Song Of The Day 7/27/2015: Dickie Goodman – “Star Warts” + “Star Warz”

Dead Horse Radio: Pop Song News Bulletins – Welcome to a new music contextualizing proposal that starts with the noblest of intellectual ambitions, makes a decent stab at the general idea, then gets reassessed after the first or second time through as to whether there’s enough mojo behind the concept to warrant further editions. Hey, just trying to manage expectations. I’m doing it so other bloggers don’t have to. Call me the Internet's Petri Dish. It won't be the first time people have advised me to leave something to science.

“Dead Horse Radio” is quite simple: A brief series (emphasis on “brief”) of peculiarly specific ideas or trends in music or audio that get really popular, to the extent that it encourages cheap imitations in hopes that the photocopied idea will make someone rich quick. It’s not in the same vein as, say, everybody making reggaeton records, or everybody hiring Max Martin to produce their stuff. These are detailed, exact templates that copy the original as literally as possible, perhaps to elicit the warmth of recognition in the listeners, encouraging them to accept their cockamamie imitation into their lives as eagerly as the original. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Oh, who are we kidding – it almost always doesn’t.

Take this week’s theme, for example: The pop song news bulletin. These are novelty records presented as “breaking news” items during a radio show, in which an intrepid “reporter” goes to an apparently newsworthy event and interviews people at the scene. The gimmick is that all their responses are snatches of pop songs that sound like an appropriate answer. You can do this kind of thing with one eye closed, like:
Reporter: “We’re learning about a tsunami that’s just hit the Pacific coast, and we have an eyewitness at the scene! Sir, what’s the weather like?”

“Eyewitness”: (A snippet of B.J. Thomas singing “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head.”)
Get the picture? It’d be funny the first time, but you’d think it would get old really fast. You’d think that, wouldn’t you? Yeah. I would too. I would think it’d get so old in a very, very short amount of time. And that since it would get so old so quickly, nobody would want to repeat it 6,000,000 times. You’d think that. I’d also think that. You and I do a lot of thinking, don’t we?

The inventor of this gimmick was Brooklyn’s own Dickie Goodman (1934–89), whose records were, admittedly, usually quite funny. Some of their charm has to do with Goodman’s excitable cub-reporter persona that he faithfully reproduced each time. To start with Goodman trucked in sci-fi parodies, like his first hit “The Flying Saucer.” He also went the braver route of taking on news stories and scandals in the 1970’s like Watergate (slyly retitled “Watergrate”) and “The Energy Crisis.” Then with the advent of the blockbuster movie, Goodman had his most successful hit record with “Mr. Jaws.”

Today's songs were salutes to The Passion Of George Lucas (or The Coronation Of John Dykstra, if you prefer) which I’ve decided to feature because I know my demo. As you can probably tell, these two sound like alternate versions of the same basic idea. Maybe Goodman came up with the R2-D2/"Undercover Angel" joke after he'd already finished the first one so he redid it. I don't know. I lack that kind of express insight into Dickie Goodman's imagination machine.

There you have it. A specific, almost patentable trick, invented by an mid-sized entrepreneur, which couldn’t or shouldn’t be copied by anyone else lest they appear the least bit the phony. Right? Nope. See you tomorrow.
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