One of the most popular posts in the past week and a half has belonged to Canadian singer Avril Lavigne‘s newest single, “Here’s To Never Growing Up”. The pop ditty is already building feverishly at radio and recently debuted at #52 on the Billboard Hot 100. She may not want to grow up, but other song titles take the affirmative side on the matter. At this point, fourteen songs with the word “grow” (or a variation like “grown”, “grows” or “growing”) have made the top 40 since the Hot 100 began in 1958, meaning Lavigne could potentially have the fifteenth such title to do so. Have these songs aged well or should we leave them in the past? You be the judge.
The first of our big “grow” singles on the list comes from a performer who was successful as an actor before he became a singer, first starring on The Mickey Mouse Club in 1955. By 1962, a then sixteen-year-old Johnny Crawford had charted with a pair of hits before his third, “Your Nose Is Gonna Grow”, went to #14. He last entered the Hot 100 in 1964, then went back into acting and later on joined the Army. He now leads a dance orchestra in California.
Here’s the first of three years where two songs managed to rank in the top 40. After launching hits like “Fun, Fun, Fun” and “Surfin’ U.S.A” into the top ten, the Beach Boys climbed back there in the fall of 1964 with “When I Grow Up (To Be A Man)”. It peaked at #9 on the Hot 100. They consistently hit that region for another two years before things fell apart. They reunited last year for an album and tour before three of its members left the group again.
The second of the two came from New York girl group The Cookies, who were then a trio. Their last of three top 40 hits, “Girls Grow Up Faster Than Boys”, rose as high as #33. They’re still together today with a different lineup.
After reaching the top spot with “My Girl” earlier that year, the followup single to it by The Temptations, “It’s Growing”, only went to #18 on the charts. The group would go onto score fifteen top ten hits after that single, mostly from 1966-1973. A remake by singer-songwriter James Taylor from his Covers album reached a peak of #11 on the Adult Contemporary chart in 2009, his biggest at the format in over a decade, but failed to make the Hot 100.
The duo of Chip Taylor and Al Gorgoni got together in 1966 under the name Just Us. Their only top 40 single, “I Can’t Grow Peaches On A Cherry Tree”, was also the name of their sole album. The song hit #34 on the Hot 100. Taylor wrote for a number of Country artists afterwards and had one minor top 40 hit on the Country survey in 1975, while Gorgoni played on #1 Hot 100 hits for Melanie, The Archies and The Monkees.
Singer Bobby Vee became a teen idol in early 60’s with big singles like the #1 “Take Good Care Of My Baby” from 1961. His singles faltered as the British Invasion came around, but he had one last hurrah with “Come Back When You Grow Up”, reaching #3 on the Hot 100. It is, thus far, the highest peaking of all the “grow” titles on this list. It was also Vee’s first single credited to Bobby Vee & The Strangers. They last hit in 1970.
Also during the year, pop group The Four Seasons went to #30 with one of their lesser singles, “Watch The Flowers Grow”. It wasn’t until 1975 that the group would reappear in the top ten with the #3 “Who Loves You”.
The first and only “grow” top ten hit during the decade came in the spring, when “Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)” climbed to a peak of #5 for Edison Lighthouse. It was the group’s only top-40 hit, but lead singer Tony Burrows would also appear on hits by three other bands within that year: “Gimme Dat Ding” by The Pipkins (#9), “My Baby Loves Lovin'” by White Plains (#13) and “United We Stand” by The Brotherhood of Man (#13).
A second more minor song, “Do You See My Love (For You Growing)”, charted for R&B group Jr. Walker & The All-Stars. It rose to #32 and was their last of a dozen top-40 hits. They would continue to make the Hot 100 until 1972.
If you were alive in the 60’s, you probably remember the #1 hit “Honey” from 1968, but for all the wrong reasons. It’s often credited as one of the worst songs of all-time. (I’m not a fan either.) Well, three years after that musical mess, Bobby Goldsboro struck again with a not-so-horrible song, “Watching Scotty Grow”. It went to #11. Goldsboro last hit the top 40 in 1973, but continued to make the Country survey until 1982.
Soul group The 5th Dimension made a name for themselves starting the mid-60’s with a handful of big singles and even more moderate charters. By the mid-70’s, their mainstream success quickly dried up, beginning with this last top-40 single. “Living Together, Growing Together”, the title track from one of their last studio albums, only mustered up to #32. The band still tours today with one founding member, Florence LaRue.
After eight top 5 singles in a row, the streak had to end for the legendary Elton John in 1976 with a double a-sided single that only charted in North America. One of the two songs featured on it was “Grow Some Funk Of Your Own”, which fits our look back, which was backed with “I Feel Like A Bullet (In The Gun Of Robert Ford)”. It peaked at #14 in the United States. He would rebound quite quickly and have many more top ten singles.
The last of the 70’s growers was by Kenny Nolan, who took his second and final top 40 hit to #20, a song called “Love’s Grown Deep”. Nolan had a total of four songs make the Hot 100 through 1980, the biggest of them being the #3 “I Like Dreamin'”. This would be the last top 40 single overall to contain the word “grow” or a variation of it for nearly three decades! Why such a long time? I don’t know, but it kept on growing for over thirty years.
After a dry spell of 31 years, “When I Grow Up” by the Pussycat Dolls hit the national charts, becoming their last top ten single to date with a #9 charting. It led off their sophomore album, Doll Domination. It didn’t dominate, however, and was the beginning of the end for the Dolls as lead singer Nicole Scherzinger began to be credited as a featured artist on their final two Stateside singles. Scherzinger eventually went solo to mixed success.
Check back soon to see how Lavigne’s song ends up doing on the national charts and don’t forget to follow the blog below and find me on Twitter at @AdamFSoybel.