Song of the Day #4,293: ‘The Name of the Game’ – ABBA

‘The Name of the Game’ is the first single from ABBA’s fifth studio album, titled ABBA: The Album. It spent a month at the top spot of the UK charts, and made it to #12 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.

The song’s opening riff was apparently inspired by the Stevie Wonder song ‘I Wish,’ which appeared on Songs in the Key of Life a year earlier. It was sampled by The Fugees, quite effectively, on their 1996 track ‘Rumble in the Jungle,’ the first time ABBA allowed another act to sample their music.

Continue reading

Song of the Day #4,292: ‘Butcher’s Tale (Western Front 1914)’ – The Zombies

This offbeat track appears on The Zombies’ classic 1968 album Odessey and Oracle. It tells the story of a World War I battle through the eyes of a beleaguered soldier.

Given the time of its writing and recording, this song was widely interpreted as a comment on the Vietnam War, and released as an unlikely single for that reason. It was backed by the far more accessible (and a favorite song of mine) ‘This Will Be Our Year.’

Continue reading

Song of the Day #4,286: ‘Brothers’ – John Mellencamp

John Mellencamp released my favorite of his albums, Human Wheels, in 1983. Despite that record’s excellence, his label was reportedly unhappy with the result because it didn’t “fit the format.”

In response, Mellencamp delivered a follow-up album that he recorded in just two weeks, with few instruments and little attention to the production. You want the format, he was saying, I’ll give you the format. That album was 1984’s Dance Naked.

Continue reading

Song of the Day #4,285: ‘Medicine’ – Broken Bells

Broken Bells is a group formed by The Shins’ frontman James Mercer and the DJ Danger Mouse. They released two albums, in 2010 and 2014.

After the Disco is the band’s sophomore effort, and it’s a blast. As you’d expect from this pairing, the songs combine the sticky, off-kilter melodies of The Shins with some novel production techniques. It’s cerebral ear candy.

Continue reading

Song of the Day #4,279: ‘Superstar’ – Lauryn Hill

‘Superstar’ is the seventh of 15 tracks on 1998’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill to appear on the blog. That’s a mix of Random Weekend selections and songs I chose to feature.

Miseducation is definitely one of the best albums of the 90s (I ranked it at #19 on my own decade list) and perhaps the greatest album ever that was the first and last studio release by an artist.

Continue reading

Song of the Day #4,278: ‘Happiness’ – Elliott Smith

A month ago, the Random iTunes Fairy served up Elliott Smith songs on back-to-back weekends. Now she’s back with another one, the 11th from his catalog to appear on Random Weekends.

The RIF must really like Elliott Smith. He is outperforming the percentages considerably. The law of averages would predict about half as many Smith posts as we’ve gotten.

Continue reading

Song of the Day #4,272: ‘You’re Crazy’ – Guns N’ Roses

My theory is that any “great” album has to have at least three great songs. If the rest are ok, and exhibit the same general style as the great ones, the whole album will earn a solid reputation.

Guns N’ Roses 1997 debut, Appetite For Destruction, is a good example. It features an all-time classic in ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ and two other greatest hits-worthy tracks in ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ and ‘Paradise City.’ The rest of the songs are entirely forgettable.

Continue reading