It never comes up much in conversation, but I love music. I’m the type of person that, if the mood takes me, I’ll start zoning out and mouthing the lyrics to music playing in the background.
If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you know I try introducing people to interesting music I find using #MusicMonday. Seeing as how I missed it last week, I’m going to make it up to you all now by talking about the aspect of music I like to study most; the one-hit wonder.
I like studying and learning about single hit artists and bands because they serve as good examples of how trends can change quickly and/or how good art can go wrong. While I research these musicians, I often find songs that I feel should have been better received.
So today, I’m going to share with you some great tunes from great artists that only the most devoted fans have heard. The goal being that you can’t really get to respect the range and scale of a person until you experience their full body of work.
A-Ha – “Crying In The Rain”
In all honesty, A-ha’s hit single “Take On Me” always bothered me a bit. I think it may have to do with vocalist Morten Harket’s high pitched chorus and loose grasp of English (in case you didn’t notice, “take on me” is bad grammar).
I can’t make the same complaint about their beautiful cover of The Everly Brothers’ “Crying in the Rain” which I dare say is even better than the original.
As the case with the original, the song is the story of a man that knows he can never be with the one he loves and is too proud to show her his heart breaking. In this case, the act of letting his tears blend in with the raindrops running down his face is symbolic of masking his sadness.
This is the perfect song for a vocalist like Harket. His tone is specially designed to ache with emotion. You could honestly believe that he has actually experienced the heartache he’s singing about. It also helps that his deeper tone drives home the stoic nature of our protagonist.
I would never personally hide my feelings from someone I loved, but if I had to, this is the song that would play in my mind.
A Flock of Seagulls – “Space Age Love Song”
For the record, almost all of the singles A Flock of Seagulls released before they started trying to ride the coattails of Duran Duran were amazing. It was really hard to choose just one other than “I Ran (So Far Away)” to showcase here.
I could have gone with the dark and panicked tones of “(It’s Not Me) Talking” or the melancholic heartache of “Wishing (If I Had A Photograph of You)”, but I decided to go with the upbeat romance of “Space Age Love Song”.
The title says it all, it’s a touching love song made in the spirit of 80’s futurism and science fiction and it sounds like it. I want to compare it to an 80’s new wave version of Daft Punk’s “Digital Love” – in fact, the two sound very similar in many respects.
If I ever live to see the day when interstellar vacations become commercially available to the working class, I will play this song to my girlfriend while drinking red wine and circling the moon. Of course, the wine will be hard to drink in microgravity…
Sir Mix-A-Lot – “Posse on Broadway”
Here’s the thing you need to know about Seattle, Washington-based rapper Anthony Ray, AKA Sir Mix-A-Lot, and his hit single “Baby Got Back”; Mix isn’t always trying to bait listeners with sex or buck the system (the song is actually a criticism of the narrow standard of beauty promoted by the fashion industry). Sometimes, he just likes to have fun.
Mix likes to occasionally brag in his music like most rappers as evidenced in “Beepers” and sometimes he just goofs around and pokes fun at himself à la “My Hooptie”. That said, “Posse on Broadway” is a nice mix of every aspect of his music.
It starts out as your standard brag rap about how cool Mix and his crew are, but it also serves as a love letter to his home of Seattle as well as a declaration of being responsible with power. It would be easy for them to just waste their clout on frivolous things (and they certainly have more fun than more most people should), but they try to do good as well. They try to get people to stop smoking cocaine, they treat everyone to dinner, and they even save a girl from her abusive boyfriend.
If you like this song, you should also listen to the Godzilla Remix. This is a song for when you and your friends want to make an entrance.
Restating The Goal
As I said, the point of this exercise is to encourage exploration of the art of music. It’s too easy to just listen to the dreck that gets pumped out by pop music radio stations.
I like to think of music in terms of gourmet cuisine versus snack foods. A bag of chips (mainstream pop music, in this analogy) is addictive by nature but provides little in terms of good nourishment. The proper meal (the little-known music that was made by people and not committee driven statistics), however, is better for you and must be savored and enjoyed. It’s perfectly normal to enjoy both, but you can’t just suck down Cheetos contently without negative consequences.
Do a little exploring into artists that you gave a miss before. You may be surprised at what you find.