Year Released: 1980
Notable Songs: “America”, “Love on the Rocks”, “Hello Again”
Album MVP: “Hello Again”
Why I Loved It: I have no doubt this selection is far higher than most would have, if they even included this at all. I can feel the criticism before even hitting send on this post. Fortunately, this is my countdown and not yours. Honestly, I never had much of a choice when it came to liking Neil Diamond. Both my parents were huge Neil Diamond fans and as a young kid his music was constantly shoved down my throat, so at the very least I knew all his songs. I was just nine years old when The Jazz Singer came out (I’m talking about the movie here) and I have no idea why I’d watch a flick about a New York City guy torn between his Jewish traditions and being a pop music star, but I did—and I liked it. Well, that’s not true.
The movie sucked and was stupid but I found myself loving the soundtrack, far more than any nine-year old should. I’m not sure the tracks were love at first sight, but they definitely started to grow on me.
It’s not like I was limited in how often I heard it because my father obviously had the album. Ironically as I grew older I felt like Diamond’s vibe was usually a bit smug for my liking but his tracks on The Jazz Singer were authentic, and that’s because it’s a beautiful album featuring a trio of jewels that helped define Diamond’s legacy. “Hello Again” became one of my favorite slow songs ever and who doesn’t singing along to “Love on the Rocks” and especially “America”? This is a GREAT album—one 80’s aficionados don’t give enough respect to.
Commercial Success: Believe it or not, at this point the Jazz Singer, Diamond’s 15th studio album was his most successfully commercially, rising to three on the Billboard Top 200 in the United States and also three in the United Kingdom. “Love on the Rocks” was the biggest single, reaching number-two on the Billboard Hot 100 and finishing 1981 ranked 26th on the year-end chart. “Hello Again” reached number-six on the Billboard Hot 100 and finished ’81 ranked 70th on the year-end chart. “America” was the third top 10 hit from the Jazz Singer, peaking at number-eight on the Billboard Hot 100. The song has dated well, as its probably more popular as a national pride album today than it was back in the early 80s. In total The Jazz Singer sold more than five million copies in the United States.
Fun Facts: As long and storied as Diamond’s career has been he’s only had two solo singles reach number-one on the Billboard Hot 100; “Cracklin’ Rosie” (1970) and “Song Song Blue” (1972). “Love on the Rocks” narrowly missed become his third, peaking at number-two in 1980. “Sweet Carolina” (1969) and “I am…I said” (1971) reached four and “Longfellow Serenade” (1974) hit five, giving him a surprisingly low six top five singles for his career. “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” (1978) reached number-one but that was a duet with Barbara Stresiand.
56. Prince – 1999