• One Last Polka 2017

    Whether or not your 2017 was the greatest year ever or the coming together of all your worst nightmares, there is one thing we can say for it…it’s over! But before we kick it to the curb for our shiny, new 2018 upgrade, let’s take a look at this year’s Doctor Demento Funny 25 and the Top 100 (or so) Demented Hits (from Funny 25’s) – 1974 to 2017.

    It’s always sad when our pop culture icons pass to the great TV Land in the sky, and more than a few of them this year really dug into the feels. A couple of them made the Funny 25 as a tribute, including Adam West and Chuck Berry.

    “Weird Al” made his presence known with oldies (“Another One Rides the Bus”) and newies (“The North Korea Polka”). The latter was performed as part of a segment on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

    Fish Heads padded its lead atop the 100, coming in a #21 this year. Meanwhile, other repeating songs included “Ti Kwan Leep/Boot to th Head” by the Frantics and “Entire Dog” by Worm Quartet.

    The Top 10 included a Doctor Who-based parody of The Who’s “My Generation,” a rambling rap about amphibians, an indictment of a certain President’s love of Twitter, a lounge lizard version of Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” (from the Lego Batman Movie soundtrack), an old-school fake interview/sound clip thing, one of the great songs from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, an instrumental version of a Nirvana song in the style of 60’s brass pop, a second Library Bards parody (this one of “Barbie Girl”), more “Weird Al” and the great Luke Ski.

    As usual, I’ve tried to link to YouTube videos of each song. Otherwise, they’re usually found on The FuMP.

    #25 Miranda – Adam West
    #24 My Ding-A-Ling – Chuck Berry
    #23 Ode To Playboy – Bob Ricci
    #22 Another One Rides the Bus – “Weird Al” Yankovic
    #21 Fish Heads – Barnes & Barnes
    #20 Ti Kwan Leep/Boot to the Head – The Frantics

    #19 Pac-Man – “Weird Al” Yankovic
    #18 Beaten On A Jet Plane – Steve Goodie
    #17 Hey, Guardians! – Anthony “A-Log” LoGatto
    #16 Hufflepuffs – Insane Ian
    #15 Princess Leia’s Stolen Death Star Plans/With Illicit Help From Your Friend – Palette-Swap Ninja
    #14 Nights In The Lab – Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers
    #13 Words That Sound Dirty, But They Ain’t – Steve Goodie
    #12 Entire Dog – Worm Quartet
    #11 Gas Station Disc Jockey – Power Salad

    #10 Regeneration – Library Bards
    #9 It’s Frog Noticing Time – Scooter Picnic
    #8 Let’s All Tweet – Red Peters
    #7 Man In The Mirror – Richard Cheese & Lounge Against The Machine
    #6 Hey Wonder Woman – Chris Wolvie
    #5 Heavy Boobs – Rachel Bloom
    #4 Smells Like Herb Alpert – Power Salad f/ Chuck Rickard
    #3 Geeky Girl – Library Bards
    #2 The North Korea Polka – “Weird Al” Yankovic

    #1 Candybars – the great Luke Ski

    This show is available for online listening at drdemento.com
    playlist courtesy of The Dr. Demento Show and dmdb.org
    The Dr. Demento Show #17-52 – December 30, 2017
    Special Topic: funny 25

    Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018 at 18:16
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  • Time Flies When You’re Having Funny 25’s

    I just realized that this is the 15th time I have cataloged points for the Top 100 (or so) Demented Hits from Doctor Demento’s annual Funny 25. Fifteen years is just a small slice of the 40+ countdowns the good Doctor has given us, but it’s a good chunk of time. So, in honor of this 15th anniversary, I am presenting two extra lists.

    First, I have compiled the top 15 whacky songs from the last 15 years.

