Tuesday, 18 January 2022

Speak Your Brain! Part XIX. Flops that should have been hits.

Thanks to Charlie Horse 47 and Killdumpster for their sponsorship of this post, via the magic of Patreon
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The Steve Does Comics Megaphone
Image by Tumisu
from Pixabay
Once more we're into the second half of a month and once more the day's a Tuesday.

That can mean but one thing.

That I've run out of ideas and it's time for the thrilling return of the greatest feature to hit the Internet since I stole it from Back in the Bronze Age. It's the one in which the first person to comment gets to decide what the rest of us should discuss.

It could cover almost any subject; be it sport, art, films, books, cooks, music, mucous, fairy tales, fairy lights, fairy cakes, myth, moths, magic, murder, mystery, mayhem, May Day, sofas, sodas, sausages, eggs, whisky, broth, Bath, Garth Marenghi, Garth Brooks, Bruno Brookes, Bruno Mars, Mars Bars, wine bars, flip-flops, flim-flam, flapjacks, see-saws, flowers, flours, bread bins, bin bags, body bags, bean bags, cola, pancakes, pizzas, sci-fi, Wi-Fi, Hi-Fi, horror, sewage, saunas, suet, Silurians, Sontarans, sins, suns sans or sandcastles.

It might not be any of those things.

Only you The Reader can decide.

49 comments:

Anonymous said...

Name a song that SHOULD have been a hit, but wasn’t.

Here’s two:

‘1984’ by David Bowie. Released as a single, but didn’t chart very high anywhere.

‘Steal Away’ by Nils Lofgren.

Anyone wants to add a comics-related question…?

b.t.

dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

It might not have charted anywhere but 1984 by Bowie was covered by Tina Turner on the Private Dancer album. First time I'd ever heard it.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

That is a very interesting question. And what I am going to say is probably going to be a little bit muddy to discern…

I think Ask me why and PS I love you which were the backsides to the Beatles first two singles probably could have reached number one. Extremely listenable and enjoyable.

But then at beggars the question why didn’t love me do hit number one then if the backside was so good.

Steve W. said...

Thanks for the topic, Bt.

The tracks that first leap to my mind are:

Ship of Fools - World Party.

Driver's Seat - Sniff 'n' the Tears.

Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen.

Heart of Stone - Bucks Fizz.

Granted, some of those tracks may have done rather better in other countries than they did in Britain.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

I think frank’s app is “slime from the video “could’ve gone high up the charts. But Frank was an odd dude so perhaps they didn’t touch his works on the a.m. charts

Anonymous said...

Charlie:
you bring up an interesting point yourself — this whole idea of “Which one is the A-side, and which one is the B?” There are LOTS of Beatles singles where both sides are obvious ‘hit’ material (at least in retrospect) and more than once, both sides actually did chart separately (like ‘Hello Goodbye’ and ‘I Am The Walrus’).

Also, songs that were originally B-sides that became monster hit singles after the A-side crashed and burned — ‘Maggie May’ by Rod Stewart and ‘Beth’ by Kiss are two that instantly come to mind.

Steve:
‘Driver’s Seat’ peaked at #15 on the US Pop chart, high enough to count as a ‘One Hit Wonder’. The song got quite a bit of airplay on Alternative Radio stations (where I first heard it). Likewise, ‘Born To Run’ peaked at #23, but it got tons of airplay on AOR stations, and the album itself was Springsteen’s first multi-platinum smash.

dangermash:
I had no idea Tina did a cover of ‘1984’, I’ll have to check that out. The Bowie version did get some airplay on AOR / ‘Classic Rock’ stations here in the States over the years, but not NEARLY as much as ‘Space Oddity’, ‘Rebel Rebel’ and others. I think it’s still considered a relatively deep cut.

b.t.

Anonymous said...

