Month: November 2008

blatantly bad 70s songs: afternoon delight (starland vocal band)

blatantly bad 70s songs: afternoon delight (starland vocal band)

everyone together: skyrockets in flight! afternoon delight!

the big mamajama. ’cause i couldn’t ignore it, now, could i.

this one perpetually tops worst 70s songs lists, running neck and neck with (you’re) having my baby. and you really have a DC-area restaurant chain, Clyde’s, to blame for this one:

According to an account in Rolling Stone, Taffy credited the song’s creation to a culinary repast. “Bill wrote this after having lunch at Clyde’s in Washington, D.C.,” she explained to an audience before performing the song. “It seems Clyde’s has a menu called ‘Afternoon Delight’ with stuff like spiced shrimp and hot Brie with almonds. So Bill ate it — the food, that is — and went home and explained to me what ‘Afternoon Delight’ should be.”

yeah. i always think of stuffed shrimp when i hear this one.

i always marvel at americans. they get up in arms, self-righteously apeshit about sex. yet who are the homophobes you witness waving their arms at football games in time to YMCA? and who do you see singing afternoon delight with their kids when the song is about enjoying a nooner with the missus?

and they somehow even didn’t blink when, after this single hit skyrocketed in flight to the top of the charts, the starland vocal band got their own TV show featuring a new and corny comedian named david letterman. captain and tennille at least had a few hits — but this group literally had one! one lousy countrified bit of schlock chockablock with benny hill-worthy hints about naughtiness. nudge nudge, wink wink. pullllease.

corny, corny, corny. i knew it then, and i know it know. i think we were so preoccupied with the nation’s bicentennial that we let this one slip into the top spot of the charts.


it being the last day of november, i am freeing you all — fly, be FREE! — from the curse of blatantly bad 70s songs. for now, of course. you never know when one will show up on a guilty pleasure monday. (i don’t always have great taste, you know.) who knows : maybe i’ll do a month of guilty pleasure mondays that will make people vomit or weep with joy. (or both? it could happen.) thanks to all for joining me on this journey to ear-bleeding nirvana and for sharing your candidates. special thanks to middlebro and leifer for their contributions. i can share their addresses if you’d like to send hate mail.

may the force be with you. or, as one of my favorite TV characters said in the 70s, nanoo, nanoo.

blatantly bad 70s songs: the night the lights went out in georgia (vicki lawrence)

blatantly bad 70s songs: the night the lights went out in georgia (vicki lawrence)

another day in the life of mama’s family.

oh, miss vicki, miss vicki. i love you when you’re with carol burnett, especially as cissy in gone with the wind:

so why did you have to go and spoil it by creating a melodrama of your own?

basically, this lovely ditty — which control freak sonny bono turned down when it was offered to cher — concerns a sister, a brother, a cheating wife, brother’s former best friend, and the corrupt legal system of the South. it was even turned into a TV movie at one point with kristy mcnichol, dennis quaid, and mark hamill (LUKE??? you fell to earth and landed in Georgia??) did the nation hate the South so much that people made this song a hit just to remind the South that it hadn’t amounted to much good, not even since the Civil War came to straighten it out? lawd have mercy.

anyway, some things about this song i don’t understand, not now, not in the 70s:

1) what self respecting person goes up to a friend and announces that they’ve been sleeping with their wife while he’s been away? duh. i have a death wish.

2) what sister could stand by and watch her brother go down for murders she committed?

3) and now, why is she basically confessing in song? dimwit.

4) just how did the sister hide the body? and,

5) where the hell is the amos boy? probably shacking up with the sister, i bet.

anyway, i think i see the inspiration for mama’s family here. mama’s angry, vengeful, and violent family.

