What Were the Monkees’ Biggest Hits of All Time?
Bubblegum pop music has a reputation for being ephemeral but the Monkees test that notion. Their hits get airplay to this day. Some of their songs continue to outshine the highbrow rock music of the 1960s. Can you guess which of the Monkees’ hits performed the best on the Billboard Hot 100?
5. ‘Pleasant Valley Sunday’
The Monkees weren’t exactly known for social commentary, however, “Pleasant Valley Sunday” appears to be a scathing song about mid-century suburbia. Interestingly, AXS reports Mike Nesmith interpreted it as being about an asylum.
The song’s lyrics proved the band had range, especially since there’s an understated irony to the whole song. It also has one of the heavier rock beats from their catalog. According to Billboard, this song reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100.
4. ‘A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You’
The Monkees gave the world psychedelic songs, rock songs, and even flamenco songs. However, they are most known for upbeat pop tunes. “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You” is one of their poppiest offerings. It boasts vocal harmonies that recall the best of 1950s doo-wop music.
“A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You” is so infectious it probably could have reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 under normal circumstances. However, Billboard reports it was kept off the top of the charts by Frank and Nancy Sinatra’s duet, “Somethin’ Stupid.” It took the combined forces of the Sinatras to keep “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You” at No. 2, which is a testament to how good it is.
3. ‘Last Train to Clarksville’
“Last Train to Clarksville” was the first Monkees song to hit No. 1 and deservedly so. With a beat reminiscent of the Beatles’ hits “Paperback Writer” and “Day Tripper,” “Last Train to Clarksville” milks a lot of lyrical drama out of its title phrase.
According to The Vietnam War: A Primary Source History, “Last Train to Clarksville” is a song about a soldier going to fight in the Vietnam War. Knowing this gives the phrase “I don’t know if I’m ever coming home” added resonance. The fact the Monkees worked lyrics about the Vietnam War into a pop hit shows they were more subversive than some of their critics believe.
2. ‘Daydream Believer’
“If I could hide ‘neath the wings of the bluebird as she sings, the six o’clock alarm would never ring.” These lyrics mean essentially nothing. However, Davy Jones’ voice makes them sound downright poetic.
In addition, “Daydream Believer” has one of the most soaring choruses in the Prefab Four’s catalog. It sounds like the Beatles’ “Penny Lane” with an extra kick. It’s bubblegum, sure, but it’s bubblegum of the highest quality — which is why fans brought it to the No 1. spot.
1. ‘I’m a Believer’
“I’m a Believer’ remains the greatest testament to the Monkees’ longevity. It became a No. 1 hit in the 1960s and had a huge resurgence when Smash Moth covered it decades later. That guitar riff remains of the best hooks in pop-rock music.
Ultimately, “I’m a Believer” is a song about letting go of cynicism. It’s fitting the Monkees performed it. After all, many pop music cynics have let go of their preconceptions because of the Monkees.