Ask Mr. Music
Jerry Osborne



FOR THE WEEK OF DECEMBER 15, 2014

DEAR JERRY: I noticed on one of the bigger YouTube channels, one with nearly 20 million views and 9,000 subscribers, a snapshot of their Top 5 most played songs, via videos of course:

1. "Sleigh Ride" Ronettes (1963)
2. "I Dreamed a Dream" (from "Les Miserable") Ruthie Henshall (1995)
3. "Donde Esta Santa Claus" Augie Rios (1958)
4. "Red Red Wine" Neil Diamond (1968)
5. "There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays" Perry Como (1954)

What is amazing is seeing three classic Christmas tunes in the Top 5, what with the holidays being only a fraction of the year. People must be playing these all year long.

Any chance you could find out, say, their Top 20? Wonder how many have a holiday theme?
—Phil Hartford, Bloomington, Ind.

DEAR PHIL: If you are merely amazed at finding three of the five to be holiday-related, prepare to be flabbergasted as we unveil their Top 20.

Remember, this list includes diverse genres and several different eras:

6. "Aloha O" (Islands Sounds Orchestra) (1989)
7. "Paloma Blanca" George Baker Selection (1975)
8. "Needles and Pins" Jackie De Shannon (1963)
9. "Pretty Paper" Roy Orbison (1963)
10. "Santa Looked a Lot Like Daddy" Buck Owens and His Buckaroos (1965)
11. "Sleigh Ride" Johnny Mathis (1958)
12. "Seasons in the Sun" Kingston Trio (1964)
13. "Happy New Year" ABBA (1980)
14. "The Monkey That Became President" Tom T. Hall (1972)
15. "Sleigh Ride" Arthur Fiedler Conducting the Boston Pops Orchestra (1949)
16. "Oklahoma Hills" Hank Thompson and His Brazos Valley Boys (1961)
17. "Christmas in My Home Town" Charley Pride (1970)
18. "Wouldn't It Be Nice" Elton John & Brian Wilson (live duet) 2001
19. "A Marshmallow World" Brenda Lee (1964)
20. "It's Christmas Everywhere" Paul Anka (1960)

Even I am truly surprised to find 11 of the Top 20 favorites to be songs of the season, and that "Sleigh Ride," a wintery song with no mention of any holiday, is on the list three times.

DEAR JERRY: I need help with a decades-long earworm, one that goes back to my junior high years, in the mid-to-late 1950s.

The infectious little line is "mangos and papayas, anything your heart desires."

It was sung by a woman in sort of a calypso style, if that helps.

Can you possibly identify this obscure song?
—Denise McQuater, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

DEAR DENISE: It may seem obscure because nearly 58 years have passed since this tune was a current hit, but I can't describe as obscure any song that makes the Top 30 on both Billboard and Cash Box, as did this one.

Identifying it is easy, in fact the title has been right there in your earworm all along. It is the first of the two tropical fruits mentioned: "Mangos."

The vocalist offering her man assorted fruits and nuts, along with unspecified extras, is the legendary Rosemary Clooney.

The "Mangos" single (Columbia 40835) came out six years after Rosie's "Come On-a My House," and its many non-tropical fruit references (apples; plums; apricots; figs; dates; grapes; pomegranate; peaches; and pears), making something with mangos and papayas seem like the perfect follow-up.

The overall similarity between the two fruity tunes was not overlooked in the new release reviews, prepared specifically for radio station programmers, in Billboard's March 9, 1957 issue:

"The rich show-wise vocal talents of Miss Clooney are showcased here on a colorful theme with an exotic rhythm pattern and engaging lyrics, somewhat reminiscent of the thrush's biggest hit "Come On-a My House." Should spice up programming in practically any time slot."

Dee jays seeking spice agreed and in the weeks ahead, "Mangos" ranked among the Top 10 on Billboard's Most Played Songs by Disk Jockeys.

Though not frequently heard in the 21st century, I still can't put "Mangos" in the obscure category.

IZ ZAT SO? Of all solo pop artists, whether male or female, whose first hit came in 1950 or later, Rosemary Clooney's singles sales top all other singers for the pre-rock, first half of that decade.

IZ ZAT SO? When Tom T. Hall wrote "Harper Valley P.T.A." he could never have imagined what a cultural phenomenon he'd created.

Not only did Jeannie C. Riley's 1968 recording top both the pop and country charts in the U.S. and Canada — the first time ever accomplished by a female — but that one little phonograph record inspired a feature film (1978) AND a TV series (1981). That too had never happened before.





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