An Interview of Todd
- They fucking suck. The most obvious and most important of the reasons is that they are simply a terrible band, and worse than most other bands. Their sheer lack of quality is undeniable and staggering. I have problems with all the other artists you listed, but to even suggest that John Mayer or Kanye West are somehow worse than Nickelback is insanity. Clinical insanity.
- Consistency. Not only do they suck, they ALWAYS suck, in exactly the same way every time. Barring their newest album (in which superproducer Mutt Lange did his best to polish a turd), none of their songs was measurably better or worse than their others.
- Sheer volume. I can honestly think of several worse bands than Nickelback (Hinder, Saving Abel), but none with their sustained popularity. Their popularity has something to do with the backlash, but it's not just people hating them for being popular. It's that their popularity has granted them the opportunity to repeatedly pollute the airwaves day after day after day. Their second major-label album had FIVE singles. The one after that, SEVEN. The newest album has EIGHT. EIGHT FUCKING SINGLES.
- Unsexiness. Nickelback are an ugly, ugly band. Ugly lyrically, ugly sonically, and most of all, ugly visually. The Traveling Wilburys look like the Backstreet Boys next to Nickelback. Chad Kroeger has one of the worst voices in rock and roll, and it's used almost exclusively for moan-y angsty crap about how he misses his girlfriend. It's much like Stanley the Troll in NC's newest review: hideously unattractive and disgustingly weak.
"Did He/She/They Deserve Better?" comments from One Hit Wonderland
"Take On Me" by a-ha"Hell yeah, they did!
Hell, we let the Thompson Twins have a bunch of hits. Why should a-ha have been any different? I wouldn't say they should've been one the biggest names ever or anything, but they were probably too good and too successful in their home country to be dismissed as just one-hitters. They were not, in fact, 'gone in a day or two'. They toured right up until 2010 before retiring, and they released one more good vibe video, again with Steve Barron, where they turned into animated butterflies and flew away. Aww.
Farewell, a-ha. May you forever hit those high notes."
"Baby Got Back" by Sir Mix-a-Lot"I...guess?
I dunno, I mean, I picked Sir Mix-a-Lot for this episode because I always got the sense that there was more to this guy than his one big hit, and from what I can tell, that's definitely true. He had more personality and more work that deserves to be recognized. On the other hand, I didn't hear a lot of music from the guy that I couldn't live without. But on the other other hand, Sir Mix-a-Lot, and especially 'Baby Got Back', is influential in its own way. Not because we keep getting songs about ass, and those existed before Mix-a-Lot.
The kind of music 'Baby Got Back' embodied was probably started by 2 Live Crew. But the thing is, 2 Live Crew were awful, and no one really listens to them anymore. Sir Mix-a-Lot had better flow and funnier punchlines. And his legacy is probably not just the increase in appreciation for monster booty, but also the fact that he kept a careful balance between 'dirty' and 'silly'. There's probably a direct link between him and later rappers who walk the same line, like Nelly and especially Ludacris. Ever since the turn of the millennium, it feels like we've been awash in 'Baby Got Back'.
So if you want to understand how we got where we are in hip-hop, don't listen to 2-Pac; don't listen to Nas; don't listen to A Tribe Called Quest. Study 'Baby Got Back', because that's what all the rap guys today are apparently inspired by. But, ya know, who understands those rap guys?"
"Kung Fu Fighting" by Carl Douglas(chuckles) "No... no.
I mean, he didn't deserve worse, I guess. He's not a bad singer, I guess, but considering how overstuffed The '70s was with great R&B music, I have difficulty thinking of him as an unfairly dismissed wealth of talent. He wasn't really a man overloaded with good looks, pop star charisma, or dignity. Maybe if things had turned out differently, Carl Douglas could've gotten Barry White's career, but I... I really just don't see it.
Besides which, he doesn't seem to mind very much how his career wound up. If he's particularly disappointed that this was his only hit, he's never ever shown it. He showed up in that Bus Stop video. I found one quote from him where he says he's very proud of it. And on top of that, he released one more album in 2006 where he sings such gems as 'Return of the Fighter' and 'Game of Death'.
Can't really feel particularly bad for him; it seems like he's perfectly fine with his legacy as a one-hitter. As well he should be: 'Kung Fu Fighting' remains one of the great silly pop songs of all time."
"Come On Eileen" by Dexy's Midnight Riders"Um, yes.
The answer to that is yes. I hope I made that clear. They were just such a strikingly different band from much of the rest of The '80s. I dare say that the entire decade would've been a lot different—and probably for the better—if Dexy's had managed to notch a few more hits in this country. Most '80s music was so slick and polished, and Dexy's were defiantly unslick, even as they wrote some intensely catchy music. Now I fully recognize that 'Come On Eileen' is basically just a silly, feel-good '80s sing-along. But goddamn, it's a good one.
So 'toora loo rye ay'.
We're gonna hum this tune forever."
"Rico Suave" by Gerardo"I hate this moron.
He's just annoying! If I never have to hear that nasally whine again, I probably would be quite happy. He was just unlucky enough to hit it big at a time that aged phenomenally quickly. It seemed out of date just a year after it came out.
Surely there must be one nice thing I can say about him. I guess you could legit make the case that he was a trend-setter. Whatever else you want to say about his level of talent, he did prove that there was a market for Latinos in rap, and that Spanish-language hip-hop could succeed in the mainstream. So, in that sense, you could call him a pioneer: the first rapper to prove that there was more room for people than just Black or just White. In that regard, 'Rico Suave' is an important historical milestone, regardless of its actual quality.
Oh, wait, I forgot Mellow Man Ace. Crap, that guy was first.
Okay, Gerardo is a moron of no significance whatsoever. Good night!"
"Achy Breaky Heart" by Billy Ray Cyrus"Umm... Yes and no?
Now that I've gotten the chance to sample the full Billy Ray Cyrus, I'd say that his later material wasn't as catchy or good as material he had in his early years, which is probably why his career died out. But at the same time, he became a much better performer once he stopped doing the *grunting* shit. But, ya know, that's the persona he chose for himself. He's the one that wore the damn ponytail and the tank tops. His short shelf life was just something he brought on himself.
