Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Aussie Sweep: August 27, 2014...


It's time to head Down Under to check out the songs making their way on to the official singles chart in Australia this week, as Meghan Trainor spends a third week on top with "All About That Bass"...

There are only two new songs in the top-50 this week. The first rockets in at #5, and it's the new one from Taylor Swift, "Shake It Off". This becomes her eighth top-10 single; she's topped the list here back in 2008 with "Love Story" (she went to #1 here before she did in America, coincidentally)...


(Click below to see the rest of the post)


6 of the 60s: 8/27/14 (1963)


6 of the 60s is back after a two-week vacation, with a half-dozen more nuggets from 1963, the year of the Great Train Robbery in England, memorialized on film in Phil Collins' Buster in the late 80s....

Lesley Gore - "It's My Party"
from the album I'll Cry If I Want To (1963)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #1
Songwriters: John Gluck, Wally Gold, Herb Weiner


One of legendary producer Quincy Jones' first big pop successes, "It's My Party" almost came out as a Wall Of Sound production for Phil Spector's Crystals. In 2006, Gore would come out of the closet as a lesbian in an interview.

(Click below to see the rest of the post)


Songoftheday 8/27/14 - Take the children and yourself and hide out in the cellar, by now the fighting will be close at hand...


Mike + The Mechanics - "Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground)"
from the album Mike + The Mechanics (1985)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #6 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 11

Today's Song of the Day comes from a side-project for progressive rock trio Genesis' guitarist Mike Rutherford, Mike + The Mechanics. Like drummer Phil Collins, Rutherford released a couple of solo albums in the early 80s, but besides a top-40 rock radio hit with "Maxine" in 1982, there wasn't much interest in his non-Genesis work. In the mid-80s Mike, along with producer Christopher Neil and songwriter Brian Robertson, started a project called Mike & The Mechanics, with a band formed with journeyman singers Paul Young (not the "Everytime You Go Away" one) and Paul Carrack, who went from a stint with Squeeze to a top-40 hit of his own with "I Need You" in 1982. The first single released from the act was used in the movie On Dangerous Ground, renamed for American audiences as Choke Canyon (a porn movie name if I ever heard one). With Carrack on lead vocals for "Silent Running", the sci-fi lyrics of this track didn't really fit the movie (in fact they were inspired by a Bruce Dern film of the same name), though the paranoiac musical theme did the job in its own way...


"Silent Running" became the first top-10 pop hit for the group in March of 1986. The single also went all the way to #1 on Billboard magazine's Mainstream Rock radio chart. Internationally, while the record went top-10 in both Canada and Germany, in Rutherford/Carrack's native Britain the single stopped at #21.

(Click below to see the rest of the post)


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

German Sweep: August 26, 2014...


It's time to cross the border to check out the songs making their way on to the official singles chart in Germany this week, as David Guetta holds at #1 for a second week with "Lovers On The Sun"...

The top debut of the week comes from Ariana Grande, who pops in at #27 with "Break Free". It follows "Problem", which "peaked" at #19 last week...


(Click below to see the rest of the post)


French Sweep: August 26, 2014...


I'm ready to head across the Atlantic to check out the songs making the official singles chart in France this week, as Lilly Wood & The Prick rack up a sixth week at #1 with the Robin Schulz remix of "Prayer In C"...

The top debut of the week comes from Algerian/French rapper Lacrim, who almost makes the top-10 by a notch with "Pronto". It does become his highest rank though at #11 out of his five French top-40 hits this year...


(Click below to see the rest of the post)


Songoftheday 8/26/14 - Go now don't look back we've drawn the line...


