10 Played Out Songs (In No Order)
You Light Up My Life (Debbie Boone)
One New Year's Eve, I was sitting all alone (ok sob for me now) when an oldies station started playing this song. It was the Top Song of the Year for 1976. It peaked at Number 1 and stayed there for 10 weeks. I had forgotten just how pretty this song was. But it just got played out. You could never turn on the radio without hearing it. For two years it seemed never to be off the radio.
Debbie claimed she was thinking about GOD when she recorded this, I don't know if I'd go that far, but I guess one could make that connection. In the movie of the same name, Kvitka Cisyk performed the song, So how did Debbie get a hold of it? Cisyk's version only reach #80 on the pop chart and was credited to "Original Cast" and not her. Joseph Brooks wrote the songs as well as the screenplay
Magic (Olivia Newton-John)
This was THE song of the Summer of 1980, from the ill fated movie Xanadu. This was an A/C radio and Pop radio hit, peaking at Number 1 on both charts. I remember how I would listen to this song over and over. I recently was working out to ONJ's Greatest Hits package and I couldn't make it through the whole song. Still this is about the only ONJ song you can find on the radio today.
Written by her long time producer and songwriter John Farrar, it became Newton-John's 4th number one hit. It also confirmed her exit from Country Music to Pop. The music of Xanadu, which featured ELO and Newton-John, worked despite the odd pairing of two music acts, with very different styles of music. The flip side of the single called Fool / Country which in reality is two short song snippets from the movie, joined together, was recently released on the Olivia Newton-John album Gold a compilation CD.
(They Long To Be)Close To You (The Carpenters)
Written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, many people don't realize this song was written for a man to sing. This was the biggest hit for The Carpenters peaking at Number 1 for 4 weeks on the Pop Chart. It's odd to this day I can listen over and over to Carpenters's Songs, but this one is a skip over. It's really pretty but very sugary. Maybe if I ever fall in love I'll try it again.
Karen who originally covered drums as well as vocals on the album had to bring in Hal Blaine to cover the drums on this song. It was felt by one of the co-owners of their record label A&M records, Herb Alpert, that Karen couldn't "lay into it" properly. I am still trying to figure that out.
Karma Chameleon (Culture Club)
Breaking from the run of A/C hits I've listed, this song was the only song by Culture Club to go to #1 on the pop charts. This song was released so fast as the second single from their Colour By Numbers album. It rose so fast it, knocked off airplay for the much better song; Church Of The Poison Mind, which had to settle for a respectable #9.
I loved this song at first but after a few months of continuous airplay, this song rapidly got on my nerves. It's listen-able today, but considering this was once my favourite Culture Club song; I think most other Culture Club songs, I would rather listen to.
This song marked the apex of Culture Club, all though they had one other top 10 hit Miss You Blind (What the hell does that mean anyway?) Boy George and company rapidly declined, not from lack of talent but from infighting amongst themselves and fighting amongst the labels direction for the group and their vision. For all the talent this group had it's a shame they didn't do more with it.
Luka (Suzanne Vega)
From 1987, this #3 for Suzanne Vega was my ideal of a perfect message song. It told a story without being overly preachy. By the song's end you understood about child abuse but it didn't feel crammed in your face.
Unfortunately after nearly a year of high play on Pop and A/C radio this song became grating. After awhile I felt like singing...My name is Marcus, I live on the bottom floor, I beat up Luka, sick of hearing that song.
Alone Again(Naturally) (Gilbert O'Sullivan)
One of three top ten hits by Sullivan this song was the only one to make it to Number 1. For six non-consecutive weeks in 1972, it caused us all to think about the pain and humiliation of being abandoned. After a year of hearing this song, we now understand why she did this. If he were even half as annoying as this song, I would have done the same.
Born Raymond O'Sullivan, he makes reference to himself in his #2 pop song Claire, He is "Uncle Ray." The song was ranked #8 overall for the 70s decade, thus attesting to how much it was played. In the days before the Internet this was one song that took me forever to figure out all the actual lyrics to. Sullivan actually continues to record to this day and enjoys some success in Japan.
At Seventeen (Janis Ian)
Closeted at the time, Janis Ian took this dreary little ditty to Number 3 and in the process won a Grammy. I used to really like this song. But over the years I find the self-pity aspect more and more irritating. Perhaps what is a valid feeling "at 17," is no longer valid at 40+. With all the whining and self pity it's no wonder this girl never got invited anywhere.
In 1966 at the age of 15, Ian legally emancipated herself from her parents and also wrote her first hit single, the song "Society's Child (Baby I've Been Thinking)", which was about an interracial romance. She fit in perfectly with the late 60s / early 70s style of singer / songwriters making the rounds. The song only hit #14 on the pop charts but easily ranked #1 in the North, while being banned throughout the South. More than likely this song would've been a #1 hit if not for the backlash in the South.
As a side note the best song ever written by Ian In The Winter only reached #97 on the pop charts, but Sheena Easton does a brilliant and I mean brilliant interpretation of it on her Madness, Money And Music album.
Careless Whisper (Wham! Featuring George Michael)
And speaking of closet cases...This single was released under the name "George Micheal" everywhere in the world but in the United States. To make sure they would be able to capitalize off Wham!'s #1 hit Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go," the record company changed the name to "Wham! Featuring George Micheal." Which, if you think about it is a pretty cumbersome name for a "group" with only two members.
At the time it looked like George's partner Andrew Ridgley didn't do much. In fact, it was later revealed he did virtually nothing. Not even backup vocals. This was the A/C song that prom and high school dances featured in the Mid 80s. This song went to Number 1 for 3 weeks and bested Madonna's Like A Virgin for song of the year on the year end Billboard charts. After many, many, many times of hearing...Am I ever gonna dance again, the answer is "who cares."
As an end note, I really don't see how anyone, anywhere could have though Michael was straight, especially after seeing the Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go video.
Thriller (Michael Jackson)
I am not a great fan of Mr. Jackson. I like only a few of his songs such as Dirty Diana. Let's face it him singing "I'm Bad, I'm Bad" is really an embarrassment to that word. Or when he is arguing with Paul..."No, no Paul she's mine" which is totally unbelievable.
His Thriller album produced a mass of hits but this song was the weakest. Shamelessly this song was released in 1983 and self-promoted for the purpose of getting his 7th top ten hit off of one album. This song was released and overplayed on MTV (MTV was trying to prove they weren't racist and played "black songs" at the time) and radio. Bluntly put, there was no reason to release this as a single and even more reason not to play it, much less play it out.
Time In A Bottle Jim Croce
written for his newborn son, this song was one of the few songs to be released AND go to #1 one after the death of the singer. In 1973 it followed up the #8 You Don't Mess Around With Jim and #17 Operator (That's Not The Way It Feels. As pretty as this song is you really have had to live in the 70s to understand how played out it was.
At every single graduation I went to it was played. Every single yearbook had the lyrics printed on it any time there was a cause for a remembrance there was this song. Though I can still get choked up listening to it and remembering back, I still can not help but remember thinking back when I thought "Geez not this song again."