I don't think it's a coincidence that Billy Ray Cyrus's career died out right around the same time that Tim McGraw showed up and started doing the exact same shtick, but way better. In any case, time hasn't smiled on Billy Ray's heyday. Modern country music is still basically the house that Garth built, and most of biggest names of the early '90s are big names still. But Billy Ray's time in the spotlight has been pretty much wiped from memory. I don't think we're ever gonna get a major Billy Ray Cyrus revival.
But, if nothing else, we largely had 'Achy Breaky Heart' to thank for the line dancing craze that goes on to this day. Billy Ray Cyrus, your legacy lives on."
"Safety Dance" by Men Without Hats"Mmm... maybe a little better.
I was not all that inspired by the work. They are a B-lister band, definitely. I can't imagine someone saying Men Without Hats was their favorite band ever, or anything. That said, they do have a pretty strong cult following, and if you're into the poppier end of the New Wave scene, they're certainly worth checking out, and I'd definitely recommend giving them at least a little attention. The '80s certainly put out much worse stuff than this, and they were also one of the first, so they kept a tiny bit ahead of the trends, and they didn't end up sounding so tired and lifeless as some of their peers did by the end of that decade. As for the 'Safety Dance'? Yeah, I'd say it's earned its place in the pop pantheon.
If Footloose has taught me anything, it's that there are people everywhere trying to shut you down just for the crime of being young. And the 'Safety Dance' has forever provided the world with the perfect comeback.
Also, little person in a clown outfit. Can't beat that!"
"Play That Funky Music" by Wild Cherry"No.
Look, I love 'Play That Funky Music', but let's be honest here: If you're listening to Wild Cherry, there are a bunch of other better funk bands you could be listening to, too. Most of the rest of their stuff is listenable at the very least, and I can imagine any of these songs randomly showing up on a Tarantino soundtrack someday.
But for the most part I have to say, I was wrong. They were not that unique. Except for 'Play That Funky Music', you can find guys doing the same thing at any venue in America. Wild Cherry were basically a decent bar band that somehow lucked into one big hit, and never really made anything noteworthy again. Still, I hold by my opinion that anyone who doesn't like 'Play That Funky Music' is no friend of mine.
This is a song that brings people together. This is a song made at the absolute height of funk music about knowing the joy of funk music knows no boundaries. You've gotta keep on playing funky music.
Lay down the boogie. Play that funky music 'til you die."
"Monster Mash" by Bobby "Boris" Pickett"Deserve better?! My God, this guy had one of the most amazing lives I've ever read about! I'd consider myself lucky if I accomplished even a fraction of the things this guy did!
Pickett died in 2007 at the age of 69. He never exactly struck it rich, but 'Monster Mash' assured that he'd never have to worry about making rent, either. He went on tour playing the thing all the time dressed in a bloody lab coat. All I can tell you is the man lived a full life.
And while 'Monster Mash' may seem tired now after seven bajillion plays, there's a reason we still have 50 years after it came out. To this day, when you think of dancing monsters, it's to the sound of early 60s doo wop and girl groups.
Can you imagine Wolfman or Dracula swing dancing or break dancing? No! They do the Monster Mash, and so do you."
"Tubthumping" by Chumbawamba"Deserve to be known for more than one song? Yeah. Yeah. Hell to the yeah!
Yeah, Chumbawamba are probably the most interesting band that will ever be featured on One Hit Wonderland. I'll honestly be a little sad when I have to do the next episode where I'm gonna be covering something stupid like 'Pacman Fever' or whatever. When they broke up, the website Stereo Gum wrote that Chumbawamba was one of the few bands who could honestly claim they did everything they could as a band. That basically sums it up.
So even if I'm not a card-carrying anarchist myself, I have nothing but admiration for them and...their dozens of members and their many, many accomplishments. They are a singular, unique entity in pop culture, and they have my eternal respect.
Go, Chumbawamba! Viva the revolution!"
"Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" by Elmo and Patsy"This episode was a mistake.
This is not what this show is supposed to be about. I was expecting to cover underrated real artists, and novelty holiday songs are as far from real artists as I can get. Putting this episode together was torturous. I don't ever want to listen to this song ever again.
God, I think I'm somehow even less in the Christmas spirit than I was when I started. I just want this song to be over. Can't we just skip to Groundhog Day?"
"Party All The Time" by Eddie Murphy"I would say that he probably deserved a little worse.
He didn't earn those hits. Eddie Murphy's vocals weren't strong enough on their own to merit a singing career. These are vanity projects, plain and simple. And like most vanity projects, they were pretty lame.
Weird how vanity has become synonymous with embarrassment.
Not everything he recorded was terrible, but he never managed to make the case that he was a guy who wasn't trying to sound like other people. Especially Prince, and especially on that last album which sounds like the really bad albums Prince made in the '90s. Eddie Murphy sounded like a guy doing impressions. No more and no less. The only time he sounded like himself is when he did that Eddie Murphy laugh at the end of some of his songs.
He still finds a way to sing in a lot of his movies. Every single one of them is better than 'Party All The Time'. Murphy, of course, continued to be successful and make us laugh to this day. Such as last year when he released a film that got a rare 0% on Rotten Tomatoes.
May you continue to party all the time, Eddie."
"Closing Time" by Semisonic"Yes, yes, yes yes, and yes.
Semisonic's music is very much of its time in that it sounds like '90s rock, so if you don't like '90s alt-rock, don't bother. Honestly, I'm not surprised that Semisonic never really quite took off; they're a lot like Fountains of Wayne and The Marvelous Three. Two other bands that should've been bigger but were just a little too pop to have more than just marginal success in the rock world, and who had more success behind the scenes than as performers. Semisonic weren't forces of personality like Rivers Cuomo or Billie Jo Armstrong.
There was never going to be a huge contingent who were going to say 'Oh man, Semisonic were my life in high school!' This is something for a certain brand of record-collecting pop nerd like me, and I'm not sure how many of us there are out there. But still, they were a phenomenally talented band anchored by a superb songwriter, and I wish they had more success. I mean, I've heard like a half-dozen Lifehouse songs on the radio, and they were all atrocious.
We could've given a couple more radio plays to Semisonic. But at least they have 'Closing Time': the right song for the right time."
"Me & Mrs. Jones" by Billy Paul"Uhh... yes? I guess I'll go with yes.
He deserved more success, he also probably deserved better material, and probably better oversight from the record label. Kinda got screwed in that department. But even then, he still made a lot of good music, and I can't how the world would've been worse by having more Billy Paul in it. You can still find his stuff on tons of compilation CD's and stuff.
