5 Unlikely Hit Songs

Neatorama presents a guest post from actor, comedian, and voiceover artist Eddie Deezen. Visit Eddie at his website or at Facebook.

Here are five odd and unexpected top ten hit songs, in no particular order of oddness.

1. “The Woody Woodpecker Song"

(YouTube link)

In 1948, the Kay Kyser Band recorded the only #1 hit song about a cartoon character. The song is about a fair, semi-mediocre, only occasionally funny cartoon wacky bird. Basically, Woody was a poor man's Bugs Bunny.

Sung by Gloria Wood and interrupted by Woody's famous laugh done by Harry Babbitt, the song was a smash hit, selling 250,000 copies. It also has a place in recording history as the only song from an animated short subject to be nominated for an Academy Award for “Best Song".

(Bonus trivia: the original voice of Woody W. was the great Mel Blanc.)

3. “Rock-a-bye Your Baby (with a Dixie Melody)"

(YouTube link)

Jerry Lewis was and is a brilliant, talented, versatile comedic genius. But did you know Jer had a top ten hit record? In 1956, just a few days after his split with partner Dean Martin, Jerry took over for an incapacitated Judy Garland at a gig in Las Vegas, singing many of Judy's most popular songs. This included Judy's “Rock-a-bye Your Baby (with a Dixie Melody).”

The song went over so well, Jerry incorporated it into his own act and recorded the song as a single. The song went certified gold and actually hit #10 on the charts. (One wonders how his ex-partner Dean Martin felt when he saw Jerry had a gold record. (????)

3. “The Ballad of the Green Berets"

(YouTube link)

A super-patriotic song co-written by Robin Moore and Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler, while the latter was recuperating from a leg wound suffered in the Vietnam War. A song about an elite Special Force in the U.S. army, the Green Berets. It is one of the very rare songs of the 1960's to cast the military in a positive light.

Yet, it became a #1 hit for five weeks in 1966. It was also a crossover smash #1 hit on Billboard's Easy Listening chart and a #1 on Billboard's Country survey. “The Ballad of the Green Berets" also became the #21 song of the 1960's. Despite the unpopularity of the Vietnam War, it sold over 9 million singles and albums.

4. “Earache My Eye"

(YouTube link)

A comedy song (skit) by the popular comedy team of Cheech and Chong. Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong had had numerous hit albums and had charted a few in the top 100, but their <>Wedding Album contained a funny song/skit featuring Cheech as “Alice Bowie” (a combination of Alice Cooper and David Bowie) and Chong played his harping father. It is very unusual for this type of routine to hit the top ten, but “Earache My Eye" did, climbing all the way to #9 in 1974.

The B-side of the record is called “Turn That Thing Down.” It features the conclusion of the song partially played on side A, plus Cheech speaking about his wealth. The two sides played consecutively connect into one full song (a very catchy tune).

Several radio stations refused to play “Earache My Eye.”

5. “Woman"

(YouTube link)

“Woman" was a song by the british duo Peter and Gordon. Beatle Paul McCartney had already written three hit records for the duo, but he wanted to see if he could write a hit record under an assumed name. Basically, he was answering the question: “Did his songs sell just because they were issued as "written by John Lennon & Paul McCartney?" And thus, writer “Bernard Webb" (Paul's chosen alias) was born.

Released as a single "written by Bernard Webb" (though some capitol pressings use the name “A. Smith" instead), “Woman" was, indeed, a hit. Although not quite as popular as a Beatles record, the song did chart at #14 in the U.S. and #28 in the U.K.

(YouTube link)

Interestingly, in 1981, shortly after his assassination, a John Lennon song, also called “Woman.” was released. This song actually hit #1 on the U.K. charts and just missed topping the U.S. charts, peaking at #2. The double release of ‘”Woman" is the only time in history a John Lennon song and a Paul McCartney song were released separately but with the exact same title.

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Barry Sadler also wrote the Casca novels. They're about Cassius Longinus, the legendary Roman soldier who killed Christ with his spear at Golgotha. He's cursed with immortality and lives from that time until the present, always working as a soldier.
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