Sunday, July 5, 2015

"The Blues" by Randy Newman and Paul Simon

Song#:  1318
Date:  01/22/1983
Debut:  73
Peak:  51
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  Newman began his career as a songwriter in the 60s penning songs for artists like Dusty Springfield, Irma Thomas, and Gene Pitney. He ended up with his own recording contract and issued albums in 1968 and 1970. Critically well-received, the albums failed to chart but they contained a few songs that have become pop standards, such as "I Think It's Going to Rain Today" and "Mama Told Me Not to Come." As his songs became more well-known, his popularity increased and his albums began to chart. His peak moment came when his controversial song "Short People" reached #2 on the pop chart and went gold. Although he remained a favorite of critics, he would never be able to replicate that single's success. Newman branched out to the world of film scoring and in 1981 grabbed two Oscar nominations for his music to the film "Ragtime." Before he move on to his next score, Newman issued his seventh LP "Trouble in Paradise." This first single, a duet with Paul Simon, got enough attention to get it near the top half of the chart.

ReduxReview:  This wasn't what I expected at all. The title led me to think this was a blues-style song, but it is not. It plays like a show tune. The origins of all his songs for the Pixar animated films and others are right here. This style of Newman is not my favorite. I find the music and concept a bit goofy. He can be an amazing songwriter, but I prefer his more reflective compositions over his oddball pop tunes.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Newman's second single from the album ended up being far more popular despite never charting. His satirical song "I Love L.A." has been used in films, on TV, in advertisements, and at sporting events. It has even spawned many adaptations and parodies such as "I Love D.C." The original single got a little bit of airplay thanks to a popular video that played on MTV, but it wasn't enough to get the song on the chart (it bubbled under at #110). In the long run, it didn't really matter because the song ended up having a life of its own.


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