Starship - "Sara"
from the album Knee Deep In The Hoopla (1985)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #1 (two weeks)
Weeks in the Top-40: 13

Today's Song of the Day is by the band Starship, who were the mutated result from years of member defection from 60s acid-rock giants Jefferson Airplane. Revamped a la Chicago as a pop/adult-contemporary hitmaking machine, with only Grace Slick hanging on from its original incarnation, Starship had already landed a #1 pop hit in America with my least favorite hit record of all time, "We Built This City". The pasteurized cheese of that earworm would make anything else sound like Mozart, so it's no surprise I wasn't turned off too much by its successor, the mid-tempo ballad "Sara". Written by husband-and-wife team of Peter and Ina Wolf (no, the former wasn't the J. Geils Band guy, but rather a producer who did most of the keyboard work with the group's album), "Sara" was a straight-forward made-for-the-workplace-radio track that barely featured any Slick at all. No matter, at least Mickey Thomas was more restrained in his performance, though he was able to turn in an overblown performance in the high-concept video featuring Rebecca DeMornay as a seemingly drugged-up groupie wife compared to Thomas' own mom in the video. Weird...


"Sara" became Starship's second #1 pop hit in a row in the U.S. They also crossed over to the Adult Contemporary (also #1) and Mainstream Rock (#12) radio charts in Billboard magazine. Internationally, the single also topped the singles chart in Canada, and went top-20 in Germany and Ireland, but relatively tanked in Britain, stalling at #66 in that country.

(Click below to see the rest of the post)


Monday, August 25, 2014

Robbed Hit of the Week 8/25/14 - Asia's "Go"...


Asia - "Go"
from the album Astra (1985)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: 46

This week's "robbed hit" is from the British progressive rock "supergroup" Asia, who after having the biggest-selling album of 1982 with their self-titled debut, followed up with sophomore effort Alpha, which spawned their second top-10 pop hit with "Don't Cry", but sold considerably less compared to their first record. After lead singer John Wetton left/was booted from the band only to return before the recording of their third album, Asia found themselves one member down again as guitarist Steve Howe quit the band to join GTR (who will soon score a top-40 hit of their own with "When The Heart Rules The Mind". The remaining three recruited Mandy Meyer of the metal band Krokus to replace Howe, and his style made their music a little bit more rough around the edges. The first single from the project, "Go", lured rock radio in with its church-organ beginning, to a track that kind of remind me if Yes attempted to make a Scorpions record....


While "Go" was another success for Asia on rock radio, peaking at #7 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart in Billboard magazine, the single stalled under the pop top-40 in January of 1986. After this and the album relatively tanking (it climbed to #67 on the albums chart), the group splintered for a bit, with Wetton, keyboardist Carl Palmer, and drummer Geoffrey Downes joined by guitarist Pat Thrall for a part greatest hits part new material set Then & Now, which had a decent single included with "Days Like These", which climbed to #2 on the Rock chart and was a minor pop hit at #64 in 1990.  The quartet would break apart again, with Wetton leaving and singer John Payne pairing with Downes and a musical chairs of lineups for almost fifteen years, having big success in Japan but nothing more than cult status elsewhere in the world. In 2006 the four original members of Asia reunited (with Payne confusingly still touring legally under the "Asia With John Payne" moniker"), and began releasing records again that were actually really good and worthy of getting back together. Three of the records have even made the American album chart, the most recent being Gravitas in 2014.

(Click below to see the rest of the post)


Album Sweep: August 30, 2014 - Part Two...






I'm down for the second half of this week's "album sweep", sampling the records making their debut on Billboard magazine's Top 200 Albums sales chart. You can check out part one by clicking here, and as before I've included links to buy the new stuff as well as some of the artists' other important work.

Underground hip-hop veterans Dilated Peoples return at #41 with their first album in eight years, Directors Of Photography. Back in 2001 they came in at #36 with their third effort Expansion Team...


(Click below to see the rest of the post)


Songoftheday 8/25/14 - Hide and seek I play along while rushing cross the forest, monkey business on a sunny afternoon....


