First Hit #1: June 3, 1989
Rock On was a cover recorded by a soap opera star for the purposes of a movie starring the Coreys Haim and Feldman. It doesn’t sound anything like what you would expect from the previous sentence, instead turning into a very strange new wave interpretation of ’50s nostalgia, including repeated references to James Dean. It is almost a song that is arranged entirely to subvert expectations. It’s not even particularly rocking, it’s almost entirely percussive sounds rather than anything resembling a traditional rock sound. The song can be made into a rock song, but Damian’s version strips those elements away entirely. As well, while the lyrics are certainly a homage to ’50s culture the halting delivery is decidedly contrast with anything that could actually get popular in the ’50s – play this song back then, and you would get strange looks rather than adoring fans. Sometimes you can hear the bones of something a bit more straight up and predictable, and the video reveals that Michael Damian is not quite the mysterious and moody young man that his performance might suggest – there is some serious goofball going on in some of this – but Damian and crew manage to create something very different from what you might predict.