    1. Fish Heads by Barnes & Barnes
    2. Dead Puppies by Ogden Edsl
    3. White & Nerdy by “Weird Al” Yankovic
    4. The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny by Lemon Demon
    5. They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa! by Napoleon XIV
    6. Viagra in the Waters by Camille West
    7. Cows with Guns by Dana Lyons
    8. 99 Words for Boobs by Robert Lund
    9. Ti Kwan Leep/Boot to the Head by The Frantics
    10. Bulbous Bouffant by Radio Free Vestibule
    11. Re: Your Brains by Jonathan Coulton
    12. Stealing Like a Hobbit by the great Luke Ski
    13. Street Meat (You Keep Tauntin’ Me) by Mike Phirman
    14. My Cat is Afraid of the Vacuum Cleaner by Power Salad
    15. Fake Adult by the great Luke Ski

    And, second, here are the #1 songs from each year since the countdown started in 1974.

    1974 – Shaving Cream by Benny Bell (with Paul Wynn)
    1975 – Friendly Neighborhood Narco Agent by Jef Jaisun
    1976 – Stardrek by Bobby Pickett & Peter Ferrara
    1977 – Pencil Neck Geek by “Classy” Freddie Blassie
    1978 – The Ballad of Irving by Frank Gallop
    1979 – Fish Heads by Barnes & Barnes
    1980 – Another One Rides the Bus by “Weird Al” Yankovic
    1981 – Yoda by “Weird Al” Yankovic
    1982 – Dead Puppies by Ogden Edsl
    1983 – Dead Puppies by Ogden Edsl
    1984 – Eat It by “Weird Al” Yankovic
    1985 – Wet Dream by Kip Addotta
    1986 – Rock Me Jerry Lewis by Mike Elliot & Bud LaTour
    1987 – Ti Kwan Leep/Boot to the Head by The Frantics
    1988 – Fat by “Weird Al” Yankovic
    1989 – Wappin’ by Darrell Hammond & Christopher Snell
    1990 – We Love Barney Fife by Guns N’ Moses
    1991 – Kick Ass USA by Milo Tremley
    1992 – The Happy Happy Joy Joy Song by Ren & Stimpy
    1993 – A Trip to Jurassic Park by Whimsical Will
    1994 – Down with V.E.G. by The Amazing Onionheads
    1995 – Carrot Juice is Murder by The Arrogant Worms
    1996 – Bulbous Bouffant by The Vestibules
    1997 – Cows with Guns by Dana Lyons
    1998 – The Devil Went to Jamaica by Travis Meyer
    1999 – The Chainsaw Juggler by The Four Postmen
    2000 – Viagra in the Waters by Camille West
    2001 – Let Me Make You Smile in Bed by The Four Postmen
    2002 – Peter Parker by the great Luke Ski
    2003 – Stealing Like a Hobbit by the great Luke Ski
    2004 – Great Idea for a Song by Worm Quartet
    2005 – Inner Voice by Sudden Death
    2006 – The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny by Lemon Demon
    2007 – Cellular Degeneration by Sudden Death
    2008 – Hold On, I’ve Got to Take This by Power Salad
    2009 – Save Me, Obama by Robert Lund
    2010 – Raichu a Song by Nuclear Bubble Wrap
    2011 – Snoopy the Dogg by the great Luke Ski
    2012 – Tantric Yoda by Ookla the Mok
    2013 – Mwahaha by Ookla the Mok
    2014 – Fake Adult by the great Luke Ski
    2015 – Benedict Cumberbatch by Insane Ian
    2016 – Dick Heads by Steve Goodie

    Monday, January 2nd, 2017 at 17:54
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  • Bad Hombres, Nasty Women and other SOB’s

    It’s time once again for the annual update to the list of Dr. Demento’s TOP 100 (or so) DEMENTED HITS (from Funny 25’s).

    This year featured plenty of Donald Trump parodies from Bad Hombres, Nasty Women to The Donald Trump Club March to Donald Trump’s Hair (which was written long before the recent election unpleasantness). As usual, the topics of the day (Trump, Bernie, the Cubs) raised their ugly heads–only to have them shot at in hilarious ways. I’ll wager we haven’t seen the last of these.

