Canadian Wonder #2 - Crash Test Dummies

If I had been really thinking ahead in 1993, I would have made a pop culture time capsule, just to represent where America's mind was in that year.

In the capsule would have been a VHS copy of Pauly Shore's Son in Law, a John Stockton Utah Jazz jersey, a couple of R.L. Stine Goosebumps novels, and, without a doubt, a cassette single of the Crash Test Dummies' hit single "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm."

What was going on in 1993 that would allow Americans to accept such a bizarre song into their homes and cars? Did the Bills losing their third consecutive Super Bowl open a door to an alternate universe? Did David Koresh seek vengeance on America from beyond the grave by making a Pauly Shore movie a box office smash and giving R.L. Stine an insanely lucrative career as an author? Maybe a gas leak that reached every suburb in the country?

But I digress. Perhaps "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm" isn't even the most unusual one-hit wonder of the '90s. Might I remind you that just a year earlier, a Flatwoods, Kentucky redneck with a mullet the size of which no man can measure unleashed "Achy Breaky Heart" on an unsuspecting public? And when there are artists like Green Jelly and Willi One-Blood out there, you can't call it the weirdest--but it's probably in the top 5.

The thing about "Mmm" is that a description of the song can't really do it justice. I'll give it a go though: "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm" is a a folky alternative rock ballad that tells three different stories of bizarre hardships suffered by children, sung by a vocalist who vaguely sounds like he's just inhaled sulfer hexafluoride, with each verse followed by a chorus that's entirely hummed (hence the onomatopoeia title). That's as good as I can do and it still doesn't hit on the specific creepiness of the lyrics about girls with birthmark ravaged bodies and boys whose parents belong to a strange, unnamed religious sect that requires them inact seizures from their pews. This being the '90s, the song was of course given the MTV treatment with a strange little video that featured children acting out the incidents in the Dummies' song as one-acts plays (shades of Rushmore), as well as an excessive number of shots featuring vocalist Brad Roberts' making peculiar facial expressions during the chorus (gotta emote somehow when you're humming I guess).

The first single from their second album, God Shuffled His Feet, the song was a worldwide hit, going to #4 on the Hot 100 US chart, #2 in the UK and #1 in Australia. Surprisingly, in their native Canada (they hail from Neil Young's town of Winnipeg, Manitoba), the tune didn't even break into the top ten, falling behind the success of the group's first single, the amusingly earnest "Superman's Song," which hit #4 in Canada and only made it to #56 in the US.

But these are just numbers. For time-tested, scientific proof that this song was a massive hit, we turn to our friend "Weird Al" Yankovic, who turned his mad parodyin' skills on the tune with "Headline News"--a song that replaced Dummies' lyricist and singer's stories about childhood oddities to humorous accounts of Michael Fay's caning in Singapore, the Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding incident and Lorena and John Wayne Bobbit's ordeal, the climax of which was described with one line, where Bobbit awakens to find that "Mr. Happy was missing." Oh, "Weird," what will you do next?

But how to follow up such an unusual hit single? The problem is, you really can't.

After the non-showing that was the group's next single, "Swimming in Your Ocean," a slightly more uptempo and rocking track with a video possibly creepier than their hit single's , the group managed to hit the US charts again with "Afternoons and Coffeespoons," a song based on the freshman English student favorite The Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock, a poem by T.S. Eliot. If we learned anything from Andrew Lloyd Weber's CATS--a musical adaptation of Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats--it's that T.S. Eliot poems do not translate to popular media. Brad Roberts and the rest of the Dummies were apparently unaware of this fact. But who am I to criticize? CATS ran for approximately 80 years on Broadway, so maybe they were hoping for quantity and longevity instead of quality.

But again, here's an example of a song that's not bad at all. It's a fun, catchy song. Not great, but it's a fine follow up, but likely not what the public was looking for. Unless you count the references to T.S. Eliot or Roberts' vocals, there's nothing all that unusual, and, despite an enjoyably hooky chorus, to audiences today it may come off as a bit generic. Dare I say people might have wanted it a little bit weirder? The music, instrumentation and song itself doesn't sound that far removed from the '90s roots based college rock bands to come later in the decade--Blues Traveler, Hootie and the Blowfish, etc. Except it has that voice, which, granted, sounds far more palpable on this track. Still, I'd wager US audiences just weren't ready to hear that voice outside of any context except "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm." "Afternoons and Coffeespoons" peaked at #66 on the Hot 100 charts.

