'Why Wasn't This a Huge Hit?' (Vol. 4)

Cake_lDon’t all fall over at once, but I’m not going to write about an R&B diva or American Idol finalist who’s toiling in obscurity. (¡!) Not today, anyway. Instead, I’d like to direct you to this live performance of Cake’s “Wheels,” from their 2004 disc Pressure Chief, which has to be one of crazy-catchy-coolest little ditties not to achieve national radio saturation in the last few years. Listen to that kicky guitar riff, the goofy yet poignant lyrics, that potent blast of horns. (Where are the horns in pop music anymore, I ask you.) By the time Cake gets to the overlapping “Wheels keep on spinning ’round, spinning ’round, spinning ’round” and “I don’t know why you say you are not in love with me,” the whole thing is more contagious than a case of Chumbawamba. And in a world that has room for two grody Akon singles and The Fray’s ho-hum “How to Save a Life” in the top 10 — all this week! – I have to say I’m dazed and confused by the non-hit-wonder status of “Wheels.” Can anyone explain that to this befuddled blogger? Thanks in advance.addCredit(“Cake: Annamaria DiSanto/WireImage.com”)

Comments (17 total) Add your comment
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  • L

    Because radio is scared of songs with actual instruments? Especially crazy instuments like horns and a vibra-slap.

  • drob

    Perhaps you taste in music isnt as keen as you think. Last I saw Fantasia’s album was at #63 after the 2nd week of release and tanking fast. “Baby Making Hips”…please.

  • elise

    I remember hearing their song “No Phone” at a couple school dances a while back and that’s from the same album. But I definitely prefer “Wheels”.

  • Ellipsian

    Hold up, drob: When again did sales position become any indicator of quality? (That’s a, “Never”, in case you thought I was being rhetorical.) Surely there’s at least one artist, beloved of you, who can’t sell music to save his life…you can’t really be into only ‘popular’, top ten music, can you? That would make me question one’s taste in music more than liking someone who is artistically viable yet “unsuccessful” from a sales standpoint.
    Speaking of “save his life”… a side note: Can anyone else gimme the names of some other musicians, currently as popular as The Fray, who have such horrible enunciation problems!? Seriously–their singer couldn’t blur his words together more in “How to Save a Life” if he tried.

  • Christopher

    Waitaminute, Slezak– are you honestly downplaying the melody and lyrics of “How To Save A Life” for the camp novelty of another monotone Cake single… one that doesn’t even have a catchy chorus? That’s not just snarky, it’s INSANE. >=(
    And just where does this stop– are you gonna diss Fall Out Boy and try to bring back Chilliwack (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMLXA8nvlMQ)?
    Heh! Just kidding.

  • Mahsh

    Ummm, Sleeze? Yeah, OK, Cake HAD their day. It was in 1996. They were unable to do better than “Going the Distance.” And, like The Fray, they only had one sound and they rewrote the same friggin hook over and over and over — including your new fave. Hey — how did somone who wrote “sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell” ever even GET a record deal? How many DJ beejays does that take? Ugh! It could not have been pretty. Move on, bud. If you’re gonna get stuck in the 90’s at least buy yourself a Radiohead CD.
    Now, would someone please explain to me why Pink’s singles were not bigger hits?

    • Emil

      Yeah, it’s a wonder Samuel Beckett ever got that record deal! Being as, y’know, HE wrote “sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell” in Waiting For Godot. But please, continue to act like you know something and that there’s genuine similarity between all of CAKE’s music.

  • urbanguy

    I know why this song didn’t do better. Because it sucks.

  • bg 17

    Why all the hatin’ on Cake? I’ve loved them since Fashion Nugget and, yes, they have not changed their sound much, but they still compose “songs”, not just loops of noise or samples set to overproduced vocals. My only beef about them is that they take so much time to compose those songs. 2004 for their last album (which clocked in at around 36 min. long), a live album in the pipe line, but no new material that I’ve heard of. Anyone know of any news? By the way, Slezak, you are now my favorite Popwatch guru. If Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers make your “Why Wasn’t this a Huge Hit?” list, I may have to start stalking your MP3 files.

  • Ned

    Whenever I listen to this sone, all I can hear is the theme song to the old Mr. Magoo cartoons. The guitar riff basically mirror’s the Magoo tune.
    This song is cute for a while but gets old REAL fast. They overplay it on WFUV in N.Y., which I listen to, so the song’s charms wore off long ago for me.

  • twilly

    what’s sad is i didn’t realize the fray had 2 seperate singles out. they both sound the exact same to me.
    i love cake, i have for many years. nice to see not everyone has forgotten them.

  • Joe C

    The reason why Michael, is because no one will want to buy/request a song by a group named Cake. There. May all of 2007 have questions that easy to answer.

  • dma69

    I don’t know what’s more shoking: that we still remember Cake after all these years or that Slezak used the word “grody”.

  • spencer

    cake is great, give us the chocolate dad!

  • Mel

    I hope to one day see Cake in concert. I’ve loved them since my senior year in high school (1996) and I still listen to them daily. And you know they’re cool when ‘The Sopranos’ use ‘Frank Sinatra’ during one of their episodes. lol

  • Ellipsian

    Sorry to interrupt…just testing HTML in the new format.

    Is this workin’?

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