Baltimora - "Tarzan Boy"
from the album Living In The Background (1985)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #13 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 10

Today's Song of the Day is from an Italian pop-dance act called Baltimora, who were led by keyboardist and producer Maurizio Bassi. Recruiting Irishman Jimmy McShane to be the visual frontman of the group, the "band" recorded their first album for release in 1985. The debut single from the project, "Tarzan Boy", was a big success around the world, no doubt helped by the infectious Tarzan-like yodel as a stand-in chorus....


"Tarzan Boy" would become the band's first and only top-40 hit in America, reaching the top-20 in March of 1986 and eventually spending half a year on the Hot 100. The remix of the record climbed to #6 on Billboard magazine's Hot Dance Club Play chart as well. Internationally, the single went to #1 in both France and the Netherlands, peaked at #3 in England, and made the top-10 in most of the rest of Europe and Canada, with a #6 placing in their native Italy and #2 in McShane's Ireland.

The novelty of the record would be their doom in America, with their next single, the title track from Living In The Background, stalling at #87. Meanwhile in Europe they had a bit more success with another campy number, "Woody Boogie", which went top-10 in Sweden and top-20 in Italy. In 1987 the band released a second album, and the first single, "Key Key Karimba", slipped into the Italian top-40 at #37, but with the record not getting any attention anywhere else, Baltimora split up shortly thereafter. McShane would leave the biz, and passed away from complications from AIDS in 1995.

(Click below to see the rest of the post)


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Brit Sweep: August 24, 2014...


Hey mates, the end of the weekend (and sadly, my vacation) is upon us, and I'm ready to check out the songs making the top-100 of the just-released official singles chart in Britain.

The new #1 song in the UK this week comes from the biggest French DJ and dance music producer around, David Guetta, with "Lovers On The Sun" featuring vocals from Sam Martin. It's Guetta's sixth time at the top of the chart in this country, dating back to 2009's "When Love Takes Over" (still an awesome jam)...


(Click below to see the rest of the post)


Album Sweep: August 30, 2014 - Part One...






It's time to kick off the first half of this week's "album sweep", sampling the records making their way on to the official Top 200 Albums sales chart in Billboard magazine. As always, I've included highlighted links to buy any of the new sets, as well as some of the artists' other major work. Support the talent!

The top-selling album of the week for the second week in a row is the Guardians Of The Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1 collection, coming close to selling another hundred thousand copies in its third week.

The highest debuting album of the week at #4 comes from the Gaslight Anthem, an alternative rock band from New Brunswick, New Jersey, with their fifth full-length album Get Hurt. Their last record, Handwritten, went in a notch higher in 2012...


(Click below to see the rest of the post)


Songoftheday 8/24/14 - The wind blows hard against this mountainside, across the sea into my soul...


Mr. Mister - "Kyrie"
from the album Welcome To The Real World (1985)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #1 (two weeks)
Weeks in the Top-40: 13

Today's Song of the Day comes from the pop/rock band Mr. Mister, who found success on radio with their second album, which scored a #1 hit with their first top-40 effort, "Broken Wings". While that song was inspired by writings of an Arab poet, the second single from the set, "Kyrie", drew from Christian mass, with the chorus of "Kyrie, Elaison" an integral part of the Catholic service. Written by lyricist John Lang along with lead singer Richard Page and keyboardist Steve George, the song's video had clips of them on tour....


"Kyrie" became Mr. Mister's second consecutive #1 pop hit in America in March of 1986. The single also topped the Mainstream Rock radio chart in Billboard, and crossed over to the adult-contemporary (or "easy listening") list at #11. Internationally, the record went to #1 in Canada and Norway, while stopping one notch under the top-10 in both England and Australia. It would be the band's last #1 hit...

The song is a perfect example of how much positive music still had a fighting chance in the 80's, until grunge and the 90s killed that all dead.

(Click below to see the rest of the post)


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Dance Sweep: August 30, 2014...


I'm ready to wrap up today's "chart sweeps" of the Billboard singles charts with the latest dance jams in the clubs and on the radio...

