Tag Archives: The Miracles

Monkeying Around: Pop Goes The Primates

The Ape of things.

The Ape of things.

You saw him perform it a few nights ago on MTV’s Video Music Awards and now, Bruno Mars is unleashing “Gorilla” as the fourth single from his former #1 album, Unorthodox Jukebox. Now that “Treasure” is falling down the charts, will Mars be able to rack up a fourth top 5 hit from his album? We’ll just have to wait and see. However, while we all prepare for “Gorilla” to take over the airwaves, here are some of the other characters who swung from vine to vine in order to find the treetop of top 40 hits from 1958 onward:

“The Monkey Time”, Major Lance (#8, 1963)
Mississippi-born Lance became one of the most successful acts for Okeh Records, signed to the label in 1962 after being recommended by another highly regarded singer of R&B music, Curtis Mayfield. “Time” was his first single to chart and was an instant hit, going to #8 on the Hot 100 and #2 on the R&B chart. He would become best known for “Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um” (#5, Hot 100), which peaked the next year.

“Mickey’s Monkey”, The Miracles (#8, 1963)
Tamla Records put Smokey Robinson and his band on the map with a series of singles that went high on the Hot 100 and even higher on the R&B charts. This song was their third top ten on Billboard’s national chart and it also went to #3 on the R&B listing. Of course, with many bigger hits to come like “I Second That Emotion” (1967) and the #1 “The Tears Of A Clown” (1970), they entertained audiences for some time.

“Harry The Hairy Ape”, Ray Stevens (#17, 1963)
Comedian and country singer Stevens has been recording music for over five decades and he’s still not run out of punch lines. His first top ten single in 1962 was “Ahab The Arab” (#5). This came the next year, and actually became a bigger hit on the R&B chart (#14) than on the pop chart (#17). Strange indeed, but he can be pretty strange sometimes. His latest release, “Guilt For Christmas”, came out earlier this year.

“One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show (Part 1)”, The Honey Cone (#15, 1972)
The R&B trio out of Los Angeles made their debut in 1969 with a handful of songs that bombed on the national survey, but in 1971, they rose to #1 with the song “Want Ads”. “One” was the third in their string of top 40 hits on the Hot 100, having previously flopped for Joe Tex in 1965. After recording one more album which received little attention, the group split in 1973, though they’ll be reuniting in 2014 for a cruise.

“Shock The Monkey”, Peter Gabriel (#28, 1983)
After splitting with Genesis and making a name for himself on the album chart in the U.S., the only thing Gabriel was missing was a hit single. His first of a handful of charting successes was “Shock”, which reached the top 40 in late 1982 and peaked in early 1983. Though it wasn’t the biggest of his releases, it would open the door for him and allowed “Sledgehammer” and “Big Time” from So to go top 5 nationally.

“Monkey”, George Michael (#1, 1988)
Why did he have to share his baby with a “Monkey”? That was question on everyone’s minds during the summer of 1988 when this energetic single was released. Following three consecutive number-one singles from Faith (the title track, “Father Figure” and “One More Try”), this also topped the Hot 100 for two weeks, as well as the Hot Dance/Club Play survey for two weeks. It wasn’t as successful internationally.

You may be wondering specifically about the gorilla itself when it comes to the record charts; after all, it is a larger species of the monkey family. While there have been a few singles released about the great monster King Kong, a gorilla, none were strong enough to make the top 40. That list includes “King Kong (Part 1)” by Jimmy Castor (#69, 1975), “Kong” by Dickie Goodman (#48, 1977), “Theme From King Kong (Part 1)” by the Love Unlimited Orchestra (#68, 1977) and “King Kong” by Jibbs featuring Chamillionaire (#54, 2006). It’s also worth mentioning that there was one minor single that mentioned the word “gorilla” by name, recorded by a now popular disc jockey of several syndicated shows. That would be Rick Dees and His Cast Of Idiots, who went to #56 in 1977 with “Dis-Gorilla (Part 1)”, the followup single to the #1 “Disco Duck”. Seems that not every animal was down with getting down back then.

For more musical monkeys and chart trivia that can’t be caged, follow the blog below or click the “Get Social!” page to find PGTC on social media.

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Shop Around: A Trip To The Musical Mini-Mart

"Shop" 'til you drop.

“Shop” ’til you drop.

