Answer song

Summary

An answer song, response song or answer record, is a song (usually a recorded track) made in answer to a previous song, normally by another artist. The concept became widespread in blues and R&B recorded music in the 1930s to the 1950s. Answer songs were also extremely popular in country music in the 1950s and 1960s, most often as female responses to an original hit by a male artist.

The original "Hound Dog" song sung by Big Mama Thornton reached number 1 in 1953, and there were six answer songs in response; the most successful of these was "Bear Cat", by Rufus Thomas which reached number 3. That led to a successful copyright lawsuit for $35,000, which is said to have led Sam Phillips of Sun Records to sell Elvis Presley's recording contract to RCA.[1][2]

In Rock Eras: Interpretations of Music and Society, Jim Curtis says that "the series of answer songs which were hits in 1960... indicates the dissociation of the singer from the song... Answer songs rode on the coattails, as it were, of the popularity of the first song, and resembled parodies in that their success depended on a knowledge of the original... Answer songs were usually one-hit flukes by unknown singers whose lack of identity did not detract from the success of the record since only the song, and not the performer, mattered."[3]

Today, this practice is most common in hip hop music and filk, especially as the continuation of a feud between performers; the Roxanne Wars was a notable example that resulted in over a hundred answer songs.[4] Answer songs also played a part in the battle over turf in The Bridge Wars.[4] Sometimes, an answer record imitated the original very closely and occasionally, a hit song would be followed up by the same artist.

ExamplesEdit

Pre-1950sEdit

1950sEdit

  • "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels", written by J. D. "Jay" Miller in 1952 and originally sung by Kitty Wells, was a response to "The Wild Side of Life", made famous that same year by Hank Thompson.[10]
  • "Wake Up Irene" (1953) by Hank Thompson & The Brazos Valley Boys, an answer to the widely covered folk song "Goodnight, Irene".
  • "Mannish Boy" (1955) by Muddy Waters was a response to Bo Diddley's "I'm a Man", which also happened to be a response to "I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man", an earlier song by Muddy Waters in 1954.
  • "Can't Do Sixty No More", written and performed by The Dominoes, was a response to their own hit song from four years earlier (1951), "Sixty Minute Man".
  • One of the longest answer record cycles was started by Hank Ballard and the Midnighters' (1954) R&B hit "Work With Me Annie", and its sequel song "Annie Had a Baby" (1954). Answer songs include "Annie's Answer" (1954) by the El-Dorados, "Annie Pulled a Humbug" (1954) by the Midnights, "Wallflower (Roll With Me Henry)" (1955) by Etta James, and "I'm the Father of Annie's Baby" (1955), by Danny Taylor. The Midnighters also recorded an "answer to the answer": "Henry's Got Flat Feet (Can't Dance No More)" (1955).
  • "Nothing Can Replace A Man" (1955) from the musical Ankles Aweigh bills itself in its verse as an answer to Rodgers and Hammerstein's "There Is Nothin' Like A Dame" (1949).
  • "I Shot Mr. Lee" (1958) was The Bobbettes' response to their own 1957 hit, "Mr. Lee".
  • "That Makes It" was Jayne Mansfield's response to The Big Bopper's "Chantilly Lace" (1958),[11] suggesting what the girl may have been saying at the other end of the line.
  • "Oh Neil!" was Carole King's response to Neil Sedaka's "Oh! Carol" (1959); Sedaka and King were both co-workers and friends since high school.
  • "Short Mort" (1959) by Carole King was a response to Annette Funicello's "Tall Paul" (1959), referencing "Tall Paul" in the line, "You can keep Tall Paul, I'll take Short Mort."
  • "Return of the All-American Boy" (1959) by Billy Adams was a response to the 1958 smash "All American Boy" by Bill Parsons (aka Bobby Bare).
  • "I Got a Job" (1957) by The Miracles, "I Found a Job" by The Heartbeats (1958), "I Got A Job" by The Tempos, and "I Got Fired" by The Mistakes, were all responses to The Silhouettes's self-penned chart-topper "Get a Job" (1957).
  • "Answer To The Pub With No Beer" (1958) by Slim Dusty, was a direct response to Dusty's hit "A Pub With No Beer" (1957).

