Friday, November 1, 2019

"French Kissin" by Debbie Harry

Song#:  2939
Date:  11/22/1986
Debut:  98
Peak:  57
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Rock, Synthpop

Pop Bits:  Harry's first solo album, 1981's KooKoo, didn't spawn any major singles, but the album still sold well hitting #25 and going gold. She returned to her band Blondie in 1982 for the lackluster The Hunter. The tepid results of the album along with internal struggles and member (and Harry's boyfriend) Chris Stein's illness contributed to the break up of the band. Harry's solo recording career was spotty afterward. She recorded a couple of soundtrack songs and took time to star in the 1983 horror flick Videodrome. She finally got back in the studio in '86 to record her second full-length solo album with producer Seth Justman (of the J. Geils Band). It would be titled Rockbird and this song was the first single lifted from the LP. The track performed below expectations stumbling in the bottom half of the Pop chart while eking out a #44 showing at Dance. The results didn't help the album, which crawled to #95. However, outside of the States results were far better. This song would reach the Top 10 in some other countries including the UK where it became her biggest solo hit (#8). The album would end up being a gold seller in the UK as well. In the US, this song was released simply as "French Kissin." In other territories, it was released as "French Kissin in the U.S.A."

ReduxReview:  This is one of those songs that caught on in other parts of the world, but just didn't click in the States. I always thought that was kind of a bummer as this is a fun song. The verse sounds like a lost relic from some 60s Europop tune while the chorus is immediate and memorable. Justman also gives it a nice 80s production with swirling keyboards that float in and out. I'm not sure what turned off listeners in the US. Maybe a song about french kissing was a bit too much? Whatever the reason, folks lost out. This should have been a much bigger hit.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Harry co-wrote all the songs on Rockbird except for this one. It was written by Chuck Lorre. If that name seems familiar, then you are probably a fan of TV shows like Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory, or Mom. Lorre has been a successful writer/producer for TV shows since 1990. He is also the creator of several hit shows including the previous three mentioned. Before going into TV, Lorre had been playing guitar and performing on his own and with bands. He also wrote songs and this particular one wound its way over to Debbie Harry. His next major music effort was co-writing the theme song to the 1987 animated series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. While doing all of this, Lorre was beginning to break into script writing for TV shows. His first big break came when he wrote twelve episodes of the 1987-1990 comedy series My Two Dads. Next came his tumultuous stint (1990-1992) as writer/executive producer on the hit show Roseanne. After he was fired from that job, he began to create his own shows. His first one,1992's Frannie's Turn was a six-episode bomb. But his next one,1993's Grace Under Fire starring Brett Butler, was a hit. That led to other successful shows like Cybill, Dharma & Greg, Young Sheldon, and the three previously mentioned. Although he didn't create it, he did write and exec produce Mike & Molly as well. Music certainly took a backseat once his TV career took off, but at least he has this Debbie Harry track to highlight on his musical resume.


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