The Number Ones

The Number Ones: Frankie Avalon’s “Why”

The Number Ones is a new column where I’ll review every single #1 single in the history of the Billboard Hot 100, starting with the chart’s beginning, in 1958, and working my way up into the present.

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Frankie Avalon – “Why”

HIT #1: December 28, 1959

STAYED AT #1: 1 week

On the Billboard Hot 100, the ’50s ended the way the ’50s had to end: with a witless, weightless trifle from a guy whose greatest contribution to culture wouldn’t come until he started making Beach Party movies. Frankie Avalon had already topped the Hot 100 with the deeply empty “Venus,” and “Why” seemed like the result of a dare: Could he do it again, this time with an even shittier song? “Venus” at least had a memorable hook. “Why” didn’t even have that.

“Why” is a love song that sees nothing wondrous, scary, or exciting in the prospect of falling in love. It’s just a simple, grinny song of devotion. “We’ve found the perfect love / Yes, a love that’s yours and mine / I love you and you love me all the time,” Avalon coos. It sounds like he’s gloating. A Hallmark editor would’ve sent that line back for a rewrite, and “Why” is nothing but lines like that, set to music that seems like something a ’90s soundtrack supervisor would’ve used to mock ideas of ’50s conformity.

GRADE: 2/10

BONUS BEATS: Here’s a much better song called “Why”: