The Also-Rans Matter Too!


Welcome to WEEK 208 of MUSIC is Not a GENRE (Video Episode #34) The Also-Rans – Wherein I Connect the Fat Boys with the Kinks

Fat Boys – Crushin’ (1987) and “Chillin’ with the Refrigerator” (1985) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fat_Boys

Bing Crosby. Frank Sinatra. Elvis. The Beatles. The Cars. Run-D.M.C. Pearl Jam. The White Stripes. Beyoncé. Billie Eilish.

Riiiight? But what about…

Rudy Vallee. Mel Torme. Gene Vincent. The Kinks. Squeeze. The Fat Boys. Soundgarden. The Hives. Rihanna. Grimes.

Every era is defined by its most popular stars. Or is that just how we remember it? Almost none of the stars in that first list were the top sellers of their decades. Were they influential? Absolutely. The best? Debatable but at least top five in all cases. They all deserve their fame & respect. But even they will name check artists from the decade preceding them that were not so famous. Or MORE ACCURATELY – these “also-rans” were very famous in their day, and just didn’t have the sales or historical legs to remain in our consciousness as long.

I take for granted that I know not just the big mahoffs, but the second-, third-, and sometimes fourth-tier artists of most eras. Thing is, both revisionist history and subsequent generations often don’t. And what a shame. I’ll take Mel Torme over Frank any day. Squeeze over the Cars. The Hives over the White Stripes. For many of the other top artists, yeah, they’re my faves or just about even. But there’s no way I can diminish the impact of Gene Vincent or the Kinks or … the Fat Boys.

The Fat Boys. This week’s pick. A band I was SO into when they came out. A band that maybe didn’t invent but definitely popularized beatboxing. They were the first and biggest to make that happen. A band not afraid to be humorous. Or downright cheesy. Were they better than Run-D.M.C.? Nah. Did I like them more than Run-D.M.C. Nope. But I’d bet most people have heard of THAT band, and very few people remember the Fat Boys, let alone how HUGE they were. So let’s give a moment to all those bands that don’t get as much press or credit, and celebrate how much richer & more diverse every era (or every-THING) is if we dig beneath the surface.

My music gets nutty & playful now & then. And yeah, hip-hop has always been a huge influence. As for the Fat Boys themselves, I’ve done some beatboxing, and there’s probably no better song of mine to represent their influence than the same one I shared last week, from my band REC’s brand new EP, Syzygy for the Weird:

“Make Me Mic My Mouth” - https://youtu.be/PPb8lyj9Olc

Do you remember the Fat Boys? Do you remember how HUGE they were? What artists from other eras do you wish people remembered more than the ones everyone already knows? Discuss dammit!

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© 2018 by Nick DeMatteo

New York, NY