Nigel Tufnel of Spinal Tap knew the importance of an amplifier that went not to ten, but to 11. Of course, it has been pointed out to me by the kind folks at the Y! Music Overfriendly Concierge that the Billboard charts work in the opposite direction of the volume knob on an amplifier and that coming in at #11 on the charts is less desirable than coming in at #1 or even #10.
Yet, I think there's something inherently cool about failing to make the top ten by this much! Just look at these popular songs and tell me the #11 slot isn't an interesting place to be.
25) I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night -- Electric Prunes: To more recent generations, this Electric Prunes tune is something to be found on those Nuggets collections of garage rock hits. But there was a time when the Electric Prunes were a viable gig. Sure, they chose their name as a joke, but they did good work. Who can forget Mass in F Minor, where they tripped out a religious service and had the album allegedly finished by other musicians? Wait, you mean not everyone plays on their own records? I got Mick Jagger to sing on mine. You may have heard of it, it's called She's The Boss.
24) Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead -- The Fifth Estate: The Wizard of Oz isn't just for kids, Pink Floyd fans and gay folks! Stamford, Connecticut's finest really rock out this kitsch classic! Dead witches? That's so Death Metal!
23) Rhiannon -- Fleetwood Mac: You can practically hear the old Brit blues boys crying. That California sunshine gets us all. And who didn't either try to make it with Stevie or try to be her. I find it fascinating when people everyone dreams about tell us later on that it was difficult. OK, I accept that. But wasn't it a better kind of difficult?
22) Hot Girls In Love -- Loverboy: I know people dug these guys -- and I remember me and Kenny in the early 1980s sitting down in the basement checking out that first album by the 'Boy and thinking it made a good single -- but I just couldn't abide the bandanna. Nope. At least not worn that way.
21) The Humpty Dance -- Digital Underground: A most sampled hit single, "The Humpty Dance" is also known for showing a young Tupac Shakur in the background of the video. The song itself sampled Sly and the Family Stone and Parliament. With a title like "The Humpty Dance," you'd think this song would be off the wall!
20) Lido Shuffle -- Boz Scaggs: Apparently, over 940,000 people have watched a video that shows the album cover for Boz Scaggs' Hits! for three minutes and 46 seconds. I guess they like the music! Well, 2629 people liked it, with only 45 folks being contrary and disliking a song as smooth as urine running down your leg.
19) Mother Popcorn -- James Brown: Like most kids too young to get it right, I first heard "Mother Popcorn" on Aerosmith's Live! Bootleg. Let's not let our kids make the same mistake. Talk to your kids about James Brown. They'll listen to you.
18) Woodstock -- CSNY: You'd think this song was way more popular, considering how much mileage that muddy festival got out of "three days of peace and music." How come nobody wrote one for Altamont? I thought violence was more commercial?
17) The Happiest Girl In The Whole U.S.A. -- Donna Fargo: "Shine on me sunshine, walk with me world it's a skip-a-dee-doo-dah day!" My theme song? If you can't get behind this song, you must hate happiness!
16) Shine -- Collective Soul: Just in case you thought everything about the 1990s was awesome, we bring you this. They had seven number one "Mainstream Rock" hits, which sounds like -- and is -- the most boring category imaginable. It's like Wonder Bread for the masses.
15) I Want Candy -- The Strangeloves: Richard Gottehrer would go on to co-found Sire Records with Seymour Stein and to produce Richard Hell and the Voidoids, Blondie and eventually the Raveonettes. But he was once a member of this band of New York songwriters who pretended to be from Australia, because…Australian rock was hot in the early 60s?
14) Wild World -- Cat Stevens: Born Steven Demetre Georgiou and now known as Yusuf, Cat Stevens wrote "Wild World" about his girlfriend Patti D'Arbanville, who he also wrote the song "Lady D'Arbanville" about. Patti had a child with Don Johnson and played the "lady shylock" Lorraine Calluzzo on The Sopranos. Wild world, indeed!
