Song Of The Day 7/17/2016: The Rattles – “The Witch”

The Hidden '70s, Part 1 – Hello, junior statisticians! Welcome to The Hidden '70s, the more plastic sequel to last year's The Hidden '60s. This three-part diversion will be running in the middle of this month, August and September. Of course, this is when we set our advertising rates, so it's important that you refresh these pages as often as you can. On a related note, if any of you are specialists in federal bribery laws, drop me a quick note, would you? I'll make it worth your while... oh, damn!

You can go back and read the origins of the Hidden series if you like, but there's not much to get. These are all songs that made the Billboard Hot 100 charts, but stopped short the Top 40. The idea is that these songs very well could have been part of our national songbook with just a little more persuasion, because of the psychological associations the music business has with the "top 40."

The research process for the Hidden series is long and arduous but not that mentally taxing. I went through every single Hot 100 chart from 1970 to 1979 at Billboard's online website, found all the songs that peaked at #41 or lower, put them all in an Excel spreadsheet with some bomb-ass conditional formatting, and just sat down and auditioned every single song on the sheet that was available. For the first part of this series, which starts now and covers the years 1970 to 1972, that meant 1,033 songs. Subsequent periods had much less, I think because pop fans started buying more albums, and the single format began a slow decline in 1974 that eventually took it to its demise.

As with last year, I'll do at least a song a day for a week (on Thursday we'll have three for reasons you'll understand then), then wrap the whole thing up on Day 8 with a mixtape. After the whole series is over there'll be at least one sequel mixtape as well. There may be two. I'm not sure. Whatever it takes to get me that Diners Club card I've been after for so long.

All right, shut up, let's get to the first song, "The Witch" (#79, 1970) from German band The Rattles, who apparently are still around. They've been around over 50 years. These were kids who played the Star Club in Hamburg side-by-side with the Beatles, and had quite a few hits in Europe as a beat group. We never saw them in America until 1970 when they recorded this song for the second time, with new lead singer Edna Bejarano. Not only did it finally become their first single to hit Billboard, it was the first by a German rock act in the history of the chart. Then they made today's music video, upon the viewing of which I leaned back in my swivel chair, put my hands in back of my head like people do when they've just done something that had the intended effect, and said, "Welp, we got our first Hidden '70s entry right there." Wait for the E! True Story, I'm gonna be totally backlit.

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