It’s always amazing when songwriters can cram a full story into a three-minute song. Some of these stories have lasted, while some have fallen by the wayside. Some of the more enduring story songs include (to name just a couple) Aerosmith’s “Janie’s Got a Gun” and Meat Loaf’s “Paradise By The Dashboard Light”. Paul Nicholas’s one and only hit song, “Heaven on the 7th Floor”, on the other hand, falls into the latter category.
Some pieces of entertainment are best known for the memes they inspire. Such was the case for the 1984’s minor hit Breakin’. Virtually no one remembers the sequel, but its subtitle has appeared all over the internet in recent years. At this point, most people who have spent more than a few hours on the internet have seen a lousy sequel to something, be it a movie, a political debate, or virtually anything else, given the title “____ 2: Electric Boogaloo”. Well, thank Breakin’ for that. But also thank Breakin’ for a little remembered Top 10 hit called “Breakin’…There’s No Stopping Us” by a duo called Ollie and Jerry.
Readers of this site know that, in many cases, two types of songs which find themselves forgotten by radio after their initial release are one-hit wonders and power ballads. I suppose it goes without saying that a song that is both is more likely still to be forgotten. Add to that the fact that the song was released in 1990, a mostly forgotten year in pop music, and you very nearly have the perfect storm. Such was the case for the one hit for the hard rock* group Giant.
At the end of the 1970s, the Southern rock band Wet Willie had decided to split up (though they still tour occasionally, even now). Lead singer Jimmy Hall, though, was invited to record a solo album by the band’s then-label, Epic Records. And while Jimmy Hall’s solo career did not produce a lot of chart success, it did yield one bona fide hit, a song which is, sadly, quite forgotten now.
The late 1980s brought a lot of new British acts to the United States, several of which charted over here before (or instead of) charting in their native Britain. The Eighties had also, by this time, brought forth the dance-pop genre from the ashes of disco. It was natural, then, that some of those British acts which were successful in the US first would have that chart success with dance-pop music. One such act which had success at the time but which, 30 years later, is largely forgotten by radio, was Giant Steps.
Actors have crossed over to singing top 40 hits, and vice versa, almost as long as there has been a top 40 chart at all. Obviously there were Elvis and Sinatra doing quite well on both fronts, but there were many, many others who had various degrees of success. Do you remember Shaun Cassidy, Rick Springfield, Jack Wagner? You might even recall the top 40 entries by Bruce Willis, Don Johnson, and Eddie Murphy. Now – show of hands – who remembers when there was a very successful top 40 hit from…Joey Lawrence?
In 1982, top 40 music was working its way through an identity crisis which started with the disco backlash three years earlier. As the prevailing sound of rock music evolved, a lot of recording acts had their first hits, while many others had their last. And, there were several acts which had their only hit during that time period. One of those was the American-Canadian duo Chéri.
Sometimes a recording artist will find chart success early in his or her career and then, despite years, or even decades, of further recordings, will never reach the charts again. To add insult to injury, for some of those artists, their one and only hit is left behind by radio after its original chart run. That almost perfectly describes the career of Polly Brown.
The early 1970s, more than any other time during the rock era, was good for instrumental hits. Several instrumentals made the top ten during that period, and no fewer than three of them (“Frankenstein”, “Love’s Theme”, and “TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia”) went all the way to number one. One of those who capitalized on the then-popularity of instrumental music was a British musician named Tom Parker, along with his band, Apollo 100.
1980 was, to put it mildly, a year of upheaval in the world of top 40 music in America. The disco era was ending rapidly, its end having been hastened by several causes, not the least of which was a changing in listeners’ tastes toward music such as “My Sharona”, which had been the previous year’s #1 song. While some listeners embraced the new wave movement from whence “My Sharona” came, others moved toward a resurgence of a mellower sound.