A cornucopia of songs ranging from early punk/New Wave to 90s classics marks this edition of Songs that Didn’t make the Hot 100.
“Kiss This Thing Goodbye” – Del Amitri (1989). I was enthralled by this song when I heard it on MTV (yes, they used to play videos). A pure pop song featuring a harmonica, dobro and banjo? Of course, that’s no formula for success on the charts, but it began a 30-year-love affair with the Scottish group that still continues today. They finally got a Top 10 hit with “Roll to Me,” which reached #8.(EDIT: The Twitterverse has corrected me: Dirk Digglinator pointed out that “Kiss This Thing Goodbye,” re-released in 1990, not only hit the Hot 100, but made it all the way up to #35. So I substitute “Be My Downfall,” released as a promo single, which didn’t make the Hot 100. Thanks Dirk!)
“Be My Number Two” – Joe Jackson (1984). I still don’t know why Joe Jackson is considered punk, but there it is, listed on AllMusic.com and Wikipedia. Like Elvis Costello, he was more New Wave, with a talent for a good melody. This ballad is beautiful, with Jackson accompanied only by a piano until the end, and I list it only because it’s one of my favorites of his. It reached only #70 in the UK, his home base, and didn’t hit the charts in the U.S.
“Brick” – Ben Folds Five (1997). What was arguably one of the more memorable songs of the 90s never entered the Hot 100. Nope. It entered every other Billboard chart – #19 on Hot 100 Airplay, #11 on Adult Top 40 Tracks, #6 on the Modern Rock Tracks and #17 on Top 40 Mainstream.
“Going Down to Liverpool” – The Bangles (1985). An early disappointment for the all-girl band, the single was first released in 1985 before Bangle-mania hit, and it was only a modest success in New Zealand and the UK. It failed to chart in the U.S. After the success of “Manic Monday,” they re-released it in the UK and Ireland, where it did slightly better in the UK and almost hit the Top 20 in Ireland. Maybe if Susanna Hoffs had sung lead…
“Girlfriend In A Coma” – The Smiths (1987). The Smiths were virtually unknown in the U.S. during their heyday in the mid-1980s, so you can reach into a hat and pull out a single that didn’t make the Hot 100. “Girlfriend in a Coma,” one of their most melodic singles, was released in the U.S. as a promo single but it didn’t generate any airplay or club play.
“Good Intentions” – Toad the Wet Sprocket (1995). “Good Intentions” was originally slated for their 1991 breakthrough album Fear, but the band thought it sounded “too much like a hit single” (so they included the equally catchy “All I Want”). The song was eventually included on the “Friends” soundtrack and the band’s compilation album In Light Syrup. In spite of missing the Hot 100, it hit #23 on the US Radio Songs chart and #19 on the U.S. Mainstream Rock and US Adult Contemporary charts.
“When Tomorrow Comes” – Eurythmics (1986). A rare miss for the New Wave group, “When Tomorrow Comes” reached only #30 in the U.K., although it hit the Top 10 in Australia and Sweden. The record company only released a 12″ single and a promo 7″ in the U.S., so it hardly made a dent in the pop scene here. In fact, it would take the fourth single from Revenge, “Missionary Man,” for the group to get a Top 20 hit from the album. The album didn’t go platinum; it was the beginning of the end for Eurythmics.
“Pinball Wizard” – Elton John (1975). John’s wildly popular remake of the song from the Who’s rock opera “Tommy” was strangely never released in the United States. It hit #7 in the UK. We earlier saw that John’s “Candle in the Wind” remained unreleased in the U.S. until the death of Princess Diana. What did his record company have against us??
“Mr. Jones” – Counting Crows. You couldn’t turn on the radio in 1993 and 1994 without hearing this jangly pop tune, which, in my opinion, is the worst song on Counting Crows’ outstanding debut album. But Geffen released it only as a promo single, and it didn’t hit the Hot 100. It still hit #25 on the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks, #2 on the Hot Modern Rock Tracks and Top 40 Mainstream charts, and #5 on the Hot 100 Airplay. So yeah, it was still a hit.
“Pearl in the Shell” – Howard Jones (1984). One of Jones’ more melodic songs, “Pearl in the Shell” hit #7 in the UK and had several releases in the US, both as a 12″ promo single and a regular 7″ single. It did nothing here, but no one knew who he was; it would be another year before “Things Can Only Get Better” would hit the Top 5.