Sunday, July 16, 2017

Golden Earring – "Radar Love" (1973)

The radio is playing some forgotten song
Brenda Lee's “Coming on Strong”

Golden Earring is a Dutch band that was formed in 1961 by 13-year-old George Kooymans and his 15-year-old neighbor, Rinus Gerritsen.

They’ve released 25 studio albums – the first in 1965, the most recent in 2012 – and have had 30 singles make the Dutch top ten.  (Five of those singles made it to #1.)  In other words, THEY WERE A BIG DEAL IN THE NETHERLANDS!

Golden Earring (circa 1973)
But in the U.S.?  Not so much. 

I always thought they were a one-hit wonder.  But they had a second U.S. hit with “Twilight Zone,” which peaked at #10 on the Billboard “Hot 100” in 1982 – almost a decade after “Radar Love” made it to #13.

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The band’s frontman, Barry Hay, explains on the Golden Earring website how he got the idea for the “Radar Love”:

One evening I had a few friends over, one of whom was American, and I was brainstorming with them about the form and contents of the story.  It had to be something very simple, to which every average person could relate, such as someone in the bathtub.

(“Someone in the bathtub”?)

Everyone started to put in ideas, and when it got too chaotic, I kicked them out of the house and sent them to some nightclub so that I could work in peace.  The idea of an ordinary guy in his car became to take shape, and when my American house guest got home in the early hours and read the lyrics, he went wild: “This is it; brilliant!  The ultimate American car song!”

I’ve heard Golden Earring’s “Radar Love” about a thousand times on the radio, but I never realized that it includes a shout-out to Brenda Lee’s 1966 hit single, “Coming on Strong,” until this week.

Why is there a reference to that song in “Radar Love”?  According to entertainment writer Deanna Darr,

Golden Earring lead singer and lyricist, Barry Hay, was a fan of “Little Miss Dynamite,” as Lee was known.  During the writing of “Radar Love,” Hay recalled hearing a song by Lee on the juke box in the bar where his mother worked.  The song reportedly was “I’m Sorry,” but Hay decided that the title did not fit and chose instead to reference Lee’s song, “Coming on Strong.”

(“I’m Sorry” was a #1 hit single for Lee in 1960.  It’s a much more familiar song.)

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“Radar Love” is one of the 35 songs that’s in the soundtrack of the brand-new action movie, Baby Driver.  Since Baby Driver is full of spectacular car chases, “Radar Love” was an inspired choice for the movie – and for the trailer:

“Radar Love” is also the perfect song to come on the radio when it’s late at night, and you’ve had wayyyyy too much 3.2% beer to drink, and you’re driving like a bat out of hell.

Here’s “Radar Love”:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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