I’m late with this entry—it’s been a couple of weeks, let me tell you. So what did I learn from 1962? If there’s a theme, it’s “songs that describe/define dances.” Chubby Checker’s “The Twist” returned to number one after having fallen out of the top 100 completely, Joey Dee and the Starlighters followed Checker with “Peppermint Twist,” Little Eva came along later in the year with “The Loco-motion” and around this time of year, Bobby Boris Picket and the Crypt-Kickers graced us with “The Monster Mash.” Those four songs were atop the charts for only 8 weeks combined, so it’s not much of a theme, but that’s the story for 1962. There’s no dominant scene playing out at the top.
Well, okay. There’s Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, who spend a total of 10 weeks at the top with two different songs: “Sherry” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry.” More on that in a bit. And Ray Charles spent 5 weeks at the top with his very country-influenced “I Can’t Stop Loving You.”
Most of the songs were kind of nondescript bad, as in there wasn’t much interesting happening on the musical end, and the lyrics were pretty banal as well. That epic combination of ugh music and wtf lyrics is kind of lacking this year. It’s mostly boring.
Before I get to the top 3, though, I want to talk about the song that I personally thought was the worst, and why. It’s Bruce Channel’s “Hey! Baby” and you can watch him sing it here. Musically it’s not bad, a bit repetitive, but no worse than the rest of the bunch. But the lyrics are basically one long sexual assault. He’s catcalling the unnamed woman in the song—she’s never anything more than “baby,” and he wants to know if she’ll be his girl. Now it’s bad enough that he’s just calling out to this random woman on the street, but what happens when she rejects him? “When you turned and walked away / that’s when I want to say / ‘Come on baby give me a whirl. / I want to know if you’ll be my girl.” Well, I think she answered his question when she walked away, but he persists with the call, “Hey! Baby. I want to know if you’ll be my girl.” It’s not just the story of the song that bothers me. Because this song is considered a classic, it pops up on oldies stations and in movies and tv shows from the period. It’s had staying power. And it glorifies a pretty despicable action, one that women are still having to put up with today, namely, being objectified by complete strangers and treated as though they should be complimented when randos tell them what they’d like to do to them.
Okay, enough ranting. Here’s what we came up with for top three worst number ones of 1962, in chronological order:
"Johnny Angel" and "Roses Are Red My Love" are both boring songs, sappy, saccharine, and I’m glad they haven’t survived in any meaningful way as representative of the era. "Big Girls Don’t Cry" was the runaway winner in the voting—it nearly tripled the next most hated song of the year—and I may have figured out why. Valli’s falsetto, which can grate in the best of times, is worse than usual on this track, and the "ay-yi-yi"s make me want to punch a short guy from Jersey in the throat. And the speaker in the song is a douche too—he tells his girlfriend he has to break up with her and then says she called his bluff. So why exactly was he going to break up with her? The song never says, but whether it’s to pressure her to do something she isn’t ready to do, or if it’s just to fuck with her feelings, it’s still a shit thing to do. So good on her that she doesn’t cry, but fuck you for doing that to another person.
Voting is already underway on 1963 in my group, and let me tell you, the competition is fierce. There are a lot of crappy number ones in 1963.