‘Mickey’ was released in 1982 by American singer Toni Basil, reaching #1 in the United States and cementing the 39-year-old as a classic one-hit wonder. Basil’s career as a choreographer is far more interesting, including co-directing videos for Talking Heads and serving as choreographer on such films as American Graffiti, My Best Friend’s Wedding, Legally Blonde, and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
This next example of an unlikely cover is a little hard to swallow. Can it really be that Cyndi Lauper’s 1983 girl-power anthem was actually first written and recorded by a man?
Indeed it was. Singer-songwriter Robert Hazard wrote the song in 1979 and recorded this demo, though he opted not to put the track on his 1982 self-titled EP. Lauper worked with Hazard to rewrite some of the lyrics from a woman’s perspective and put her own musical stamp on the song. Her debut single, it became a worldwide hit and reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100.
I’m enjoying the ‘Songs You Didn’t Know Were Covers’ series so much I’ve decided to stretch it into a third week. I like the idea of “discovering” a new song that isn’t quite new. It’s like meeting an alternate universe version of an old friend.
Today’s song is best known as a 2007 recording by Amy Winehouse for the Mark Ronson album Version. As the album’s title suggests, it features cover versions of songs given a retro makeover in Ronson’s favored Motown style.
Hard to believe it’s been more than a decade since the band split. And any hope of a reunion is likely fruitless, as just last year, Michael Stipe had this to say about the prospect: “We decided when we split up that that would just be really tacky and probably money-grabbing, which might be the impetus for a lot of bands to get back together.”
Honestly, I’d be fine with a tacky, money-grabbing new release from R.E.M.
After my series on second hits by one-hit wonders, frequent commenter Dana suggested I feature some artists who have had long career despite never having a single hit. It’s a good idea I will add to the list.
In the meantime, the Random iTunes Fairy has made one such selection today, offering up a song from Canadian singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith’s 2002 album Cobblestone Runway.