Friday, 1 April 2011

The Last Bryan Adams Monopoly

‘In The Summer of ‘69’

Thus warbled Bryan Adams in the summer of ’85 but then he was wrong on both counts.  What he should’ve been keeping his eye on was the summer (and autumn) of ’91 as that was the time when we all had something to worry about.  That’s when a collective madness descended on the UK and billions of copies of ‘Everything I Do (I Do It For You)’ were bought thus ensuring that it remained at number one in the singles charts for a concentration-wanderingly massive amount of time.  Archives show that it was sixteen consecutive weeks to be precise and a record probably never to be broken.

It reminds me of spring of 1977 when I was a student whose first job on returning from lectures was to turn on Capital Radio (95.8!) and listen to the day’s ‘Hitline’ ( a daily chart voted by listeners) only to find that it was topped by Hotel-bloody-California AGAIN!  This went on for months as I recall and has ensured that HC remains firmly on my ‘not to be bought under any circumstances’ list.

But that was then (1970s to 1990s) and this is now and one thing that is now guaranteed is that singles no longer have a shred of longevity, so perhaps we should be grateful.  Looking back over the last 5 years or so, if you exclude Gnarls Barkley (‘Crazy’) and Rihanna ft Jay-Z (‘Umbrella’), no single has lasted more than 3 weeks at the top in the UK and the majority only hit the top spot for a single week.  This not really surprising as first, the singles market is now vast and moves at close to the speed of light so blink and you’ll miss a release and second and infinitely more annoying, pent up demand is deliberately created by advertising a single in the media weeks before you can actually buy it.  This ploy ensures maximum sales in the first week of release and hopefully a number one spot immediately.

But it also means no longevity, as all those who want to buy it have done so in one huge and unseemly rush.  Anyway, there are ten billion new singles to choose from next week, so for any song to last in the top 40, let alone number one, for weeks on end is about as likely as a snowball in the proverbial.  All these smart-alec music companies are on to a loser with me anyway, as my inclination is to buy a single I like soon after first hearing it and if I can’t do so for weeks, my memory is now so bad that I’ll forget about and paint the spare room instead.  Age has its benefits and thwarting the music industry without really trying is one of them.


Brett said...

Great post. My take on this is a bit different. I have always been an album guy. When i find a song by a band I like, I have a tendency to go and get their entire catalog. I find that there are usually songs that you will hear on the album that are much better than the ones you hear on the radio. Led Zeppelin is a perfect example. Stairway to Heaven is NOT their best song IMHO but that was the one always played.

music obsessive said...

Brett - At heart, I am an album guy too, but there have been 2 periods when I was interested in singles. 1) The 1960s when I was young, awestruck and poor and 2) the late 1970s when the punks got me interested in the 3 minute single after years of side-long prog.

These days? I might tour itunes from time to time but otherwise the official single is dead.

Perplexio said...

I once got into a discussion over on Barely Awake in Frog Pajamas (at least I think it was on that blog) about the phenomenon of songs that get so overplayed when they first come out that they go from revered to reviled in record speed. In music when success burns brightest it also tends to burn out the quickest. As examples I mentioned the god-awful Whitney Houston cover of Dolly Parton's I Will Always Love You and that obnoxiously overplayed Celine Dion Titanic single, My Heart Will Go On. I believe Barely Awake was asking why Hall & Oates had never fallen victim to the same fate as Whitney or Celine. I countered that while H&O were just as ubiquitous in the early-mid eighties as those other songs were in the 90s... H&O's success was spread across several different songs. There was no one "focal point" of a song to focus that collective revulsion at. We had Maneater, Kiss Is On My List, their cover of You've Lost that Lovin' Feelin', Sara Smile and several others. The funny thing with both the Whitney and Celine songs... After being played ad nauseum at the heights of their respective popularities, I don't recall the last time I ever heard either song on the radio. Whereas Hall & Oates still get played semi-regularly on classic rock stations (at least they do here in the US).

If a single today were to become as popular as either I Will Always Love You or My Heart Will Go On it would likely be even more popular but for an even shorter period of time.

YourZenMine said...

About the only Brian Adams song I ever had time for was 'Cuts Like A Knife' and even then, it reminded me of something else.

I was never much a singles fan either. I preferred the albums and my favourite tracks were never the singles. In some ways, I'm glad singles charts move so quickly these days. At least then I'm not subjected to the same crap song over and over again.


drewzepmeister said...

Ditto to what Your Z said...I prefer to getting the album instead than being subject to the singles. It's usually the deeper cuts that move me.

All that said, I did go through a Bryan Adams phase during the summer of '85. Bought two albums-"Cuts Like a Knife" and "Reckless". Then I saw him in concert that same summer. Haven't really listened to much him since.

Adrian said...

You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave...

Now, add to that the sax solo from Baker Street!

music obsessive said...

Perplexio - I'd rather listen to H&O any day of the week than the other two monstrosities you mention.

YourZ - good point. At least we are no longer subjected to 16-week number one singles. But I still hanker for the days when you could watch a single rise bit by bit to the top over several weeks - such fun.

Drew - 'Haven't really listened to much him since.' Says it all really. I've got 'Reckless' but haven't played it since 1985.

Adrian - and there'll be a few more on the list before I'm finished!!