Monday, September 5, 2016

"Breaking Up is Hard on You" by The American Comedy Network

Song#:  1775
Date:  02/4/1984
Debut:  93
Peak:  70
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Novelty

Pop Bits:  The ACN got its start when two Florida radio station co-workers, Andy Goldman and Bob Rivers, received an offer from a Connecticut company to write and produce parody bits and skits for their stations. The pair gave it a go and it ended up working out far better than expected. They ended up forming The American Comedy Network and soon stations from all over the US and Canada wanted them to write songs, parodies, fake ads, and other comedic bits to enhance their programs. One of their early pieces was this parody that became so popular, it was getting requests from all over the country. Sensing a potential hit, the small Boston label Critique Records got the tune onto vinyl and copies flew out the door. The sales and airplay of the single became big enough to get it onto the national Pop chart. Like a lot of timely novelty songs, it didn't stick around for long, but it helped establish the ACN. The group would remain in business until 2013 when they closed up shop.

ReduxReview:  This is a novelty tune that is kind of difficult to rate. First, its parody subject is of the era, so unless you were alive during this time period (I was...and this was a huge deal at the time) this will most likely not make any sense at all (unless you enjoy business history). Second, they actually do a nice job with this. I could do without the spoken word skit part, but in general it is a well-written parody. It's nothing I'd hit repeat on, but their production is very good and it plays up this event quite well. However, it is horribly out of date and practically meaningless now. As most novelties go, this one is not too bad, so I gotta give it a few points for being a decent parody.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This parody used the the Neil Sedaka hit "Breaking Up is Hard to Do" as its base. Sedaka originally co-wrote and recorded the song in 1962. It would reach #1 on the Pop chart and also get to #12 at R&B. Pop singer Lenny Welch did a ballad arrangement of the tune and it did well getting to #8 at AC,  #34 Pop, and #27 R&B. When Sedaka's career had a comeback in the mid-70's he did his own slow version of the song and it was released as a single. It reached #1 at AC and #8 on the Pop chart. The second-time-around hit made Sedaka one of three artists that got into the Top 10 twice with the same song, but in different versions. The other two were The Ventures and Elton John. The Ventures hit #2 in 1960 with "Walk, Don't Run," and then got to #8 in 1964 with their other version "Walk, Don't Run '64." John got to #6 in 1987 with a live version of his "Candle in the Wind," and then again in 1997 with his Princess Diana tribute "Candle in the Wind 1997."  2) So what does this song parody? Back in 70s, AT&T (aka the Bell System) pretty much had total control over all communications and phone equipment in the US. The US Department of Justice filed an anti-trust suit against AT&T regarding this monopoly. After a long court battle that AT&T knew they were going to lose, they made a proposal to end the case and in 1982 it was finalized. AT&T would keep their long distance, equipment company (Western Electric), and other things, but they would give up the ownership of local phone companies. These regional companies became known as "Baby Bells." This became the biggest company breakup in American history and it officially began on January 1, 1984. This song parodies the breakup of "Ma Bell." It was a big blow to AT&T, but they came out of it alright. After all, they are still in business. (I have AT&T U-verse at home...)


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