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PostPosted: Sat Oct 26, 2013 7:19 pm 
Mr. Party-Killbot
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An explanation, if I may:

Some weeks ago, an online reviewer I follow produced a massive pair of videos in which he, having gone through every single Billboard-certified Number 1 Hit song from 1958 through 2013, described the Twenty best, and Twenty worst of the entire bunch. It was an illuminating series of videos, and it inspired me to do a crazy thing. For the last bit, I have been slowly going through all of the thousand-odd songs that have ever hit number 1, and recording my own thoughts on the matter. And being as I apparently exist to share pain and suffering with everyone in equal turn, I have decided to deploy these thoughts here for the purpose of being resoundingly mocked by all of you fine people.

I will be presenting my thoughts on the number 1 music of yesteryear, song by song, year by year. Each song will have commentary by me, short for the first few ones, more extensive for songs I actually know something (or care) about, as well as information as to the song's reign atop the charts, and a letter grade, purely subjective, from A through F, grades which I trust will prove self-explanatory. I will, when possible, provide links to places where you fine people can listen to the songs in question so as to offer your own comments, should you desire to do so. Moreover, as the Number 1 songs can only be evaluated in the context of what else was going on that year, I will also be browsing through the Billboard Top 100 End-of-Year list for the year in question, calling out any excellent songs from that year that did NOT hit number 1. Then perhaps some of you can explain to me how Winchester Cathedral was considered a better song in 1966 than I Fought the Law.

Unlike my movie reviews, this project of mine will proceed haphazardly, whenever I can spare the time to throw up a thought or two on the song in question. Don't expect a regular schedule any more than you usually do from me (har har har). This is merely a hobby I've decided to engage in, but anyone who wishes to know anything more about music than they presently do may find a few things in here to be illuminating.


So then, ladies and gentlemen, let's get this going with:

1958
Yearly GPA: 1.136

Note: Billboard published the very first Hot 100 list on August 4th, 1958. I am therefore beginning halfway through the year, which accounts for the small number of songs from this year. Believe me, we're not missing anything.

Average GPA is based on the grade a song gets multiplied by the number of weeks it sat at number 1, divided by the total number of weeks in the year, which for most years will be 52. A score of 4.0 means every song was absolutely sublime, and 0.0 means the exact opposite. One might expect an average of about 2.0, representing an equal number of good and crap songs. As you will discover, that is an incorrect assumption.


Ricky Nelson - Poor Little Fool
Number 1 song from August 4th-17th, 1958 (2 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: D
Welcome to the 50s, Ladies and Gentlemen. This bad Hank Williams ballad is the sort of thing we have to look forward to for the next five years or so.



Domenico Modugno - Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu
Number 1 song from August 18th-24th, September 1st-29th, 1958 (5 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: D
Italy's Eurovision entry in 1958, if you can believe it. The fifties were so fallow that this was apparently the best thing around for more than a month. I think it sounds like a Lounge Singer crossed with the Exorcist.



The Elegants - Little Star
Number 1 song from August 25th-31st, 1958 (1 week)
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Havoc's Grade: C
Despite highly creepy harmonies, this one isn't half bad.



Tommy Edwards - It's All in the Game
Number 1 song from September 29th-November 9th (6 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: D
Neither this singer nor this song have the slightest bit of game.



Conway Twitty - It's Only Make-Believe
Number 1 song from November 10th-16th, 24th-30th, 1958 (2 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: B
Literally the only genuine thing I found in 1958. Standards are gonna have to be a bit low until we get to the period of actual music (maybe 1963?)



The Kingston Trio - Tom Dooley
Number 1 song from November 17th-23rd, 1958 (1 week)
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Havoc's Grade: D
A classic folk song sung in the most preachy, overwrought fashion imaginable by one of the more boring folk bands ever conceived of. Might be emblematic of the decade, but if this is what passed for Folk Music back then, I begin to see why Dylan hit so hard.



To Know Him is to Love Him - The Teddy Bears
Number 1 song from December 1st-21st, 1958 (3 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: D
Believe it or not, that's Phil Spector on backup vocals. He wrote, composed, arranged, and produced this song. Judging from it, there's a very good reason he stuck only with the fourth of those things going forward. This is one of the most insipid things to find its way into the charts, even in the fifties.



Christmas Don't Be Late - Alvin & The Chipmunks
Number 1 song from December 22, 1958-January 18, 1959 (4 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: F
Oh dear god... no... no... NO! MAKE IT STOOOOOOOOOP!!!!!!

Seriously, this song sounds like the crooning of a chorus of Antichrists. Music to murder Santa Claus to. And with that, we close out our first year of the Billboard charts.

But don't worry, there's far worse to come....

_________________
Gaze upon my works, ye mighty, and despair...

Havoc: "So basically if you side against him, he summons Cthulu."
Hotfoot: "Yes, which is reasonable."


Last edited by General Havoc on Fri Jan 31, 2014 7:37 am, edited 7 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 26, 2013 11:32 pm 
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Whew... Man, I wonder if 65 years from now people will be looking back at our popular songs wondering how people could ever like this shit.

That said... I doubt we'll ever top 1958 in sheer sap and pain.

I have to note having gone to the youtube comments... My eyes hurt from rolling so hard.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 28, 2013 12:19 am 
Mr. Party-Killbot
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1959
Yearly GPA: 1.096


The Platters - Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
Number 1 song from January 19th-February 8th, 1959 (3 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: D
This song's been covered by dozens of people since its conception in the 1930s, but compared even to Nat King Cole's version, this one barely even rises to the level of mediocre.



Lloyd Price - Stagger Lee
Number 1 song from February 9th-March 8th, 1959 (4 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: C
One of the first songs to be censored under the rock and roll guidelines of the late 50s, this one's fairly generic, but at least it has some energy. This is not a common trait in the late 50s.



Frankie Avalon - Venus
Number 1 song from March 9th-April 12th, 1959 (5 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: F
A lot of 50s songs did not age well for a number of reasons, one of which is that a lot of the terminology and singing sounds extremely creepy in retrospect. This is one of the (though not the most) clear examples of this, on top of being sung fairly badly off-key. Avalon will be showing up on the bottom of this list again in due time.



The Fleetwoods - Come Softly to Me
Number 1 song from April 13th-May 10th, 1959 (4 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: D
Sopoforic crap. I like acapella when done well, but this plays like a lullaby. Interesting note: This song's original title of "Come Softly" was changed by the record label so as to avoid risque interpretations. :roll:



Dave "Baby" Cortez - The Happy Organ
Number 1 song from May 11th-17th, 1959 (1 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: D
What in the name of god was that? And why did I just listen to it?



Wilbert Harrison - Kansas City
Number 1 song from May 18th-31st, 1959 (2 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: C
A generic early R&B number, but with the advantage of a fairly strong bass line. One takes one's victories where one can get them.



Johnny Horton - Battle of New Orleans
Number 1 song from June 1st-July 12th, 1959 (6 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: D
If I wanted to hear southern history-based songs, I'd go listen to Dixieland or The Yellow Rose of Texas. And I'd find a real singer.



Paul Anka - Lonely Boy
Number 1 song from July 13th-August 9th, 1959 (4 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: D
The singer here is incredibly weak, and the melody makes no sense rhythmically. Just a whining mess all around.



Elvis Presley - A Big Hunk o' Love
Number 1 song from August 10th-23rd, 1959 (2 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: F
As we go on, you will notice that the charts were not kind to the King. I don't mean they didn't reward him with number 1 hits. I mean that they tended to showcase only the worst songs he ever put out. This one for instance has singing so terrible that I couldn't identify it as Elvis. It sounds like a bad parody of him.



The Browns - The Three Bells
Number 1 song from August 24th-September 20th, 1959 (4 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: D
Saccharine church music.



Santo & Johnny - Sleepwalk
Number 1 song from September 21st-October 5th, 1959 (2 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: D
Instrumental rock pieces have a long and rich history, but this is possibly the slowest one I've ever heard.



Bobby Darin - Mack the Knife
Number 1 song from October 6th-November 15th, November 23rd-December 13th, 1959 (9 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: C
One of the few pieces from this year that any of you might have heard of. A classic Sinatra-era lounge piece. Not really my thing, but I can't call it a bad song.



The Fleetwoods - Mr. Blue
Number 1 song from November 16th-22nd, 1959 (1 week)
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Havoc's Grade: D
A boring would-be lullaby. Nothing else to say.



Guy Mitchell - Heartaches by the Number
Number 1 song from December 14th-27th, 1959 (2 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: C
Most of you probably know this song from Fallout New Vegas. At the very least, it has a bit of pop to it, even if the 50s crooning and lyrics are as generic as can be.



Frankie Avalon - Why
Number 1 song from December 28th, 1959-January 3rd, 1960 (1 week)
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Havoc's Grade: F
Frankie Avalon could not be more boring if he devoured the soul of Ben Stein. He seriously sounds like he's in a trance.

_________________
Gaze upon my works, ye mighty, and despair...

Havoc: "So basically if you side against him, he summons Cthulu."
Hotfoot: "Yes, which is reasonable."


Last edited by General Havoc on Wed Jan 15, 2014 6:56 am, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 29, 2013 4:49 pm 
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General Havoc wrote:
Frankie Avalon - Venus
Number 1 song from March 9-April 12, 1959 (5 weeks)
Havoc's Grade: F

A lot of 50s songs did not age well for a number of reasons, one of which is that a lot of the terminology and singing sounds extremely creepy in retrospect. This is one of the (though not the most) clear examples of this, on top of being sung fairly badly off-key. Avalon will be showing up on the bottom of this list again in due time.


This is a very strange comment, since Venus sounds to me like a generic by the numbers love song. You could transplant it to any time period between 1950 and today and nobody would notice (except you, apparently). There's nothing special about it, but neither is there anything creepy or off-putting either. It's actually kind of nice, just boring for its sheer blandness. I would call Venus an excellent example of sheer mediocrity: nothing good, nothing bad. So I'd say it aged well enough to pass for recent, but not so well to pass for good.