    Fortunately, there were plenty of nonsensical tracks in the vein of Fish Heads and My Name is Larry, as well. The Worm Quartet brought us their observation of an Entire Dog (a WHOLE DOG!). The Chardon Polka Band created a spiritual successor to Frank Yankovic’s classic In Heaven There Is No Beer called You Can’t Drink Beer In Outer Space. Max DeGroot sings to us as one of those guys who brags about his love of hot foods in Spicey to the tune Billy Joel’s Always A Woman. And Steve Goodie undertook a medley of “Weird Al” songs in a Weird Al Country Medley.

    Following in the footsteps of acts like AC/DC, CeeLo Green, DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, Frank Zappa, and The Monkees “legitimate” artists Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats placed a song in this year’s top 25 with S.O.B..

    Power Salad released a tribute to Carrie Fisher to the tune of Layla called Leia (and Other Assorted Star Wars Parodies) shortly after “The Force Awakens” to respond to those body shamers out there who didn’t understand the concept of a woman somehow not looking 19 when she reached her late 50’s.

    Only two songs revisited the Funny 25 from the past. Fish Heads–the number one demented song of all time–showed up for the first time since 2013, adding a point to its total, and Steve Goodman’s A Dying Cub Fan’s Last Wish made an appropriate reappearance thanks to the 2016 World Series champs.

    Cub Fan’s spot wasn’t high enough to put it into the Top 100, but I did find an error in the totals. Street Meat (You Keep Tauntin’ Me) by Mike Phirman, which appeared at #4 in 2010 and #10 in 2011, has enough points to put it in the Top 100 at #66, alongside “Weird Al” Yankovic’s very first appearance in 1979–My Bologna.

    Finally, the number one song this year was Dick Heads by Steve Goodie–a re-working of Fish Heads into a rant against a litany of things he doesn’t like.

    This show is available for online listening at drdemento.com.
    playlist courtesy of The Dr. Demento Show via the Demented Music Database

    The Dr. Demento Show #16-53 – December 31, 2016
    Special Topic: Funny 25

    #25 Fish Heads – Barnes & Barnes
    #24 Entire Dog – Worm Quartet
    #23 Nothin’ But Truth – Devo Spice f/ Bonecage
    #22 You Can’t Drink Beer In Outer Space – Chardon Polka Band (video)
    #21 The Top 10 Things To Never Say On A First Date – MC Lars
    #20 Bad Hombres, Nasty Women – The Gregory Brothers f/ “Weird Al” Yankovic (video)
    #19 A Dying Cub Fan’s Last Request – Steve Goodman (video)
    #18 Asshole Parade – Tom Perri (video)
    #17 Feel The Bern (In Your Bong) – Holy Bongwater

    #16 The Donald Trump Club March – Robert Lund & Spaff (video)
    #15 S. O. B. – Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats (video)
    #14 Trump Acres – Capitol Steps
    #13 Spicy – Max de Groot
    #12 Endoscope – Steve Goodie
    #11 The Voices In Your Head (Have Started A Podcast) – Power Salad

    #10 Ghostbusted – Anthony “A-Log” LoGatto
    #9 If I Was President – Frank Zappa
    #8 Donald Trump’s Hair – Kacey Jones (video)
    #7 Weird Al Country Medley – Steve Goodie
    #6 I’m Vambre Warrior – the great Luke Ski f/ Carrie Dahlby (video)
    #5 Leia (and other assorted Star Wars parodies) – Power Salad (video)
    #4 1,000 FuMPs – The FuMP (video)
    #3 When Trump Was A Lad – Michael Stein (video)
    #2 I’m Gonna Be Offended – Timm McCoy

    #1 Dick Heads – Steve Goodie

    Monday, January 2nd, 2017 at 12:29
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  • Update on recording progress

    The short answer: “not much”

    The long answer is that I worked on Catch the Wind for a long time, but I couldn’t get anything out of it that didn’t bore me to tears. Then I went out of town.

