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Why Was 'That Song' A Single?

I am sometimes surprised by the songs some bands release as singles.

I'm not sure how much that matters today, but back in the 80s, it was singles that broke a band. Hysteria, for example, started off badly, with "Women" only getting to #80, and the album not taking off until the next single, "Pour Some Sugar on Me." Appetite for Destruction, similarly, had "Out Ta Get Me" as the first single, "Welcome to the Jungle" as the second and broke on the back of the third, "Sweet Child o' Mine." In hindsight, how was "Sweet Child" not the right choice for the first single? In the same way, I can't believe that Motley Crue never released "She Goes Down" as a single off Dr. Feelgood. It is certainly a better song than "Don't Go Away Mad" or "Same Ol' Situation" let alone "Without You." On the other hand, both their previous albums where so terrible that it's amazing that they managed two good singles off each, and thus saved their career.

While "Living in Sin" is a terrible song, after the first three tracks, New Jersey was a write off in my book. There's just nothing else on there worth releasing. How did "Never Say Goodbye" make the cut as a single from Slippery When Wet, but "Raise Your Hands" (which they still play live), "Let It Rock" and "Social Disease" all were deemed not single worthy? I always thought "Wild in the Streets" was also a single, but it seems that it was the B-side of "Never Say Goodbye" from what I can find on Google. Either way, both of those songs are filler.

Now I KNOW that many of you think New Jersey is a great album, so you won't agree with everything I said, but what songs were you surprised never made it to be a single?


Reader Comments (19)

It would be interesting to be a fly on the wall during those discussions because everyone would have a strong opinion. In the video "A Year and a Half in the Life of Metallica" there was a scene in a restaurant where Bob Rock, Lars & James were debating the first single for the Black album. I think Sandman had already been decided by the band by that point, but Bob was pushing pretty hard for On Through the Never and was going on about the dynamics of the song to defend his choice.

As for Feelgood & New Jersey, those albums were both so chock full of great songs that it almost didn't matter what they released after the first couple of singles, which were chosen perfectly, by the way. Bad Medicine & Dr. Feelgood were the perfect ways to start those albums off, followed up by the ballads.

Also, I always thought Welcome to the Jungle was the first single off of Appetite -- it was certainly my introduction to GNR and the first time I ever remember seeing a video of them -- but I could be wrong about that. Regardless, there is no way a new rock/metal band was going to release a slow song first. The formula back then was fast song followed by a ballad, then followed by whatever.
September 29, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbryon
Christian! I agree with you on some stuff here, God forbid, hahaha!!!

In fact, I'll take it even further: Bon Anchovy's album, "New Jersey", just plain SUXX!!!

As far as G'n'R goes, I bought "Appetite For Destruction" like 3 days after it came out on a tip from a guy who worked in the mailroom of the company where I was employed at the time.

On first listen, I had a hunch they would be massive and thought "Sweet Child o' Mine" would be the ONLY single and a huge Top Ten Hit.

Interestingly, "Cry Tough" was the first single off 'Look What The Cat Dragged In', Poison's first and best album. But, inexplicably, in my view, as it's by far my favorite Poison song, "Cry Tough" tanked on the charts.

It was only when they released "Talk Dirty To Me" as the follow up single that Poison's career took off and Rock and Roll History was changed forever.
September 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
Bryon, I like a lot of what you are saying here, but your "Formula" for chart-topping success hardly applies. It never mattered to the high-powered record execs of the big record companies at the time -- Atlantic, Columbia, Warner Brothers, Capitol, Elektra, etc. -- whether a song was fast or slow, it just had to smell like the likeliest #1 Hit from the album.

Ahmet Ertegun at Atlantic, Clive Davis and many of the giants back then had a real knack for it. Still they managed to get it wrong sometimes. After they sold their companies to conglomerates it got even worse when everything from track order to single selection was focus grouped.

But, Bryon, nothing was ever left to chance. Even if they got it wrong, there never was, nor is there ever today, a "whatever" approach to anything.
September 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
To quote the great Tom Petty, "Their A and R man said I don't hear a single." Record label execs had much more to do with choosing a single than the band members themselves. Oh, and btw, the "new Jersey" album is a steaming pile of fecal detritus, and that's coming from someone who grew up in New Jersey, and "never Say Goodbye" was our senior class song in 1987.
September 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBob
Metalboy: 100%, I realize that nothing was left to chance and that execs thought long and hard about what to release.

My "whatever" comment had more to do with the fact that usually by the time a third single was released, the chances of it having a big impact on album sales were pretty minimal, so choice mattered less. It was still an important choice, but just not as big a deal as picking the first couple songs.

There are exceptions to the rule, Hysteria & Appetite being the first that come to mind. But for the most part, the first couple of songs released off an album remain the most memorable for a band.
September 29, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbryon
The first single off Appetite (at least here in the UK) was It's So Easy - I bought it in Shades records in London before the album came out, then headed down to the Marquee club... those were the days.
September 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTony
OH BBG I have missed you so.....Love these articles that stop and make ya think! I had no idea Out to get me was the first released single off Appetite. I thought it was Jungle?

Anyway, it does pose an interesting question indeed.

