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Retro Redux: Bulldog Songs – They Grab On And Won’t Let Go

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I've always wondered what it is about certain songs that seem to just grab you and hang on, becoming a favorite from the very first time you hear them. In a way, that type of song reminds me of a stubborn and unpredictable bulldog that clamps his teeth into your pants leg and won't be dislodged no matter how hard you shake it. Of course, the bulldog has a reason for what he's doing and you could probably make a pretty good case that a song that clings to you is doing so for a reason too — in simple terms, it fits snugly into your musical preferences.

One characteristic of this type of song is that it doesn't necessarily have to be a great piece of music that's admired by the cutting-edge crowd. A good example (and you knew there'd be one, didn't you?) is a European pop song that I think I first heard Englebert Humperdinck sing around forty years ago. (Video below.) Although he wasn't the first to record it, he was probably most responsible for making "Quando, Quando, Quando" a minor hit, one that's been recorded by everyone from Pat Boone to Al Martino.

Something about the song is enormously appealing. It might be the unashamedly romantic message coupled with a bouncy Latin beat (although it's actually an Italian song) but whatever the case, it's impossible to ignore. And it doesn't have to be Englebert doing the honors — in the years since I first heard it I've managed to accumulate several versions and although I have one or two favorites, I still like them all. One of the best came out a few years ago when Michael Bublé recorded it with Nelly Furtado, introducing the song to a new – and younger – audience.

One of the oddities about it is that whenever it's performed, the Italian title is retained (it means 'Tell Me When' — or literally 'When, When, When') but the song itself is usually performed in English. That's often true even when it's recorded by an Italian singer, although sultry-voiced Giada Valenti hedged her bets by using both languages in her version, proving once again that you can't always predict bulldog behavior.

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