Thursday, October 31, 2013

8 of the 80s: 10/31/13 (1987)...

I'm ready for this week's 80s throwback, and this time out I've got eight more nuggets from 1987, the year of the first National Coming Out Day in the US..(as usual I've included links to buy anything on CD or MP3 when available)..

Peter Cetera - "Big Mistake"
from the album Solitude/Solitaire (1986)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #61
Songwriter: Peter Cetera

This single following two consecutive #1 ballads from the former Chicago singer, but I get America wasn't ready for Peter to semi-rock out.

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7 of the 70s: 10/31/13 (1977)...

It's 70s throwback Thursday time, and this week I'm back to 1977, the year soccer great Pele' plays his last pro game.. (as always I've included links to buy anything on CD or MP3 when available)..

Manfred Mann's Earth Band - "Blinded By The Light"
from the album The Roaring Silence (1976)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #1
Songwriter: Bruce Springsteen

The only #1 single for "The Boss" came courtesy of this 60s British Invasion band who evolved into 70s stoner-pop goodness.

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Songoftheday 10/31/13 - It's after midnight are you feelin' alright, turn on the light babe, are you someone else tonight?...

Billy Idol - "Flesh For Fantasy"
from the album Rebel Yell (1983)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #29 (two weeks)
Weeks in the Top-40: 6

Today's Song of the Day is by British punk rocker turned pop star Billy Idol, whose 1984 album Rebel Yell got off to a slow start with the title track missing the top-40, then redeemed by his first top ten pop single "Eyes Without A Face". For the third release he went back to his darker roots with a song he wrote with the edge of "White Wedding" with an extra helping of funk, "Flesh For Fantasy", written by the singer with his guitarist Steve Stevens...

"Flesh For Fantasy" became Billy's fourth top-40 pop hit in October of 1984, while also making it his fourth consecutive top-10 rock radio hit as well. Internationally, while the single went top-40 in Germany, Australia, New Zealand, and Switzerland, it stalled in the lower half of the chart in his home country (#54).

The single remix demonstrated how in tune his music was to the resurgence of dance music on the pop scene. To me the whole Rebel Yell album is a total winner...

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Aussie Sweep: October 30, 2013..

G'day's time to head Down Under to check out the songs that are reaching the official singles chart in Australia this week, as Katy Perry hangs in for a ninth non-consecutive week at #1 with "Roar"...

Well, the X Factor Australia's fifth season has finally come to an end on Monday, though the last chart reflects the semi-finals with four acts left....and this week sees six performances from those acts reach the top 100. Surprisingly, by far the biggest of them all, arriving at #2, is from the singer who would come in second on Monday, Taylor Henderson, with his take on the Cyndi Lauper nugget  "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun". Now mind you this may sound unique, but the acoustic guitar take was even a rip-off when Glee did it, but at least Taylor adds a bit of rhythm and folkiness to it. Cyndi's original went to #1 in this country in 1984.

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6 of the 60s: 10/30/13 (1967)...

Hey gang, it's "hump day", and I'm ready to serve up a half-dozen more nuggets from the sixties. This week I travel back to 1967, the year of the Shag Harbour Incident, where a large unknown object fell from the sky off the coast of Nova Scotia, and the remains of what have never been found (oooooooooo...) This week there's six songs to "turn on, tune in, and drop out" to...(I've included links to buy anything on CD or MP3 when available)...

Strawberry Alarm Clock - "Incense And Peppermints"
from the album Incense And Peppermints (1967)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #1
Songwriters: John Carter, Tim Gilbert

Bridging the gap between psychedelic rock and bubblegum pop, this band's sole top-10 single was majorly influential beyond its years..

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Songoftheday 10/30/13 - There's a light on in your window there's a shadow on the street, two silhouettes tell me it's over the shadow knows the shadow's me...

