Wednesday, August 29, 2018

"Charm the Snake" by Christopher Cross

Song#:  2511
Date:  10/26/1985
Debut:  79
Peak:  68
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Pop, Synthpop

Pop Bits:  The pop music landscape had certainly changed since Cross first hit it big with his multi-Grammy winning, 5x platinum 1979 self-titled debut album. His smooth SoCal sound that vaulted songs like "Sailing" to #1 was definitely being pushed out by the brasher sounds of new wave, rock, synthpop and even rap. He eked out a Top 10 entry with "Think of Laura" from his second album, but the success of that song had mainly to do with its use in the hugely popular daytime soap General Hospital. With his second LP only getting to gold status, Cross had to take a different approach in order to survive the new MTV 80s. With his producer Michael Omartian, Cross recorded a new album that pretty much ignored his AC soft rock sound in favor of tunes that had more of a rock flare to them. Every Turn of the World would be issued out and this first single would be released. Unfortunately, pop audiences didn't buy into the song and neither did his AC fans from back in the day. Because of that, the song faltered quickly at Pop while not even making the AC chart. Follow-up singles tanked completely and that left the album stalling at a painfully low #127. Cross would never rebound from the poor showing making this tune his last to hit the Pop chart. He would continue to record over the years and grab a couple of minor AC song entries, but his days in the Pop spotlight ended here.

ReduxReview:  I'm sure that both Cross and his record company wanted hits and for Cross to stay on the charts and sell albums, but dressing up Cross' AC tunes in synth-rock sounds was a bad idea. The kids weren't buying into it and his older fans weren't thrilled either. Plus, it certainly didn't help that Cross was not MTV-ready. He didn't have a marketable look like a Simon Le Bon (in fact, his first three album did not have him on the covers) and he didn't like making videos. He relented a couple of times, but Cross was just not going to fit in the new era of pop music. Had he and his label recognized the situation, they might have done better by really aiming at the AC market. Hits there could still sell albums and he probably would have been much better off. Instead, we ended up with this chuggin' diddy that really didn't have a chorus and was overblown with synths that tried to make up for it. It's not a bad song, but it wasn't gonna be a hit and it just didn't fit Cross very well.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Cross found himself a bit back in the spotlight thanks to the hit TV show 30 Rock. In one episode, the character Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) says, "I know that I'm a sour person, and I don't like a lot of people, but I liked Floyd. And I guess in the back of my mind I thought we'd end up together someday that the whole thing would turn out like a movie where Christopher Cross sings a song like, 'All my days I've been waiting for you to come back home, in the moonlight of New York City.'" That last line she sings and it inspired Cross to actually write a song that opens with that line. The song "Lemon's Theme" would be featured on the 30 Rock soundtrack album. Perhaps as a shout-out to Christopher Cross, Fey's Liz Lemon character ends up marrying a guy named Criss Chros, played by actor James Marsden.  (P.S.: Do yourself a favor and look up "Lemon's Theme." It's actually one of the best things Cross has written/recorded.)

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