Kelly Clarkson, Fleetwood Mac and the “Moment Of Truth” Single

Here’s the thing about Kelly Clarkson’s already much-maligned “Never Again”: It wasn’t such a bad idea in theory. Over the past 2-1/2 years, the staccato bounce of “Since U Been Gone” had been copied by scores of different acts–even Paris Hilton. So why not come back and fill that long-vacant “woman who rocks, but melodically” slot? Why not be this generation’s Pat Benatar or Alanis Morissette?

Sometimes a mediocre “Moment of Truth” single will become a hit anyway because of an act’s previously established momentum, but it wasn’t hard to tell in retrospect that they weren’t real hits.

If “Never Again” had only delivered on any of that, it would have done exactly what a first single from a follow-up project is supposed to do: move the artist forward and prove that the last hit album wasn’t a fluke. An act’s “Moment of Truth” single can be the lead-off single from their sophomore album, or just the opener from the next album after an act gains superstar status. Guess right and it cements the legend. Guess wrong and it’s not inconceivable that you might get another chance–Nelly Furtado’s “Promiscuous” made everybody forget about “Powerless (Say What You Want)”–but it’s a lot harder to recover your momentum.
For some artists, the “Moment of Truth” single is seemingly effortless: Billy Joel’s “My Life,” the Bee Gees’ “You Should Be Dancing,” Bryan Adams’ “Run to You,” Chic’s “Le Freak,” Van Halen’s “Dance the Night Away,” Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long (All Night),” Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot.” All served notice that their artists weren’t going anywhere and, in fact, were even more confident than they had been on their breakthrough project.
Just as often, however, the “Moment of Truth” record becomes one in a litany of songs remembered only by chart junkies. Remember Cameo’s “You Make Me Work” (a “Word Up” soundalike)? REO Speedwagon’s “Keep The Fire Burning”? Gerry Rafferty’s “The Royal Mile”? Live’s “Lakini’s Juice”? The Spin Doctors’ “Cleopatra’s Cat”? Boz Scaggs’ “Hard Times” (a low point after “Lowdown”)?
Sometimes a mediocre “Moment of Truth” single will become a hit anyway because of an act’s previously established momentum, but it wasn’t hard to tell in retrospect that “Praying For Time” by George Michael, “Rush Rush” by Paula Abdul, or “Step By Step” by New Kids On The Block weren’t real hits.
Sometimes a wimpy “Moment of Truth” single will become a hit, but will destroy an act’s cool credentials and ultimately its chart momentum in the process. Think of Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors,” Huey Lewis & the News’ “Stuck With You,” Debbie Gibson’s “Lost in Your Eyes,” or Peter Frampton’s “I’m In You.” They were all big radio records at the time, but they somehow tarnished their acts’ luster to the point where they were no longer superstars by the time the first single from the next album dropped.
Sometimes the “Moment of Truth” single becomes a long-forgotten footnote to the rest of the project. Def Leppard’s “Women” was forgiven quickly because the next three singles from “Hysteria” were “Animal,” “Hysteria,” and then “Pour Some Sugar On Me.” (Then again, they never quite recovered from the next album’s kickoff single, “Let’s Get Rocked.”) Most folks saw something wrong with R. Kelly’s “Sex Me” but not with a little “Bump N’ Grind” immediately afterwards. Beyonce’s “Deja vu” and “Ring The Alarm” didn’t kill the karma for “Irreplaceable.” Usher dealt with the disappointing reaction to “Pop Ya’ Collar” by just pushing the album back and coming back with “You Remind Me” as the “real” first single later. And even though it was a hit, many of us wish that Michael Jackson’s “The Girl Is Mine” would have given way to “Billie Jean” a little more quickly.
Sometimes the “Moment of Truth” single was a decent enough record that met all the qualifications for a follow-up kick-off and still never gelled. Think of the B-52′s “Good Stuff,” Coldplay’s “Speed of Sound,” or Pink’s “Trouble.” All uptempo. All in character, yet not exactly like what had preceded them. Ultimately, however, not hits. And in the late ’80s, when pop music was becoming more rhythmic, a number of Rock acts released really good follow-ups that just didn’t sound right on the radio at that moment. U2′s “Desire” has endured for me as a record, but it wasn’t the follow-up to “The Joshua Tree” that radio was hoping for.
The concept of a kickoff single for a sophomore project didn’t really exist in the ’60s and even early ’70s when albums routinely came out only after a hit single or two (or more) from an act. The Supremes’ “Stop! In The Name Of Love” was a good example of an act delivering on its previous promise, but it came out four months or so ahead of “More Hits by the Supremes.” And it would be hard to say even what the sophomore project for the Beatles was–the group had multiple hits on multiple labels in the early wave of Beatlemania; the next single, “Can’t Buy Me Love,” came out without an album attached, “The Beatles’ Second Album” was made up of leftover tracks and didn’t really have a single, and the next album was the “A Hard Day’s Night” soundtrack.
The “Moment Of Truth” single is always toughest to negotiate for an act that the industry is cynical about in the first place. Sometimes the single becomes fatally self-conscious as a result (see Hammer’s “2 Legit 2 Quit”). Tiffany and Hanson both tried to come back with first singles that would prove they were serious artists (“All This Time” and “This Time Around” respectively) and failed to win over either previous fans or detractors. So it’s pretty significant that Backstreet Boys (“I Want It That Way”), ‘N-Sync (“Bye Bye Bye”) and Britney Spears (“Oops…I Did It Again”) all came through their “Moment of Truth” so strongly. But it’s different when you’re Kelly Clarkson and the industry wants you to come out with another great radio record.
Usually, there’s no reason not let an audience at least hear the “Moment of Truth” single and make up their mind. “Never Again” was still an event record–if not a hit–and ultimately did well enough on WHTZ (Z100) New York to hang around a few weeks after it had run out of steam nationally. It’s rare that the first single from a sophomore project turns out to be, say, “Spice Up Your Life” by Spice Girls, which many Top 40 PDs couldn’t bring themselves to put on the radio for even a few weeks.
Some great, and not so great, “Moment of Truth” singles through pop music history:

  • 1977 – Fleetwood Mac, “Go Your Own Way”–”Rumors’” first single was such a departure from the previous “Fleetwood Mac” album that not everybody liked it at first. I remember being in the office of one well-known programmer right after it came out. “How is it?” I asked. “It’s just okay,” he said. “They’re going to be a one-album act.” Of course, they were no such thing and “Go Your Own Way” endures to this day.
  • 1979 – Fleetwood Mac, “Tusk”–This one, on the other hand, was a stretch too far, between its marching band interlude and its seeming formlessness. I came to really love it. Most didn’t. And it was no accident that the next kickoff single, “Hold Me,” was much more of a crowd pleaser.
  • 1980 – Journey, “Any Way You Want It”–After “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’” it wasn’t hard to predict that they would have another hit. It was more the decision to drop the prog rock thing and come back as Cheap Trick that was remarkable. Then again, new wave made for a lot of surprising change-ups in 1980 (e.g., Billy Joel, Pat Benatar, and even Jackson Browne).
  • 1984 – Prince, “When Doves Cry”–Okay, it was actually his fifth album, so you knew he could deliver by this point, but it was the first album after he’d attained pop stardom with “Little Red Corvette.” “When Doves Cry” could have scared listeners–a longish single on a downer subject. Instead, it left the audience stunned in the right way and propelled him to “Purple Rain” superstardom.
  • 1984 – Madonna, “Like a Virgin”–The beginning of Madonna-mania. Not only proved that she could do it again, but helped create her persona.
  • 1987 – Bruce Springsteen, “Brilliant Disguise”–Still a daring and really good record to me, but not a “Born in the U.S.A.”-type crowd-pleaser and, as such, the end of his status as a Top 40 automatic. And, as with U2, the scene was changing anyway, so even another “Dancing In The Dark” might not have done it.
  • 1988 – Janet Jackson, “Miss You Much” – Like Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” the year before, a good example of a solid hit that kept the momentum going, paved the way for other hits on the same project, but seems like a throwaway now.
  • 1990 – Garth Brooks, “Friends In Low Places”–Particularly notable because everybody thought “The Dance,” the previous single from his first album, was going to be his “career record.”
  • 1991 – Guns ‘N’ Roses, “You Could Be Mine”–Technically, they’d already had a follow-up hit to “Appetite For Destruction” with “Patience” from the bridge project, “G’N’R Lies.” And if there had been another “Sweet Child Of Mine” on either of the “Use Your Illusion” albums, they could have passed this off as just an interim soundtrack single, not the first taste of either album. Came to sound OK to me eventually, but no “Paradise City.”
  • 1991 – Bonnie Raitt, “Something To Talk About”–The previous album, “Nick Of Time,” put her on the map, but not on the radio. This was exactly what she should have done next–the most commercial possible distillation of her talents, but a quality song and absolutely in character.
  • 1991 – Mariah Carey, “Emotions”–Now it just feels like one of her many hits from that era, but it was the first of many times she would “interpolate” a previous R&B hit (uncredited, in this case) as her kickoff single. This tribute to the Emotions’ “Best Of My Love” felt very fresh and surprising at the time.
  • 1995 – Green Day, “Geek Stink Breath”–We saw a lot of this in the ’90s: the “Moment of Truth” single as an act of self-sabotage by Alternative acts who wanted to make sure they stayed Alternative. Top 40 radio had already gamely played the punky “She” and “J.A.R.,” just to have some kind of follow-up to “When I Come Around.” This was when the goodwill ran out. Ironically, it was the even less compromising “Brain Stew/Jaded” that became the enduring song from “Insomniac” (and still gets some Top 40 airplay today).
  • 1996 – Alanis Morissette, “Thank U”–It wasn’t “You Oughta Know” but it would have been acceptable if there PDs hadn’t come to the immediate realization that it was the best thing on the album.
  • 2002 – Christina Aguilera, “Dirrty”–Remember what was happening at the time: pop music was getting more extreme and PDs were really depending on Christina to come up with something they could play in between Hip-hop and Linkin Park. Instead, they got rapper Redman and a video that might as well have been 2 Live Crew from the way most people talked about it. The irony is that after “Beautiful” became an undeniable hit, many of the same stations that were disappointed with “Dirrty” brought it back and got a year’s use out of it as a quasi-current.
  • 2004 – Gwen Stefani, “What You Waiting For”–I didn’t like No Doubt’s “Hey Baby” on first listen, either. So it was hard to declare this or even last year’s “Wind It Up” a miscalculation right away. When “Waiting” midcharted, it wasn’t immediately clear afterward that “Rich Girl” would be the hit it was. But once that single and “Hollaback Girl” cemented her pop stardom, it was easier for her to follow-up “Wind It Up” with “The Sweet Escape” with minimal PD blowback.
  • 2006 – Justin Timberlake, “SexyBack”–Okay, think back to what you really thought about it on the first listen. It sounded wrong, somehow. And a year later, I’ve still met only one person who admits to actually liking it. Ultimately, though, it was the perfect “Moment of Truth” single–a record that moved both its artist and the sonics of pop music forward, not unlike “When Doves Cry.”
  • 2007 – Maroon 5, “Makes Me Wonder”–Exactly the energy and confidence that you want to hear in a first single from a sophomore project. Hard to tell at this writing whether it’s a No. 1 single at Top 40 or only a Top 5 record, but given their one-time potential to be the next Spin Doctors (a few great rock hits at a time when Top 40 really needed them, then nothing), it has helped them past the sophomore jinx.

