December 15, 2005

 

Number Ones That Never Were:
Best of 2005 Edition



Sony Cube Radio

Part One, Part Two

When I was growing up, before the heady days of FM Radio, I had four major sources that contributed to my musical education:

01) My father’s vast collection of Big Band, Jazz, Show Tunes, Frank Sinatra and Novelty Records (one of my personal childhood favorites, Boots Randolph's "Yakety Sax," was perfect for running around the house like an idiot); 02) My two older brothers’ combined record collection (the usual suspects: Beatles, Stones, Iron Butterfly); 03) Sixties TV (Ed Sullivan, Hulllabaloo, Where the Action Is and Happening (both featuring Paul Revere & the Raiders), American Bandstand; and 04) WABC-AM, New York.

The last one perhaps had the most profound and perverse affect on my musical tastes. Back in the sixties, Top 40 radio was unbelievably eclectic. Just take a look at this list from 1965:

1. (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction, The Rolling Stones
2. I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch), Four Tops
3. Wooly Bully, Sam The Sham and The Pharaohs
4. My Girl, Temptations
5. You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin', Righteous Brothers
6. Downtown, Petula Clark
7. Help!, The Beatles
8. Can't You Hear My Heartbeat, Herman's Hermits
9. Crying In The Chapel, Elvis Presley
10. You Were On My Mind, We Five
11. I Got You Babe, Sonny and Cher
12. Mrs. Brown You've Got A Lovely Daughter, Herman's Hermits
13. The Birds And The Bees, Jewel Aikens
14. Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Mel Carter
15. Shotgun, Jr. Walker and The All Stars
16. Help Me, Rhonda, Beach Boys
17. This Diamond Ring, Gary Lewis and The Playboys
18. The "In" Crowd, Ramsey Lewis Trio
19. King Of The Road, Roger Miller
20. Stop! In The Name Of Love, Supremes
21. Unchained Melody, Righteous Brothers
22. Silhouettes, Herman's Hermits
23. I'll Never Find Another You, Seekers
24. Cara, Mia, Jay and The Americans
25. Mr. Tambourine Man, Byrds
26. Cast Your Fate To The Wind, Sounds Orchestral
27. Yes, I'm Ready, Barbara Mason
28. What's New Pussycat?, Tom Jones
29. Eve Of Destruction, Barry McGuire
30. Hang On Sloopy, McCoys
31. Ticket To Ride, The Beatles
32. Red Roses For A Blue Lady, Bert Kaempfert and His Orch.
33. Papa's Got A Brand New Bag, James Brown and The Famous Flames
34. Game Of Love, Wayne Fontana and The Mindbenders
35. The Name Game, Shirley Ellis
36. I Know A Place, Petula Clark
37. Back In My Arms Again, Supremes
38. Baby I'm Yours, Barbara Lewis
39. The Jolly Green Giant, Kingsmen
40. Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte, Patti Page

Could you imagine hearing so many great songs on one commerical radio station these days? It’s an almost perfect collection of pop songs (with very few exceptions). In contrast, take a look at the crap on this chart from 2003:

1. YEAH!, USHER FEATURING LUDACRIS & LIL' JON
2. THIS LOVE, MAROON 5
3. THE REASON, HOOBASTANK
4. WITH YOU, JESSICA SIMPSON
5. LEAVE(GET OUT), JOJO
6. TOXIC, BRITNEY SPEARS
7. MY IMMORTAL, EVANESCENCE
8. THE WAY YOU MOVE, OUTKAST FEATURING SLEEPY BROWN
9. SOMEDAY,NICKELBACK
10. PIECES OF ME, ASHLEE SIMPSON
11. BURN, USHER
12. MEANT TO LIVE, SWITCHFOOT
13. HEY YA!, OUTKAST
14. NUMB, LINKIN PARK
15. SHE WILL BE LOVED, MAROON 5
16. NAUGHTY GIRL, BEYONCE
17. MY HAPPY ENDING, AVRIL LAVIGNE
18, I DON'T WANNA KNOW, MARIO WINANS FEATURING ENYA & P. DIDDY
19. DIP IT LOW, CHRISTINA MILIAN FEATURING FABOLOUS
20. HERE WITHOUT YOU, 3 DOORS DOWN
21. TIPSY, J-KWON
22. TURN ME ON, KEVIN LYTTLE FEATURING SPRAGGA BENZ
23. HEY MAMA, BLACK EYED PEAS
24. LET'S GET IT STARTED, BLACK EYED PEAS
25. IF I AIN'T GOT YOU, ALICIA KEYS
26. ON THE WAY DOWN, RYAN CABRERA
27. MOVE YA BODY, NINA SKY FEATURING JABBA
28. SUGA SUGA, BABY BASH
29. EVERYTIME, BRITNEY SPEARS
30. IT'S MY LIFE, NO DOUBT
31. DON'T TELL ME, AVRIL LAVIGNE
32. ONE THING, FINGER ELEVEN
33. PERFECT, SIMPLE PLAN
34. ROSES, OUTKAST
35. MY BAND, D12 FEATURING EMINEM
36. BREAKAWAY, KELLY CLARKSON
37. GOODIES, CIARA FEATURING PETEY PABLO
38. THE FIRST CUT IS THE DEEPEST, SHERYL CROW
39. ONE CALL AWAY, CHINGY FEATURING J. WEAV
40. HEADSTRONG,TRAPT

Yes, I’m sure people will be listening to Hoobastank, Maroon 5 and Switchfoot 40 years from now (well, maybe some people will be forced to at Gitmo).

Of course the sixties didn't have a monopoly on good music. There’s been plenty of great music over the years; you just never hear it on commercial radio anymore (unless you have satellite radio). That’s been the motivation for my Number Ones That Never Were series (see lefthand sidebar): In a perfect world, bands on the margins would be enjoying boffo record sales and people from Jabip would be singing their songs instead of “Hey Ya” (which admittedly was a fun song…the first 5,000 times I heard it).

This year, I’m presenting a Number Ones That Never Were: Best of 2005 Edition. One of the greatest things about WABC was that every year around this time they would countdown the top 100 songs of the year. I was addicted to these countdowns and would take my trusty AM radio everywhere I went so I wouldn’t miss a song (and yes, I did have a Sony Cube Radio like the one above. I also had an AM radio shaped like a baseball and one shaped like a football).

I mentioned before that WABC had both a profound and perverse effect on my musical tastes: Profound because it taught me that Dylan, The Stones, The Beatles, James Brown, The Temptations, Sam the Sham and The Beach Boys could all co-exist; perverse because that same world could also include Petula Clark, Bert Kaempfert, Roger Miller and Patti Page (and I use the term perverse with love).

So, if you click on the links below the fabulous Sony Cube, you’ll hear my profound and perverse version of what I think commercial radio should have sounded like this year. Enjoy!

(Caveat: Not all of these songs actually came out in 2005. However, all of them came to my attention this year so I have no qualms about cheating. And it's not like I'm illegally spying on Americans or anything.)


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