Ready to pop some tags? Macklemore & Ryan Lewis‘s “Thrift Shop” has been one of the big breakout records so far this year, already in the top 5 on the Billboard Hot 100. It’s a novelty record, and though that’s not the tone of their whole collaborative album, The Heist, it’s the song that’s seemed to catch the attention of fans and radio programmers alike. However, with a #5 peak thus far, it’s not the biggest single to mention a retail store in the history of the charts. Grab your cart and your list because we’ll be spending this next post looking at some different locations and “shop”-titled hits that rang up on the registers.

It should be noted that the most covered “Shop” song to hit the charts used the word as a verb rather than a noun. It’s “Shop Around”, originally a #2 hit for The Miracles in 1960 and then covered by The Captain & Tennille in 1976, which got as high as #4. The song itself is a about a young man who is told by his mother that he though he’s older now, he still has time to “shop around” for girls before he “takes a bride”. For the 1976 remake, the gender roles were changed. An answer record, “Don’t Let Him Shop Around” by Debbie Dean, hit the charts for a few weeks in 1961. The same thing happened for the similarly titled “Don’t Have To Shop Around” by The Mad Lads in 1965. Both didn’t reach higher than #92.

Other more general titles to hit the charts include “Love In Store” by Fleetwood Mac (#22, 1983) and “Window Shopper” by 50 Cent (#20, 2006).

Let’s divide the rest of our charting hits into four different categories:

CAFÉ/COFFEE SHOP
Five songs fit into this category, which is the most out of the four. The first was “Old Home Filler-Up An’ Keep On A-Truckin’ Café” by C.W. McCall, a #54 entry in 1974. He’s best known for his #1 hit, “Convoy”. In 1977, Carole King charted with her penultimate top-40 hit, “Hard Rock Café”, which went as high as #30. Finally, in 1981, the last charting song for jazz group Spyro Gyra peaked at #77: “Café Amore”. They hit the top 40 two years earlier with their lone hit, “Morning Dance”. The two other titles in this group didn’t hit until late 2007 and early 2008: “Coffee Shop” by Yung Joc featuring Gorilla Zoe (#78) and “Falling In Love At A Coffee Shop” by Landon Pigg (#93). The latter gained some digital strength from its use in an AT&T commercial.

CLOTHING
Besides the thrift shopping we’ve been doing as of late, the only other song about shopping for clothes to make the charts was way back in 1960. The Coasters, the same group who landed a #1 hit with “Yakety Yak” in 1958, took “Shoppin’ For Clothes” to #83 two years later. Plenty of songs mentioning articles of clothing have hit the charts since then, but none about actually buying them. I’ll spare you the list of those until another time. It will happen.

FOOD/BEVERAGE
Although not specifically mentioned in the title of the song, Toni Basil took a crazy trip to the supermarket to #77 in 1983, a song called “Shoppin’ From A-Z”. It was the followup to her #1 hit, “Mickey”. (Toni, what are you wearing in that video?!) Basil would hit the charts once more with another underperforming single before disappearing from the music scene. In 2011, rapper Mac Miller took “Frick Park Market”, named after a supermarket near his hometown of Pittsburgh, to #60 on the Hot 100. He has yet to make the top 40.

The biggest food-specific store song to hit the charts is also the biggest one on this list. It hit #1 for nine weeks, but even with the kid-friendly title, I’m not sure you would want to be sending your children there. “Candy Shop”, by 50 Cent and Olivia, was one of the massive Urban hits that year. Cent has had several top-5 hits since then, but they’ve been largely forgettable. His current single featuring Adam Levine and Eminem, “My Life”, recently peaked at #27 on the Hot 100.

One other additional entry, a novelty spoken-word record about a drunken man calling into an alcoholic beverage store, made the top 100 in 1971. That was “Ajax Liquor Store”, a #43 hit for the comedic duo of Hudson & Landry. They hit the top 100 once more the following year.

LAUNDRY
Need some clean clothes? Two songs about the laundromat have hit the Hot 100. The highest-charting one was a parody of 1964’s “Leader Of The Pack”, a #1 hit by girl group The Shangri-La’s. “Leader Of The Laundromat”, as done by a vocal group called The Detergents (lot of originality there) hit #19 the following year. They didn’t hit the top 40 again. In 2003, Nivea followed up her big top ten hit, “Don’t Mess With My Man”, with the song “Laundromat”, featuring vocals from R. Kelly. It peaked at #58.

Still have some money left over? Well, then you can spend it at any of the top 100 hits about restaurants, hotels, vacation destinations, etc. Don’t forget to take your Grandma’s coat with you.

For more chart information and music news, follow the blog and let me know what you think in the comments or on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.

EDIT: On January 23, it was announced that “Thrift Shop” hit the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. It’s now the second “shop” title to reach the spot since the aforementioned “Candy Shop”.

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