Stupid Cupid / Carolina Moon, by Connie Francis (her 2nd of two #1s)
6 weeks, from 26th September – 7th November 1958
A double ‘A’-side, which again means double the songs to write about. I’d better get cracking.
Connie Francis is back at the top. Three months on from ‘Who’s Sorry Now’s six-week reign at #1, ‘Stupid Cupid’ arrives to spend – you guessed it – six weeks at #1. She may only have had two chart-toppers, but twelve weeks in total at the top is nothing to be sniffed at. It reminds me of Rosemary Clooney’s chart run from a couple of years ago: two quick-fire chart toppers by a sparky female lead…
In ‘Who’s Sorry Now’, Connie was enjoying a bit of schadenfreude at her ex’s expense. Now, in ‘Stupid Cupid’, she’s back in love. Except she doesn’t want to be…
We start with a staccato sax, chugging drums, and then: Stupid Cupid, you’re a real mean guy, I’d like to clip your wings so you can’t fly, I’m in love and it’s a cryin’ shame, And I know that you’re the one to blame, Hey, hey, set me free, Stupid Cupid… Stop pickin’ on me! There’s a twang in her voice to match the twang in the guitar, and the song bounces along nicely. It’s a very sax-heavy track – with a chunky little solo in the middle – and it seems that we might be having a bit of a ‘sax phase’ at the top of the UK charts with this following on from ‘When’. It’s nice, considering that we’ve already had plenty of guitar and piano – the three main rock ‘n’ roll instruments taking their turn to dominate.
As with ‘Who’s Sorry…’, the best bit of this record is the bridge. It seems to be the point in her songs where Ms Francis really lets loose, belting the lines out while losing none of her sparkle: You mixed me up but good right from the very start, Hey! Go play Robin Hood with somebody else’s hea-a-a-art… Cue handclaps and a shimmy.
By the end of the song, however, it turns out that her reluctance in love has been a bit of front: Since I kissed his lovin’ lips of wine, The thing that bothers me is that I like it fine… The little minx! And the way she lingers over the final ‘I like it fine’ is perhaps the most playful, nudge-nudge, wink-wink moment of any chart-topper so far.
Which makes the flip-side of this disc all the more disappointing… ‘Carolina Moon’, to be perfectly honest, is a bit dull. I get that you want to show off the different sides to a singer’s range – though in the previous double ‘A’ both Lonnie Donegan tracks were pretty similar. ‘Stupid Cupid’ is simply a really hard act to follow.
The sax is gone, replaced by a harmonica, a plinky piano and swaying guitars. Carolina moon, Keep shinin’, Shinin’ on the one who waits for me… Now Connie’s sitting at home pining for a guy. Make up your mind, love… How I’m hopin’ tonight, You’ll go, To the right, Window… Tell him that I’m blue and lonely… Dreamy Carolina moon…
I know Connie Francis’s music quite well, but somehow I’d never heard this before. And I wasn’t missing much. Lyrically, this pretty old-fashioned. There was a surfeit of songs back in 1953 / ’54 where people were waiting patiently for their distant loved ones. There was even one – ‘I See the Moon’ by The Stargazers – in which the singer implored the moon to ‘shine on the one they loved’. These days we’re used to something a bit more immediate, though, a bit less passive. Don’t just sit at home relying on the moon to tell the man of your dreams that you love him! Get out there and make him notice you!
Francis’s voice is still very nice on this record, but it lacks bite. She definitely sings better when there’s a bit of sass in the lyrics. This is just an average rock ‘n’ roll ballad… I had a sneaking suspicion that this might have been a pretty old song resurrected for the rock age, a la ‘Who’s Sorry Now’… And I was right. Wiki tells us that it was originally a hit way back in 1928.
And with this double whammy, Connie Francis’s short-lived time as a UK chart-topper comes to an end. Mopey songs about moons aside, her two lead singles have been highlights of the year so far. One a ballad with a spikey twist, the other a rollicking ride of a pop song. I’ll link here to some of her better non-chart toppers: songs such as ‘Where the Boys Are’, ‘Lipstick on Your Collar’, ‘Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool’, and hands-down the raunchiest song recorded in 1959: ‘Plenty Good Lovin’ (sample lyric: People say he’s not too smart, But he knows the way to a woman’s heart, Plenty of things that he don’t know, But this boy shines when the lights are low…) Oh, Connie. You are awful! I have a suspicion that we’ll be missing you before long.