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Answer Records / Sequels

The notion of an answer song is simple; one artist poses a question ('the call') or raises an issue - and (usually) another vocalist answers it in song. The pursuit provided a means of freshening up the later stages of the pure rock 'n' roll era, entering the pop charts in 1959. By 1961 it had reached epidemic proportions. After 'ticking over' steadily for a couple of decades there was another outbreak - this time as dance music had become somewhat staid - in 1986.

Most answer songs are neither accomplished nor very entertaining after the first listen. They are frequently based around the same melody as 'the call' and are released soon after its decline when, paradoxically, the record buying public is growing weary of the tune. For these reasons the vast majority of answer songs fail to make an impact on the chart. There are, however, some notable exceptions. Frankee's "F.U.R.B." (2004) was the first answer song to make the top spot.

Here is the everyhit.com listing of answer records. We have included songs only if they were Top 40 hits (either the 'call', the 'answer' - or both). We have not included entries where the 'answer' song is a simple parody of the initial release (for example, we do not consider the Wurzel's "I've Got A Brand New Combine Harvester" to be a legitimate answer to Melanie's "Brand New Key"!)

Year Original High
posn
Answer songYearHigh
posn
1959Neil Sedaka - "Oh Carol"3Carole King - "Oh Neil"1959-
1960Jim Reeves - "He'll Have To Go"36Jeanne Black - "He'll Have To Stay"1960-
1960Brian Hyland - "Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini"8Jerri Lynn Fraser - "Poor Begonia"1966-
1960The Drifters - "Save The Last Dance For Me"2Damita Jo - "I'll Save The Last Dance For You"1960-
Billy Fury - "You're Having The Last Dance With Me"1961-
1961Elvis Presley with The Jordanaire - "Are You Lonesome Tonight"1Geraldine 'Dodie' Stevens - "Yes I'm Lonesome Tonight"1961-
1961The Shirelles - "Will You Love Me Tomorrow"4Bertelle Danere - "Not Just Tomorrow But Always"1961-
Satintones - "Tomorrow And Always"1961-
1961Ernie K-Doe - "Mother-In-Law"29Blossoms - "Son-in-Law"1961-
1961Bobby Vee - "Take Good Care Of My Baby"3Sammi Lynn - "You Should Know I'm Still Your Baby"1961-
1961The Tokens - "The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Wimoweh)"11The Romeos - "The Tiger's Wide Awake"1961-
1962The Four Seasons - "Sherry"8Tracey Dey - "Jerry I'm Your Sherry"1962-
1963The Beatles - "I Want To Hold Your Hand"1Bootles - "I'll Let You Hold My Hand"1964-
Beatlettes - "Yes You Can Hold My Hand"1964-
1964Lorne Greene - "Ringo"14Robin Garrett - "Ringo's Revenge"1964-
1965Roger Miller - "King Of The Road"1Jody Miller - "Queen Of The House"1965-
1965Barry McGuire - "Eve Of Destruction" 3Spokesmen - "Dawn Of Correction"1965-
1965James Brown & The Famous Flames - "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag"25Anna King - "Mama's Got A Bag Of Her Own"1965-
1966Percy Sledge - " When A Man Loves A Woman"4Esther Phillips - "When A Woman Loves A Man"1966-
1966James Brown & The Famous Flames - "It's A Man's Man's Man's World"13Chubby Martin - "It's Not A Man's World"1966-
Irma Thomas - "It's A Man's Woman's World"1966-
1966Napoleon XIV - "They're Coming To Take Me Away Ha-Haa"4Teddy & Darrel - "They Took You Away, I'm Glad, I'm Glad"1966-
Josephine XV - "I'm Happy They Took You Away Ha-Haaaa"1966-
1967Royal Guardsmen - "Snoopy Vs The Red Baron"8Delicatessen - "Red Baron's Revenge"1967-
1968The Beatles - "Revolution" (B-side of "Hey Jude")1The Rolling Stones - "Street Fighting Man"1971-
1969Kenny Rogers & The First Edition - "Ruby Don't Take Your Love To Town"2Geraldine 'Dodie' Stevens - "Billy I've Got To Go To Town"1969-
1971The Piglets - "Johnny Reggae"3Johnny Reggae - "Keep Your Knickers On"1971-
1971Isaac Hayes - "Shaft"4R. B. Freeman - "I'm Shaft (You Ain't Shaft)"1975-
1972Chuck Berry - "My Ding-A-Ling"1Miss Chuckleberry - "My Pussycat"1972-
1972Neil Young - "Southern Man"-Lynyrd Skynyrd - "Sweet Home Alabama" (EP track)
(partial answer-back)
197631
1974Paul Anka - "You're Having My Baby"6Sunday Sharpe - "I'm Having Your Baby"1975-
1978Jilted John - "Jilted John"4Julie & Gordon - "Gordon's Not A Moron"1978-
Julie & Gordon - "J-J-Julie (Yippie Yula)"1978-
1983Michael Jackson - "Billie Jean"1Lydia Murdoch - "Superstar"198314
1984Jocelyn Brown - "Somebody Else's Guy"13Frederic MC Count Linton- "I'm Somebody Else's Guy"1984-
1985Feargal Sharkey - "A Good Heart" **1Feargal Sharkey - "You Little Thief" **19865
1986Janet Jackson - "What Have You Done For Me Lately"3King MC - "What Have I Done For You Lately?"1986-
1986Madonna - "Papa Don't Preach"1Daniel Aiello - "Papa Only Wants The Best"1986-
1986Gwen Guthrie - "Ain't Nothing Goin' On But The Rent"5Wally Jump Jr. - "Ain't Gonna Pay You One Red Cent"1984-
1986Oran 'Juice' Jones - "The Rain"4Miss Thang - "Thunder And Lightning"1986-
1991Color Me Badd - "I Wanna Sex You Up"1TCF Crew - "If You Want To Sex Me Up"1991-
1999TLC - "No Scrubs"3Sporty Thievz - "No Pigeons"199921
2000Eminem - "The Real Slim Shady"1Emily Ellis - "Will the Real Slim Shady Please Shut Up (My Reply)" (performed from the perspective of Christina Aguilera)2000-
2000Eminem - "Stan"1 Airheadz - "Stanley (Here I Am)"200136
2001Shaggy featuring Rikrok - "It Wasn't Me"1Lady Saw featuring Marsha "Son Of A Bitch"2001-
200350 Cent - "21 Questions" 6Lil' Mo featuring Free - "21 Answers"2003-
2004Eamon - "F**k It (I Don't Want You Back)"1Frankee - "F.U.R.B."20041
2004Mario Winans featuring Enya & P Diddy - "I Don't Wanna Know" 1The Pirates featuring Enya, Shola Ama, Naila Boss & Ishani - "You Should Really Know"2004-