Steve:
Yes, the differences between the US and UK charts are fascinating to me. Bands that had just a modicum of chart success here in the States but exploded in the UK, or vice-versa. Slade is a perfect example — mostly under the radar over here, and I take it they were enormously popular in Britain. Likewise, Whizzard is largely unknown in the States, only die-hard Move / ELO fans know anything about them. Some of the bands you guys talk about (like Bucks Fizz) I’ve NEVER heard of.

The US is such a huge country, there are lots of acts that had success regionally but failed to connect on the national level. There was a local band here in Southern California, called Redeye, who had a pretty big hit single in the 70s called ‘Games’ that didn’t do well at all outside the state.

b.t.

Anonymous said...

My 2c (and in no particular order):

The streets of your town by the Go-Betweens - Brisbane band that apparently spent years in London. Watch the black and white video on youtube (there were two versions). Highly evocative.

Wonderful by Adam Ant - Adam's brilliant lament at physically assaulting then girlfriend Heather Graham, mid-breakdown. Barely cracked the top 40.

Heroes by Bowie - Barely cracked the top 30 at the time. Seriously? It's f!@#$%^ Heroes!

Anything by The Smiths - If every edgy outsider character in every hipster 80's retro drama was such a massive Smiths fan, how come no single charted in the top ten?

I suspect certain posters may disagree with me here ;-)

DW

Anonymous said...

You're not wrong there DW (;

But then, I find myself wondering how come Throbbing Gristle or the Residents never had any hits, and why French prog-jazz never made it big, so perhaps I'm not well qualified for this discussion (although to be fair 'Heroes' did occur to me too - I think I mentioned here the other week that it wasn't even included on the 'Changestwobowie' comp).

Maybe its worth bringing up records that didn't make much of an impression when they came out, but became successful much later.
Now that we live in the age of the reissue, a large part of the music biz based on repackaging old stuff, much of which is about selling us the same records all over again, remastered so they sound worse and with bonus tracks that weren't good enough to be released first time round... but theres also forgotten records that suddenly get discovered.
Like, say, the work of Nick Drake, who used to be a 70s singer-songwriter that never became as well known as even label-mates like John Martyn or Richard Thompson (not exactly household names themselves back in the day) but posthumously seems to have become quite popular in the twenty-first century.

Which I guess just goes to show there's no logic to artistic success. If there was, it would be easier to predict.

-sean

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Bowie never penetrated US charts like the UK. Quite strange. SO one could probably find a good few dozen Bowie singles from the UK that never really penetrated here.

I was just looking and he only had one #1 album in America? Blackstar which was his last.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Bowie_discography

Anonymous said...

Presumably Thriller kept Let's Dance off the top of the US charts across 1983/84 (in fact a wiki check suggests it peaked at #4). This would have been my guess for Bowie's best selling album across the pond.

Probably explains the difference between UK and US markets...

DW

Anonymous said...

Wow, a quick check of actually facts show's what I know. Apparently Let's Dance only sold 300,000 copies in the UK compared with 2,000,000 in the US (and 500,000 in Canada). Either someone was under declaring sales my friends and acquaintances had unusual taste because I remember everyone having this album when first released. There must have been a lot of taped copies passing around.

Comparatively, Thriller looks to have sold 34,000,000 copies in the US and 4,500,000 in the UK. So relatively more popular in the US, than Let's Dance, but still massively more popular everywhere.

DW

Anonymous said...

..actual facts..

..or my friends..

My proof reading is as strong as my sales estimates.

DW

Redartz said...

Songs that should have been a hit? Anything by Ultravox. They never, to my knowledge, cracked the U.S. charts.

"Hyperactive " by Thomas Dolby. Great song off a great album that , again, made no mark in the U.S.

Oh, I could go on indefinitely with UK tunes that should have hit big over here.

Makes me start to think about the flip side of b.t.'s question: songs that WERE a hit but shouldn't have been. Probably quite a few to mention there, also. Looking at you, Rod Stewart, and "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy"...

Anonymous said...

Red!
No fair flipping my question! Even though I used to do it to you all the time on your late, lamented blog … ;)

DW:
I’ve never heard of Adam Ant’s ‘Wonderful’ before today. Is it really about him physically assaulting Heather Graham? Gosh. I will have to check that out (even though it sounds kinda depressing)

b.t.