But for me, I never even heard "Afternoons and Coffeespoons" on the radio. The next Dummies single I heard was a cover of XTC's Nonsuch classic, "The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead" which was released on the original soundtrack to Dumb & Dumber--a movie which also featured "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm," though it wasn't included on the CD. "Pumpkinhead" is a fairly straightforward and unimaginative remake of XTC's hit, except there's something unusual about it. See if you can guess what I'm talking about:

No, not the Jeff Daniels cameo, though that is quite awesome. No, it's not that they omit the second verse from XTC's original (though they do, and huzzah for noticing). Get this: Brad Roberts is only the backup vocalist! He's not singing lead! Yeah! They've got some chick named Ellen Reid singing lead. Who's Ellen Reid? How the hell should I know? Far as I can tell she was a band member who usually sang back up, but they gave her this shot since Roberts, no doubt, couldn't quite reach those Andy Partridge notes very easily.

Now, forgive me, as I'm about to contradict myself. I realize I just said "Afternoons and Coffeespoons" didn't hit because people couldn't get down with Roberts' voice, but in the end, that is their hook. Roberts' voice is the band. You either like it or you don't and there's no in between. If the track were just a one-off for the soundtrack, it'd be one thing; but they released it as a single! Bad move. Makes it look like you're trying to change the band's image and sound by changing what makes the band unique (even if not everyone likes it). Giving some generic chick the mic just makes you into a generic bar band. Sorry, Dummies, but The Second Single is all about tough love. There will be no coddling here.

Though God Shuffled His Feet was the pinnacle of the band's career, the Dummies nevertheless charted with their next album, A Worm's Life, and continued to be successful in Canada up through their fourth album, Give Yourself a Hand, which reportedly found Reid taking on more vocal duties, Roberts trying out a falsetto and the band including "electronic elements" (shudder).

After Hand, they left (or were dropped by) BMG records, and Roberts was nearly fatally injured in a car accident. While recuperating in Nova Scotia, Roberts became friends with some local fisherman/musicians and reportedly wrote and recorded a bunch of songs with these guys. Though intended as a solo album for Roberts, the Dummies agreed to tour behind the album, titled I Don't Care That You Don't Mind, and slapped their name on it. According to AllMusic.com the album has an almost "Southern feel," and they compare it to Chris Isaak. Mmm-hmm (mmm mmm). The next album, 2003's Puss N Boots, also started life as a Roberts solo album, but soon became the Dummies' six album. In 2004 came their eighth studio album, Songs of the Unforgiven.

Though the band is said to be done with touring, and Roberts has moved on to solo material (reportedly promising not to slap the Dummies name on it this time), the band did manage to squeeze out a Best of album in 2007, giving new audiences a chance to hear the magical baritone and folky alt. rock that was the Crash Test Dummies. But why the Dummies get a Best of and the Criterion Collection Encino Man isn't any closer to being a reality, I'll never know.

Download: Crash Test Dummies - Afternoons and Coffeespoons
Download: Crash Test Dummies - Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm


Marc Cohn - "Silver Thunderbird"

One of the most unexciting new genres of music to emerge in the late '80s was Adult Contemporary (AC)--which would later go on to explode in the '90s.

AC isn't really a style of music per se, it was more of a format developed by genius record executives and radio station owners in order to let the baby boomers have their own kind of music. Think about it. Had it not been for AC, baby boomers would have had to, oh, I don't know, listen to new music? Seek out some kind of new sound that might challenge them? Or maybe they could have been content with the oldies stations, which is partially what AC stations played. Stations with names like Mix 92.9, Star FM, Sunny 105, Easy 102.5 and Magic 95, played a mix of '60s and '70s soft rock: Seals & Crofts, Chicago, Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles, with '60s and '70s singer songwriters like James Taylor, Carole King and maybe even threw in some Motown or Stax R&B cuts to make the baby boomers think that at one time they might have had some soul. They called it the paradoxical "lite rock" or "Easy Listening"--because who doesn't want to listen to a type of music tailor made to help you fall asleep at the wheel?

And then of course, there was some new music. But it wasn't really new. Some of the songs may have been technically new, but the people making them were mostly names you knew; people who had been popular (and maybe even good) in the '70s and early '80s now making slick, ultra-produced, plastic-wrapped soft rock: Phil Collins, Rod Stewart, Stevie Nicks, The Commodores, Sting, Peter Cetera, and of course, Elton John. AC wasn't listened to by anyone under 40 if they could help it, although they invariably were exposed to the electric pianos and whining saxophones anytime they got in their parents' car before they were 16. It was an exclusive club of has-beens and very seldom did some untested young Turk get in. For every Michael Bolton who made it into the storied ranks were a hundred guys playing their surprisingly contemporary and fearlessly adult songs at piano bars all across the Midwest.

