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At the dawn of the popstrological era, it seemed that the decisive battle over the future course of the pop universe was the one between the Elvis Presley and the constellation Old Guard, but no sooner had Elvis defeated the reactionary forces of the status quo than the rock-and-roll revolution faced a threat of a very different nature: an outbreak of silliness in the constellation Novelty Merchant. Novelty songs have been around for centuries, slipping in and out of fashion like a sometimes-dormant virus to which no musical genre is truly immune. But never in recorded history has there been an epidemic of novelty songs like the one that struck the pop universe in the late 1950s and early '60s. It began with David Seville's helium-tinged Witch Doctor, a song that led directly to Sheb Wooley's Purple People Eater and to the Chipmunks. By 1962, Monster Mash had given the constellation Novelty Merchant its eighth star in little more than four years, and with an opportunistic Old Guard infection in the form of Bobby Vinton then appearing, it was by no means clear whether rock and roll really was here to stay. Only the magic pill of the deeply serious Beatles brought an end to this constellation's period of flourishing, and it is certainly no coincidence that the outbreak of Novelty Merchantism that gave this constellation its final five stars began almost immediately after the Beatles' breakup.

Humor may be the single most important factor in keeping human relationships healthy and happy. It lightens the mood, it relieves stress, it can even make you live longer-that's why they say "laughter is the best medicine." But let's not forget that the source of that last bit of wisdom is Reader's Digest, a periodical whose appeal tends to be limited to bored ten-year-olds and socially isolated senior citizens. The point is that there's a big difference between conditioned laughter and the genuine article, and while no one can question the willingness of those born under the constellation Novelty Merchant to try for the latter, their ability to deliver the goods may vary according to the proven ability of their individual Birthstars.

KEY: Their novelty songs 1. Witch Doctor 2. Purple People Eater 3. The Chipmunk Song 4. Alley-Oop 5. Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini 6. Mr. Custer 7. Mother-In-Law 8. Monster Mash 9. If You Wanna Be Happy 10. Judy In Disguise (With Glasses) 11. The Streak 12. My Ding-A-Ling 13. Kung Fu Fighting 14. Convoy 15. Disco Duck

2004 All rights reserved. "Popstrology" is a trademark of Ian Van Tuyl.

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