As promised last week, a video and playlist of older songs I’ve heard on SiriusXM over the past 15 days or so.

“Bye Bye Love” – The Cars.
I heard this song a week or so ago on one of the SiriusXM throwback stations. As I listened, and considered it’s greatness, I thought about how many hits The Cars had over the years. I bet most people, when asked to name their three favorite Cars songs, wouldn’t think of “Bye Bye Love.” Yet the handful of times I hear it each year, I think it might be their best song. That genius opening salvo, with the entire band coming in together. The central riff the song is built around. A terrific chorus. The dueling synthesizer and guitar solos. It’s a damn fine song that represents pretty much all that The Cars were about.

That got me thinking more, and I’d like to share the theory I came up with: The Cars are one of the most underrated bands of all-time. Go back and look at their list of hit singles. From 1978 to 1984, they had a pretty great run. A lot of very good songs that have stood the test of time and became even more popular over the years. Look at their debut, self-titled album. It’s freaking amazing.

But here’s the thing: since they were such an interesting blend of styles, they never defined a specific genre. They weren’t just a new wave band, or just a rock band, or just a power pop band, or just a synthesizer band, or just a guitar band, or just an art-rock band. They were all of those in equal measures. And because they straddled so many different sounds, they were never the best of any of them. Which means we think of Blondie and the Talking Heads and Tom Petty and Marshall Crenshaw and Duran Duran and probably half a dozen other bands before we think of them when counting up the best bands of their era.

The Cars were freaking great. The best of their era? No. But they should absolutely be in the conversation.

“(Every Time I Turn Around) Back In Love Again” – L.T.D. I’ve said many times one of the great gifts my parents gave me was a wide and varied base of musical influences. There was a little bit of everything in our house when I was growing up, including a healthy dose of soul/R&B. This was a jam a lot of my friends heard only on AT40. But it, and stuff from Earth, Wind, & Fire, the Commodores, etc. was in heavy rotation in our living room. Just a freaking great song, with Jeffrey Osborne throwing down some serious vocals.

“Play The Game Tonight” – Kansas. I joked last week about Kansas putting out a new album. I’m always a little surprised that I hear this song a few times each year. Most amazingly, I heard it several times during the warm-up music when I was still out covering high school sports. It’s not great, but it’s not terrible either.

“World Where You Live” – Crowded House. I’m a huge fan of CH, and of all of Neil Finn’s work over the years. Was glad this popped up on the First Wave station earlier this week. It’s not a CH song that gets much airplay. But it’s a reminder of how good the band was, and how amazing their first album was.

“I’m A Believer” – The Sheila Divine. Speaking of great debut albums, TSD’s The New Parade was one of the great “Should Have Been Huge But Was Ignored” albums of the early ‘00s. I just discovered that they put out a new album a year ago, after many years of doing other things. I’ll have to check it out.