Rounding out the nineties in my B100 favourite songs rundown, it’s “My Sharona” from 1979 by The Knack.
Burning brightly with this huge worldwide hit before later flaming out, The Knack’s “My Sharona” was the biggest selling US single of 1979, spending six weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 Chart and also reaching number six in the UK that year. Surfing the contemporaneous new wave craze, “My Sharona”’s naggingly insistent riff, tom-tom drums and shout-a-long stuttering vocals create a power pop package which still sounds thrilling to this day. That said, best not to dwell too long on some of the song’s lyrical content (or single sleeve)…different times…
“My Sharona” was The Knack’s first single after a fierce bidding war had broken out for this LA based band – and subsequent album “Get The Knack” became one of the most successful US debut LPs ever, number one for five weeks as it sold over 1m copies in under two months. However, such instant success led to a backlash against the band (a “Knacklash” anyone?) who were criticised as British Invasion copyists. The Knack were especially perceived to be aping early/mid Beatles both sonically and visually, with the alleged similarity between the cover artworks of “Get The Knack” and “Meet The Beatles” often cited as Exhibit A. To my ears (and eyes), The Knack owe a much bigger debt to power pop royalty Cheap Trick – my #48 song choice – who were then riding high after 1978’s breakthrough “At Budokan” live album, a group who were never shy about their own strong Fab Four influences.
In any case, this Knacklash (yes, I’m going there) did lead to diminishing returns for The Knack, albeit a bigger factor is that “My Sharona” towers over the rest of their debut LP as they only managed to catch that lightning in a bottle just the once. 1980’s second album “…But The Little Girls Understand” was a relative flop and after a year off due to exhaustion from constant touring and promotion, third LP “Round Trip” was released in October 1981. When “Round Trip” stalled at number 93 on the US album chart, frontman Doug Fieger quit the band and The Knack fully dissolved in 1982. Subsequent years saw interim reunions – until Fieger passed away from brain and lung cancer in 2010 – but The Knack remain destined to be known for the one hit punch of “My Sharona”, always a noble achievement for any group.
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