Cars And Guitars: The Biggest Brands by Singers and Bands

He's wheely got a hit.

He’s wheely got a hit.

Rapper Nelly is about to release his new single entitled “Hey Porsche”, which name-checks the German car producer. It’s a carbon copy of Flo Rida‘s “Whistle”, but hey, if you like that song, you may as well like this one too. You may remember that he hit the top spot on the CHR chart in 2002 with “Dilemma” and “Hot In Herre”, in 2004 with “Over And Over”, as well as in 2010 with “Just A Dream”. Well, by my estimates, if the song becomes a big top ten hit over the spring and summer, it would be the first song to do so in twenty-five years that names a specific brand of car (rather than a general style of one, like “G.T.O.” by Ronny & The Daytonas, “Hot Rod Hearts” by Robbie Dupree or “Low Rider” by War.) So far, there’s been seven of them to achieve the feat since 1964, unless I’m missing something from earlier on, but hopefully all of you out in the blogosphere can help me out with that one. We’ve got some sporty automobiles in the lineup, so let’s cruise around the yard and see what’s parked in place.

THE RIP-CHORDS – “Hey Little Cobra” (1964) (#4)
This British sports car had only been around for a few years prior to this hit, which peaked at #4 in the spring of that year. They followed this single with another similar-themed song, “Three Window Coupe”, which hit #28. One of the lead vocalists on this is Bruce Johnston, who would later become a Beach Boy.

THE HONDELLS – “Little Honda” (1964) (#9)
Gosh, I guess a lot of musicians had cars on the brain in 1964. The Japanese-based automobile specialists have been pumping out cars since 1948, and sixteen years after, the only top-40 hit for this group of session musicians, former by producer Gary Usher, peaked at #4 on the week dated Halloween. It was originally performed by The Beach Boys, who took their version into the lower rungs on the chart. They charted with two other songs, none of which climbed higher than #52.

COMMANDER CODY & HIS LOST PLANET AIRMEN – “Hot Rod Lincoln” (1972) (#9)
Named after the late President, the Lincoln Motor Company has been putting out cars on the market since 1917. This Commander and his crew from the state of Michigan plucked the song out of the 50’s and brought it up to 1972, getting it as high as #9. Though they had three other singles chart, none of them managed to make the top 40. The group still tours today as the Commander Cody Band.

SAMMY JOHNS – “Chevy Van” (1975) (#5)
Did you see the U.S.A. in your Chevrolet? I think Johns and the girl who took in certainly did and then some, as many have since 1911. His only charting top-40 song as a solo artist hit the #5 spot on the Hot 100, though as a songwriter, his compositions for Waylon Jennings and Conway Twittty became top ten hits on the Country chart, and for Twitty, a #1. Johns recently passed away at the age of 66.

PRINCE – “Little Red Corvette” (1983) (#6)
We go from a Chevy van to a Chevrolet Corvette, which celebrates its sixtieth birthday in 2013. Prince just missed the top ten with “I Wanna Be Your Lover” in early 1980, but this song became his first of many top ten singles, peaking at #6. The Purple One still thinks the internet is over, so there’s no use in searching for a YouTube clip of it. Besides, I’m sure you already know the song well enough.

NATALIE COLE – “Pink Cadillac” (1988) (#5)
This General Motors vehicle has been in service for over a hundred years. Several other Hot 100 records over the years have featured this particular car it in their titles, like “Geronimo’s Cadillac” by Michael Murphey (#37, 1972) and “Look At That Cadillac” by the Stray Cats (#68, 1984). This one was the biggest of them. It was Bruce Springsteen that originally performed the song in 1984, appearing as the b-side of the biggest hit by The Boss, “Dancing In The Dark”. Though it had some AOR airplay at the time, it was Cole’s version in the spring of 1988 that gave the song a wider audience while at the same time becoming her biggest hit in a decade. This was the singer’s last top-5 entry on the Hot 100.

PEBBLES – “Mercedes Boy” (1988) (#2)
Here’s another German brand that’s put out a number of models of this car since 1901. California-born Pebbles took hold of wheel and drove her hot wheels to the runner-up spot in the summer of 1988, finishing just behind Cheap Trick‘s “The Flame” in July. It was her best performing single on the Hot 100, though she would hit the top ten with “Giving You The Benefit” two years later.

Close Calls:
THE BEACH BOYS – “Little Deuce Coupe” (1963) (#15)
WILSON PICKETT – “Mustang Sally” (1966) (#23)

Thanks for driving in to check out the post and keep a watch out for Nelly‘s latest hit to see if his trek up the highway is smooth sailing or a bumpy ride. Don’t forget to follow the blog and my handle on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel. Until next time, buckle up and have a safe trip.

1 Comment

Filed under Charts/Trade Papers, Music News, Playlists, Retro

One response to “Cars And Guitars: The Biggest Brands by Singers and Bands

  1. Dan

    I did something like this a while back – not quite the same, but the spirit was similar.

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