(and how did this become a hit? you can’t even dance to it.)

blatantly bad 70s songs: feelings (morris albert)

blatantly bad 70s songs: feelings (morris albert)

trying to forget my feelings of plagiarism…

ah, morris. or is it MaurÃcio, as you started out life in your native brasil? i hear tell that a california court found you guilty of plagiarism in 1988, that you stole this monster of a song from french singer line renaud? well, as we all know, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. and that means that a gazillion people love this song, as it has been covered by everyone from fraaaaaank sinatra to nina simone to the offspring.

and of course, by my fave muppet, beaker.

when i was young, i would stay home from school sick and watch game shows all day long. i loved game shows and still am bummed that daytime tv lacks these gems. (and no, we don’t get the game show network, sadly.) one of the shows was the incredibly painful chuck barris creation the gong show. at age 11, i was able to discern that these folks had to be doing some serious drugs on that show. zany didn’t describe some of the moments. but the most memorable show of all was the show when every single act came on and sang feelings. the song was that ubiquitous, and someone — barris?– was having a huge laugh about it. it was one of the most hilarious shows i ever saw.

and that is how i try to remember this song whenever it comes on while i’m on hold for a doctor’s office. otherwise, i might tear my hair out, strand by strand. so sappy. so dripping with sugar.

it makes my teeth have feelings of pain.

blatantly bad 70s songs: you don't bring me flowers (streisand and diamond)

blatantly bad 70s songs: you don't bring me flowers (streisand and diamond)

happy thanksgiving to my american friends! and yes, here’s some buttah for your parkerhouse rolls.

you’re welcome.

i don’t know about any of you, but i don’t want to turn on the radio to hear another couple kvetching about their relationship. (i tune in to Dr. Phil went i want that nonsense. and i tune into springer when i want to see lower class people fist-fighting with their partners. cos nothing says lovin’ like a roundhouse punch.) this song practically SCREAMS bad soap opera. it’s pure melodrama from an earlier time. how it became a hit record in 1978? well, barbra was probably still riding high from a star is born, and neil, well, let’s just say that neil did well when other people recorded his songs.

break out the turkey and give me some schmaltz. schmaltzity-schmaltz schmaltz!

seriously, what really happened is that both barbra and neil recorded the song (in the same key, natch) on two separate albums. some clever dj, probably bucking for a promotion for his creativity, sliced the two versions together for his audience’s listening pleasure. babs and neils got wind of it and decided, hell, let’s get the royalties for this suckah. and VOILA! a new star was born.

on the bright side, they never got to make the feature film that was planned based on this song, as neil got busy with his remake of the jazz singer. (see? there IS a G-d!) can you imagine the movie? (no. try not to. it will wreck your day.)

okay, okay. i can’t be completely mean on a holiday. here’s the one version of the song that you might enjoy. ice-t and tupac, a marriage made in heaven. it’s definitely not a turkey.

blatantly bad 70s songs: seasons in the sun (terry jacks)

blatantly bad 70s songs: seasons in the sun (terry jacks)

jacques brel is alive and well. oh, and he wants his damn song back.

canadian terry jacks had his one and only hit with seasons in the sun, a song adapted from french treasure jacques brel’s song le moribond (in english, the moribund.) (is it me, or does he have a chia pet growing on his head?) while jack’s sanitized version doesn’t feature little facts like the wife’s infidelity (or even the existence of the priest), it certainly jerks enough tears out of anyone within earshot.  is he singing to his wife? his daughter? his bank manager? who knows.

the beach boys covered this lovely ditty but, probably in a moment of sanity, never released it. that freed our friend terry, who sang on the beach boys version, to release his version with his soon-to-be-ex-wife susan in 1974. (earlier, the two had been part of a group the poppy family. a group with an equally awful song that became a hit, which way you goin’, billy. however, as the song is from 1969, we can’t officially include it. but rest assured: it, too, bites.)

of course, it can, and does, get worse. witness nirvana singing this timeless classic. my secret boyfriend, dave grohl, is being tortured singing, to use the word loosely:

see, it’s an evil song. it disintegrates with every additional cover of it.

yep, jacques brel may be alive and well. but thanks to seasons in the sun, i bet he’s also mad as hell.

blatantly bad 70s songs: lovin’ you (minnie riperton)

blatantly bad 70s songs: lovin’ you (minnie riperton)

imagine the sound of me trying to hit an extremely high note here. a sound not unlike a cat screaming for help.

