Popularity is a strange, strange thing.
Songs that have reached #1 on Billboard’s Top 40 singles charts over the years have shown an astonishing range, from universally loved classics to truly bizarre novelty items. Witness these two examples: Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” and Rick Dees’ “Disco Duck.” Both #1 singles. Go figure.
If you look, for instance, at just the decade from 1966-1976, the recordings that became (at least for a week) the hottest selling songs in the nation covered an extraordinarily broad spread of genres, styles, tempos, moods and lyrical themes. Consider these wildly disparate songs: the garage band rock of “Wild Thing” by The Troggs; the Motown soul of “I Can’t Get Next to You” by The Temptations; the pop/country/rock mixture of “Black Water” by The Doobie Brothers; the disco sheen of “Get Down Tonight” by KC and The Sunshine Band; the introspective soft rock of “You’ve Got a Friend” by James Taylor; the country pride of “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” by John Denver; the bubblegum pop of “Sugar Sugar” by The Archies; the mainstream rock of “We’re an American Band” by Grand Funk; the effervescent British period pop of “Penny Lane” by The Beatles.