    I am still plugging away, and I’d like to think that something will come out of this at some point. Soon-ish.

    Monday, March 7th, 2016 at 14:56
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  • I feel the eyes of Aesop on me*

    I feel exhilarated, nervous, excited, wary, accomplished and hungry (it is past suppertime after all).

    I spent the afternoon laying down rhythm guitar tracks for seven songs. No, not thinking about doing some songs. Not just talking about it. Actually pushing the button on the record machine and playing the guitar into a bona fide microphone. (I did have a moment’s pause when I looked at the digital studio and went, “What is all dem buttons mean?”)

    After ten years of hemming and hawing and refusing to do anything unless it was either an original composition or “perfect,” I got my ass into the home studio and did something thanks to gentle nudges from my ever-patient spouse and with the help of Whiny the Elder, who recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in music production.

    I don’t know that all of these will make the final cut when we start adding the rest of the instrumentation and vocals, but we went through a stack of songs this afternoon, so there are more where they came from. Here’s the list:

    • 500 Miles (A Railroader’s Lament) by Hedy West — the best known version being by Peter, Paul & Mary
    • Babylon by Sarah Hawker, performed by The Lonesome Sisters
    • Catch the Wind by Donovan
    • Excuse Me (I Think I’ve Got A Heartache) by Buck Owens
    • Is Anybody Going To San Antone? by Glenn Martin and Dave Kirby, performed by Charley Pride
    • Slowly (I’m Falling More In Love With You) by Webb Pierce and Tommy Hill — found a cool blues version by Katie Webster, too
    • Wild Mountain Thyme by Francis McPeake, with a bajillion versions–I especially like Ed Sheeran, but I even found one by Dean! (Jensen Ackles, my man crush)

    So, we’ll see what happens with these, but it’s progress, baby, progress.



    Saturday, January 30th, 2016 at 19:31
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  • A man with priorities so far out of whack doesn’t deserve such a fine automobile.

    I was listening to Car Talk this morning (we miss you, Tom!), and one of the callers said that he had 103 cars in his lifetime. That got my brain gears whirring, and I thought I would reminisce about the series of vehicles that have graced me with their presence in the last 35 years.

    Mav_RealFirst up, there was a 1969 Ford Maverick (it’s not quite the same without yelling “Maverick!” in a kind of old prospector’s voice). It was worth every penny I paid for it–$300 in 1980.

    Maverick’s defining feature was that someone had converted it from a standard shift on the steering column to an automatic on the floor…but they had done such a poor job of it that you could see the road underneath the shifter. And in a Maine winter that extra chill was nasty. (Not as nasty as the VW Beetle with no heat owned by Ric the Schmuck though.)

    When Maverick died after about six months, I took up the last few payments on my brot1975_Chevrolet_Nova_coupé_001_0112her’s 1975 Chevy Nova.

    This was back when men were men and Novas were…passable as a “muscle” car. It wasn’t really all that muscular, but it was the last car I ever drove with 6-cylinder engine.

    Its most memorable detail was that my dad gave it a new paint job, and to save money he used flat, red house paint. It was…interesting. Definitely not shiny.

    rt7dpxuupgnaetwn6v2xWhen Nova bit the dust, I went out and bought my first car from a used car salesman. It was a 1978 Chevy Chevette. After riding around in the big ole Nova, I felt like I was literally sitting on the ground inside the Chevette.

    Chevette’s main flaw was a wonky starter motor. Every other time you’d try to start it, nothing would happen. Yet, I found that if I touched it with something metal–like a screwdriver–it would ZAP! and spark, then I could start it just fine…most of the time.

    One time it wouldn’t, and I just happened to be on a date with my future spouse. She called her mother to come pick us up, and I finally met Helen Patricia Irwin. She was not amused. I left Chevette dead in a convenience store parking lot one day not long after that.

