When the 350 Jersey Songs project hit the halfway mark in March, I did a post on the 10 most popular songs in the series, based on page views. Now that the project is almost over (the last pick will be posted on Tuesday), I think it’s time to take another look.
The No. 1 song, “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” remains the same, though most of the other Top 10 finishers are different, either because they didn’t appear until the second half or have been steadily drawing page views all along the way. Interestingly, it’s not, for the most part, the list’s most famous songs or most famous artists that are on this list, but songs that people may be discovering — or hearing for the first time in years — and wanting to let other people know about.
1. “Pleasant Valley Sunday” demo, Carole King
Everyone knows the Monkees’ hit version of this song, of course, but people really enjoyed hearing co-writer King’s original take on this tale of West Orange ennui, included on her 2012 compilation, The Legendary Demos.
Ranking at halfway point: No. 1
2. “Blood and Roses,” The Smithereens
One of the signature songs by this veteran Jersey rock band, represented by its original, moody video.
3. “The Boys on the Avenue,” Bill Chinnock
Fans of the legendary Shore rocker, who died in 2007, were glad to see this great 1982 performance clip, shot at Big Man’s West in Red Bank.
4. “Exit Number 9,” Glen Burtnick
Burtnick’s ode to New Brunswick, dating back to his days in the band, The Slaves of New Brunswick. The clip is a live in-studio performance for Rich Russo’s radio show, “Anything Anything.”
5. “I Don’t Want to Go Home,” Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, with Bruce Springsteen
The quintessential Jukes song, with The Boss guesting, at a 1978 concert at The Agora in Cleveland.
6. “Jersey Bound,” Mike Sinatra
I’m a bit surprised that Sinatra finished so high, as there are so many more famous artists on the list, but his fans really liked seeing, and sharing, this video of this sweet, heartfelt song.
7. “Boogie Woogie Santa Claus,” Bernie Brausewetter
Another song that ranks higher than you might expect, but that just goes to show how much New Jerseyans miss the late guitarist and singer, who died in 2007.
Ranking at halfway point: No. 2
8. “Behind the Wall of Sleep,” The Smithereens with Graham Parker
A collaboration from the second MTV “Unplugged” show, ever.
Ranking at halfway point: No. 3
9. “Ariel,” Dean Friedman
People clearly have fond memories of this sweet and slightly goofy 1977 pop hit, set in the Paramus Park mall.
Ranking at halfway point: No. 4
10. “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life,” Franke Previte and Rachele Cappelli
This song, of course, became a huge hit after it was recorded by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes on the soundtrack of the 1987 movie “Dirty Dancing.” But this is the original demo, as recorded by co-writer Previte and Cappelli, and is actually the version that Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey heard when filming their dance duet scene. (The Medley/Warnes version was recorded later, and subbed in.)
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