When I was a kid, I was brought up on oldies. Not only did my parents have the entire Time Life CD collection (still do), but damn, they had an impressive collection of LPs that I’ve sneakily advised that I want in the event of their passing. I will probably have to fight my sister on some of them, but we’ll cross that bridge when we have to.
The Diamonds’ “Little Darlin'” frequently gets stuck in my head and I simply cannot remember the title or the band name. Inevitably, I go around singing, “I hopa-hopa-hopa-well-a” until it drives me – and those forced to be around me – insane.
Although Dionne Warwick did a good job covering this song in the 70s, the original group that sang this – Little Anthony & the Imperials – is the superior version by far. There’s so much more passion behind Little Anthony’s vocals, and he doesn’t get nearly the amount of notoriety as he deserves.
I feel like Martha and the Vandellas needs their own freaking bio-pic, a la Dreamgirls. The drama surrounding the group’s creation – and just Martha Reeves herself – is fascinating, and they were a powerhouse of hits for an entire decade, continuing to record new material (pretty fabulous in its own right, honestly – just check out 1972’s Black Magic) for another. Their signature song is still “Dancing in the Streets,” though, although that should not come as a surprise.
I don’t know why, but Bobby Darin just has a punchable face. I can’t explain it. I love his music, but every time I see his mug, I’m just like … I wanna punch it? But anyway, “Dream Lover” is my favorite song of his, even if I have an impulse to slam my fist into his mouth.
Now I partly blame the Fallout series for reintroducing me to this song, but I heard “Sixty Minute Man” when I was younger – maybe five or six? – and found my mother incapable of explaining to me what Billy Ward and the Dominoes were singing about. I was a precocious, inquisitive child.
I know very little about Tony Orlando and Dawn (there are two women here, so I’m not sure who Dawn is? I’m afraid to ask), but Now & Then introduced me to “Knock Three Times” when I was in middle school. It has kind of a Nice Guy vibe to it – if not a little stalkery, if I’m being completely honest – but it’s a fun little bop.
Santo & Johnny’s “Sleep Walk” is my favorite song that came out of the 50s. Completely instrumental and just … perfect. I can’t even come up with more words to say, which is oddly appropriate.
First off, that LP cover image is disturbing as hell, considering the content matter of the song, “Last Kiss.” But second, I listened to this song a million times as a kid by J Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers, and then stupid Pearl Jam covered it when I was in middle school, and some summer camp counselor accused me of lying when I told him I knew the original, which is why I could sing along when we went to a water park, and I’m still bitter about it.
God, I love Petula Clark. I can’t help myself, but whenever I go into Nashville proper, I always sing “Downtown” to myself in the car. I know she was probably singing about NYC or London or whatever, but I don’t care: any downtown works, in my opinion, even if it’s the little centrally located square in your small town.
The Guess Who is probably one of my favorite bands of all time, and did you fucking know they released an album in 2018 I BET YOU DID NOT. Anyway, their most famous song – “American Woman” – pales in comparison to the majority of their other work, and “Laughing” is, without a doubt, one of the best of them.
Art Credit: Billboard, American Dreams, Classic Motown, Medium, Discogs, MeTV, WSJ, Discogs, Pass the Paisley, Britannica