Showing posts with label The Knack. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Knack. Show all posts

Nov 3, 2018

Listen to New Wave Rock! THE KNACK: “MY SHARONA”

Listen to New Wave Rock! THE KNACK: “MY SHARONA” WLCY Radio Hits

The Knack’s career seemed to have suffered greatly because Capitol Records appeared to go out of its way in hyping the group as something approaching the second coming of the Beatles (which it was not), the band’s refusal to grant interviews, and because the Knack fit in a stylistic slot that made the band a bit difficult to define. For some music fans of the day, the hype the band was given raised questions about its authenticity. In any case, this Los Angeles band enjoyed a couple of significant hits that were part of the new wave scene, “My Sharona” and “Good Girls Don’t,” and might easily have been more commercially and critically successful than it was had it not been for the aforementioned apparent career miscues.

The Knack consisted of singer/guitarist Doug Fieger, lead guitarist Berton Averre, bassist Prescott Niles, and drummer Bruce Gary. Significantly, the members of this group had extensive professional experience in other bands, as backing musicians for solo performers, and as studio musicians before the Knack was formed in 1978. The Knack’s early performances in 1978 in Los Angeles were highly touted and attended by some of the elite of the rock-music world. So, this was a band that could clearly connect with an audience and had the experience and technical skills to perform virtually any kind of popular music they chose. It seems, then, that the extramusical part of the group’s career was really what got in the way for Fieger, Averre, Niles, and Gary.

Easily the Knack’s biggest hit, and one of the biggest hits of the new wave era, “My Sharona” was written by Doug Fieger and Berton Averre, a team that had collaborated even before the establishment of the Knack. According to Fieger, the song was inspired Sharona Alperin, a friend of Fieger’s then-girlfriend, with whom Fieger became enamored upon meeting. Fieger also acknowledged that the insistent musical setting of the song and the famous opening instrumental riff were influenced by the songs on Elvis Costello’s This Years Model album (Konow 2017).

Perhaps one of the most important things to keep in mind about “My Sharona” is the song’s use of what are known in the world of pop music as hooks. According to NPR’s Tom Cole (2010), a hook is “a catchy combination of melody, lyrics and rhythm that stays in the listener’s head - something that songwriters from the dawn of time have wanted to achieve.” “My Sharona” is a song that contains several particularly strong hooks, melodically, rhythmically, and accompanimentally. The instrumental introduction includes a distinctive rhythm, which eventually turns out to be virtually identical to the rhythm in Fieger’s vocal melody in the song’s verses. The instrumental figure associated with the rhythm in the introduction also contains references to the later vocal line, particularly on the title words; however, the very opening of the instrumental riff consists of alternations of pitches an octave apart. There certainly is nothing magical about the interval of an octave, but its use in “My Sharona” as the basis of an instrumental riff is highly distinctive and easily memorable.

The strong pop hooks of “My Sharona” apparently made a strong, favorable impact on a large part of the public, as the single release is reputed to be one of the biggest-selling singles of the rock era. In fact, as the Knack’s official website puts it, “During the summer of 1979, culminating with a riotous sold out performance in New York’s legendary Carnegie Hall, the Knack was unavoidable. It seemed as if every stereo and car radio reverberated with the thunderous hook of their number one smash. It took rock icons Led Zepplin to finally relieve them of the number one album position in the fall of ’79. Billboard named ‘Sharona’ as the number one single of 1979. Today it still ranks as one of the biggest selling singles of the rock era” (Knack n.d.).

Unfortunately, “My Sharona” represented the Knack’s first and biggest brush with commercial success. The single “Good Girls Don’t” was not quite as successful, and the group’s albums subsequent to Get the Knack did not sell nearly as well as the band’s debut. “My Sharona” itself reentered the singles charts when the song was used in the 1994 film Reality Bites. Although the band officially broke up just a few years after “My Sharona” made the Knack a household name, the group did undertake several reunions over the years, some with the original members and some with substitute personnel. Unfortunately, drummer Bruce Gary died of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2006, and lead singer and songwriter Doug Fieger died of cancer in 2010.

In 2003, VH1 ranked “My Sharona” at No. 64 in the music-video network’s list “The 100 Greatest Songs of the Past 25 Years” (Cosgrove-Mather and Lemire 2003). One might debate whether or not a song parody suggests the importance or the popularity of its source. However, for a parody to be successful, particularly from a commercial standpoint, there has to be a certain degree of mass familiarity with the source. Interestingly, “My Sharona” played a significant role in the establishment of one of the United States’ best-known musical humorists of the rock era. Weird A1 Yankovic’s homemade recording of his parody of “My Sharona,” entitled “My Bologna,” was the great parodist’s first exposure to the public and helped to secure Yankovic his first record contract. In this way, the Knack unwittingly helped to kick off the career of one of the most successful musical comedians of all time.

Dec 25, 2015

The Knack - My Sharona - From the album Get the Knack (1979)

The Knack - My Sharona - From the album Get the Knack (1979)
"My Sharona" is the debut single by the Knack. The song was written by Berton Averre and Doug Fieger, and released in 1979 from their album Get the Knack. It reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart where it remained for 6 weeks, and was number one on Billboard '​s 1979 Top Pop Singles year-end chart.

It was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America, representing one million copies sold, and was Capitol Records' fastest gold status debut single since the Beatles' "I Want to Hold Your Hand" in 1964.

The characteristic riff of "My Sharona" was written by the band's guitarist, Berton Averre, years before he joined the Knack. He had played the riff as well as a drum groove for Doug Fieger, the group's lead singer and rhythm guitarist, who loved it and promised to make it a song, although he did not have any ideas for the lyrics.

When Fieger was 25, he met 17-year-old Sharona Alperin, who inspired a two-month-long run of songwriting, as well as becoming Fieger's girlfriend for the next four years. Fieger recounted that "It was like getting hit in the head with a baseball bat; I fell in love with her instantly. And when that happened, it sparked something and I started writing a lot of songs feverishly in a short amount of time." Fieger and Averre worked out the structure and melody of the song. Averre was originally averse to using Alperin's name in the song, but Fieger wanted it to be a direct expression of his feelings; Averre ultimately relented. Fieger claimed that "My Sharona" was written in 15 minutes.