“Wah-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh / Wah-oh-oh, it’s always a good time / Wah-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh, we don’t even have to try, it’s always a good time!” the acts cheer in the track, written by Adam Young (aka, the one-member Owl City), Brian Lee and Matthew Thiessen.
In genres other than pop, injecting a series of feel-good “oh”s is seemingly less common. Rock songs’ lyrics have historically covered the topics of sex, drugs (or, drums, per the radio edit of Meat Loaf’s “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)”) and rock and roll; R&B has offered classic love songs, from those by Barry White to such newer stars as Frank Ocean, Trey Songz and Usher; and, goes the silly joke, if you play a country song backwards, you get back your job, truck, house, wife kids and dog.
In a pop song, however, “oh,” set to an irresistible melody, can sometimes be enough for a good time for all.
In 1989, New Kids on the Block scored their second of nine consecutive Hot 100 top 10s with “You Got It (The Right Stuff).” “Oh-oh, oh-oh-oh / Oh-oh, oh-oh / Oh-oh, oh-oh-oh … the right stuff,” the quintet sings in the chorus (in which that refrain is then repeated). The song reached No. 3 and helped send the group toward its late ’80s/early ’90s status as pop music’s reigning boy band.
EMF’s “Unbelievable” topped the Hot 100 in 1991. The shouted “oh” following the lyric, “You’re unbelievable,” serves as the song’s trademark. (As it opens the track, the “oh” also made for a fun intro when I was at adult pop radio station WXLO Worcester, Mass. in the ’90s. I.e.: “Here’s EMF on W-X-L …” “Oh!” …)
And, in 2009, Lady Gaga began her No. 2 Hot 100 smash with two run-throughs of “Whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh / Caught in a bad romance.”
Some hits in other formats have borrowed the tactic of easing up on lyrical intensity when the musical hook compensates. Bon Jovi‘s “Livin’ on a Prayer” crowned the Hot 100 25 years ago, with Jon Bon Jovi singing in the rock classic, “Woah, we’re halfway there / Woah-oh! Livin’ on a prayer”; Jeffrey Osborne’s fellow mid-’80s R&B hit “You Should Be Mine” is subtitled the “The Woo Woo Song,” courtesy of its chorus: “Can you woo-woo-woo? Can you woo-woo-woo? Can you woo-woo-woo? / You should be mine, all mine”; and, in 2008, Sugarland capped Country Songs with “All I Want to Do,” with its festive, “All I want to do-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh” (is love you, that is) repetition.
In art, a picture can be worth a thousand words.
In musical art, sometimes the fewer the words, the greater the good time.
‘WAIT’ UP: “I Will Wait,” the first single from Mumford & Sons‘ sophomore album, “Babel,” due Sept . 25, becomes the group’s first No. 1 on the adult alternative Triple A airplay chart, where it lifts 3-1.
The group had reached No. 2 on Triple A with “Little Lion Man” (2010) and “The Cave” (2011).
PHILLIPS’ NEW ‘HOME’: Farther down Triple A, reigning “American Idol” champion Phillip Phillips debuts at No. 29 with “Home.” The folk-leaning track’s entrance makes Phillips the first “Idol” contestant to appear on the tally.
Having reached No. 9 on the Hot 100 and No. 1 on Digital Songs, “Home” starts on Radio Songs at No. 75 with 15 million all-format audience impressions (up 22%), according to Nielsen BDS.
The song concurrently jumps 17-14 on Adult Pop Songs and 40-36 on Pop Songs.
The pairing stems from the Script’s lead singer Danny O’Donoghue and will.i.am having served as coaches on the recently-wrapped first season (or series, to use proper British terminology) of BBC One’s “The Voice UK.” (Jessie J and Tom Jones rounded out the coaches’ panel.) The song’s Hot 100 entrance follows will.i.am having previewed his forthcoming album by premiering the truly out-of-this-world single “Reach for the Stars” from Mars via the Curiosity rover.
In its second week on Adult Pop Songs, “Fame” flies 40-34.
FLYIN’ LIKE A (FREE) BIRD: Lynyrd Skynyrd debuts at No. 14 on the Billboard 200 with “Last of a Dyin’ Breed.” The set is the rock icons’ highest-charting album since “Gold & Platinum” peaked at No. 12 in 1980.
“We kind of went back old school this time,” Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Gary Rossington says. “All of us playing together in the studio as a band, tracking songs and creating licks. We had a lot of fun and the music really flowed for us.
“That’s when you know you are onto something good.”