Top 10 Starz Songs

Starz Songs

Our top 10 Starz songs list presents the music of an American band that first gained notoriety in the 1970s for its hard-rocking and melodic songs. With their distinctive sound and spectacular live performances, Starz left their stamp on the rock scene despite not achieving the same success level as some of their contemporaries. Nevertheless, Starz garnered a dedicated fanbase demonstrating the band’s lasting contribution to the rock music scene in the ’70s.

At the core of the band’s formation were bassist Peter Sweval and drummer Jeff Grob (alias Joe X. Dube). Sweval and Grob were initially members of Looking Glass, a band revered for its chart-topping single “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl).” The duo teamed up with vocalist Michael Lee Smith and guitarist Brandan Harkin, going under the moniker Fallen Angels.

In 1975, the band signed former Stories guitarist Richie Ranno, adding to the band’s young and talented lineup. Fallen Angels morphed into Starz under the management of Bill Aucoin (known for managing Kiss and Billy Idol, among other artists). Before signing a recording contract with a big label, Starz served as the opening act for well-known performers like ZZ Top and Peter Frampton.

Eventually, Starz signed a recording contract with Capitol Records in January 1976. The band went ahead to issue four studio albums under the label, three of which climbed into the Billboard 200. Unfortunately, Starz failed to earn massive commercial success. In an interview, guitarist Ranno recalled the spellbinding performances that earned Starz quite some reputation in the rock scene. Ranno didn’t hold back his sentiments about Capitol Records, quoting the label’s less regard for hard rock bands like Starz as the major reason why the band failed to achieve optimal success. Truly, Starz is one of the most underrated bands of the ‘70s.

In June 1976, Starz issued their eponymous debut studio album. The thirty-nine-minute album showcased the band’s raw talent and ability to seamlessly blend different sounds including hard rock, arena rock, and power pop. Starz was produced by Jack Douglas, an American record producer best known for his work with Cheap Trick, Aerosmith, the New York Dolls, John Lennon, and Patti Smith among others.

The album Starz is a masterclass in melodic hard rock thanks to its anthemic choruses and infectious hooks. Michael Lee Smith’s dynamic vocal range also helped elevate Starz to mainstream success. The album peaked at position one hundred and twenty-three on the Billboard 200 Chart. “Detroit Girls,” “(She’s Just a) Fallen Angel,” “Live Wire,” and “Pull the Plug” are some of the best Starz songs from the band’s debut release.

The band returned in 1977 with their sophomore studio album Violation. Violation was also issued through Capitol Records under the production of Jack Douglas. The album showcases Starz’s impressive blend of hard rock and power pop sounds resulting in an energetic musical experience. Violation also managed to feature solid guitar riffs, infectious melodies, and catchy hooks.

The album went ahead to become Starz’s highest-charting release peaking at number eighty-nine on the Billboard 200. Nevertheless, Violation failed to earn Starz massive commercial success. The album is home to some of the popular songs by Starz including “Cherry Baby,” “Subway Terror,” “Sing It, Shout It,” and “Rock Six Times.”

Attention Shoppers! marked the band’s third studio album. The 1978 album was issued through Capitol Records under the production of the band members. Attention Shoppers! was barely a hard rock record, having it masterfully blend power pop and glam rock elements. As per guitarist Richie Ranno, the self-produced third studio album took an almost power pop approach, following the label’s conviction.

Like his bandmates, Ranno was quite worried that Starz would lose its hard rock fanbase. However, that wasn’t the case despite Ranno’s view about Attention Shoppers! being the band’s weakest record. The album rose to position one hundred and five on the Billboard 200. Attention Shoppers! marked the band’s final album on the Billboard 200 Chart. “Hold On to the Night,” “X-Ray Spex,” and “(Any Way That You Want It) I’ll Be There” are the best Starz songs from Attention Shoppers!