Paul is doing well enough for himself; he had to sue Gamble and Huff for some of his back royalties a few years ago, but he got it.
And of course, 'Me & Mrs. Jones' is eternal."
"It's Raining Men" by The Weather Girls"Eh.
Honestly, if you're gonna check out more of The Weather Girls' stuff, I'd recommend the stuff they made before and after they were The Weather Girls because those were a lot better than most of the stuff they released under that name. Then again, I didn't think any of their songs were bad either. I like it at least as much as the stuff Aretha Franklin was putting out in The '80s.
Yeah, I can see why didn't take off, but the world certainly wouldn't have been a worse place if The Weather Girls had made it rain a little longer. Seriously, who doesn't like 'It's Raining Men'?
I like them. The Weather Girls get a thumbs-up from me."
"Cotton-Eye Joe" by Rednex"I really grew to loathe this band over the course of this review.
That said, 'did they deserve better'? Well, they actually did about as well, probably even better than, you can expect a novelty euro-pop group to do. And honestly, not all of their songs are bad. I kinda like that Native American one, but... Yeah, you only have to hear one techno version of 'The Devil Went Down to Georgia' before you give up on the entire enterprise.
So yeah, Rednex: one gimmick extended far too long."
"Unbelievable" by EMF"Look, they had one hit in the US, and a few hits in England. I really don't see how they could've realistically hoped for more.
They caught the tail end of a dying genre, and weren't exactly the most original, or talented, or worthwhile. This is exactly the kind of band that becomes a flash in the pan. I would recommend their stuff only if you were really, really interested in the whole baggy scene, and you've already heard the better-remembered bands.
I guess my final verdict is... ehh...
But they had 'Unbelievable', and you can't take that away from them."
"I Ran (So Far Away)" by A Flock of Seagulls"Maybe not a whole lot better, but... yeah, better.
Even with the absolute glut of New Wave bands out in the early '80s, I feel like A Flock of Seagulls carved out a sufficiently unique niche for themselves. You can tell what makes them stick out from, say, Kajagoogoo. Of course, 'Space Age Love Song' also counts pretty highly in their favor.
That said, I'm not surprised they burned out so quickly. This was a band designed for 1982 and '83, and pretty much only '82 and '83. They could not survive outside of those fairly unique conditions. And as it turns out, they didn't have a whole lot of ideas outside of their first album. But despite their one-hit reputation, I feel pretty confident in going to bat for them.
Flock of Seagulls: Worthwhile band. Stupid hair.
Really, really stupid hair.
Like, even for an alien. Aliens would know better than that."
"I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" by The Proclaimers"Better? They seem to be doing pretty well for themselves.
Look, it should come as a surprise to no one that The Proclaimers are still hometown heroes in Scotland where they regularly sell out concerts all the time. But also, they're, ya know, they're just the definition of a band you want around. They weren't redundant, they had a unique style and a unique image, they were pretty talented songwriters, and they had one giant hit that has kept them working and will pay the rent for the rest of their lives.
The fact that they never bent to trends has served them well. That's a big reason why their careers have persisted far longer than their contemporaries. Then again, I can only imagine the colossal failure that would've happened if they ever tried to be hip in The '80s or The '90s. But they just were who they were and still are.
Soon, I imagine The Proclaimers will be called back to their home planet, and that will be a tragedy when that happens. But for the time being, I am proud to proclaim: Yes, The Proclaimers are a good band.
I salute you, Proclaimers. May you continue to walk those 500 miles."
"To Be With You" by Mr. Big"I guess. Yeah, yeah.
Like I said, their biggest problem was they were kind of weak songwriters. If they could've solved that, they could legitimately have had a strong, long lasting carrer—
Oh, wait. The '90s.
What am I talking about? There's no way they could've sustained a career in that decade; not stateside, at least.
That said, they survived and thrived through a decade that really should've crushed them like bugs, so I don't, I don't really feel bad for them, either. There's no doubt they were a really talented ensemble, and if you're into guys who can really play, man, they'd be a good band to check out. Above all, unlike many of their peers, they did not strike me as posers or idiots. They never really got big, but if they called themselves 'Mr. Pretty Solid for a Hair Metal Band', I would agree with that.
Mr. Big: Of all the hair bands, they were the last to be with you, and I think they made a good send-off for the genre. Rock on."
"In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" by Iron Butterfly"I feel safe in saying that 'In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida' is pretty much all the Iron Butterfly anyone needs.
Yeah, I'm not even sure it's fair to call Iron Butterfly a one-hit wonder, considering 'In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida' should count as 4 1/2 songs at least. Iron Butterfly were ultimately either too different or not different enough, I'm not sure. Iron Butterfly found themselves caught between two different trends, and they couldn't keep up. But this is not to take anything away from 'In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida'. There's pretty much nothing like it before or since.
So if you've gotta have just one hit, this is the kind of hit you want to have."
"Who Let the Dogs Out?" by Baha Men"Umm... in a better world, they would be famous for things other than what they are famous for.
Look, they tried being authentic and respectful, got nowhere... You can't blame them for cashing in when they did. But yeah, the Baha Men were a worthwhile group once, then they made their Faustian bargain, and became the walking punchlines they are now. I don't hate 'Who Let the Dogs Out?' as much as its reputation suggests I should, but... yeah yeah, no, I'd really rather not."
"Somebody's Watching Me" by Rockwell(ahem)
I can't emphasize how little business Rockwell had being a recording artist. He couldn't rap. He couldn't sing. He wasn't a good songwriter, or an engaging performer. And if his dad had been Robert Q. Schmuck, he would not have had the opportunities he did.
That said, 'Somebody's Watching Me' is a bolt of inspiration that came together perfectly. One that lives on at Halloween dance parties to this day.
But let's be clear: that was a fluke.
Somebody may have been watching him, but I can't imagine why."
"Smooth Criminal" by Alien Ant Farm"No-no!
They covered 'Smooth Criminal', but they probably should've covered 'Bad' because they were pretty bad. 'Smooth Criminal' was their only hit because it was the only song where they sound like they're having any fun. Maybe they should've spent more time trying to be like Sum 41. I mean, with the whole background party thing, that's what they look like. It was a Warped Tour hit for a Family Values Tour band, and Alien Ant Farm never found a way to reconcile the two sides. Maybe with better promotion they could've gotten luckier, but they probably shouldn't have.