    The next c151188ar to grace my butt was a Ford Escort. I was sort of bullied into buying this car by my dad. He went to the trouble of finding a used car salesman (who I think was a softball buddy or related to one) and a car that I could afford, but I really didn’t want this car.

    First off, I think it had been in a flood, maybe even at the bottom of a lake, because it just smelled swampy. And then there was the bloody hand print stain on the headliner above the passenger seat…

    Friends, never buy a haunted car (or a Ford). We took this one on our honeymoon (a not-supposed-to-be-rough camping trip during which it poured rain from about 10 seconds after I got the tent up until the day we left). On the last day, we decided to drive down to Boston to visit Venita’s grandparents. Haunty McForderson decided that it didn’t really need that cam shaft and left it behind somewhere on I-93 as we were in the left-most lane.

    She called her mother to come pick us up.

    18s14vgngwckpjpgAfter further adventures with getting Escorty McSuckercar repaired (which involved calling Ford HQ in Detroit to step in between feuding dealerships), we grabbed the next used car that we could find on the day we picked up the Ford from its repair pod. It was a Nissan Sentra wagon, and it served us fairly well for a number of years.

    Its defining tick was that the hatchback never latched. So, when you’d hit any kind of bump, it would pop up. Fortunately(?), the hydraulic thingy that kept it open and prevented it from falling on  your head didn’t work either, so it didn’t fly open…it just banged up and down a lot.

    1984-1986_Subaru_Leone_Deluxe_sedan_(2010-12-28)Next came a car so boring that I can barely remember a thing about it except that it was white. I am told that it was a Subaru of some sort.

    We bundled the Subaru together with an old, wood-paneled station wagon that I got as payment for helping a small inventory company out with some PC problems, and they were traded for the first (and, so far, only) new car that I ever bought.

    Saturn-SL2In 1994, we moved to Florida, and since we didn’t have a car that we felt would make the trip, we traded for a Saturn SL1 with 12 miles on it.

    Oh, man, I loved that car.

    And everything that I had heard about Saturn the car company was true. They were super friendly, and they even let me test drive the car, and hearing that I needed to be back at work, they let me take the Saturn to my office and offered to drive both the Subaru and the station wagon (one to my office and the other to my house) and pick up the Saturn later in the day. There was no haggling with a sales dude who needed “approval from his manager” to give me a deal. The price was the price. Buy it or don’t. In fact, the sales guy pointed out that his manager was busy washing my car anyway.

    That Saturn stayed with us for over 200,000 miles, and Emily wound up driving it for a while before we finally donated it to the local NPR station.

    1996-1999_Saturn_SL2_--_03-16-20122007_saturn_ion_4dr_sdn_auto_ion_2_green_tilt_steering_wheel_99409088047300625In between, we became a two-car family, buying another Saturn SL, then leasing an Ion for a couple years before buying one.

    That latter one became Emily’s for a while after we bought our current cars.

    And that brings us up to date with our 2005 Toyota Prius and our 2009 Kia Rio.

     The Prius has given us tons of driving time, including our trip up and through the Blue Ridge Mountains for our 25th anniversary in 2011 and our recent DC adventure. And the Kia…well, it’s a car.

    2005 Toyota Prius.2009-kia-rio-port_richey-fl-9216817574577419196-2

    But it’s 2016, man. Our rides are old. It’s time to swap these junkers for something flashy.  Maybe one of these?

    Sunday, January 17th, 2016 at 09:00
  • It helps me unwind and sometimes it makes me feel mellow

    On my evening walks with Venita, we generally chat about the ebb and flow of the day, the latest pop culture thingy, plans for the future…or, actually, I blather on about stupid shit that comes into my head, and she pretends to listen.

    A cool feature of our walking relationship, though, is that we don’t really have to say anything. We can just get into our own heads and not worry about entertaining our walkmate. For me, this usually leads to some song or another running through my brain. Generally, it’s the Imperial Death March (hey, it keeps me on pace!), but there are some pretty weird things that crop up on Solonor Head Radio.

