"Pop Singer" - John Cougar Mellencamp
from the album Big Daddy (1989)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #15 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 7
Today's song of the day comes from heartland rock singer/songwriter John "Cougar" Mellencamp, whole fortunes continued during the 80s with his Lonesome Jubilee album that spun off two top-ten pop hits in "Paper In Fire" and "Cherry Bomb", along with a top-20 follow-up in "Check It Out". However, John was growing more and more disillusioned with the music "industry", and along with not touring for his next album, that was no more apparent than the choice of lead-off single for his tenth album Big Daddy. "Pop Singer" was a breakdown of everything he hated about being in the "A-list" public eye instead of as an artist in itself. With a scarcity of words but a biting delivery in its under three minutes running time, he declared himself independent from the hitseeking scrum, and doing part of the video in white-face in front of an old "Johnny Cougar" album cover done in day-glo was a giant "fuck-you" to MTV, though the video ended up getting play anyway...
While John's momentum naturally caused the single to race up the chart, it didn't stay long; I don't believe radio knew exactly what to do with it. "Pop Singer" made the top 20 in June of 1989, but only stayed in the top-40 for seven weeks and was off the chart after three months. Rock radio was more forgiving, landing him at #2 for three weeks on Billboard's Mainstream Rock radio chart, but again it vanished after two months on the list as well. A second track from the set, "Martha Say", reached #8 on the rock chart, while a third, "Jackie Brown", missed the pop top-40 (it'll show up later as a "robbed hit"). This record also was notable for being his last top-40 hit with the "Cougar" moniker on the label.
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And here's a rare live TV performance of the song from 1989...
Up tomorrow: An Unforgettable soul singer is psychotically pining.