Remembering Hall & Oates' 1st Number One Song, "Rich Girl"
I was beginning my sophomore year at Penn State when the song Rich Girl by Hall & Oates became popular. I was taken aback that a mainstream song used the word "bitch" in it - which probably enhanced its appeal. However, it wasn't used as a derogatory term towards women (that would come 20 years later with the advent of gangsta rap). The song slowly climbed the charts during the fall and winter and reached the top of Billboard's Hot 100 at the end of March 1977. It has the distinction of being the first #1 song to use the word "bitch" in its lyrics.
I marveled that the song received air play. It followed by three years Elton John's The Bitch is Back, which was the first top-10 song to use the word "bitch" in its title (peaking at #4). 17 years later, Stevie Nicks released a greatest hits album titled TimeSpace, which included a new song, Sometime It's a Bitch. However, it didn't achieve nearly the popularity of The Bitch is Back, failing to crack the top 40. And like the others, the word "bitch" wasn't referring to a woman (or a dog).
Before Elton, H&O or Stevie Nicks, the Rolling Stones released the album Sticky Fingers in 1971, and one of the songs on it was titled Bitch. I was a teenager at the time and I remember being in the car with my parents when the song came on and I was absolutely shocked at hearing the word. Being a somewhat sheltered kid, this was a mind-blowing experience; I was surprised my parents didn't switch stations, but perhaps they weren't listening very closely.
After the success of Rich Girl, Hall & Oates went through a fallow period that lasted three years. Then in 1980 they became a true charts powerhouse, charting a dozen songs in the top 10 over the next four years. Then it was they who became rich (boys).
As related by John Oates on the street on TMZ, "Rich Girl" was actually written about a rich boy Daryl Hall knew, but figured, as sung by them, "Rich Girl" would have more marketability.
Posted by: Darrell | 03/27/2014 at 05:57 PM