A new hit by an artist born in 1991 is bringing back memories of a TV show that went off the air in 1987.
British newcomer Ed Sheeran enters the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 95 with “The A Team.” The acoustic/folk song continues its advances on Triple A (No. 3), Heatseekers Songs (No. 16) and Adult Pop Songs (No. 21).
Despite its title, the song has no connection to the TV action series “The A Team,” which ran on NBC from 1983 to 1987. It stems, in fact, from fare much darker than that of Hollywood’s typical storybook endings. “‘The A Team’ came from an experience I had when I did a gig at a homeless shelter,” Sheeran told Billboard earlier this year. “I was 18 at the time and kind of quite naïve. So, I was a bit taken aback by some of the stories that I heard.
“A drug like crack cocaine is called a ‘class A’ drug. That’s in the same category as heroin. Instead of making it clear and just saying what the problem was, I’d say, ‘She’s in the ‘class A’ team.’ It was kind of my way of covering up (a person’s addiction), I guess, making it a bit more subtle.”
As such, “The A Team” is the latest Hot 100 hit that doubles as – but isn’t – the theme to a TV series. (That’s unlike, for example, Pratt and McClain’s “Happy Days,” with Brother Love, which spun its way to No. 5 in 1976 as the ABC sitcom of the same name featuring Richie, Mr. and Mrs. C and the Fonz was Tuesday night must-see TV.)
As “The A Team” makes its Hot 100 entrance, let’s channel 10 other like-titled-but-otherwise-unrelated songs/TV shows.
Before Central Perk opened up for hot drinks and hilarity, four songs titled “Friends” graced the Hot 100, including those by Elton John (No. 34, 1971) and Jody Watley (with Eric B. and Rakim) (No. 9, 1989). After the NBC sitcom premiered in 1994 (it ran through 2004), John Michael Montgomery’s “Friends” reached No. 2 on Country Songs (and No. 69 on the Hot 100) in 1997. The actual “Friends” theme song – the Rembrandts’ “I’ll Be There for You” – topped the Radio Songs chart for eight weeks in 1995.
If you gotta have “Friends,” you gotta have spin-off “Joey,” too, right? The latter series ran for two seasons (46 episodes, after 236 for “Friends”) in 2004-06. Concrete Blonde’s “Joey,” a No. 18 Hot 100 hit in 1990, however, was not about an endearingly slow-witted New Yorker, but a former beau (who might be hurtin’) of singer Johnette Napolitano’s.
“Dy-no-mite!,” Jimmie Walker shouted to adoring audiences (and employed to sell 8-tracks!) on the hit CBS sitcom that ran from 1974 to 1979. Two weeks after the show’s final episode aired, disco act Chic took its song “Good Times” to No. 1 on the Hot 100. (The group had led earlier in the year with “Le Freak”.) The show also inspired the 1975 No. 10 funk hit “Dynomite-Part 1” by Tony Camillo’s Bazuka. Additional musical Penny for your thoughts: Janet Jackson portrayed Millicent “Penny” Gordon Woods in the show’s final two seasons.
A lesson for you kids: vampires enjoyed popularity before “Twilight.” “Angel,” a spin-off of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” aired on the WB from 1999 to 2004. Thirteen songs titled “Angel,” meanwhile, have hit the Hot 100. The highest-charting? Shaggy’s, featuring Rayvon (No. 1 for one week in 2001), followed by Aerosmith‘s (No. 3, 1988), Sarah McLachlan‘s (No. 4, 1999), Madonna‘s (No. 5, 1985) and Jon Secada’s (No. 18, 1993).
Fan reaction to the series finale of ABC’s “Lost” (2004-10) ranged from satisfaction (learning characters’ fates) to angry (lack of clarity about key aspects of the show’s complicated mythology) to dizzy (enough flashbacks/flash-forwards/flash-sideways that if Oceanic offered frequent-flier miles for time travelers, it might’ve gone out of business). It’s much simpler to listen to any of the five songs named “Lost” that have charted on the Hot 100, including those by Faith Hill (No. 61, 2007), Michael Buble (No. 97, 2008) and Coldplay (with Jay-Z) (No. 40, 2009) (the lattermost song sporting an exclamation point at the end of its title).
The answer: This is both the name of the TV game show hosted by Art Fleming (from 1964 to 1975 and again from 1978 to 1979) and Alex Trebek (from 1984 to the present) and a No. 4 Hot 100 hit for the Greg Kihn Band in 1983. The question? (No cheating by looking above): What is “Jeopardy”? (Correct.) Tying the two together, Weird Al Yankovic took his parody “I Lost on Jeopardy” to No. 81 on the Hot 100 in 1984. Laments Yankovic in the song, “Don’t know what I was thinkin’ of / I guess I just wasn’t too bright / Well, I sure hope I do better next weekend, on ‘The Price Is Right’.”
Dutch rock band Golden Earring took its inspiration for “Twilight Zone” not from the beloved 1959-64 sci-fi/mystery series of the same name but from the novel “The Bourne Identity.” The track reached No. 10 on the Hot 100 in 1983 (two years before CBS revived the series; UPN likewise crafted new episodes in 2002-03). Dance fans might better remember 2 Unlimited’s “Twilight Zone,” a No. 5 Dance/Club Play Songs hit in 1992.
Ah, back in 1986, Shannen Doherty had yet to transform into her better-known persona as a b-i- … um, b-i-g star on Fox’s “Beverly Hills, 90210.” She portrayed Deidre Hall’s daughter and Wilford Brimley’s granddaughter (“Kris Witherspoon”) on NBC’s heartwarming drama “Our House,” which ran for two seasons. Two songs titled “Our House” have called the Hot 100 home: by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (No. 30, 1970) and Madness (No. 7, 1983).
The 1986-91 NBC sitcom segued from “Valerie” to “Valerie’s Family: the Hogans” to “The Hogan Family” after original star Valerie Harper left after the second season following a contract dispute; Sandy Duncan took over as the series’ female lead (aunt “Sandy Hogan”), replacing Harper as overseer of the family’s weekly issues in its extremely spacious kitchen. Steve Winwood likewise retooled his song “Valerie,” as an original version reached No. 70 on the Hot 100 in 1982 and a remix roared to No. 9 in 1987. (Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie” never appeared on the Hot 100, although the “Glee” cast’s cover of her soulful song spent a week at No. 54 in December 2010.)
Forty years ago, folk singer Harry Chapin drove “Taxi” to No. 24 on the Hot 100, marking his debut hit. His bittersweet tale of “learn(ing) about love in the back of a Dodge” contrasts with the hijinks of the ABC/NBC series that ran from 1978 to 1983 and made Andy Kaufman, Danny DeVito and Tony Danza household names. (You decide which was filmed in front of a live studio audience.)