1960sEdit

1970sEdit

1980sEdit

1990sEdit

2000sEdit

2010sEdit

  • Devil Comes Back to Georgia by Johnny Cash, Charlie Daniels, Mark O'Connor, and Travis Tritt in 2010 responds to the Charlie Daniels Band's The Devil Went Down to Georgia (1979).
  • Everybody Was in the French Resistance...Now! released an album titled Fixin' The Charts, Vol. 1. As its title suggests, the album contains nothing but answer songs to pop hits. "G.I.R.L.F.R.E.N. (You Know I've Got A)", an answer song to Avril Lavigne's hit "Girlfriend", is one example.
  • "California Gurls" (2010) by Katy Perry featuring Snoop Dogg was a response to "Empire State of Mind" (2009) by Jay-Z featuring Alicia Keys. It was the first time both the original song and the answer song reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
  • Taylor Swift's "Better Than Revenge" (2010) is an answer to The Jonas Brothers' "Much Better" (2009) which may have been an answer Swift's "Forever and Always" (2008).
  • Marina and the Diamonds' cover of Justin Bieber's "Boyfriend" (2012) is an answer song to the original tune, the lyrics adapted to give it a female perspective.[26]
  • Lecrae made the song "No Regrets" (2012) in response to "The Motto" (2011) by Drake.[27] Which itself is a response to "If Today Was Your Last Day" (2008) by Nickelback.
  • Yasiin Bey (formerly Mos Def) released "Niggas in Poorest," (2012) in response to Jay-Z's and Kanye West's, "Niggas in Paris," (2011) chastising them for parading their wealth while so many are suffering with poverty, violence, crime, and exploitation.
  • Mary Lambert's "She Keeps Me Warm" (2013) is an extension of the chorus she sang on Macklemore's "Same Love" (2012). Where "Same Love" has a message of gay acceptance, "She Keeps Me Warm" is about a woman who falls in love with another woman and grows to accept her own sexuality.
  • Ewert and the Two Dragons wrote their song "Jolene" on the album Good Man Down in response to Dolly Parton's 1973 single "Jolene" from the male perspective. Additionally, the 2017 song "Diane" performed by Cam sings from the perspective of Jolene.
  • "Big Girls Cry" on Sia's 2014 album 1000 Forms of Fear is an answer song to Fergie's hit "Big Girls Don't Cry" (2007).
  • "Anaconda" by Nicki Minaj (2014) is viewed as an answer to Sir Mix-a-Lot's "Baby Got Back" (1992), which is heavily sampled in the song. Whereas Sir Mix-a-Lot focuses on a woman's body and the pleasure it gives him, Minaj raps from the perspective of the unnamed woman, and shows how she uses her callipygian physique to profit and empower herself.[28]
  • Ellie Goulding's song "On My Mind" is seen as answer to Ed Sheeran's "Don't" by many critics,[29][30] although Goulding herself has denied it.
  • Christine and the Queens rewrote Beyoncé's "Sorry" from a male perspective.[31]
  • Esmé Patterson published Woman to Woman (2014),[32] an album of seven answer songs from the perspective of famous women in pop songs, including "Eleanor Rigby", "Billie Jea and The Kinks' "Lola".
  • "The Quantum Enigma (Kingdom of Heaven Part II)" popularized by Epica is a response to "Kingdom of Heaven"
  • Eels 2018 single "Bone Dry" is an answer to their 2010 single "Fresh Blood".[33] Fresh Blood was itself a sequel to their song "I Want to Protect You".[34]
  • "Paper Doll" (2013) by John Mayer is viewed as a response to Taylor Swift's "Dear John" (2010) and also mentions her song "22".[35]
  • In 2013, Kay One released his diss track "Nichts als die Wahrheit" against his former label mates Bushido and Shindy, as a response to Shindy's song "Alkoholisierte Pädophile", making fun of Kay One and his stepfather Olliwood. Bushido in return released the 11 minute storytelling diss track "Leben und Tod des Kenneth Glöckler", chronicling the rise and career of Kay One from his perspective, depicting him as an opportunist who only makes friends that get him further in the music business just to drop them when he finds someone more prestigious. One year later, Kay One released the 25 minute response song "Tag des jüngsten Gerichts", depicting his career from his own point of view, including attacks against many of his former friends on the way who turned their back on him, most prominently Bushido who he claims to have abused his power as a label boss and his ties to the Abou-Chaker clan to make Kay work lots for little money, as well as being a greedy man who rips off his fellow collaborators as well as his own fans. Numerous of the rappers mentioned in the song released their own diss tracks against Kay One as a response, however they received less media coverage and attention than those of Kay One and Bushido.

2020sEdit

  • Coheed and Cambria's 2020 song "Jessie's Girl 2" is a sequel to Rick Springfield's 1981 song "Jessie's Girl". Featuring Springfield himself on the track, the song imagines what would have happened had Springfield succeeded in winning Jessie's girl.[36]
  • Roselia's 2022 song "ROZEN HORIZON" is a sequel to their 2019 song "FIRE BIRD", according the mini-album's page.[37]

