Thursday, December 31, 2015

"Puttin' on the Ritz" by Taco

Top 10 Alert! 
Gold Record Alert!
One-Hit Wonder Alert!
Song#:  1506
Date:  06/25/1983
Debut:  75
Peak:  4
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary, Novelty, Dance

Pop Bits:  Born in Indonesia and living in various cities around the world, Taco Ockerse (yes, his real given name) eventually settled in Germany where he started his professional acting career in 1975. While acting, Ockerse formed his own band/act called Taco's Bizz. They would perform updated dance versions of old standards in clubs around Germany. After a couple of failed singles in Germany for Polydor (regular German pop), RCA took on Taco (now minus his last name) and his unique dance standards. This first single started to get attention and it began to climb the charts in several countries including the US. Eventually, the song would reach the Pop Top 10 while hitting #12 AC and #37 Dance. The single would sell well enough to reach gold level and help push his debut album, After Eight, to #23. Unfortunately, the novelty of bridging the old and new wore off quickly and Taco's follow-ups would fail to chart. This lone entry would get him tagged as a one-hit wonder. Taco's next album, Let's Face the Music, tanked and it basically killed his major label career. He would continue to record in Germany and later return to acting.

ReduxReview:  Yes - I admit it. I was one of the dorks that made this song a hit. I loved it when the song hit the airwaves. The synthpop groove mixed with the old standard was kind of irresistible and something different to hear on pop radio. I ended up getting the album, but by that time the novelty of it all wore off and I think I played it a quick couple of times. It's kind of a fascinating relic of the time now as is this song. When I hear it now, I still kinda like it, but my reaction is one of a chuckle and a "oh, remember this!" and not one of "oh this is a great song!" It's all slightly bizarre and almost otherworldly. I know some folks will absolutely hate this, but it's a novelty song I still kinda like (which is rare for me).

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) This is a version of the famous Irving Berlin tune that has since become a popular music standard. Written by Berlin in 1927 and first published in 1929, the song's popularity increased thanks to its inclusion in the 1930 musical film "Puttin' on the Ritz" starring Harry Richman and Joan Bennett. Richman's recorded version of the song would be a big seller, but the song would become more associated with Fred Astaire who danced to the tune in the 1946 film "Blue Skies." The song would be sung and recorded by many artists over the years, but Taco has been the first and only to chart with the song in the rock era.  2) When this song hit the chart, Irving Berlin was still alive. At 95 years old, he became the oldest living songwriter to have a Top 10 hit.  3) The video for this song became controversial. The original version had performers in blackface and many network outlets banned the video. An alternate version was cut that replaced sections where the blackface characters appeared with other images.


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