I'm really sorry, but Alien Ant Farm are, by a pretty large margin, the least interesting band I've ever covered. I guess.
Look, this isn't my job! All their music sounds the same to me!"
"You Light Up My Life" by Debby Boone"Umm... I don't feel like my life was particularly lit up by listening to more Debby Boone.
The sad thing is, unlike her dad, who had more of a sense of humor about it, Debby was actually kinda hurt by being a punchline. But, uh, she made the music she made. The career of Debby Boone, daughter of Pat Boone, singer of 'You Light Up My Life', went exactly the way you'd imagine it would go. I think 'You Light Up My Life' was probably more than enough Debby Boone for anyone.
Again, she seems really nice, but... no, this is not the music for me. She filled our nights with song, but I wish she hadn't. Sorry."
"You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)" by Dead or Alive"God, what makes a person think that much plastic surgery is a good idea? That's just grotesque.
Uh, no. No they didn't.
They seemed to have all the ingredients for a longer career in the glam-tastic '80s, but...uhh, the songs just weren't there, just weren't... No, this is a band that really only put it together for one song, and everything else they released seemed like a lesser variation on the same thing. They never released anything I thought was bad or a waste of time, but they're definitely a minor entry in the genre.
Dead or Alive: Proof that you can't sustain a music career on attitude alone."
"Walking in Memphis" by Marc Cohn"Look, if your tastes run toward easy-listening light rock, you could certainly do worse.
I saw one writer describe Marc Cohn as 'the last singer-songwriter', which sounds about right. He would probably have a much better reputation if he started in The '70s. Probably the last of his kind to slip through to the popular consciousness before that window closed. There is still a market for this kind of music, of course, just not in the mainstream pop sphere. More like at Starbucks and Barnes & Noble, and I don't even know if they were selling music when Cohn first started.
And he's still recording today, by the way, including a covers album just a couple years ago. Marc Cohn probably did not deserve to be called the best debut of 1991, but he wasn't a bad artist by any means. Just too tasteful.
And 'Walking in Memphis'... Who doesn't like walking in Memphis?
"How Bizarre" by OMC"I was not expecting to say this when I started, but yeah, yeah. Honestly, yeah, I'll say that for OMC.
I'm not sure I wanted more than one album from them, but, ya know, they're just such a unique, different band. They do a lot of the same kind of genre-hopping that reminds me of Beck, especially Beck's funkier stuff. If they had managed to get a little more airtime, I wouldn't have complained at all.
And now that Pauly's passed, I assume this means the rights are now available again for purchase, so... I think someone should get on that so we can know exactly what happened when they drove off.
I'm sure it's fascinating."
"Float On" by Loveland(laughs)
"'Float On' has not aged well. Well, I say it hasn't aged well, but I don't know it was taken all that seriously even in 1977.
Their other songs were far less embarrassing, but this one is definitely the most interesting and fun to listen to. And I'll say this, too: even though 'Float On' is a phenomenally silly song and definitely not something you want to hear very often, I do prefer its faux-smooth, cheeseball lover man schtick to the more modern R&B guys who are just douchebags."
"Ghetto Superstar (That Is What You Are)" by Pras Michel"I'll tell you what we deserved: another Fugees album.
It's clear that Pras wasn't interesting enough to be a rapper on his own; he needed The Fugees. But in retrospect, The Fugees all needed each other. Lauryn is now literally insane and hasn't made an album in 15 years. Wyclef basically disappeared into his own pretensions and political volitantism and...
...whatever this is." (refers to his wailing, indecipherable contribution to 'We Are The World 25')
"It might've seemed differently in '98 when Lauryn and Wyclef were getting nominated for all those awards, but it's clear now they were all at their strongest together. And as for Pras solo, well he never became a ghetto superstar like he wanted. It happens.
It's just a shame he thought he should be acting instead."
"Absolutely (Story of a Girl)" by Nine Days"Well, let me put it like this: This was the story of a—no. No, they didn't.
Yeah, they weren't the worst thing ever; they had some potential. The label blanded them up, and then screwed them over. But even with the harder rock sound they tried, they still weren't any harder than Matchbox Twenty or anything. These were not unfairly ignored talents.
The story of Nine Days could've been the story of a billion other bands. But it's the story of them specifically because of that one song.
That one worthless, joyously-wonderful song."
"Groove Is in the Heart" by Deee-Lite"None of their other songs ever delivered on the promise of 'Groove Is in the Heart'. They still deserved better.
They were fun to listen to, especially on their first album. They were just, I guess, too weird for the time. They might have had better luck in the last half of The '90s alongside Smash Mouth, and Hanson, and especially The Spice Girls who show a lot of influence from Deee-Lite on them. Lady Gaga probably owes her a lot, too.
At least we still have 'Groove Is in the Heart', though. Everybody loves that. Unless you don't, in which case I guess groove is just not in your heart.
God knows what is in your heart."
"Just a Friend" by Biz Markie"Abso-friggin-loutely.
Biz Markie is an original. There's been none like him, and there won't be another any time soon. Yeah, he was a clown, but the world loves a clown for a reason.
Biz Markie challenged the preconceptions of who could be a rapper, because he wasn't a 'gangsta', he wasn't slick, he wasn't a lover-man or a pretty boy, and he never tried to be. He just was who he was. And every rapper who's come out since then who was weird or goobery or grew up being uncool owes him a little something.
Biz Markie—wailing, mumbling Biz Markie—a pioneer of music. Respect."
"Informer" by Snow"Well... ye... ...no, not really.
I found Snow a lot less hateable than his reputation would suggest; he wasn't nearly the obnoxious, incompetent twerp that Vanilla Ice was. And is. Snow was, in fact, very respectful of the art form he co-opted. He recorded many times in Jamaica, and I never thought his love of reggae was shallow or insincere.
But... I dunno. Snow is not a guy I really want to stick my neck out for, ya know? Like the fake accent, man, it's hard to get around.
And 'licky boom-boom down', what are you supposed to do with that?"
"Hooked on a Feeling" by Blue Swede"Uhh...
Sweden, you seemed to like the guy. You could've kept all this for yourself, honestly.
Look, '70s AM bubble rock was made by a bunch of these short-lived, manufactured bands that no one took seriously as artists, not even themselves. So trying to analyze them as, ya know, 'artists' is difficult. But I've listened to enough Blue Swede now that I think I've got a handle on who they were, and I would call them a very poor man's Blood, Sweat, and Tears.
Blue Swede, I am confident in saying, did not need to exist. But, ya know, if you have a bottomless tolerance for '70s kitsch, then yeah, go ahead. 'Ooga shaka' all you want. Me? No, I'll pass.
Sorry, Star Lord. 'Awesome Mix, Vol. 1' is a little less awesome than you think it is."
"Maniac" by Michael Sembello"I think I have been enjoying the work of Michael Sembello in exactly the way it should be enjoyed.
Thirty years in hindsight, these videos are pure gold. This would not have been as fun if I knew these songs to begin with. Unfortunately, it looks like he kept trying to ride trends, and then most of it is like really bad soundtrack filler and soft rock. But in that magical year of 1983, those trends brought us "Maniac" and "Automatic Man", two songs that will earn him my only semi-ironic respect for the rest of his life.
Oh god, this is one of the most glorious happy accidents in pop history. The man missed his calling writing about robots and chainsaw-wielding psychos, I swear to God."
"Lullaby" by Shawn Mullins"Uhh... maybe I'm not the person to ask.
'Guy with acoustic guitar'? Not for me, but Shawn Mullins is fine. If you like guys who sound like watered-down Tom Petty, Shawn Mullins is the guy for you. Which there are definitely worse things to sound like.
I mean, I like The Wallflowers, so there ya go."
"Word Up" by Cameo"Actually, they did pretty well. But yes, they deserved better.
I actually don't like much 80's R&B, especially when it got into the, like, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, stuff from Janet Jackson, all that. But pretty much everything I heard from Cameo, I liked. They had the bad luck to break out right when the public was unnecessarily hostile to Black music. And if Cameo was only a mainstream success for a brief period of time, it's not because they were only briefly hip to trends. It's because trends were only briefly hip to them.
Cameo is still touring, and I think their legacy will only grow in stature as the years go on. Word."
"Blue (Da Ba Dee)" by Eiffel 65(grunt)
"I'm not gonna say I hate Eiffel 65; this is not a band to be angry about. But I certainly can't think of anything I like about them. There are few songs as brainless as 'Blue (Da Ba Dee)'. And to me, most of their other songs sound like filler songs on Dance Dance Revolution, complete with shitty screen saver video.
That said, unlike many dance acts, they, uhh... they definitely carved out their own identity. You weren't gonna mistake Eiffel 65 for anyone else. And if you are more amused by unembarrassed stupidity than I am, maybe you can find something you like about them.
But personally, I find the name of their only hit fitting because Eiffel 65 blew."
"St. Elmo's Fire (Man in Motion)" by John Parr"Yeah, yeah... yeah, not really.
Yeah, I got basically what I expected out of this one. John Parr was not a man with the talent or charisma to last more than a couple songs. But my opinion of 'St. Elmo's Fire' the song remains unchanged, even despite the lousy movie or the badness of any of the guy's other stuff."
"MMMBop" by Hanson"Oooooh yes.
After I became a Hanson fan, I checked to see if I now liked 'MMMBop', and I didn't. But I'm glad they used the success of that song to keep their career going instead of fading away like billions of teen pop stars before them. If they didn't have 'MMMBop' in their past, I think people would talk about them in the breath as, ya know, cooler bands like Spoon, or Fountains of Wayne, or The Fratellis, or bands like that.
So yes, they deserved better, but it's hard to feel bad for them. Maybe they're not as famous as they were in '97, but they used that momentum to propel what can only be considered a strong career. And they certainly don't seem like they resent their one big hit, either.
Truly one of my favorite bands I've ever covered on One Hit Wonderland."
"Turning Japanese" by The Vapors"Yes. Yes, I really think so.
How about this: they deserved the opportunity to see if they deserved better. Now, seriously, hold up: My life is definitely a tiny bit better because I listened to them. So if you want to hear where punk started turning into new wave, you could really do worse. Good band."
"Butterfly" by Crazy Town"N-n-n-n-n-n-NO!
Fortunately, exploring further Crazy Town records revealed exactly what I expected it to: a really lousy metal band who had one hit that sounded absolutely nothing like anything else they ever released. Yeah, 'Butterfly' is one of those bad songs I can totally get behind. Considering what happened to Crazy Town, it's not surprising that no other band ever tried to repeat their success. But I wish they had. Can you honestly say we didn't need more of this? More than we needed more P.O.D.?
Yeah, so that's...that's my verdict. Crazy Town was mostly bad, but 'Butterfly' is still awesomely bad."
"Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band" by Meco"No.
This guy's best work is definitely not as a lead artist. This is a guy who belonged behind the scenes while other people took the lead. Star Wars was fertile enough to keep going for eternity. But the disco Star Wars theme was not; it is distinctly of a very specific time and place. But for that short moment in time, it worked.
May the Dance be with you."
"Mickey" by Toni Basil"I feel like if you asked her, she'd laugh pretty hard at the thought that she actually needed to do 'better'.
No, she did pretty goddamn well for herself. Arguably, music is the thing she's least successful for, seeing as 'Mickey' never made her much money. Most of the money from her hits tends to go to the songwriter, which, ya know, she's technically not the songwriter even though she wrote the cheerleader chant which is the only part anyone remembers.
But anyway, sometimes I do these episodes, and I have to cancel them because I just cannot find any information about the band. I looked up her, and I just found a goddamn ton of info from long-ass articles and interviews and retrospectives. It's... no, she is very, very big and important. And she's still working today, in her seventies!
"Eve of Destruction" by Barry McGuire"Oh, he's fine. Yeah, his other songs, yeah, you can skip 'em.
He had written a bunch of songs before he got big; he released a whole solo album. I'm not sure why he didn't write his own singles afterwards. The fact that he was broke before he got picked up for a solo career might've had something to do with it. In any case, maybe you could say he deserved better if he, ya know, was more, ya know, real, more authentic. But in my opinion, his other singles you can do without. He found his niche outside of the mainstream, and if you like Jesus music, by all means listen to his '70s stuff.
And if you like his newer Kidz Bop'y stuff, uhh... then you probably already listen to him.
Oh, and 'Eve of Destruction' holds up. So if you want a song that implies you should start hoarding canned goods in your basement, that's what I'd go with. Peace."
"Ridin'" by Chamillionaire"DID I MENTION THE MILLIONS? WHO CARES!?
I don't give one shit about whether his music career should've been bigger.
I mean, okay, I wouldn't have minded if some of his other songs have been hits. I listened to some of his mix tapes; he's a pretty funny guy. He still might have more hits in him. He's finally releasing that third album this year, so who the hell knows? I mean, no one was talking about Bone Thugs in 2006, and then Chamillionaire brought them back. So yeah, he could very well make a comeback and sell a ton more records.
Won't be selling them to me, though.
Done enough work for him."
"I Believe in a Thing Called Love" by The Darkness"Uhh, yes!
It is not hard to figure out why The Darkness didn't stay huge. They were treated like a novelty. They treated themselves like a novelty. But they were still awesome. I don't expect them to ever have another hit. And quite honestly, even if this were the only song they ever released, I'd be fine with it because it's just it's just so perfectly them.
The Darkness. Rock on."
"Living in a Box" by Living in a Box"Well... maybe not better, exactly, but I could see how they could, kinda...
No. No, they didn't.
Ya know, I do this show because I love breaking down different genres, laughing at funny outfits, exploring things people forgot, but... Just listening to this music, no, I can pretty much do without Living in a Box. I'm happy to leave that one behind. Once I'm done with this, I'm gonna stick all this in a box.
Because that's where this belongs: in a cardboard box that you tape up with duct tape and stick in a garage along with all the other shit from The '80s that you never threw out."
"I Love You Always Forever" by Donna Lewis"Look, I'll be straight with you. This was a boring episode to research.
No, no she really didn't... I, uhh, don't know what to say here. This... this, uh... yeah. The song's nice. I wouldn't break my neck to find more of her stuff."
"I Touch Myself" by The Divinyls"Yeah.
Did they deserve better in the sense of 'did they deserve one more hit song'? Yeah. But they were a cult band through and through. They just weren't a band that could be appreciated by the mainstream, but they are still considered one of Australia's best rock bands if their Hall of Fame induction is any indication.
The Divinyls: They touched themselves. They also touched all of us."
"Mexican Radio" by Wall of Voodoo"I... ...kind of?
I don't really like any of the stuff I heard from Wall of Voodoo, and I'm not sure Stan Ridgeway's solo stuff I'm that into, either. But, ya know, it... ...it was original. No one else was making it. I can totally see why they have a cult following, but... ...ugh, no, it's not for me.
But if you are an enthusiast of cowboy-influence synth pop, well...here's a band for you."
"One Tin Soldier" by Coven"...yeah.
They were just too ahead of their time, is what happened. Imagine if they had a career that was driven by this (shows something from Black Mass) and not this (shows 'One Tin Soldier'). Yeah, I just don't like this song. I mean, I like the chorus, but the verses kill it for me. It just wasn't what Coven were made to do. It was a fluke soundtrack hit from a fluke movie hit. Not what they should've been doing.
Ahh, what might have been..."
"Flood" by Jars of Clay"Well, all will receive their just reward when the Lord calls them home. But they seem like they've done well enough.
The fact that they crossed over at all is shocking on its own for a Christian band; I don't think they were trying at all to be mainstream, that was just a bonus. It was a good time for Christian rock, unlike nowadays when the market appears to have dried up for everyone except the blandest, least-creative acts in the world.
So I give Jars of Clay the highest praise I will ever give a Christian group: I could almost mistake them for a real band."
"Beds are Burning" by Midnight Oil"Usually when I cover these bands that are huge in their own country, I say, ya know, they did so well that they didn't need to do better. But here, I'm saying, yes, they deserved way better.
Now this is a good damn band with a serious legacy, and they are absolutely worth your time. So, do you like political music? Are you into 80s college rock? Are you okay with some of the topics being a little obscure to your little Northern Hemispheric mind? Well, check these guys out right away."
"Rock Me Amadeus" by Falco"Well, he did well enough in his home country, obviously, but did he deserve to be bigger in the US and the UK?
I'm not saying he's bad; he's actually very interesting. It's just I can't imagine a world where Falco has a sustainable career in America. And according to blogs, he tried many times, it just never came together. Apparently, he arguably wasn't even a one-hit wonder. But even if every one of his singles crossed over, you'd think of him as a one-hit wonder anyway.
'Rock Me Amadeus' is just a thing that shouldn't even be, and yet, so wonderfully, is. And that's the way it should be listened to: a bizarre experiment never to be repeated.
Falco, ruhe in frieden, auf wiedersehen."
"Video Killed the Radio Star" by The Buggles(shrug) "Sure.
I mean, I'm sure Trevor Horn isn't weeping that The Buggles weren't more successful as he sits on his pile of gold records, but... yeah, yeah, sure, I would've been fine with them having more hits. I can't imagine that ever happeningthey were far too weirdbut, I mean, yeah, what would've been the harm?
The Buggles: A strange band that wrote the future."
"Freak Like Me" by Adina Howard"Uhh... If she could find the songs to back it up, sure.
She didn't have the most interesting voice, but she had the poise and confidence of a much more seasoned performer. 'Freak Like Me', that was always going to be a hard one to top, but if she had had more support?
Heck yeah! Yeah."
"Right Now" by SR-71"Look, Mitch Allen is obviously a very talented composer. But I have a hard time making the case that the world needed more SR-71.
They weren't doing anything new, they didn't have a whole lot of range, they seemed to be following trends their entire career. They were the very definition of a redundant band. But 'Right Now' is still a killer pop song, and unjustly forgotten. The polish on that thing, the songcraft, it's insane. It is absolutely no surprise for me at all that he continues behind the scenes as a songwriter. Although he's still never written anything as catchy as '1985' or 'Right Now'.
As a matter of fact, his one big hit song was about a mediocre romance that was never gonna go anywhere, but was good enough for the time being. Really, doesn't that just sell up SR-71?"
"In the Summertime" by Mungo Jerry"I can say definitively that Mungo Jerry got every bit of success they deserved.
'In the Summertime' is an eternal jam. The rest of their stuff... ...it's fine. It was moderately good, got them a moderate amount of success. They weren't overrated or underrated, they were 'rated'. They were perfectly rated. And if you're doing anything fun this summer, this might not be a bad song to throw on.