    Tonight…possibly due to the fact that I cracked open one of the bottles of brew my daughter gave me for Christmas (a Leffe Brown for those keeping score at home)…which was possibly due to the fact that when I opened the barbecue grill this evening, a startled rat gave me a jump (and elicited an unmanly yelp)…I had this song running through my brain cave:

    Thursday, January 14th, 2016 at 22:20
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  • Funny 25 – A New Hope

    A long time ago, on a blog far, far away…I began tracking Doctor Demento’s Funny 25. And, lo, I am still trying to do so…but, wait, there is no try. Do or do not! Therefore, here is me do doing.

    Steve Goodie seems to have taken over this year’s list, as he’s featured on six of the 25 songs. Meanwhile, only two of the songs on the countdown have appeared on previous lists.

    “Fake Adult” by the great Luke Ski (#17) and “Let’s Blow Up The Tow Truck” by Krypton (#16) are the only songs to add points to their totals on the Top 100 (or so) Demented Hits. “Fake Adult” was last year’s #1, giving it enough points to jump up to #72 on the list, and Krypton’s song, which first appeared back in 1987, made its 3rd appearance and gathered enough points to be inserted at the #81 spot. The result of which was to bump a whole bunch of songs that were tied at #100 off the list, including Monty Python’s “Argument Clinic.” From now on, it will no longer be enough just to appear at #1 on the Funny 25 to get a spot on the list.

    This show is available for online listening at drdemento.com
    playlist courtesy of The Dr. Demento Show

    The Dr. Demento Show #15-52 – December 26, 2015

    Special Topic: Funny 25
    #25 Dumbledore – Steve Goodie
    #24 Elderly Man River – Stan Freberg f/ Daws Butler
    #23 Everything Is Awesome – Tegan & Sara f/ The Lonely Island
    #22 I Just Sneezed In My Pie – Steve Goodie
    #21 I Love My Job – Steve Goodie
    #20 Mr. Jaws – Dickie Goodman
    #19 Fire And Rain – James Taylor w/ Stephen Colbert
    #18 A Dying Cub Fan’s Last Request – Steve Goodman

    #17 Fake Adult – the great Luke Ski
    #16 Let’s Blow Up The Tow Truck – Krypton
    #15 I Like – Heathen Dan
    #14 Banana Boat (Day-O) – Stan Freberg
    #13 Narwhals – MrWeebl
    #12 Itchy Song #1,543 – Steve Goodie
    #11 Biggest Fan – Dino-Mike f/ Cara Akemi

    #10 Take Me To Brunch – Kirby Krackle
    #9 Robin Williams – CeeLo Green
    #8 In My Driverless Car – Power Salad f/ Arthur’s Prior Band
    #7 Yoda Chant – “Weird Al” Yankovic
    #6 Shia LaBeouf (live) – Rob Cantor
    #5 Dr. Pepper – Carla Ulbrich f/ Steve Goodie
    #4 I Dropped My Phone In The Toilet – Steve Goodie
    #3 I Eat Prunes – Robert Lund
    #2 Unfriend (The Facebook Song) – Throwing Toasters

    #1 Benedict Cumberbatch – Insane Ian

    Wednesday, December 30th, 2015 at 07:57
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  • The 13th Annual “All Weird” Funny 25

    Yep, this is the 13th time I’ve recapped the good Doctor’s annual Funny 25 and updated my TOP 100 (or so) DEMENTED HITS (from Funny 25’s). This year it looks like our old pal, Weird Al, has taken over the show.

    Mr. Yankovic has 20 percent of the songs on the countdown, including the #3 hit. That’s mainly because of the release of his album Mandatory Fun in July. It became the first comedy record to top Billboard’s album chart since 1963 and Allan Sherman’s My Son, The Nut. It finished at #89 on the year-end Top 200 Albums.