Diss tracksEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Salem, James M. (2001). The late, great Johnny Ace and the transition from R & B to rock 'n' roll'. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0-252-06969-2.
  2. ^ "sam phillips and the remix". Archived from the original on 2012-03-13.
  3. ^ Curtis, James M. (1987). Rock Eras: Interpretations of Music and Society, 1954-1984. Bowling Green State University Popular Press. p. 88. ISBN 9780879723699. Retrieved 10 March 2020.
  4. ^ a b Hess, Mickey (2009). Hip Hop in America: A Regional Guide: Volume 1: East Coast and West Coast. ABC-CLIO. p. xx. ISBN 978-0-313-34323-0.
  5. ^ "I Wonder Why Bill Bailey Don't Come Home". Library.ucsb.edu. 16 November 2005.
  6. ^ "I Used to Be Afraid to Come Home in the Dark". Library.ucsb.edu. 16 November 2005.
  7. ^ "I'm Afraid to Come Home in the Dark". Library.ucsb.edu.
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2019-01-24. Retrieved 2019-01-23.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ Woody Guthrie: this man is your myth, this man is my myth, section American Hero
  10. ^ "Country Music – Music News, New Songs, Videos, Music Shows and Playlists". Cmt.com. Retrieved 31 May 2018.
  11. ^ The Big Bopper Archived January 12, 2012, at the Wayback Machine Hotshotdigital.com
  12. ^ "Damita Jo Page". Soulwalking.co.uk. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  13. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. pp. 255–256. ISBN 978-0-89820-177-2.
  14. ^ Playboy Magazine (1984). "Playboy Interview With Paul and Linda McCartney". Playboy Press. Retrieved 23 August 2008.
  15. ^ "Music | Yahoo Entertainment". Yahoo.com. Archived from the original on July 18, 2012.
  16. ^ Liz Smith, "Papa Gets Second Chance In New Video", Sarasota Herald-Tribune (October 22, 1986), 5E.
  17. ^ "Mamado & She - I'm Your Wild Thang". Discogs.com. Retrieved 31 May 2018.
  18. ^ "Interview with Graham Sutton (taken by US zine Audrie's Diary, 1994)". Audrie's Diary. Archived from the original on 24 April 2009. Retrieved 1 March 2009.
  19. ^ "Answer Records". Everyhit.com. Retrieved 31 May 2018.
  20. ^ "As Hundreds Cheer". Villagevoice.com. Retrieved 31 May 2018.
  21. ^ "Mariah Carey Casts "Rainbow" For Next LP; Taps Missy, Da Brat For Remix". MTV News. August 13, 1999. Retrieved May 7, 2009.
  22. ^ Moring, Mark. "Getting It Right". Christianity Today International. Retrieved 30 November 2012.
  23. ^ "Discs at dawn". Arts.guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 31 May 2018.
  24. ^ "Answer Records / Sequels". everyhit.com.
  25. ^ Wright, Jade (September 29, 2011). "Dean Friedman tells Jade Wright why he's planning revenge on Half Man Half Biscuit". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved September 12, 2015.
  26. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-06-21. Retrieved 2012-06-07.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  27. ^ Hill, Kellus (14 May 2012). "Lecrae - Church Clothes". Da South. Archived from the original on 24 May 2013. Retrieved 30 November 2012.
  28. ^ Lezama, Nigel (March 2019). "Status, Votive Luxury, and Labour: The Female Rapper's Delight". Fashion Studies. 2 (1): 1–23. Retrieved 31 July 2019.
  29. ^ Corner, Lewis (17 September 2015). "6 ways Ellie Goulding's new single takes a swing at Ed Sheeran: A lyrical breakdown". Digital Spy. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  30. ^ Hodgson, Claire (18 September 2015). "Is Ellie Goulding's new song On My Mind about Ed Sheeran?". Cosmopolitan. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  31. ^ Christine🌹theQueens [@QueensChristine] (15 September 2016). "@AFNoli Beyoncé est indépassable ds l'original car c'est une femme bafouée qui se révolte - dans la mienne, je suis le cheater" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  32. ^ "Esme Patterson "Woman to Woman"". Greaterthancollective.;imitedrun.com. Retrieved 31 May 2018.
  33. ^ "Eels unveil an incredible animated video for 'Bone Dry' - premiere". The Independent. April 6, 2018. Archived from the original on 2022-05-07.
  34. ^ "'Fresh Blood' on AOL Music". AOL Music. 2009-03-31. Retrieved 2009-03-31.
  35. ^ "Photos: Five Reasons to Think Taylor Swift Is John Mayer's "Paper Doll"". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2019-10-25.
  36. ^ Lenker, Maureen Lee. "Rick Springfield helps give 'Jessie's Girl' murderous sequel in Coheed and Cambria music video". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2020-08-22.
  37. ^ "Roselia ミニAlbum「ROZEN HORIZON」". Retrieved 22 May 2022.

Further readingEdit

  • "Answer Records / Sequels", list of Answer Songs from everyhit.com
  • B. Lee Cooper and Wayne S. Haney, Response Recordings: An Answer Song Discography, 1950-1990, Scarecrow Press, 1990, ISBN 978-0810823426 (A comprehensive alphabetized list of over 2500 hit tunes that prompted the production of answer songs or other forms of response recordings)
  • Answer Songs, Spotify playlist of some of the answer songs on this page