05/10/2002

Currently Listening To: My "Eighties Pop Crap" playlist on the iPod, which is pretty close to the soundtrack for the One Hit Wonders show.

Currently Bitching About: Perhaps the only thing I find duller than Washington Post whiner Bob Levey is diet talk.

So now I gather that Levey's on a diet (I haven't read him in ages, but I see the column headlines on the Post site). If that didn't already have enough Giant Sucking Black Hole of Boredom potential, now other columnists from the paper are writing about Bob Levey's diet.

This is the paper that helped to bring down Nixon? What a fucking yawnfest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Hit Wonders.

mindy and rascal looking out from a front window

If there's anything cuter than these two, watching rather intently as Bill and I unloaded the car after a trip to Ikea on Saturday, I don't want to know what it is.

Thursday morning started off with a real bang when Rascal, who'd been the picture of health for the past few months, suddenly started acting slumpy and confused and semi-comatose. If Bill hadn't recognized the symptoms of insulin shock and forced some Karo syrup into Rascal's mouth, he might well have cashed in the last of his nine lives. Luckily, we got him to revive enough to get him to the insanely busy vet's office. (You simply haven't lived until you've watched several vets and one assistant who's the size of Jerry on "ER" trying to subdue a very angry and screechy feral cat. Wow, man.)

After we left the vet, Bill dropped me off at the Metro and I checked myself out as I headed up the escalator. My shirt was caked with cat hair even though I'd already lint-rolled myself in the car. And my front was liberally dotted with coffee splashes from the mocha I'd grabbed at Starbucks before we headed to work. I never thought the Dulles Toll Road was all that bumpy, but I'd managed to splatter myself but good.

So I got up to the platform and tried to take a few deep breaths and collect my slovenly self for the abbreviated day ahead. And then a woman a few feet away caught my eye and mouthed something to me. After a couple of attempts, I finally got what she was saying.

"Your bra strap is showing."

And it kept on being that kind of a day.

(NB: The rest of the entry assumes that the reader gives a tinker's damn about songs that hit it big in the U.S. from artists who for various reasons were never able to replicate their success here. If that's not your kind of thing, you're excused for the day. In fact, you can go look up "tinker's damn," because I have no idea what that actually means. Who's the tinker? Why is his damn relatively insignificant? It just sounded funny when I wrote it.)

On weeknights, I'll generally watch any favorite shows that happen to be on and then do other stuff -- clean, read, play with the cats, do laundry, surf the Web, putz around the house, whatever. But last week I was absolutely glued to the TV set. VH1, a cable network that's supposed to be a softer version of MTV, ran a series called "The 100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders." (I'm abbreviating "one-hit wonders" to 1HWs for simplicity's sake.)

The network broke it up into five episodes and ran one new episode a night preceded by all the earlier episodes. By Friday night I was gladly watching shows that I'd already seen two or three times that week, a sure sign that I've gone completely nuts. I was so wrapped up in this show that I didn't think twice about skipping "Anthony Edwards' Final ER" on Thursday even though NBC's been nagging the shit out of me about this for months now. Mark Greene, we hardly knew ye.

The show was hosted by the one and only William Shatner. I've read enough of Wil Wheaton's "William F'n Shatner" stories to know that Shat's just an egotistical blowhard, but oddly enough I just don't care. He seems to get such a monumental kick out of being William Shatner that it's impossible not to chuckle along with him. And at him, but I don't think he cares. He's in on the joke that he is. Gotta respect that.

Anyhow. I had a ton of observations about the whole series that I boiled down into my Top Ten Impressions of "Top 100 One-Hit Wonders:"

1. When I was in college in the late 80s, I had long wavy red hair and wore a lot of black. I first heard of Edie Brickell, the New Bohemians, and "What I Am" when people started coming up to me on the street to tell me I looked like her. And now, more than 10 years later, I've got that fargin' song in my head all over again. It's inane and catchy, a fatal combination.

2. I could understand the show soliciting "talking head" chatter from Henry Rollins, Moby, Ed Lover, Isaac Hayes, Kate Pierson, Chuck D, Alice Cooper, and a host of music critics whose names I forgot as soon as the program ended. Even Weird Al Yankovic, who's made his living spoofing dozens of 1HWs and knows the territory, seemed appropriate.

