Thursday, February 16, 2012

The #1 crush

Between the 40’s and early 50’s, big bands made a lot of success with their upbeat rhythms. But they also had slow, mellow songs, which were made famous by the sweet, melodic voices of crooners.

In the 50’s, kids continued to want romantic songs, but it was probably hard for them to relate to crooners in their 30’s/40’s. Teens needed idols that had the same age, which would sing about their romantic experiences or that special girl on their block.

Who would have thought that a crush for your younger brother and sister’s babysitter would give you a #1 hit in the US, UK, and #2 in Germany? Diana was one of Paul Anka’s first songs, and it launched him to stardom right away. When Diana Ayoub, 20 years old at the time, babysat for his younger siblings, he was only 15. She had no interest in him, which was probably better for Anka to express his unmatched feelings in a poem, and later turn it into a song. Diana sold over 10 million copies all over the world, only second to White Christmas, as the best selling single of all time. Nothing like starting your career at 16 with a #1 hit.

Anka proved to the world that he was here to stay, by recording You Are My Destiny the following year. By now, teens had endorsed him as a musical spokesperson for young love. And in turn, he embraced this role by writing more hit songs. And not only for himself. He also wrote It Doesn’t Matter Anymore for Buddy Holly, and for other artists, such as Pat Boone and Connie Francis.

 In 1959 he continued to be a success. He starred in his first movie, Girls Town, in which he sang Lonely Boy, another US #1. Right after that, Put Your Head On My Shoulder hit the charts. It only got to the second place in the US because of Bobby Darin’s Mack The Knife.

After making millions of kids dream of their school sweethearts, it was time for Paul to forget Diana and move on to have a real relationship. The one person that made him forget his platonic love for an older woman was Annette Funicello. She was one year younger than him, and at the time already a singer and a Walt Disney TV show presenter. The future star of beach-themed movies (along with Frankie Avalon), convinced Anka to write some songs for her next album. But before sparks could fly a bit higher, Walt Disney himself ended this starting relationship. Like always, it was all about appearances and professional image. Nevertheless, Anka did get one more hit when he recorded Puppy Love, inspired by this partially fulfilled passion.
Annette Funicello and Paul Anka

By the early 60’s, Paul Anka started to focus musically on the adult market. But his business smarts continued to blossom. He was already an underage millionaire, and made another bold move by buying the rights to his old masters. He also starred in more movies, hosted TV shows, wrote over 125 compositions (including the opening for The Tonight Show), and launched his own record label (Spanka).
He continued his career and today, is still a name mentioned in the music business. In 2007, Paul Anka released Classic Songs, My Way, with contemporary artists such as Jon Bon Jovi and Michael Bublé. I guess Anka will always be someone you can expect more from.

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