July 17, 2015

This just popped into my head, displacing “Thank You For Being a Friend,” the theme song to “The Golden Girls.” Thank you, Tony. Thank you, Dawn.

There was a point in the early to mid-seventies where pop songs became so hook-laden that they were almost annoyingly catchy. You hear it for the first time in 10 years and think “That’s a great song! I should listen to it more.” But then after two or three listens, you just can’t take it any more. It’s like skipping the cake and just eating the icing.

Three Dog Night can be like that. Some of their songs are great, and some are just not great songs. And no matter how amazing the hook is, it’s that musical skeleton underneath that makes it work.

Now this is a good song, with a great hook:

I just love that middle part, where they’re all singing in harmony.

I recently bought Three Dog Night’s greatest hits album. I’d had the chorus to “Shangri-La” going through my head for a couple of days before I figured out who the band was*, and they were all over my iPod for about two months. Then I just had to delete them. Too much icing.

But that’s the challenge of writing great pop songs – you have to take risks. And every once in a while you’ll fly too close to the sun, and your magic wings will dissolve into an icky pool of melted sugar.

On a totally different note**, here’s a great non-pop, non-sugary piece by Art Blakey & the Afro Drum Ensemble:

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