Anonymous said...

Hits that were, but shouldn't have been...? How long have you got, Red?

-sean

Redartz said...

B.t. and Sean- yeah, b.t.'s original question is a bit more challenging! My 'flip' could certainly tip off into the slippery slope towards the curmudgeonly "get off my lawn" realm! Especially now, as my eyes are getting heavy and my brain is getting sluuuuuggggggissssssshhhhhhhh.....

Anonymous said...

b.t.

I think it was more that he almost hit her, during a break down. Sadly he did have a publicised violent episode a few year later. It is a great song and youtube has the lyrics.

DW

Anonymous said...

DW:
I watched the ‘Wonderful’ video on YouTube and realized I HAD heard the song before. Yes, it’s quite good, light years away from the catchy schlock of his earlier hits (‘catchy schlock’ in no way intended to be pejorative ; I LOVE catchy schlock, I LIVE for it.)

Sean and Redartz:
I’m trying to think of just one “perfect” example of a hit that shouldn’t’a been one. As in, absolutely, irrevocably, indisputably awful, too irritating and foul to even rate as a Guilty Pleasure. As in, I’d rather listen to a symphony of dentist drills and monkeys screaming, or to ‘Hotel California’ on an uninterrupted 24 hour loop. I hereby nominate ‘We Didn’t Start The Fire’ by Billy Joel. It topped the charts in 1989 and it is a shrill abomination.

b.t.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and one that SHOULD have been a hit : ‘It’s All I Can Do’ by The Cars. Peaked at #41 on the Billboard Top 100. My favorite song from the band.

b.t.

Steve W. said...

Tragically, there are far too many songs that were hits that shouldn't have been for me to even start tackling that task.

When it comes to songs that should have been hits but weren't, I'll also throw in Tinseltown in the Rain by The Blue Nile, which I always assumed made the Top 40 in the UK but it turns out it only peaked at number 87.

Also, Brite Side by Debbie Harry.

Redartz said...

B.t.- great call! That's my favorite Cars tune also.

Anonymous said...

'Deal 'Em Again' by Christopher Cross.

On more serious matters, it appears the actor who plays the Midnight Man in the new Moon Knight series has died, in a tragic accident:

https://uk.yahoo.com/movies/gaspard-ulliel-french-actor-moon-143953127.html

Phillip

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Gents!

Ole Charlie has the Covid so he is sitting on the couch (again) with plenty of time to ruminate!

Hotel California, Stairway to Heaven, Don't Fear the Reaper... certainly they were decent songs but perhaps we chaffe b/c they were overplayed?

B.T., RED - I too dig "IT's ALL I CAN DO" by the CARS. I would like to add TOUCH AND GO which peaked at 37.

But as DW pointed out, "timing is everything."

Steve W. said...

I wish you a speedy recovery, Charlie.

Anonymous said...

Get well soon, Charlie. Here's a Beatles story, to cheer you up:

https://news.sky.com/story/beatles-producer-george-martin-reflects-on-his-first-impressions-of-the-band-in-heartwarming-clip-12520007

Phillip

Anonymous said...

Decent songs? 'Don't Fear the Reaper' is a good one, but the other two...? Hope you get well soon Charlie, because covid is clearly addling your brain.

-sean

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Thanks Gents.

B.t.w. I think Smoke on the Water is under rated as is a lot of stuff by Cream.

dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

Sending best wishes over the water to you Charlie. Hope you're out again soon,

Chim said...

When I started listening to Beatles songs in the mid 70s, I always loved "Tell Me Why" (A hard days night album). It has a great beat and vocals. It's a bit similar to She loves you". In some countries it was featured as a B-Side of other A-side songs from the album.

Redartz said...

Best wishes, Charlie; hope you get better quickly! Say, I presume keeping the entire state of Indiana between us counts as social distancing? ;)

Chim said...

