Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Song of the Day: 'Channel Z' by the B-52s

"Roam" came on MTV Classic the other night and it got me thinking of all the bomb first singles from albums that wound up becoming very successful. "Channel Z," of course, was the debut release from "Cosmic Thing," which would go on to become the B's biggest album, spawning two No. 3 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 in "Love Shack" and the aforementioned "Roam." (In its defense, "Channel Z" didn't chart on the Hot 100 but did hit No. 1 on the Alternative Airplay list, which probably says more about the amount of good will the band had built up over the years than the quality of the song.) 

My favorite miscalculation is "I'm Gonna Love You Too," which was the first single released in the U.S. off Blondie's "Parallel Lines." It too failed to chart. The label saw that "Denis" -- a reworking of the Randy and the Rainbows song "Denise" -- hit big overseas, so hoped  a Buddy Holly cover was the way to go for album three. (Ironically, I always thought as a kid that it should have been a single, not knowing that it had been.) "Parallel Lines" would famously go on to spawn countless hits around the world, including "Heart of Glass" (No. 1 in 12 countries, including the U.S. and U.K.), "Sunday Girl," "Picture This," "Hanging on the Telephone" and "One Way or Another," rendering the album a virtual greatest hits collection. 

Leave a comment if you remember any other doozies! 


Philly37 said...

Off the top of my head, I remember Women as the first release from Def Leppard’s “Hysteria” which peaked somewhere below the Top 50. (I don’t even know how that song goes sitting here today.) But after that, it was just one smash after another: Animal, Hysteria, Pour Some Sugar on Me, Love Bites, Armageddon It, Rocket.

From the same era, Knocked Out from Paula Abdul’s “Forever Your Girl” peaked at like 41 (not awful), but the first go-round of (It’s Just) The Way That You Love Me did even worse. Then Straight Up was released, went to #1; and the floodgates opened: title track #1, Cold Hearted #1, re-release of Way That You Love Me (#3), and Opposites Attract (#1]. Not bad after an extremely sluggish start!

Thanks for all of your musical memories Kenneth. I can tell we share the same 80’s DNA!

Damon L. Jacobs said...

--No one got excited when The Pointer Sisters released their first single "I Need You" from their Break Out album in late 1983. But their subsequent singles "I'm So Excited," "Jump For My Love," "Automatic," and "Neutron Dance" ruled the airwaves and topped the charts for all of 1984.

--I think Diana Ross's 1984's Swept Away also fits. Who can even remember the release of the title single? Yet the follow up "Missing You" remains emblematic of mid-80s grief/loss.

--Fleetwood Mac's self-titled 1975 album: "Over My Head" was the first single released to share the band's hot new sound with the world -- and went under quickly. "Rhiannon" was next and the rest is witchtory.

--Do you remember Laura Branigan's rendition of "All Night With Me"? Me neither. But we all remember turning up the radio and spinning for the next single "Gloria" from 1982's Branigan.

--Although "The Girl Is Mine" wasn't exactly a commercial bomb, it definitely would not embody the success and phenomenon of subsequent releases from Michael Jackson's Thriller. It's easy to forget that this lead single was even part of the same collection.

Great suggestion Mr. 212!