Top 40 Smash Taps: “Thinkin’ Problem”

These posts are about the songs that can accurately claim to crossed the key line of chart success, becoming Top 40 hits on Billboard, but just barely. Every song featured in this series peaked at number 40.

David Ball had a first pass at a music career in the late nineteen-eighties when the country music singer-songwriter secured a recording contract with RCA Records. A trio of singles in 1988 and 1989 failed to generate anything but the most meager of interest from country radio and the album he recorded was shelved. Jump forward a few years, and Ball gets his second chance. A new contract with Warner Brothers leads to the album that stands as his official debut, released in 1994. Entitled Thinkin’ Problem–because it’s a country album and allusions to alcohol are always going to work–it had a far better reception. The title cut was released as the first single and proved to be a hit, reaching the runner-up position on the country charts. Though it’s twangy as can be, it crossed over on the pop charts significantly enough to crack (though just barely, of course) the Top 40.

I would have presumed that it was partially attributable to Top 40 radio trying to catch the next Garth Brooks early, but that doesn’t really make sense given that, for all his mammoth success, Brooks wasn’t a factor on pop radio at all. He didn’t even break into the Top 100 until four years later, and, unlike Ball, Brooks never had a Top 40 single. Ball even pulled it off a second time, landing another song in the pop Top 40 with “Riding with Private Malone,” released in 2002. That track peaked at #36.

Incidentally, the success Ball had with his new label clearly made the execs in the country music division of RCA think twice about their earlier decision. About five months after Thinkin’ Problem, RCA finally released Ball’s self-titled album, the one he had recorded for them a half-decade earlier.

“Just Like Heaven” by The Cure.
“I’m in Love” by Evelyn King
“Buy Me a Rose” by Kenny Rogers
“Who’s Your Baby” by The Archies
“Me and Bobby McGee” by Jerry Lee Lewis
“Angel in Blue” by J. Geils Band
“Crazy Downtown” by Allan Sherman
“I’ve Seen All Good People” and “Rhythm of Love” by Yes
“Naturally Stoned” by the Avant-Garde
“Come See” by Major Lance
“Your Old Standby” by Mary Wells
“See the Lights” by Simple Minds
“Watch Out For Lucy” by Eric Clapton
“The Alvin Twist” by Alvin and the Chipmunks
“Love Me Tender” by Percy Sledge
“Jennifer Eccles” by the Hollies
“Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Olympics
“The Bounce” by the Olympics
“Your One and Only Love” by Jackie Wilson
“Tell Her She’s Lovely” by El Chicano
“The Last Time I Made Love” by Joyce Kennedy and Jeffrey Osborne
“Limbo Rock” by The Champs
“Crazy Eyes For You” by Bobby Hamilton
“Violet Hill” and “Lost+” by Coldplay
“Freight Train” by the Chas. McDevitt Skiffle Group
“Sweet William” by Little Millie Small
“Live My Life” by Boy George
“Lessons Learned” by Tracy Lawrence
“So Close” by Diana Ross
“Six Feet Deep” by the Geto Boys
“You Thrill Me” by Exile
“What Now” by Gene Chandler
“Put It in a Magazine” by Sonny Charles
“Got a Love for You” by Jomanda
“Stone Cold” by Rainbow
“People in Love” by 10cc
“Just Seven Numbers (Can Straighten Out My Life)” by the Four Tops

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