"Laffy Taffy" by D4L"No. I mean, yeah, sure. I mean, no!
Look, 'Laffy Taffy' was not a good song. That's all I wanted to say when I started this episode. I just wanted to make an episode about the worst song I could remember, and, uhh... and now, here we are."
"Give It to You" by Jordan Knight"I can't believe I'm gonna say this, but yes, absolutely.
I have developed a surprising fondness for the New Kids and for Jordan's solo career, also. Maybe not for actual music he released, but he was a talented guy and he helped direct the path of pop music. And he's talented enough that he could have and should have had a better career than he did. What happened, I dunno. I just want to say thank you Jordan, Jonathan, Joey, Danny, and Donnie, for bringing us so much joy and happiness.
"I'm Too Sexy" by Right Said Fred"No, no, they didn't deserve better. They were just too sexy to deserve better.
Yeah, I think it's fair to say that Right Said Fred got more out of life than they really merited. But man, they had one great idea, and they they milked the shit out of it. Some day, if I ever come up with a phrase that popular, I hope to ride it as well as Right Said Fred did. God bless you two beefy, oiled-up baldies.
Yeah, yeah, let's finish it there. We're done. We are too sexy to continue."
"Fire" by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown"Yes! Yes! Absolutely!
This band is so goddamn influential, and an inspiration to so many weirdos. So many much more famous and successful rock stars owe so much to him that I'm pretty sure they all try to buy him lunch every day. He's just that impressive. And yeah, maybe he was too weird to gain any traction. I can't really imagine a world where Kingdom Come or Strangelands go platinum or anything. But still, this man was an absolute original who shaped rock and roll. A genuine oddball imitated for decades since.
What more could you possibly ask for!?
"Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo" by Rick Derringer"Let's say he deserves to be better known. Now, your average rock fan probably wouldn't recognize the guy's name, but they should. Then again, if he was more known, then Alex Jones probably should've stained his reputation irreparably.
Sorry, that just took the wind out of my sails.
Ya know, no. I'm not gonna let it ruin his work for me. The man is one of the great side men of rock and roll, even if he became a crazy conspiracy asshole afterward. And 'Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo' holds up, I will totally stand by it. 'Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo'.
Okay, it does still sound a little dumb to me."
"Tic Tac Toe" by Kyper"I don't think The '90s really needed another pop rapper. We didn't need more than one Hammer.
His dance stuff I think was pretty good. Would've liked to hear more of that. I think he might've broke a little late. If he had broken out a little earlier, he could probably have been a lot bigger. So, uh, did he deserve better? Yeah, sure, why not?
Well, I hope you're doing okay, dude. May your tic-tac-toes never end in a tie."
"What is Love" by Haddaway(shrug)
"He's a good singer. Others have done a lot more with a lot less. But I don't think it really matters. He was a dance artist. Personality doesn't really matter in dance music. You have the songs to make people dance, or you don't. And he didn't.
Of course, he started on such a high note that there was nowhere to go but down. I mean, that song's never going away. Not until we discover the actual meaning of love.
'What is Love', forever."
"Pepper" by Butthole Surfers"'Did they deserve better'. Ya know, you ask that question like they wanted better. They demonstrably did not.
That one hit was pretty much all the hit they needed. If they wanted more success, they'd have picked a different name. They weren't trying to have hits, they made the music they wanted, and they are legends because of it. And in between their weird, weird career, there was this one brief hit that happened as one last troll of a joke that hit like an avalanche coming down the mountain.
'Did they deserve better'. Fuck you!"
"Scatman (Ski-ba-bop-ba-dop-bop)" by Scatman John"Yes. Definitely. Abso-ski-ba-di-ba-dee-lutley.
This was just a stupid novelty song to me before I did this episode, and now it is a song from one of my favorite artists I've ever covered here. I feel nothing but happiness listening to this. And though he is no longer with us, I truly believe that the Scatman is still out there in Scatland, making our dreams come true."
"Missing" by Everything but the Girl"Yeah. Yeah.
This is really just a great band who did a lot of great things over their long, long career. And even if they never really built up that legendary cult status like The Cure or The Smiths, I really do recommend their '80s stuff, it's... they're just a damn good band. So, yes. Yes, they deserved better. They deserved more success like the desert deserves the rain.
Does a desert deserve rain? I don't know if that makes sense.
But yeah, good band."
"Lovefool" by The Cardigans"Hell yeah!
Very strange and interesting band you've got here. Now I wasn't too surprised at this, because I remember that second hit, but these guys are just all over the place. And I will say this: Every phase of their career, I liked. They're not a band who was ever gonna be like these huge, lasting rock stars. They were way too idiosyncratic. But this is exactly the kind of act we need more of.
In a world where so much rock music sounds calculated, the sense I got from The Cardigans is that they made the music they wanted to make, and I found all of it extremely refreshing. And at the very crest of their career, they gave us one happy, sunshine-y summer pop song.
God bless you, unclassifiable Scandinavian indie rockers. You made The '90s so much more interesting."
"She Blinded Me With Science" by Thomas Dolby"Umm... ye...almost?
I dunno. He's obviously a for-real, talented guy, but it never quite came together for me. Not the same that his influences like Bowie or The Talking Heads do. It wasn't for me. But that's kind of the appeal for him, that he's not for everyone. He was just a very singular guy with a very weird muse that he wasn't afraid to follow no matter where it took him. And I just admire the guy for being who he is. He made a song about mad science, and he was a legit kind of a mad scientist. That's awesome.
Thank you, Mr. Dolby, for blinding me with your novelty music and hilarious music videos."
"The Mummer's Dance" by Loreena McKennitt"Should we even answer this? She's sold 15 million records. That's the same amount of records that the Bare Naked Ladies sold, and they just got inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.
But what I mean by 'did she deserve better' is, 'does she deserve better than to be called a one-hit wonder'? And yes, obviously she deserves better than that.
But I don't think anyone really thinks of her in those terms. I don't think people even remember her one hit. But those that do, it seems to have got them devoted to her for life. This was a weird episode, but I appreciate being able to do it. There are a lot of genres that won't ever get out of their niche unless the stars line up just right. And that's what happened here. When she started showing up on the rock charts, she said that people had broader tastes than they're given credit for, and she was right.
