Can We Still Be Friends? by Todd Rundgren

Todd Rundgren is probably known for several songs released over the course of his career.  I can think of three very quickly:  “Hello It’s Me”, “I Saw the Light”, and “Bang the Drum All Day” (the last of which can be heard most commonly around 5:00 on Friday afternoon every single week).  All of those, as far as I can tell, still get quite a bit of airplay.  But do you remember 1978’s “Can We Still Be Friends?”

(Hermit of Mink Hollow peaked at #36 on the Billboard 200.  Album ℗1978 Bearsville Records.  Photo courtesy Amazon.com.)

“Can We Still Be Friends?” was the only song from Hermit of Mink Hollow to hit the Hot 100.  It was apparently written, according to Wikipedia, about the end of Mr. Rundgren’s relationship with Bebe Buell, who is possibly best known for being Liv Tyler’s mother.

This song spent five weeks in the Top 40 (I thought, when I originally wrote this, that it might have debuted in the Top 40 during a week in which American Top 40 did a special countdown, but Billboard shows that it was #44 that week), peaking at #29 the week of August 5, 1978 before falling out of the Top 40 the next week.  Overall, “Can We Still Be Friends?” spent 13 weeks on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.  A year later, Robert Palmer took another version of this song to #52 (but, honestly, I think Mr. Rundgren’s version is superior).

So, while “Bang the Drum All Day” didn’t even make it to the Top 40 and still gets airplay, “Can We Still Be Friends?” gets little to no airplay now.  Strange.

The Empire Strikes Back (Medley) by Meco

To most people, Meco is known for one song, and one song only:  the only instrumental single ever certified platinum by the RIAA, “Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band”.  What many probably don’t know is that the single was just 3½ minutes of a 16-minute magnum opus.  I can’t link the MP3 for that because it is an album-only track, so check out The Best of Meco, which contains that track, here.

As you will see if you do check out The Best of Meco, Meco Monardo had an affinity for making discofied versions of many movies, mostly sci-fi ones, with varying degrees of success.  So, when the sequel to Star Wars came out in 1980, Meco was there, and he was ready.

(Meco Plays Music From The Empire Strikes Back apparently never charted.  Album ℗1980 RSO Records, Inc.  Cover courtesy Amazon.com.)

 

“The Empire Strikes Back (Medley)”, like its counterpart from Star Wars, combined multiple themes from John Williams’s score from the movie.  In this case, “The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s Theme)” seamlessly transitions into “Yoda’s Theme” before ending with the slightest hint of Darth Vader’s labored breathing.

Unlike its counterpart, this movie’s medley did not shoot straight to #1, peaking instead at #18 for two straight weeks starting on August 9, 1980 (chart | magazine), possibly due to the disco backlash that had happened in the year before The Empire Strikes Back hit cinemas.  It spent a respectable, but not remarkable, 14 weeks on the Hot 100.

Afterward, Meco would hit the Hot 100 a few more times, but none of his later songs would fare as well as “The Empire Strikes Back (Medley)”.  And since then, only his most famous single would see airplay anywhere, though others, like this one, appear deserving of a few more spins, at least.

 

 

American Music by The Pointer Sisters

When people think of the Pointer Sisters, I would imagine there are a few songs that come quickly to mind:  “I’m So Excited” (not this version, though), “He’s So Shy”, “Fire”, and that pinball song from “Sesame Street” come to mind quickly for me.

But do you think of their 1982 hit “American Music”?

“American Music” was on the same album, So Excited!, as “I’m So Excited” (though that song was added to later releases of their next album, Break Out and re-released as a single in 1984).

(So Excited! peaked at #59 on the Billboard 200.  Album ℗1982 Planet Records.  Photo courtesy Wikipedia under Fair Use clause.)

The song entered Billboard’s Hot 100 at #73 for the week ending June 26, 1982 (chart | magazine).  It peaked at #16 nine weeks later (chart | magazine) and stayed at that position for three straight weeks before dropping out of the top 40 the next week.  Overall, it spent 14 weeks on Billboard’s Hot 100, its last being the debut week of “I’m So Excited”.

