Chart Week: April 23, 1983
Song: “Whirly Girl” – Oxo
Chart Position: #28, 10th week on the chart. This was its chart peak.
We love to celebrate the one hit wonders that made a big impact on the charts and the culture. Toni Basil. Nena. Tommy Tutone. Artists of that nature that you still hear today.
Then there are the bands that are lost to time because their sole hit barely scratched its way onto the chart and failed to register in our generational memory.
This song is definitely one of those forgotten tracks.
I am writing about “Whirly Girl,” which I do not remember at all, because of the story Casey Kasem shared about its background. Casey told his audience that Oxo leader Ish “Angel” Ledesma wrote it about his wife’s adventures in the 1970s.
Before marrying Ish, Lori Ledesma had partied with some of the biggest bands of the ‘70s. “That can be fun, but also destructive,” Casey quoted Ledesma as saying. “I’m making fun of her lifestyle, but that’s ok. She made it through, and nothing happened to her.”
I’m sure he had his fun in the ‘70s, and he was publicly saying it was fine that she had her fun, too. Props to him for having an enlightened view about his wife’s past.
But then I checked out his lyrics and reconsidered my opinion.
She’s been with The Rolling Stones
On their tours
And in their homes
Won’t tell you where she’s bound
‘Cause she ain’t lost and don’t want to be found
Ok, fine so far. Dropping a Rolling Stones reference is solid. Let’s continue…
This girl just combs her hair
And takes her tea
She’s sitting in the latest styles
With open legs
And mysterious smiles
WAIT, WHAT???? OPEN LEGS?!?!
I think it’s one thing to say “Wow, my wife sure liked to party before we got together!” It’s another to write a line about her legs being open.
Again, maybe my focus should be on Ledesma’s comfort with his wife’s past. No double standards in their house.
I might have chosen a different way of talking about her history, though. One that didn’t imply she was easy, loose, or whatever the proper term for that era was.
Casey added that the song was meant to be called “Worldly Girl,” since Lori’s journeys had taken her around the world. But as that was too hard to sing, Ish adjusted it to be “Whirly Girl.”
The song? It’s a super annoying ear worm. I’m shocked I don’t recall it because it is the kind of track that I would hate but not be able to prevent from repeating in my head. It sounds like a cheesy, show tune knock off. Or maybe a poppier version of The Manhattan Transfer. The production sucks, too. Those tinny guitars drive me nuts. It sounds like it was made to be played on a single-speaker transistor radio and not one of the sweet Hi-Fis that Lori was no doubt listening to records on with Mick Jagger. 2/10
While this was Oxo’s only hit, Ish Ledesma himself was not a one-hit artist. He had reached #9 – and topped the R&B chart – in 1978 with his previous band Foxy on “Get Off.” Ledesma’s third band, Company B, hit #21 in 1987 with “Fascinated.”
Foxy also hit #21 with “Hot Number” in 1979. ↩