Loreena's still one of the most popular acts of New Age around, and she'll probably perform for the rest of her life. I salute her."
"Wherever You Will Go" by The Calling"Come on.
Look, despite his tumultuous life, Alex and The Calling don't seem like they're hurting. They had a lot of international success with those two albums, and he's been on tour in Asia and Australia in recent years.
But lightning struck once for them. There was a flood of bands like this in the early 2000s, and most of them lasted for between one and zero songs. The Calling did absolutely nothing to distinguish themselves from any other major-label radio act except be cute. They were impersonal, lackluster, and—most damningly—an unambitious band. But that's the magic of pop music: it's not a meritocracy. So sometimes, a bunch of kids release a half-assed, overpolished piece of hacky studio crap, and it just hits that sweet spot, and it sticks around.
I don't know what to say. There's no reason it should've been a hit, and yet there it is. I will never understand music."
"Never Had a Dream Come True" by S Club 7"In America, you mean?
Well, how about I put it like this: I think they deserved to have any of their other hits be big rather than the one that did.
I'm not gonna say I like them, exactly, but I have had 'S Club Party', and 'Reach', and 'Don't Stop Movin', and 'Bring It All Back' attractively stuck in my brain since I started this episode. They're cheesy. They are really grating. But I see why they're hits. Goddamn it, they're catchy. 'Never Had a Dream Come True' just slides off my brain.
Did they deserve better? Yeah.
They deserve better the same way every child star deserves better than to be ground up and spit out by the pop machine."
"Flagpole Sitta" by Harvey Danger"Maybe a little.
If you're interested in a '90s alt-rock band with, like, clever Fall Out Boy-esque lyrics, then yeah, maybe check them out. In hindsight, it's incredible that a band like Harvey Danger had even one hit, but that one hit song is undeniable. Had they broken earlier, or been a little more willing to go commercial, I think they could've had at least a couple other hits. But that wasn't them.
Harvey Danger have reunited on and off over the years, but they played their final shows, and they all went on to other successful pursuits in writing, in art, business, the independent music industry... and Nelson has performed in bigger bands that came up after, like Death Cab.
Their one hit is still surreal to them. It's amazing that this self-trashing song lasted this long, but it deserves it. It's still one of the best rock songs of The '90s."
"Here It Goes Again" by OK Go"OK Go have carved out a unique place in entertainment, and found a level of success that, I think, fits them.
If 'Here It Goes Again' is still their standout song, it deserves to be. It's very good, and it works with its video in a way that OK Go's subsequent work kinda doesn't. But it's not like I'm surprised that they've made videos the foundation of their career, or begrudge them for it. Making music for a living is extremely hard. If they've found a way to make an audience, entertained people, even if it's in a very different way than most rock bands do, then by God let them do it.
But 'Here It Goes Again', the video and the song, that's something they'll never be able to recreate.
It's a snapshot of a perfect moment in Internet culture. It's the perfect song for the time."
"Jump Around" by House of Pain"Man, sometimes when you do it that perfectly the first time, there's no point in continuing.
There's nowhere to go but down from 'Jump Around'. It was the cream of the crop, it rose to the top. It's no wonder they couldn't follow it up, and Everlast had to rebuild his career doing something entirely different. Naw, it's simply the best song ever made.
May 'Jump Around' live forever."
"The Night Chicago Died" by Paper Lace"Ehhhh...
Mostly what I got from doing this episode is how not to have a lasting career:
- Establish no identity with your first singles
- Tie yourself to really kitschy music almost designed to age badly
- Sever ties with the hit-makers who you owe your success to
I don't think they deserve better; I don't think they really wanted better. They seem like men with very limited ambitions. They liked having hits, but they wanted to be, ya know, Three Dog Night, not The Beatles. They are the very definition of a disposable act. And to be clear, sometimes disposable acts can make truly great lasting moments, but this is not it. There's a reason no one listens to this song anymore. And I've seen people defend 'The Night Chicago Died', but I'd give it a 2 out of 10 at most, just an obnoxious song in all ways.
The perceived Baby Boomer wisdom always said The '70s were worse than The '60s for music, and I finally get it. It's not that the good music was less good. It's that your average music got so much worse. Like, it wasn't Motown anymore, it wasn't garage rock, it was shit like this.
"You Get What You Give" by New Radicals"It's hard to say they deserved more when [Gregg] Alexander didn't want more. Let's say that I, the fan, deserved more from this band, because they were really good.
In an alternate universe where Alexander could handle the pressure, the New Radicals are...well I don't know if they're successful, exactly, but they're certainly critical darlings. Instead, 'You Get What You Give' lives on as a song too good to be from a one-hit wonder, and yet also too good not to be from a one-hit wonder. You got it in one, you're never gonna beat it, just go out on top.
Now let's all dance."
"The Hustle" by Van McCoy"The man was extremely talented, so does he deserve more credit for all the things he did? Yeah, yeah, absolutely.
Do I think he deserves to be a household name, or have any of his other songs be big hits? No, not really.
No, I think "The Hustle" was the best thing he ever put his name on. And if that's his legacy, it's a pretty nice one to go out on. Really, he was, like, the first of the modern dance producers, right? He's the one who realized he didn't have to give credit to any of his songs to anyone else. He could just put his name on his own work. So Calvin Harris, David Guetta, they owe him a debt of gratitude.
Yeah, this song still rules."
"I Love College" by Asher Roth"This is gonna sound kinda weird, but he was good enough that he deserved worse.
If he had not signed when he did, if he had not broken through when he did, with the hit that he did, he might actually be a little bigger now than he was. He has kind of a similar energy to Mac Miller. Miller never had that big crossover, but he maintained a decent fan base and a steady level of success all his short life. It seems like with the right nurturing, Roth could've had that at least. But you could tell he was being pigeon-holed, and he just couldn't make the restrictions work for him, and he burnt out on it all really quick.
He is now at the level he seems happy to be at. And maybe at some point, if he keeps going, he'll escape the shadow of "I Love College". At the very least, he knows his one hit altered the course of pop history. Maybe not for the better, but it did.
But as not great as "I Love College" is, there's still a tiny bit of affection I have for it. Roth didn't write it in college; he dropped out to pursue hip hop and was already missing it. So if you see it as a song of nostalgia to happier and more care-free days, it does sound a tiny bit better."