I have heard this song on the radio exactly once since it was on the charts in 1982, and that was sometime around 2002 when my city of residence had an 80s station, and that station was airing what was then called “AT40 Flashback” programs.  I’ve never heard it on the radio since.

Of course, the Pointer Sisters went on to much bigger successes with their aforementioned next album, which spawned several top 10 hits and went 3x platinum.

 

 

Baby Love by Regina

Since the last entry referenced a Madonna song, perhaps it is fitting that the song highlighted in this entry was intended for Madonna.  This was written in 1986 by a lady named Regina Richards, who was convinced by her record company (Atlantic Records) to record it for herself.

(Curiosity peaked at #102 on the Billboard 200.  Album ℗1986 Atlantic Records.  Photo courtesy Amazon.com.)

And so Ms. Richards went along with Atlantic’s suggestion and recorded “Baby Love”, along with an entire album called Curiosity.  The song was a big success, getting a lot of airplay then (though, per the rather incomplete listings at the now-defunct yes.com, it received no airplay at all on any reporting station in the US in the week prior to my writing this).  It entered Billboard’s Hot 100 at #88 for the week ending June 21, 1986 (chart | magazine) and finally peaked at #10 for the week ending September 13 (chart | magazine).  The song stayed on the Hot 100 for 20 weeks.  It also hit #1 on what was then called the Hot Dance/Disco chart and stayed there for two weeks. Billboard ranked it the 85th biggest hit of 1986.

For some reason, despite the popularity of this hit, Regina never had another hit.  In the meantime, the always-reliable Wikipedia says that she is married with four kids and now lives in my former home of Austin.

For whatever reason, the MP3 of “Baby Love” is not available on Amazon.  You can still buy the entire album here:

Erotica by Madonna

I can hear you now:  “Really?  A Madonna song?  How can anything by Madonna be forgotten?”  (This may not in reality be what you are saying, but as this is my blog I get to assume that you are in fact saying these things just after reading the title to this entry, and so we’ll proceed from that assumption.)

Well, if I were to consider Madonna’s career in pop music, I would say that the Erotica album/era is in fact the most forgotten portion.

Continue reading “Erotica by Madonna”

Shakedown by Bob Seger

You wouldn’t think a popular song from the soundtrack of a movie such
as Beverly Hills Cop II would be listed as a “forgotten song”. You wouldn’t think that a song that hit number one on Billboard’s Hot 100 would be listed as such.  You certainly wouldn’t think that a song that won an Oscar as Best Song would be forgotten.  (Or, at least, I wouldn’t think so.)  And yet, when the word “shakedown” hit the public discourse a couple of years ago as the result of a sitting congressman using it to discuss the government’s treatment of BP after the Gulf oil spill*, at least one person (that I knew of) was not familiar at all with this song, so I figured it deserved to be dug out.

(The soundtrack to Beverly Hills Cop II spent 26 weeks on the Billboard 200, peaking at #8 and spawning several Top 40 hits.  Album ℗1987 MCA Special Products.  Photo courtesy Amazon.com.)

 

“Shakedown” was actually written for Glenn Frey, but Bob Seger stepped in when Mr. Frey lost his voice just before the recording session.  This was Mr. Seger’s only number one single (it spent 18 weeks on the Hot 100, and, per the song’s Wikipedia entry, it also hit number one on the Album Rock Tracks chart) and his next-to-last top 40 hit overall.  And, as is usual for songs I list as “forgotten songs”, I don’t think I have ever heard a station where I have lived play this song in many years.  Actually, for that matter, I think I might have heard this song once on the radio since it hit the charts back in 1987.  I’m pretty sure that one time was a 1987 flashback feature, played the week that “Shakedown” hit number one (that being the week of August 1, 1987 (chart)).

 

*As I have stated before, I am only interested in discussing music here.  Political statements, especially those of a couple of years ago, are not a topic of discussion in this post…it only inspired the choice of this song.

Piece of My Heart by Tara Kemp

A few months before my last forgotten song honoree hit the charts, a California girl named Tara Kemp hit the top ten with two songs from her eponymous and only album.  You probably remember the first one; do you remember a second hit?  One that sounds…well…kinda a lot like the first one?
Continue reading “Piece of My Heart by Tara Kemp”