Pop music, especially in the modern rock era (which I define as roughly 1979 to 1999), has a lot of Christmas songs in its catalog. A lot. A whole lot. In fact, way too many.
Like Christmas itself throughout the same era, pop and rock bands have cashed in over the past couple of decades, using Christmas as a reason to offer up specific product. But, no one has really created big hits for other holidays since Bobby “Boris” Picket staked his claim on Halloween in 1962.
Enter Ray Davies. The first time I heard “Thanksgiving Day” in 2005, I could just picture Ray telling his friends that the song isn’t just a Thanksgiving song, but more importantly it’s NOT another Christmas song. After all, Ray and his band The Kinks already conquered the Christmas genre with 1977’s “Father Christmas”!
Have a listen below to Ray perfroming this on the old Conan show in 2005:
My Grandmother once told me the best year for music is, or was, whatever year you turned fourteen years old. She was not an expert on modern popular music or entertainment media or targeted market research. But she did know a lot about people (especially kids!).
I thought about this theory often while I was working in music promotion and radio programming. It seemed to be true across generations and decades for all demographics.
Recently I shared this notion with my colleague Dave Whalen, who is on my short list of smart dudes. Dave concurred with Grandma’s “Age 14” theory, so I’m pretty much now calling it law: The greatest year for music was whatever year you turned fourteen.
So, for me, the greatest year for music was 1982.
That’s right, 1982: The Crossroads between classic rock, pop, new wave, punk, and heavy metal. But remember, that’s just for me…your experience will vary…
Not About Michael Jackson
A quick note here – 1982 brought us the best-selling album of all time, Thriller. However, I am not, nor was I ever, a fan. The only part of it in which I find any value is the Eddie Van Halen guitar solo in Beat It (oh, and the Vincent Price voice-over bit in Thriller). But if you really want to catch some great Eddie work from ’82, see the Diver Down album on the list below.
The video music channel launched in August 1 1981, but it was 1982 where the number of homes in the US (including mine) with access to MTV exploded. And then, everything changed!
The best way to adequately explain how BIG 1982 was to Generation X is to list some of the albums of the year that were huge sellers, influential, or important milestones. See if you agree with me about 1982 and/or the “Age 14” rule…
Peter Gabriel – Security
The Clash – Combat Rock
XTC – English Settlement
The Jam – The Gift
Talking Heads – The Name of the Band Is…
Asia – Asia
Genesis – Three Sides Live
Men At Work – Business As Usual
Frank Zappa – Ship Arriving Too Late To Save the Drowning Witch
Sonic Youth – Sonic Youth
Split Enz – Time and Tide
Squeeze – Sweets From a Stranger
Madness – Complete Madness
INXS – Shabooh Soobah
The Fixx – Shuttered Room
Devo – Oh, No!
Men Without Hats – Rhythm of Youth
Thomas Dolby – Golden Age of Wireless
The Motels – All Four One
Dexys Midnight Runners – Too-Rye-Ay
Flock of Seagulls – Flock of Seagulls
Duran Duran – Rio
Go-Go’s – Vacation
Pat Benatar – Get Nervous
Adam Ant – Friend or Foe
Robert Plant – Pictures at Eleven
Pete Townsend – All The Best Cowboys
The Who – It’s Hard
The Beatles – Reel Music
Toto – IV
John Cougar – American Fool
Tom Petty – Long After Dark
Queen – Hot Space
Kansas – Vinyl Confessions
Rolling Stones – Still Life
Crosby Still & Nash – Daylight Again
Steve Miller – Abracadabra
Golden Earing – Cut
Bruce Springsteen – Nebraska
Phil Collins – Hello, I Must Be Going
Led Zeppelin – Coda
Scorpions – Blackout
Iron Maiden – Number of the Beast
Rainbow – Straight Between the Eyes
Ozzy Osbourne – Speak of the Devil
Sammy Hagar – 3 Lock Box
Van Halen – Diver Down
What great albums are missing on this list? Let me know via comments!
Who ruled the radio airwaves, record charts and most importantly, video music channel programming of 1986? Genesis? Phil Collins? Bon Jovi? Madonna? How about The Monkees!
Somewhere between audio and video in 1986, there was a huge revival of The Monkees. The comeback was as planned, pre-packaged and targeted as the original Monkees show. And, our friends at MTV are to thank!
This wasn’t geared toward the Boomers who first made “The Pre-Fab Four” one of the top ten acts in the 1960’s. This was targeted at the Generation X’ers who grew up watching the Monkees as a syndicated show (always in the summertime here in Chicago!) in the 1970s and early 1980s. It was brilliant programming move. The kitsch of the Monkees, campy visual comedy, and most of all, pre-made music videos (typically 2 per 30 minute episode) were a perfect match for The MTV Generation.
It started with a series of Monkees Marathons in early 1986 on MTV. The show ran and ran and ran that spring.
The popularity of these reruns of reruns resulted lots of records and tapes from Rhino’s catalog being sold. This lead to a new greatest hits release with a new song (“That Was Then, This Is Now”), a tour, and a Christmas video (of which is dreadfully hard to a good copy!). Those enterprises included a brief reunion with Mike Nesmith, The Monkee who didn’t really need the money.
Late ‘86 brought a new album of all new material (“Pool It”) which lead to 2 decades of on again / off again reunions, recording and tours. These reunions and comeback seem to now be over with through 2012 and the passing of Davy Jones. Though his death itself lead to a jump in sales of a recent Greatest Hits album on iTunes and Amazon and a third generation of Monkeemania!
Holiday reruns already? Not really…I just wanted to republish this post from last year for a quick break from discussing Social Media Marketing and PR this week. Let’s talk tunes!
Here’s my list of the best Christmas songs of the Modern Rock Era, which I’m defining as roughly the mid- 1970s through the early 2000s. You will find no Perry Como, Andy Williams, or Bing Crosby here (wait, we do have some Crosby….see #2…) What are your favorites to add?
In Heavy Rotation this week on my iPod, phone, CD player, or turntable while writing this blog:
Pearl Jam – Ten
Twenty years ago this week…what!?!?! Twenty years? Yes, on March 27, 1991, Pearl Jam began recording their Epic debut, Ten. While Nirvana’s Nevermind was first, I’ve always preferred PJ’s Ten as a much more complete, and overall better album. Give it a listen again you may find that the layered sounds give an even darker feel than you may have remembered. I guess that’s what 20 years of light hip-hop and shiny happy alternative-so-called-rock has done to our popular music palate.
For the holidays, here’s a change from discussing Social Media Marketing and PR this week. Let’s talk tunes!
Here’s my list of the best Christmas songs of the Modern Rock Era, which I’m defining as roughly the mid- 1970s through the early 2000s. You will find no Perry Como, Andy Williams, or Bing Crosby here (wait, we do have some Crosby….see #2…) I would love to hear your thoughts on these and others!
6. Ramones – “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight)” (2001) 5. Pretenders – “2000 Miles” (1983) 4. The Kinks – “Father Christmas” (1977) 3. Band Aid – “Do The Know It’s Christmas” (1984) 2. David Bowie and Bing Crosby – “Little Drummer Boy / Peace On Earth” (Recorded / Originally Broadcast 1977; Released 1982) 1. The Pogues with Kirsty MacColl – “Fairytale of New York” (1987)