairness to quantify them all under the same heading.

Middle of the road, mass-appeal songs by musicians who were massively famous.

Arena Rock, basically.

I'm certainly not intending to dismiss the overall talent of this group with these comments.  The Beach Boys, Van Halen, and Peter Gabriel have all released amazing and remarkable work.  But, for those specific number ones that we covered, meh.  That seems to be a common thread through theses tunes.  They've been overplayed because of the band's success, not the song's greatness.  Now, many years later, that becomes easier and easier to see.

Oh, and Poison?  Yeah, welcome to minus-land.

Barely apropos, Bob Stewart, owner of a -257 plus/minus, and a great salad.

So, what did we learn?

Does every rose really have a thorn?  I'm no botanist, but I can tell you that I really don't care.  This song, and this band overall, was essentially a one-hit wonder that overstayed their welcome.  They parlayed a basic structure and some elementary school-level concepts (every night has its dawn, ooh) into fame and STD's, both of which will insure itchy remembrances for years and years and years.

Poison's entire persona was built around the dire desire to be famous.  This was first, second, and third to them.  The music just happened to be a way into the party.  I don't be-grudge them this.  But, that doesn't mean we need to give them credit when none is due.  This tune is ready to be laid to rest and forgotten.  And, I'm certainly ready, willing, and able to be the one to place a single rose on the grave. 

And, yes, it will be thorny.  Trust me.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

EMF "Unbelievable"

*****Number One, July, 1991*****

This week, I had the honor and good fortune of going on the Single File Podcast and spending my two cents dispensing early nineties knowledge.  It's a subject I'm very qualified to have input on.  I mean, I was alive then, and nothing says expertise like simply being a conscious human being while a thing is happening.  Seems to be all it takes, if the comments section of every single Internet post ever is to be believed.

Anyway, Single File host Dillon and I chatted away about the fun surprise of an out-of-nowhere chart-topper, the rise of a new form of music, and ginger beer.  All in all, a good time was had by all (this includes you when you listen, thank you very much).

As prep for the podcast, we both did our due diligence by googling with abandon and reading up on whatever pieces of content floated to the top.  And, while these bits and bobs were sufficient to pack a 30+ minute conversation, there wasn't much left on the cutting room floor.  The upside of researching a one-hit wonder is that there's always a unique story.  The downside is that, sometimes, the tale doesn't have a lot of twists and turns.

Regarding EMF, we came to the conclusion that their rocket-ride to the summit was about as straight-lined a trip that one could ever expect.  It followed the three basic steps;
  1. Friends in a small town got together to play music they liked.
  2. After a little while, some random assortment of intentional and accidental factors combine into the perfect storm that takes their first release all the way to number one
  3. The song fades, the band keeps playing for a few years, eventually returning to their prior level of fame
It's not a sad story, I think.  I presume they enjoyed the trip and picked up some excessively large checks along the way.  Just because you're not on top forever doesn't make it an unhappy ending.

And that's about it.  There's really nothing much else that can be said about this band or song.  

Oh, well, except for one thing, I guess.


No, wait, not that kind of cheese.  Besides, we talked about that Vanilla fella last week.

(And, as an extra besides, I really don't know what the hell is going on in that picture.)

To clarify, during the pod discussion, we brought up the fact that EMF's lone hit has been used in a plethora of places since its release.  We've heard it in countless films, tv shows, and commercials.  Yet, the most memorable user of this song might have been the corporate behemoth Kraft.  In an amazingly brilliant conceit, they grabbed hold of this little ditty and turned it into gold.  Er, yellow gold.  Erm, um, I mean yellow cheese.  They released a product called Cheese Crumbles and converted this week's tune into a rallying cry that was, ahem...Crumbelievable!

That's right, you heard me.  Crumbelievable.

Well, what would you do if you were charged with marketing stale cubes of bland dairy product?  Yup, thought so.  You'd take some previously popular earworm and re-work it to appeal to the yawning maw of millions of unwashed masses.  Want the same old crap in a new shape?  Come on down!  Oh, and hand this check to the EMF boys along the way.

So what, you say?  That's capitalism, right?  Oh, it is, and that's just swell.  However, I have a problem here.  No, not with the use of this song to sell cheese.  Instead, I'm bothered by the fact that no other single-hitter-sourced topper from the year in question has been used in a similar manner.  That is something that needs to change.