So how'd this Cohn guy get in you ask? Let's see.

J. Marcus Horatio Cohn, IV (name I just made up) was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1959. Since it was Cleveland in the '70s, Cohn had little to do except drink ten cent beers at Cleveland Municpal Stadium, stand outside the Agora Theater listening to rock bands, watch theatre at the Cleveland Playhouse and sing in a junior high garage band (I like to imagine they played mostly Bob Seger and James Gang songs). During a stint at Oberlin College, he learned how to play guitar and began to write songs. This is also where he learned to play piano. (dun dun DUN!)

But Hollywood began a-callin' young Mr. Cohn, and he made the bold decision to leave behind the sunny shores of Lake Erie for the dry desert valleys of Los Angeles where he enrolled at UCLA and continued with his own music playing coffeehouses, steakhouses, playhouses, greenhouses, outhouses--hell, anywhere that kept an open ear to piano-based soulful singer-songwriter compositions. But it wasn't long before he found himself moving back east to New York City where he started a 14-piece band (complete with horn section) called The Supreme Court that would get the chance to play at Caroline Kennedy's wedding.

But...as we've learned this far into the story, Cohn just can't be tied down. He soon he quit the glamorous life of playing Kennedy family weddings and went back to his coffeehouse roots, solo. During this time he made some demos and sent them off to Atlantic Records where they gained the attention of a couple of producers who would go on to collaborate with Cohn and make the adroitly titled, Marc Cohn.

The one hit that emerged from the album was "Walking in Memphis" a song so wannabe soulful, yet still so sensitive, nostalgic and so incredibly tailor made for baby boomers it might as well be titled Big Chill: The Song.

But that's just cynical, isn't it? All snark aside, it's actually a pretty good and heartfelt song. Aside from clunky lines like "do I really feel the way I feel?" and a what amounts to a fairly touristy look at Memphis, it's a nice little story of finding one's soul in a city known for it. One can't help but smile at a line where Cohn describes himself talking to a soul singer at the Hollywood Bar in Tunica, Mississippi (just south of Memphis):

And she said--
"Tell me are you a Christian, child?"
And I said "Ma'am I am tonight"

See it's clever cause Cohn is Jewish, but the soul of the place made him feel like praising Jesus. Clever! No? You're hopeless. It's not surprising the song is often attributed to Bruce Springsteen on the Internet as Cohn's vocals seem highly inspired by Tunnel of Love-era Boss and his gruff, but soulful white man voice.

And oh, man, that piano riff! If you hate Cohn tickling those ivories, your heart is blacker than the flats and sharps on Cohn's Yamaha.

As for the charts, well, the song wasn't a number one smash hit, but it made it on nearly every conceivable chart: AC, Hot 100 (where it went to #13), and Mainstream Rock. It even lit up the country charts. But charts are only one piece of the puzzle, and this song eventually gained a life of its own. It's been covered by pretty much every bar band that has ever been to Memphis, and probably some who haven't. Even goddamn Cher covered it in an astoundingly awful version that did little to change it except add goddamn Cher's vocals and a shitty dance beat.

I apologize for that, but it's for your own good. Now, even if you hate Mr. Cohn's version you know how much worse it could have been.

Now onto the main attraction: the follow-up single--"Silver Thunderbird". The notes I wrote down when listening to the song was "Warren Zevon does his best Bob Seger" and I still can't think of a better descriptor than that. Cohn's vocals on this song sound so much like Zevon circa 1976 it's amazing. Not just the way he sings, but the vocal melody sounds like something Zevon would have come up with. Listen to "Desperadoes Under the Eaves" and then "Silver Thunderbird" and tell me if I'm crazy. I can take it.

The song is about a young Cohn living in the Cleveland suburb of Shaker Heights, coveting his father's car--which happens to be--and he is explicit about this--not a Buick, not an El Dorado, not a foreign car but in fact, a silver Thunderbird, which, despite its color, looks "just like the Batmobile." Cohn pretty much just talks about how cool the car was and how sweet his dad looked in it. Some might say the content sounds more like a Springsteen song, but here's the thing: if it were Springsteen, the song would end with the dad getting drunk and crashing. But, because it's just about a bad-ass ride, it's falls into Seger-territory. See how that works?

