If you’re a fan of aquatic adventures and the terrors that lie underneath the sea, then you’re probably glued to the Discovery Channel for their annual Shark Week, full of original content about those curious creatures. The extravaganza continues at 9PM Eastern tonight with a few new specials, including Sharkpocalypse (because we really needed it.) Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, the sharks have also showed up in a handful of popular singles over the past few decades, although I’d like to think this retrospective is a little safer to dive into. So, grab a towel and dry off with this playlist that’s making waves:
“Mack The Knife”, Bobby Darin (#1, 1959)
Going way back to the late 50’s, “Knife” originates from the show The Threepenny Opera, which originally debuted in an English translation in the U.S. in 1933. A New York City revival in the mid-50’s won a Tony Award and played for over 2,000 performances. While Louis Armstrong recorded a cover in 1956, the song is mostly identified as one of Darin’s signature songs, going to #1 on the Hot 100 for six weeks.
“Mr. Jaws”, Dickie Goodman (#4, 1975) / “Main Title from Jaws“, John Williams and His Orchestra (#32, 1975)
Jaws Fever swept over the U.S. during the summer of 1975, but it was a song that added a comical twist to the shark film that was all over the charts. Goodman had been producing his classic break-in records for years, with a reporter on scene at a significant event asking questions, with clips of hit songs placed as the answers. Using samples of songs by the Bee Gees and the Eagles, it was a smash, anchoring down at #4.
The theme from the movie itself was also a top 40 hit for Williams, one of the best film composers, but he would have bigger successes with the themes from Close Encounters Of A Third Kind and Star Wars.
“Fins”, Jimmy Buffett (#35, 1979)
Buffett’s last top 40 hit on the Hot 100 talks about a girl who “came down from Cincinnati” only to have sharks “schoolin’ around” her at the bar. It was the first song to be released from his album Volcano, and it went to #35 in November. He still plays it at nearly all of his concerts. The now 66-year-old Buffett will be releasing his 27th studio album, Songs From St. Elsewhere, on August 20 via his own Mailboat Records.
“Shooting Shark”, Blue Öyster Cult (#83, 1984)
Best known for their 1976 hit, “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” as well as the minor single “Burnin’ For You” from 1981, the quintet pulled off one last charting single in this leadoff release from The Revölution by Night. It peaked in early 1984, and though it didn’t do well on the pop survey, it did go top 20 on the Rock chart. The band is still together under a different lineup, but there’s been no new material from them since 2001.
“Shark In The Water”, V.V. Brown (#67, 2010)
This song by Brown is the closest we’ve come to having a top 40 hit with “Shark” in the title. It also became a minor hit in several European countries, and also has the distinction of going to #1 on my personal chart. It was her only charting single. After a shelved second album under Capitol Records, she parted ways with the label, going independent for a full-length album due in September. It’s called Samson & Delilah.
If that bait didn’t get you, how about rocking out to some Great White or Hammerhead? They’re two of the few acts that named themselves after types of sharks, and that’s going to do it for this wade into the chart waters.
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