On the DJ-polled Dance Club Play chart, Beyonce scores yet another #1 hit with "Pretty Hurts"...

Swedish DJ Alesso has the high entry at #39 with "Tear The Roof Up". The track had already appeared on the airplay chart at #21. In 2012 he topped the club chart with "Calling (Lose My Mind)"...


(Click below to see the rest of the post)


Country Sweep: August 30, 2014...






Part four of this week's "chart sweeps" has the latest country songs on the radio as monitored by Billboard magazine.

On their Country Airplay chart Dierks Bentley lands his twelfth #1 single with "Drunk On A Plane"...

The top debut of the week belongs to Darius Rucker, whose "Homegrown Honey" enters at #55. However, the track has yet to sport a YouTube clip. Boo!

The third single from Chris Young's A.M. album, "Lonely Eyes", sees its debut at #58. It follows "Who I Am With You", which climbed to #2 on this list. It's also my "Country Pick of the Week"...


(Click below to see the rest of the post)


Soul Sweep: August 30, 2014...


We're at the "hump" of today's "chart sweeps" of the latest songs to make the radio charts in Billboard magazine, and this time I'm serving the latest R&B records on the radio...

On the main R&B/Hip Hop Airplay chart, Schoolboy Q spends his third week at #1 with "Studio"...

DJ Khaled comes in at #35 with "Hold You Down", with vocals from Chris Brown, August Alsina, Jeremih, and rapper Future...


(Click below to see the rest of the post)


Rock Sweep: August 30, 2014...


Round two of this week's "chart sweeps" is up, with the latest music to make the radio charts in Billboard magazine. This time out it's the newest on rock radio...

On the main Rock Airplay chart Aussie Vance Joy spends his second week at #1 with "Riptide"...

Nu-metal veterans Korn come in at #48 with "Hater", the third single from their expanded Paradigm Shift album. The first, "Never Never", went to #13 on this list. "Hater" also moves up to #13 on the Mainstream Rock format chart...


(Click below to see the rest of the post)


Pop Sweep: August 30, 2014...


Hey gang, it's time to kick off the first of today's five "chart sweeps", checking out the songs making the various radio and club charts in Billboard magazine this week. As usual, I'll start with the pop side of things, then move on to the latest in rock, R&B, country, and dance music later in the day.

On the "big" chart, Billboard's Hot 100, which combines tallies from radio airplay, sales, and internet streaming (like YouTube or Spotify), Canadian lite-reggae band Magic! hold at #1 for a sixth week with "Rude". It looks like they might challenge "Fancy" for the song of the summer title...

The top debut of the week at #49 comes from singer Ariana Grande, who is having a pretty good week, with three of the songs in the top-ten with her as the lead artist - "Break Free" leaps up to #4, "Problem" dropping a notch to #7, and her collab with Nicki Minaj and Jessie J, "Bang Bang", slipping to #10. Her new hit "Best Mistake" features rapper Big Sean, who the singer has been rumored to be seeing romantically as well as professionally...


(Click below to see the rest of the post)


Songoftheday 8/23/14 - A Salvation Army band played and the children drank lemonade, and the morning lasted all day...


The Dream Academy - "Life In A Northern Town"
from the album The Dream Academy (1985)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #7 (two weeks)
Weeks in the Top-40: 11

Today's Song of the Day is by the Dream Academy, a British trio that with a little help from Pink Floyd's David Gilmour, who co-produced their self-titled debut album, made a big splash in the mid-80's with the dreamy-pop nugget "Life In A Northern Town". Written by lead singer/guitarist Nick Laird-Clowes and keyboardist Gilbert Gabriel, the song was a tribute to the late indie-folk artist Nick Drake, who lost his battle with addiction and depression in 1974. With a rush of orchestral flourishes behind Nick's fragile Lennon-esque lead and the African-style chorus it led to, the single was a welcome change of pace from the beeps and bloops of new wave out of Britain. And where else are you going to find the English horn played so prominently?