The worst children's song ever
Right, so, 1991.  There were twenty-six songs (excluding EMF) that perched atop the Billboard charts during that particular year.

Of those, half were released by artists you've probably heard of.  Madonna, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Gloria Estefan, Paula Abdul, Bryan Adams, Michael Bolton, Michael Jackson, and Prince.  Wow, that is a murderers row of pop stardom, isn't it?  All these folks achieved ridiculous levels of fame and multiple platinum recordings.  Thus, they really don't need my support, financially.  Sorry folks, you shouldn't have tried so hard.

In addition, several other slightly less prolific musicians also scored more than just a solo number one in '91.  Among them, Wilson Phillips, Amy Grant, Roxette, and Color Me Badd (!?!) all hit the top multiple times.

This means we've...

Wait, Color Me Badd?!?!?!?!  Sorry, no, that's a screed for another day. 

This means, after excluding all of the above, we've got (re-checking my calculator) nine perfect marketing schemes to create and promote.  

Below is that list of artists with their corresponding number one smash.  Beneath each entry is a mega-million marketing ploy that will surely make them ten times wealthier than everyone on Shark Tank put together.  Especially that bald guy with the attitude.  Screw that guy!

Ok, I think I can do this.  Who's ready to buy some product?

January 26 - February 2 / Surface / "The First Time" 
-I don't remember this tune at all, but when the biggest name in computers creates a product named after your band, I think there's synergy to be had.  Actual line from this song is "The first time I looked into your eyes I cried."  That's sickeningly saccharine, unless of course you're referring to the new Microsoft Surface tablet.  The first time you look at its screen, you'll cry!

February 9-16 / C&C Music Factory / "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)" 
-So many options!  But, I'm going with pants.  Why?  Leslie Knope (wait for the end).  She understands how to re-purpose a song!

March 23 / Timmy T / "One More Try" 
-Let's take one of the wimpiest songs ever made and use it to sell what is perhaps the most violent sport out there.  I can see a bunch of beefy and bloody Aussie Rugby dudes singing this down at the local pub, cheering their side on to one more try.  Come on, you can't simply sing Down Under over and over.

April 13 / Londonbeat / "I've Been Thinking About You" 
-Has anyone tried to remake Scanners yet?  Cause this would be awesome to use in a teaser trailer.

May 18 / Hi-Five / "I Like The Way (The Kissing Game)" 
-Um, the next Justice League flick?

Who wants to start the kissing game?  Go team justice!

June 8 / Extreme / "More Than Words" 

-I feel that I must recuse myself from this one, given I was a huge fan of this band at the time (despite not really liking this song at all).  Instead, we'll just give a shout out to Weird Al.  He's always worthy of more press.

October 5 / Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch / "Good Vibrations" 
-Clearly, he doesn't have time for this.  Or anything else.  Golf in 30 minutes?  

November 2 / Karyn White / "Romantic" 
-Per Wikipedia, she lives in Rockin California, which is near my parents.  They have a favorite barbecue restaurant that's in Rocklin.  So, there you go.  Yes, I'm reaching at this point.

November 30 / P.M. Dawn / "Set Adrift on Memory Bliss" 
-Remember, this song is basically Spandau Ballet's "True" with different lyrics.  So, we're promoting the ballet.  And, oh, what the heck, let's use it for Spandau as well.  Seems like a nice place to bliss out.

Wait, what was this week's entry about?  Oh yeah, EMF.  Hmm, how can I put a clever yet applicable bow on this never ending blog post.  Let's see...

I'm donebelievable.

Nailed it.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Vanilla Ice "Ice Ice Baby"

*****Number One, November, 1990*****

Well, this one oughta be, uh...something.  Where on earth do we begin with this guy?

I'd rather hear Clint Howard rap, to be honest

Right, so Vanilla Ice.  Hooboy.  If you're of a certain age, you definitely are familiar with him.  He reigned supreme in the early nineties in a slew of crap-tacular ways.  Annoying and derivative music?  Check.  Awful and insipid movies?  Double check.  Ridiculous and embarrasing fashion choices?

I'm gonna say check and mate.

So, despite an immense and obvious lack of talent, how did he earn this opportunity to punish us all in so very many ways?  Oh, right, he ripped off two of the most talented artists in rock history.  This vanilla being grabbed hold of a classic tune by Queen and David Bowie and spread his low-grade dairy all over the base line.  And then, as a bonus, he lied about it, claiming "Under Pressure" and his stinky ripoff were two different songs.

