Monday, November 28, 2016

"Downtown" by Dolly Parton

Song#:  1864
Date:  07/14/1984
Debut:  89
Peak:  80
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Country Crossover, Pop

Pop Bits:  Parton's synthpop covers LP The Great Pretender was able to score a #3 Country hit with her version of The Drifters' "Save the Last Dance for Me," but Pop audiences were not biting and it faltered before getting inside the Top 40. This second single had even more pop flare and yet it did even worse only spending a month on the Pop chart. Country wasn't all that thrilled either (#36) and even AC balked (#20). The LP made a good showing at Country (#7), but the lack of a real hit kept it at a low #73 on the Pop chart. Overall, it was a disappointing showing for the superstar.

ReduxReview:  This is one of my favorite pop songs from the 60s (see below), so I was thrilled when Parton decided to do a cover - especially with my favorite producer at the time, Val Garay. It ended up on Parton's bizarre Great Pretender album and for me, it was the highlight of the record. Dressed up in synths and Simmons drums, it was a bit bombastic with an outro that was nothing like the original. I dug it and played it quite a bit. These days, it definitely sounds like a product of its time. I still like it, but I waffle on whether it is actually kind of good and fun, or a bit overdone and cringe-worthy. Sometimes I'm like "Yes! This is awesome! Crank it!" while other times I'm like "Oooo....yikes. What were they thinking?" I'll split the diff.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This is a cover of a song originally done by Petula Clark. Clark's version was a big worldwide hit in 1964 hitting #1 in several countries including the US. Many artists have covered the classic pop tune over the years, but only Clark and Parton have been able to chart with the song in a straight version. Two other comedy-leaning artists put their own spin on the tune and wound up on the chart. Comedian Alan Sherman's parody "Crazy Downtown" reached #40 in 1965 while the virtually tone-deaf "singer" Mrs. Miller made it to #82 with her rendition. In 2011, the Irish rock band The Saw Doctors decided to cover the song and invited Petula Clark to sing with them. She did and the single reached #2 on the Irish chart.


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