Elton John - "Who Wears These Shoes?"
from the album Breaking Hearts (1984)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #16 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 10

Today's Song of the Day is by Elton John, who had released his eighteenth studio album with the designer-jean tie-in "Sad Songs (Say So Much)", which made the top-5 on the American pop chart. For the follow-up Elton released the toss-off pop cheating accusation of "Who Wears These Shoes?". Written by the singer with longtime collaborator Bernie Taupin, and produced by Chris Thomas, the song came with another over-the-top campy video complete with Elton dancing with scantily-clad women and men along with oversized heart props. And they seemed to try their best to get Elton without his glasses as much as they could...

"Who Wears These Shoes?" went to the top-20 on both the American pop and adult contemporary charts in November of 1984, though I think it was more from his momentum than the quality of the song. It's passable enough, but I felt it was more of an album filler than a big hit single. (I preferred the album opener "Restless" and the folky "Passengers").  That thought must've been shared outside of the US, since the single stalled down at #50 in his native England, and barely made the top-40 in Canada.

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Kraut Sweep: October 29, 2013...

Guten Abend, my friends, it's time to cross over to Germany to check out the songs making their official singles sales charts, as French electronica act Klingande score their first #1 single with "Jubel"...

Legendary British new wave group Depeche Mode claim the highest entry of the week at #19 with the third single from their Delta Machine album, "Should Be Higher". The first, "Heaven", went all the way to #2 here earlier this year...

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French Sweep: October 29, 2013...

Bonjour, mes amis, it's time to cross the Atlantic once more to check out the songs reaching the top 100 singles sales chart in France this week, as Dutch DJ and producer Bakermat takes over the #1 spot with "Vandaag"...

Eminem has the highest debut of the week at #23 with his craptacular and homophobic "Rap God". It follows "Berzerk", which drops to #11, and "Survival", which falls to #26...

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Songoftheday 10/29/13 - From out of the shadows she walks like a dream, makes me feel crazy makes me feel so mean...

John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band [Eddie &The Cruisers] - "On The Dark Side"
from the album Eddie and the Cruisers (Original Soundtrack) (1983)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #7 (two weeks)
Weeks in the Top-40: 11

Today's Song of the Day would be the first musical triumph for cable TV.

John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band was a competent but unremarkable bar band in the Rhode Island area, starting out in the late 70s. They were approached by producer Kenny Vance to provide the music for a movie he was writing about a fictional band named Eddie and the Cruisers, and the band recorded the soundtrack which was released in 1983. However, the actual "face" of the band in the movie was provided by actors, including star Michael Pare', except for Beaver Brown sax man Michael Antunes. Otherwise the songs were lipsynched by the actors, and even the singles released from the soundtrack were at first credited to "Eddie and the Cruisers". The first, "On The Dark Side", managed to get to #64 on its first release, while the follow-up "Tender Years", did carry the John Cafferty name, but stalled at #78. The movie was a relative failure, netting only 4 million dollars in its theatrical release, less than the budget for the film.

But after it started showing on fledgling cable movie network HBO, the movie started getting word of mouth buzz, and all of a sudden, radio requests started pouring in for the lead song in the movie. I know that especially in my neck of the woods in New Jersey it was insanely popular, comparisons to Springsteen notwithstanding (or maybe because of them). "On The Dark Side", now credited to John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band, got a single re-release, and both that and the album sold like hotcakes, and on MTV we finally got to see the "real" voice behind "Eddie & The Cruisers"...

Both the single and album reached the top-10 in October of 1984, as well as "On The Dark Side" topping the rock radio chart as well. It would prove the viewing draw of cable that Nielsen was only starting to realize.

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Monday, October 28, 2013

Robbed Hit of the Week 10/28/13: Thompson Twins' "You Take Me Up"...

Thompson Twins - "You Take Me Up"
from the album Into The Gap (1984)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #44

This week's "robbed hit" was the third single in America off of the new wave group Thompson Twins' breakthrough album Into The Gap. After they reached #3 with the classic "Hold Me Now", then followed with the #11 "Doctor! Doctor!", the trio released the uplifting "You Take Me Up". The single has been released in their native Britain back in March, and went to #2, the highest they would ever get in that country. The song, written by members Alannah Currie, Joe Leeway, and lead singer Tom Bailey, drew a lot from African American work song heritage and added unique percussion and harmonica riffs to separate the verses from the anthemic lovesong-style chorus...

