The air is crisp. The days are shorter. High schools are jammed with kids dreading the long year while college campuses are abuzz with excitement, proof that life actually does get better -- before it gets irretrievably worse. Some late summer hits hang on, while new songs show up like new clothes for the season.
The following songs were all #1 hits in the month of September. The list is in reverse chronological (Modern Lovers precise) order, beginning with 2011 and working back to 1969. If you don't like these songs, don't yell at me. I didn't vote for them. I just report the facts. Though I do hope you'll find my insights particularly insightful and my salient points, pointy.
25) Moves Like Jagger -- Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera (2011): Everyone knows the trick to writing catchy tunes is to find a hook and beat it into people's brains. While obviously this song doesn't literally do that, it kinda does, since the words work on a loop that causes dementia in laboratory rats and bloggers.
24) Teenage Dream -- Katy Perry (2010): For some unknown reason, I really wish Katy's real name wasn't Katy Hudson but Maude Gomes and I have no idea why. It's one of those things I think about when her music plays, which is to say it inspires me to think!
23) I Gotta Feeling -- The Black Eyed Peas (2009): I admit, I sorta dug this song the first, I dunno, 13 times I heard it. Then the other 201,327 times followed and I grew resentful. It was like being in grammar school and watching one of the bigger kids hog the water fountain during recess. Don't you think you should let someone else have a turn?
22) Whatever You Like -- T.I. (2008): I like the open-ended offer here. What does it sound like? Whatever you like.
21) Crank That (Soulja Boy) -- Soulja Boy Tell 'Em (2007): Not sure going by the name "Soulja Boy Tell 'Em" is the right marketing tool, but putting your name in the song is solid branding if I've ever heard it. Just think Coke, Pepsi, Geico, Aflac, Dunkin' Donuts, Burger King and Soulja Boy!
20) SexyBack -- Justin Timberlake (2006): Gosh, this guy was popular when he was young. It makes me think I've missed my window of opportunity for mega-stardom. Like I'm going to be doing this for the rest of my life! Considering the shape of my lower back, that's not such a bad deal!
19) Gold Digger -- Kanye West featuring Jamie Foxx (2005): Hugely popular for having a controversial personality, Kanye West knows a thing or two about being inclusive. His music sounds like he's aware of other people's less popular music because he is. It's not gold digging but it's financially rewarding as heck.
18) Shake Ya Tailfeather -- Nelly, P. Diddy and Murphy Lee (2003): I often wonder if any of these superstars are really friends. Or do they just look into one another's eyes and see dollar signs and figure "heck, yeah, I like this guy!" Their managers surely like the synergy. Now if we could just get these guys to pose naked on their album covers and spend a week in bed for peace!
17) Music -- Madonna (2000): Once upon a time, Madonna could do no wrong. Or rather, she could do wrong but that was what everyone liked about her. She gave the masses the illusion that they were free. We know now there is always a hidden service charge and surtaxes that are only mentioned in the fine print.
16) I Don't Want To Miss A Thing -- Aerosmith (1998): If you read Steven Tyler's autobiography, Does the Noise In My Head Bother You, you'll discover just how well he can rationalize anything. Most of all, loving this Diane Warren-penned milk dud featured in the film, Armageddon. Just say it, Steven, you love the smell of money in the morning.
15) Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix) -- Los Del Rio (1996): How could a song so nationally reviled have been such a huge hit? Do people start off loving a song and then turning on it? Or do different groups of people rise up to have their voice heard and they drown out the supporters? After all, if 300 million people live in the U.S.A. and 25 million like a song that still leaves at least 75 million more who don't care. (The other 200 million are either too young, too old or too clinically insane to think coherently. They call into AM radio and talk politics and sports, angrily.)
14) Gangsta's Paradise -- Coolio featuring L.V. (1995): A hip-hop version of Stevie Wonder's "Pastime Paradise," "Gangsta's" was featured in the movie Dangerous Minds with Michelle Pfeiffer who also appeared in the video. This was back when MTV played videos. Times were nuts, yo!
