Wednesday, March 17, 2010

One Hit Wonder Or One Hit Blunder (St. Patrick's Day Edition)

Today's Subject: "I Don't Like Mondays" by The Boomtown Rats

It is definitely one of the strangest songs to ever chart. A quirky, almost symphonic song about murder featuring harmonies, piano and handclaps and sung by the guy who shaved his nipples in The Wall. I can see no reason as there are no reasons not talk about this song. Yeah, I know that was bad.

I know what you are thinking. This song was not a big hit in the U.S. and you would be right, very right, as the highest chart position it received was 73 on the Billboard 100. This song, however, was the only single by The Boomtown Rats to ever chart in the U.S. and is the song they are best known for here. Besides, it peaked at No.4 in Canada which should count for Canada.

"I Don't Like Mondays" is one of many one hit wonders involving the theme of death which is a kind of ironic given that one hit wonder status can be the death of your career. Unlike other death-based one hit wonders, this song is based off of a tragic 1979 event where 16-year-old girl opened fire at people on a playground, killing two adults and injuring eight children. When arrested, the shooter explained "I don't like Mondays. This livens up the day." While touring the U.S., Bob Geldof read a report of the incident and found the act and reasoning to be senseless and basically wrote a song about it.

Lyrically, the song is about the incident. It can be about any act of random violence involving school shootings and the senselessness behind them thus making it one of the most relevant songs ever written about school shooting. "Jeremy" may have spoke in class today but he did not say that he never say about not liking Mondays as a reason to kill.

Musically, it is a very bizarre song...very bizarre but that is beauty of it. It opens with a dramatic piano and drum combination and is mostly piano throughout. Adding to grand nature of the song are vocal harmonies chiming in "no reason" and "tell me why" and a double handclap for certain parts. In a way, it is the best song that Ron Mael of Sparks never wrote and you would be shocked to find out that he did not write the music. The music and the lyrics are simple when separate. Combined, it is horrifyingly beautiful at hearing a song of senseless murder combined with such dramatic music.

Two things knock the song down a bit. One, it was never really a hit in the U.S. In the U.K. and the Rats' home country of Ireland, it was one of several hits. In Canada, it reached to No. 4. In the U.S., however, the song never achieved such popularity supposedly due to problems with Geldof and radio and definitely not popular in San Diego due to the location of the incident. Whatever markets the song played in, people enjoyed it enough to get it into the Billboard 100  Even now, it is a song that you may have heard as it still continues to play occasionally on flashback shows and such. Not bad for a one hit wonder that really is not a one hit wonder.

The second problem is that the song is used for promotional items involving Mondays which is a bit weird given the nature of the song and hell, the music behind it. Imagine, if for every athlete named Jeremy scored, the song Jeremy played over the p.a. That would be considered very strange but since this is more of a Pop song as opposed to that song, I guess it is not supposed to be that weird but it is. Also, Manic Monday would seem more fitting for thing falling on a Monday given the lack of death in that song.

Catchy song about senseless murder.
Handclaps, piano and harmonies.
Still receives the occasional airplay.
Tori Amos covered it.
Still a very relevant song.
The Boomtown Rats' biggest U.S. hit and most well known song despite never reaching the Top 40 or 20.

The song has been licensed for various promos (ex. House when it switched to Monday nights).
Song or title used in high school films which seems a bit tacky (ex. The Breakfast Club, Home Room)
Only peaked at 73 on Billboard 100.

Despite the quirkiness of the song, it is a one hit wonder...just not in America, unless you want to be technical about it all and say yes, it is, in North America. Either way, it is what we know The Boomtown Rats for and it is definitely not a bad song to be known for. You can sing along to it and clap your hands. I did several times while writing. I can see no reason as there are no reasons not to like this song. I really need to stop listening to this song now.

Boomtown Rats - I Don't Like Mondays
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