My Christmas Song of the Day for December 15 was all over the radio during the holiday season of 2005. And because it was ambiguous enough to work at any time of the year, I continued to hear it into the early part of 2006. I can probably count on one hand, two hands at the most, the number of times I’ve heard it on the radio in the years since.
Though their first album came out in 1987, the Goo Goo Dolls didn’t really becone popular until the mid-1990s, when many bands falling under the wide umbrella of “alt-rock” began to have hit songs and best-selling albums. The band’s biggest hit came in 1998 with the song “Iris,” fron the film City of Angels, which topped the Billboard airplay charts for a record 18 weeks. Had their record label chosen to release a physical single, which it didn’t (not even on 45), “Iris” likely would have spent at least a few of those weeks at #1 on the Hot 100.
The Goo Goo Dolls continued to have hits well into the first decade of the 2000s, unlike many of their contemporaries. Just in tine for the Christmas season of 2005, the band released “Better Days,” the preview song from its upcoming album Let Love In. No commercial single was issued, but you could buy it before the album came out on a most unlikely place: on the Target department-store chain’s exclusive 2005 Christmas album, Sounds of the Season: The NBC Holiday Collection. This certainly indicates that, at least initially, “Better Days” was seen as a holiday song. Certainly its lyrics, written by lead singer John Rzeznik, are very much in keeping with the ideals of the Christmas season, with requests for better days rather than presents and the exhortation that “everyone is forgiven now, ’cause tonight’s the night the world begins again.”
“Better Days” was a hit in 2005-06, peaking at #36 on the Hot 100, #17 on the lighter-fare Adult Contemporary chart, and #3 on the Adult Top 40 airplay chart. It spent 20 straight weeks in the Hot 100, thus illustrating its appeal beyond the holidays. I thought it would become a perennial, but it hasn’t.