Monday, May 4, 2020

"Kiss Him Goodbye" by The Nylons

Song#:  3123
Date:  05/16/1987
Debut:  87
Peak:  12
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Pop, Vocal

Pop Bits:   This Canadian group consisted of four actors who would often sing together in between jobs and auditions. They wanted to form a band, but realized none of them knew how to play any instruments. Undeterred, the quartet decided they could become a band using instruments they already had - their voices. The a cappella outfit began performing for audiences in 1979 and over the next couple of years they became a successful club and cabaret act across Canada performing a cappella versions of pop hits along with original material. They secured a deal with Attic Records and in 1982 issued out a self-titled debut album. It became a hit in Canada as did their follow-up One Size Fits All. This led to more touring, which included opening spots for acts like The Beach Boys and The Pointer Sisters. Their popularity soon stretched across the border into the US and that allowed their 1984 effort Seamless to get on the album chart and reach #133. For a long while, original member Paul Cooper had been pestering the group to record the classic tune "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye." They finally gave in and the track was included on their next album Happy Together. It was then pushed out as a single and to everyone's surprise it started to climb the Canadian chart. It ended up peaking at #21. The unusual track then gained an audience in the US and eventually the song would nearly crack the Pop Top 10 while reaching #10 AC. The unexpected hit helped their album get to #43. It would end up being the quartet's peak commercial moment.

ReduxReview:  While the quartet started out as an a cappella group, they began to enhance their arrangements with electronic percussion around the time of their album Seamless. They continued it on Happy Together, especially with this track. So while not a strict a cappella performance, their voices remained the stars and the driving force behind the song. Save for a stray Beach Boys song or tunes from Billy Joel's An Innocent Man, harmonies and vocal arrangements like this were not the norm in the 80s and their old school vocal approach combined with some modern touches on a catchy classic captured the ears of a mainstream audience. I thought it was cool and ended up buying the single. It was an enjoyable, quirky track that was perfectly arranged and recorded. It's still a fun little lark to hear these days, but it hasn't necessarily aged well. Living now in an age where a cappella has really expanded and pushed boundaries, thanks in part to the Pitch Perfect flicks, this track sounds dated. Still, it provided a very interesting moment on the Pop chart in the 80s.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a song originally released by the band Steam in 1969. Their version spent two weeks at the top of the Pop chart. Like many hits in the 60s and even the 70s, this song was recorded by a studio group. There wasn't an actual band named Steam when the song was released. It also wasn't intended to be pushed out as the a-side of a single. Back in the early 60s, Paul Leka, Gary DeCarlo, and Dale Frashuer were members of a Connecticut doo-wop outfit and while with them the trio began to write a tune for the group to sing. Unfortunately, the group fell apart and the song was scrapped. Leka and Frashuer then moved to New York and began writing/producing for other artists. In 1968, Leka got DeCarlo into the studio to record a few tunes. Mercury Records liked what they heard and wanted to release each song as a single. B-sides were then needed, so for the first single to be released, Leka and DeCarlo revived the little ditty they had written years earlier. They quickly enhanced it with a chorus and with little time to get the song done stitched together a new keyboard track with drums and a conga solo that were recorded at other sessions. DeCarlo sang the lead vocals. To everyone's surprise, when the single went to radio, the tossed together b-side of "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye" started to get airplay. It was then officially released as an a-side single and it would eventually reach #1. An actual Steam band was then assembled and an album released. A follow-up song would barely crack the Top 50 and that was the end of Steam. It left the "band" as a one-hit wonder.


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