13) Everyday Is A Winding Road -- Sheryl Crow: There was a period of time in the 1990s when you couldn't get away from Sheryl Crow. Her videos were on the MTV all the time and her songs were played on the radio some nine times an hour. This tune was later used in several Subaru commercials, since the song's clear pro-automobile stance begged it to be part of an advertising campaign. And I thought she was green!
12) Dirty Water -- The Standells: Leave it to the good folks of Boston to take what Wikipedia calls a "mock paean to the city of Boston and its then-famously polluted Boston Harbor and Charles River" and turn it into the song that gets played after sports teams win games! Now, if we could just get Cleveland teams to rejoice to Randy Newman's "Burn On."
11) Who Will Save Your Soul -- Jewel: This million-selling "poet" -- who doesn't have a copy of A Night Without Armor sitting next to their copy of Dianetics, I ask you! -- and reality show veteran (the Ace of Cakes! the Ace of Cakes!!!) was once a new artist who had her video played on the MTV with alarming regularity.
10) Life In The Fast Lane -- The Eagles: Joe Walsh apparently joined the Eagles to wake them up and to save for retirement. This guitar riff has guaranteed that Walsh will not end his career as a greeter shaking hands at WalMart. Now, if we could just get him to reform the James Gang! And Barnstorm!
9) Reelin' In The Years -- Steely Dan: Throw away the technical precision and the habit of burning through dozens of Grade-A players in search of the right solo and you get…well, I don't know what you get. Sounds to me like that's really the point. If punk was three chords and the truth, then Steely Dan were hundreds of chords and lots of lies. Sounds more interesting, doesn't it?
8) Scarborough Fair / Canticle -- Simon and Garfunkel: I want to tell you about the Simon and the Garfunkel. It comes out of a Queens neighborhood unhip and slow with a harmony sense that's narrow and hard to master. Some call it heavenly in their brilliance...
7) Keep On Movin' -- Soul II Soul: This track made it to #1 on the R&B charts (how could a soul chart ignore a band called Soul II Soul?), but only stuck to #11 on the Hot 100. Though I'm prone to whining that life isn't fair, I'm going to sit this one out, since I think being complete screwed over by my Little League coach was a greater injustice in the scheme of things.
6) Carry on Wayward Son -- Kansas: The single version shaved two minutes off the song and it was still too long. Clearly, however, this would a huge candidate for the #1 slot for the Dull Rock charts! "Hey! Listen, it's Dull Rock, turn it down, dude!"
5) Do The Bartman -- The Simpsons: It's always slightly disturbing to me when novelty songs do so well. Not because I have anything against novelty songs, but because it encourages other lesser-talents to try their hand at them. Derivative blues and grunge and whatever is one thing, but derivative novelty is a contradiction. Where's the novelty in a formula?
4) Tired of Being Alone -- Al Green: When Barack Obama leaves the Office of the President after three decades of military rule and has brought back the barter system to our communal wigwams, I'm certain he will begin his recording career with a tribute to Al Green. I'm sure I will enjoy it immensely, since it will be mandatory listening and also mandatory to like it. It could worse. I could be stuck listening to Bush, Jr.'s Toby Keith covers.
3) Jesus Walks -- Kanye West: I'm really hoping that when Jesus comes back -- you know, for the rapture and stuff -- he gets around to cutting his own tune, "Kanye Walks." Payback's a bitch, even when it comes from Jesus!
2) Eleanor Rigby -- The Beatles: Pardon me for thinking it was in their contract that all their songs go directly to #1. In the U.K. the #1 streak lasted until they released that awful, just awful "Penny Lane/ Strawberry Fields Forever" single. Maybe they should've stuck to the guitars!
1) I Was Made For Lovin' You -- Kiss: Disco Kiss? Paul Stanley claims he wrote it to show how easy it was to write a disco song, but apparently the easiness of the exercise required Desmond Child and Vini Poncia to fill it out. I always thought it was damn catchy and liked it just as much when Urge Overkill lifted the melody for the bridge to nowhere on "Sister Havana."