@Steve "Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen" oh man, probably my most favorite song of all times.

Chim said...

@Steve 'Driver’s Seat’ got a lot of air time in Germany too.

Anonymous said...

Charlie:
Full and speedy recovery, pal. Also, I’m right there with ya on ‘Smoke on the Water’, ‘Stairway’ and ‘Reaper’ — overplayed like crazy, for sure, but I still like ‘em. ‘Fresh Cream’ was the first rock album my oldest brother ever brought home, we all listened to it over and over. Still have a soft spot for it. Hotel California’ I USED to like but as with most of the Eagles’ catalog, it just wore out its welcome, LONG ago. I still like ‘Witchy Woman’ but that’s about it.

Sean:
I’m intrigued by this idea of songs that became popular many years after their original release. Happens a lot with movies, sometimes they don’t do well in the theatres but become wildly popular on cable and home video. Only song I can think of myself is ‘Nights in White Satin’ which was a decent hit for the Moodies in ‘67 but went all the way to #2 on the charts when it was re-released in ‘72.

b.t.

Chim said...

Get well soon Charlie. Best wishes.

Steve W. said...

Chim, apparently, Driver's Seat got to Number One in the Netherlands.

But not until 1991!

Charlie Horse 47 said...

You know... THe USA needed to show the UK groups more love for "#1"!


Bowie - maybe 1-2 # 1 hits in the USA and no #1 albums.

The Rolling Stones - The early songs like Dandelion, Paint it Black, Rainbow are all quite clever and very listenable. Stones, like Bowie, really never charted high in the USA.

Pet Shop Boys - in an absolute travesty, they only have 2 songs that even charted in the USA.. West End Boys, Heart Beat, Domino Dancing, What Have I done to Deserve This, Love Comes Quickly... Geeze they are all at least top-10!!!

But maybe the expectations are too high? Inevitably, all music conversations seem to work the Beatles in the equation but it's a bit like comparing very smart people to Einstein.

McSCOTTY said...

I was surprised that "Love will tear us apart" by Joy Division only reached about number 42 in US - a brilliant tune.

Other "shocks" for me was that almost all Ramones singles ( especially "I wanna be sedated" ) didn't chart ( or rarely made the top 40) in UK and US.

I still can't believe Bowies "Changes "and "Heroes" did poorly in the US. Strange how some artists don't do as well as you think re singles in the UK The Who and Bob Dylan didn't do well at all with singles.

DW - Bowies Let's Dance" album sold over 10.5 million worldwide so I'm sure he wasn't the bothered that he only sold 300k in UK which was a surprise to me as it was never off the radio or TV, so much so I was sick of hearing it



Anonymous said...

Charlie:
According to Wikipedia (which is NEVER EVER wrong) ‘Miss You’ by the Stones went all the way to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Not the most REPRESENTATIVE Stones tune, no — but still, I’m sure the boys were grateful for the royalties anyway. ‘Angie’ supposedly hit #1 too. I could have sworn ‘It’s Only Rock and Roll’ was also a big radio hit here in the States, but apparently only got as high as #16.

McScotty:
I’m not at all surprised The Ramones never had much chart success. Punk bands were all the rage in the Music press, but it never really translated to actual sales in the States. Blondie, The Clash, The Go-go’s etc only became super-popular after their respective sounds went more ‘mainstream’.

Also, I thought for sure ‘Changes’ did pretty well as a single, but apparently, not so much. It DID chart but not very highly. TWICE. According to Wikipedia, it’s another one of Sean’s ‘sleeper’ hits — it originally stalled out at #66 on the Hot 100 in ‘72, was re-released as a ‘Double A’ single with ‘Space Oddity’ in ‘75 and got as high as #41.

‘Heroes’ definitely DESERVED to be a smash hit, but think about it — did anything else on the radio at the time sound REMOTELY like that? Way ahead of his time, Mr. Jones was, that time at least.

b.t.