As for New Jersey, after Bad Medicine, Born To Be My Baby, I'll be there for you and Lay your hands on me, I guess the suits thought Living in Sin was their only option for the next ballad. HELL, JOvi was literally a nonstop machine at that point so the record company was gonna keep putting singles out until the band collapsed (which i think they did after that tour, right?).

Personally Blood on Blood & Stick to your guns are my faves off that album.

Question for all you BBGers: was Crazy Bitch the first released single off 15? It would be interesting to see if it wasn't b/c that song really took off and album sales went through the roof!

Did any of the bands have a say so in what songs were released?
September 29, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkari
Kari -- I could be wrong, but the last band that had any say so about anything was Led Zeppelin. Read "When Giants Walked The Earth: The Story of Led Zeppelin", to read about them constantly telling record execs where to stick it.
September 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
Hey Metalboy - I forgot about Cry Tough when I wrote this. 'Talk dirty to me' was the riff that CC played at his audition, I knew that. Kari, Crazy Bitch AFAIK was not meant to be a single, it went viral because people liked it. Interesting that some people love NJ so much and some agree with me that it really sucked. To each his own, I guess. I agree, Bad Medicine and Lay your hand on me are stellar songs, and perfect single choices. I remember Skid Row being upset over how Slave to the Grind sold and saying they released a heavy song when even Metallica had a single out. They seemed to think that the choice of single and the timing of it was a huge factor in how an album did.
September 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChristian
Christian! Just wanted to add -- what a great, great topic. Kudos! p.s. As I'm sure you well know, there have been several books written about bands' rise to superstardom where hit making is discussed.

Also, there are a couple of books about "the record machine" Roth sings about in "Jump" -- "Hitmakers" about payola and a book about The Story of Motown and Barry Gordy's hack for picking hits.

And, my mention of "Jump" brings another possible topic to mind -- The Worst Glam Metal Songs Ever Recorded". Sorry, but I think "Bad Medicine" is right up there!

And the flip, "The Greatest Glam Metal Songs Ever Recorded". I would put Ratt's "Round And Round" at the top of the list.
September 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
Oops! I meant "knack" not "hack"! Sheesh, these damn "intuitive" devices!
September 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
OK, well, I love Bad Medicine, loved it then and love it now. But, I would agree, Round and round is a great song.
September 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChristian
Here we go still stuck on the Kiss trend. How about Shandi being the single from Unmasked and A World Without heros from the elder? Both rock but really? Talk to me and The Oath should have been the singles.
September 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterShadow
Christian said "'Talk dirty to me' was the riff that CC played at his audition,".... TRUE, only back then, it was known as "SHE'S TIGHT" & credited as the CHEAP TRICK song that it is.
September 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAce Steele
WOW, this site has some die hard bon jovi lovers, jealous of their success i guess

anyway, love new jersey, and no way she goes down is better than same ol situation....
September 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRockfighter
Hey Rockfighter. I LOVE Bon Jovi - I think NJ had awesome singles on it, and Keep the Faith was an incredible album, start to finish. I paid $1000 to be 'in the circle' on the last night of the Circle tour.

But, of course you're entitled to your opinions, half the point of my post was to discuss people's different views, it's interesting to me that I loved the first three BJ albums, and hated most of NJ, yet some people think the whole album is awesome. It's not like I'm not a BJ fan, I was, and am.
September 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChristian
Yeah, Rockfighter. It ain't jealousy. It's called 'Bad Medicine' for a reason, and not in a Michael Jackson way.

It's cuz it SUXX big time along with the rest of the album, 'New Jersey', which also has an unintended double entendre because like the actual New Jersey, you either love it or you hate it.

I will give you the Desmond Child penned trilogy of hits off 'Slippery When Wet' and that's all she wrote, HE wrote when it comes to Bon Anchovy.

Look, I got all their CDs and plenty of it on my iTunes, but only out of necessity. Call it the completist in me.

Sorry, but overall, Bon Jovi is one ginormous Rock Fail. I wanna like 'em but they just plain fail to Rock and always have except for that one brief glimmering, glittery moment in Glam Metal History comprised three of it's greatest moments -- those three hits off 'Slippery'.

Wanna know the truth about Bon Jovi? Just ask Joel Ellis of Cats in Boots or Bart Steele. Learn more on

Go to link

At least they compensated Desmond Child for his songwriting.
October 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
Ace Steele! Speaking of plagiarism, yep, you are right and C.C. even admitted so much to Neilsen who took it as a compliment, considering he's lifted plenty of riffs from everybody.

In fact, he stole the riff that's the signature of both "She's Tight" AND "Talk Dirty To Me" from Johnny Thunders (RIP) of The New York Dolls and his Doll's song, "Great Big Kiss".

And Thunders copped it off Eddie Cochran's "C'mon Everybody".

Know your Rock and Roll!

p.s. OTSK!!!
October 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
Welcome... was the first single off Appetite... in the USA.

As I recall, from some interview at the time, the reason Women was the first single off Hysteria was the band wanted more of a rock song for the the guys, before going to the more pop oriented tunes "for the ladies". That was the story anyway, could be they were just were trying to make excuses for it not doing so well.
October 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJack

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