Quote:
Bobby Darin - Mack the Knife
Number 1 song from October 6th-November 15th, November 23rd-December 13th, 1959 (9 weeks)
Havoc's Grade: C

One of the few pieces from this year that any of you might have heard of. A classic Sinatra-era lounge piece. Not really my thing, but I can't call it a bad song.

Mack the Knife is one of my favourite songs, and Bobby Darin's version deserves a solid B at least, but Frank Sinatra and Jimmy Buffet's co-rendition of it will always be the best, being just slight above the Queen of Jazz's. To really enjoy it though, you have to listen to some of the ones that came before. Which ones? Well, Frank and Jimmy tell you at near the end of the song: Luis Armstrong, Bobby Darin, and Lady Ella (Fitzgerald). Sadly they miss Lotte Lenya, who I think is important as part of the full experience.

Oh, btw, the original German song is rather more violent than the English version. In the most common English translation, Macheath is stated to kill one man, though one surmises he does this regularly. In the German version he robs and kills a rich man, kills a woman, burns an old man and his children alive in their house, and then rapes the old man's young widow. This was probably too much for the American audience in the 1950s, so we got a sanitized version.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 30, 2013 4:28 am 
Mr. Party-Killbot
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Lys wrote:
This is a very strange comment, since Venus sounds to me like a generic by the numbers love song. You could transplant it to any time period between 1950 and today and nobody would notice (except you, apparently). There's nothing special about it, but neither is there anything creepy or off-putting either. It's actually kind of nice, just boring for its sheer blandness. I would call Venus an excellent example of sheer mediocrity: nothing good, nothing bad. So I'd say it aged well enough to pass for recent, but not so well to pass for good.


There's a vibe to this song that just sounds dirty and pedophilic to my modern ears, perhaps it's the repeated insistence on "little girl" for any woman, or perhaps it's the singer's voice, but I simply am offput by it. Though it's NOWHERE NEAR as creepy as another song we'll be revisiting later on.

Lys wrote:
Mack the Knife is one of my favourite songs, and Bobby Darin's version deserves a solid B at least, but Frank Sinatra and Jimmy Buffet's co-rendition of it will always be the best, being just slight above the Queen of Jazz's. To really enjoy it though, you have to listen to some of the ones that came before. Which ones? Well, Frank and Jimmy tell you at near the end of the song: Luis Armstrong, Bobby Darin, and Lady Ella (Fitzgerald). Sadly they miss Lotte Lenya, who I think is important as part of the full experience.

Oh, btw, the original German song is rather more violent than the English version. In the most common English translation, Macheath is stated to kill one man, though one surmises he does this regularly. In the German version he robs and kills a rich man, kills a woman, burns an old man and his children alive in their house, and then rapes the old man's young widow. This was probably too much for the American audience in the 1950s, so we got a sanitized version.


I really can't front on Mack the Knife. The grades are my personal opinion (which means they will get downright embarrassing as we get into music I really do like), and lounge-style stuff just isn't my thing. But it's very hard to argue that Mack the Knife is anything but a good song. The beat is catchy and cool, the singing is perhaps Bobby Darren's best. I'm not familiar with the other versions save Sinatra's, but still, I have no objection to those whose style of music more closely matches this rating it considerably higher.

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Gaze upon my works, ye mighty, and despair...

Havoc: "So basically if you side against him, he summons Cthulu."
Hotfoot: "Yes, which is reasonable."


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 30, 2013 5:45 am 
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1960
Yearly GPA: 1.173


Marty Robbins - El Paso
Number 1 song from January 4th-17th, 1960 (2 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: C
One of the Grateful Dead's favorite cover targets, this country ballad is actually the first of a trilogy that Robbins wrote over the course of three decades, and refers to a real place, it would seem. The song is one of the better ballads to come out of early country, and while it's not the equal of many that would later be left off the list (we'll get there), I've nothing to say against it.



Johnny Preston - Running Bear
Number 1 song from January 18th-February 7th, 1960 (3 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: D
One judges songs in the context of their times, but it's hard to avoid the racism of this one. Moreover, the song is simply boring, despite the attempt midway through to turn it into a swing number. The singer is weak and the lyrics more insipid than usual.



Mark Dinning - Teen Angel
Number 1 song from February 8th-21st, 1960 (2 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: D
A morose teen tragedy song, a genre I don't care for to begin with, and has been done far better by more talented people. Moreover, this makes three songs in a row about people dying tragically. Was there something going on in 1960 that I'm unfamiliar with?



Percy Faith - Theme from A Summer Place
Number 1 song from February 22nd-April 24th, 1960 (9 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: D
Ah the innocent days when an instrumental, orchestral ballad could stay on top of the charts for two months. I suppose I did know this was the theme to something, but it sounds like elevator muzak nowadays, an odd statement for the longest-reigning orchestral piece of all time. Suitable for use as a sedative.



Elvis Presley - Stuck on You
Number 1 song from April 25th-May 22nd, 1960 (4 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: D
As with most (or all) of Elvis' number 1 hits post-1958, this is nowhere near the King's best. Go elsewhere if you are an Elvis fan, it's not getting better.



The Everly Brothers - Cathy's Clown
Number 1 song from May 23rd-June 26th, 1960 (5 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: D
I hate to break it to their fans, but the Everly Brothers couldn't sing. Ever. Some songs (Dream) that mattered less, but not here. They're BOTH off-key, and their voices are too nasal to make the singing sincere anyway.



Connie Francis - Everybody's Somebody's Fool
Number 1 song from June 27th-July 10th, 1960 (2 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: C
You know you're in a bad year when the polka song with the ukulele backing starts to sound decent. Seriously though, Francis sings the song well, and while it's simple, it's quite well-made overall. Strangely enough, this song was apparently tailor-made to become a hit in West Germany of all places.



The Hollywood Argyles - Alley Oop
Number 1 song from July 11th-17th, 1960 (1 week)
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Havoc's Grade: F
This thing was based on a comic strip current in the early 60s, for those don't know. What I'd like to know is how in the name of hell this could possibly have sounded like a good idea on any level. This the Geico Cavemen sitcom of the 1960s.



Brenda Lee - I'm Sorry
Number 1 song from July 18th-August 7th, 1960 (3 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: D
Streisand before Streisand. And talent. Amusingly enough, this thing was actually held back by the publisher because they thought a 15-year-old was too young to sing about unrequited love. Another time...



Brian Hyland - Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini
Number 1 song from August 8th-14th, 1960 (1 week)
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Havoc's Grade: D
Sexual harassment is fun kids! Sorry, this song is simply a little more voyeuristic than I remember, and while there are genres that works for, bubblegum pop is not one of them.



Elvis Presley - It's Now or Never
Number 1 song from August 15th-September 18th, 1960 (5 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: D
Takes some balls to rip off O Solo Mio for a pop song, but I suppose Elvis had the clout to pull that off. Pity that the song sounds like crap.



Chubby Checker - The Twist
Number 1 song from September 19th-25th, 1960, January 13-26, 1962 (3 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: B
Now this is classic 50s right here (the 50s won't properly end until 1964). One of the most iconic dance numbers of all time. I'm not actually a massive fan of the song, but it's a catchy as hell number once playing, and Checker's voice is immediately distinctive. It's hard to argue with the Twist.



Connie Francis - My Heart has a Mind of its Own
Number 1 song from September 26th-October 9th, 1960 (2 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: D
Sounds like a generic version of a Tammy Wynette song. Think about that.



Larry Verne - Mr. Custer
Number 1 song from October 10th-16th, 1960 (1 week)
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Havoc's Grade: F
Positively WRETCHED. Like an Air Raid Siren wailing in your ear. I get that this is supposed to be a comedy song, but it is actively unpleasant to hear. The first song I have encountered that I positively hated.



The Drifters - Save the Last Dance for Me
Number 1 song from October 17th-23rd, October 31st-November 13th 1960 (3 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: C
I do (far) prefer the more modern versions of this 50s classic, but this is still one of the best offerings of this otherwise wretched year.



Brenda Lee - I Want to be Wanted
Number 1 song from October 24th-30th, 1960 (1 week)
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Havoc's Grade: D
Boring boring boring boring boring boring boring boring boring boring boring boring boring boring boring boring boring boring boring boring boring boring boring boring boring boring boring boring boring boring boring boring boring boring boring boring boring boring boring boring boring boring...



Ray Charles - Georgia on my Mind
Number 1 song from November 14th-20th, 1960 (1 week)
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Havoc's Grade: C
I know it's heresy not to give this one a higher grade, but honestly, this one always sounded like background music to me. Perhaps it's a personal reaction, but I'm just not a massive fan.



Maurice Williams & The Zodiacs - Stay
Number 1 song from November 21st-27th, 1960 (1 week)
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Havoc's Grade: C
Excellent song. Bad arrangement. I know Williams wrote it, but I think the Four Seasons' version is far more polished and listenable. Fun fact, this is the shortest song ever to hit number 1, at 1:39.



Elvis Presley - Are you Lonesome Tonight?
Number 1 song from November 28th, 1960-January 8th, 1961 (6 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: D
A lullaby does not belong on the number 1 list. I don't care what year we're talking about.

_________________
Gaze upon my works, ye mighty, and despair...

Havoc: "So basically if you side against him, he summons Cthulu."
Hotfoot: "Yes, which is reasonable."


Last edited by General Havoc on Wed Jan 15, 2014 6:53 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 30, 2013 8:02 am 
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General Havoc wrote:
There's a vibe to this song that just sounds dirty and pedophilic to my modern ears, perhaps it's the repeated insistence on "little girl" for any woman, or perhaps it's the singer's voice, but I simply am offput by it. Though it's NOWHERE NEAR as creepy as another song we'll be revisiting later on.


