Can’t Stop Lovin’ You by Van Halen

Unlike the last two honorees on this blog, Van Halen is far from a one-hit wonder.  I wouldn’t even have thought to include them on a forgotten songs blog, since most of their hits still get airplay on rock/classic rock stations throughout the country.  I can name at least ten songs of theirs that still get airplay, and so, most likely, can you.  And then there are other songs that I heard back in the day that get no airplay that I know of now, but as it turns out, none of them made the Hot 100 (which, by and large, is one of my big qualifiers for this blog these days).

But then I remembered a song that I think I last heard when an officemate had Best of, Volume 1 on CD (and played it a lot, which was fine with me, as this was before MP3 files had hit their prime).  The album on which it originally appeared, Balance, was a strong seller, but like For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge before it, the album did not spawn (m)any terribly successful singles, at least as far as Billboard’s Hot 100 ranks them.  Both albums produced exactly one Top 40 hit; for Balance, that song was “Can’t Stop Lovin’ You”.  (The other was “Top of the World”, which, now that I think about it, could probably also qualify as unfairly forgotten.)

(Balance spent the week of February 11, 1995 at #1 on the Billboard 200.  Album ℗1995 Warner Bros. Records.  Photo courtesy Amazon.com.)

 

“Can’t Stop Lovin’ You” entered the Hot 100 at #75 for the week ending March 25, 1995  (chart | magazine) and peaked at #30 eleven weeks later (chart | magazine).  Despite its somewhat low peak position, it stayed on the Hot 100 for 20 weeks and managed to hit #100 in Billboard’s Year-End Hot 100 Singles of 1995.

There doesn’t seem to be a lot of hidden meaning to the lyrics of “Can’t Stop Lovin’ You”, and from researching this song, I see that some Van Halen fans didn’t think much of the song because it had too much of a pop sound.  Perhaps those are two reasons why the song doesn’t get the play of a “Jump” or a “Runnin’ With The Devil”, but I would say it deserves more spins than it is currently getting.

 

 

Blue Sky Mine by Midnight Oil

Midnight Oil, like Baltimora, is seen in the US as a one-hit wonder.  Unlike Baltimora’s one hit, however, Midnight Oil’s “Beds Are Burning” still receives a fair amount of airplay, at least in the parts where I live.  This is not the case for what was seen by some (such as, for example, myself) as Midnight Oil’s second hit.  Sure, at the time, “Blue Sky Mine” received a lot of spins (in the market where I lived at the time, almost all of them were on the alternative station–yes, there were alternative stations in 1990), but since its original run, it has pretty much disappeared.

Interestingly enough, the album from which “Blue Sky Mine” originated, Blue Sky Mining, actually charted higher on the Billboard 200 than Diesel and Dust, from which “Beds Are Burning” came.

(Blue Sky Mining hit #20 on the Billboard 200. Album ℗1990 Columbia Records.  Photo courtesy Amazon.com.)

“Blue Sky Mine”, like “Beds Are Burning”, was a song with a message.  Whereas “Beds Are Burning” spoke about giving native lands back to indigenous Australians (specifically the Pintupi), “Blue Sky Mine” speaks about workers who are basically treated as a secondary (or tertiary, or worse) concern after profit, in this case through the real history of blue asbestos mining in Wittenoom, Western Australia.  Asbestos, as many people know, can cause all sorts of diseases or other health problems, particularly for miners who are breathing it all the time with little to no respite.  As commenter “jlc01” at songmeanings.net relates:

It wasn’t until 20 years later that the CSR actually built vents so that miners could breathe fresh air.

And that’s just sad.

CSR, the owner, was referred to in the song as the “sugar refining company” owing to its original name, which was the Colonial Sugar Refining company.  It should be noted that in recent years CSR has paid out a lot of money to people affected by the Wittenoom disaster, but it appears, from what I have read, that they have done so very unwillingly.  As for the mine itself, it closed in 1966, with residents being encouraged to leave over the next few years owing to the general contamination of the area.  Wittenoom itself is no longer even recognized as an official town and has been removed from road maps.  Truly a sad episode of history.

And as for the song, “Blue Sky Mine” hit Billboard’s Hot 100 in early 1990, debuting at #77 for the week ending February 17 (chart), peaking at #47 (which means that we never got to hear Shadoe Stevens announcing it) for the week ending March 24 (chart), and remaining on the chart for ten weeks.  I would classify this as a song which should have been a bigger hit.

 

 

Tarzan Boy by Baltimora

Baltimora, at least in the US, was definitely a one-hit wonder.  Interestingly enough, though, its one hit, “Tarzan Boy”, made it to Billboard’s Hot 100 on two separate occasions.  (Okay, yes, they made the Hot 100 with one other song, the title track to their first album, but they are known almost entirely in this country for “Tarzan Boy”.)

(Living In The Background, Baltimora’s first studio album, peaked at #49 on the Billboard 200.  Album ℗1985 EMI Music.  Photo courtesy Amazon.com.)

Though “Tarzan Boy” was the first single from Living In The Background, which was released in the summer of 1985, the single did not hit the charts in the US until late in the year, entering Billboard’s Hot 100 at #80 for the week ending October 19, 1985 (chart | magazine).  It spent exactly half a year on Billboard’s Hot 100, peaking at #13 the week of March 1, 1986 (chart | magazine), and then falling out the week of April 19.

While Baltimora did somewhat well in Italy, further singles, as well as a second album, did not exactly burn up the charts in most other countries.  The band broke up after that, and that would normally be the end of the story.

In this case, however, “Tarzan Boy” found new popularity years later through a combination of circumstances.  First, in 1992, Listerine released a new cool mint variety with a series of commercials made by Pixar (yes, that Pixar) which were set to “Tarzan Boy”, though not the Baltimora version.

(Pretty good for 1992 CGI, huh?  Presented per Fair Use clause.)

Then, in early 1993, the rather forgettable film Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III was released, and, for some unknown reason, “Tarzan Boy” was featured.  The original version, as well as a remix, appeared on the soundtrack, and the song once again appeared in the Hot 100 (though sources seem to disagree whether song that charted in 1993 was the original or the remix), peaking at #51 the week of April 24 (chart).

From what I have heard, this song still occasionally gets airplay on satellite radio, but I’m pretty sure terrestrial radio has just about forgotten about it.

 

 

Hold On by Jamie Walters

The name Jamie Walters probably is not familiar to people who either did not watch Fox or listen to top 40 radio in the early 90s.  And, even if you did listen to top 40 radio in the early 90s, you might have missed Mr. Walters.  After all, his first, and biggest, hit wasn’t even released under his name, but, instead, under the name of the Fox television program on which Mr. Walters had a starring role, The Heights.  (Ironically, the show was cancelled the week after “How Do You Talk to an Angel”, its theme, fell out of the number one position.)

However, that song did get Jamie Walters his own recording contract, and his first album came out in late 1994.

(Jamie Walters’s eponymous album peaked at #70 on the Billboard 200.  Album ℗1994 Atlantic Records.  Photo courtesy Amazon.com.)

The first song from Mr. Walters’s debut album was what would probably be classified as a rock ballad (which usually do well upon release and are then rarely heard again on the radio).  “Hold On” spent an impressive 27 weeks on Billboard’s Hot 100, peaking at #16 the week of June 3, 1995 (chart | magazine) and landing at #52 on Billboard’s Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1995.

Unfortunately, that was pretty much the end of any chart success for Jamie Walters.  Only one other single from his debut album, “Why”, was released; it peaked at #5 on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 chart, which translates (roughly, given the rules for that chart) to #105, and after that, Jamie Walters never approached the Hot 100 again.

According to the reviews of his debut album at Amazon, Mr. Walters was hurt by people confusing him for his character on yet another Fox show, Beverly Hills 90210.  (Apparently he threw Tori Spelling’s character down the stairs.)  Since Billboard doesn’t really justify sales numbers, I have no way to verify this, but in any case, Mr. Walters has become forgotten by radio stations coast to coast.  I know that I have not heard “Hold On” on the radio since the summer of 1995.  And that’s too bad.

 

 

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.

(Erotica peaked at #2 on the Billboard 200 and spawned four Top 40 hits.  And I don’t think any of them get airplay. Album ℗1992 Sire Records.  Photo courtesy Amazon.com.)

And why is this?  Perhaps it is because Madonna was at that time infamous for making a coffee table book in which she was wearing very little, if any, clothing.  (Now she’s just infamous for continuing to dress as if she were still that age.)  Or it may have been because the songs from this album were not as successful as singles from other albums of hers.  Wikipedia reports that no song from the album Erotica charted any higher than number three.  Or maybe the pop-music populace didn’t care as much for the songs of that era in which, as Idolator.com says (in a list of the 10 most forgotten Madonna songs–in which “Erotica” does not appear), Madonna “gabbed through tracks rather than singing on them.”

In any case, regardless of the reason, I personally do not believe that I have heard the title track on any radio station since its original run on the Hot 100 in late 1992/early 1993.  And this I find rather strange, since it had such a strong debut; it debuted on Billboard’s Hot 100 at number thirteen for the week ending October 17, 1992 (chart | magazine) and reached its peak position of number three the next week (chart | magazine), lasting 18 weeks on the Hot 100.  It also reached number two on Billboard’s airplay chart (debuting and peaking at that position on October 17*), which makes it doubly strange to me that it now receives, as far as I can tell, absolutely no airplay now.

According to commenter “BLT” at SongMeanings.net, Madonna intended this song to serve as a fantasy of “crazy and nasty things that go through [one’s] mind,” but are never acted on.

The video, which may presently be found on YouTube, was banned by MTV for content reasons, which, given the high standards of MTV, should tell you a lot.  This video will not be presented here, sorry.

* By this time, American Top 40 was using Billboard’s Hot 100 Airplay chart instead of the Hot 100 to determine its charts.