Wednesday, July 27, 2016
SHG: Tommy Sands: "Teen-Age Crush"
Tommy Sands: “Teen-Age Crush”
Entered the chart on: 2/23/1957
Peaked on: 3/16/1957
Weeks at #2: 2 weeks
Song at #1: “Young Love” by Tab Hunter
So, my current review schedule has me binging on 50s music. Artists I’ve long appreciated but forgotten about: LaVern Baker, Nat “King” Cole, Sarah Vaughan, Johnnie Ray, Kay Starr, Fats Domino, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, and so on. A recent whim dug up this oddity* from my parents’ record collection. It always creeped me out a bit; why should a bouncy, uptempo piano-shuffle instrumental have this unearthly, wordless soprano choir delivering the melody? And then that infectious rock & roll sax solo comes out of freaking nowhere! What a weird song! It’s no wonder it wasn’t a bigger hit (peaking at #38)!
By now I hear you asking, “Mike, are you stalling because you don’t want to review this edition’s song?” Maybe. Maybe because it’s sung by an actor who’s mainly remembered today for appearing opposite Annette Funicello in the Disney musical Babes in Toyland. Or for his failed marriage to Nancy Sinatra. Or because it’s called “Teen-Age Crush.” Anyway, the edition in my copy of Joel Whitburn’s Top 40 Hits has a check-mark in pencil next to it, which means I have heard this song before, but I have no memory of it. Rateyourmusic reviewer “Paddlesteamer” quotes a Youtube comment on this song: “I didn’t like this song back in ’57 and after listening to it again I still don’t.” Bodes well, doesn’t it?
Well, let’s get this over with...
Listening to him over-sing, over-enunciate and generally make me cringe is not a pleasant experience. He just has this over-loaded kind of voice that is just off-putting to listen to. Think someone without vocal training trying to imitate Anthony Newley and you get an idea of his voice. The instrumental track is your typical rock-imitative pop song of the era, with the insistent plink-plink-plink piano and “ah-ahhh” backing vocal support**.
It’s funny, it’s like people didn’t realize that teenagers were a thing that existed until 1956 or so, and that it was an audience that could be pandered to. This is exploitation, pure and simple. As bad as I know this is, I only know it’s going to get worse as the really crass and embarrassing “youth oriented” stuff begins to surface. I see Bobby Rydell and Paul Anka in my near future and I am not looking forward to it!
I should look on the bright side. I could be reviewing this single’s B-side, “Hep Dee Hootie (Cutie Wootie).” Or Tab Hunter’s “Young Love,” for that matter. What a toxic top 2 this is!
*in case the link doesn’t work, the tune is “Cha-Hua-Hua” by the Pets.
**I see that’s the Jordanaires on backing vocals, they who were heard to much better effect on many of Patsy Cline’s big hits.