After Hours started keeping track of every song they've ever sung, since 1997 and in that time they've performed about 240 different songs. Some songs get performed once at a show and then go right up on the shelf. Some songs disappear when their soloist moves on from the group. Some songs stick around for a few shows but then are sadly forgotten. But then there's those select few which have been around since the beginning, the ones that people associate with After Hours, the "hits". Here's a list of the standards, the songs that continue to withstand the test of time and their history with the group:
1. In The Still Of The Night - this one goes back to the very beginning, this is the song that started it all. As the story goes, Jonathan Pong, Mike Santos and Edsel Mansia went to Aaron Milic's house to record a demo and the two songs they did that day were "In The Still Of The Night" and "It's So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday", both of them songs that were covered by Boyz II Men. While "It's So Hard" was probably the more musically interesting song, "In The Still" was the easier of the two to learn and sing and has been sung by everyone who's passed through After Hours. The only time it got put on the shelf were for the Luke Hobbs and John Davis years but funnily enough, both guys have parts for the song and can sing it anytime. "It's So Hard" is still kicking around but "In The Still" has been performed at more shows than After Hours can count.
2. Duke Of Earl - When After Hours first started out they were five guys called "Harmonic Company". They would spend countless hours in the Coxwell Ave/Gerrard St. Coffee Time, singing the same nine songs, night after night. Seven were originals. The other two were "In The Still Of The Night" and "Duke Of Earl". Naturally, when the boys sang those two, the other patrons in the Coffee Time would perk up and listen. Duke Of Earl is another one that has been around in countless shows, only taking a small break again during the Hobbs/Davis years.
3. Stand By Me - 1n 1998 when the original quintet split up, not long after, a new group was formed and one of the first new cover songs they learned was "Stand By Me". This song was a staple in their rep and one of my most well known leads and one I would always dedicate to my Grandmother at shows as this was the song we sang at her funeral. In 2009 when I started singing bass after we became a quartet, Luke Hobbs took over the lead. When Luke left in 2012, John Davis took the lead over. We brought the song back for our 15th anniversary show where Michelle Scrimgeour-Brown made the song one of the highlights of the night. When Glenn Sevillo joined in 2016, for the first time ever we turned the song into a medley with "Every Breath You Take". While it doesn't get the same love it used to, this song still pops up at our shows.
4. The Lion Sleeps Tonight - Truth be told, the boys have a love/hate relationship with this song and for long stretches of time refused to perform it as it had become so expected with our audiences. It's the kind of song that when you perform it, people forget about the rest of the show. Mostly because it's so silly, catchy and universally known. We have performed at least TEN unique arrangements of the song over the years, including a lullaby version and two different reggae versions. Now we use it to close a lot of our shows with our newest arrangement where each guy gets to sing a verse and show off their abilities. That said, in my opinion, there's never been a better version than the one we did at our 15th anniversary show with Irvin Sylvan on lead and Erick Porche on drums. You can watch that here.
5. Who Put The Bomp? - I think I always underestimate the importance of this song in the line up. It's been around since 2000, it was one of the tracks featured on one of our very early recordings and it always goes over very well with our audiences. While it hasn't been in every show, when it is, it tends to be a showstopper and one of those doo-wop songs that most people, for one reason or another, seem to know very well.
6. Up On The Roof - this is one we started doing in 2002. At that time, we did a lot of songs covered by Toronto a cappella stars, "The Nylons". Now, this is the only song we do from them. It took years to perfect and is one that I think has been in nearly every show we've done since the mid 2000's and is one that I don't think we could get away without doing now. In my opinion it's probably the best a cappella arrangement I've ever heard but the reason why this song holds such a special place in our hearts is because of a thing that happened in 2007. The quintet of After Hours was on a roof top patio in downtown Toronto and we sang this song as the sun was setting. It sounded so incredibly beautiful, for whatever reason it was very magical and I can remember hugging the guys after it was done as it was so good and I was so happy. Sadly, it wasn't long after that Mike Santos and Ian Corby left the group, causing many difficult changes that we obviously managed to get through. However, every time we sing this one, I put myself back up on that roof top patio and remember that special evening.
7. Runaround Sue - Ian Corby introduced this new lead for him in 2004 and was, no doubt, his best lead. After Ian left the group it became one of my leads and has been a staple in our rep ever since. It's another one of those songs most people seem to know. It's energetic, catchy and kind of falls into that category with Bomp as being over looked in its importance over the years.
8. Here Comes Santa Claus - this one is a little special as we only bring it out at Christmas but unlike most of our Christmas tunes, this one has been consistent in our Christmas shows every year and we sing it pretty much the same way as we did when we first introduced it in 2006. Yee Kuang was the first to sing it, then it went over to me and now it's in the hands of the very capable Glenn Sevillo. Lyrically, a very tough song to perform.
9. Stuck In The Middle With You - In 2012, John Davis started leading all of our shows with a great one-two punch of "Stuck In The Middle With You" followed by "Got My Mind Set On You". We arranged both songs around the same time and due to their energy and popularity with the general public, the two songs skyrocketed to the top of the list of not only being in every show but the first two songs of every show. To this day, both songs are often included in the set lists and are still used to open shows. Now I sing "Stuck In The Middle" and Glenn sings "Got My Mind".
10. Got My Mind Set On You - Even though this song is often paired with "Stuck In The Middle With You", I think "Got My Mind" has actually been used in more shows.
Honourable Mention - at one time, the most popular song in our rep was Disney's "He Lives In You", especially from 2004 to 2008. We brought it back in 2010 and then again for our 15th anniversary show and then also in 2017. While the song has lost its status in the group of being our big finisher, the song remains in our rep and is one we plan on pulling out again at future shows, especially for those in the audience who remember when it was the most important song in After Hours.
Did your favourite make the list? Is there a song you associate with us, even if we don't currently sing it? Leave your comments below!