Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Whatever Happened to Novelty Songs?

So…. Last month’s music project was to look each at the Billboard charts for “this day” of a different year. June 1st was 1961, June 2nd was 1962, etc. I listed the top 5, a few songs from the rest of the Top 40, and a few songs from the rest of the Hot 100. I thought it was interesting, although the late 80’s were kind of grim.

So, what about July? It’s already the 5th, and I finally don’t really have a plan…. Suggestions are welcome.

For today, let’s look at “Novelty” songs: My perception is that novelty songs have faded in popularity since the 70s. But how about some data? Looking through my favorite reference, song-database.com, they list 285 songs between 1950 and 2010. A whopping 83% of them are from the 50’s, 60’s, 70s. And only 17% from the 80’s. 90’s or 00’s.


So what gives? Have the youths of America lost their sense of humor through the generations? Or has popular music simply lost it’s diversity?

Using the points system at Song Database, here’s the top 10 Novelty acts through the years, and their biggest hit:

  1. Ray Stevens – The Streak #1 in 1974
  2. David Seville – Witch Doctor #1 in 1958
  3. Spike Jones & His City Slickers – All I Want For Christmas Is My 2 Front Teeth #1 in 1948
  4. Stan Freberg – St. George & The Dragnet #1 in 1953
  5. Jim Stafford – Spiders & Snakes #3 in 1974
  6. Dickie Goodman – Mr. Jaws #4 in 1974
  7. Cheech & Chong – Earache My Eye #9 in 1974
  8. Weird Al Yankovic – White & Nerdy #9 in 2006
  9. Sheb Wooley/Ben Colder – Purple People Eater #1 in 1958
  10. Lou Monte – Pepino The Italian Mouse #5 in 1963

Look 'em up on Youtube.....

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