Now let’s hear about the first singles from follow-up projects that you thought either made or unmade an act.

19 replies
  1. Ron Gerber
    Ron Gerber says:

    Excellent article! I enjoyed this one immensely.
    Some more disappointing “Moment Of Truth” singles, as I skim the spines of my collection. Discuss amongst yourselves…
    THAT WAS THEN BUT THIS IS NOW – ABC
    BEAUTIFUL LIFE – Ace Of Base
    CRY FOR HELP – Rick Astley
    HUMPIN’ AROUND – Bobby Brown
    DO YOU WANNA GET FUNKY – C&C Music Factory
    VOYEUR – Kim Carnes
    25 OR 6 TO 4 – Chicago (from Chicago 18)
    ALL RIGHT – Christopher Cross
    BETTER BE HOME SOON – Crowded House
    CALL IT POISON – Escape Club
    WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW – Expose
    STEAM – Peter Gabriel
    INVISIBLE TOUCH – Genesis
    TUCKER’S TOWN – Hootie and the Blowfish
    HANDS – Jewel
    BABY TALKS DIRTY – The Knack
    SIMPLY IRRESISTIBLE – Robert Palmer
    PRAYER FOR THE DYING – Seal
    CHANGE – Lisa Stansfield
    PRAYING TO A NEW GOD – Wang Chung
    LOVE WILL FIND A WAY – Yes
    TRAFFIC AND WEATHER (not even sure what first single from 2007 album was) – Fountains Of Wayne

    Reply
  2. Hank
    Hank says:

    “My Iron Lung” by Radiohead certainly showed that the band wasn’t going to be an easy radio band and it had some of that response/resentment to the first big single. Artistically, the song and its EP certainly led the way to OK Computer, but I’m sure people were looking for something closer to “Creep 2.”