"Life In A Northern Town" became the Dream Academy's first and only top-10 pop hit in America in February of 1986. The record also crossed over to both the Adult Contemporary (#2) and Mainstream Rock (#7) radio charts in Billboard magazine. Internationally, while the single reached the top-10 in Canada, Australia, and Ireland, it surprisingly stopped at #15 on the British singles chart (considering how "English" the record sounds). Since then, "Life In A Northern Town" with its classic acoustic sound has aged much better than its electronic contemporaries.

(Click below to see the rest of the post)


Friday, August 22, 2014

twostepcub's music chart for August 22, 2014...


Friday is here, and it's time to run down my top 100 tunes from the week. This week Sam Smith spends his ninth week at the top, while electropop duo Big Data climb up two notches in the top-10. Former big hits from Lorde, Katy Perry, Rita Ora, and Fitz & The Tantrums drop off my list, while songs from Basement Jaxx, Luke Bryan, and Weezer make the biggest jumps (moves of 10+ places highlighted in red). Another year older, none the wiser...

This Week                  Song/Artist (last week's position in parentheses)
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1. Stay With Me - Sam Smith (1)
2. Problem - Ariana Grande (2)
3. Rude - Magic! (3)
4. A Sky Full Of Stars - Coldplay (5)
5. I Wanna Get Better - Bleachers (6)
6. Am I Wrong - Nico & Vinz (4)
7. Dangerous - Big Data f/Joywave (9)
8. Love Runs Out - OneRepublic (8)
9. Summer - Calvin Harris (7)
10. Take Me To Church - Hozier (10)
11. Come With Me Now - KONGOS (11)
12. Latch - Discosure f/Sam Smith (14)
13. Fever - The Black Keys (13)
14. Chandelier - Sia (28)
15. Love Never Felt So Good - Michael Jackson & Justin Timberlake (19)
16. Maps - Maroon 5 (31)
17. Girls Chase Boys - Ingrid Michaelson (17)
18. Fancy - Iggy Azalea f/Charli XCX (16)
19. Hideaway - Kiesza (20)
20. Aftermath - Dave Aude' f/Andy Bell (21)
21. We Are Tonight - Billy Currington (23)
22. Sing - Ed Sheeran (12)
23. Do It Again - Royksopp & Robyn (27)
24. Me And My Broken Heart - Rixton (15)
25. I Was Gonna Cancel - Kylie Minogue (25)
26. Who I Am With You - Chris Young (18)
27. Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High? - Arctic Monkeys (29)
28. I Don't Dance - Lee Brice (32)
29. Ain't It Fun - Paramore (22)
30. Drunk On A Plane - Dierks Bentley (34)
31. Happy - Pharrell Williams (26)
32. Wasted - Tiesto f/Matthew Koma (30)
33. Yeah - Joe Nichols (35)
34. I'm Not Coming Down - Martha Wash (24)
35. Derezzed - Daft Punk f/Negin (36)
36. Bartender - Lady Antebellum (43)