Rufus Thomas' "Bear Cat" (1953) is not included in the above table although it was the answer to Big Mama Thornton's "Hound Dog" (1952). Neither of these made the UK Top 40. Of course, "Hound Dog" was later a hit for Elvis Presley (1956). Although Elvis' version did make the Top 40 we have not included this as it would give the impression of an answer song being released prior to 'the call'! We'll add other examples of the phenomenon to this page in the near future.

** Feargal Sharkey is the only artist to have recorded an answer record in response to a call song of his own! Here's why: Feargal was friends with songwriters Maria McKee and her boyfriend Benmont Tench (of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers). Maria and Benmont's relationship ended and she wrote "A Good Heart" about the split. Feargal had a hit with it. Benmont's response to this was to write the song "You Little Thief" (about Maria) which Feargal, not wishing to show favouritism, recorded!


Sequels
Some songs pick up on a theme begun in another composition but can't be regarded as answer songs. These tend to be recorded by the same artist as the original, though there are exceptions. Below is a list of such sequels. Again, they have been included only if one of the pairing made the Top 40.

Year Original High
posn
SequelYearHigh
posn
1957Fats Domino - "Ain't That A Shame" 23Fats Domino - "Walking To New Orleans"196019
1957Buddy Holly - "Peggy Sue" 6Buddy Holly- "Peggy Sue Got Married" 195913
1960Brenda Lee - "I'm Sorry"12Ben Vaughn - "I'm Sorry (But So Is Brenda Lee)"1960-
1961Ernie K-Doe - "Mother-In-Law"29Ernie K-Doe - "My Mother In Law (Is In My Hair Again)"1964-
1963Lesley Gore - "It's My Party"9Lesley Gore - "Judy's Turn To Cry"1963-
1966Mamas & Paps - "California Dreamin"23Mamas & Papas - "Creeque Alley"19679
1967Kinks - "Waterloo Sunset" 2Bob Geldof - "Love Like A Rocket"1987-
1968The Beatles - "Strawberry Fields Forever"2The Beatles - "Glass Onion"1967-
The Beatles - "I Am The Walrus"-1968
The Beatles - "Fool On The Hill"-1968
1969David Bowie - "Space Oddity"5David Bowie - "Ashes To Ashes"19801
Peter Shilling - "Major Tom (Coming Home)"1984-


The only song to have both an answer-back and a sequel is, therefore, Ernie K-Doe's "Mother-In-Law"!


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