What makes a song “classic”? We will skip the dictionary definition and just say a classic is something that is older and has been around awhile and seems to have a style about it that keeps it alive beyond it’s years. Unfortunately music has a certain life expectancy because it follows trends. Much like a gallon of milk or a package of cheese some songs have a relative short shelf life. You’ve all heard of the “One Hit Wonders” like “Gangham Style” by Psy, “Louie, Louie” by the Kingsman.
Playing so many gigs and dealing with everyone from old to young, I deal with so many requests for songs. There are only two groups, the ones that wants to hear the familiar and those who want only to hear just the new stuff. Years ago I attended a DJ convention in Atlantic City where I met the spokesman for Pioneer. His claim to fame was that he was a DJ who had appeared on MTV’s Real World, London. His name was DJ Lars(I always give credit to those I use in articles). Lars, I believe Dj’ed in London in the trendy clubs there. We got onto the subject of songs he played and he said that he played songs only until they broke through to the Top 40 and then he stop playing them. His clientele did not bother with the Top 40. They wanted the avant-garde and the hip. I on the other hand play many of the same songs over and over again at my events. Two different styles for different audiences played by different DJ’s.
Lars will never say, “here’s an old favorite” but I will. There are songs that have stood the test of time. There’s something about the lyrics, the “hook” or the beat. This makes a song seem to go beyond it’s expiration date and is put into that category of “classic” Songs like “Hotel California”, “My Girl”, “Sweet Caroline”, “Brown Eyed Girl” and now add to that list, “Uptown Funk.” I don't want to delve too deeply or dissect the song too much, that takes away the essence and just leaves the parts. All I can say thank God that there are classics and I will continue to play them when asked.
It makes no difference to me if the song is old or new if it has a great beat and people like it. I would play Spike Jones if people danced and enjoyed the songs. I have a saying, “If you have never heard the song, then it’s new to you.” So you shouldn’t care if a DJ puts on “Johnny B.Good” by Chuck Barry or “Why Do Fools Fall In Love” by Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers or even a song from the Bee Gees. If it makes you tap your feet and it makes you want to get up and dance, then that’s all that matters!
I’ve picked one song from each decade going back to the 1950’s. If you would like to check out more one hit wonders head on over to Wikipedia, they have an in depth look at the songs and artist from each decade that rose like the Phoenix only to crash and burn.
!950 Eddie Love Teen Queens Good slow make-out song
1960 Tip Toe Thru the Tulips Tiny Tim Need I say more
1970 Makin’ It David Naughton Song followed his successful movie “American
Werewolf in London”
1980 Whip It Devo Short lived techno song
1990 Nothing Compare To U Sinead O’Connor Prince gave her that song
2000 Smooth Criminal Alien Ant Farm Remake of Michael Jackson’s song
2010 Harlem Shake Baauer I sneezed and the song was gone!