While "You Take Me Up" was their biggest hit in England, the single stalled right under the top-40 in America, to my chagrin, since I thought it to be a ringer for another big hit for them.

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Album Sweep: November 2, 2013 - Part Two...

I'm back with part two of this week's "album sweep", where I sample the records making their first appearance on Billboard's Top 200 Albums sales chart. As before, I've included highlighted links to buy anything when available - and you can check out part one by clicking here....

Well the biographical film CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story premiered on VH1 on October 21st, and it became the channel's most-watched TV movie. To go along with it and the group's 20th anniversary in the music biz, 20 arrives on the chart at #72. The compilation has thirteen of their biggest hits along with a new track written by Ne-Yo. The group, which included the late Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, topped the albums chart in 1999 with FanMail...

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Songoftheday 10/28/13 - Alone in a crowd on a bus after work I'm daydreaming, the guy next to me has a woman on his arm my arms are empty...

Rod Stewart - "Some Guys Have All The Luck"
from the album Camouflage (1984)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #10 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 10

Today's Song of the Day is by Rod "The Mod" Stewart, who came back to pop radio and MTV in a big way in 1984 with help from old pal Jeff Beck on guitar for the raucous "Infatuation". For its follow-up, Rod released a cover of a moderate soul hit from the Persuaders. "Some Guys Have All The Luck", written by Jeff Fortgang, originally went to #39 on the pop chart...

Stewart's version was more uptempo and nodded more in the new wave direction, with production by Michael Omartian...

"Some Guys..." became Rod's second top-10 hit from Camouflage in October of 1984, while also going all the way to #3 on the adult-contemporary (easy-listening) and #27 on the rock radio formats. Internationally it was a hit in England, peaking at #15, and #11 in neighboring Ireland.

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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Brit Sweep: October 27, 2013...

Hey gang, the end of the weekend is here, and time to check out the songs reaching the top 100 on the just-released official singles chart in Britain this week...

We have a new winner here, and the top selling single of the week is New Zealand native Lorde with her international smash hit "Royals". It's one of two songs by the singer/songwriter entering the chart this week...

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Album Sweep: November 2, 2013 - Part One...

Hey gang, it's time to kick off the first half of this week's "album sweep", where I sample the records making their first appearance on the Top 200 Albums sales chart in Billboard magazine. There are a whopping forty new sets on this weeks list, so you know that the holiday season is just on the horizon...

The top-selling album of the week with over 160,000 sales is the tenth studio album from grunge rock kings Pearl Jam, as Lightning Bolt becomes their fifth of those to top the chart. Their first was Vs. back in 1993, while their most recent was Backspacer from 2009...

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Songoftheday 10/27/13 - You wake up wired and draw your makeup, and the city breathes and the city comes to life...

Rick Springfield - "Bop 'Til You Drop"
from the album Hard To Hold (Original Soundtrack) (1984)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #20 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 9

Today's Song of the Day is by singer, musician, songwriter, and actor Rick Springfield, who took a break from his stint on General Hospital to film the movie Hard To Hold. After its release in the summer of 1984, the soundtrack spun off the top-5 pop single "Love Somebody" as well as a top-40 follow-up in "Don't Walk Away". For his third release, the man who normally played Dr. Noah Drake put out the frenetic pop of "Bop 'Til You Drop", written by the singer and produced will Bill Drescher...

Oh lord. Somebody was definitely on something to come up with this video concept.

"Bop Til You Drop" reached the top-20 on the American pop chart in October of 1984. It would be his last (so far) to reach that level. The single also spent six weeks on the dance club play chart, peaking at #47.

Up tomorrow: "The Mod" isn't that fortunate...

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Dance Sweep: November 2, 2013...

I'm ready to close things out on today's "Chart Sweeps" sampling the songs making the charts in Billboard magazine, and I'll finish with the latest dance jams in the clubs and on the radio...