I see, so it's that sort of creepy that just bugs the hell out of you, but you can't quite put your finger on it, and other people look at you like your crazy when you try to explain. Well, happens to everyone.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 05, 2013 5:57 am 
Mr. Party-Killbot
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So, one matter I forgot to mention for 1960 was the first of the supplemental songs, songs that came out that year, cracked the top 100, but did not make the Billboard Number 1 list. Accordingly, I would like you all to bear witness to a song determined by the experts at the time to be demonstrably worse than the ones above:

Roy Orbison - Only the Lonely
1960 Billboard Top 100 position: 20
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Havoc's Grade: B
Not a particularly special song, but Orbison's cover of it was magnificent, as were most of the things he sang. In the late 50s wasteland of samey doo-wop and ultra-chaste sock hop fare, Roy Orbison was like a bolt of lightning. Still regarded as one of the greatest singers of all time, this is not Orbison's best song, but it is plainly on another plane of existence from all of its contemporaries. No doubt that's why it never cracked Number 1.


Now then, back to our regularly scheduled torture:

1961
Yearly GPA: 1.500

1961 is actually a surprisingly decent year, probably the best so far. Not that we're out of the woods yet insofar as the 50s are concerned, but it essentially represents the last gasp of the clever ideas to come out of 50s music, prior to the endless doldrums and the British Invasion that swept everything away. I'm not promising the music will be awesome, but it won't be this "good" for several years to come.


Bert Kaempfert - Wonderland by Night
Number 1 song from January 9th-29th, 1961 (3 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: D
A failed attempt at a "swinging-cool" Lounge song, primarily due to the fact that trumpets simply do not do well as solo instruments. This was a song desperately in need of a saxophone or nine. When Englebert Humperdink's cover version is actually superior to the original, you know something's gone dreadfully wrong.



The Shirelles - Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow
Number 1 song from January 30th-February 12th, 1961 (2 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: B
One of the first true Motown classics on our lists, from a band whose followers would eventually dwarf them in popularity. The singing isn't exactly superlative, but the melody is wonderful, and one can see how a dynasty would be built on such things.



Lawrence Welk - Calcutta
Number 1 song from February 13th-26th, 1961 (2 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: F
This is a completely inexplicable song to me, both in popularity and existence. I cannot fathom for the life of me what caused it to be created, nor how it got popular. The song sounds vaguely psychotic, like the music that plays in the waiting room of an abortion clinic in the Teletubbies universe (thanks CT!). It makes me nauseous to listen to.



Pony Time - Chubby Checker
Number 1 song from February 27th-March 19th, 1961 (3 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: D
This is the same song as the Twist. The EXACT same song! Down to the stupid dance number. I liked the Twist, Chubby, but come on!



Elvis Presley - Surrender
Number 1 song from March 20th-April 2nd, 1961 (2 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: D
I have no idea what to make of this, but like most of Elvis' number 1 hits, it's dreadful. Sounds like someone tried to rip off the Bond theme (which had not yet been written at this point).



The Marcels - Blue Moon
Number 1 song from April 3rd-23rd, 1961 (3 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: C
The cover versions were better.



Del Shannon - Runaway
Number 1 song from April 24th-May 21st, 1961 (4 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: B
Took me a full minute to recognize this one. A quirky and extremely tighly-crafted late-fifties piece, in which can be heard the very first stirrings of the end of the 50s drought.



Ernie K. Doe - Mother in Law
Number 1 song from May 22nd-28th, 1961 (1 week)
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Havoc's Grade: C
This one's actually okay. Kind of stupid, but a reasonable beat and melody to it. Though I admit, I didn't know you could get away with calling someone Satan on the radio in 1961.



Ricky Nelson - Travelin' Man
Number 1 song from May 29th-June 4th, June 12th-18th, 1961 (2 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: B
Part of this project, inevitably is going to be horrifically embarrassing revelations as to the songs I somehow like despite the fact that they are actually objectively terrible. This is one such song. It's demonstrably silly, as well as sounding like a karaoke version of itself, and yet I like this song. A lot. I think it's the melody and the chorus that gets me or something, it's just so... easygoing about things.

Look shut up. All of you like even worse songs! Admit it!



Roy Orbison - Runnin' Scared
Number 1 song from June 5th-11th, 1961 (1 week)
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Havoc's Grade: D
GET ON WITH IT!!!



Pat Boone - Moody River
Number 1 song from June 19th-25th, 1961 (1 week)
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Havoc's Grade: D
Quick show of hands. Who wanted to hear Pat Boone sing about suicide and death? This is like Mr. Rogers reciting the opening monologue from Apocalypse Now.



Gary "US" Bonds - Quarter to Three
Number 1 song from June 26th-July 9th, 1961 (2 weeks)
Image

Havoc's Grade: C
I liked this song better when it was called Runaround Sue.



Bobby Lewis - Tossin' and Turnin'
Number 1 song from July 10th-August 27th, 1961 (7 weeks)
Image

Havoc's Grade: D
Oppressively loud wannabe Jerry Lee Lewis ripoff.



Joe Dowell - Wooden Heart
Number 1 song from August 28th-September 3rd, 1961 (1 week)
Image

Havoc's Grade: D
Third-rate Elvis replacement crossed with Polka Music. Awful.



The Highwaymen - Michael
Number 1 song from September 4th-17th, 1961 (2 weeks)
Image

Havoc's Grade: F
I'm not the sort of person who believes in the evils of cultural appropriation. Culture is a fluid, mutating constantly and unavoidably, and after all, western culture has been appropriated by the entire planet. But having listened to this song, I am left with the question of how the FUCK do you turn a slave spiritual into UKULELE MUSIC FOR BORING WHITE PEOPLE?!?!



Bobby Vee - Take Good Care of my Baby
Number 1 song from September 18th-October 8th, 1961 (3 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: D
An absolutely generic 50s ballad. Skip.



Ray Charles - Hit the Road Jack
Number 1 song from October 9th-22nd, 1961 (2 weeks)
Image

Havoc's Grade: B
Proper Ray Charles at last, one of his better songs.



Dion and the Belmonts - Runaround Sue
Number 1 song from October 23rd-November 5th, 1961 (2 weeks)
Image

Havoc's Grade: A
Now this is more like it. One of the only 50s-style songs that I really enjoy. A real bridge-point between the 50s and the Beatles.




Jimmy Dean - Big Bad John
Number 1 song from November 6th-December 10th, 1961 (5 weeks)
Image

Havoc's Grade: D
Second-rate Johnny Cash wannabe. And believe it or not, the sequels are worse.



The Marvelettes - Please Mr. Postman
Number 1 song from December 11th-17th, 1961 (1 week)
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Havoc's Grade: D
Completely forgettable girl band, this time with awful backup singers and a terrible beat. Motown must have farmed this one out to Bernie Lomack's House o' Musik.



The Tokens - The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Number 1 song from December 18th, 1961-January 12th, 1962 (3 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: B
So iconic that you forget just how good the song actually is. Fun fact, this is actually based on a Zulu chant from the 1920s.

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Last edited by General Havoc on Wed Jan 15, 2014 7:28 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 05, 2013 11:08 pm 
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I didn't know the Lion Sleeps Tonight was a Zulu chant, that's pretty awesome. I found the Traveling Man to be utterly boring and forgettable *mines the front porch* and I have to sadly say you should have graded it a C.

What in your opinion keeps Hit the Road Jack from getting an A?

Also Run Around Sue didn't really work for me. Only the Lonely was good and Runaway was kinda fun.

Fun fact, every time I tried to play am F song, Chrome would go insane and inform shortly after wards that Flash had crashed. After the 3rd time of attempting to play Calcutta, I gave up. It seems that

A: My Internet browsers loves me more then Havoc's loves him.
B: Has very firmly set musical opinions.
C: Likes songs making fun of Mother in Laws.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 06, 2013 10:12 pm 
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1962
Yearly GPA: 1.269

Here there be Dragons. As the 50s died, the music world was looking for the next big thing, a process that happens often enough. Unfortunately, nobody had any ideas for what that thing could be for two whole years, until in 1964 something finally happened to end the nightmare of 50s music forever. What that was, I'm assuming you all can guess, but until then, let's have a look at some of the horrific castoffs of the penultimate year of the 1950s.



Joey Dee & The Starlighters - Peppermint Twist (Part 1)
Number 1 song from January 27th-February 16th, 1962 (3 weeks)
Image

Havoc's Grade: D
One of the most bare-bones songs I've ever heard, this was a desperate attempt to cash in on the revived popularity of Chubby Checker's Twist, something even Checker himself couldn't do. There is a 2nd part to this song, but don't go looking for it. It's even worse.



Gene Chandler - Duke of Earl
Number 1 song from February 17th-March 9th, 1962 (3 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: B
The sole standout of 1962 (spoiler alert), this is one of my favorite raw harmonies. Yes it meanders and yes the lyrics make no sense, but it's one of the best-"sounding" songs of that year, and one I can always listen to.



Bruce Channel - Hey Baby
Number 1 song from March 10th-30th, 1962 (3 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: D
A complete waste of time, save for one element. The harmonica player on this track is Delbert McClinton, who in 1962 was playing this song on tour in England when he ran into a young musician named John Lennon, whom he instructed in how to play the harmonica for pop music. The harmonica intros from Love Me Do and Please Please Me thus derive from this song.



Connie Francis - Don't Break the Heart that Loves You
Number 1 song from March 31st-April 6th, 1962 (1 week)
Image

Havoc's Grade: D
SPEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEED THEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUP!



Shelly Fabares - Johnny Angel
Number 1 song from April 7th-20th, 1962 (2 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: D
It's like the Avon Ladies tried to sing a love song. This was Fabares' only Top 20 hit, for which I'm infinitely glad.



