Thursday, October 28, 2010

Opening up the mailbag

I'm proud to unveil the Musicule Mailbag, the place to have your musical conundrums answered...or at least pondered a bit more. Today's questions comes from Dean in Australia:

Why did the Knack only have one hit from more than seven albums and they are still going? 
Normally, I'd be quick to make fun of a one hit wonder, but not in The Knack's case. If there's any one hit wonder band worth emulating, it's The Knack. Sure, only seven albums and one hit, but oh what a hit it was: My Sharona is one of those songs that transcends time...poppy enough to sound early-Beatlesesque, yet modern enough to have entered the chart thanks in part to its appearance in Reality Bites. Which raises a question of its own: Is it possible to put three one hit wonders in one song? See below:

It's worth adding that for a one-hit wonder, they had a pretty good second hit with Good Girls Don't. It's also not often a song gets away with mentioning oral points there for The Knack and co.:

Sadly, The Knack's lead singer, Don Fieger passed away earlier this year, so we'll never know if they had one more hit in them.

Do bands get tired of playing their one hit ad nauseum when they tour and play gigs? Are there any documented evidence that they have taken their own lives because of it? Deliberately evolved the song during the period of playing it? Decided not to even play it?
Why, yes, this is four questions, but at Musicule we don't discriminate. Besides all four questions are related, so let's break it down.

Some bands definitely get tired of playing their hits. My record collection and YouTube are littered with updated versions of song that scream "We're so tired of this song, but you want to hear it, so we're going to play it differently". There tend to be three variations of this:

There's the "let's go accoustic" version (and in some cases, like below, the band can't even be bothered to get together to perform the bloody thing!):

There's the "let's totally rework it" version...of which my favorite examples is Duran Duran's Arsenio Show take on Girls on Film I highlighted in an earlier post.  But probably one of the best known examples is what The Police did in 1986:

There's the "thrash right through it version":

And finally, there's the "screaming for cultural awareness" version where an artist tries to reach out to a different audience by pairing up with someone with whom they wouldn't normally associate:

As for the age old, "let's not play our hits" career stumble, we only need to look at today's headines...from UPI:

Boy George tosses drink at chatty woman

Published: Oct. 27, 2010 at 12:14 PM

LONDON, Oct. 27 (UPI) -- Fading British pop star Boy George tossed a drink at a woman talking through his set at a London benefit for The Meningitis Trust, video posted online shows.

VIDEO: Watch the entire incident, be warned of foul language

The former Culture Club front man, whose real name is George Alan O'Dowd, has been better known in recent years for his battle with drug addiction and various brushes with the law than he has been for making music.

The Sun said Wednesday he became enraged after a chatty woman distracted him as he was performing at the fundraiser at the Embassy club.

"Why don't you shut the (expletive) up, you rude (expletive!)" the newspaper quoted the 49-year-old singer as telling the woman before he dumped the contents of a glass on her from the stage.

"He wasn't playing his hits, and people were losing interest. It was a shocking lapse of judgment, because people had paid to support the trust," a club source told The Sun.

Video footage of the incident is making the rounds on the Internet.

© 2010 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
George, George, George...have you forgotten that war, war is stupid?

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