And yet, people still bought his music by the metric ton.  Why? 

Ah yes, that's the reason.  Thanks for the reminder and good cheer, Mr Helmet.

Depressing, no? 

There is a lot more that be can hashed out about this fraud.  However, I'm going to stop right here, as all of this has already been covered.  Many, many times, the depth of this flunkie's ineptness has been plumbed and revealed.  It doesn't really need to be spoken of again here on this blog, to be honest.  Thus, instead, we're going to take a bit of a different path in our coverage of this week's number one hit.  And, while we're at it, have a little fun with this turd.

A few weeks back, the equally popular if somewhat less grating "Livin' la Vida Loca" had been spat out by our beloved NOPR.  In discussing that release, I had taken the song's lyrics through the international wood chipper that is Google translate.  Ricky Martin's international sensation got flipped again and again and again in a sort-of linguists version of the telephone game.  This resulted in something slightly less coherent (if more enthralling) than the original. 

I mean, with all due respect to Ricky, THESE are lyrics;

Your lips are red red
And the color of the skin is the carpet

Wow, so intense!

This time, we're going to take a somewhat similar tract to discovery.  Only instead of using languages that most folks would quantify as, say, "real", it's going to be a bit different.  Mr Ice is finally going to get the lyrics attributed to him that he truly deserves.

Oh yes, this is about to get weird.

Very recently, I stumbled upon a site called Fun Translations.  This clever distraction allows for use of their translator engine which works, much like most devices, to alter words from one language to another.  But, the end result options are a tad unusual. 

For example, here we have the less-than-stellar opening verse of "Ice Ice Baby"
Yo VIP, let's kick it!

A little weak sauce, right?  So instead, let's see how it reads in the mighty tongue of Klingon!
Yo VIP, let's pup 'oh!

I don't know about you, but only now am I truly ready to pup 'oh.  Shall we move forward?

Yes, yes we shall.  And, because the result of this experiment may be the most important thing ever done ever, I'm presenting in its entirety this week's number one song.  Please enjoy, and karaoke responsibly.

Verse 1 (in pirate)
Alright belay / collaborate and listen
Ice be back with me brand new invention
Somethin' grabs a hold o' me tightly
Then I flow that a harpoon daily and nightly
Will it e'er belay? / Yo, I dern't be knowin'
Turn off th' lights and I'll glow
To th' extreme, I rock a mic like a vandal
Light up a stage, and wax a chump like a candle

Verse 2 (in Shakespeare)
Dance / Bum drive the speaker yond booms
I'm killin' they brain like a poisonous mushrump
Deadly, at which hour I playeth a dope melody
Aught less yond the most wondrous is a felony
Love't or leaveth't / thee better gain way
Thee better did hit bull's eye / the peat don't playeth
If't be true thither wast a problem / yo I'll solve't
Check out the hook while mine DJ revolves 't

Verse 3 (in Yodish)
Jumping with the bass kicked in, now the party is
Pumpin' quick to the point, the fingers are
Crazy when I hear a cymbal and a hi hat with a souped up tempo
I'm on a roll and it's time to solo rollin in my 5, to the point no faking
I'm cooking mc's like a pound of bacon burning them if they're not quick and nimble I go
The dark side I sense in you!
Herh herh herh herh!  Hi did you stop, 
O with my ragtop down so my hair can blow the girlies on standby waving just to say?
No, by kept pursuing to the next stop 
I busted a left and I'm heading to the next block
That block was dead, I just drove

Verse 4 (in Jive)
Yo so's ah' continued t'a' Beachfront Ave / Girls wuz hot wearin' less dan bikinis
Rock dude lovers drivin' Lambo'ghini / 'cause I'm out gettin' mine
Shay wid some gauge and Vanilla wid som nine / Ready fo' de chumps on de wall
De chumps are actin' ill a'cuz der're so's full uh eight balls / Gunshots ranged out likes some bell
I grabbed mah' nine / All ah' hread wuz shells fallin' on de concrete real fast
Jumped in mah' car, slammed on de gas / Bumpa' t'bumpa' de avenue's packed
I'm tryin' t'get away befo'e da damn Buckwheaters Buckwheat Police on de scene
You's know whut ah' mean / Dey passed me waaay down, confronted all de dope fiends
If dere wuz some problem, yo I'll solve it / Check out da damn hook while mah' DJ revolves it

