Song Of The Day 11/18/2014: Adam Faith - "What Do You Want?"

British Hits, American Misses: Hear those plucked violin strings dotting themselves all over the verses of this hormonal-schoolboy-length (1:40!) cavalcade of warmth from Adam Faith? They're called "pizzicato" strings. Their presence in a song usually indicates the nearby existence of sprites, fairies or issues of Reader's Digest, and almost always guarantees that the song will never be an American hit. I'm sure I'm forgetting somebody but for the life of me I can't think of one American hit song with pizzicato strings. There's gotta be at least one, right? [Yes, post-script, there is. I mean, not HUGE, but a hit. -- Ed.] Anyway, pizzicato strings were one of the emblematic weapons in Adam Faith's arsenal of musical tricks. They're charming, I suppose. They're good for romantic comedy subplots where somebody leaves an important personal item in a fitting room and it somehow gets escalated into an international incident of mistaken identities and sage old booksellers with naughty secrets.

Faith had an winning but asymmetrical mix of aforementioned pizzicato strings and that Buddy Holly hiccup in his voice. Others have tried that hiccup, sparingly. Jeff Lynne simulated it in one of my favorite ELO songs, "Midnight Blue." Tenpole Tudor cackled with it in The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle. But it was Buddy Holly's to begin with. "What Do You Want?" was also notable in that it was the first #1 UK single from Parlophone Records, whose roster included one of the biggest musical acts in all of recording history. I'm speaking of Mrs. Mills, of course.

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