On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenge of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.
My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.
I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.
So long as I post every day (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be… legendary!
The Sugarhill Gang – Rapper’s Delight (1979)
We’re leaving the UK behind so we can return to the US and to New Jersey. One of the things I have most looked forward to on this musical journey is the arrival of hip hop, of which I know next to nothing. Thankfully, we have a taste of it today in the form of The Sugarhill Gang. A trio made up of Michael Wright (Wonder Mike), Henry Jackson (Big Bank Hank Jackson) and Guy O’Brien (Master Gee), The Sugarhill Gang are best known for one song and it happens to be our selection today – Rapper’s Delight.
Rapper’s Delight in its entirety clocks in at nearly 15 minutes and sees each of the members take turns to go through the many verses. Wonder Mike opens the song before handing over to Big Bank Hank who in turn hands over to Master Gee. Wonder Mike focuses more on the beat and the music that we can dance to and invites us to. When Big Bank Hank or Master Gee take over, they tend to describe themselves not just as great rappers but popular with the ladies and partaking of the glitz and the glamour to be had out there. Wonder Mike at one point talks about going to a friend’s house where there is a party but the food leaves a lot to be desired. One thing that unites the three rappers is talking about the beat of the music and wanting to move their bodies to it. It’s an epic track with a lot going on.
Hip hop is a genre I want to explore in greater detail. I have often found it intimidating, struggling to understand the appeal at times, but I blame my ignorance on not sampling more for that viewpoint. Rapper’s Delight is one of those tracks that many will have heard in some shape or form. It is also a pivotal track in hip hop history, becoming the first rap song to hit the US Top 40. It wasn’t the first example of hip hop but helped the genre connect with a wider audience. The door was now open for more artists to follow the same path and, in time, they duly would.
Favourite songs so far:
The Animals – House of the Rising Sun (1964)
Simon & Garfunkel – The Sounds of Silence (1965)
The Doors – The End (1967)
The Beatles – A Day in the Life (1967)
Rod Stewart – Maggie May (1971)
Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here (1975)
Fleetwood Mac – Go Your Own Way (1977)
Meat Loaf – Bat Out of Hell (1977)
Queen – Don’t Stop Me Now (1978)
The Police – Roxanne (1978)