Monday, May 4, 2009

One Hit Wonder Or One Hit Blunder

Today's Subject: "Somebody's Watching Me" by Rockwell

Indeed, Rockwell, somebody was watching you and it was the clock. Instead of 15 minutes of fame, you had less than four minutes and what a strange four minutes you gave to the world in 1984.

"I'm just an average man with an average life." Not true at all, Rockwell. It is hard to be average when you are the son of Berry Gordy Jr., founder of Motown. So if someone is watching you, it is probably because there's a thought that you'll follow in your father's footsteps and join the music industry...which you did but did so without using your or your father's name. I guess that somewhat makes you an average man.

Without a doubt, one of the strangest one hit wonders ever. A 3:39 trip into the world of paranoia via stalking mailmen and the I.R.S. A world in which a man is afraid to wash his hair as he is afraid that someone might be standing there. A world in which Thriller-era Michael Jackson sings on the chorus. That is a weird world but sounds like it could be cool...maybe?

The most memorable thing about the song really is the chorus. This was Jackson at his prime and the one moment in his career where his strangeness was somewhat acceptable (one glitter glove and "dating" Brooke Shields = cool, a monkey named Bubbles and hanging out with Webster = weird). The rest of the song is just there. Nothing really special about it other than the fact it is bizarre. The vocals are like a paranoid sibling to David Byrne's delivery on "Once In A Lifetime." The synths are basic 80's synths just darker. To be honest, I think Michael Jackson helped the song become a hit. Without him, who knows?

Recently, the song had made a revival thanks to a series of Geico ads. Beyond that, it has been remixed, sampled and covered throughout the years by various artists from DJ Bobo to Ciara which helps give the song a legacy and validity to its one hit wonder status.

A very bizarre song charting at #2 and without the help of his famous father.
Michael Jackson sings the chorus.
The video is creepy but awesome.
The song lives on through remixes, samples, covers and Geico ads.

It is a bit too weird for repeated listening.
In all honesty, the best and most memorable part is the chorus.
Outside of the chorus, it's a standard 80's Pop song...a weird one but still pretty standard.
Needs more Michael Jackson.
The video is more memorable than the song.

Rockwell...rock, well, you may have for a brief moment in 1984. In 2009, however, I'm calling this song a blunder. It's great for brief nostalgia but it's really not a great song. If Michael Jackson didn't sing the chorus, I guess it would still be memorable but just as a typical weird 80's song. If you feel the need to hear the song, go ahead. After more than one listen, you'll wonder why the person watching Rockwell did not find him and stop this song.


  1. Agreed--a blunder if there ever was one. All I remember is Michael Jackson's part. That can't be good for the singer who actually did the song...

  2. it's not. It a song that people may remember fondly but to hear it now, it's not as good as I remembered it to be