Summer 2010 at the movies is shaping up to be another season packed with unwanted sequels: the ho-hum box office of the latest Shrek and Sex and the City installments serves as a reminder that vapid follow-ups to successful movies aren't guaranteed winners. The same often goes for sequels to hit pop songs, rare though they may be. The following are nine popular singles - and their official sequels, which in the case of this list were performed by the original artists.
- "It's My Party"/"Judy's Turn to Cry". In "It's My Party", Lesley Gore whines about her boyfriend Johnny stepping out on her with some slut named Judy - during Lesley's own party, no less. But she has the last laugh in "Judy's Turn to Cry", which picks up where "It's My Party" leaves off, with Judy strutting in wearing Johnny's ring. Turns out Johnny can't get Lesley out of his mind, especially when she starts kissing some other boy (apparently at this same endless party) and Johnny punches him out. True love!
- "Space Oddity"/"Ashes to Ashes". David Bowie became a star with his 1969 space age song, shrewdly released shortly before the Apollo moon landing. Bowie revisited his lonely astronaut Major Tom in his 1980 single "Ashes to Ashes", where the major was depicted as a pathetic junkie. German musician Peter Schilling then became a one-hit wonder with his telling of the story, "Major Tom (Coming Home)". Bowie had the last word with his 1995 single "Hallo Spaceboy", which was reportedly also about Major Tom, though he's not name-checked in the lyrics.
- "The Twist"/"Let's Twist Again". Chubby Checker has always annoyed me. First there was his name, an obvious ripoff of Fats Domino. Then his desperate attempts to milk his one hit, "The Twist", as much as he could, with "Let's Twist Again", then "Slow Twistin'", then "Twist It Up". Apparently deciding that creating new dances was his niche, Checker also recorded no less than three Limbo songs, along with the forgotten dances "The Fly" and "Pony Time".
- "Peggy Sue"/"Peggy Sue Got Married". Much more pleasant 1950s offerings came from Buddy Holly, who cranked out an impressive amount of hits before dying far too young at just 22. Both songs are relatively simple: in the first, he loves Peggy Sue. In the second, he's bummed because she got married. The latter song, of course, much later became the title of a Francis Ford Coppola film starring Kathleen Turner as a grown woman who time travels back into her 1950s teenage self.
- "Please Mr. Postman"/"Twistin' Postman". The Marvelettes should have quit while they were ahead: the postman who has no letter for them in their first hit comes back, literally twisting down the sidewalk (the gals were trying to cash in on Chubby Checker's hit too) with the letter they had been waiting for. Like many movie sequels, "Twistin' Postman" failed to come close to the success of the #1 hit "Please Mr. Postman".
- "Taxi"/"Sequel". Harry Chapin, who died at the age of 38, is best remembered for his song "Cat's in the Cradle", about a father who ignores his little boy. But he also had a modest hit with his lengthy 1972 tune "Taxi". Eight years later, he recorded the cynically titled "Sequel", which climbed even slightly higher up the charts than "Taxi" did.
- "Mr. Lee"/"I Shot Mr. Lee". The Bobbettes were the first girl group to crack the top 10 and have a #1 R&B record, back in 1957. The song that did it for them was "Mr. Lee", a catchy little ditty about a high school teacher. Apparently the original lyrics were far less kind (as they were about one of the girls' real-life teachers), and those were reworked into the Bobbettes' 1959 follow-up "I Shot Mr. Lee", where the teacher gets what's coming to him.
- "The Devil Went Down to Georgia"/"The Devil Comes Back to Georgia" With a spirit of overkill right out of Hollywood, Charlie Daniels followed his massive 1979 country hit with a pointless, nearly note-for-note 1993 sequel, continuing the story but making it bigger! and louder!, with guest vocals by Johnny Cash, Travis Tritt, and Marty Stuart.
- "Johnny B. Goode"/"Bye Bye Johnny". It would seem that "Johnny" is as common a name in pop songs as "Jack" is in American cinema. And indeed, Chuck Berry's sequel has Johnny B. Goode getting on a train and heading to California to be in the movies. Years later, Bruce Springsteed reworked the sequel, called it "Johnny Bye Bye", and told the gloomy tale of Johnny - or is it Elvis? - dying of a drug overdose and being buried in Memphis. Johnny B. Deade.