Music

One Hit Wonder: Garth Brooks

The second biggest selling artist of all time in the United States only had one single become a Top 40 hit.

Garth Brooks is one of the most successful singers of all time. In the United States alone, he has sold more than 68 million copies of his albums since 1991 (when Nielsen Soundscan began monitoring sales), and only the Beatles have sold more albums in American history. He was largely responsible for the massive growth in popularity of country music during the '90s, and he has consistently broken box office records when he toured.

Yet, for all of his huge success, he only had one song reach the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Even more incredibly, his only major mainstream hit wasn't one of his 19 #1 singles on the Hot Country Songs chart. It wasn't even officially released to country radio and peaked #62 on the country chart as an album cut.

This is the story of the "Lost" one-hit wonder.

By 1998, Garth Brooks was seeking other fields to conquer. After an unsuccessful try-out for the San Diego Padres professional baseball team, he campaigned hard to play the lead in The Lamb, a movie proposal centering around a rock singer with a tragic past. After the movie was green-lit, Brooks decided to release an album of "greatest hits" by Chris Gaines, the character he'd be playing in the film.

It was not one of his smartest decisions.

His massive number of fans were confused. They wanted Garth Brooks to keep making country music and were worried that he was selling out. It didn't help that Garth (dressing as his fictional alias) was sporting a bad wig and a soulpatch, and looked incredibly odd.

The first single, "Lost in You", debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 at #5, based largely on the sales of the CD single. The track began a gradual descent from there, eventually falling off the chart completely ten weeks later. It was a bizarre choice for a first single. Although a beautiful song, "Lost in You" owed more to '70s soft-rock than anything remotely current, and did not match up with the bizarre emo appearance of "Chris Gaines" whatsoever.

The subsequent album, titled Greatest Hits and credited to Chris Gaines, was easily the biggest musical disappointment of the year. Within a couple months, retailers were reportedly offering major discounts on the CD just to clear out unsold stock.

Although the Chris Gaines persona was strange, the album failed, and the movie never was made, "Lost in You" did achieve the one thing no other Garth Brooks song had ever done. It gave him a Top 5 hit on the Hot 100 and officially made him a one-hit wonder for mainstream, non-country fans. And hopefully he'll never do something like that again.

The song isn't bad. It's just not Garth Brooks.

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

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Music

The World of Captain Beefheart: An Interview with Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx

Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx (photo © Michael DelSol courtesy of Howlin' Wuelf Media)

Guitarist and band leader Gary Lucas and veteran vocalist Nona Hendryx pay tribute to one of rock's originals in this interview with PopMatters.

From the opening bars of "Suction Prints", we knew we had entered The World of Captain Beefheart and that was exactly where we wanted to be. There it was, that unmistakable fast 'n bulbous sound, the sudden shifts of meter and tempo, the slithery and stinging slide guitar in tandem with propulsive bass, the polyrhythmic drumming giving the music a swing unlike any other rock band.

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From Haircut 100 to his own modern pop stylings, Nick Heyward is loving this new phase of his career, experimenting with genre with the giddy glee of a true pop music nerd.

In 1982, Nick Heyward was a major star in the UK.

As the leader of pop sensations Haircut 100, he found himself loved by every teenage girl in the land. It's easy to see why, as Haircut 100 were a group of chaps so wholesome, they could have stepped from the pages of Lisa Simpson's "Non-Threatening Boys" magazine. They resembled a Benetton knitwear advert and played a type of quirky, pop-funk that propelled them into every transistor radio in Great Britain.

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Acid house legends 808 State bring a psychedelic vibe to Berlin producer NHOAH's stunning track "Abstellgleis".

Berlin producer NHOAH's "Abstellgleis" is a lean and slinky song from his album West-Berlin in which he reduced his working instruments down to a modular synthesizer system with a few controllers and a computer. "Abstellgleis" works primarily with circular patterns that establish a trancey mood and gently grow and expand as the piece proceeds. It creates a great deal of movement and energy.

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Beechwood offers up a breezy slice of sweet pop in "Heroin Honey" from the upcoming album Songs From the Land of Nod.

At just under two minutes, Beechwood's "Heroin Honey" is a breezy slice of sweet pop that recalls the best moments of the Zombies and Beach Boys, adding elements of garage and light tinges of the psychedelic. The song is one of 10 (11 if you count a bonus CD cut) tracks on the group's upcoming album Songs From the Land of Nod out 26 January via Alive Natural Sound Records.

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