Sunday, December 26, 2021

"It's the Money That Matters" by Randy Newman

Song#:  3711
Date:  11/05/1988
Debut:  85
Peak:  60
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  The last time Newman was on the Pop chart was back in 1983 when his duet with Paul Simon, "The Blues," got to #51.  It was taken from his LP Trouble in Paradise (#64), an album that would end up being his last one for nearly six years. Yet during that hiatus of sorts, Newman was not idle. He began focusing more on film music, which led to a score for 1984's The Natural and songs for the 1986 comedy Three Amigos. By 1988, he was ready to return to being a singer/songwriter and assembled a new album titled Land of Dreams. This single would be issued out from the album and it made a big splash at Rock reaching #1 on that chart. It would end up being Newman's first and only #1 on any chart. The tune then crossed over to Pop, but it couldn't even crack the top half of the chart. With that result, the album then stopped at #80. Land of Dreams would be Newman's last solo album for eleven years.

ReduxReview:  I remember this song, but had no idea it was a #1 Rock track. Odd to think of a Newman track fending off the likes of R.E.M. and U2 for the top spot while artists like Bon Jovi and Def Leppard were also in the Top 10. It was quite the accomplishment for Newman, but sadly the song didn't translate as well to pop radio. The guitar-driven track was certainly one of Newman's most radio-friendly efforts. It's wry lyrics may have been lost on some, but its catchy chorus kept folks listening. Despite only having one significant Pop hit with 1977's #2 "Short People," Newman ranks among America's greatest composers/songwriters. Many artists have covered his songs over the years and he even got a #1 Pop hit as a writer when his "Mama Told Me (Not to Come)" became a chart topper for Three Dog Night in 1970. Singer/songwriter Harry Nilsson loved Newman's work so much that he did a full covers album in 1970 titled Nilsson Sings Newman. While he may not have been a huge pop star, Newman remains a highly respected composer and songwriter who has won seven Grammys, three Emmys, and two Oscars. All he needs it that Tony for the EGOT!

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  After Land of Dreams, Newman basically threw himself fully into writing songs and scores for films. Arguably his most well-known and successful effort came in 1995 when he did the music for the Pixar megahit Toy Story. That soundtrack featured the Oscar nominated song "You've Got a Friend in Me." While he would not with the award that year, he would later win the Best Original Song Oscar twice. First in 2001 for "If I Didn't Have You" from Monsters, Inc. Then again in again in 2010 for "We Belong Together" from Toy Story 3. Between 1981 and 2019, Newman's scores and songs would earn him twenty-two Oscar nominations that resulted in the two wins. While film music became his primary focus, Newman didn't forget to drop a solo album on occasion. He would have new studio efforts come out in 1999, 2008, and 2017. He also released three Storybook albums where he remade various songs from his back catalog.


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