    In order to promote the album, Weird Al release a series of eight videos–one per day–through various partner sites, including Funny or Die, CollegeHumor, The Nerdist, Yahoo Screen and The Wall Street Journal. All of them hit YouTube and were massive hits.

    Of the rest of the countdown, there were very few returning songs this year. Outside of two songs from last year and 2011’s #1, all of the songs on the chart are new.

    “After Ever After” by Jon Cozart now shows up in the Top 100 at #75. The 50th Anniversary Doctor Who themed song, Amanda Cohen’s “Know Your Doctors,” is now tied for #86. And “Snoopy the Dogg,” the great Luke Ski hit from 2011, moves up from what was a tie at #98 to the #94 spot. With everything below those songs moving down a notch, this may be the last year that having 25 points for being the #1 song in the Funny 25 will get you onto the Top 100, and the 18-way tie at #100 may go away next year.

    playlist courtesy of The Dr. Demento Show

    The Dr. Demento Show #14-52 – December 27, 2014

    Special Topic: Funny 25

    #25 Snoopy The Doggthe great Luke Ski

    #24 Please Mr. Kennedy – Justin Timberlake, Oscar Isaac & Adam Driver
    #23 Outside The BoxSteve Goodie
    #22 Foil“Weird Al” Yankovic
    #21 The Guy Who Yelled FreebirdThe Doubleclicks

    #20 Emmy Medley 2014“Weird Al” Yankovic
    #19 Bein’ Green – Kermit The Frog (Jim Henson)
    #18 After Ever AfterJon Cozart
    #17 Steve Ruins A Lovely Jason Mraz SongSteve Goodie
    #16 Last Day At WorkMikey Mason

    #15 Write Like The WindPaul & Storm
    #14 Tacky“Weird Al” Yankovic
    #13 Handy“Weird Al” Yankovic
    #12 Godzilla – Insane Ian f/ Victor Acord & Bonecage
    #11 Internet Famous – Insane Ian f/ Chris Ballew (of The Presidents Of The United States Of America)

    #10 Who Is The Doctor?Devo Spice
    #9 Know Your Doctors – Amanda Cohen
    #8 Governor Chris Christie’s Fort Lee New Jersey Traffic Jam – Jimmy Fallon & Bruce Springsteen
    #7 Fueled By AngstWorm Quartet
    #6 (They Don’t Make) Airships (Like They Used To Anymore)Confabulation Of Gentry f/ Capt. John Sprocket (The Cog Is Dead)
    #5 Almost Parent Time – Carrie Dahlby f/ Wyngarde
    #4 After Ever After 2 – Jon Cozart
    #3 Word Crimes“Weird Al” Yankovic
    #2 The Silly Walks SongMonty Python

    #1 Fake Adultthe great Luke Ski

    Monday, December 29th, 2014 at 08:00
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  • 90 Years of “Top 40” Music: All That Jazz (1926-1929)

    The way radio worked changed rapidly in the 1920’s. Two things served to organize the landscape of radio and to broaden its reach as a unified force across the country.

    In 1926, the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) was formed by the Radio Corporation of America (RCA), General Electric (GE) and Westinghouse Electric to become the first major radio network. NBC set up several different networks around the country, the main ones being NBC Red and NBC Blue.

    It was followed in January 1927 by a network of 47 affiliates known as United Independent Broadcasters, which struggled until it was bought by Columbia Records in April and was renamed the Columbia Phonographic Broadcasting System.

    However, Columbia wanted out by 1928, and they sold the network to the owners of a Philadelphia radio station who installed William S. Paley as president. He quickly renamed it the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) and set about building a powerful network to challenge NBC.

    The second change came in the form of government regulation. Until 1927, the radio waves were up for grabs, as stations competed with one another for time and listeners. Listeners of one program were frequently interrupted by overlapping programs. With the passage of the Radio Act of 1927, the new Federal Radio Commission (FRC) was given the power to license stations and to assign frequencies and power levels. Many low-power stations were denied licenses, and the power output of bigger stations was limited to prevent the wild frequency battles between stations.

