Wang Chung was a band that wasn’t getting a lot of traction when they had a more traditionally Chinese name. I remember that early self-titled album Huang Chung and I have to admit I was a little put off by it, because it frankly wasn’t especially cool-looking, so I didn’t give it much of a chance.
By the time their fourth album, Mosaic, came out, they’d switched labels a couple of times and had enlisted the help of people like David Geffen and Peter Wolf to get them on track. In fact, Wolf listened to the demo for “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” and made a suggestion that changed the tenor of the song, and turned it into the hit we all know and love (or hate, I don’t know you).
So after all that, what does it mean to “Wang Chung tonight”? Well, I think Nick Feldman explained it best. He said, “Wang Chung is the feeling, not the word. It represents an abstract, an escape from pragmatic, complex ideas. Wang Chung means whatever you want it to mean. Have fun with it. That’s the whole idea of the line ‘Everybody Wang Chung Tonight.’ It can mean a tribal dance, a Viennese waltz, a party in New York, or whatever.”
By 1985 Peter Gabriel had released four solo albums, all of them titled Peter Gabriel. Nowadays most people subtitle them based on the cover artwork (e.g. Peter Gabriel (Scratch), Peter Gabriel (Melt), etc.), and while I suppose that amused Gabriel, it did not amuse the folks at his label.
They pushed back hard to get him to take marketing his work more seriously, so he came up with a title that wasn’t really much of a title: So. But Gabriel had, perhaps because of his work on Birdy, had caught on to the worldbeat sound, and incorporated it into the compositions on So. In addition, he got ridiculously lucky with some very creative people to direct and produce the videos that supported the singles. “Sledgehammer” and “Big Time” in particular were very MTV-friendly, and all of a sudden Gabriel is himself on his way and making it in the Big Time, with So going Top Five around the world.
And the fact that the “In Your Eyes” single was a tonal changeup from most of the other singles (“Don’t Give Up” notwithstanding), meant that Peter Gabriel was being taken more seriously as a versatile performer than he was previously, when he was thought of largely as a cult favorite.
Mr. Mister is kind of a peculiar name for a band, but a lot of them have peculiar names, so there’s that. This particular band, originally from the Phoenix, Arizona area, got their name from an inside joke about the Weather Report album Mr. Gone.
Sorry, not all the stories I have are great stories.
“Kyrie” is one of those songs that is very well understood by a certain slice of America. It’s also very misunderstood by the rest of the country, and it largely depends on your religious upbringing, although if you know a lot about classical music, you may also have a clue. No, I’m not going to tell you here. Go listen to the show.
Before I do anything else, let me give a shout-out to a friend of the podcast, and one of its first fans who wasn’t related to me. Connie Paulson provided the artwork that you see in this post. You can see more of her stuff if you hook up with the show’s Facebook page.
In 1975 Aerosmith was pretty much just another rock band with a modest hit, but when they got writer’s block, a trip to a Mel Brooks movie inspired them to come up with a title, and then Steven Tyler wrote the lyrics over the next day or so–twice, as the story goes. The song was a hit, and ten years later, it was a hit again when Aerosmith teamed up with rap act Run-DMC to cover the song. Check out the video; it’s fun, it’s very creative, and you barely notice that most of the band is missing:
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Before they were famous, lots of artists sang backup for other artists. But once in awhile, they’ll lend their talent to someone else because it’s fun, or because they owe someone a favor or maybe just because they were asked to.
This week, we’re going to listen in on a bunch of songs that have famous people singing backups. Some of them are pretty well known; others may come as a surprise to you.
Per our Standard Operating Procedure, if you’ve got a favorite podcatcher, you should be able to hear this week’s show already, or you can just click the player below to listen/download it right here: