Today, I listened to Duncan Sheik’s “Barely Breathing,” a song in my “Dirty Dozen.”
These are songs that radio burned out so badly that it’s still hard for me to tolerate them, even decades later.
I found I could remember its charms.
But I have no desire to hear it again for at least another year.
The Dirty Dozen: This is a very different category from songs like:
- “You’re Having My Baby,”
- “My Ding-a-Ling”
- or “Blurred Lines.”
Songs I loathe. It’s easy to turn off the radio if any of those ever comes on.
My “Dirty Dozen,” however, are songs I like … or, rather, liked.
Unfortunately, the rest of the universe did, too, and they have been played to death.
So much so that hearing them now makes me want to rush for the dial or toggle to the next song.
In no particular order, here are my “Dirty Dozen.”
Let’s start with the already-mentioned “Barely Breathing.” It was a huge success on Adult Top 40, a format that jumps on songs weeks or months after they’ve already become a hit on contemporary hit stations. And then once added, the stations wouldn’t let go.
Sheik’s song was so massive that the week it fell out of Billboard’s Top 40, the week of Nov. 22, 1997, it had been on the chart for a full year.
It was a huge success on Adult Top 40, a format that jumps on songs weeks or months after they’ve already become a hit on contemporary hit stations.
(It lasted three more weeks before dropping out of the Top 50, which was the chart’s cutoff at the time.)
Subjectively? I like “Barely Breathing.”
I’ll admit its style of singer-songwriter pop/rock lends itself easily to jokes about its title. But it does fall squarely into my fondness for adult contemporary music.
That said, it’s a no-go for me. Radio killed it. Here are 11 other victims of overkill.
- The Police’s “Every Breath You Take”
- The Beatles’ “Hey Jude”
- Irene Cara’s “Flashdance … What a Feeling”
- Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You”
- Eurythmics’ “Here Comes the Rain Again”
- The Eagles’ “Hotel California”
- Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop”
- Andy Gibb’s “Shadow Dancing”
- LeAnn Rimes’ “How Do I Live?”
- Madonna’s “Holiday”
- Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”
I’m sure that last one is due to the fact that it has been a hit three separate times, meaning three generations of massive airplay.
One could make the same argument for holiday tunes such as Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” or Wham’s “Last Christmas,” which I can tolerate between Thanksgiving and Christmas…
… and immediately switch off on Dec. 26.
Yes, I realize none of these songs became a hit in the 21st century.
That says more about my listening habits (centered on my record collection and old AT40 shows than on contemporary radio) than on the merits of those songs themselves.
I know that songs by The Weeknd, Harry Styles and others have spent more than a year on the charts, but I’m not as familiar with them as my students are.
What are your “Dirty Dozen”?
Let the author know that you liked their article with a “Green Thumb” upvote!