Monday, February 17, 2020

Musical Monday - Fame by Irene Cara

#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Never.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Never.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: July 17, 1982 through August 7, 1982.

Fame was the theme song for the 1980 movie Fame, and by July of 1982 it had already been available for almost two years. In 1980 the song won a Golden Globe and an Oscar for Best Original Song, and had garnered Irene Cara two Grammy nominations for Best New Female Artist and Best New Pop Artist. Although it had not reached number one on the Billboard or Cash Box charts, it had still been a big hit. In 1980, Cara seemed poised to become the big star based on the success of this song and her performance in the movie as Coco Hernandez.

Fast forward two years later and this song reaches number one on the U.K. charts. Why? Basically, television. The success of the movie Fame led to the creation of the television show Fame, and the rerelease of the song Fame. Ironically, although several members of the movie cast became regulars on the television show, Cara was not one of them. Although the television show used the song Fame as its main title, the version used for the show was not sung by Cara. To sum up: This song became a hit to promote a show the singer was not on that used a version of it that the singer did not sing.

One of the recurring themes that has run through this project is the pronounced influence that movies and television have had upon the landscape of popular music, and this song reflects that reality on two axes. First it became a hit because ti was attached to a movie, then it became a hit again because it was attached to a television show. Of course, the song never would have become a hit without being an actually pretty good song powered by Cara's powerful and almost transcendent voice.

Previous Musical Monday: Happy Talk by Captain Sensible
Subsequent Musical Monday: Hurt So Good by John Cougar

Previous #1 on the U.K. Chart: Happy Talk by Captain Sensible
Subsequent #1 on the U.K. Chart: Come On Eileen by Dexys Midnight Runners and the Emerald Express

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

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