How does it stack up to "Walking in Memphis"? Pretty well, actually. It was a worthy follow up and for all intents and purposes, should have cemented him as an artist to watch. But for whatever reason, it didn't. I have no real explanation for this, unfortunately. The nostalgia of the '60s cars alone should have added to the baby boomer appeal. Then again, they never made Big Chill 2: Electric Boogaloo, so maybe even baby boomers have their limits.

The best I can come up with is that it just didn't sound enough like "Walking in Memphis." Maybe people wanted less singer-songwriter stuff, and more bombastic gospel choirs. Like I said in the comments on the Blind Melon post, sometimes a song comes along and scratches an itch America has, and for some reason, that's all they want to hear the artist do.

The best I can do is make a shitty metaphor.

America is like a child who falls in love with a blanket. It becomes their security blanket. No one's sure why this kid became so attached to that blanket, but it did. Inevitably, the blanket gets dirty and ratty cause it's been around so long, so they try to give the kid another blanket: exact same material, exact same cut. The same damn blanket. It's just as good, and maybe even better.

But the kid rejects it! Why? Because it's still not that blanket. Then, the next day, the kid up and throws the first blanket in the trash and never speaks of it again.

That's how America deals with one-hit wonders. We're a nation of Linuses, and sometimes that's a damn shame.

Download: "Silver Thunderbird"
Download: "Walking in Memphis"

Addendum: This has nothing to do with the song but in my research I found that Marc Cohn was shot in the head during an attempted carjacking in 2005, and survived. What a badass! He's still out there touring somewhere. He even came out with an album in 2007. Good on ya, Marcus!


Canadian Wonders #1 - Tom Cochrane

Who the hell is Tom Cochrane you ask?

Tom Cochrane is a few things:
  1. He is the guy who made "Life is a Highway" which went to #6 on the US Hot 100 charts in 1991.
  2. He is not Tom Petty, whatever Napster, Limewire, or Soulseek or other P2P program once told you. Petty did not sing "Life is a Highway." Ever. No, really, never. End of discussion. They don't even sound alike. They may be next to each other on your iTunes, but never mistake the two unless you want people to think you're a certified mouth breather.
  3. He is Canadian. He was born in Manitoba and grew up in Etobicoke, Ontario, and as far as I can tell he is something of a national treasure in our nation's hat. Because of this he is the first in a series dubbed "Canadian Wonders". The series will cover artists who, however briefly, broke through to US audiences before heading back to the land that gave us You Can't Do That on Television.
  4. He started out in the band Red Rider, who you may remember from such hits as "White Hot" or "Young Thing, Wild Dreams (Rock Me)". No? How about "Lunatic Fringe"?

  5. That searing stare. The fashion sense stolen from the Osmonds. That inability to even strum the guitar he's holding cause he's just so into singing about the lunatic fringe. The surprising presence of a black guy. Pure Cochrane. Still don't remember it? Well don't feel bad. They never broke into the Top 40 on the US Hot 100, though "Lunatic Fringe" did hit #11 on the Modern Rock charts.
  6. Probably disgustingly rich. "Life is a Highway" has been used in numerous TV ads, movies, TV shows, etc. It has also been covered twice by American country artists, first by the semi-well known Chris LeDoux who released the song in 1999, only to have it stall at #64 on the country charts and birth a crappy video that looks more like a clip from Hey Vern, It's Ernest! (note the presence of a keytar):

  7. It was also a huge hit for Rascal Flatts on the Cars soundtrack, going to #7 on the US Hot 100 charts and even charting in Cochrane's native land, going to #9 on the Canadian charts. Their version changes nothing from Cochrane's version aside from sonically castrating the song's kick-ass chorus with the lead douchebag's whiny vocals. I refuse to even post a YouTube video of it here as it's amazingly redundant and shitty. Seek it out if you must, but don't blame me if you wake up soaked in a disturbing mix of cold sweat, hair gel and Abercrombie Woods cologne.
  8. Cochrane is, at least in the US, a one-hit wonder. But he didn't want to be.
Cochrane followed "Highway" up with two singles from his album Mad Mad World.

First was "No Regrets," another driving rocker in a similar vein to "Highway". Unfortunately, like so many second singles, it may have been too similar, featuring the same reverbed drums, chorus of backup singers and insistent guitar of "Highway," but missing the huge payoff huge hooks of that hit. And where "Highway" had an incendiary harmonica play out at the end of the song, "No Regrets" opts instead for a saxophone.

