Initially I thought this fine, driving '80s roots rock classic might not qualify for this honor, but then I noticed it actually peaked only as high as No. 18 on Billboard's pop charts in 1985. That, in fact, was the highest singles chart position the Hooters would hold, the equally strong but perhaps slightly better-known "And We Danced" included. Although the group fared far better on the niche mainstream rock charts (which is understandable given its two-parts-rock, one-part-pop sound), I find it hard to believe that a tune as thoroughly solid as "Day By Day" could scarcely break the Top 20 during such a mixed period for musical quality as 1985.
I remember thinking that the Hooters never received much respect as a genuine, fresh musical outfit, seemingly lumped instead into the same category as the myriad of far more slight one-hit wonders rampant during that time. That's an oversight that still puzzles me, as the group's creative leaders Eric Bazilian and Rob Hyman have always been highly respected songwriters and session men, having contributed consistently to the work of other artists for many years. Aside from the foundational melodica sound that fueled many of the band's songs, the tasteful, lively use of mandolin in particular on this tune really creates absorbing sonic layers. Anyway, maybe people have never been able to get past the unintended connotations of the name, but this unique American original of a band helped keep the hope for straight-ahead rock music alive and well during the MTV-happy mid-'80s.
Album Cover Image Courtesy of Columbia