Song Of The Day 8/2/2013: Shaun Cassidy - "Wasp"

What we have here is the strangest single song ever credited to a teen pop idol. All things considered, on balance, Shaun Cassidy was pretty good for a pinup star. His records were the least offensive of the bountiful crop of '70s teenybopper music. When he drew from the Eric Carmen well he usually came out all right. (As a matter of fact, this is his second Song Of The Day, coming just under a year after the other one.) But teen fame being what it is, when the charts started turning on him four albums into his gig, he decided it was time to reinvent himself. And what do you do when you decide to reinvent yourself? That's right: You call Todd Rundgren.

Wasp is in essence by Todd's band Utopia with Cassidy as frontman. Rundgren tried to re-brand Cassidy as an edgy, new wavy sort. This meant doing Talking Heads and Bowie songs, and producing a cover photo showing Cassidy in just the slightest state of distemper. Have a look at it. His face is right next to a pane of broken glass. Oh no, it's got a wasp on it. How is Shaun going to maneuver out of this dicey situation? That's what's going through his mind in that photo. It's an emergency, but it may also be an opportunity. Such were the rhetorical inquisitions new wave encouraged at the time.

"Wasp," the song, is a Rundgren original, and not only is it the weirdest song a teen idol's ever done, it's also one of Rundgren's strangest lyrics period. In fact, the lead vocal on this song sounds way closer to Todd than Shaun. Honestly, at first I thought it was Todd making a guest appearance, but couldn't find anything to support that theory. So I guess it really is Shaun speak-singing the wonderful lyric "I hardly recognize you with that shish kabob through your face / But that's all right, yeah, that's all right / I guess you're trying to make a STATE-ment." The song is worth it for the delivery on that line alone.

Outside the box Wasp was. It was not a success and Cassidy quit music for a not-bad career as a television producer. The broken glass was repaired. The wasp went into porn. The tell-all book should be out by the holidays.

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