Verse 5 (in Valley Girl)
Take heed, man, 'cause I'm a lyrical poet / Miami's on thuh scene just in case you didn't know it
My town, like that created all thuh bass sound / Enough to shake and kick holes in thuh ground
'Cause my style's like a chemical spill / Feasible rhymes that you can vision and feel
Conducted and formed / Like, ya know, this is a hell of a concept
Us guys make it hype and you wanna to step with like, ya know
This Shay plays on thuh fade, like slice it like a ninja
Cut like a razor blade so fast / Other DJ's say, like, wow, damn
If my rhyme was ya know, like, a drug, I'd seel it by thuh gram
Keep my composure when it's time to get loose / Magnetized by thuh mic while I kick my juice
If like, there was a problem / Yo, man I'll solve it
Oh wow!  
Check out thuh hook while my DJ revolves it.

Chorus (in Groot)
I am Groot
I am Groot
I am Groot
I am Groot

Yo man, let's get out of here.

Word to your mother.  Er, raccoon

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Montell Jordon "This is how we do it"

*****Number One, April, 1995*****

A couple of weeks ago, we dissected the 2015 ultra-hit single, "UpTown Funk!"  It was an eye-opening process, and not just because I learned that there was an actual artist person named "Mark Ronson."  I know, seriously!  Man, musicians have some funny names.

And, in addition to the oddity that is the Ronson-ness, another surprising aspect came to light.  That being, my knowledge of the song itself.  Or, more accurately, lack of knowledge.

Because that song exploded so fiercely, parts of it ended up in pretty much every corner and crack of media broadcast.  Sports events, commercials, movie trailers, the tune couldn't be avoided.  When that sort of thing happens, I just assume that some parts of it get into your system.  They almost have to.  And yet, with that particular release, I only absorbed one line from the whole damn thing.

Sadly, Sandra won't be able to believe anyone.  Not even Mark Ronson

I really thought that through sheer osmosis, I would have picked up at least half the lyrics of that number one smash.  But, no, nothing of the sort.  It was a bit of a shock, to be honest.  This got me to thinking about the whole list of singles the Single File podcast has kicked down so far, and how they stack up from this perspective.

To date, we've taken on twenty-two songs.  These hits have ranged from ones I'd never heard to others that have been burned into my brain for eternity by MTV.  It's an eclectic mix for sure.  But, this week, we're wanting to figure out something very particular about this group. That is, upon mention of each song, how many lyrics come to mind.

That's right, it's time to punch some buttons on the NOPR and see what shakes loose.

For today's entry, we're using this highly complicated technology to mine the depths of my insides.  This info we seek is very specific to my experience only.  But, uh, how can this music-sorting podcasting super computer help process something so intrinsic as one person's memory?  Is it really able to access this kind of data and sort it by such a subjective metric?

Come on, the NOPR can do lots of things!

Honestly, it's not really running at full capacity anyway

Right, so, let's break down the prior 22 into three groupings based on how much of each song I can pull from previous input.  To keep it simple, we'll go with the most rudimentary qualifier, which is if I can remember more than one line, one line exactly, or no lines at all.  For the entries so far;
  • December
    • 3 SOME / 1 ONE / 1 NONE
  • November
    • 3 SOME / 1 ONE / 0 NONE
  • October
    • 1 SOME / 0 ONE / 3 NONE
  • September
    • 4 SOME / 0 ONE / 1 NONE
  • August
    • 4 SOME / 0 ONE / 0 NONE
Interesting!  So, to date, the only songs that are summarized in my beer-enriched noggin by one line and ONLY one line are the following;
  1. Ronson/Mars' "Don't believe me just watch"
  2. Ricky Martin's "Livin' la vida loca"
That's a very selective group.  And, they both were, as the kids are want to say, bangerz.  I wonder if there's anything to gather that these hook heavy party jams are the ones in which I picked up just an individual snippet.

Could be.  This week, that couple adds a third, with a familiar sound. 

How we...wear our glasses askew? That's more of a why question.

Montell Jordon had a chart topper in 1995 with "This is how we do it."  It hit at a time when I was forced by friends to go to clubs for the purpose of dancing and meeting girls.  Those blog readers out there who know me and my remarkably unremarkable social skills would probably not be surprised by how those nights out went.

To clarify for those not close to me, I'll just state the following.  I don't dance, and I'm even worse at chatting up people I've never met before (especially those of the enticing lady-folk persuasion).  Like a penguin in juggling school, I simply had no skills to succeed in that environment.  My lone "move" was to stand perfectly still with a drink in my hand and wait for some girl to walk up to me and start talking.  That's all I did.  Someone could've yanked me out of that club and thrust me into that one Monty Python sketch, and I would have been a star.  Unfortunately it never happened.

And, suffice it to say, in the club, that technique worked exactly never.

So, yeah, the good old days.

Anyway, where were we?  Oh yeah, Montell.  He hit number one!  Nice job.  I know it wasn't your fault about that whole club thing.  Nor the frustrating lack of 1970's sketch comedy scouts. 

So, let's give a few of your lyrics a fair and equitable once-over.  For today, we'll focus just on the chorus.  After all, that's really the only part people grab hold of in dance tracks.  But maybe your words will make me sorry I didn't try harder at the club.  Shall we try?  I'll just stand off to the side with my arms crossed and give them a looksee.

This Is How We Do It
I'm kinda buzzed and it's all because (this is how we do it)
South Central does it like nobody does (this is how we do it)
To all my neighbors you got much flavor (this is how we do it)
Let's flip the track, bring the old school back (this is how we do it)

Hmm, I can definitely see why only the song title stuck in my head.  These stylings are really pretty standard for that time.  Seems like he likes his neighborhood a lot, which is nice.  The people around my place decidedly do not have much flavor.  Well, wait, vanilla is a flavor.  But, yeah, not something to sing about.

I don't feel the above really makes a case for any adding it to my mental queue.  There's a slightly different chorus at the end.  Let's take a look and see if that gets me on my feet and ready to bust, uh, something.  A move?  No, that doesn't sound right.

Chorus 2
Oh it's party time (this is how we do it)
Straight up comin' from the west side (this is how we do it)
OG's got the flavor (this is how we do it)
And Monty does it like nobody does (this is how we do it)

Ah, the referring to yourself in the third-person call out.  Classic.  I should have tried that back in the day.

"Hiya there, um, unencumbered female.  You know, nobody does it like Neil does it."
"I'm calling security."

Actually, Monty, everybody did it like you did it.  This song doesn't stand out in any way, and is original as calling yourself an OG.  No offence, but no further wordlings from your tune need to find their way into my memory banks.  I'll remember the title forever, but that's about it.

So, quietly (of course), I'll return to my prior position.  But, instead of listenting to your single, I'll adjust my focus back on the real OG Monty.  They really get me, after all.

Ah, much better. Now this is how we do it.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Starship "We Built This City"

*****Number One, November, 1985*****

Generally, in writing up these musical dealies, I feel the need to establish some sort of intent at the start of the post.  Call it a preamble, an intro, or perhaps a warning.  Whatever it is, typically I'm inclined to gently welcome the reader to the week's subject matter so that they don't feel a shock upon tasting the oddly flavored soup-mix that is blogger brain and chart-topping smash.  The first paragraph is supposed to be like a fresh loaf of bread that envelopes a person with yeasty warmth.  I want you to feel safe and comfortable before we press firmly on the weird pedal and go down some unknown and bumpy trail.

But not this time, friends.  Sorry, today is a different sort of entry.  So, instead, we're stepping right back in the mess (sticktap to Maz Kanata).


Wait, who?


The first step for most of my research is usually done on a little-known website called Google.  Not many people have heard of it, but I recommend it.  They're up and comers, I tell ya.  Watch out Alta Vista!

Anyway, when I type the NOPR's choice for the week into that search machine, I tend to get a pretty expected list of results.  Stories about the song's creation and the accompanying video are usually near the top.  Occasionally, you'll also see a band history entry, or maybe a minor controversy that erupted over some untoward lyric.  Interesting stuff, but normally nothing too remarkable immediately appears.  This time, however, the Goog spat out links that displayed quite an unusual and specific theme.

From the very first page of my search:
#2 - An oral history of "We Built This City", the worst song of all time
#4 - The making of one of music's most hated songs
#5 - Starship's "We Built This City":  Really the worst?
#6 - How "We Built This City" became the worst song ever

So, yeah, this is different.

