So, with the modest resurgence of one of my childhood favorites in the music business with Red Hot Chili Peppers‘ “Dark Necessities”, I’ve – once again – found myself digging back through the old catalog of my favorite songs of yesteryear. In doing so, I’ve uncovered more one-hit wonders that deserved better.
Semisonic – “Chemistry”
Awhile back, I briefly talked about how Semisonic frontman Dan Wilson wrote and produced Adele’s best work. That said, he and his band still did great stuff on their own beyond “Closing Time”. Oh, it was an important milestone for indie music for my generation, but there was so much more.
Their third studio album, “All About Chemistry”, was much more mature yet playful (read: had a lot more coded sex talk) than previous outings. Most of the time, it was trying to sneak helpful lessons about safe and healthy sex for the teens that were buying up their music at the time. For example, “Get A Grip” was a silly, light-hearted story about how healthy and normal regular masturbation is.
However, it was the title track “Chemistry” that sticks with me. It’s a tale about playing the field (experimenting, to use the chemistry analogy) to find the one that won’t burn you out or hurt you. That’s an important lesson considering how many unhappy relationships we see due to people staying together for the sake of some outdated idea of what faithfulness should be.
If people aren’t adding to your happiness, they shouldn’t occupy space (or at least AS MUCH space) in your life. It’s only going to make you both miserable. That’s the moral to take away from this little number.
Dexy’s Midnight Runners – “Jackie Wilson Said”
As great as the hit song “Come On Eileen” is, I feel the message of youthful abandon in the face of darker times was lost on most listeners… mostly because we had difficulty understanding the lyrics.
However, if you were already familiar with Van Morrison, you didn’t have to guess what their cover of “Jackie Wilson Said” was saying; you already knew.
See, Dexy’s – like other acts born from the U.K.’s Northern Soul movement – was heavily influenced by lesser known or sadly forgotten American Soul artists. Here, they fly their colors proudly by directly referencing a great name from Soul’s past.
Add to that how the vocals are – in my humble opinion – much better than those of Van Morrison’s original, and you have the makings of an undervalued gem.
Deee-Lite – “Picnic In The Summertime”
Did I mention how much I F***ING LOVE Deee-Lite?
But damn, if you thought “Power Of Love” was a departure from the norm for Deee-Lite, “Picnic In The Summertime” is a whole different beast altogether.
There’s no deep message or meaning here; it’s just a really happy song about enjoying the little joys of life set to a more urban sound than what they traditionally were used to.
Honestly, I respect the decision to experiment with a new sound every now and again. It keeps things fresh and interesting. It’s just a shame that the public at large wasn’t more receptive at the time.