A special music post for this Memorial Day. It has nothing to do with the holiday, but this seemed like a good day to squeeze it in.
Music writer Sean Ross tracks what he calls Lost Hits. Based on his self-created Lost Factor, he looks at old songs and sees how often they get played today. Songs that were popular years ago but rarely, if ever, get played these days become his Lost Hits. You can dig into his old posts if you want more background on his process.
Recently he took a countdown from May 14, 1983 and asked some of his readers to share if they knew of the songs when they were on the charts vs. if they learned about them later vs. if they never heard them.
This shit is right up my alley.
I was less interested in his results than my own. I did adjust the methodology a bit. I scrolled through the list just to see how many songs I could immediately recognize. I did pretty well: of that week’s top 40 songs, I remembered 37. Interestingly enough, the only three I could not recall, even after listening to them, were sequential in that week’s countdown. “So Wong,” by Patrick Simmons at #34; “I Couldn’t Say No,” by Robert Ellis Orral at #33; and Barry Manilow’s “Some Kind of Friend” at #32.
“So Wrong” is not a bad song at all, although generic enough that I see why I don’t remember it. “Some Kind of Friend” is forgettable, late-phase Manilow. And “I Couldn’t Say No” is a genuinely awful song.
For grins I shot this list to my two brothers-in-music who were also huge chart geeks when we were coming up. Ed in ATX knew 33 of the songs. That surprised me as he was living in England back in 1983 and I figured his American chart knowledge would be a little lacking. John in Lee’s Summit, who was arguably more chart-obsessed than me when we were middle schoolers, checked in at 32 songs. He said this chart came just before he really got into pop music and AT40.
Honestly I’m impressed they were in the same ballpark as my total, given they both have demanding careers that should have pushed a lot of this nonsense out of their brains. Meanwhile I listen to old AT40’s several times a week as I’m cooking, cleaning, and doing other stuff around the house and my brain is more focused on remembering kickball results than anything that generates revenue for an employer.
If you are interested, here is Ross’ original post with the list of songs of you want to take a gander.
When he sent me his results, John told me I needed to go back and watch Al Jarreau’s video for “Mornin’.” I was floored by it. It’s so shockingly bad that it’s great. There is A LOT much going on in it.