Once again in 1978, Starz issued their fourth and final studio album Coliseum Rock. The album is a blend of hard rock and power pop sound influences. Despite its mainstream and commercial failure, Coliseum Rock still managed to showcase Starz’s exceptional musicianship. The album features the band’s signature infectious melodies and powerful guitar riffs. “So Young, So Bad,” “It’s a Riot,” and “Last Night I Wrote a Letter” are some of the popular songs by Starz from the album.

Starz’s Legacy

Starz’s infectious blend of catchy melodies, anthemic choruses, and energetic stage presence set them apart from their contemporaries despite not achieving enormous commercial success. The band has been cited as a major influence in the musical pursuits of bands such as Mötley Crüe and Poison. Our top 10 Starz songs revisit the illustrious career of the band while celebrating its lasting contributions to the rock music scene.

#10- Rock Six Times

Opening our top 10 Starz songs list is the ferocious track “Rock Six Times.” The song is one of the outstanding hits from the band’s sophomore studio album Violation. With its memorable hooks and catchy melodies, “Rock Six Times” pays homage to the golden rock era adding a modern twist to its sound. The result is this energetic rock anthem worth listing among Starz’s fan-favorite picks.

In the song, lead vocalist Michael Lee Smith mentions his discovery of a scratchy old record named “Walk This Way.” The singer quotes finding it in a welfare store, grabbing it, and running out of the door. Michael recalls the exhilaration after jamming it on the set play. He quotes losing his senses and all he could do was rock six times. The song, as revealed by the singer’s storyline, captures the enduring power of rock music, highlighting the genre’s capacity to lure its listeners into a boisterous state of mind.

#9- (Any Way That You Want It) I’ll Be There

Tons of the band’s fans loved the high-quality power pop twist in songs like “(Any Way That You Want It) I’ll Be There.” “(Any Way That You Want It) I’ll Be There” is featured on the band’s third studio album Attention Shoppers!  The song reflects on the unconditional support and dedication in a love relationship. In the song, singer Michael Lee Smith conveys a message of commitment, assuring his lover that he’ll be available to provide unwavering support and love regardless of the challenges and circumstances.

“(Any Way That You Want It) I’ll Be There” showcases a deep sense of understanding that relationships/friendships require quite a deal of perseverance and effort. The song also highlights the need for reliability and emotional availability in fostering connection and trust in a relationship. “(Any Way That You Want It) I’ll Be There” climbed to the seventy-ninth spot on the Billboard Hot 100.

#8- Subway Terror

Coming in eighth on our top 10 Starz songs list the grooving hit “Subway Terror.” The song is yet another track from the band’s sophomore studio album Violation. “Subway Terror” opens with a pulsating bassline followed by fiery guitar riffs. Singer Michael Lee Smith’s dynamic vocal range complements the aggressive instrumentation of this song.

“Subway Terror” features lyrics that suggest themes of chaos and fear in society. This song hauntingly details the risks of riding the subway from the perspective of a serial attacker. The singer showcases the persona’s excitement in committing crimes. “Subway Rocker” has been considered one of the most relevant songs by Starz owing to the NYC subway crimes, especially in the ‘70s. The song was covered by the band Sweet Pain in 1985.

#7- So Young, So Bad

After a slight departure with their power-pop-influenced album Attention Shoppers! Starz immediately returned to their hard rock roots with the album Coliseum Rock. Introducing us to the Coliseum Rock’s classic riff-driven hard rock sound is the lead track “So Young, So Bad.” The song finds the band delving into the insubordinate and hedonistic nature of the life of a young lad.

In detail, “So Young, So Bad” captures the spirit of youthful enthusiasm and the endless desire for autonomy at any cost. The raw lyrics of the song signal the damage caused by the adolescents’ intemperance. “So Young, So Bad” was a successful comeback for Starz, peaking at position eighty-one on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was the only track from Coliseum Rock to have graced the mainstream charts.

#6- Live Wire

Ranking sixth on our top 10 Starz songs list is the rip-roaring hit “Live Wire.” The song is among the top musical gems from Starz’s eponymous debut studio album. “Live Wire” encapsulates Starz’s fervent approach to music-making. Despite not making it to the mainstream charts, “Live Wire” remains a fan-favorite pick thanks to its energetic guitar riffs, catchy hooks, and Michael Lee Smith’s powerful vocals.

