First Hit #1: July 16, 1977
Lots of people complain about Justin Bieber. He’s young, he’s adored by young women, he frequently says very stupid things in interviews, he makes pop music. Most young pop stars have that quality, but Bieber has inspired a certain insane hatred among certain people – generally 13 year old boys, who are angry that 13 year old girls are spending time looking at this young pop sensation instead of them, but also some other people who like to claim he’s “ruining music.” He’s not, he’s just another in a long line of pop stars doing silly pop songs and ushering young girls into young womanhood. Also, while I’m only familiar with his big hit Baby, it is better than his 1977 equivalent Shaun Cassidy’s number one, Da Doo Ron Ron.
Of course, this was previously a hit for the Crystals, though somehow it never hit the top spot. It’s also not a bad song, when sung by The Crystals, backed with some of Phil Spector’s more ambitions production. It is, in fact, a pretty great song in that form, a fun bit of girl group pop that reminds you why that era was so amazing.
Cassidy’s version isn’t so much bad as it is inessential. There is no reason for it to exist. The production is worse, Cassidy is kind of a pretty but vacant presence on the track, and the overall impression is “why am I listening to this when the Crystals’ version exists?” Baby is a better song because it has a reason to exist, it is a bit of pop fluff but it’s one that’s at least somewhat new. Da Doo Ron Ron isn’t that, it’s like those discount CDs where sound-alike bands do covers of famous songs. All it does is serve to remind you of something better.
In all honesty though, the song doesn’t matter, not for this type of act. The target market for this song was girls too young to remember the original, and the song itself is just okay enough to get those girls looking at Cassidy’s handsome face. He’s a teen idol, and teen idols exist to excite the young ladies and get them into buying music. Sometimes they can make good pop music, but for the most part, they exist for the sole purpose of getting girls to swoon over boys. They don’t always have a long shelf life – Cassidy has long abandoned the music industry to become a TV producer, for instance – but they’re a constant anyway. And every time someone complains about one “ruining” music, they show that they’re a bit too young to know that all of this has happened before, and all of this will happen again.