When it came to mining songs of the past, 2013 took – as Breaking Bad‘s Mike Ehrmantraut might have said – no half-measures.
The following songs came firing back into our lives through some strange pathways: a fictional chemist, an overzealous Celtics fan, blurry courtroom controversies and a Toyota commercial.
If this list proves anything, it’s that you never know when a song is due for its cultural comeuppance and summoned forward in time. Clearly, we had no idea what these songs were capable of the first time around so as we look ahead to 2014, we’ll tread lightly.
1. “Baby Blue” – Badfinger
Released: March 6, 1972 Ten million people watched the finale episode of Breaking Bad, and presumably, the next thing many of those viewers did was turn to Spotify. “Baby Blue,” the tender ‘70s ballad by Badfinger, neatly summed up the series with the hazy line: “Guess I got what I deserved/My baby blue.” (Protagonist Walt, of course, is most famous for the blue-colored meth he produces.) According to the music streaming service, global streams of the song went up 9,000 percent in less than 12 hours after the final scene.
According to Billboard, “Blue” never sold more than 1,000 downloads in a single week. The night of the finale, “Blue” was downloaded 5,000 times in a single night. One week later, the song’s sales increased nearly 3,000 percent and “Blue” re-entered the Billboard Hot Rock Songs chart at No. 14. The success catapulted the U.K. rock band back into the cultural lexicon, 40 years after they fell apart.
Badfinger began with plenty of promise. They were the first band the Beatles signed to Apple Records. Paul McCartney wrote their first hit. But even those favorable circumstances couldn’t save the band from financial turmoil and the subsequent suicides of its singer and guitarist. Thanks to Breaking Bad, Badfinger – and its last Twitter-savvy band member – are finally getting what they deserve.
2. “Got To Give It Up” – Marvin Gaye
Released: March 15, 1977
The self-defining question of 2013: Did “Blurred Lines” rip off Marvin Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up”?
“Blurred Lines” will forever be the feather in Robin Thicke’s fedora. It was the best-selling song of 2013 and the longest-running No. 1 single of the decade, identifiable by its goofy “hey, hey, hey’s” to its preening models in various states of undress.
After the song exploded over the summer, Thicke, producer Pharrell Williams and T.I. filed a preemptive lawsuit against Marvin Gaye’s family requesting a ruling that “Blurred Lines” does not infringe upon Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up,” which — the public retroactively learned — happens to be one of Thicke’s favorite songs.
While the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles sided with the “Blurred Lines” gentlemen, there are plenty of purists indignant over how Gaye’s joyous vibes were flagrantly copped. Be that as it may, “Blurred Lines” revived Gaye’s funky classics to new ears and new hips in 2013. Sometimes the end justifies the means – or in other words – sometimes you got to give it up.
3. “Livin’ On A Prayer” – Bon Jovi
Released: October 31, 1986 The lesson here may be that “Livin’ On A Prayer” will just never go away. Tommy? Gina? Forever holding on to what they’ve got: in our cars, our computers and later, in our microchip brain inserts.
Back in November, Bon Jovi’s jock jam of 1987 reentered the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 25, thanks to a video of basketball fan Jeremy Fry rocking out to “Prayer” in the aisle of a Boston Celtics game. The video was originally posted in 2009, but it went viral again.
According to Billboard, the twice-viral video received 11 million worldwide views and was shared on Facebook more than 1.6 million times, thereby spurring a global streaming frenzy of “Livin’ On A Prayer.” In a single week, Nielsen SoundScan estimates the rock anthem was played 5.1 million times in the United States, making that week both the happiest and least productive week of the entire year.
— Sarah Grant for Radio.com