Friday, June 15, 2012

American Top 40 Flashback - Kim Carnes


I think most neutral observers would agree that Kim Carnes has had herself a pretty good career.  Certainly nothing approaching Hall of Fame status, but certainly good enough to merit a footnote in the long history of pop music.

With one glorious exception, that being "Bette Davis Eyes" - a magnificent song that, frankly, came out of left field when it was released in the spring of 1981.  Greil Marcus sang its praises in his "Real Life Rock" column (which, at the time, appeared in the late and lamented California magazine), and it came in 4th place in the Village Voice Pazz & Jop Critics Poll (singles), trailing only Laurie Anderson's "O Superman," the Stones' "Start Me Up," and "The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel."  That's pretty heady territory for a singer who, up to that point, had achieved little more than journeyman status.

The song was everywhere during the spring and summer of 1981.  It was played on what were the last vestiges of Top 40 stations, it was played on "smooth jazz" stations, and at least in the Bay Area (I was at Cal at the time), it was played on what were called "Hard Rock" stations.  In other words, its appeal was almost universal, a status that very few songs of that era (or any era) could lay claim to.

"Bette Davis Eyes," Kim Carnes - the #1 song this week in 1981.

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