Saturday, February 13, 2021

"Check It Out" by John Cougar Mellencamp

Song#:  3404
Date:  02/06/1988
Debut:  66
Peak:  14
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Mellencamp's ninth studio album, The Lonesome Jubilee, became another multi-platinum success thanks to a pair of Top 10 hits including the nostalgic #8 "Cherry Bomb." His previous album, Scarecrow, spawned three Top 10s, so it was hoped that this third single from Jubilee would also do the trick. It nearly did, but stalled just short at #14. However, it was a hit over at Rock where it reached #3.

ReduxReview:  I have to say that I would not have pegged this for a single. It was wordy, meandering, and didn't necessarily have a hooky chorus. It was a terrific and thoughtful song, however there were tracks on the album that I felt had a better shot on the Pop chart. I was certainly proved wrong after the tune made the Top 20. I didn't expect that. I'm glad it did, but in the long run it wasn't one of Mellencamp's most memorable hits. My personal memory of the song is when I saw Mellencamp in concert back around '89. He performed this tune and about halfway through, he forgot the words. He had the band vamp for a minute so he could remember them, but the words didn't come. So he started the song over hoping the words would flow. They didn't. He got caught at the same point. He even asked the audience if anyone knew the lyrics, but being such a wordy song, it confused everyone else as well. Even his band members didn't know! After another long vamp, he finally remembered and the song continued. The audience cheered in appreciation. That kind of thing doesn't really happen anymore with major acts. The shows are so staged and timed that they include teleprompters with all the lyrics and even cues. For me it kind of takes away from the spontaneity of a live performance, but if someone has a highly staged show that folks have shelled out major bucks for, I can see why an artist would want to have it go off without a hitch. Personally, I don't mind the mistakes. It shows the human side of the performer and I think Mellencamp's gaff the night I saw him made the show more memorable and personal.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Tracks from The Lonesome Jubilee were wildly successful on rock radio. Overall, six songs from the album would reach the Rock Top 10. Whether that was a record for an artist is unclear, but it was certainly an amazing feat. Four of the Top 10s would reach the Pop chart while the other two were airplay-only hits on the Rock chart. The non-singles "The Real Life" and "Hard Times for an Honest Man" would reach #3 and #10, respectively, on the Rock chart. Of the singles, "Paper in Fire" and "Cherry Bomb" would each hit #1 while "Check It Out" got to #3 and "Rooty Toot Toot" made it to #7. The haul increased Mellencamp's total of Top 10 Rock hits to fourteen. Over the years he would add nine more making a total of twenty-three. As of this posting date, Mellencamp ranks in the Top 10 for the most Top 10s on the Mainstream Rock chart, tied with Metallica and Pearl Jam.


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