Of course I watched the Prince special last night! And, yes, I thought The Time stole the whole show, no doubt about it. But, we all know that I am a Prince fanatic through and through, so we really don’t need to rehash it. Instead, I would like to tackle something else in this opening to my entry today.
If you haven’t seen it, may I recommend the Netflix docuseries Remasterd? This is an excellent storytelling series that brings to light some forgotten tales in the rock world. Specifically, there is an episode entitled The Lion’s Share, which is about the famous song “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and legendary South African rock journalist Rian Malan’s quest to get the descendants of the poor South African man who actually wrote the song a cut of the profits from this one-hit wonder. Things like this never ceased to amaze me how these musicians continue to be exploited by record company executives for their gain while the true creative forces are marginalized. And this whole situation seems to get magnified when the artist is a minority or a foreigner, especially if said artist is black.
Of course, the man who is historically recognized as the man who wrote the song is a deceased black man from the country of apartheid South Africa. And, despite having songwriting credit in South Africa, his contract was exploited by American businessmen for their benefit without him ever being involved in the process. Not only have different artists have recorded the song, including the great folk artist and fighter for social injustice Pete Seeger, The Tokens recorded the most famous version of the song, which lands on today’s countdown. In the years since this version’s release, the song has made many people vastly wealthy especially after the song’s inclusion in the classic Disney movie and soundtrack, The Lion King.
To this day, Malan continues to try to fight for the man’s descendants to receive a cut of the pie, which is substantial. And all of this continues as the originator of the song died in poverty, as well as his family members. It is an amazing story, and very emotionally charged if you have a heart. And I continue to be amazed how one of the wealthiest companies in the world continues to fight this whole process when the documentation shows who owns the songwriting rights. And, although I love this version of the song, it makes me mad, and sad, that the creator of the thing is not recognized nor included in on the profits.
If you are interested in the full story, which is much more fascinating and complete than my blurb, watch the episode. Nearly a year after watching it, I am still pissed off about the situation.
With that said, let’s get the countdown going.
60. Stan Getz & Astrud Gilberto – “The Girl from Ipanema” (1964). Who knew that a tune by a jazz great and sung by an unknown Brazilian hottie would have such a lasting impact on the world?
59. Men Without Hats – “The Safety Dance” (1983). My college friends probably will not believe this is ranked so low as I played it all the time back in the day. “You can dance if you want to, but if you don’t dance, and you won’t dance, then you’re no friend of mine.”
58. Devo – “Whip It” (1980). I’m cheating again! Spuds unite!
57. The Darkness – “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” (2003). My older son loved this song at the time. He thought they were the second coming of T. Rex. And, he was correct because The Darkness joins T. Rex as a one-hit wonder here in the States.
56. The Verve – “Bittersweet Symphony” (1997). This Britpop classic is, unfortunately, the only hit song The Verve had over here. But, what a song this is! And, don’t get me wound up about the songwriting credits on this one either, even though this one actually got rectified recently.
55. The Capitols – “Cool Jerk” (1966). You know who really got exploited in the early days of rock music? The uncredited session musicians, especially The Funk Brothers, the stalwarts of all of those great Motown hits of the Sixties. So, when the guys got fed up with Berry Gordy Jr. screwing them, the went over to another label and created the sound of this record. Of course, they all went back to Motown only to get screwed again. Watch the fantastic documentary Standing in the Shadows for the full story (on HULU and Amazon Prime).
54. Johnny Kemp – “Just Got Paid” (1988). This takes me back to a time when my wife and I were first married and making a little money. And even though we were at home, we’d crank this song every pay-day Friday.
53. 4 Non Blondes – “What’s Up” (1993). Songwriter, producer and band leader Linda Perry is a pop/rock genius. This was her introduction to the world.
52. Gary Numan – “Cars” (1979). The icy-sounding synths of the song couple with that great hook made this a new wave classic. Numan was HUGE in the UK and Europe, but he only had one hit in America. Yet, it influence a multitude of artists across the genres here.
51. Bruce Channel – “Hey Baby!” (1961). Where would any film set in the early-Sixties be without this song?
50. Lipps Inc. – “Funkytown” (1980). Before Prince took over the world, we got an inkling of the Minneapolis sound when this song was unleashed on the world in 1980. “Funkytown” became a one-hit wonder all over again six years later when Pseudo Echo released a pop-punk version of the song and rode it into the Top 10, proving that a great song is just a great song.
49. The Tokens – “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” (1961). Controversy aside, this remains a timeless version of the song.
48. Billy Paul – “Me and Mrs. Jones” (1971). Just a terrific slice of Seventies Philly soul, I still am dumbfounded that this was Paul’s only hit song.
47. Georgia Satellites – “Keep Your Hands to Yourself” (1986). At a time when most song were drenched with synthesizers or were just another take on either Prince’s sound or a lame Hair Metal tune, the Georgia Satellites popped up with this update on the Southern Rock sound. And, just as quickly, they were gone. Yet, their great debut album remains in my collection to remind me they truly deserved better treatment by history.
46. Patti Smith – “Because the Night” (1978). I hate to admit that one of my favorite artists is a one-hit wonder, but it is true. And, for a woman who is recognized as a legendary songwriter, she shared a co-writing credit on this Bruce Springsteen tune.
45. Thin Lizzy – “The Boys Are Back in Town” (1976). Thin Lizzy is legendary, but this song is their only hit here in the States. I know! It doesn’t make any sense.
44. Edison Lighthouse – “Love Grows (Wherever My Rosemary Goes)” (1970). This just might be the greatest bubblegum pop song of all-time. I love to watch the video on YouTube because it just makes me laugh.
43. Ronald & Ruby – “Lollipop” (1958). To this today, I continue to hear teenagers sing this song. As a matter of fact, I have heard it sung at high school basketball games all over Central Indiana when I coached in the Nineties and 2000s. Talk about timeless.
42. Neneh Cherry – “Buffalo Stance” (1988). As I mentioned earlier, Neneh is one-half of the only siblings to be one-hit wonders in their own rights (Eagle-Eye Cherry is her brother). But, keep in mind that Neneh sampled a Malcolm McLaren (former manager of the Sex Pistols and just a music gadfly) song for this huge hit. It never stops amazing me how entwined music history can be.
41. Fountains of Wayne – “Stacy’s Mom” (2003). The late Adam Schlesinger’s band had this timeless slice of teenage lust, popularizing the American Pie concept of the MILF. Oh, and having supermodel Rachel Hunter star as Stacy’s mom is the video was a stroke of genius.
Which brings us to the end of the countdown for today. Stayed tuned, as we will begin to crack the Top 40 tomorrow.