Wednesday, September 14, 2016

SHG: Paul Anka: "Put Your Head on My Shoulder"

Paul Anka: “Put Your Head on My Shoulder”
Entered the chart on: 9/14/1959
Peaked on: 10/5/1959
Weeks at #2: 3
Song at #1: “Mack the Knife” by Bobby Darin

I’ve been dealing out a lot of fours and fives in this series of late. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Ladies and gentlemen, that day has arrived.

You see, I knew I’d have to talk about the “teen idols” sooner or later. Tommy Sands was just the tip of the iceberg. That Frankie Avalon tune sitting in the top spot during the Coasters’ entry was the sword of Damocles hanging over this feature until now. 1959 was the year the dam burst and the opportunists flooded the market with a bunch of non-threatening pretty boys designed to make teen girls swoon. In general, they had nothing to do with rock & roll; more a throwback to the old crooner days, minus the quality control. Many of them (I’m looking at you, Fabian) couldn’t even sing; it was all faked by a laborious technique of “punching” in every note and hoping he’d hit it right eventually. Being the producer and/or engineer of one of these sessions must have been a thankless task.

And then we have Canadian import Paul Anka. Paul had a leg-up on the competition in that he could play the piano and wrote his own material. Mind you, that didn’t mean that material was any good. This was the man, after all, that would bring us “You’re Having My Baby,” one of the most cringe-worthy MOR horrors the 70s ever wrought. And yes, that song hit #1. The man has a lot to answer for.

O sweet Zeus, make it stop! The tremolo guitar, the angelic female backing vocals, Anka’s overwrought voice, the cheesy punching of the word “baby,” it’s all too much. He’s certainly no Fats Domino at the ivories, either, his playing, apart from a flamboyant glissando leading into the Eurovision-style key-change at the end, it’s all steady “plink plink plink” with no variation from beginning to end. Before, I was thinking, “well, at least it’s one of his more tolerable songs.” I was wrong. This is worse than I had remembered. Don’t make yourself suffer like I did. Rating: 0

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