13) End of the Road -- Boyz II Men (1992): This song wasn't just a hit in September. It felt like it was a hit for a year and a half. You couldn't get away from it. It played in supermarkets, drug stores, delis, barbershops, restaurants and kennels.
12) Cold Hearted -- Paula Abdul (1989): Before she was the wacky and weird American Idol judge, she had her own career and popular she was. Oh, so popular. As you'll notice, music did change ever so subtly over the years. Though novelty kid groups like...
11) Hangin' Tough -- New Kids On the Block (1989): …the New Kids on the Block have always had a built-in audience with young young people, who because they're so young don't have anything to compare the group to. If you meet nine-year old kids who think Menudo are derivative? Don't encourage them. Trust me on this one.
10) Sweet Child O' Mine -- Guns N' Roses (1988): Whoa, right? Boy, does this stick out. Admittedly, it's their ballad, but it still rocks considerably harder than anything else on the list, in traditional terms. Rock 'n' roll combos may have been regular visitors to the top of the charts back in the 1960s, but as time has marched on, they've made mostly cameos.
9) What's Love Got To Do With It -- Tina Turner (1984): I can assure you this song was everywhere in 1984. All the stories about Tina's "comeback" made even people like me who weren't all that jazzed about the tune sympathetic to her plight. Why shouldn't she reap the rewards doled out to musicians with half or even one-tenth of her talent? I know it was hell, Tina. But musically, I preferred the stuff with Ike.
8) Endless Love -- Diana Ross and Lionel Richie (1981): As a young teen when this hit, I considered this "girl music." Young boys were looking for music to punch your lights out, even if most of us just wanted to stay home with mom and watch TV. Girls dreamed of romance and knights in shining armor coming to their emotional rescue, I suppose. What boy knew anything about girls? Except pulling their ponytails was a way of letting them know you liked them. And denying it made it even clearer.
7) My Sharona -- The Knack (1979): There have been a handful of songs that when they were released you could feel the air shift in the room. Surely, people once were shocked by Duke Ellington. Or Elvis Presley. Or Chubby Checker. Or the Beatles. Or the Who. Or the Doors. Or Sly Stone. Or Led Zeppelin… The Knack were a solid band, but they were overshadowed by this single, which sadly reduced the rest of the catalog to also-rans. Hardcore fans love it, but the masses were content to settle. It still sounds good.
6) (Shake Shake Shake) Shake Your Booty -- KC and the Sunshine Band (1976): Funny how the trends of each era seem so quaint. Sometimes, they seem that way while they're happening. Surely, people following 'The Boogie Movement' knew they were participating in something that was likely good for a year or two. Or did they?
5) Rhinestone Cowboy -- Glen Campbell (1975): Sadly, Mr. C is now on his farewell tour, saying goodbye as Alzheimer's robs him of his memories. His hits were worth the price of admission. Am I nostalgic? I don't think so. I just prefer certain sounds, regardless of when they're made. How about you?
4) Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe -- Barry White (1974): It's almost as if the early 1970s were the first time music production caught up to the sex drive in so much music. Sure, James Brown and the Rolling Stones were sensual in their way, but Barry White's music turns down the lights, wheels out the waterbed, sparks up the, ahem, incense, and gets down to business! Just like...
3) Let's Get It On -- Marvin Gaye (1973): Sure, Marvin had social consciousness, but he also had a libido and ego that made him one serious dude. Any major dude will tell you that it was only a matter of time before Gaye got it on and brought it on home, daddy.
2) Baby, Don't Get Hooked On Me -- Mac Davis (1972): Credited with penning "In the Ghetto," for Elvis Presley, Davis' own career was a bit more middle of the road. If you were into Mac in the early 1970s, chances are you became familiar with his work on eight-track, where his songs sounded particularly fetching as the tracks ca-chunked.
1) Sugar Sugar -- The Archies (1969): Considering all the deep think and the new consciousness supposedly stinking up the joint in 1969, it's with a little relief that we see the music business still had its "tight grip on the short hairs of the public imagination," as the non #1-hitmaker Elvis Costello would say. That said, sometimes that's ok. If you live long enough, you'll have seen everything at least twice.