But, before we think of getting into all of that and allowing these other online peoples to color our view of this tune, let's consider something further.  That is, just how friggin popular it is.

Searching this song on Amazon music, it comes up as available on 279 albums.  2-7-9!  That many times, some person decided they really needed to use a version of this hit to fill out their release.  There are all these compilations, covers, remixes, re-issues, and other assorted collections containing what Starship wrought.

And, keeping with today's off-kilter review, this listing of created recordings are all over the map.  This song was included in movies (such as The Muppets and Rock of Ages), television shows (Stranger Things, Glee, Skins), and even a video game (Grand Theft Auto V).  It also has been featured on records with themes that, well...let's just look at a small fraction of these titles.

  • 35 Jock Jams "Stadium Anthems"
  • Mullet Rock Anthems!
  • Beer Drinking Music
  • Top Party Anthems
  • Ultimate Stag Party Playlist
    • So, yeah, it's a rockin' song!  
  • Classic Soft Rock "30 Essential Rock Ballads"
    • Oh, wait, it's a ballad?
  • I Love Running
  • Fitness at Home
    • Er, sorry, it's for exercise.
  • White House Shakedown "Presidents Day Musical Celebration"
    • And holidays?
  • Best Hits for Paddleball
    • HUH?!?!?!
  • Live at Stanley Cup
    • Because, sure, why not.  And, lest you think I mistyped the above, I did not.  As you can see below, the title is not Live at the Stanley Cup.  Nope, this soundtrack is all about brevity.  And speaking like a Russian immigrant, I guess.

Next we go in car to party wearing yankee blue jean

Thus, "We Built This City" is remarkably awful yet incredibly popular at the same time.  Now I'm totally confused.  Forget it internets, you just can't be trusted.  I'll dive in on my own.

How 'bout a lyric?  That'll help me figure this out.
"Marconi plays the mamba, listen to the radio, don't you remember"

I, uh, hmm, um, hoo boy, oh look, the internet raised its hand again!  The lead singer?  Great, he'll get us on the right track.

Mickey Thomas
"When the song went to number one, I said to Bernie Taupin (Elton John's longtime collaborator and this song's writer) more than ever, people are gonna ask what Marconi plays the Mamba means.  He said, I've got no fucking idea, mate.  Bernie didn't say mambo, he said mamba, which is a snake.  Marconi created the radio.  Maybe it means, if you don't like this music, some really angry snakes are going to come out of the speakers.  At one point, I did start to sing mambo to try and be more grammatically correct. After a while I said fuck it and went back to mamba."

So, there's that.

This is the part of the entry where I'm really supposed to think (hence the heading, Final THOUGHTS).  However, I confess, my mind does not know what to make of this song.  There are already too many opinions about it, and I just can't nail down one original consideration.  I'm utterly flustered.  Just gonna have to go my own way.

Starship is a stupid band name.

Nailed it. 

Now who's for some paddleball!

Soundtrack sold separately

Monday, December 24, 2018

Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars "Uptown Funk!"

*****Number One, January, 2015 *****

"Hey, I know that song!"
"Do you?"
"Do you really?"
"You don't sound sure"  
"I thought I did, but now I'm not certain.  It sounds familiar."
"Lots of things sound familiar.  Like Yahoo Serious"
"Yes, that does sound familiar too."
"You're right, I really don't know this song."

"But maybe you do?"

The above transcript brought to you by the voices in my head.  This blog makes much more sense now, doesn't it?

Right, so, anyway, where are we heading this week?  Oh yeah, let's go uptown.

This is why I never became a mechanic.

Ok, I know the above is from a different part of uptown.  We're not visiting that neighborhood this week, which is where Billy Joel's girl lives.  Instead, I'm off to find the funk. 

Sorry, funk!  This entry's title has an exclamation point, so you know this tune must be extremely exciting.  And I feel it!  I'm ready, and might just end every sentence from here on out with an exclamation point!  Or two!!

Guh, never mind, I'm already exhausted from all that commotion.  Let's keep our punctuation at an even keel from here on out instead.  I'm too old to go exclaiming all over the place.  Leave that flashy syntax to funk-bringers and wrench-singers, just like my junior high English teacher always advised.

