“Angels” through the years

As I make my way through the letter ‘A’ in my ‘Every Hit Song Ever’ project, I have finally reached the ‘Angel’ section and in case you couldn’t have surmised, people like to sing about angels!

They did way back in the 50s (Jimmy Darren’s “Angel Face”, Nat King Cole’s “Angel Smile”), sang about them out even more frequently in the 60s (“Angel Baby” by Rosie & the Originals, “Angel” – Johnny Tillotson, “Angel” – Jimi Hendrix) and the subject matter hasn’t stopped fascinating the pop music world since.

There have been nearly 100 titles that begin with the word “Angel” to have graced the US, UK and country music charts, and that’s not even taking into consideration hits such as “Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel” or “Johnny Angel” that don’t begin with the word. We sure are fascinated with the subject, aren’t we?

So I present to you, my favorite “Angel” songs from each of the past five decades:

The 60s – “Angel of the Morning” by Merrilee Rush & the Turnabouts

 

The Seattle folksinger may have had one big hit, but she sure knocked it out of the park! The Chip Thomas-penned lament has since become a standard covered by everyone from Juice Newton to Barbara Mandrell to Rita Wilson, but it’s the 1968 Top 10 smash that still manages to hit home for me. After listening to about a dozen different versions yesterday, I believe it’s time to put it in my karaoke queue!

The 70s – “Angel Eyes” by Roxy Music

Only Bryan Ferry could make that color suit look THAT cool. This song was a #4 hit in the UK. How cool would it have been for this to be a Top 10 hit in the states as well? You look up cool in the dictionary……OK, I’ll stop!

The 80s – “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground” by Willie Nelson

Instead of the obvious choices from Madonna, U2 or hell even Jeff Healey, I went with Sir Willie with my 80s pick. This song is so great, it makes me even want to see if “Honeysuckle Rose” is on Netflix.

The 90s – “Angel of Mine” by Monica

Sure, the ubiquitous late 90s churner is a little cookie cutter, but it certainly proved to be an incredible showcase for the teenage star’s pipes. One of the last #1 hit ballads of the pre-American Idol era. We can only guess how many young girls practiced their vocal runs to this very song.

The 00s – “Angels” by Robbie Williams

What? It was a less “angelic” decade. Did you think I was choosing that Shaggy song?

If you would like to check out my ongoing quest to post Every Hit Song Ever from A to Z, please check out my facebook page, Dan Paquette’s Music Obsession.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Kindie Rock, thanks for the melodies!

When I was growing up, listening to children’s music typically meant listening to a record full of nursery rhymes sung by adults pretending to be Donald Duck. This was back in the late ’60s and it was bad. Heck, Alvin and the Chipmunks were considered the vanguards of the genre. It was a dire state of affairs.

The ’70s and ’80s didn’t get much better, as the genre still a curiosity as the retail market for the kiddies barely existed. In fact, the record store where I worked had a small section devoted to children’s music, with probably 15-20 different artists represented. But mostly it was the ‘great and powerful’ Raffi, Sesame Street and that omnipresent Marlo Thomas record.

It was a vast wasteland, and luckily I survived.

Fast forward to the present day and the landscape is far different. From former pop/rock stars Dan Zanes and Lisa Loeb to full-fledged groups like The Not-Its and Recess Monkey, children’s recording artists are releasing music that can you can proudly blast from your car stereo.

My favorite Kindie Rock artist (yep, that’s the term) is Justin Roberts, a thirtysomething who looks like John Denver, but writes songs that are nearly on par with Elvis Costello.

I can honestly claim that his 2006 CD “Meltdown” ranks in my Top dozen releases of that year, ahead of such critics darlings as Amy Winehouse and TV on the Radio! Although his lyrics are geared towards the pretween set, they are still witty and charming, and his gift for melody ranks him with the finest power popsters of today.

So do yourself a favor and check him out on Spotify. Or Casper Babypants, or the Terrible Twos. Or about 20 other in a similar vein.

You might chalk up the success of all these artists to savvy Gen X marketing, but as a gateway between Baby Einstein and the Fab Four, the future of your child’s musical taste is here, and it’s playing at a Kidzapalooza near you!

Every Hit Song Ever!

Part of the joy of being a music nerd in the 21st century is the sheer ease of access one has to the great and popular music of the past.

Sometimes I forget that just 20 years ago, you had to either own the music, borrow the music, or come across it randomly on the radio if you wanted to listen to a specific song. In 2013 of course, those rules are out the window. I can just about listen to it all, and watch videos of nearly everything, too!

This nirvana makes my “Every Hit Song from A to Z” project possible. What silly excursion is this, you ask?

As a long-time fan/student of pop music history, it occurred to me that I could actually educate myself about the past 70 years by systematically, democratically and alphabetically listening to every song that has ever been a ‘hit’!

So with my handy reference bibles in hand (Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles and the Virgin Book of British Hit Singles), I began my journey last year with a discopop number entitled “A Ba Ni Bi”, sung by Izhar Cohen. Voila, I am intimately familiar with the Israeli entry to the 1978 Eurovision contest. It also happened to take home the grand prize!

I am currently up the 1968 ballad “Angel of the Morning”, of which I have discovered that approximately 4,876 different female vocalists have had hits with over the years (OK maybe more like 7).

I realized many months ago that I will probably be doing this well into the middle of this century. Well, as Kylie Minogue told us, I should be so lucky!

If you are interested in following this trek through the alphabet, I will be posting updates here every so often, but for the whole megillah, join my facebook group “Every Hit Song Ever from A to Z!’ – You might not regret it!

I had a cup of tea and a butter pie

I’m a music nerd. I have been my entire life. Well, that’s not entirely true. Since I don’t remember the first five or six years, I cannot say with certainty whether or not I was bopping around our living room to the Archies. Sad to say, my parents’ collection consisted of a lot more Dean Martin and Mantovani records than Buffalo Springfield and John Coltrane. Them’s the breaks. Thank God for siblings!
My two sisters were a bit older than me and they fortunately had much cooler tastes than Mom and Dad. Hech, they probably even knew what Woodstock was!
Scavengering through their stack of 45s, “classics” such as Melanie’s “Brand New Key” and Gilbert O’Sullivan’s “Clare” didn’t exactly blow my 8-year-old mind, but at least it could be categorized as pop!
I distinctly remember that my first favorite song of all-time was “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey”, that glorious (at the time anyway) miniopera from Mr. McCartney. I didn’t even know who the Beatles were in 1971, but this Paul dude was officially the coolest dude on the planet not named Carl Yastrzemski.
And so it began.
With this silly little blog, I will hope to talk about some of my favorite music of all-time and maybe develop it into something a little more. At the same time, I will be posting some videos from my facebook group “Every Hit Song Ever from A to Z”, which is exactly as advertised should you decide to check it out!

The Greatest Song of All-Time

Why not start this thing with the most perfect song that’s ever been created?