Halloween Party, 1965 Belleville "We dressed as charcters from the Beatles' movie, "Help". This was in the basement/garage of our Crest Haven Drive house." (c) mary_m on flickr
[All songs from his solo career only.]
I know what you’re thinking; how can a song from an album that sold 30 million copies in the US alone be underrated? Well in an album with so many iconic songs, “Baby Be Mine” consistently gets overlooked. It is the best jam on that album, no doubt. I play it all the time at my DJ nights and people bop every time.
One of Michael’s most powerful and emotional songs. It flopped in America and was a moderate hit around the rest of the world. The HIStory period was not well-regarded by the press and most of the songs on the album were greatly overlooked, in my opinion. The melody to this song is beautiful and as usual, Michael’s vocals are transcendent and also very vulnerable. The “how does it feel” part gets me every time, man. Tame Impala recognized the genius and did a rad cover of this song earlier this year.
Michael always tried to do one rock song on each album and this is one of his most passionate and filled with sexual tension. Slash from Guns and Roses plays guitar.
Paul McCartney allegedly wrote this song for Michael but ended up recording it with Wings first. Michael’s version is far superior and is a nice mid-tempo breezy number on an album full of dance floor bangers.
Another song from this era that was big worldwide but barely made a blip in the US due to some controversial lyrics and bad press at the time. I really like all of MJ’s songs about his haterz and this song in particular always had a killer military inspired dance routine when he performed it live.
Some people may remember this song from the Captain EO 3D film at Disney World and it’s a jam!! As you can see in the link above, it was a killer song to perform and Michael really got into it. The vocals on this song are flawless.
A rare song where Michael sings in his lower register, giving it a very sultry energy. The Dangerous album had five Top 20 singles and this was one that was overshadowed by the media hoopla surrounding the others.
I love that Michael always tried to keep in touch with music trends, and for the Dangerous album he worked with new jack swing producer Teddy Riley to keep things “fresh.” This song is the prime example of MJ incorporating those modern r&b and hip hop elements into his music but still making it “his.”
This whole era was pretty much written off by the critics, but I think this song is a nod to MJ’s Off The Wall album but modernizing it for what was then the “TRL audience” of the early 2000s. And the chorus is catchy as hell.
I just think this is his greatest song ever and should be on ALL THE LISTS EVER.
What do you think are Michael’s most underrated songs?
Sure, Ricky Nelson, Frank Sinatra and Elvis predated Davy, and yeah, maybe Leif Garrett and David Cassidy had better hair, and Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake had more solo success, but Davy is still the best.
Davy Jones represented all that’s great about teen idols. Physically, Davy was all you could ever ask for in a fave rave. Small in stature as to not scare away the young girls, with the prerequisite Beatle haircut (or Prince Valiant do, depending on the year), a youthful face, big doe eyes, and a toothy grin. But he had something that other teen idols of the time didn’t have: a cheeky mischievous sparkle behind those eyes and a rebellious spirit.
“Now everyone has to be derived from somebody or something. Nothing new is born without parents. Poets stand on the shoulders of earlier poets and musicians, from the long-hair classicists to the long-hair popists, are also links in a chain of influence”
This is one of the best responses I’ve read about the concept of “manufactured” music being inferior to “real music” (what is real music and who decides, I wonder).
A lot of bands are criticized for being manufactured now, but the Monkees got much of the same critique when they came out. I’ve never understood who it was that decided that in order for music to be good and valued it had to completely break from the norms of what went before, so it’s nice to see a music critic in that era say the same thing.
I believe that nostalgia is just as powerful as something totally new. The Monkees obviously borrowed a lot from the Beatles and other successful British Invasion bands, but they also had an undefinable something that made them seem new and fresh, and stand out. That X-Factor, if you will.
A lot of great bands used nostalgia and derivative imagery and sounds in the development of their music and did it with 100% full intent and purpose.
On February 9, 1964: More than 73 million people watched Davy Jones and the cast of Oliver! on the Ed Sullivan Show. The same show also featured the American TV debut of a band called the Beatles. Maybe you’ve heard of them.
Davy recalled: “I was performing a song from Oliver! on The Ed Sullivan Show when the Beatles made their American debut. I saw this amazing reaction and I thought “I want a bit of this- this is good.” I remember getting into the lift with Ringo Starr. I was always a cheeky little guy. He had a cold at the time and I remember saying, “Let me blow your nose for you, I’m closer than you are.” Ringo said, “I know.”
AOR program directors back then were almost always white men who thought their listeners wanted a radio rotation with a similar demographic, and generally played music by mostly white male artists in the rock n roll vein. They would also seemingly play “Stairway to Heaven” on the hour for no real reason. And were obsessed with the band Boston.
MTV was founded by people who previously worked at top AOR radio stations which is why it was a rock oriented TV station AT FIRST, though once they realized that hardly any classic rock bands had music videos, they were forced to play videos by unknown British art bands who wore makeup and weird outfits to fill the 24 hours in a day.
Which is why new wave/new romantic/synthpop took over in the 80s and things got interesting again.
By 1983 MTV was basically forced into playing music by black artists, mainly because of Michael Jackson and CBS Records. Until then they didn’t play any black music unless it was jazz or rock oriented.
Classic rock radio has gotten slightly better, I occasionally will hear new wave stuff like Blondie, The Pretenders, and Elvis Costello, sometimes the Clash. Never anything with synthesizers unless it’s in the prog-rock vein or maybe “Owner of a Lonely Heart”
Current classic rock radio stations mirror these narrow-minded attitudes of only grouping certain bands in the classic rock genre, leaving out all bands who are synth based, glam rock, funk based, or dance oriented, and that’s fine and dandy.
I think a lot of why these bands [the New York Dolls, Roxy Music, Slade, Sweet, Adam Ant, Duran Duran, Gary Numan, Ultravox, Japan, Spandau Ballet, Simple Minds, and T Rex] aren’t allowed in the classic rock radio world is because the male program directions were not comfortable with the makeup and the femme qualities of many of these musicians, but maybe that’s just me.
We have to remember that even someone like Bowie didn’t become a mega-star in the US until his 1983 album Let’s Dance [his only real ‘hit’ in America in the 70s was “Fame”, which was a disco track basically]. His 70s output was still considered fairly fringe in America. Now obviously, classic rock radio plays Bowie a lot, but I think at a certain point in the 80s, he became so big they kind of had to. But Bowie was not considered classic rock in the 70s in America AT ALL.
Darby Crash co-founded the influential LA punk band the Germs with Pat Smear. He died in December 1980.
From an interview with Darby Crash biographer Brendan Mullen
Question: What do you know about Darby’s trip to England and his subsequent obsession with Adam & The Ants? Who did Darby hang out with in England?
Mullen: He went to England for a month or so in early summer of 1980 with a woman named Amber, his latest patron, a woman he lived with for a while who picked up the tab for everything. They stayed with Amber’s friend Jordan who was a key designer-stylist in the classic Britpunk fashion look. According to Amber, Darby asked Jordan to give him what people called the “Mohawk” hairdo, although “Mohican” was actually the correct name, something Darby kept pointing out, but to no avail. Mohawk stuck in the vernacular. Mohican didn’t. Still is that way. Darby’s role model for the Big Make-Over-in-London was clearly Adam Ant and his Antpeople entourage of post-punk fashion casualties.
Here are some photos of Darby Crash sporting his Adam Ant inspired getups and his influential Mohawk haircut:
Adam Ant in 1980