Tuesday, December 08, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #97: Who's Gonna Save My Soul by Gnarls Barkley

Last week, I started writing something regarding the fact that decreased impact of terrestrial radio airplay has diluted the impact of the "one hit wonder" in relation to past decades.  And yet I could never quite string together a cohesive narrative, primarily because the term "hit" at this point seems particularly difficult to qualify.  It was much easier to chart a hit when radio airplay held higher cultural significance, or when MTV in fact played a steady rotation of videos, launching certain bands to buzzworthy status before they disappeared into the ether, never to be heard from again, unless they were included on embarrassing mixtape challenges.

But alas, nobody has informed Billboard magazine of the downturn affecting one hit wonders.  They rolled out their top 40 of the decade today, and personally I find Daniel Powter's American Idol-fueled victory over James Blunt a significant upset. 

While I always enjoy the occasional remembrance of Crazy Town, Billboard's #7 pick seems out of place.

Look, Billboard.  First off, who is Ceee-Lo?  Fuller, go easy on the e's!

Secondly, I don't think you quite understand what it is that people really enjoy about one hit wonders.  For a one hit wonder to truly pack a punch, they need to vanish from the public afterward, removing their name from the collective consciousness in all cases (with the exception of trivia contests and state fair appearances.)  In the case of Gnarls Barkley, it seems bizarre to include them on a list with expected one hit luminaries like Eiffel 65 and the incomparable Lou Bega**.  

When comparing The Odd Couple with St. Elsewhere, it's probably a toss up as to which has aged better, but if news came tomorrow that Danger Mouse and Cee-Lo were recording another album, it would be a notable story, thus nullifying the obscurity that we associate with one-hit wonders.  (Similar news about a new Vanessa Carlton album might go underreported by comparison.)  People justifiably still regard Gnarls Barkley as both talented and relevant, and these are two adjectives that have no place when we're looking back mocking those whose singles we bought in our dumber days. 

**The Bega inclusion should raise red flags since Billboard points out that his hit occurred in 1999, but it's impossible to get riled up about anything concerning Lou Bega, so I'll allow its presence on the list.

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