    Popular music continued along the same lines as it had been going since the beginnings of the jazz era. Tin Pan Alley still cranked out popular sing-a-long songs, like “Ain’t She Sweet?” and “Ida, Sweet As Apple Cider,” Irving Berlin standards, like Always and sentimental tunes, like Helen Morgan’s Bill, or novelty songs, like I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For Ice Cream. And the big, popular bands, like those led by Paul Whiteman and  Nat Shilkret, were just as big and popular, cranking out a mix of Dixieland jazz and more sophisticated music.

    However, there were three things that stood out from the crowd. Two of them were huge. One looms large only in retrospect.

    First, this era belonged to the first music pop star:  Asa Yoelson, otherwise known as Al Jolson. He started out as a singer in a circus, moved on to Broadway, and by age 35 was a huge recording star with his own theater. He starred in many movies, including what is considered the film that ended the silent picture era and ushered in “talkies”–The Jazz Singer.

    The recordings he made for Brunswick Records in the late 20’s are among his (or anyone’s) biggest hits: I’m Sitting On Top of the World, When the Red Red Robin Comes Bob Bob Bobbin’ Along, Sonny Boy, There’s A Rainbow Round My Shoulder, Little Pal, and I’m In Seventh Heaven

    Listening to Jolson in 2014 is a little rough, because his style is so broad and melodramatic that it has made for easy parodying through the years. In fact, most people my age would sooner have heard Michigan J. Frog and his Jolson-like stylings or, more recently, a Jolson hit from the electrified Eric Cartman on South Park than the original. His singing was born of the need to fill a room without amplification and to be seen at the back of the theater.

    There’s also the matter of that unfortunate carryover from his vaudeville days: blackface.

    These days, Jolson’s performance of Mammy in the Jazz Singer is cringe-worthy. It doesn’t matter that he was a leading force for promoting African-American artists, or that he was instrumental in opening doors for the first Broadway production with an all-black cast at a time when black people were banned. Jolson also insisted on the hiring and fair treatment of black people at a time when membership in the KKK was at an all-time high. But his adherence to the minstrel show stereotypes turned him into a symbol of old-school racism.

    The second stand-out was the dawn of country music. I wrote about Vernon Dalhart and Ernest V. Stoneman in the 1925 entry, but the big, earth-shattering event occurred in Bristol, Tennessee, between July 25 and August 5, 1927. That’s when Ralph Peer took recording out of the New York City studios and went out to record some “hillbilly” acts for Victor Records. In the same session, he managed to record both the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers.

    The Carters were huge throughout the 20’s and 30’s with hits like Keep On the Sunny Side, Wabash Cannonball, Worried Man Blues and Can the Circle Be Unbroken (By and By). Their biggest made the top 40 in 1928. Wildwood Flower perfectly displays the guitar picking style of Maybelle Carter that combined rhythm and melody. Known as the “Carter scratch,” it turned the guitar into a lead instrument.

    Jimmie Rodgers was among the first performers to write his own songs. He developed a yodeling style that combined folk and 12-bar blues that he turned into a series of 13 Blue Yodels. His first, Blue Yodel No. 1 (T for Texas), was such a massive hit that he became an overnight sensation. He wound up in movies and recorded Blue Yodel No. 9 (Standin’ On the Corner) with Louis Armstrong on trumpet and Lil Hardin Armstrong on piano. Sadly, Rodgers was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1924, and he died in 1933 at age 35.

    The last thing of note isn’t very obvious from listening to the records of the 1920’s, but it’s another beginning to something big. In 1928, the biggest recording artist in the history of ever had his first hit as a singer for Paul Whiteman’s band. Bing Crosby hit #1 with a jazzy version of Ol’ Man River.




    Wednesday, December 17th, 2014 at 17:49
    Comments Off on 90 Years of “Top 40” Music: All That Jazz (1926-1929)