Two Beatles wannabees and rare misses by the Boss and U2 headline Part 6 of our 100 songs that didn’t make the top 40.
“Add Some Music to Your Day” – Beach Boys – #64 (1970). A rare jewel after Brian Wilson’s creative peak with Pet Sounds and Smile, this song was written by Wilson with some (probably very little) help by Mike Love and Joe Knott. It has a fantastic melody and proves that even at his worst, Wilson could still churn them out when asked. Unfortunately, the public saw the Beach Boys as a surfing group; their last top 10 hit had been 1966′ “Good Vibrations,” and they wouldn’t have another until 1976 with a cover of Chuck Berry’s “Rock ‘n’ Roll Music.”
“Secret Garden” – Bruce Springsteen – #63 (1995). One of Springsteen’s most heartfelt and beautiful ballads, “Secret Garden” found success everywhere but the Hot 100: #1 in Ireland, #17 in the UK, #5 on the U.S. Adult Contemporary chart, and #12 on the U.S. Adult Top 40. I guess the kids didn’t get into it, even though it was featured in the movie “Jerry Maguire.”
“I Want Candy” – Bow Wow Wow – #62 (1982). This one shocked me the most. Everybody has heard this song at some point. The memorable guitar solo at the beginning, the Bo-Diddly tom-toms playing throughout the song, and Anabella’s forbidden sexiness (she was 16 when “I Want Candy” came out, but the video still showed provocative scenes of her coming out of the ocean in a long stringy T-shirt.). This is a classic, and there’s no reason why this shouldn’t have hit the Top 10. (It did in the UK – Damn you, you Brits!)
“Crazy on You” – Heart – #62 (1977). One of Heart’s lesser-known singles, it’s still a mainstay on classic rock stations. It begins with an intricate acoustic guitar solo by Nancy Wilson, and sister Ann’s powerful vocals make it unforgettable. The classic 70s Heart had only two Top 10 hits; the group really wouldn’t find true chart success until their overhaul in 1985, when they had four top 10 hits from one album. (EDIT: Reader JB noted that this was a re-release, and that the original release did indeed hit the Top 40 in 1976, although it peaked at only #35. Hmmm..Songs that hit the Top 40 but should have gone higher…)
“Baby’s Coming Back” – Jellyfish – #62 (1991). What is puzzling is not that this single didn’t make the Top 40 – it was one of their weaker songs – but why Jellyfish failed in general. Possibly the greatest power pop band ever, they released two albums and disbanded, with success never fully in their grasp. They were ahead of their time – or perhaps, behind the times.
“Calling Occupants” – Klaatu – #62 (1976). Considering the rumor that was going around that Klaatu was really the Beatles reunited, I’m surprised that “Calling Occupants” reached only #62. The song is a bit psychedelic, with some Beatles-sounding chord progressions and vocals that sound somewhat like Lennon and McCartney. Klaatu’s label did little to combat the rumor, naturally. It didn’t help, at least as far as the single was concerned.
“Through The Fire” – Chaka Khan – #60 (1985). “Chaka, Chaka, Chaka, Chaka Khan, Chaka Khan, Chaka Khan, Chaka Khan…” She was a one-hit wonder had only one hit from her album I Feel for You because her quiet storm ballad “Through the Fire” failed to chart. It was a staple on “Jazz Flavors” on 94-Q when I was in high school, and I always thought it was a pleasant departure from the title track to her album. It seems I was the only one.
“The Fly” – U2 – #61 (1991). What was arguably the best song on Achtung Baby flopped on the charts. It sounded like a futuristic version of The Joshua Tree. However, it wasn’t until the ghastly, radio-friendly “Mysterious Ways” was released and hit #9 that Achtung Baby really took off, and it would be a while before we saw the old U2 again.
“Mint Car” – The Cure – #58 (1996). “Mint Car” makes “Just Like Heaven” and “Friday I’m In Love” sound downright depressing. Full of happiness, energy and optimism (“The sun is up, I’m so happy I could scream”; “I really don’t think it gets any better than this”), the song was radio accessible and a far cry from their morose Goth music. DJs and the buying public had now heard of the Cure, thanks to Disintegration and Wish. So why didn’t it…ah, I can’t explain it.
“Turn It On Again” – Genesis – #58 (1980). The first single from the album Duke failed to capture listeners, but it was just the beginning of the metamorphosis Genesis would take from prog-rock band to Top 40 pop group. Their next single from the album, “Misunderstanding,” would hit #14, and they would hit the top 40 with 10 out of their next 14 singles.