First Hit #1: January 3, 1970
While every decade has its own distinct sound, it’s never really a sudden transition between the sounds. The ’60s was British Invasion and girl groups, and both of the biggest examples didn’t really make it to the ’70s – The Supremes ended the decade with their last single, the Beatles are finishing off their remaining singles this year before embarking on solo careers – but it’s hardly a rapid transition into a new type of music. B.J. Thomas’ hit that opened up the decade, for instance, isn’t a dramatic change from what came before. It’s a bouncy little folk-inspired song with an undercurrent of melancholy that’s becoming a chart staple. It’s a style that’s been gradually becoming more common, and Thomas is a bit more upbeat than your Simons and your Garfunkels but a bit more downbeat than either Peter, Paul or Mary. It’s a depressed carefree, which is a weird combination but one that makes some sense and is quite fun to listen to.
Of course, this is written by Hal David and Burt Bacharach, something that becomes immediately obvious as soon as we hit an instrumental part – their jazzy, poppy instrumentals really don’t sound like anyone else – and they represent another aspect of the ’60s that really isn’t going anywhere as we transition into a new decade. So while some of the big bands are in their death throes, it’s not exactly a sudden transition, and Raindrops… is a pretty good example of how sound doesn’t change that quickly, and why that’s a good thing.