At any rate, let's talk about this song.  UpTown Funk was a massive hit, topping the charts for an incredible fourteen weeks.  Any tune that stays in the public's eye that long must be known by pretty much everyone. 

Stands to reason that a song that pops up for one week can reach the top on the backs of the folks who really like that style of music.  If all those people buy the song over such a short time period, it will push it to the summit.  But, anyone not a fan of that style likely won't be pulled in, and the song will crash in popularity after it peaks.

But when you're undefeated for over three months?  Yeah, pretty much everyone's heard of it.  Which begs the question;

Even me?

The answer to that is essentially unknown at this moment.  As illustrated at the top of this post, I'm just not sure if I know this number or not.  I feel like I should, and probably do, but I can't summon it from my brainage.  Surely, there must at least be some parts I've heard. 

But, is that enough?  How many parts of a song must you be familiar with to consider it a song you know?  I don't know what that rule is.

So, let's find out how much I really know about this song, and what that much even means.

You know what's funky?  Reading the newspaper.  Holla.

Right, so, bear with me here.  So far, I've twice attempted to "live blog" the lyrics of previously unknown (to me) tunes.  That experience ranged from Crunky to Super-Junkie.  This entry will be reviewed similarly, but not exactly the same. 

Like the prior times, I will pull the meatiest stanzas of words from this hit out of the interwebs and paste them below, section-by-section.  However, in this case I'll be adding a value to each grouping signifying whether or not I've heard it before.  When I'm finished, we'll have a score of my funky knowledge.  Then, at the end, we can assess what that total means regarding the overall concept of knowing a song.

Ready?  My brain is.  Well, that's what it's telling me.  For now. 

UpTown Funk!
Verse One
This hit, that ice cold / Michelle Pfeiffer, that white gold
This one for them hood girls / Them good girls, them masterpieces
Stylin', wilin', livin' it up in the city
Got chucks on with Saint Laurent / Got kiss myself, I'm so pretty

Sooooo, I'm off to poor start here.  None of this rings a bell.  Not Michelle Pfeiffer, not hood girls, not good girls, not Saint Laurent.  I know what chucks are, so that's something, but doesn't really count towards tune smarts.  Surprisingly, "Got kiss myself I'm so pretty" was going to be my high school yearbook quote.  Sadly, I went with "Free Tibet" instead.  What a waste. 

Verse Two
Stop, wait a minute / Fill my cup, put some liquor in it
Take a sip, sign a check / Julio, get the stretch
Ride to Harlem, Hollywood, Jackson Mississippi
If we show up, we gon' show out / Smoother than a fresh jar of Skippy

This, this is not going well.  I really thought I'd recall at least a portion of the song so far.  But, nada.  Although, maybe at one time I did know some of it, but got pissed off when they reference smooth peanut butter.  I'm a chunky man myself.  Can't believe they'd risk alienating listeners with such divisive rhetoric.  This is the way nation's fall.

Chorus One
I'm too hot (hot damn) / Called a police and a fireman
I'm too hot (hot damn) / Make a dragon wanna retire man
I'm too hot (hot damn) / Say my name you know who I am
I'm too hot (hot damn) / Am I bad 'bout that money, break it down

Sigh, the shutout continues.  And, I must take issue with rhyming "damn" and "fireman".  No one pronounces it like Fire and Man.  And, you called a police?  What are you, a toddler?  I suggest replacing this phrase with something that makes a tad more sense.  How about;
I'm too hot (hot damn) / Got saved by a Spiderman
Boom, music.  You're welcome.

Chorus Two
Girls hit your hallelujah / whoo (3x)
'Cause uptown funk gon' give it to you (3x)
Saturday night and we in the spot
Don't believe me just watch


Thanks Janine

I actually believed, before going through those lyrics, that I would have picked up at least half of them.  It really seemed like the most probable outcome for such a long-lasting, worldwide smash.  Instead, out of a whole swath of ridiculous lines, I know exactly one.  And, it's not even the title of the song!  Man, clearly, I'm more of a downtown funk-type person.  Huh, live and learn.

In then end, there's no way to tilt the percentages to propose that I know this hit at all.  If things were a bit more even, it might have been an interesting debate about when a person truly considers something as known.  Maybe sometime in the near-future, the NOPR will spit out a result that allows for that kind of discussion.  For now though, my brain has moved on to other topics. 

Dragon's retire?  They do?  Are you sure?