Elvis Presley - Good Luck Charm
Number 1 song from April 21st-May 4th, 1962 (2 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: D
You know, after all this crap, I'm not sure I like Elvis anymore. Certainly his best days were behind him by this point, not that America would realize that for a full decade. Fun fact, this song was covered by Alvin & the Chipmunks in 1988. I'll let you all find that one yourselves.



Acker Blik - Stranger on the Shore
Number 1 song from May 26th-June 1st, 1962 (1 week)
Image

Havoc's Grade: D
Here you can see some of the desperation that began to creep into the charts in the early 60s for something, anything other than the standard crap. Unfortunately in this case, we have an instrumental clarinet ballad that sounds like it's from 1931.



Ray Charles - I Can't Stop Loving You
Number 1 song from June 2nd-July 6th 1962 (5 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: D
This cover of a 1957 Don Gibson country classic manages to do the impossible: It makes Ray Charles boring.



David Rose - The Stripper
Number 1 song from July 7th-13th 1962 (1 week)
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Havoc's Grade: D
You've probably heard this one before in bordello movies and shaving cream commercials. That it got to the top of the charts is due to the absolute dearth of good music in this period. But then we already knew that...



Bobby Vinton - Roses Are Red
Number 1 song from July 14th-August 10th 1962 (4 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: D
About the only good thing I can say about this boring ballad is that it got me thinking about Goodfellas.



Neil Sedaka - Breaking up is Hard to Do
Number 1 song from August 11th-24th 1962 (2 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: D
Were it not for the age of this song, I'd suspect it was Autotuned. The singer sounds like a chipmunk.



Little Eva - The Loco-Motion
Number 1 song from August 25th-31st 1962 (1 week)
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Havoc's Grade: D
The mother of all bad dance songs, this song hit the top 5 three times in three decades from three artists. One of them we will have to deal with again.



Tommy Roe - Sheila
Number 1 song from September 1st-14th 1962 (2 weeks)
Image

Havoc's Grade: D
Continuing our grand tradition of indistinguishable 50s songs, this one is a rip off of Buddy Holly's Peggy Sue, not that that one was God's gift to music either.



The Four Seasons - Sherry
Number 1 song from September 15th-October 19th 1962 (5 weeks)
Image

Havoc's Grade: D
Frankie Vallie always sounded like someone tried to teach a Stuka siren to sing. Don't believe me? Listen to it.



Bobby "Boris" Picket & The Crypt-Kickers - The Monster Mash
Number 1 song from October 20th-November 2nd 1962 (2 weeks)
Image

Havoc's Grade: D
One of the stupidest things ever written, at least until the mid-70s. Still, this should tell you just how desperate people were for something new in 1962.



The Crystals - He's a Rebel
Number 1 song from November 3rd-16th 1962 (2 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: D
I forgot this song by the time I got to writing this comment. That alone should suffice.



The Four Seasons - Big Girls Don't Cry
Number 1 song from November 17th-December 21st 1962 (5 weeks)
Image

Havoc's Grade: D
Though I don't agree that this is the worst song ever, it's certainly bad enough. Frankie Vallie sounds like he's belt-sanding a cat.



The Tornadoes - Telstar
Number 1 song from December 22nd, 1962-January 11th, 1963 (3 weeks)
Image

Havoc's Grade: C
One of the strangest things ever to hit number 1, this song was named after (and inspired by) the world's first communication satellite. I've literally never heard anything like it before, and though it's too strange for me to properly love it, I can't argue against it, really, especially given its company. Fun fact, this song caused the Tornadoes to become the first British group ever to record a US number 1 hit.

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Gaze upon my works, ye mighty, and despair...

Havoc: "So basically if you side against him, he summons Cthulu."
Hotfoot: "Yes, which is reasonable."


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 06, 2013 11:25 pm 
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I think the Tornadoes should get an asterisk due to how weak the field they were fighting was. I had also forgotten just how lame Monster Mash was. Still like Duke of Earl.

Also the Stripper is a real song that was actually released? I always assumed it was just a theme that no one had copyrighted so it got used over and over again.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 07, 2013 10:29 am 
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I have no idea who Pat Boone is, but I think his voice is perfectly suited to Moody River. Suicide songs should be melancholy with a sort of almost cheery undertone to it, and this Pat Boone guy pulls it off. I also like the pun, moody river, muddy river, clever! Mr. Roges reciting the monologue to Apocalypse Now, on the other hand, would be pretty awful, but that's because Mr. Rogers reciting anything is pretty awful. I didn't think it was possible for someone to sound so bland it got on my nerves.

Calcutta, I know I've listened to that one multiple times. Possibly in old movies? It conjures up images of upper class people enjoying some tropical paradise, lounging at the beach side bar, being served cocktails with little umbrellas, watching the natives put on music and dance performances, that sort of thing. Also works for the same people enjoying a nice evening party with the friends on the poolside of their expensive villa. It's a nice song, I find it soothing.

Alley Oop could have been a good song, but something about the main singer's delivery and lyrics just doesn't work. The music and background chorus were wonderfully catchy, so I think the song is salvageable. Just needs different main lyrics and pacing, and possibly a different main singer. That it was based on a comic is of no relevance to its merits as a song. Also, the I thought the Geico Cavemen commercials were clever. I actually remember them, which is quite an accomplishment far as commercials go, and they were a nice respite from the stupid lizard.

I call bullshit on both of your opinions on the Monster Mash. It's neither stupid nor lame, it's brilliant and a classic! Sure it's a silly song, but that's the point! It's meant to be silly and fun, and it succeeds wonderfully at it. Listening to Monster Mash always puts a big silly grin on my face, so it's a smash in my book. You two are taking a joke song way too seriously.

I have to say, the D and F rated songs seem universally not as bad as Havoc makes them sound. Listening to them, I'm finding musical tastes in the period were okay, not great, but okay. I generally find that to be true for the music chart headliners in pretty much any period, really. It's mostly stuff that stands up to a couple of listenings, but with a few exceptions isn't anything to write home about.

Quote:
Frankie Vallie always sounded like someone tried to teach a Stuka siren to sing. Don't believe me? Listen to it.

I considered the Four Seasons to be a good but generic 50s band. This comment single-handedly turned them into an outstanding and hilarious 50s band. I thank you for it Havoc, now I'll know to listen to them when I need a laugh.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 07, 2013 5:57 pm 
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Lys wrote:
I have no idea who Pat Boone is, but I think his voice is perfectly suited to Moody River. Suicide songs should be melancholy with a sort of almost cheery undertone to it, and this Pat Boone guy pulls it off. I also like the pun, moody river, muddy river, clever! Mr. Roges reciting the monologue to Apocalypse Now, on the other hand, would be pretty awful, but that's because Mr. Rogers reciting anything is pretty awful. I didn't think it was possible for someone to sound so bland it got on my nerves.


Anyone who speaks ill of Mr. Rogers is a filthy heathen who must be punished in the fires of Hell.

That said, Pat Boone was the Barry Manilow of his day, a crooner who sang sweet little ditties for the Blue-Hair crowd in the fifties and sixties. For him to suddenly turn around and start singing a suicide song was both tremendously out of place and highly questionable given his background. I liken it to MC Hammer's attempt to become "Gangsta" as Hip Hop began to pass him by. Moreover I just don't care for the song at all. The 50s will full of these sappy, morose laments for lost love, most of them unlistenable (Teen Angel for instance). I'm not saying I can't take a sad song or one about death, Pearl Jam's Last Kiss for instance, or Meatloaf's All Coming Back to Me (yes, it was his long before Celine Dion picked it up), but I don't like ones that are cloying, nor that try and pretend they're about something else. And I just don't care for Pat Boone.

Lys wrote:
Calcutta, I know I've listened to that one multiple times. Possibly in old movies? It conjures up images of upper class people enjoying some tropical paradise, lounging at the beach side bar, being served cocktails with little umbrellas, watching the natives put on music and dance performances, that sort of thing. Also works for the same people enjoying a nice evening party with the friends on the poolside of their expensive villa. It's a nice song, I find it soothing.


It's the chorus line that kills it for me. The "La la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la..." just goes on and on and on and ON and will not stop. It starts to sound demented after a while.

Lys wrote:
Alley Oop could have been a good song, but something about the main singer's delivery and lyrics just doesn't work. The music and background chorus were wonderfully catchy, so I think the song is salvageable. Just needs different main lyrics and pacing, and possibly a different main singer. That it was based on a comic is of no relevance to its merits as a song. Also, the I thought the Geico Cavemen commercials were clever. I actually remember them, which is quite an accomplishment far as commercials go, and they were a nice respite from the stupid lizard.


The song is way too slow, the throwbacks sound stupid, and while you're correct that its source material should be of no relevance to the song's qualities (Five for Fighting's Superman was excellent despite a similar source), it's hard for me to get over the stupid novelty-gag of the song. The 70s were really the apex of this trend, but Alley-Oop wasn't helped by performance videos of everyone sitting around in caveman costumes bonking each other with plastic clubs.

Oh, and I wasn't talking about the Geico Cavemen commercials. I was talking about this.

Lys wrote:
I call bullshit on both of your opinions on the Monster Mash. It's neither stupid nor lame, it's brilliant and a classic! Sure it's a silly song, but that's the point! It's meant to be silly and fun, and it succeeds wonderfully at it. Listening to Monster Mash always puts a big silly grin on my face, so it's a smash in my book. You two are taking a joke song way too seriously.


Were it not for the extreme overplay every Halloween, I might even agree with you, but even as novelty gag songs go, Monster Mash is badly dated. The backup singers are anemic, the gag is never actually played for laughs, it's just a song about Universal Studios monsters that never elevates itself beyond the basic premise. If this had just been some harmless gag song, that would be one thing, but I'll remind you, this hit number 1. For two long weeks, this was the hottest selling song in the COUNTRY. When your song goes double platinum, it is no longer acceptable to hide behind "it's just a joke, don't take it seriously" when the time comes to evaluate the musical qualities of the defining songs of a decade.