On the DJ-polled Hot Dance Club Play chart, Daft Punk and Pharrell Williams return to #1 for the second time this year with "Lose Yourself To Dance"'s their sixth total to top the chart...

The top debut of the week belongs to newcomer Veronica Jensen from the Scandinavian country of Denmark with "Indestructible" at #45..

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Country Sweep: November 2, 2013...

The fourth installment of this week's "chart sweeps" is up, and now I've got the songs making their appearance on Billboard's country chart.

On the mag's Top Country Airplay chart, Thomas Rhett holds on for a second week at #1 with "It Goes Like This"...

There are only two debuts on the list this week, but that's ok, because the first one, my "Country Pick of the Week", is one of my favorites of the year. It's singer/songwriter Kacey Musgraves with the third single from her amazing Same Trailer, Different Park debut album, "Follow Your Arrow", which in its own little way is country's "Same Love" (though not as complete or direct, but hey, it's country). The single comes in at #56; her first, "Merry Go Round", went to #10...

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Soul Sweep: November 2, 2013...

We're up to the "hump" of today's "chart sweeps" sampling the songs making the singles charts in Billboard magazine this week, and this time I'm serving up the latest R&B songs on the radio...

On the main R&B/HipHop airplay chart, Drake spends a second week at #1 with "Hold On, We're Going Home"...

The top entry at #43 is rapper 2 Chainz with the second single from his B.O.A.T.S. II: Me Time album, "Used 2". The first, "Feds Watching", went to #10 earlier this year and is down at #30 now..

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Rock Sweep: November 2, 2013...

I'm back with round two of today's "chart sweeps" sampling the songs making the charts in Billboard magazine this week, and this time I've got the latest on rock radio...

On the aggregate Rock Airplay chart, another newcomer takes over the top spot as Bastille is at #1 with "Pompeii", their first chart-topper...

The top entry of the week at #44 belongs to Switchfoot with "Who We Are". The single is already at #30 on the modern rock format...

 Indie-folk rock group The Head and The Heart debut at #47 with "Shake", which is a top-ten single at Triple-A...

Creed side-project Alter Bridge return at #49 with "Addicted To Pain", which also moves to #14 on the mainstream and heritage rock formats. In 2010 the band, with three members of Creed with vocalist Myles Kennedy, went to #5 with "Isolation"...

...and at #50 is British modern rock outfit the 1975 with "Chocolate", which is top-30 on the alternative list...

...and now on to the rock radio format sub-charts...

On the Mainstream Rock radio panel, we also have a new #1 as Three Days Grace climbs in with "Misery Loves My Company". It's their tenth single to top this format chart...

The sole debut on this list comes up at #27, and its from alt-metal group A Perfect Circle, a side project for Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan. "By And Down" is the only new track on their upcoming "greatest hits" set...

Meanwhile, on the Alternative/Modern Rock chart,"Pompeii" holds on top for a second week...

Philadelphia-based experimental rock group Man Man drop in at #38 with "Head On"...

The other entry at #39 is The Colourist with "Little Games"...

At the Triple-A (adult album alternative, or "hipster rock") format, Avicii's "Wake Me Up!" dances away at #1 for a second week, and there are no debuts on the chart...

On the harder-edged Active Rock radio panel, the aforementioned "Misery Loves My Company" moves to the top spot, while A Perfect Circle claim the top debut at #24 with "By And Down"..

Arriving at #37 are Australian hard rock group Sick Puppies with the second single from their Connect album, "Gunfight", my , my "Rock Pick of the Week"...

Welsh heavy metal outfit Bullet For My Valentine are back at #38 with "Dirty Little Secret", the third single from their Temper Temper album...

And at #40 is Gemini Syndrome with "Stardust"...

...and lastly, on the older-skewing Heritage Rock format, Avenged Sevenfold still remain at #1 for a ninth week with "Hail To The King"....

The single debut on this chart at #25 is Redlight King with "Born To Rise", which is already in the top-20 on mainstream rock..

