One Chart Dig: June 15, 1968

A few days ago, I featured by default the No. 100 record in a Billboard Hot 100 from 1971. As I was scrolling down the screen toward the bottom of that chart, I was concerned that I’d find a dismal record, or at best, mediocrity.

I got lucky, stumbling into a Stephen Stills record that I’ve always liked. And this morning, I thought, “Well, that’s a strategy that might work on a frequent basis. So let’s try it again.”

So we – Odd, Pop and I – cast our line into the depths of the Hot 100 from June 15, 1968, fifty years ago today. And we weren’t quite as lucky. But we’ll get to that in a bit. First of all, let’s look at the Top Ten in that long-ago chart:

“Mrs. Robinson” by Simon & Garfunkel
“This Guy’s In Love With You” by Herb Alpert
“Mony Mony” by Tommy James & The Shondells
“Yummy Yummy Yummy” by the Ohio Express
“MacArthur Park” by Richard Harris
“Tighten Up” by Archie Bell & The Drells
“Think” by Aretha Franklin
“A Beautiful Morning” by the Rascals
“The Good, The Bad & The Ugly” by Hugo Montenegro, His Orchestra and Chorus
“The Look Of Love” by Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66

That’s a pretty good Top Ten. I can do without “Mony Mony” and “Yummy Yummy Yummy,” and I’ve gotten a bit tired of “Tighten Up” over the years, but the other seven are fine, and if together those seven tilt the list toward easy listening, well that’s okay here.

As usual when writing about stuff before the summer of 1969, I should note that I only heard any of these by default, when either my friends or my sister were listening to the radio while I was around. But all of these records – save perhaps “Think” – were familiar to me during that summer between junior high school and high school.

But I don’t think I’d ever heard that week’s No. 100 record until I sought it out this morning. It’s “Congratulations” by Cliff Richard, an artist whose stardom baffles me.

I know he was a big deal in England, with – says Wikipedia – sixty-seven Top Ten singles, second only to Elvis Presley. And he didn’t do badly here, with twenty-one records in or near the Hot 100 between 1959 and 1983. Three of those hit the Top Ten: “Devil Woman” in 1976 and “We Don’t Talk Anymore” and “Dreaming,” both in 1980. I liked “Devil Woman,” but the other two did very little for me, just like anything else I’ve ever heard from Richard.

I especially don’t get the appeal of “Congratulations,” which went to No. 1 in the United Kingdom and in five other European nations. If I weren’t in a generally good mood this morning, I’d label it “insipid.” As it is, I’ll settle for “unpleasant.” But fishing on the bottom of the ocean – something we will do again – can be risky. So here’s “Congratulations.”

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