A new A&E special takes a look at the roots of pop music. 

One Fine Decade

Here's an opening sentence that's bound to start an argument: The best girl-group pop song ever recorded was "One Fine Day" by the Chiffons.

Address your letters of disagreement to me in care of this magazine, but keep in mind that this aging dude was a rock jock when "One Fine Day" was released.

Meanwhile, I am going somewhere with this.

From the offbeat pounding of the bouncy one-note piano rhythm at the top, through the drop-dead danceable beat of the chorus, and into the final fade, "One Fine Day" is a pure and faultless example of what girl-group pop music could be and was back in 1963.

I lost my copy of the 45 somewhere over the years, but I was lucky enough to download an MP3 file just before Napster flamed out. If you've never heard "One Fine Day" you can't even begin to imagine what you've missed.

What's amazing is that "One Fine Day" hit the charts the same year the Beatles hit the States. That was the year of the British Invasion in pop music, and the Beatles released three smash hits in a row: "Please Please Me," "From Me to You" and "She Loves You." American singers moaned about the death of rock 'n' roll as they knew it.

Funny thing, though. Rock 'n' roll didn't die. In fact, the four lads from Liverpool had cut their teeth on music by the likes of Gerry Goffin and Carole King (yes, that Carole King), who wrote some of rock's earliest pop hits: "Locomotion," "Will You Love Me Tomorrow?", "Up on the Roof" and "(You Make Me Feel) Like A Natural Woman."

Oh, yeah. They also wrote "One Fine Day."

All of this is by way of introducing you to "Pop Goes the Music" week on A&E. It starts with a two-hour review of "The Teens Who Stole Pop Music" and continues with hour-long examinations of the careers of some of pop music's greatest artists, including Bobby Darin, who might have equaled if not eclipsed Sinatra had he lived long enough.

Goffin and King show up prominently in the two-hour kickoff, which focuses on the pop music writers who worked out of the Brill Building in New York. Others who wrote there with them and helped to shape music history are also given their due: Neil Sedaka, Paul Simon, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, Doc Pomus and Shadow Morton. From 1958 to 1964, as you'll see in "The Teens Who Stole Pop Music," the Brill Building was the hub of a new Tin Pan Alley.

Darin aficionados know his life may have been short but his talent was huge. Bubble-gum hits like "Splish Splash" made it possible for him to record the standards that made him a legend — songs such as "Beyond the Sea," "Mack the Knife" and "Artificial Flowers." (True Darin fans treasure his danceable big-band version of "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square" and his swinging, raucous take on "That's All.") Darin died when he was only 37.

Musically, the 1960s were awesome — from pop to rock to the Mersey beat to early whiffs of anthem rock and heavy metal.

In "Pop Goes the Music" week, A&E has put together a series of programs that those of us who lived through the era — and those of you who want to know how it all really happened — can applaud.

And to really make it worth your while, "One Fine Day" plays over the closing credits of "The Teens Who Stole Pop


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