That's all for the rockers...I'll return with the newest on R&B radio....rock on!

Pop Sweep: November 2, 2013...

I'm ready to kick of the first of today's five-part "chart sweeps" sampling the songs reaching the music charts in Billboard magazine this week, and as always, I'll start on the pop side of the house...

On the "big" chart, Billboard's Hot 100, which combines radio airplay, sales, and internet streaming data, Lorde rules again for a fourth week with "Royals"...

There are three debuts in the top-40 of this chart this week, and I'm just as surprised to say that the best of the three (way low bar) is by the Biebs. But first, the third preview track from Eminem's upcoming Marhsall Mathers 2 album, "Rap God", is the highest entry at #7, as the highest-selling single of the week. Now I'm no prude, but damn, dude, he's just a bit too old to have to fall back on the gay slurs to denigrate his competition. I mean seriously, dude, you're overcompensating. And 40. Put down the bleach while you're at it, bro. (His current "single", "Berzerk", went to #3 and sits now at #18, while second track "Survival" came in at #17 last week and drops to #31 this time out)....

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Songoftheday 10/26/13 - Lost feelings return so maybe I can learn to stop the world of a lie this time around...

The Fixx - "Are We Ourselves?"
from the album Phantoms (1984)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #15 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 8

Today's Song of the Day is by the British new wave band the Fixx, who had their big American breakthrough in 1983 with their album Reach The Beach, which spun off three top-40 singles in "Saved by Zero", "Sign Of Fire", and the top ten hit "One Thing Leads To Another". A year later they released their third studio album, Phantoms, and the lead single from the set, "Are We Ourselves", was written by the band and co-produced with Rupert Hine, who also did the trick for their last two albums...

"Are We Ourselves" became the Fixx's third single to reach the top 20 on the American pop chart in October of 1984, while also scoring them their first #1 hit on the Rock radio format chart in Billboard magazine. Surprisingly, for their second-biggest hit of their career, they didn't even reach the top 100 chart in their native Britain (though it was a moderate #39 hit in Canada).

I'm not sure why this album has been out of print - it went top-20 as well and was a success with their fanbase.  And their sound by far isn't dated, especially these days in time of retro electropop.

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Friday, October 25, 2013

twostepcub's music chart for October 25, 2013...

Hey gang, it's Friday (already) and time to check out my top 100 tunes from last week. Lorde holds tight at #1 for a third week with "Royals", while country hunk Tyler Farr (pictured above) moves up the top ten. Songs my American Authors, John Newman, and Miley Cyrus (!) make the biggest jumps (moves of 10+ places highlighted in red), while former big hits by Bruno Mars, Easton Corbin, Daft Punk, Labrinth, and Macklemore drop off the list. What does the Magic 8 Ball say?