Lys wrote:
I have to say, the D and F rated songs seem universally not as bad as Havoc makes them sound. Listening to them, I'm finding musical tastes in the period were okay, not great, but okay. I generally find that to be true for the music chart headliners in pretty much any period, really. It's mostly stuff that stands up to a couple of listenings, but with a few exceptions isn't anything to write home about.


I know I'm awful down on the 50s (something that won't be changing in 1963), and that some of that comes down to personal taste, but most of it is the appalling sameyness of the music. Not that there aren't going to be other periods dominated by a single style, but it's honestly hard for me to tell most of the songs apart from one another here, and a lot of them sound like the low-rent versions of other, later classics. Moreover, my grading style for this project is perhaps a bit more opaque than it should be, and so I will break it down:

A: One of the greatest songs ever written.
B: A very good piece, solid and deserving of its place as a number 1.
C: Decent, not great, but with demonstrably positive qualities.
D: Instantly forgettable, or otherwise unpleasant.
F: A wretched, terrible song, actively hostile to the ears, intellect, or both.

Most of the songs from the 50s get Ds because there's nothing to tell them apart, at least to my modern ears. Obviously there is variation, but it's much narrower than what we will usually see from the mid-sixties onward. If it's not crooning or slow doo-wop in the 50s, it didn't crack the top 100, and as we approach the seminal year that was 1964, we will begin to see the increasing desperation for something new from the charts, as novelty acts and inexplicable songs start to appear on the list, a sure sign that change is being actively sought.

Lys wrote:
I considered the Four Seasons to be a good but generic 50s band. This comment single-handedly turned them into an outstanding and hilarious 50s band. I thank you for it Havoc, now I'll know to listen to them when I need a laugh.


Well I'm happy to be of service :). To be honest, I can't hate the Four Seasons, but the ultra-high Falsetto that Frankie Vallie brought to every song he sang was so bad that it instantly becomes hilarious. Big Girls Don't Cry might be the Ur-example of this. Other than that, the song isn't horribly put together by the standards of the times.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 07, 2013 11:22 pm 
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General Havoc wrote:
Anyone who speaks ill of Mr. Rogers is a filthy heathen who must be punished in the fires of Hell.

A friend of mine who also doesn't like Mr. Rogers either says it's a class thing. We're both from similar upper middle class backgrounds, and Mr. Rogers was geared toward kids on lower on the socio-economic scale. I don't know if that's true, all I know is his voice and manner of speech is very effective at getting on my nerves and making me feel ill at ease.

Quote:
That said, Pat Boone was the Barry Manilow of his day, a crooner who sang sweet little ditties for the Blue-Hair crowd in the fifties and sixties. For him to suddenly turn around and start singing a suicide song was both tremendously out of place and highly questionable given his background. I liken it to MC Hammer's attempt to become "Gangsta" as Hip Hop began to pass him by. Moreover I just don't care for the song at all. The 50s will full of these sappy, morose laments for lost love, most of them unlistenable (Teen Angel for instance). I'm not saying I can't take a sad song or one about death, Pearl Jam's Last Kiss for instance, or Meatloaf's All Coming Back to Me (yes, it was his long before Celine Dion picked it up), but I don't like ones that are cloying, nor that try and pretend they're about something else. And I just don't care for Pat Boone.


I don't know who Barry Manilow is either! But you explained, so I get what you mean. Honestly I tend to consider songs in isolation unless I'm listening to the whole album at once. If Judas Priest came out with a song that sounded like Paul McCartney's Silly Love Songs, it would be extremely out of character, but I would like it or not on its own merits, not on whether it's normal or weird for Judas Priest to sing such a thing. Now not liking the song itself, which you also say is the case, that's perfectly understandable. I just happen to like sappy, and I also like hidden meanings in songs. I wouldn't have noticed Moody River wasn't about the river if you hadn't mentioned it, and I liked it more for it.

Quote:
It's the chorus line that kills it for me. The "La la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la..." just goes on and on and on and ON and will not stop. It starts to sound demented after a while.

The chorus pretty much is the song, saying that it kills it is like saying the Art Deco is what kills the Chrysler Building. There's not much left without it.

Quote:
The song is way too slow, the throwbacks sound stupid, and while you're correct that its source material should be of no relevance to the song's qualities (Five for Fighting's Superman was excellent despite a similar source), it's hard for me to get over the stupid novelty-gag of the song. The 70s were really the apex of this trend, but Alley-Oop wasn't helped by performance videos of everyone sitting around in caveman costumes bonking each other with plastic clubs.

It's slow? It sounds to me like it goes at a decent clip, and I'm a big fan of Nightcore.

Quote:
Oh, and I wasn't talking about the Geico Cavemen commercials. I was talking about this.

Jesus, that's the stupidest TV show pitch I've heard in a long time. That it's an actual show and not a pitch makes it even worse.

Quote:
Were it not for the extreme overplay every Halloween, I might even agree with you, but even as novelty gag songs go, Monster Mash is badly dated. The backup singers are anemic, the gag is never actually played for laughs, it's just a song about Universal Studios monsters that never elevates itself beyond the basic premise. If this had just been some harmless gag song, that would be one thing, but I'll remind you, this hit number 1. For two long weeks, this was the hottest selling song in the COUNTRY. When your song goes double platinum, it is no longer acceptable to hide behind "it's just a joke, don't take it seriously" when the time comes to evaluate the musical qualities of the defining songs of a decade.

Overplayed? I'm afraid my experiences are different there, I don't think I've even heard that particular song being played during Halloween, or any other song really.

Anyway, if you wanted to evaluate the musical qualities of the defining songs of the decade, you probably should have picked a different criteria than #1 in the charts, because there's a lot of things that hit #1 and then have no impact whatsoever because everyone forgot immediately thereafter. I don't think the social dynamics behind the music charts are actually indicative of the cultural impact of the music in question. You yourself said that Elvis' best songs didn't seem to make the top of the charts, but those are the songs that helped shape future music.

I disagree that being really popular makes a silly fun song stop being a silly fun song. In fact that's just the sort of thing that I would expect to hit the top of the charts every so often, something everybody likes but doesn't have much merit beyond being likeable. They play the Monster Mash today, but no modern artist cites is an inspiration, because silly fun is all there is to it. Put another way, I hold the honest opinion that Verdi's Requiem is one of the best symphonies ever written, the best version of the Requiem Mass, and flat out one of the best songs I've had the pleasure of listening to. But in terms of popularity as measured by it's share of my listening time, it's far outclassed but stuff that I wouldn't praise anywhere near as highly. It's not the good stuff that hits the top of the charts, it's the stuff people feel like listening to, and sometimes a silly song about monsters is it.

Quote:
I know I'm awful down on the 50s (something that won't be changing in 1963), and that some of that comes down to personal taste, but most of it is the appalling sameyness of the music. Not that there aren't going to be other periods dominated by a single style, but it's honestly hard for me to tell most of the songs apart from one another here, and a lot of them sound like the low-rent versions of other, later classics.

Most of the songs from the 50s get Ds because there's nothing to tell them apart, at least to my modern ears. Obviously there is variation, but it's much narrower than what we will usually see from the mid-sixties onward. If it's not crooning or slow doo-wop in the 50s, it didn't crack the top 100, and as we approach the seminal year that was 1964, we will begin to see the increasing desperation for something new from the charts, as novelty acts and inexplicable songs start to appear on the list, a sure sign that change is being actively sought.


I don't disagree that a lot of what was popular in the 50s was very samey, part of this was driven by the simple fact that the people who had the purchasing power to put a song at #1 were largely the same demographic, and as time advances you see more demographics getting the money to buy shit, which helps break things up a bit by making it possible for different cultural predilections to actually make an impact. Even then, though, the music that's popular at any given time period has a tendency to be very similar to other stuff that's also popular in the same time period, for obvious reasons. Frankly pop and hip hop music over the last 20 years has had a heck of a lot of sameyness to it as well.

A song that's okay to listen to but generic and forgettable is to me the default, the average, the par, the middle of the road, the top of the bell curve. Which is to say it's what I would call a C. I suppose you have higher standards.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 08, 2013 2:14 am 
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I really rather doubt it's a class thing. Just some people didn't like his show I guess. I mean, it was very slow paced and very...well quiet. That was one of the nicer things about it. It wasn't loud or flash or anything, it was just...nice.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 08, 2013 2:32 am 
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As with last time, I forgot to include the supplemental songs of 1962, songs which, in a year this dominated by crap, were all the more important to remember, as evidence of what I mean when I refer to the complete lack of quality with the number 1s. Here is a song deemed inferior by the public at large:

Sam Cooke - Twistin' the Night Away
1962 Billboard Top 100 position: 23
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Havoc's Grade: B
Now this is how you do a 50s-style song. Energetic, catchy, a lovely jazz bass, soulful singing, everything you could want. It's a fairly transparent ripoff of Chubby Checker, but what does that matter when the song is this good?

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 09, 2013 4:44 am 
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Speaking as someone who grew up in a lower-income household, I shall issue the commandment now: Thou Shalt Not Blaspheme Mr. Rogers.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 09, 2013 5:39 am 
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Lys wrote:
A friend of mine who also doesn't like Mr. Rogers either says it's a class thing. We're both from similar upper middle class backgrounds, and Mr. Rogers was geared toward kids on lower on the socio-economic scale. I don't know if that's true, all I know is his voice and manner of speech is very effective at getting on my nerves and making me feel ill at ease.