37. Waves - Mr. Probz (39)
38. Ghost - Ella Henderson (38)
39. Classic - MKTO (41)
40. Knock You Out - Bingo Players (40)
41. Pretty Hurts - Beyonce (46)
42. River Bank - Brad Paisley (42)
43. Do I Wanna Know - Arctic Monkeys (33)
44. Words As Weapons - Seether (48)
45. Stolen Dance - Milky Chance (53)
46. Riptide - Vance Joy (52)
47. Rather Be - Clean Bandit f/Jess Glynne (54)
48. Really Don't Care - Demi Lovato f/Cher Lloyd (58)
49. Song About A Girl - Eric Paslay (50)
50. Meanwhile Back At Mama's - Tim McGraw f/Faith Hill (51)
51. Play It Again - Luke Bryan (37)
52. Angel In Blue Jeans - Train (56)
53. Cool Kids - Echosmith (61)
54. Prayer In C - Lilly Wood & The Prick (60)
55. Holding On To Heaven - Foxes (55)
56. West Coast - Lana Del Rey (66)
57. Roller Coster - Luke Bryan (77)
58. All About That Bass - Meghan Trainor (DEBUT)
59. All Of Me - John Legend (45)
60. U Get Me High - Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers (68)
61. Peace - O.A.R. (57)
62. Never Say Never - Basement Jaxx (92)
63. Hope You Get Lonely Tonight - Cole Swindell (73)
64. Secrets - Mary Lambert (81)
65. Believer - American Authors (71)
66. Where It's At (Yep Yep) - Dustin Lynch (70)
67. This Is How We Roll - Florida Georgia Line f/Luke Bryan & Jason Derulo (69)
68. Don't - Ed Sheeran (78)
69. Calling All Hearts - DJ Cassidy f/Robin Thicke & Jessie J (59)
70. 1000hp - Godsmack (75)
71. Good Kisser - Usher (76)
72. Dare (La, La, La) - Shakira (72)
73. Beachin' - Jake Owen (65)
74. Small Town Throwdown - Brantley Gilbert f/Justin Moore & Thomas Rhett (84)
75. Back Home - Andy Grammer (79)
76. My Sweet Summer - Dirty Heads (86)
77. First Love - Jennifer Lopez (DEBUT)
78. One Minute More - Capital Cities (82)
79. Bye Felicia - Joe Gauthreaux f/Mitch Amtrak (DEBUT)
80. Back To The Shack - Weezer (98)
81. American Kids - Kenny Chesney (85)
82. Be Okay - Oh Honey (83)
83. Boom Clap - Charli XCX (95)
84. Dirt - Florida Georgia Line (90)
85. Gimme Something Good - Ryan Adams (DEBUT)
86. Ballast - Nothing More (91)
87. Superheroes - The Script (DEBUT)
88. Not A Bad Thing - Justin Timberlake (78)
89. Kick Drum - London Rose (89)
90. Baby Baby 2014 - Amy Grant f/Dave Aude (DEBUT)
91. Somethin' Bad - Miranda Lambert & Carrie Underwood (93)
92. Later On - The Swon Brothers (97)
93. Battleships - Daughtry (96)
94. Ready Set Roll - Chase Rice (DEBUT)
95. Crazy Stupid Love - Cheryl Cole f/Tinie Tempah (99)
96. Do You - Spoon (DEBUT)
97. It's You - Kem (DEBUT)
98. When The Beat Drops Out - Marlon Roudette (DEBUT)
99. Faded - Zhu (DEBUT)
100. Hopeful - Bars And Melody (DEBUT)