This Week              Song/Artist (last week's position in parentheses)
1. Royals - Lorde (1)
2. True Love - Pink f/Lily Allen (2)
3. Wake Me Up! - Avicii (3)
4. Out Of My League - Fitz & The Tantrums (5)
5. Applause - Lady Gaga (6)
6. Brave - Sara Bareilles (4)
7. Redneck Crazy - Tyler Farr (9)
8. That's My Kind Of Night - Luke Bryan (10)
9. Safe And Sound - Capital Cities (7)
10. Summertime Sadness - Lana Del Rey vs. Cedric Gervais (8)
11. Counting Stars - OneRepublic (15)
12. Let Her Go - Passenger (14)
13. Demons - Imagine Dragons (11)
14. Roar - Katy Perry (16)
15. Blurred Lines - Robin Thicke f/T.I. & Pharrell Williams (13)
16. Pompeii - Bastille (20)
17. Everything Has Changed - Taylor Swift f/Ed Sheeran (17)
18. Live For The Night - Krewella (23)
19. Sweater Weather - The Neighbourhood (19)
20. Hey Girl - Billy Currington (21)
21. Aw Naw - Chris Young (27)
22. Supersoaker - Kings Of Leon (22)
23. Bruises - Train f/Ashley Monroe (12)
24. Ways To Go - Grouplove (28)
25. Clarity - Zedd f/Foxes (26)
26. Radioactive - Imagine Dragons (24)
27. Night Train - Jason Aldean (29)
28. Cups (When I'm Gone) - Anna Kendrick (18)
29. It Goes Like This - Thomas Rhett (39)
30. Point At You - Justin Moore (25)
31. Atmosphere - Kaskade (41)
32. Best I Ever Had - Gavin DeGraw (36)
33. Parking Lot Party - Lee Brice (38)
34. Love Somebody - Maroon 5 (30)
35. Round Here - Florida Georgia Line (35)
36. Hail To The King - Avenged Sevenfold (46)
37. Burn - Ellie Goulding (40)
38. Hold On, We're Going Home - Drake f/Majid Jordan (58)
39. Weapon - Cazzette (49)
40. Slow Down - Selena Gomez (45)
41. 365 Days - ZZ Ward (51)
42. Replay - Zendaya (52)
43. Flashing Lights - Havana Brown (53)
44. I Need Your Love - Calvin Harris f/Ellie Goulding (32)
45. Vocal - Pet Shop Boys (33)
46. Still Into You - Paramore (54)
47. Turn The Night Up - Enrique Iglesias (47)
48. Walking On Thin Ice 2013 - Yoko Ono (48)
49. Skirt - Kylie Minogue (34)
50. Runnin' Outta Moonlight - Randy Houser (42)
51. Sunny And 75 - Joe Nichols (56)
52. Red - Taylor Swift (66)
53. Lose Yourself To Dance - Daft Punk f/Pharrell Williams (68)
54. Could It Be - Charlie Worsham (64)
55. Little Bit Of Everything - Keith Urban (43)
56. Mine Would Be You - Blake Shelton (61)
57. Wrecking Ball - Miley Cyrus (79)
58. Age Ain't A Factor - Jaheim (59)
59. It's You - Duck Sauce (60)
60. Same Love - Macklemore & Ryan Lewis f/Mary Lambert (50)
61. Animals - Martin Garrix (71)
62. The Best Day Of My Life - American Authors (88)
63. Southern Girl - Tim McGraw (67)
64. Can't Help - Parachute (74)
65. This Is What It Feels Like - Armin van Buuren f/Trevor Guthrie (55)
66. Cheating - John Newman (92)
67. Don't Ya - Brett Eldredge (63)
68. Outta My Head - Craig Campbell (78)
69. Formidable - Stromae (77)
70. Fire We Make - Alicia Keys & Maxwell (70)
71. Come A Little Closer - Cage The Elephant (75)
72. Elephant - Tame Impala (76)
73. Unbelievers - Vampire Weekend (83)
74. Talk Dirty - Jason Derulo f/2 Chainz (80)
75. Misery Loves My Company - Three Days Grace (87)
76. Come To Me - Goo Goo Dolls (91)
77. The Fox - Ylvis (97)
78. We Were Us - Keith Urban f/Miranda Lambert (90)
79. Work - Iggy Azalea (81)
80. Never Gonna Happen - Colette Carr (85)
81. What If - Five For Fighting (DEBUT)
82. What Now - Rihanna (DEBUT)
83. It's My Party - Jessie J (84)
84. Young & Beautiful - Lana del Rey (96)
85. Carolina - Parmalee (DEBUT)
86. Hush Hush - Asher Monroe (DEBUT)
87. Gorilla - Bruno Mars (DEBUT)
88. Sirens - Pearl Jam (DEBUT)
89. Waiting For Superman - Daughtry (DEBUT)
90. Hurt You - Toni Braxton & Babyface (DEBUT)
91. Take Me Home - Cash Cash (93)
92. Never Never - Korn (DEBUT)
93. Who You Love - John Mayer f/Katy Perry (DEBUT)
94. Bonfire Heart - James Blunt (98)
95. Wild Child - Brett Dennen (100)
96. Count On Me - Chase & Status (DEBUT)
97. For The Rest Of My Life - Robin Thicke (DEBUT)
98. Vandaag - Bakermat (DEBUT)
99. Can We Dance - The Vamps (DEBUT)
100. Juliet - Lawson (DEBUT)

There are a whopping fifteen new songs on my list this week (highlighted in blue), and if you click on any of them you'll connect to their official website for more info, tour dates, music, videos, and more. And here they are on video, after the jump...