I'm from a similar background as you all, and I had no such reaction, nor did any of my friends. It's understandable to not like a man's voice, but I would wager this is a personal thing for you and your friend. Around these parts, Mr. Rogers is a man one does not speak ill of if one wishes to retain one's teeth :twisted:

Lys wrote:
I don't know who Barry Manilow is either! But you explained, so I get what you mean. Honestly I tend to consider songs in isolation unless I'm listening to the whole album at once. If Judas Priest came out with a song that sounded like Paul McCartney's Silly Love Songs, it would be extremely out of character, but I would like it or not on its own merits, not on whether it's normal or weird for Judas Priest to sing such a thing. Now not liking the song itself, which you also say is the case, that's perfectly understandable. I just happen to like sappy, and I also like hidden meanings in songs. I wouldn't have noticed Moody River wasn't about the river if you hadn't mentioned it, and I liked it more for it.


Believe me, I'm not going through this just to rag on musicians without listening to their music. The song is terrible, purely on its own merits, as is every song I so rate. Assumptions that I'm only dissing a song to be a hipster or because I hate the artist are erroneous. There are indeed artists I hate, and when said artist has made a habit of making shit, I will be mentioning it. But when I say a Pat Boone song about death and suicide, I mean a typical Pat-Boone-style song that happens to be about death, not Pat Boone spontaneously morphing into Black Sabbath. If Raffi sang a song about vikings and warfare in the style of Nightwish, I would be impressed, but not if he sang it the way he sings every other Raffi song.

Lys wrote:
The chorus pretty much is the song, saying that it kills it is like saying the Art Deco is what kills the Chrysler Building. There's not much left without it.


You begin to understand why I gave it an F then. Art Deco is a valid architectural medium that I am a great fan of. Lazy, semi-possessed "Lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala" for three and a half minutes is not. It is not a defense of the song to say that I'm ragging on it for what it is, if what it is is godawful.

I have had, and will continue to have, other songs on this list who are simply from genres I don't get, or generally dislike, and will try to make allowances when this is so. This song is not. It is awful from start to finish, actively unpleasant to listen to. If I give every song whose fundamental elements are atrocious to my ear a pass because "someone out there must like them", then there's no point to the exercise at all. Someone obviously liked every one of these, as they all hit number 1. That does not mean they are good songs, nor that describing them as awful songs is invalid.

Lys wrote:
It's slow? It sounds to me like it goes at a decent clip, and I'm a big fan of Nightcore.


To me it sounds like it was dragged out over an eternity. The beat sounded slow, given the uses it was being put to. I grant that the music of the 50s was slow, but I call em as I see em.

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Jesus, that's the stupidest TV show pitch I've heard in a long time. That it's an actual show and not a pitch makes it even worse.


Hell, this thing got six episodes broadcast. You should see the shit that got pulled after one...

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Overplayed? I'm afraid my experiences are different there, I don't think I've even heard that particular song being played during Halloween, or any other song really.


Well I have. And the mere fact that someone else does not doesn't alter things. It is ubiquitous around here at Halloween.

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Anyway, if you wanted to evaluate the musical qualities of the defining songs of the decade, you probably should have picked a different criteria than #1 in the charts, because there's a lot of things that hit #1 and then have no impact whatsoever because everyone forgot immediately thereafter. I don't think the social dynamics behind the music charts are actually indicative of the cultural impact of the music in question. You yourself said that Elvis' best songs didn't seem to make the top of the charts, but those are the songs that helped shape future music.


Forgive me, but if the #1 songs are not a viable means of evaluating the changing tastes in music, then what, precisely is? There are over a thousand songs on the Number 1 list. Am I supposed to expand this to the five and a half thousand songs that comprise all of the year-end top 100 lists? Or someone's cherry-picked list of "influential" music. I'm already combing the top-100s for songs I felt were important or good enough to be included in my supplemental list after all. And regarding Elvis, the issue wasn't that his best songs didn't make the top of the charts, but that his best songs predated the charts in question. Elvis had something like 17 number 1 hits, but most of them landed before 1958, which is when the Billboard charts were created. His work after 1958 was not his best by a long shot.

The Billboard #1 list is the best way of determining the changing tastes in music as time went on that I know of, while also satisfying my own curiosity. I don't, after all, know all or most or even half of these songs. By discovering some new gems, I hope to enrich my own understanding of the history of popular music. And by posting it here, hopefully you all can find some things out too. But if you object to the very premise of the thing, then without sounding too critical, you are free to sift through the multi-thousand song list of your choice to make your own thread.

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I disagree that being really popular makes a silly fun song stop being a silly fun song. In fact that's just the sort of thing that I would expect to hit the top of the charts every so often, something everybody likes but doesn't have much merit beyond being likeable. They play the Monster Mash today, but no modern artist cites is an inspiration, because silly fun is all there is to it. Put another way, I hold the honest opinion that Verdi's Requiem is one of the best symphonies ever written, the best version of the Requiem Mass, and flat out one of the best songs I've had the pleasure of listening to. But in terms of popularity as measured by it's share of my listening time, it's far outclassed but stuff that I wouldn't praise anywhere near as highly. It's not the good stuff that hits the top of the charts, it's the stuff people feel like listening to, and sometimes a silly song about monsters is it.


I am not here to objectively declare what was the best song ever made, as that would require me to know every song ever made and to select between them. The number 1s are an incomplete list but not an arbitrary one, as for one reason or another, somebody thought every one of these songs, including Monster Mash, was worth listening to. I don't agree, but neither do I regard it as irrelevant that the song, like its number 1 fellows, were as popular as they are. We could all, even me, make our list of obscure songs nobody's heard which we believe the objective best, but that's not the point of this exercise. I wanted to see what everyone liked at the time, and try (in some cases in vain) to understand why. And I wanted to provide a survey of the music that was popular, and what I thought of it.

I'm happy, more than happy, to debate songs that I liked and other people didn't after all, including Monster Mash if you managed to enjoy the thing. But its qualities or lack thereof are independent of its position or lack thereof on the charts. I am considering it because it was popular. I am rejecting it because it's awful.

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I don't disagree that a lot of what was popular in the 50s was very samey, part of this was driven by the simple fact that the people who had the purchasing power to put a song at #1 were largely the same demographic, and as time advances you see more demographics getting the money to buy shit, which helps break things up a bit by making it possible for different cultural predilections to actually make an impact. Even then, though, the music that's popular at any given time period has a tendency to be very similar to other stuff that's also popular in the same time period, for obvious reasons. Frankly pop and hip hop music over the last 20 years has had a heck of a lot of sameyness to it as well.

A song that's okay to listen to but generic and forgettable is to me the default, the average, the par, the middle of the road, the top of the bell curve. Which is to say it's what I would call a C. I suppose you have higher standards.


This is probably true, and you will indeed see other periods in which the sameyness of the charts reflects my grades (2004 had an awful lot of crunk, for instance). But the 50s were worse than usual, and the desperation on the charts for something new is palpable as you move through it. And being able to see that progression, the periods of variety and non-variety, allows us to understand some of the more seminal music acts in the context of their times. You cannot understand the phenomenon of the Beatles without understanding the state of American music when they first arrived.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 09, 2013 6:46 pm 
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It's a free country and everyone is free to like or dislike as they see fit. That said, I'm personally a big fan of the man who frankly helped me learn how to interact with hearing people. Not to mention listening to him really helped with my English. Not to mention that by many varied personal accounts, he was one of the best men on the Earth. So one could imagine my firm disagreement with any criticism of Mr. Rogers.

As to the music. This is about Havoc's taste. Liz is defintely free to her own opinions and I encourage her to share them. A bit of disagreement is good for everyone. But Liz, you really can't tell Havoc how to run his own lists or by what standards he can grade music. If you disagree by all means tell what you think the grade should be or even make your own list! But telling Havoc he can't judge by this or that isn't frankly going to get you anywhere.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 09, 2013 8:45 pm 
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I'm certain this is all just practical disagreement. Lys is correct that the number 1 hits are not going to be the best or the most influential songs of all time. But they are a good index of what was popular in the day, which in turn can show us the history of pop music as it unfolded. In all its glory. And all its horror.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 09, 2013 11:23 pm 
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frigidmagi wrote:
It's a free country and everyone is free to like or dislike as they see fit. That said, I'm personally a big fan of the man who frankly helped me learn how to interact with hearing people. Not to mention listening to him really helped with my English. Not to mention that by many varied personal accounts, he was one of the best men on the Earth. So one could imagine my firm disagreement with any criticism of Mr. Rogers.

I'm not criticizing Mr. Rogers, all I've heard about him points to his being a wonderful man. I forced myself to listen through his defence of PBS and it was very well written and eloquent, and I largely agreed with the points he made. The problem is that I can't stand to listen to him. When he talks I become nervous, agitated and ill at ease. This is not a rational reaction, nor is it my impugning on his character, this is an uncontrollable nervous reaction that just happens.

Quote:
As to the music. This is about Havoc's taste. Liz is defintely free to her own opinions and I encourage her to share them. A bit of disagreement is good for everyone. But Liz, you really can't tell Havoc how to run his own lists or by what standards he can grade music. If you disagree by all means tell what you think the grade should be or even make your own list! But telling Havoc he can't judge by this or that isn't frankly going to get you anywhere.

The objective was to explain where my own point of view comes from. I consider and expect meh songs to be the baseline of humanity's musical output, whereas Havoc clearly expects better. I was just pointing out this fact. In addition to that I also disagree with the premise of the exercise, and Havoc even agrees with the point to some extent. However, a properly done analysis would require his being a Doctor of the Arts and getting paid to write long dissertations about the evolution of American music.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2013 3:28 am 
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Lys wrote:
The objective was to explain where my own point of view comes from. I consider and expect meh songs to be the baseline of humanity's musical output, whereas Havoc clearly expects better. I was just pointing out this fact. In addition to that I also disagree with the premise of the exercise, and Havoc even agrees with the point to some extent. However, a properly done analysis would require his being a Doctor of the Arts and getting paid to write long dissertations about the evolution of American music.


