George Harrison's "All Things Must Pass"
Saying a solo album by a Beatle is a surprise hit probably seems a bit like announcing that radiation is good for you and you should rub plutonium all over yourself, but bear with us.
Yes, John Lennon and Paul McCartney both had amazing careers (on paper) after the Beatles broke up, full of successful albums and popular hits. And they were also inarguably the two key driving forces of the Beatles, since McCartney was the one with the commercial sensibility and John was the one with the literary talent (you want to argue otherwise? Go listen to "Give My Regards to Broad Street", and after your ears stop bleeding, then we'll talk).
The problem is, well, John Lennon became an intolerable self-righteous d-bag writing songs about giving up all possessions when he was in no hurry to unload the billions of dollars he had, and Paul McCartney founded Wings. Seriously, find us somebody, anybody, who claims to like any of their output outside of "Live and Let Die" and "Imagine" and we'll show you somebody who loves the concept more than the actual music.
Meanwhile, George Harrison was quietly recording the single most popular solo album a Beatle ever put out, "All Things Must Pass". Look it up: at six times platinum, it's twice what either Lennon or McCartney have ever pulled down. People have compared it to Harrison, being stifled for years by the Beatles, giving both of his former bandmates the finger.
Even more shocking, it's a triple album. So it was expensive and long, which usually don't add up to "huge six-million selling hit album". Whose guitar is weeping now?
Now, you think, we've gone completely insane. Donald Duck? Donald Duck, the beloved Disney character? How the heck was HE a surprise hit?
Well, back in the day, Walt Disney had a problem. Mickey Mouse, who'd started out as a trickster, was becoming popular enough that he needed to be a better role model for children if Disney wanted to keep the various moral guardians of the age off his back. The problem is, nobody wants a safe, sanitized cartoon character, because they're horribly boring. Disney needed an new guy, and found him in the barely understandable and relentlessly hostile Donald.
And, admittedly, watching Donald suffer the worst abuses possible is probably the funniest you'll get outside of Looney Tunes.
And then World War II came along. Donald was already more successful than Mickey, but his appearance in the World War II shorts pretty much cemented his popularity for good. Mickey's the face of the company, but it's Donald who made them the money.
Know of some additional awesomeness that came out of left field? Post a comment about it below!
- - The Wide World of Sports: http://new.kentuckysportsradio.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/wide-world-of-sports.jpg
- - Portal: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/9/9f/Portal_standalonebox.jpg
- - Wolverine: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/c/c8/Marvelwolverine.jpg
- - George Harrison's "All Things Must Pass": http://26.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_krd9d6IKd11qa6imro1_400.jpg
- - Donald Duck: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/0/07/Donald_Duck1.gif