    Reply
  3. Eric Johnson
    Eric Johnson says:

    The whole Kelly saga is very disappointing and kind of sad�from her issues with Clive Davis, he obvious weight gain, firing her manager, dumping the tour due to poor ticket sales.
    It is amazing how quickly things can change in a year. I have genuine concern for her as a person�she must feel the weight of the world on her shoulders�-hard for us to make sense of it all-�because it would seem to us that she should be on top of the world. It�s a shame that she is so unhappy and that unhappiness seems to be trashing her career.
    Oddly enough, �Never Again� has been on the top 10 of iTunes for many weeks now, so on SoJO 1049 we continue to spin it�at night only, but I don�t see it making on our air for much longer.
    Like I said, sad.
    Eric Johnson
    New Jersey 101.5/SoJo 104.9

    Reply
  4. Sean Ross
    Sean Ross says:

    A great list of (mostly) career-halters, immediate or otherwise, here. A few notes though: “Tucker’s Town” actually came after Hootie’s “Old Man & Me (When I Get To Heaven),” a terrific example of a band going from hot to not in just one song.
    Peter Gabriel’s “Steam” actually came out after the much more challenging “Digging In The Dirt”–an attempt to give radio a more “Sledgehammer”-like single, after the dirge-like first try(about the singer’s therapy sessions) didn’t catch on.
    And “Invisible Touch” was a big hit at the time, upstaged though it was by other songs on the album like “In Too Deep” and “Throwing It All Away.” It wasn’t until “No Son Of Mine” in ’92 and Phil’s solo “Both Sides Of The Story” in ’93 that the Genesis machine finally ran out of “Steam” (perhaps because Gabriel had taken it with him).

    Reply
  5. Daniel Shywaoub
    Daniel Shywaoub says:

    “Rush Rush”? Are you looney? It may not be gigantic now, but it did get 37 plays this past week. I remember it as one of the last songs that was “out of the box” with over 200 adds; 222, if I recall correctly. This was before R&R garrotted all the small markets, and before many CHRs had flipped to Hot AC. Still amazing that trades once had that many reporters! (And don’t anybody bother to argue with me about the garbage rationales about dropping them; it’d’ve just been “the right thing to do” (huh?) to keep them all). Anyway, my local AC plays it quite a bit, and “Blowing Kisses In The Wind” was a hit too (#1 and #2, respectively); but admittedly, even with the album’s other three singles making Top 10 too, THOSE three were not hits.
    I was gonna argue with you about “All This Time”, but it didn’t get played any last week; and as I now recall, it only made Top 10 based on sales per the Hot 100. MCA singles sales always, of course, outstripped the airplay charts.
    As for Ron, I’d have to disagree with “Cry For Help”, “Humpin’ Around”, “Invisible Touch”, and “Simply Irresistible”, and maybe “All Right” and “Prayer For The Dying”, though of course the latter got crushed (with the help of Batman) by “Kiss From A Rose”. As for my own personal shuffle, I love “25 Or 6 To 4 (’85)”, “Call It Poison”, “Steam”, “Change”, and “Love Will Find A Way”. And “Tucker’s Town” too, though I’m not sure it qualifies for this story, since “Old Man And Me” was the lead single.
    Here’s a few more (with my quality grade following)
    SKELETONS – Stevie Wonder A
    ONE AND ONLY MAN – Steve Winwood A-
    SHE WANTS TO DANCE WITH ME – Rick Astley B-
    THE SWEETEST DAYS – Vanessa Williams B
    YOU WON’T SEE ME CRY – Wilson Phillips A-
    SLEEPWALKER – The Wallflowers A-
    THE ITCH – Vitaman C B-
    I’M STILL HERE – Vertical Horizon B
    I’M GONNA GETCHA GOOD – Shania Twain D-
    MISERY – Soul Asylum A-
    CHANGE YOUR MIND – Sister Hazel B+
    SOMETHING GOT ME STARTED – Simply Red A
    GET A LIFE – Soul II Soul B
    PERFECT – The Smashing Pumpkins (pop followup to 1979) A-
    BITE YOUR TONGUE – Duncan Sheik B-
    THESE DAYS – Jennifer Paige B
    YOU BETTER WAIT – Steve Perry B-
    BACK ON HOLIDAY – Robbie Nevil A
    SIMPLE KIND OF LIFE – No Doubt B+
    GOOD FRIEND – Nine Days A
    DOMINO DANCING – Pet Shop Boys A
    ONE MORE TIME – Real McCoy C-
    SONG INSTEAD OF A KISS – Alanna Myles A
    SLOW – Kylie Minogue B+
    LOVE THY WILL BE DONE – Martika B
    NOBODY’S PERFECT – Mike and The Mechanics B+
    LITTLE JACKIE WANTS TO BE A STAR – Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam B
    TLC – Linear C+
    COME BACK – Londonbeat D+
    YOU LIED TO ME – Cathy Dennis C
    WRONG IMPRESSION – Natalie Imbruglia B+

