Monday, March 19, 2018

"19" by Paul Hardcastle

One-Hit Wonder Alert!
Song#:  2347
Date:  06/01/1985
Debut:  78
Peak:  15
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Synthpop, Electronic

Pop Bits:  This British electronic music wiz garnered some attention in the US with the unexpected #2 Dance/#5 R&B/#57 Pop single "Rain Forest." By the time a quick album of the same name was assembled for the US market, Hardcastle was already signed to Chrysalis Records and ready to issue a new self-titled album. This Vietnam-themed track was selected as the first single. It was an immediate #1 hit in many countries including Hardcastle's UK home. Stateside it began to shape up as a big hit as well getting to #1 Dance and #8 R&B. However, on the Pop chart the song stalled before it could get inside the Top 10. Apparently sales of the single were strong enough to send the song higher on the chart, but airplay stats were much lower thanks to some radio stations refusing to play the song due to its subject matter. Since the Pop chart combines sales and airplay, the song's overall placement took a hit. Despite the lack of airplay, the single sold and the video did well on MTV. The distinctive track would be Hardcastle's only one to be a significant hit and he ended up getting tagged as a one-hit wonder (#72 on VH1's list of Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the 80s).

ReduxReview:  This was such an unusual song at the time. The use of clips from shows, movies, other songs, etc., wasn't a new idea, but the way that it was done in this track along with the serious subject matter certainly made it unique. Not only that, it was weirdly catchy and memorable with the stuttering "19." My good friend and I took the song quite seriously and even learned all the dialog. It was at a time when the Vietnam War was being revisited and focus was finally turning to the vets and after-war effects like PSD. It was all a bit controversial and even this song got caught up in it a bit. What I find odd is that it hit #1 at Dance. I mean, I can't really imagine being in a club, having the song come on and me going "oh I love this song!" and then heading to the dance floor to shake my booty with a smile on my face and a gin and tonic in-hand. Just doesn't seem right. But alas, it apparently happened. Frankly, its kind of a bummer of a song, but it was a well-done message tune that many folks still remember and talk about.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Hardcastle got the idea for this song after watching an ABC news documentary titled Vietnam Requiem, which dealt with the issue of post-traumatic stress disorder in Vietnam vets. It was commented in the show that the average age of a Vietnam soldier was 19. Hardcastle was a bit stunned by that stat and used it as the basis for creating the song. He used snippets of dialog from the show within the song including the narration voice of Peter Thomas, who ended up getting royalties for the use of his voice.  2) Right around this time, Hardcastle met a Chrysalis A&R guy named Simon Fuller. Fuller decided to leave the label to start his own management company and he wanted Hardcastle to be one of his first clients. Fuller decided to name his company after this hit - 19 Entertainment. If Fuller and 19 Entertainment sound familiar, it's because Fuller later created the hugely popular TV competition shows Pop Idol (UK), American Idol (US), and So You Think You Can Dance.


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