No, what I agree with is that this process would be wrong if the purpose of this exercise was to examine the most influential songs of all time. That was never the premise of the exercise at all. The exercise was to examine the most popular music through time by examining the songs that hit number 1 for whatever reason, and to contrast them to other songs from that year that did not become number 1 hits. For that purpose, the Billboard Number 1 hits list is perfectly serviceable, and I believe the best means of doing so (and was also the same list that originator of this idea employed). The express purpose of this thread was to cover the songs that were popular in yesteryear, and give my opinions on them, opinions which I welcome disagreement and mockery on. But if your objection is that I should not be looking at what is popular at all, in favor of something else, then I'm afraid you're in the wrong thread entirely. It is like asking me to stop reviewing movies because live theater is "more important". I have neither the interest, nor the capacity, nor the background to do so, and I don't believe in the premise that it is more or less important to examine in any event.

For whatever reason, many millions of people thought every one of these songs worthy of purchase, moreso than any others in their day. I wish to understand why, and I wish to see how their tastes changed with time. And that is what I intend to do. To use an analogy, it's perfectly fine to prefer the study of sharks to the study of whales, but this is a thread about whales. And objecting to the manner in which I study the whales because it does not provide sufficient insight on sharks is, I believe, somewhat missing the point. :smile:

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2013 3:40 am 
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1963
Yearly GPA: 1.095

I don't know that the GPA will reflect it (EDIT: It did), but 1963 is one of the worst years in Pop Music history. Whatever life had existed in the 50s thanks to the invention of Rock & Roll was by now long-since gone, and the charts were dominated by a monotonous diet of stale, boring songs, punctuated by inexplicable pieces that only made it onto the charts by virtue of having no competition.



Steve Lawrence - Go Away Little Girl
Number 1 song from January 12th-25th, 1963 (2 weeks)
Image

Havoc's Grade: D
I mean, just listen to the first lines of this song. I know that little girl meant something different back then, but the combination of the singer's creepy voice and the modern meaning of the term just conspire to give me an incredibly creepy vibe. Unfair? Maybe. But I'm judging these as I see them, and this song aged worse than almost any other I've heard.

Amazingly though, this is not the last time we'll hear from this song...



The Rooftop Singers - Walk Right In
Number 1 song from January 26th-February 8th, 1963 (2 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: D
A country-adult contemporary crossover hit that I can't find the merits in, as it sounds like a TV jingle for placemats.



Paul & Paula - Hey, Paula
Number 1 song from February 9th-March 1st, 1963 (3 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: D
So boring I actually forgot it was still playing.



The Four Seasons - Walk Like a Man
Number 1 song from March 2nd-22nd, 1963 (3 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: D
I admit, this is better than the Seasons' usual fare, and the song is iconic enough, but I simply cannot stand that grating falsetto that Frankie Vallie insisted on using. Weirdly, the Four Seasons will be with us all the way into the mid-70s. And amazingly enough, they actually get better.



Ruby & The Romantics - Our Day Will Come
Number 1 song from March 23rd-29th, 1963 (1 week)
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Havoc's Grade: D
One of Amy Winehouse's favorite cover targets, though I'll be damned if I can figure out why. This one sounds like a BAD TV jingle.



The Chifons - He's So Fine
Number 1 song from March 30th-April 26th, 1963 (4 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: D
One of the lesser examples of Motown girl groups. This song wound up in a New York courtroom in 1970 when George Harrison was sued for plagiarizing it with "My Sweet Lord" (I don't hear it at all). Why anyone would want to plagiarize this insipid, stupid song, badly sung and with nonsensical backing singing, I will never understand.



Little Peggy March - I Will Follow Him
Number 1 song from April 27th-May 17th, 1963 (3 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: C
This is a borderline one for me, because this arrangement is clunky and not even close to as good as the version from Sister Act (yeah, I said it). The song however is very strong, and the singer, though not possessed of the best voice, wrings some actual emotion from it.



Leslie Gore - It's My Party
Number 1 song from June 1st-14th, 1963 (2 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: D
One of the whiniest songs ever written. A fun fact about it: WCBN-FM, the radio station of the University of Michigan, played this song for 18 hours straight when Ronald Reagan was elected.



Kyu Sakamoto - Sukiyaki
Number 1 song from June 15th-July 5th, 1963 (3 weeks)
Image

Havoc's Grade: D
The only Japanese-language song to ever hit number 1, this is what I was talking about when I referenced the desperation in the charts for something new. Yet for reasons totally opaque to me, this song was HUGE. It was covered fifty times. It sold 13 million singles. It got its own postage stamp. What the hell am I missing here?



The Essex - Easier Said than Done
Number 1 song from July 6th-19th, 1963 (2 weeks)
Image

Havoc's Grade: D
Aaaaaand we're back to painfully-boring, samey-sounding crap, this time with a car horn as a lead singer. Lovely. Though I suppose I should mention, the singers were all active-duty Marines at the time it was recorded. Maybe I shouldn't be so quick to talk shit...



Jan & Dean - Surf City
Number 1 song from July 20-August 2nd, 1963 (2 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: D
Jan & Dean were a third-rate Beach Boys knockoff on their best day, yet they're the ones who got the first surf song onto the top of the charts. Figures.



The Tymes - So Much in Love
Number 1 song from August 3rd-9th, 1963 (1 week)
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Havoc's Grade: C
I'm a sucker for a good acapella harmony. Sue me.



Little Stevie Wonder - Fingertips Part 2
Number 1 song from August 10th-30th, 1963 (3 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: D
Never been much of a Stevie Wonder fan. This sure didn't convince me to convert. Meandering crap, and the false codas don't help. The song is a recording of his concert at the Motown Music Hall. At one point, you can hear the bassist asking what key they're in :smile:



The Angels - My Boyfriend's Back
Number 1 song from August 31st-September 20th, 1963 (3 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: D
It's like a playground taunt converted into a song. Ke$ha's grandmother or something. You know a song is rubbish when the Chipettes cover is the most tolerable one.



Bobby Vinton - Blue Velvet
Number 1 song from September 21st-October 11th, 1963 (3 weeks)
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Havoc's Grade: D
I'm awful glad that Rolling Stone described this song as "a doleful prom anthem", because I am running out of new ways to explain that a song is boring and stupid.



Jimmy Gilmer & The Fireballs - Sugar Shack
Number 1 song from October 12th-November 15th, 1963 (5 weeks)
Image

Havoc's Grade: D
A bad version of the B-52s, which is saying something.



Nino Temple & April Stevens - Deep Purple
Number 1 song from November 16th-22nd, 1963 (1 week)
Image

Havoc's Grade: F
A piano ballad written in 1922, this meandering shit just refuses to go anywhere whatsoever. What's worse, this track won a Grammy award!!!



Dale & Grace - I'm Leaving it up to You
Number 1 song from November 23rd-December 6th, 1963 (2 week)
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Havoc's Grade: D
There is no fucking end to the boring semi-country ballads this year. If the 60s weren't just around the corner, I would probably give up. This song was number 1 during the Kennedy Assassination, and legend has it that Dale and Grace were watching the motorcade when it happened. Maybe they started singing...



The Singing Nun - Dominique
Number 1 song from December 7th, 1963-January 3rd, 1964 (4 weeks)
Image

Havoc's Grade: C
Do you see what I mean by desperation in the charts? This was literally written by a nun, and for those who don't speak the language, is a charming little ditty about St. Dominic killing heretics and Cathari. Part of this thing's popularity was probably due to the radio DJs looking for something soothing and calming to play in the wake of JFK's death. But part of it is the overwhelming sameyness of music this year. This is the reason the British Invasion hit like such a sledgehammer.






Supplemental Songs

As always, these are songs that were not considered good enough to make the number 1 for 1963. Bear that in mind...

The Beach Boys - Surfin' USA
1962 Billboard Top 100 position: 2
Image
[youtube][/youtube]

Havoc's Grade: B
In perfect fairness, this did hit number 2 this year, which probably means they just got unlucky in terms of when their sales fell week to week. But the contrast between one of the Beach Boys' most iconic songs and the rest of this moronic crap is unreal.



The Cascades - Rhythm of the Rain
1962 Billboard Top 100 position: 4
Image

Havoc's Grade: B
As with the above song, this one barely missed the top of the charts, but missed it nonetheless. It's not as good as the 1990 remake by Dan Fogelberg, but it's still one of the only tolerable 50s-style songs from this era.



Peter, Paul & Mary - Puff the Magic Dragon
1962 Billboard Top 100 position: 16
Image

Havoc's Grade: B
Yes, I know why this one was left off the top of the charts, but it's still a classic song, far superior than its reputation as nothing but a kids' song would qualify it for. I guess the stoners hadn't found it yet.



Peter, Paul & Mary - Blowin in the Wind
1962 Billboard Top 100 position: 17
Image

Havoc's Grade: A
THIS ONE however there is no excuse for. This is one of the most iconic folk songs ever written, arguably Bob Dylan's finest work. And here it sits, defeated by singing nuns and early J-pop. Never listen to anyone telling you that music was "better" in your parents' days. Such good music as they had were cast to the side.



Johnny Cash - Ring of Fire
1962 Billboard Top 100 position: 80
Image

Havoc's Grade: B
There are no words in elvish, entish, or the tongues of men for this betrayal. How did THIS song get abandoned at the bottom of the charts while the rest of these miserable failures were celebrated?!

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Last edited by General Havoc on Thu Jan 16, 2014 2:17 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2013 6:48 am 
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Havoc, I don't think the YouTube inline feature was meant to be used this heavily. My computer is starting to choke when it tries to load this thread unless I disable flash first.

