Monday, January 1, 2018

"Axel F" by Harold Faltermeyer

Top 10 Alert!
One-Hit Wonder Alert!
Song#:  2272
Date:  03/30/1985
Debut:  69
Peak:  3
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Synthpop, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  This German-born musician/engineer/producer/composer got is first big break when he was hired by Giorgio Moroder to arrange the music for the Moroder's score to the 1978 film Midnight Express. The score won Moroder an Oscar and boosted Faltermeyer's career. The pair would continue to work together on projects and along the way Faltermeyer started to get work producing records for other artists like Donna Summer. He also started scoring films and by 1984 he was working on the music for Beverly Hills Cop. The movie was a major hit as was its soundtrack which featured hits like "Neutron Dance" by the Pointer Sisters and "The Heat Is On" by Glenn Frey. While an album of the full score that Faltermeyer composed for the film was never issued, one theme from the score was selected to appear on the soundtrack. Originally composed for the scene in the movie where Eddie Murphy places a banana in a cop car tailpipe, "Axel F" got included as the final track on the album. With the soundtrack doing well, this theme gained some attention and soon it was decided that it should be a single. Issued as the LP's fourth single, the song slowly caught on became a multi-format hit. In addition to its #3 Pop peak, it got to #1 at AC, #1 Dance, and #13 R&B. Since it was a bit of a left-field hit by a composer/producer, it wasn't a big surprise that it became Faltermeyer's only Pop chart entry, thus making him a one-hit wonder. It would also earn him a Grammy for Best Original Score Album. While Faltermeyer would go on to compose more scores and work with artists like Pet Shop Boys, Laura Branigan, Billy Idol, and others, this single would remain his biggest claim to fame.

ReduxReview:  I don't know why, but I didn't like this little ditty back in the day. I thought the main theme with that goose honking keyboard sound was annoying. Therefore, I ignored it. Many years later I then began to appreciate how quirky, simple, and catchy the song was and understood its appeal. It's kind of fun to hear once in a while, especially if it is on a party playlist. Seems like every time it comes up in rotation, someone will start to sing the theme and go "boop-bee boop-a-be boop-bop." It's not a classic, but it is a memorable little theme from the decade.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Working with Moroder, Faltermeyer contributed to another huge soundtrack album, 1986's Top Gun. Faltermeyer wrote the main theme to the film and performed in along with guitarist Steve Stevens. The album track "Top Gun Anthem" would prove to be popular enough to be issued as a single, but it never fully caught on at radio and failed to chart. However, the song did earn Faltermeyer his second Grammy. He and Stevens were the winners in the Best Pop Instrumental Performance category.


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