Doug Fieger, lead singer of the Knack, died today following a long battle with cancer. He was 57. The Detroit News, Fieger’s hometown paper, has all the details here.

The Knack were great purveyors of power pop. They never rose to the heights of a Cheap Trick or the Raspberries, but for a short time they knew how to combine the perfect pop melody and beat with just the right amount of bite. Think about “My Sharona” or “Good Girls Don’t,” the band’s two biggest hits. “My Sharona” was No. 1 for six weeks in 1979. It’s impossible not to hear that great drum beat, classic guitar riff and stuttering "My-my-my-my Sharona" in your head the minute you hear the song title, isn’t it? it meets right at that sweet intersection of pop and new wave. The album that featured “My Sharona,” “Get the Knack,” was No. 1 on the album chart for six weeks.

I wonder if the Knack could get away with some of their lyrics these days… or at least not have radio ask for some kind of edit. For example, “My Sharona” has the classic lyric about “I always get it up for the touch of the younger kind.” I’m not so sure that wouldn’t be seen as some kind statement from a pedophile, whereas at the time, it just seemed leering and lascivious as opposed to criminal.

Similarly, on the sweaty, sticky “Good Girls Don’t,” which peaked at No. 11, the protagonist, who is presumably the same age as the teenage girl he’s lusting after, is consumed with getting his girl. And, in fact, he knows he won’t be able to escape this madness “‘til she’s sitting on your face.”

I don’t know if there was a stir when either one of these songs came out about the lyrics being too much or too racy or inappropriate. I just know a few years ago I was on the treadmill to “Good Girls Don’t” and literally stopped and thought, “Did he just sing what I think he did.” And he did. I had never really paid attention to the lyrics before.

Rock and roll shouldn’t be safe and the Knack’s lyrics were just bad enough to make you not want to hear the song with your parents in the room, but not terrible enough to be offensive. Their reign may have been short, but it left a great legacy.

Here's a link to the official video for "My Sharona."