the talented, multi-octave ms. riperton left this world all-too-soon after a fight with breast cancer. i have absolutely no quarrel whatsoever with her, and i know the world lost an amazing talent when she passed.

that being said, loving you is not a song i remember fondly. at age 10, i didn’t like anything mushy. this song is all bells and flowers. birds sing; angels take wing; all that sappy crap that i’ve never bought into.  (i was pretty much dumbfounded when my 1st rutgers roommate, jean jean the dancing machine, played depeche mode’s somebody for me. now THAT hit my ideas about love a lot more closely. jean. wherever you may be, you were right.) all that jingly, magical bell-like sounds in the background — it sounded to me like something the muppets might sing. and the birds?? who trained the birds to chirp on cue??

moreover, i didn’t appreciate the sound of a person screaming in my ears. riperton may have had a whistle-octave virtuouso voice, but when i was 10, i thought that someone was having their fingernails pulled out during the song. or maybe she was screaming because a bird crapped on her? in any event, someone kindly put together a bunch of her whistle-octave moments in case you want to break a few windows or annoy your dog. (or even fish. as i play this, Hellboy’s fish is literally beating himself against his fishbowl. do fish have ears?)

so for me, the song is a juxtaposition of moods — mushy gushy or screetchingly excruciating. it just didn’t compute for me. and the la la la la la‘s drove me over the edge.

i will say, though, that now that i’m a mother, i can appreciate one part of the song. it’s hard to hear, but riperton is singing to her little daughter, maya, who is there with her during the recording. maya, for you trivia fans, would be SNL comedian maya rudolph.

blatantly bad 70s songs: billy, don't be a hero (bo donaldson and the heywoods)

blatantly bad 70s songs: billy, don't be a hero (bo donaldson and the heywoods)

billy, don’t be a hero. be a hoagie instead.

in 1974, the anti-war billy, don’t be a hero was a huge hit in the US for bo donaldson and the heywoods. strange, considering the song had been a monster hit in the UK earlier for the band paper lace, whose version didn’t chart well here. (don’t cry for them, argentina. they later gave us the ear-bleeder the night chicago died, a song i’d write novels about if november had more than 30 days. lord, that one sucks worse.) i think they had another minor hit, and then, bo went buh-bye!

for a time, every sunday (or so it seemed), we would pile into the car at dinner and meet our friends, the weiners, at Sizzler in Brick (or Bricktown, or Brick Township — no one ever knew what the place was really called; my old biology teacher, who drove through there every day on his way to school merely referred to it as land of the free and home of the truck driver. may he rest in peace.) i really hated sizzler — i don’t care for steak, so i pretty much was relegated to the salad bar and the texas toast. but i loved having dinner with these folks — there was my BTD’s best friend as well as his younger brother, who was a year older than i. so there i was with two 15 year old guys, a 12 year old, and an 11 year old. (nevermind that two of those boys were my brothers, BTD and the now-dubbed middlebro, so they didn’t count as guys.)

sometimes, they’d even talk to 9-year-old moi.

one time, we went back to the weiner’s house. for reasons i cannot fathom, i recall all of us kids in the older son’s room, listening to the single of billy don’t be a hero, and lip synching the whole thing. i remember we had to organize ourselves into parts (i suspect BTD was behind that) — who was singing, who was playing guitar.  because i had taken up the flute, i was the person who played that flute-y-fife-y part that runs through the song, over and over, like a demented pennywhistle. and oh! i felt special. they. were. talking. to. me.

later, i’d thank them by eavesdropping on their conversation when the oldest son came and slept over with BTD. [note to all 9 year old little siblings out there: don’t eavesdrop by leaning into the bedroom door. it’s probably not closed, and when you fall in, there will be hell to pay. promise.]

middlebro seems to remember us seeing bo donaldson and the heywoods perform this at disneyworld. maybe he’ll chime in on the comments, as i don’t somehow remember that.

i suspect i’ve blocked it out.

blatantly bad 70s music: muskrat love (captain and tennille)

blatantly bad 70s music: muskrat love (captain and tennille)

if this kind of love will keep the captain and toni tennille together, then someone had better call PETA.

muskrat susie, muskrat sam, do the jitterbug with some purloined ham. i guess dancing rats are less magical than some muskrats jamming to glenn miller. i mean, when i think of romance, i always think that muskrats truly capture the imagination in a way that, well, gerbils just cannot.

