Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: Dan Seals, “Three Time Loser”

“Three Time Loser”

Dan Seals

Written by Dan Seals

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

August 28, 1987


#1 (1 week)

September 26, 1987

“Bop” was a great record, but as I wrote back when we covered it in this feature, it really wasn’t a bop in the rock and roll sense that the lyrics portrayed.

“Three Time Loser,” on the other hand, is a bop.

More specifically, it’s grounded in Rockabilly and Bo Diddley beats, but also anchored in country through additional acoustic instrumentation.  It sounds like Diddly filtered through the prism of the new traditionalist movement, and it works spectacularly well.

It helps that the lyric is so playful, and Seals leans into its self-deprecation with a wide ass grin. I smiled myself from start to finish because his personality shone through so much, which hasn’t been the norm with his records up until this point. He pivots at just the right time, as the larger than life superstars are starting to trickle in before the dam bursts completely at the end of the decade.

I won’t go as far as to say that it’s my favorite Dan Seals chart-topper so far, but it’s my favorite uptempo entry of his for sure.

“Three Time Loser” gets an A.

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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  1. Wow. Dan Seals was on his third #1 of 1987 and it was only August! If you’ll pardon the rim shot, this song is a “jam” but it’s not quite a “Bop” for me. It’s clever and fun, and a nice traditional country curveball after a couple of pop-leaning entries for his first two singles, but at least for me falls short of the magical energy that “Bop” exuded. Perhaps from a technical standpoint, “Three Time Loser” exceeds it, but it doesn’t make me feel the same unbridled joy. Nonetheless, two solid thumbs up, just like nearly everything from Dan Seals’ catalog.

    I have a fun little anecdote about this song. Politics and elections are nearly intolerable for me today, but I was really into the horse race more than a decade ago. There was a Congressional candidate from Illinois named Dan Seals who ran for a seat three times in a row in 2006, 2008, and 2010, narrowly losing by 51-49 margins in all three races. Obviously, as a country music fan, every time his name popped up it made me think of the country singer. Well apparently Dan Seals the politician was a good sport because for his concession speech after the third defeat, he was playing Dan Seals the country singer’s “Three Time Loser” as he addressed the crowd. He must have “learned” though as he didn’t run again.

    Grade: B+

  2. Although it is not among my Dan Seals favorites, I tended to like all of his songs and this song is no exception. It has a catchy melody, and he sings it well. The melody is, perhaps, a little too cheerful for the lyrics but it works. I would give it a solid B

  3. Might need to take a deep dive into Dan Seal’s catalog. I enjoy a majority of his singles and he slowly built up a collection of quality songs. I remember getting a Dan Seals greatest hits record with this song. I had to pull this one up and relisten to it. I would give it a B and say it’s better than “Bop” (I never liked that one)

  4. This sprightly performance is utterly charming. Seals sounds fully engaged, and the lively melody slides and slips along.

    Despite quietly assembling an impressive songbook by the end of the decade, Dan Seals is not often celebrated, or even remembered, as one of the bright spots of the ’80s.

    Which is a shame.

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