General Havoc wrote:
Steve Lawrence - Go Away Little Girl
Number 1 song from January 12th-25th, 1963 (2 weeks)
Havoc's Grade: D

I mean, just listen to the first lines of this song. I know that little girl meant something different back then, but the combination of the singer's creepy voice and the modern meaning of the term just conspire to give me an incredibly creepy vibe. Unfair? Maybe. But I'm judging these as I see them, and this song aged worse than almost any other I've heard.


If I had simply heard that song it would have probably passed beneath my notice and been instantly forgotten. Instead I got to read your commentare before listening, and as result the opening lines caused me to burst into uncontrollable giggling. It reminds me of this one awful joke, and it's horrifying in the exact same way such that I can't stop laughing. A+ song, great comedy.


Quote:
Kyu Sakamoto - Sukiyaki
Number 1 song from June 15th-July 5th, 1963 (3 weeks)
Havoc's Grade: D
The only Japanese-language song to ever hit number 1, this is what I was talking about when I referenced the desperation in the charts for something new. Yet for reasons totally opaque to me, this song was HUGE. It was covered fifty times. It sold 13 million singles copies. It got its own postage stamp. What the hell am I missing here?

The fact that most of the people buying music in this period are grown white men with jobs. They want stuff they can come home to relax to, and that song is quite nice and very relaxing. I like it myself, but I like a lot of things.


Quote:
The Essex - Easier Said than Done
Number 1 song from July 6th-19th, 1963 (2 weeks)
Havoc's Grade: D
Aaaaaand we're back to painfully-boring, samey-sounding crap, this time with a car horn as a lead singer. Lovely. Though I suppose I should mention, the singers were all active-duty Marines at the time it was recorded. Maybe I shouldn't be so quick to talk shit...

Citizen, you have forgotten that Comrade Car Horn puts his life on the line so that you may live in peace and security. I'm afraid that due to your lack of patriotic fervor with respect to our brave comrades in the military, you shall have to serve a stint in the reeducation camps. Not to worry, this is as much for your own good as it is for ours. If you ever emerge you shall be a much happier and productive member of the glorious revolution, and thank us for it.

Quote:
Nino Temple & April Stevens - Deep Purple
Number 1 song from November 16th-22nd, 1963 (1 week)
Havoc's Grade: F
A piano ballad written in 1922, this meandering shit just refuses to go anywhere whatsoever. What's worse, this track won a Grammy award!!!

It deserved the award too, by my reckoning. It's better than most the stuff you gave Ds to.


General Havoc wrote:
Peter, Paul & Mary - Blowin in the Wind
1962 Billboard Top 100 position: 17
Havoc's Grade: A

THIS ONE however there is no excuse for. This is one of the most iconic folk songs ever written, arguably Bob Dylan's finest work. And here it sits, defeated by singing nuns and early J-pop. Never listen to anyone telling you that music was "better" in your parents' days. Such good music as they had were cast to the side.


I don't think I've ever heard it before, and I'm still not entirely clear on who Bob Dylan is. His name keeps coming up, and I know he's a musician, but I still don't know what the heck he's famous for. I feel like Bob Dylan's a popular culture ghost story I keep being told. Everyone insists they've seen him except me. I'm imagining Mary is not Bob in drag, so I guess he wrote the song? Seriously who the fuck is this guy and why is he famous?

Anyway, I like Metallica's version of it better, even though they never covered it. The entire time I was listening to Blowin in the Wind I kept thinking, "I like it more when it goes 'Here I am, on the road again,' instead." Then I looked up the lyrics and found that I was thinking of Metallica's Turn the Page. Which surprised me, I was expecting a band called Metallica to sound, you know, metal. Instead they sound like a proto-Nirvana. No wonder I can never remember that the Metallica songs I like are theirs, none of them are what I expect Metallica to sound like.

Also, that Japanese song is near the bottom of the list of things I would consider J-pop. In fact, there's heck of a lot of songs in languages other than Japanese that I'd call J-pop long before I called Suriyaki an early iteration of proto-J-pop. Fuck, the Requiem Mass is more J-pop than that was.

Quote:
Johnny Cash - Ring of Fire
1962 Billboard Top 100 position: 80
Havoc's Grade: B
There are no words in elvish, entish, or the tongues of men for this betrayal. How did THIS song get abandoned at the bottom of the charts while the rest of these miserable failures were celebrated?!

Best song of 1963, easily and by a wide margin. I am, however, completely unsurprised by its performance. I suspect the people who liked it couldn't' afford it, and the people who could afford it didn't like it. Which is to say, when 20 white teenagers liked a song, they all pitched in and bought one copy of it, then listened to it were their parents couldn't whine about it. When 20 white adult household heads like a song, they each buy a copy.

I am, by the way, wildly speculating here, but I assure you this is 100% fact up until I'm proven wrong, at which point I never will have said it.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2013 6:34 pm 
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Lys wrote:
Havoc, I don't think the YouTube inline feature was meant to be used this heavily. My computer is starting to choke when it tries to load this thread unless I disable flash first.


Yeah, I've been resisting doing so, but I'm gonna switch to a different system entirely, as otherwise the thread will become utterly unloadable. I'll start using still images and linking to the youtube video from them.


Quote:
Quote:
Kyu Sakamoto - Sukiyaki
Number 1 song from June 15th-July 5th, 1963 (3 weeks)
Havoc's Grade: D
The only Japanese-language song to ever hit number 1, this is what I was talking about when I referenced the desperation in the charts for something new. Yet for reasons totally opaque to me, this song was HUGE. It was covered fifty times. It sold 13 million singles copies. It got its own postage stamp. What the hell am I missing here?

The fact that most of the people buying music in this period are grown white men with jobs. They want stuff they can come home to relax to, and that song is quite nice and very relaxing. I like it myself, but I like a lot of things.


There are an infinite number of boring relaxation pieces on offer, even in 1963. This is the one that became one of the most widely-selling Japanese-language songs of all time. I cannot possibly tell you why.


Quote:
Quote:
Nino Temple & April Stevens - Deep Purple
Number 1 song from November 16th-22nd, 1963 (1 week)
Havoc's Grade: F
A piano ballad written in 1922, this meandering shit just refuses to go anywhere whatsoever. What's worse, this track won a Grammy award!!!

It deserved the award too, by my reckoning. It's better than most the stuff you gave Ds to.


Really? It deserved to win the Grammy over Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash, did it?


Quote:
Quote:
Peter, Paul & Mary - Blowin in the Wind
1962 Billboard Top 100 position: 17
Havoc's Grade: A

THIS ONE however there is no excuse for. This is one of the most iconic folk songs ever written, arguably Bob Dylan's finest work. And here it sits, defeated by singing nuns and early J-pop. Never listen to anyone telling you that music was "better" in your parents' days. Such good music as they had were cast to the side.


I don't think I've ever heard it before, and I'm still not entirely clear on who Bob Dylan is. His name keeps coming up, and I know he's a musician, but I still don't know what the heck he's famous for. I feel like Bob Dylan's a popular culture ghost story I keep being told. Everyone insists they've seen him except me. I'm imagining Mary is not Bob in drag, so I guess he wrote the song? Seriously who the fuck is this guy and why is he famous?

Anyway, I like Metallica's version of it better, even though they never covered it. The entire time I was listening to Blowin in the Wind I kept thinking, "I like it more when it goes 'Here I am, on the road again,' instead." Then I looked up the lyrics and found that I was thinking of Metallica's Turn the Page. Which surprised me, I was expecting a band called Metallica to sound, you know, metal. Instead they sound like a proto-Nirvana. No wonder I can never remember that the Metallica songs I like are theirs, none of them are what I expect Metallica to sound like.

Also, that Japanese song is near the bottom of the list of things I would consider J-pop. In fact, there's heck of a lot of songs in languages other than Japanese that I'd call J-pop long before I called Suriyaki an early iteration of proto-J-pop. Fuck, the Requiem Mass is more J-pop than that was.


HOW DO YOU NOT KNOW WHO BOB DYLAN WAS?!?!?!?!?!

Bob Dylan was arguably the greatest songwriter of the 20th century. His music defined the 60s, and produced hits for bands as varied as Peter, Paul & Mary to Metallica. He's one of the most legendary figures of the American music scene, and not to sound too confrontational, but it is impossible to discuss the music of this period without knowing who he was. "The Times Are A Changin'", "Blowing in the Wind", "All Along the Watchtower", "Like a Rolling Stone", "Knocking on Heaven's Door", all songs that framed the decade, all songs (thankfully) sung by someone else. Dylan was simultaneously the best songwriter and worst singer of the 1960s, and moreso perhaps than any other man, even Lennon, defined what the 60s were all about.

Bob Dylan is an absolutely seminal figure in the music of the last fifty years. It is not possible to comprehend music without at least knowing who he was. And this is not the last time we will encounter his music along the way.


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Quote:
Johnny Cash - Ring of Fire
1962 Billboard Top 100 position: 80
Havoc's Grade: B
There are no words in elvish, entish, or the tongues of men for this betrayal. How did THIS song get abandoned at the bottom of the charts while the rest of these miserable failures were celebrated?!

Best song of 1963, easily and by a wide margin. I am, however, completely unsurprised by its performance. I suspect the people who liked it couldn't' afford it, and the people who could afford it didn't like it. Which is to say, when 20 white teenagers liked a song, they all pitched in and bought one copy of it, then listened to it were their parents couldn't whine about it. When 20 white adult household heads like a song, they each buy a copy.

I am, by the way, wildly speculating here, but I assure you this is 100% fact up until I'm proven wrong, at which point I never will have said it.


In fairness, it did better on the country charts, but it's still a crime to have it languishing here while shit like all the rest of the number 1 hits received the plaudits from that year.

_________________
Gaze upon my works, ye mighty, and despair...

Havoc: "So basically if you side against him, he summons Cthulu."
Hotfoot: "Yes, which is reasonable."


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