We continue our examination of good songs that didn’t make the top 40 with another Grammy winner, an iconic song of the 90s, and several songs that have gone on to become famous:
“You Suck,” The Murmurs – #89 (1994). This was a charming little acoustic number with a little grrl sarcasm – “But right now there´s dust on my guitar, you f— / And it´s all your fault / Oh, you paralyze my mind and for that you suck!” (What else rhymes with suck? duck?) It fit in with the alternative movement at the time, but never caught on – except in Norway, where it hit #1.
“Don’t Stop Me Now,” Queen – #86 (1979). This song reached the top 10 in the UK but could only muster #86 in the U.S. Freddie had his revenge, though. It has gone viral thanks to several TV and movie placements; the official video has 292 million views on YouTube.
“Anytime,” Journey – #83 (1978). See what happens when you don’t use Steve Perry as your lead singer? You can’t even crack the top 80. Perry was with the group when they released this song, but Gregg Rolie supplied the lead vocals. You can’t beat the harmonies on the chorus, though. And we’ll see another Journey song with Perry later that didn’t make the top 40.
“All I Want Is You,” U2 – #83 (1989). One of my favorite U2 songs probably suffered from U2 fatigue; after all, they had saturated both the movie and radio markets with “Rattle and Hum” and its three previous singles, all of which were awful. This is a quiet ballad which, like most U2 ballads, grows in intensity until Bono screams, “You, all I want is you.” A nice orchestral arrangement by Van Dyke Parks completes the song.
“Holiday Road,” Lindsey Buckingham – #82 (1983). Like “Don’t Stop Me Now,” this single from “National Lampoon’s Vacation” has found more success the older it has gotten. Featuring an unforgettable chorus, the song is simple bubblegum, which is part of its appeal. Most people have heard it but have absolutely no idea a member of Fleetwood Mac performed it.
“Graceland,” Paul Simon – #81 (1987). Whaaaat? The Grammy-winning, iconic song by Paul Simon reached only #81? Yep. Again, Grammy to the rescue, taking an obscure song and making it Record of the Year.
“What a Difference You’ve Made In My Life,” Ronnie Milsap – #80 (1978). The second single from Milsap’s album “It Was Almost Like a Song” is innocent, somewhat sappy, but the chord progressions are beautiful. Country music had not begun its invasion of the Hot 100 just yet, with only Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton and Crystal Gayle being a few of the crossover artists to experience success on the pop charts.
“Jeremy,” Pearl Jam – #79 (1992). Another double-take: The second-best known anthem of the grunge movement, sung by the second-most important grunge band, relegated to #79? You still hear this song on alternative stations, and in 1995, it saturated the airwaves. Maybe everybody just bought Ten and didn’t bother with buying the single.