Friday, September 25, 2015

9 classic songs that wouldn't go away…and they're not the ones you think!

I recently listened to a 1981 episode of Casey Kasem's American Top 40 countdown, and one of Casey's trivia moments changed the way I view pop history.

When I think of the biggest vintage songs of the rock & roll era, a few immediately pop into mind: "I Want to Hold Your Hand" by the Beatles, "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" by The Rolling Stones, "Respect" by Aretha Franklin -- you know, those usual 1960s suspects.

When Casey listed the five songs that made the Top 40 via different versions in the '60s, '70s, and '80s, he kind of blew me away. They were songs that were so beloved they entered the Top 40 again…and again…and again, but not one of them come to mind when I think of the quintessential classics from the last 50-plus years.

I mean, the Stones' "Satisfaction" is the band's signature single, and it's been covered by artists as diverse as Franklin, Otis Redding, Devo, and Britney Spears, yet it's only enjoyed one Top 40 trip. How is that possible?

There are a couple of those triple players that I'd consider to be bonafide classics, though none of them on par with the aforementioned classics. I suppose, however, that I could imagine a post-millennial choosing a few of them as audition songs on any of the reality-show talent contests. Then again, Stevie Wonder's "Lately" was an American Idol staple for several seasons and Stevie's original only made it to No. 64 on Billboard's Hot 100. Not a particularly iconic chart showing.

After some careful consideration, I threw in the '90s and added four songs to Casey's triple-play list (all of which joined the club after the August 1981 AT40 episode aired). Hmm… I'm still scratching my head and wondering, These are the songs that Americans loved so much they sent them into the Top 40 at least once in at least three consecutive decades? Huh?

Well, who said there are no more surprises? There are a number of them among Billboard's biggest decades-spanning hits.

(Interesting aside: The title "Venus" has topped the Hot 100 in three non-consecutive decades -- the '50s, '70s, and '80s -- via Frankie Avalon's 1959 classic, a completely different 1970 Shocking Blue hit, and Bananarama's 1986 Shocking Blue cover. Despite the No. 1 success of "Venus" by both Shocking Blue and Bananarama, would anyone consider it to even approach the classic status of, say, Aretha Franklin's iconic "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," which went to No. 8 in 1967, never to grace the Top 40 again? Mysteries!)

"Stand By Me": 1) Ben E. King, 1961, No. 4, 2) Spyder Turner, 1967, No. 12, 3) John Lennon, 1975, No. 20, 4) Mickey Gilley, 1980, No. 22, 5) Ben E. King, 1986, No. 9

"Cupid": 1) Sam Cooke, 1961, No. 17, 2) Johnny Nash, 1970, No. 39, 3) Tony Orlando and Dawn, 1976, No. 22, 4) The Spinners, 1980, No. 4

"The Loco-Motion" : 1) Little Eva, 1962, No. 1, 2) Grand Funk Railroad, 1974, No. 1, 3) Kylie Minogue, 1988, No. 3

"Hey There Lonely Boy/Girl": 1) Ruby and the Romantics, 1963, No. 27, 2) Eddie Holman, 1970, No. 2, 3) Robert John, 1980, No. 31

"I Only Want to Be with You": 1) Dusty Springfield, 1964, No. 12, 2) Bay City Rollers, 1976, No. 12, 3) Samantha Fox, 1988, No. 31

"The Way You Do the Things You Do": 1) The Temptations, 1964, No. 11, 2) Rita Coolidge, 1978, No. 20, 3) Hall & Oates featuring David Ruffin and Eddie Kendrick, 1985, No. 25, 4) UB40, 1990, No. 6

"I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)": 1) The Four Tops, 1965, No. 1, 2) Donnie Elbert, 1972, No. 22, 3) Bonnie Pointer, 1980, No. 40

"Everlasting Love": 1) Robert Knight, 1967, No. 13, 2) Carl Carlton, 1974, No. 6, 3) Rex Smith and Rachel Sweet, 1981, No. 32, 4) Gloria Estefan, 1995, No. 27

"Baby I Love Your Way": 1) Peter Frampton, 1976, No. 12, 2) Will to Power, 1988, No. 1, 3) Big Mountain, 1994, No. 6

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