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 followups to successful movies aren't guaranteed winners. The same often goes for sequels to hit pop songs, rare though they may be. Here are nine popular singles – and their official sequels, which in this case means that they were all 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 astronaut song, shrewdly released shortly before the Apollo moon landing. Bowie revisited the lonely 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". As a personal aside, Chubby Checker has always annoyed me. First, his stage name was blatantly ripping off that of the far more talented Fats Domino. Second, after "The Twist" became a massive hit, Checker released as many "Twist"-related sequels as he could: "Let's Twist Again", "Slow Twistin'", "Twist It Up". Finding his niche in early '60s dance fads, 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". More pleasant 1950s offerings came from Buddy Holly, who cranked out an impressive string of hits before dying far too young at 22. Both songs are relatively simple: in the first, Buddy loves Peggy Sue. In the second, Buddy's bummed because she got married. Decades later, the latter song 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 Twist" spawned a ton of knockoffs) with the letter they had been waiting for. Like many movie sequels, "Twistin' Postman" failed to match 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 slightly higher up the charts than its predecessor.
- "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 Springsteen 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.