Name: Adam Bernard Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States About Me: Entertainment journalist with 20 years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, and B-movies. Part time ninja. Kicked cancer’s ass. My memoir, ChemBro, is out now!
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Welcome to your weekly dose of pop world musings. Covering all things pop culture, this week I’m hopping into my time machine again, this time setting the coordinates for 40 years ago – April 28th, 1979, to be exact.
Stepping out of my time machine I see disco enjoying what would turn out to be its final days (the infamous Disco Demolition Night at Chicago’s Comiskey Park would take place just two months later). Coinciding with this is the emergence of new wave, led by a certified rock goddess whose band happens to come in at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
So let’s get into this exploration of chart history! Of course, since this is Pop Shots, you know everything is seasoned with a little bit of attitude.
1. Blondie – Heart of Glass
Blondie has an incredible catalogue of hits, but the one most people think of first when you mention the band is “Heart of Glass.” The song is genre-defining, and era-defining, but oddly enough it may not actually be band-defining, as with songs like “One Way or Another,” “The Tide is High,” and “Rapture” Blondie took new wave in a number of different directions.
No one song can truly define Blondie, but “Heart of Glass” is a timeless classic that represents the new wave era perfectly. Also, Debbie Harry will always be amazing.
5. Gloria Gaynor – I Will Survive
Speaking of era-defining, and genre-defining, songs, when you think of disco, you more than likely think of “I Will Survive.” An epic post-breakup song, and dance floor classic, this song has been covered a bevy of times, one of the most memorable being ‘90s rock band Cake’s version of the song, which is a classic in its own right.
32. The Police – Roxanne
You know it was an interesting time in music when new wave, disco, and The Police were all on the chart at the same time. You gotta give Sting and his bandmates their props, I don’t think anybody else could’ve made a reggae-rock song about a prostitute and turned it into a hit that still gets airplay – and remarkably, still sounds fresh – 40 years after its release.
60. Peaches & Herb – Shake Your Groove Thing
Some songs on this chart are timeless. Others, like the Peaches & Herb hit “Shake Your Groove Thing,” are more specific to their era. This is not to say “Shake Your Groove Thing” isn’t a great song, it just happens to sound best in the ‘70s, and would be really out of place in any other era of music. In fact, I think a lot of people might be surprised this song came out this late in the ‘70s, as it has the feel of being from earlier in the decade.
71. Frank Zappa – Dancin’ Fool
A wickedly creative musical genius, Frank Zappa didn’t make music for the charts, so whenever he had a song that happened to reach the Billboard Hot 100 I think it was surprising for everyone involved. “Dancin’ Fool” was Zappa’s lampooning of disco culture. The fact that it charted should’ve been a clear indicator to those in disco that the end was near for their genre.
78. Cheap Trick – I Want You To Want Me
Rock music was in a transitional phase at the end of the ‘70s. Sure, Queen still ruled the world, but ‘70s rock was done, and new wave was on the rise, leaving fans of traditional rock ’n’ roll a bit left out. Even ZZ Top disappeared from the charts until 1983, when their Eliminator album brought them back. Thankfully, Cheap Trick was here to give us “I Want You To Want Me,” a mega-hit that will be played on classic rock stations until the end of time. It’s a song that will never get old, and merits being cranked up every time it comes on the radio (or when you click play on the video, like you’re going to right now!).
And with that, my time is up for the week, but I'll be back next week with more shots on all things pop.