    Reply
  6. Stephen Hill
    Stephen Hill says:

    The Good News: I’ll Make Love to You-BoyzIIMen
    End of the Road made them huge, but it wasn’t (originally) on their first CD. This song spent an enormous amount of time at #1. Led by this single, they, to this day, are the only act to sell over 9 million of their first CD…and sell MORE than that on their second CD.
    The Bad News: The next CDs Four Seasons of Love. eeek.

    Reply
  7. William Alexander
    William Alexander says:

    How about…”Ease My Mind” by Arrested Development. This was a big disappointment after “Tennessee”, “Mr. Wendal”, etc. An OK song, but not much going for it.
    Also, does anyone remember “I Do” by J.Geils Band? Another disappointment after the “Freeze-Frame” hits, although this may have had more to do with Peter Wolf being on his way out, and the record company struggling to find a single from a live album. There could be a whole other topic on failed singles after a popular lead singer departs…what about “Concealed Weapons” by the already mentioned J.Geils or “Congo” by Genesis?

    Reply
  8. Erik Pettersen
    Erik Pettersen says:

    Great article and response postings. Yes, the artist could lack creative imagination in their “moment of truth” (a la The Knack or Ace of Base), try to go too far outside of their original element that had brought them success(eg. Tiffany or Rick Astley), allow the initial momentum to create hubris (eg. Expose using Gioia Bruno instead of the far superior Jeanette Jurado as the vocalist on the comeback single), wait too long for a follow-up (Peter Gabriel), or just flat-out fail (Wang Chung, Mr. Mister, Vanilla Ice, or Hootie) which can all lead to potential career demise.
    However, timing is a huge factor here in this element as well. What if you have a watershed year that takes place right before or even during the release of the “moment of truth” album (ie. 1980, 1992, or 1996) in which the pop music landscape is altered? For example in 1992, Wilson Phillips, Roxette, Paula Abdul, Phil Collins, Cathy Dennis, Lisa Stansfield, the B-52′s, Cher, and MC Hammer all jumped the shark due to new trends as much as “moment of truth” singles. Yes, Paula Abdul’s “Rush, Rush” was a stinker, but what really did her in was the later “Will you marry me boy?” from the same album. Yes, “2 Legit 2 Quit” was nothing to write home about, but wasn’t “Don’t Pass Me By” (from the same album) the real death kneel for Hammer? After the arrival of New Wave in 1980, the 1970′s officially ended (who really wanted to listen to Sister Sledge’s 1981 album at this point?). After the emergence of grunge and gangsta rap in 1992, the 1980′s officially ended. After the macarena/boy band/swing dance craze arrived in 1996, the grunge/alternative wing of the 90′s was over. My point being that artists are not always to blame for a “moment of truth” not working out if they happen to hit it big on the end of a trend.

    Reply
  9. Marcus Chapman
    Marcus Chapman says:

    Here’s one from each of the past 4 decades:
    70s: “Give It What You Got” by BT Express. Not a bad song, but not on the level of anything on the classic “Do It Til You’re Satisfied” album. The more adventurous flip side, “Peace Pipe” is the better song and should’ve been the lead single from their 2nd album. They never really got back on track.
    80s: “I’m That Type of Guy” by LL Cool J. I liked it, but most hip-hop fans didn’t think much of it. Russell Simmons later said that the second single “Big Ole Butt” should’ve been the first single. It’s the only song from the “Walking With a Panther” album that holds up to LL’s other hits.
    90s: “Trippin” by Total. How this single went gold is beyond me. Has anyone played this since 1998? The group disbanded after this album, nuff said.
    2000s: “Mezmerize” By Ja Rule featuring Ashanti. Many think 50 Cent ended Ja Rule’s hit streak, but this song was the real culprit. A ridiculous attempt to recapture the magic of “Always On Time” and the “Grease” inspired video only made things worse. This was the only song they performed at that year’s NFC Championship Game in Philadelphia. Neither Ja Rule or the Eagles have ever recovered.
    BONUS: Ashanti “Rock With You (Aww Baby)” Forgive me if I have the title wrong, but who cares? This may be the most annoying song of the decade thus far. Her next single “Rain” was a hit, but it couldn’t repair the damage done by “Aww Baby”. That song, and the Soul Train “Aretha Franklin Award” for best female entertainer of the year (that many didn’t think she deserved), pretty much ended it for her.
    MC