Anonymous said...

b.t., A lot of old records gain a new lease of life these days thanks to film soundtracks, particularly since Quentin Tarantino started boosting Stealers Wheel royalties in the early 90s.
And And then theres advertising... Its amazing what they use for tv ads these days - I get the idea of using old hits to get into viewers' heads, but The Fall...?

As you say, in the olden days that was driven more by record company re-issues. But you did gept interesting revivals that came from listeners, like the Northern Soul thing in Britain.
Are you familiar with that at all? Basically, by the start of the 70s in (mainly) the north of England the taste for African American music fell out of step with the changing styles of black America, so a lot of clubs carried on playing 60s soul music. But the punters didn't want to just keep dancing to the same stuff every weekend, so djs started playing records that hadn't been hits, and then had to keep finding "new" old stuff in that style. Of course, over time they had to track down increasingly rare records to satisfy the clubbed demand, sparking a whole collector subculture that reinforced the trend (because naturally, as all collectors know, rare = best).

The whole scene was really big for years - in 1977 Billboard magazine rated the Wigan Casino as the best nightclub in the world (ahead of Studio 54!) - and black American acts who thought they'd had their go and missed the boat suddenly heard they had hits in the UK. Like Gloria Jones' 'Tainted Love' or the Tams 'Hey Girl', neither of which (I don't think?) were well known in the US.

-sean

Anonymous said...

*clubber, not "clubbed"
I take full responsibility and apologize for all typos, but no-one told me about predictive text (apparently that's how to do sincere apologies these days).

-sean

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Fascinating Sean!

Anonymous said...

Sean:
I did NOT know about the Northern Soul thing. Fascinating. Also, never realized the Soft Cell version of ‘Tainted Love’ was a cover until a few years ago when my 25-year-old daughter says to me, “Have you ever heard the original version of ‘Tainted Love’? ‘’ and I say, ‘’WHAT original version?’’ and she pulls up the Gloria Jones version on Spotify and I’m like, ‘’Well, I’ll be damned’’.

As for Old Song/ New Advert pair-ups — Iggy and the Stooge’s ‘Search and Destroy’ blasting out over an Audi commercial a few years back was one of the weirder ones I’ve seen. My all-time favorite has to be Melanie’s ‘’Brand New Key’’ selling HP printers. I generally think using cute babies in advertising is lazy but that one is actually clever and genuinely adorable. Like, ADORABLE.

b.t.

Anonymous said...

b.t.

You could have asked whether she was referring to the 1964 original or Gloria's own re-recording in 1976, both of which are on Spotify. Of course you would be leaving yourself open to being considered too nerdy. A bit like my responding here ;-)


DW

McSCOTTY said...

Interesting fact ( that everyone probably knows) Gloria Jones the original singer on Tainted Love, was Marc Bolans (T-Rex) long term partner ( until his death in 1977) abd mother of his son Rolan Bolan.

Colin Jones said...

Should have been a hit: 'White Is In The Winter Night' by Enya. In my opinion this catchy festive gem from 2008 is the best Christmas song of the 21st Century so far and it should be widely known and regarded as a modern Xmas classic but it wasn't even released as a single. Bah humbug!

Charlie Horse 47 said...

This may sound weird, but as I lay on my couch recovering, I keep re-apprising why I really really like SOFT CELL'S TAINTED LOVE.

Intellectually, I really, really gravitated to the song b/c I thought it was super cool how, totally out of nowhere, totally incongruously, they ended it with DIANA ROSS's Motown Classic "WHERE DID OUR LOVE GO."

Now that I have learned that the entire song is a remake of two "Motown" songs, the "Where did our love go" ending isn't so unique, so special?

Chim said...

I kissed a girl for the first time to Soft Cell's Tainted Love (or rather she kissed me) and I still get goosebumps when I hear the song :)

MattVA said...

LOTS of solid bands, musicians, & tunes in this comment chain -- just last week, Meat Loaf was brought up & after recent events, may be RIP...he seemed, anyway, like a bit humble & truly appreciated his fans. Very tough blow & he'll be missed!