Uh-oh. Bad choice.

As any rock fan can tell you, when a sax is used properly, it can't be beat. What would Pink Floyd's "Money" be without that tenor sax solo by Dick Perry? Unfortunately, many '80s producers listened to great rock songs like "Walk on the Wild Side" and "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" and must have thought a sax solo was the key to a classic song. This was not the case--sweet Jesus, it couldn't have been further from being the case. The producer of Cochrane's album almost certainly had a hangover from '80s productions, which isn't surprising since the album was probably made in 1990, when saxophone was still king. Many cite the synthesizer or the sampled drum beat as the worst examples of '80s production; they're wrong, it was the saxophone.

"No Regrets" didn't even chart on the US Top 100, but it did manage to go to #7 on the Modern Rock charts, keeping Cochrane in the game for a little longer. Unsurprisingly, the song was a huge hit in Canada. Then he had two more hits in Canada ("Sinking Like a Sunset" and the title track "Mad Mad World").

Still, Cochrane tried his hand at shaking the one-hit wonder blues one more time. But this time he steered clear of trying to duplicate "Life is a Highway" and instead went for another cherished '80s/early '90s staple: the power ballad.

"Washed Away" has got it all: palm muted staccato guitars (think Mike & The Mechanics), strings, big drum breaks, uplifting lyrics about redemption, and one of those outros where the singer is feeling the passion in the song so much, he's reduced to primal screams (while making sure to stay in key). There's really nothing in this song that says it shouldn't have been a hit--except that it's done by Tom Cochrane. If this had been released under Don Henley or
Glenn Frey's name. Also it's like five-and-a half minutes. C'mon, Tom! This is the early '90s. I can't be bothered listening to Tom Cochrane wail for nearly 10% of an hour. I have Designing Women to watch.

"Washed Away" got to #88 on the Mainstream Rock charts and didn't chart on the US Top 100.

But don't feel bad for Mr. Cochrane. He may not have made it in the US again, but Cochrane's career was far from over in Canada. Mad Mad World spawned four Top Ten hits on the RPM Charts (?) and he would have another three top tenners from his next album Ragged Ass Road before sliding down the charts in the late '90s. He also won seven Juno Awards (the Canadian Grammys) and received a National Achievement Award from SOCAN in 2003, a Canadian copyright organization. Looks like he's doing just fine.

Click here to learn more about Tom Cochrane and buy some stuff from him.


Blind Melon

Buoyed by a bizarrely cute video featuring a pudgy girl in a bee costume, and propelled by the late-’60s, early ’70s nostalgia boom of the early ’90s (see also: Woodstock ‘94), the Shannon Hoon-fronted Blind Melon had a massive hit with “No Rain,” which eached #20 on the pop charts, #4 on the Top 40 charts and went all the way to #1 on the Modern Rock charts.

While the album was released in September 1992, it was initially a slow seller, and didn’t pick up steam until 1993, when “No Rain” began climbing the charts. The album went on to sell over 4 million copies in the US.

Like so many great pop songs before it, “No Rain” covered up its downbeat lyrics with a carefree melody and jammy interplay of psychedelic electric and acoustic guitars. Equal parts Allman Brothers, Grateful Dead, and Jane’s Addiction, the song gave an anthem to the wannabe hippie teens of the early ’90s who spent summer afternoons raiding their parents' attic for mothballed bell-bottoms, peace sign necklaces and paisley shirts. They yearned for the Summer of Love, a time when everyone was into weed smoking, acid trips, free love, mud orgies, and societal change. They wanted that back.

Well, mostly just the free love and weed.

And the music. Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, the Allman Bros., the Stones, Zeppelin, Floyd, Lennon; anyone who had a key member of the group die or go nuts before their time added just the right amount of mystery and intrigue to the idea that the ’60s were somehow better than the ’90s.

Hoon could have been the man to lead the charge. Right?

Unfortunately, he lived up to this ideal all too well. In 1995, at the age of 28, he overdosed on cocaine before a gig in New Orleans. Many pointed out at the time that Hoon narrowly missed membership into the “27 Club”—a group of musicians like Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin and Brian Jones who had died at age 27. It should be mentioned, however morbidly, that Hoon missing admission into the club is somehow appropriate, as Blind Melon never quite reached the heights of the club’s finest members.