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Songoftheday 10/25/13 - She dashed by me in painted on jeans and all heads turned 'cause she was the dream...

Billy Ocean - "Caribbean Queen (No More Love On The Run)"
from the album Suddenly (1984)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #1 (two weeks)
Weeks in the Top-40: 15 weeks

Today's Song of the Day is by the R&B/pop singer/songwriter born Leslie Charles in the Caribbean island of Trinidad, but redubbed Billy Ocean when he changed from a standards singer to a pop performer in Britain in the 70s. Releasing his self-titled debut album in 1976, Billy scored a #2 hit in the UK and his first top-40 single in American with "Love Really Hurts Without You". A year later, he repeated the feat in England with "Red Light Spells Danger", but in America, pop radio had already passed, and it seemed like Ocean would simply be a mid-level one-hit-wonder. He even went where pop stars' careers go to die, the dance chart, as he had his first club hit in 1981 with the double-sided single "Stay The Night"/"Night (Feel Like Getting Down)", reaching #4.

Things changed completely when Billy switched labels to Jive Records in the early 80s. His first album with the new imprint, Suddenly, was released in 1984. The first single with an infectious slice of post-disco written by the singer with his producer Keith Diamond. "Caribbean Queen (No More Love On The Run)", which was alternately recorded as "European Queen" and "African Queen", connected with music fans around the world, and brought Ocean back to American shores in a big way. Maybe it was the fact that it basically was a rewrite of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean"...

"Caribbean Queen" went all the way to #1 on the US pop chart in November of 1984. It also did the same on the American dance and R&B charts, as well as making it up to #7 on the adult-contemporary (easy-listening) format. The record also topped the singles lists in Canada and New Zealand, while stopping just short in Australia and maxing out at #6 in the UK. It would start a streak of nine consecutive top-40 hits for the singer, making him a big player on the pop scene again. And for someone rockin' a sweater like Billy, that's always a good thing.

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

8 of the 80s: 10/24/13 (1986)...

Hey gang - I'm here with eight more nuggets from the 80s, and this week I'm throwin' back to 1986, the year the Fox Broadcasting Company was launched (ugh)...

Trans-X - "Living On Video"
from the album Living On Video (1986)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: 61
Songwriter: Pascal Languirand

This post-synthpop single was a huge hit around the world, but not in America, where the public had moved on from the blips and beeps of the early 80s...

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7 of the 70s: 10/24/13 (1976)...

Hey gang, it's time for this week's 70s throwback, and right now I'm back to 1976, the year the Copyright Act of 1976 extended the duration of musicians' work for another 20 years...(as usual I've included links to buy anything if possible on mp3 or CD)...

The Sylvers - "Boogie Fever"
from the album Showcase (1975)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #1
Songwriters: Freddie Perren, Kenny St. Lewis

Sure, there were the Osmonds and the DeFranco Family, but it was this sibling act that I felt really came to the caliber of the Jacksons in their musicianship and pure funkiness.

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Songoftheday 10/24/13 - I just think of you and I start to glow and I need your light and baby you know...

Madonna - "Lucky Star"
from the album Madonna (1983)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #4 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 12

Today's Song of the Day was the third hit pop single from one of the biggest acts of the rock era, Madonna. After reaching the top-20 with "Holiday", then popping into the top-10 for a week with "Borderline", the singer released her first self-written hit record, "Lucky Star", which was remixed by then-boyfriend Jellybean Benitez after not liking the original production by Reggie Lucas. The stark video, with just her and two other dancers on a white backdrop, was a classic example of "less is more", allowing the MTV public to concentrate on MADONNA the performer, and not the song...