“Live Wire” is also famed for its lyrical depth. The song is a sweltering anthem that celebrates freedom and self-expression. Its lyrics allude to breaking free from societal constraints and encouraging individuality. “Live Wire” serves as Starz’s embodiment of the untamed spirit of rock and roll.

#5- Hold On to the Night

We return to the band’s third studio album, home to the fifth pick on our top 10 Starz songs list, “Hold On to the Night.” The song serves as the lead track to the band’s album Attention Shoppers! “Hold On to the Night” is by far the most rewarding power pop ballad by the band Starz. The song is among the tracks from Attention Shoppers! that guitarist Ranno mentioned to be “good.” “Hold On to the Night” has its lyrics delving into the theme of resilience and hope amidst despair.

The singer conveys a message of perseverance to his lover in times of adversity. In the song, the night not only symbolizes darkness—it also serves as a metaphor for one’s trials and tribulations in life. “Hold On to the Night” is revered for its emotive and highly relatable lyrics. The song climbed to the seventy-eighth spot on the Billboard Hot 100.

#4- Detroit Girls

“Detroit Girls” is yet another impressive track from the band’s eponymous debut studio album. Despite not making it to the mainstream charts, the song remains one of the most radio-friendly tracks—this explains why it ranks quite high on our list. Guitarist Ranno revealed that the band penned this song while in Detroit in 1975.

“Detroit Girls” celebrates the spirit of women/girls from the city of Detroit. In the song, girls from Detroit are painted as fearless, strong, and souls with unwavering determination. “Detroit Girls” keeps up with the band’s signature heavy guitar riffs while preserving a keen sense of melody.

#3- Sing It, Shout It

Considering radio-friendly hits, “Sing It, Shout It” is yet another impressive musical gem that earned quite some airplay in the ‘70s. The song is by far the most alluring and successful piece of music from the band’s sophomore effort Violation. “Sing It, Shout It” stands out thanks to its energetic rhythms that mirror the song’s message. The song is a powerful anthem alluding to self-expression, encouraging its listeners to unapologetically embrace their individuality.

“Sing It, Shout It” features both hard rock and power pop influences making it a heavy yet melodic track. The song also stands out thanks to the impressive vocal harmonies. “Sing It, Shout It” is the band’s second-highest charting track on the Billboard Hot 100. The song peaked at number sixty-six in 1977, remaining on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for eight weeks.

#2- (She’s Just A) Fallen Angel

“(She’s Just A) Fallen Angel” ranks second on our top 10 Starz songs. The song serves as the emblem of Starz’s musicianship on the band’s eponymous debut studio album. “(She’s Just A) Fallen Angel” has its lyrics alluding to the story of a woman who fell from grace. The song digs deeper into the complexities of the woman’s character citing the consequences of her actions.

Other than the poetic approach to the song’s lyrics, “(She’s Just A) Fallen Angel” is esteemed for its pulsating melodies and vibrant guitar solos. The song managed to convey a sense of human frailty as it explores the theme of redemption from self-inflicted misery. “(She’s Just A) Fallen Angel” graced the Billboard Hot 100 Chart at the end of 1975, peaking at number ninety-five.

#1- Cherry Baby

Ranking first on our top 10 Starz songs is the vivacious hit “Cherry Baby.” The song rose to signature status upon its release in 1977. “Cherry Baby” is featured on the band’s most successful album Violation. The song features evocative lyrics that tell the story of an imprisoned man who misses a girl going by the name Cherry. As depicted in the lyrics, the man pleads with Cherry to stay true to their love until he’s released from prison.

“Cherry Baby” is an exploration of the vulnerable nature of love. The song features a subtle blend of soulful vocal delivery and melancholic melodies, both of which add to its emotive appeal. “Cherry Baby” is the highest charting song by the band having peaked at number thirty-three in 1977. The song was covered by the American punk rock band White Flag in 2002.

Top 10 Starz Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023

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