    Reply
  10. Ron Gerber
    Ron Gerber says:

    Sean – Good comments! I completely forgot about “Digging In The Dirt,” just like most people forgot about the whole “Us” album. (“Up”? “Us”? Can’t remember; I lost interest after “So”.)
    I was so inspired by your article that I did a whole 90-minute show of these unfortunate Moment Of Truth singles, and all without even mentioning the second Milli Vanilli album, prophetically called “Moment Of Truth” in some countries.
    Here’s a link – http://www.archive.org/details.php?identifier=cftp-2007-06-15
    Keep up the good work!
    Ron G

    Reply
  11. KJ Carson
    KJ Carson says:

    Fun Subject…it’s like hearing the breaks schreetch! I remember Run DMC’s “Pause” as one of those “tire burners”!
    As always, great stuff Sean!
    KJ

    Reply
  12. Jeff Winfield
    Jeff Winfield says:

    Sean,
    Great article! In regard to Kelly Clarkson, I have to wonder if the issues with Clive Davis have much more to do with killing this record on the chart than the actual song (per Eric’s comments on Never Again being in the Top 10 on I-Tunes).

    Reply
  13. John Rashotte
    John Rashotte says:

    If you’re from Canada “You Oughta Know” was Alanis’s “moment of truth” single. She had a huge pop record that went gold here in the early 90′s before Jagged Little Pill.
    Very good article.

    Reply
  14. Richard
    Richard says:

    Actually, Gerry Rafferty’s moment of truth song would be “Days Gone Down” off the Night Owl album rather than the “Royal Mile” off Snakes and Ladders, if you’re looking for the follow-up to City to City.

    Reply
  15. Gilbert Neal
    Gilbert Neal says:

    Don’t forget Blue Jean – Bowie. This qualifies as it is the first single after his first flush of megastardom on a commercial level.
    Ballad of You Me and Pooneil – Jefferson Airplane

    Reply
  16. Darryl T
    Darryl T says:

    Styx’ “Mr. Roboto” was a strange follow-up to the successful Paradise Theatre. They fortunately held on with a minor second hit “Don’t Let It End.” Otherwise, the nail was hit a bit further in the coffin.
    Are we purposefully leaving out Tone Loc’s “Funky Westside” from 1991′s Cool Hand Loc?
    Ron, I forgot how much “Baby Talks Dirty” sounds like a re-write of “My Sharona.”

    Reply
  17. Chris
    Chris says:

    Actually I think Rick Astley’s “Moment of Truth” single was “She Wants to Dance With Me” in late ’88/early ’89. Pleasant enough song, and it did make top 10, but then came “Giving Up On Love” which barely made top 40 and “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” which was a total flop. I like “Cry For Help” but I think the song’s hit status had largely to do with Adult Contemporary radio picking up on it and the fact that it was quite different from most of what he’d done previously.
    As for Cyndi Lauper, I think radio wanted her to stay in “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” mode and turned its back on her when she didn’t. I also think that from “True Colors” onward, she continued to present herself as “quirky” but at the same time she wasn’t really making fun, upbeat or instantly catchy or poppy music any more. In a way I kind of see the same thing going on with Kelly Clarkson now as happened then with Cyndi – as the music becomes darker and moodier, the fickle teen audience loses more and more interest.
    Also, re: Hootie & The Blowfish – perhaps some of the reason the singles from their second album didn’t catch fire was that at the same time they released “I Go Blind” from the “Friends” soundtrack album. Unlike anything from H&TB’s second album, “I Go Blind” seemed to click more with the masses and is today played as much as most of the songs from their debut. I remember WKQI in Detroit (a Hot AC) giving only scant airplay to “Old Man & Me” and “Tucker’s Town,” which were added and removed from their playlist very quickly, while jumping on “I Go Blind” – in fact they may have been one of the stations to break that song, as I don’t remember it showing up on the R&R charts until a couple of months after WKQI added it.

    Reply

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