"Lucky Star" became Madonna's first single to reach the top-5 in October of 1984. It topped the dance club list as the B-side of her "Holiday" single. It actually went as high as #19 on the adult-contemporary radio format, and even just missed the top-40 on the R&B chart, topping out at #42. In the UK, where the single was released the year before to meager results, returned to the chart at #14.

This was definitely the highlight of her debut album for me. the busy background production drew from freestyle while keeping the tempo slower and funkier to tip a hat to disco.

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Aussie Sweep: October 23, 2013...

G'day mates, I'm ready to head back Down Under to check out the songs making the official singles charts in Australia this week, as Katy Perry grabs ahold of #1 for an eighth non-consecutive week with "Roar"...

Pitbull is back on the chart again with the highest entry of the week, as his collaboration with trash-pop queen Ke$ha, "Timber", is at #6. It sounds like they heard Avicii's folk-rave "Wake Me Up!", and commissioned a room of people to write a soundalike song in two days...

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6 of the 60s: 10/23/13 (1966)...

Hey gang, I'm ready to serve up a half-dozen more nuggets from the 60s, and this week I'm back to 1966, the year Bobby Seale and Huey Newton formed the Black Panthers...(I've included links to buy anything on either mp3 or CD in Amazon when available)...

The Rolling Stones - "Paint It, Black"
from the album Aftermath (US version) (1966)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #1
Songwriters: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards

The song I had identified as some sort of Russian folk song as a child was an experiment with rhythm patterns for the iconic rock band which ended up the lead on the American version of their Aftermath album after it shot to the top of the chart...

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Songoftheday 10/23/13 - Laying in the after glow I only want to learn what you know, but now you're leaving...

Spandau Ballet - "Only When You Leave"
from the album Parade (1984)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #34 (two weeks)
Weeks in the Top-40: 4

Today's Song of the Day is by the English New Romantic pop group Spandau Ballet, who softened their sound and scored a huge hit in America in 1983 with their ballad "True", and followed that with a top-40 single "Gold". The following year the band released their fourth studio album Parade, and the first single from the set was a sophisticated slice of romantic drama that was written by guitarist Gary Kemp and produced by the team of Tony Swain and Steve Jolley, who already were enjoying success producing for Bananarama...

"Only When You Leave" became the Ballet's third and final (so far) top-40 pop single in the US in September of 1984. Internationally, the song was huge, reaching #3 in their native Britain, as well as top-10 in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and Ireland.

They would have three more top-20 singles from the album in the UK, but none of them would get any notice across the ocean. Their next album, Through The Barricades, would net them a trio of UK top-40 hits, including their most recent top-10 hit with the title track. But after their 1989 set Heart Like A Sky failed to send any of their four singles into the British top-40, the band split up, with brothers Gary and Martin Kemp furthering their acting careers, and singer Tony Hadley going solo.

Fast forward twenty years and the band reunited for a sold-out tour and a top-10 "comeback" album Once More. The single released from the set, "Once More", only topped out at #82, but I'm sure the band were more grateful to sell more albums...

They still are one of my lasting faves from the decade - I'm in utter awe of Tony Hadley's voice, which I'd sell a limb to have....

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Kraut Sweep: October 22, 2013..

Guten Abend Meine Freunde, I'm ready to cross the border to check out the new songs making the official sales chart in Germany this week...

...and we have a new winner as British singer/songwriter James Blunt arrives at the pole position with his latest single "Bonfire Heart". It's his first to go to #1; previously both "You're Beautiful" and "1973" went to #2 in this country...

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French Sweep: October 22, 2013...

Bonjour, mes amis, It's time to check out the songs making the latest official sales chart in France this week, as Stromae strings up a sixth week at #1 with "Formidable"...

The top entry on the chart at #21 is the second single from Eminem's upcoming Marshall Mathers 2 album. The rock-tinged "Survival" follows "Berzerk", which also leaps from #54 to a new peak of #10 this week...

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