[note to any gerbils out there: don’t flame me. and while you’re at it, leave richard gere alone, too, you furry little bastards.]

in all fairness, captain and tennille didn’t write this mellow song about romantic rodents; they, like their soft rock compadres america were merely covering a song written in 1972 by whatcha talkin’ bout willis alan ramsey (the original title: muskrat candlelight. no. not making that one up, either.) as an english major, i am compelled to find the metaphorical meaning in everything. however, i am sad to report that this song is actually about muskrats in love. and no, it apparently was not written for a cute little cartoon, either.

we may never know what inspired this song. i don’t want to think too hard about it myself. i think it could be too disturbing.

but one does wonder: with all the choices out there to cover, why on EARTH did they choose this one? with their connections to the beach boys, to elton john, to pink freakin’ floyd for cryin’ out loud, why did they choose this clunker? and what did the american public find it so charming?

my fellow americans, i think there must be some scary-ass people out there.

blatantly bad 70s songs: escape (the pina colada song) (rupert holmes)

blatantly bad 70s songs: escape (the pina colada song) (rupert holmes)

if you don’t want to hear this, go get drunk and escape.

escape (the pina colada song) is the last hit of the 1970s and the first hit of the 1980s.  (if i had realized this at the dawn of that decade, i would have crawled into a cave and waited for the 1990s to come.) it didn’t start out as a monster hit; most people didn’t get it when it was simply called escape. but hell — they knew the pina colada part, so some smart record company stiff added (the pina colada song) and the song went like gangbusters.

i couldn’t drink (legally) at age 14 when this song came out. i didn’t like wussy songs that talked about getting caught in the rain or some froo-froo coconut concoction. i liked the cars; i liked blondie; i liked the police; i liked tom petty and the heartbreakers. in short, i liked things that either rocked or gave me new wave chills. this song did none of the above; it merely seemed like a monotonous radio death march, accessible for married people over 40.

now that i am a married person over 40, i come to this song with a new appreciation. well, maybe appreciation is not quite the word i’m after. annoyance, i suppose. i mean, think about it: if i was dissatisfied with my beloved spouse (AKA BS) and i put a classified out there in the world looking for Mr-Right-Take-Two (in the manner that the singer, a passive-aggressive bastard who can’t actually talk to his girlfriend about their relationship, did); and if i went to that smoky bar and found out that the ad had been answered by BS, would i be laughing with BS about the fact that we have so very much in common? would i be thrilled that the classified had brought us together?

hell, no. i’d be calling up a lawyer.

gee whiz, if i were writing a classified ad to this song, i think it would go something like this:

if you like drinking mojitos,

watching my name is earl,

if you obsess over music

know divine‘s not a girl.

if you think sushi’s overrated

and you love a mixtape,

i’m the lady you’ve looked for,

come with me and escape.

then they’d be playin’ my song.

blatantly bad 70s songs: (you’re) having my baby (paul anka)

blatantly bad 70s songs: (you’re) having my baby (paul anka)

quite possibly the worst of the worst.

well, i’m not having anybody’s baby at the moment, but i am probably in surgery having my gallbladder removed. (ah, the glamorous life.) so instead of blathering on about how bad this song is (and i defy any of you to tell me, in 50 words or less, why this song rocks your world), i am linking to jason hare’s adventures through the mines of mellow gold. he explains, so much better than i ever could, why this song is awful piled atop awful.

read it. it will make you lose control of your bladder. in a good way.

props to college pal and indie musicologist mike for the suggestion.

and don’t be a hater. i had to write this in advance.

have a nice day.

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