But that’s not to say they were one-hit wonders either. Seemingly forgotten is the band’s first single, “Tones of Home” which was actually a minor hit, reaching #20 on the Modern Rock charts. After the success of “No Rain,” “Home” was re-released and managed to peak at #10. “Home” was far more in the vein of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jane’s Addiction; funk-rock with only a hint of the psychedelic classic rock influences featured on “No Rain,” suggesting that the band wasn’t the flower children throwback critics initially labeled them as.

Two more singles followed and more or less proved this thesis: “I Wonder” melded Zeppelin-esque riffs and desperate vocals with more psychedelic instrumental passages, while “Change” (released a full two years after the album hit stores) was a bluesy, deep-fried folk song featuring ringing acoustic guitars and mandolins that reached back to the Northeast Mississippi roots of guitarist Roger Stevens. To be sure, the band wore their influences on their sleeve, but not as obviously as some of their peers around the same time. Despite the strong quality of both songs, they may have strayed too far from the folky sonics of “No Rain” as neither follow-up single managed to chart.
Were Blind Melon a one-hit wonder? Depends on who you ask. Most people would probably say yes, unaware of their other works (or the existance of a follow-up album before Hoon’s death, 1995’s Soup), but for music fans there is a lot to uncover with this band. Too many bands I will cover in the future will have one, one and a half or two great, good or just plain listenable songs on the albums, while the rest will be crap.

To answer the question in my earlier post, if you bought this album for $18 at Sam Goody, it was money well spent. Dust it off and throw it on the old CD player if you get a chance, you might be surprised. That Eagle-Eye Cherry CD, on the other hand…

Download: Blind Melon - No Rain
Download: Blind Melon - Tones of Home
Download: Blind Melon - I Wonder
Download: Blind Melon - Change

Buy Blind Melon stuff here. Visit the reformed Blind Melon's Myspace.

Welcome to The Second Single

Think back to the ’90sthe days of Bush Sr. and Clinton…of grunge and “electronica infused” rock and nu metal.

Think back to the days of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers. The days of Salute Your Shorts and The Adventures of Pete and Pete, of Saved by the Bell and California Dreams, of Dream On and Arli$$, of Silk Stalkings and Red Shoe Diaries.

Think back to the ’90s…and in these nostalgic saturated days, it shouldn’t be too hard for you. (Plus it was only like 9 years ago)

Remember those days when alternative rock ruled the top 40 airwaves and MTV filled up Buzz Bin compilation CDs with bands like Us3, The Cardigans and Folk Impolsion? (that’s right, kids, Lou Barlow once was endorsed by MTV! The same network that birthed Tila Tequila’s A Shot at Love and Next sometimes, possibly by accident, played good music!)

Or maybe you spent a day in your freshman Geometry class wiling away the hour thinking The Nixons were probably better than just that one song, “Sister”. That maybe, just maybe, they needed a second hit to put them over the top and prove they really were the next Pearl Jam and not just lame wannabes?

Maybe you spent long hours waiting by the radio for DJ Coyote McCloud to introduce your new favorite band’s second single, only to hear with nothing but a few new Bush songs and way more Coolio than you ever needed to hear? And, instead, you just moved on to Creed? That was dumb, wasn’t it?

Or maybe back in ‘92, you bought that Blind Melon CD with the bee girl on the cover and thought, “this isn’t that bad, why are they only playing ‘No Rain’ on Y107? Where’s ‘Change’ or ‘Soak the Sin’ or any of these other rockin’ numbers?”

Nowadays, 10 or 15+ years later you think, “was that album really that good? Did I just want to justify the purchase of an $18 album at Sam Goody when I could have bought the single for a mere $3.50?”

We’re here to help you find out.

Here’s what we do: Each post will be about a band who only had one hit, and while we will post about the hit, the focus will be on the dreaded second single—the song that should have made their career and cemented them as artists, but instead failed to keep them going*. Some of these songs may suck, some may be better than the hit, that’s for me to analyze and you to decide.

This is The Second Single blog.

*Before I inevitably post about a band that has a still sizable and rabid fanbase: I’m not saying these bands necessarily deserved to be one-hit wonders, (though let’s face it, some didn’t even deserve that) but, because of record company politics, payola, fashion trends, scandals, and the fickle and constantly waining interests of the public, they were only able to have that one song that stuck in the minds of the world—that song that even your nana or four-year-old sister knew and maybe even got sick of.

Some of these bands may have gone on to long and illustrious careers and found a niche in the indie world or somewhere else or created a grassroots following. That’s great! If that’s the case, I’ll talk about it.