Friday, July 16, 2021

"The Twist (Yo, Twist!)" by The Fat Boys with Chubby Checker

Song#:  3554
Date:  06/17/1988
Debut:  79
Peak:  16
Weeks: 15
Genre: Hip-Hop


Pop Bits:  The Fat Boys hit a career high with their fourth LP Crushin'. It would be a #8 Pop/#4 R&B platinum album thanks to their collaboration with The Beach Boys on the old hit "Wipeout." That track would get to #10 at R&B while reaching #12 Pop. The nostalgia of the old tune along with The Beach Boys expanded The Fat Boys' audience and so for their next album, Coming Back Hard Again, they decided to visit that well once more to see if lightning could strike twice. This first single, a revamped version of "The Twist," would be issued out. While the song wouldn't do quite as well as "Wipeout," it would still get inside the Pop Top 20 while making it to #40 at R&B. It would help the album go gold, but it seemed that listeners were quickly getting tired with the formula.

ReduxReview:  Hey, if it worked once, why not try it again? Sadly, The Fat Boys did try it again. After "Wipeout," they had a prime opportunity to come up with something catchy and original to both establish their sound and further their career, but instead they relied on the same "Wipeout" gimmick. This time the victim was Chubby Checker and his signature song. As if to remind people that they did this before, The Fat Boys even start their version of "The Twist" with the opening cackle from "Wipeout." Actually, I don't hate this track as much as I did "Wipeout" and I think that is mainly because Checker is on it singing his own song (with a few added/updated lyrics). Still, it ended up being more silly than fun and it continued to pigeonhole The Fat Boys as more of a comedy/novelty act rather than actual hip hop artists.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  This song featured vocals by Chubby Checker, who had famously recorded the song in 1960. While the song is highly associated with Checker, he wasn't the first to record the tune. While the roots of the song came from or were inspired by other tunes, singer/songwriter Hank Ballard created "The Twist" and recorded an early version in 1958. A formal version of the track was recorded later that year. It got relegated to the b-side of another song, but late in '59 it began to get airplay. As the song was taking off, it got the attention of Dick Clark, who wanted to get the song on American Bandstand. However, for a large national audience, Clark wasn't sure Ballard's more suggestive performances and previous bawdy songs were right for the show, so he decided to find a singer like Ballard and have a local label record the tune. Through auditions he found Earnest Evans, soon to go by the name of Chubby Checker, and got him to record a near identical version of "The Twist."  In 1960, Checker would perform his version on American Bandstand. That exposure boosted the song and Checker's single version began to fly off shelves. It would end up hitting #1 Pop/#2 R&B. Unfortunately, Checker's version overshadowed Ballard's original and that single stalled at #28 Pop/#16 R&B. However, that is not the end of the story. While teenagers were the ones to initially do the twist and buy the record, as time went on more adults began to catch on to the dance craze. It caused the song to become popular again and early in '62 the single was reissued. Not only did the song get back on the chart, but it went to #1 for a second time. It still remains the only song to reach #1 twice during two separate chart runs.

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