365 Day Song Challenge: Day 81 – “Move To Memphis”

Day 81: A song by your favorite band beginning with the letter A.

“Move To Memphis” – a-ha

Move To MemphisMost people know one song from a-ha—”Take On Me.” Most people (at least of my generation) know who Morten Harket is, maybe not by name, but because he starred in the video for “Take On Me” and that video is hard to forget. In fact, it’s iconic.

Despite the hit song and the iconic video, a-ha never got the attention they deserved, at least not in this country, and that’s a shame, because they were a very good band.

Okay, I’m done plagiarizing from yesterday’s post now.

I remember shortly after “Take On Me” was released, I went out and bought the album, Hunting High And Low. I really liked it. Excited about the quality of the music beyond “Take On Me” I told my friend Mark, “I bought the a-ha album.” His response: “Why?”

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Well, at least somebody out there seemed to agree with me. For a while. The album sold almost two million copies in the US, but I’m not sure how many people listened past the opening track, which happened to be “Take On Me.” Short of a minor hit with “The Sun Always Shines On TV,” a-ha dropped completely off the radar in the U.S., despite releasing a string of good albums (I seem to be the only one in the country who bought them), and writing and recording the theme song for the James Bond film The Living Daylights.

The rest of the world, however, seemed to like the band, and they were pretty successful internationally. (I really ought to live in some other country where people’s taste is better. Read: they agree with me.)

So it was that I happened to be in a record shop in Wollongong, NSW, Australia (the same one where I had greedily sucked up the single for “I Can’t Dance” with “On The Shoreline” as its b-side) when I came upon a-ha’s first greatest hits album, Headlines And Deadlines: The Hits Of a-ha. I bought it. Which was a good thing, because although I didn’t know it at the time, this album was not (and never would be) released in the U.S. (But you can get the MP3 version from Amazon.Figure that one out.)

Since I had all the albums up to that point, I had most of the songs (although the band did put a lot of remixes and edit versions on there, so at least it wasn’t total duplication). But of course there was the bastard child. As I mentioned in the “Hung Up” post, the Bastard Child Song is the song that was written specifically for the greatest hits album. In this case, it was “Move To Memphis.” The good news: it’s one of the cases where the new song is worthy of being part of the greatest hits collection.

I love the song’s bass line, the arrangement, and the mood. “Move To Memphis” immediately jumped into my favorites list. (It’s a large and amorphous list, where songs bounce in and out like fists in a cartoon brawl.) It even ended up on the Stratus Summer Mix along with “And She Was.”

Later, I got their next studio album, Memorial Beach and discovered that they re-recorded “Move To Memphis” for the album. I was frankly disappointed. They didn’t make it better, they just made it less raw and more slick. It simply doesn’t have the punch of the original. (And, after checking it out, the MP3 version of Headlines And Deadlines seems to have the Memorial Beach version. Luckily, I found the one I like for the samples.)

So, this may be one of those songs that I’m introducing you to for the first time. I hope you like it as much as I do. And if not, at least I tried.

And Mark, if you’re out there, this is why.

365 Day Song Challenge: Day 74 – “Hung Up”

Day 74: The song that you most recently downloaded.

“Hung Up” – Madonna

Hung UpI’m a little embarrassed about this one. Had I thought ahead, I probably could have rigged it so that my most recent download was a much cooler song, like “Stairway To Heaven” or “Smells Like Teen Spirit” or even “We Built This City.” But no, it’s this song by Madonna.

And it’s not even “Boy-Toy”-era Madonna when there might have been a shred of credibility about it. No, it’s “Converted-to-Kabbalah, suddenly-talks-with-a-British-accent, adopting-babies-from-countries-you-never-heard-of”-era Madonna.

What’s even worse? “Hung Up” samples an Abba song. Now, I like me a bit of Abba, but the song that she sampled isn’t even a very good one. It’s not “Waterloo” or “Take A Chance On Me” or something reasonably listenable, it’s “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight).”

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This song is the bastard child of the Greatest Hits family. You know what I mean: the song they recorded for the Greatest Hits album just so there would be something new on it, hoping it actually becomes a hit so that they don’t look like idiots. (Oddly enough, while it was a hit seemingly everywhere else in the world, it did not chart in the US. Which obviously means I’m right. Or something.) Late-era Madonna sampling a questionable Abba song has to drop the whole thing down into the middle reaches of credibility at best. Doesn’t it?

Now, having said all that, the sample that Madonna chose is, in my opinion, better suited to her song than to Abba’s original. Overall, “Hung Up” is a better song than “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight).” But the whole affair is still embarrassing. So why did I download it?

It’s Marisa’s fault.

Marisa used to be the Saturday morning spin instructor at the Y. (I wish she was still the Saturday morning spin instructor, but that’s a different story.) And she used to use “Hung Up.” A lot.

And it was a killer.

And I hated it.

When she moved on to greener pastures, I decided I would spin at home instead for various reasons (read: the new instructor sucks).

Now, I rode 3698.5 miles last year for charity. During that time, I started making my own spinning mixes. I finished that ride on December 30. Since December 30th, I have been on my bike exactly… none times. (Bad Joe! BAD JOE!) But the callouses on my butt have finally healed (and the ice cream is catching up with me) so it’s time to get back on.

And that means I need mixes. And, much to my surprise (and chagrin), I missed “Hung Up.” So, I needed to get it. The rest is history. History I would have preferred remain private. But there it is.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to take this opportunity to spin up a much cooler song.

We built this city, we built this city on rock and roll…