There are a dozen debuting songs on my chart this week (highlighted in blue), and if you click on any of them you'll connect to their official website. And here they are on video after the break...

(Click below to see the rest of the post)


Songoftheday 8/22/14 - I reached inside myself and found nothing there to ease the pressure of my ever worrying mind...


a-ha - "The Sun Always Shines On TV"
from the album Hunting High And Low (1985)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #20 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 8

Today's Song of the Day is by the Norwegian new wave trio a-ha, who claimed a worldwide smash with the song with the innovative animated/live video "Take On Me". For its follow-up the band released the frenetic and typically Scandinavian dark nuance of "The Sun Always Shines On TV". Written by the group's guitarist, Pal Waaktaar, the record again featured the dramatic vocals and striking good looks of lead singer Morten Harket in the video, which continues the plot from "Take On Me"...


"The Sun Always Shines..." became a-ha's second and final top-40 pop hit in the U.S. in February of 1986. The record did even better in the discos, peaking at #6 on Billboard's dance club play list (their first hit and biggest). Internationally, it was their first #1 single in Britain ("Take On Me" stopped at #2 there), as it also was in Ireland, and the song went top-10 in most of Europe like France (#10), Germany (#5), and Sweden (#2). Also, the video nabbed two MTV Music Video Awards in the same year "Take On Me" took home six trophies.

a-ha would continue to strike it big in Europe, with two more top ten hits in the UK from the debut album, "Train Of Thought" and the title track. The following year, the trio released their second album, Scoundrel Days, which remains one of my favorites of the decade. With a "bigger" sound and great songs, the record was a success in Europe, but somehow floundered in America, with first single "Cry Wolf" stopping at #50 (it went to #5 in England and #2 in their native Norway). The single released first in Europe, "I've Been Losing You", went to #1 there, and #8 in the UK.

In 1987 the band would be commissioned to record the theme to the James Bond movie The Living Daylights, the first to star Timothy Dalton in the role of the spy master. While the single was again a top ten success all over Europe, it was pretty much passed over in the U.S.

A-ha's success stayed in a more moderate stream through the next couple of decades, almost making the American pop chart again in 1993 with "Dark Is The Night". They had an even bigger resurgence in England in 2006, when the title track to their Analogue album reached the top-10 on the UK chart. The follow-up single "Cosy Prisons" was their final top-40 hit in Britain. Three years later, their song "Foot Of The Mountain" went to #3 in Germany. In 2010, they fittingly released "Butterfly, Butterfly (The Last Hurrah)", another top-40 hit in Germany, and the trio called it a day in 2011. They remain one of those new wave bands that were sorely underrated from their huge initial success, and their whole body of work remains the top of Europe's best of the era.

(Click below to see the rest of the post)


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Songoftheday 8/21/14 - superhighways coast to coast easy to get anywhere, on the transcontinental overload just slide behind the wheel how does it feel...


James Brown - "Living In America"
from the albums Rocky IV (Original Soundtrack) and Gravity (1986)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #4 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 11


Today's Song of the Day comes from the Godfather of Soul himself, the hardest-working man in show business, the late James Brown, who's legacy in the history of R&B music is quite secure, with over a hundred charting singles on the soul and pop charts in Billboard magazine, as well as a string of classic album still being used as samples today.

Born in South Carolina, Brown's first appearance on the charts came back in 1956, with his ballad "Please Please Please" which climbed to #5 on the R&B chart. Two years later, he put his next big hit "Try Me" on the pop chart at #48, while the record topped the soul chart. James started the next decade with his first top-40 hit, "Think" (#33), but it wouldn't be until 1965, when his breakthrough pop hit "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag" went to #8, that Brown became a mainstream singing star. He would go on to have five more single make the pop top-ten in the 60s, and a truckload of moderate and minor hits, but as the 70s dragged on and disco took over the R&B world, Brown's radio fortunes dimmed a bit.

The 80's found a resurgence of interest in the artist, with Brown appearing in movies like The Blues Brothers. When it came time for Sylvester Stallone to film his fourth Rocky movie, Brown was included in the soundtrack with a song written by rock singer turned disco star Dan Hartman. "Living In America" seemed as big as the image Brown presented, and after the Rocky vets Survivor scored a top-ten hit with "Burning Heart" from the movie, James quickly followed suit...


"Living In America" became Brown's seventh and final top-10 hit on the American pop chart in March of 1986. The single also climbed in the top-10 on Billboard's R&B (#10) and dance club play (#3) lists as well. It also made the top of the charts all over the world, reaching the top ten in Britain, Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, and more. Brown won the Grammy for R&B male performance, while Hartman was nominated for the song.

Brown would go on to put "Living In America" on to his next studio album, Gravity, but the momentum didn't continue, as the title track just nicked the pop chart at #93. He would land a few more R&B hits, with "Static" going to #5 as late as 1988. But by that time, he was better known for his jail time and police chases than his music. His last charting single came in 1993 with "Can't Get Any Harder", which stopped at #76 on the soul list...

Although he would continue to perform live, his hard years caught up with him, and Brown passed away on Christmas of 2006. However, his status as the "Godfather" hasn't been even threatened.

(Click below to see the rest of the post)