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Monday, May 29, 2006

“the stars on 45 / keep on turnin’ in your mind / but we can work it out / remember twist and shout!”

Sometimes I wonder why certain songs, even if they hit Number One on the charts, are never heard from again. The Stars on 45 Medley is one of those songs. Is it because it was so overplayed during its peak, that no one ever wanted to hear it again? Or is it because it’s simply sooooo cheese-tastic that it wouldn’t translate to younger ears? I decided to put the second theory to the test last week and sent the original medley to my 25-year old test subject who, for the sake of this experiment, we’ll call “Emile”.

It began with Emile’s shocking admission that not only had he never heard the infamous “Beatles Medley” before, he also had never heard of Stars on 45. Once I recovered from the faint-inducing revelation that Emile was a mere SIX MONTHS OLD when “Medley” topped the charts in 1981, I understood how this musical ignorance could have occurred. I mean, it’s not like “Classic 80s” radio ever plays Stars on 45 – after all, that would interfere with its 123,235th play of “Love Shack”. The “Medley” was dispatched via e-mail post haste for our test subject’s review.

Minutes later, the flurry of IMs began:

EMILE: what the hell
EMILE: beatles?
EMILE: disco handclaps?
EMILE: this is awesome!!!

Etc., etc. Stars on 45 was officially a hit with the younger set. That is, until…I decided to push it. Encouraged by our test subject’s initial reaction, I sent along the full, unexpurgated “Medley”, all 15:34 of it, or as we called it back in the day, Side One of the “Stars on LP” album. The test subject responded positively:

EMILE: wow, so there’s even more
EMILE: I can see a bunch of women in leg warmers doing aerobics to this
EMILE: very hot

Our subject’s education continued. It was explained to him that Stars on 45 were actually a collective of studio musicians from Holland led by producer Jaap Eggermont, who expertly mimicked the original recordings one at a time, then spliced them together to that ubiquitous disco handclap to create the medleys. After “Medley” (full, official title: “Stars on 45 Medley: Intro / Venus / Sugar, Sugar / No Reply / I'll Be Back / Drive My Car / Do You Want to Know a Secret / We Can Work It Out / I Should Have Known Better / You're Going to Lose That Girl / Stars on 45”) hit Number One in several countries, including the States, a second medley, creatively titled “Medley II” was released to considerably less fanfare and success.

Undeterred, Stars on 45 soldiered on with a second LP, from which the single ”More Stars” was released, but with a twist. While the rest of the world got an Abba medley, the States, where Abba were not held in the same esteem as the Beatles as the rest of the world saw it, got a Motown medley instead. This medley fared slightly better, but still failed to crack the Top 40.


Proving the third time’s the (relative) charm, Stars on 45 III, also known as “Stars on Stevie (Wonder)”, saw Stars on 45 return to the American Top 40 in 1982. Gone was the distinctive handclap beat, replaced by a more straight-ahead mix of Stevie Wonder oldies.

EMILE: Oh, God

But why stop there? Why not a Rolling Stones Medley, or a then-current New Wave Medley, or even a Carpenters Medley?

EMILE: um…

All were forwarded to our test subject, who proceeded to over-indulge on Stars on 45 cheese for two days solid. Slowly raising his head from the floor, woozy from his Stars overdose, the screeching sounds of females singing “YOU STILL DON’T TELL ME WHY / THERE’S NO REPLY – HI – HI – HI!!” still in ringing in his ears, Test Subject Emile confirmed our secondary hypothesis:

Stars on 45 should be contained to only extremely controlled doses.

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, here’s the video for the original “Medley”:

Consume with extreme caution. You have been warned.

”Medley” peaked at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1981.
“Medley II” peaked at #67 the same year.
“More Stars” peaked at #55 the same year.
“Stars on 45 III” peaked at #28 in 1982.

Buy Stars on 45 at Amazon or on
Stars On 45
posted by John, 8:49 PM