But Marilu Henner? What the hell was she doing there? Who the hell cares what she thinks? Everybody but me, apparently. I guess now she's a pop music expert in addition to being a paragon of motherhood, a dietitian, and a mediocre sitcom actress. Maybe Dubya should fly her over to the Middle East and let her try her hand at world peace. With Oprah and Rosie about to bow out of the talk show market, Marilu's world domination is imminent. In five years, you'll see I was right.

3. I didn't know the difference between Taco ("Puttin' On The Ritz") and Falco ("Rock Me Amadeus"). After seeing both of them on the show, I think I can be excused for the confusion. I thought Taco was the one who died in a car crash a few years ago, but that was Falco. Sad, really -- the song was incredibly stupid and boring, but he had a roguish sense of humor about what he was doing that made him pretty appealing.

(That's not meant to imply that I wish Taco was the one who died. I do kinda wish he'd change that name, though.)

4. I have a passing familiarity with almost all of the 1HWs from the 60s, 70s, and 80s. After a certain point in the 90s, though, I'd never heard of several of the songs unless they got so huge and pervasive that they simply couldn't be ignored. "Macarena" and "Mambo No. 5," I knew. But OMC and "How Bizarre"? New Radicals and "You Get What You Give"? Crash Test Dummies and "Mmm-Mmm-Mmm-Mmmm" (which was popular enough to earn its very own Weird Al Yankovic parody)? Meredith Brooks and "Bitch"? The Cardigans and "Love Fool"? Never heard of any of those songs until now. Clueless, I am. And unhip, too.

I guess this is what happens when DC-area radio stations get assimilated by the Big Corporate Borg and start sucking so incredibly hard that I'd rather jam knitting needles in my eardrums than listen to them anymore. Not that I feel like I missed much with any of the aforementioned stuff, but still.

5. I really like Bobby McFerrin. Out of all the 1HWs they interviewed, he seems to be the most pleased with his lot in life (quite appropriate for the guy who gave "Don't Worry, Be Happy" to the world). Maybe that's because he was already a Grammy winner and a success well before his 1HW song hit the charts. He accepted his 15 minutes of fame for what they were, and then he moved on to conducting and other pursuits he seems to love. He says he hasn't performed that song in 10 years or so, just because he doesn't want to anymore. Even if my own motto is more along the lines of "Don't Be Happy -- Worry," he seems really cool. He stands in stark contrast to ...

6. ... those 1HW mavens who clearly didn't get the message: Hey you. Those 15 minutes? Totally over, dude. Been over for 20, 30 years even. I hate to be the one to point out the deeply and painfully obvious, but nobody really wants your stupid remix CDs featuring five new versions of the song everybody got thoroughly sick of 25 years ago. Nobody wants to see you wheezing out your one hit to a half-empty club. Look -- you got more fame and fortune than 99.95% of the folks in your business will ever dream of seeing, so quit living in the past. Sheesh.

7. If there's a Heaven, Minnie Riperton ("Lovin' You Is Easy 'Cause You're Beautiful," that pop song where she hits some impossibly high notes) has got to be one of the angels up there now. Beautiful voice, sweet and serene face, tragic death from breast cancer at 31. I detest the vast majority of popular love songs, but boy -- something about her just held me rapt. Even Shatner refrained from smarting off when he did the intro to her segment.

8. Did people really think "Disco Duck" was funny?

9. And Vanilla Ice? Come on now. "Word to yo' mutha?" What the hell was that about? Were there really people out there who thought this guy was more attractive than roadkill? What on earth were you people thinking? (I can get all smug like that. I never bought his stuff and never liked "Ice Ice Baby.")

10. We're all really sick of the Macarena, which got the dubious honor of the top spot in the list, but now that I know the backstory I think I might like it a little more. I always assumed that all the bouncilious chicks in the video were Los Del Rio. I didn't know that the two older Spanish gentlemen were the actual group. Nor did I know that they'd been playing together since the mid-60s without any kind of major success until "Macarena" took off. And you know, I think that's pretty cool. Sticking with something for more than 30 years and then hitting the jackpot and hitting it big. That's such a refreshing contrast to the teenagers who get manufactured into big stars these days.

So, anyhow. I really enjoyed the series, to the point that when the last strains of "Macarena" sounded and Shatner bade us a final goodbye, I thought "Ah. I'm sorry it's over. But I have my life back."

The next entry.

Previously, in Insomniaville...

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