Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Aussie Sweep: April 30, 2014...

G'Day mates, it's time to head Down Under to check out the songs making the official sales chart in Australia, as Sheppard spends a third week on top with "Geronimo"...

The top entry of the week is from American R&B/pop star Jason Derulo, with the fifth top-ten single out of six tries from his Talk Dirty album, "Wiggle" featuring Snoop Dogg. Two of them, "Trumpets" and the title track, went to #1 in this country...

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6 of the 60s: 4/30/14 (1960)...

It's 'hump day' flashback time, and this week I've got a half-dozen more nuggets from 1960, the year Ben-Hur won a record eleven Oscars...

Roy Orbison - "Only The Lonely (Know The Way I Feel)"
from the album Lonely And Blue (1961)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #2
Songwriters: Joe Melson, Roy Orbison

Roy's first top-10 single was no happy dance number, but rather a brooding heartfelt outpouring of emotion that pop music needed at that time.

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Songoftheday 4/30/14 - We've stopped and passed the time of day you work in town, I work at night that gives us six until seven to work this out....

Rick Springfield - "State Of The Heart"
from the album Tao (1985)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #22 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 8

Today's Song of the Day comes from Australian-born musician and actor Rick Springfield, whose 1985 album Tao became his first to not kick off with a top-10 single since his big break with "Jessie's Girl" in 1981. The first single, "Celebrate Youth", did manage to make it to the top-40, though, and the second single from the set, "State Of The Heart", was a more mature midtempo number that tamed the frenetic energy of the first single. It was a remake of the top-10 single from the Australian band Mondo Rock in 1980...

Rick's version was a bit more lively than the original...

"State Of The Heart" became Rick's second top-40 hit from the Tao album in August of 1985. It was also a minor hit in Canada and Germany...

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

German Sweep: April 29, 2014...

It's time to head over the border to Germany to check out the songs making their debut on the official singles chart, as Clean Bandit steals a third week at #1 with "Rather Be"...

The top entry on the chart at #24 I guess is a local thing. hip-hop acts Eko Fresh, Frauenarzt, Manny Marc, and Bass Sultan Hengzt come together for "Joko Diss", which apparently is a "diss" track mocking a Germany television personality. Alright then...

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French Sweep: April 29, 2014...

Bonjour, mes amis, it's time to cross the ocean to check out the songs making the top 100 of the official sales chart in France this week, as Pharrell spends an incredible 20th week at #1 with "Happy". When will his reign end!?!

The top entry of the week belongs to French-Algerian rapper Lacrim with his first top-40 hit "Mon glock te mettra à genoux" ("You will kneel to my Glock"). It leaps in at #12, but I don't forsee this heading to #1...

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Songoftheday 4/29/14 - I got my first real six-string bought it at the five and dime...

Bryan Adams - "Summer Of '69"
from the album Reckless (1984)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #5 (two weeks)
Weeks in the Top-40: 12

Today's Song of the Day is by Canadian mainstream rock star Bryan Adams, whose 1984 juggernaut Reckless was in full swing, already claiming his first #1 record with the ballad "Heaven", along with top-10 pop hit "Run To You" and top-20 follow-up "Somebody". For the fourth release from the album, "Summer Of '69" is a nostalgic-style rocker about the changes in people as they grow older, though oddly, Bryan himself would only be nine years old in the summer of 1969...

"Summer Of '69" became Bryan's fourth top-10 single in August of 1985, while surprisingly only making it to a modest #40 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock radio chart. Internationally, the record went top-10 in the Belgium, Norway, New Zealand, and the Netherlands (the latter not until 1990), while in England it stopped right under the top-40 at #42. In Bryan's native Canada similarly the single stalled at #11.

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Monday, April 28, 2014

Robbed hit of the week 4/28/14 - Men At Work's "Everything I Need"...

Men At Work - "Everything I Need"
from the album Two Hearts (1985)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #47

This week's "robbed hit" comes from the Australian alternative rock band Men At Work, who were on quite a roll in the early 80s. Even though their second album Cargo didn't sell as much as their debut - the massive #1 smash Business As Usual, they managed to place three top-40 hits from the set with "Overkill", "It's A Mistake", and "Dr. Heckyll & Mr. Jive", one more than their previous. So of course hopes were high for their upcoming third album Two Hearts. Behind the scenes, however, things were more volatile, as their bassist and drummer were both fired from the band, and guitar man Ron Strykert left during the recording.

The first single from the record was "Everything I Need", written by lead singer Colin Hay and produced by Hay with saxophonist Greg Ham...

"Everything I Need" stalled right above the halfway point on the pop chart in June of 1985, while climbing to #28 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock radio chart. In their native country, the single managed to be a top-40 hit, but barely, at #37. It would be their last appearance on the chart -Ham would leave shortly after, and Colin would next record his first solo album, making a tiny dent on the chart with "Hold Me".

Album Sweep: May 3, 2014 - Part Two...

Part two of this week's "album sweep" is up, sampling the records making their first appearance on Billboard magazine's Top 200 Albums chart. You can check out part one by clicking here, and as before I've included links to buy the new records plus some of the artists' other work...

Queens rapper Pharoah Monch comes in at #102 with his fourth solo studio album P.T.S.D. (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). His first, Internal Affairs, stopped right below the top-40 at #41 in 1999...

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Songoftheday 4/28/14 - Hey girl long time no see do you have a little time to spend with me? I wanna know what's been going on In your life talk to me baby...

Freddie Jackson - "Rock Me Tonight (For Old Times Sake)"
from the album Rock Me Tonight (1985)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #18 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 8

Today's Song of the Day introduced America to soul singer Freddie Jackson, who started out singing gospel in church, but later turned to mainstream R&B, doing a stint as backup singer for Melba Moore. In 1985, Freddie released his debut album Rock Me Tonight, and his emotive, seductive flourishes seemed like the more lascivious answer to Luther Vandross, and the title track would take no time climbing to the top of the R&B and pop chart. Written by long-time collaborator and producer Paul Laurence, "Rock Me Tonight" made Freddie an adult-R&B star as "Sweet Love" would make Anita Baker a year later...

FREDDIE JACKSON- Rock Me Tonight by sofresh305

"Rock Me Tonight" went to #1 on Billboard's R&B (then called "Black Singles") chart for six weeks, tying with Stevie Wonder's "Part Time Lover" for the longest run at the top that year, and was named the mag's top R&B single of 1985. It became his first pop hit after that, reaching the top-20 in August of 1985. It did the same over in England, where it was Freddie's sole top-40 hit single in that country.

I adored this from the get-go, not only for the over-the-top vocal performance but possibly a smidge due to the small crush I had on the singer. Oh well.

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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Brit Sweep: April 27, 2014...

Hey gang, the weekend is almost over, and it's time to check out the just-released official sales chart in Britain this week to sample the songs making their debut...

The new top-selling single of the week comes from Dutchman Dennis Princeman Stehf, who records under the name Mr. Probz. His single "Waves" was released last year, where it became a top-10 hit in Belgium and his native Holland. Then after German DJ Robin Schulz remixed the track, the single caught fire all over Europe, topping the charts in Germany, Austra, Switzerland, Norway, and Sweden. Now it makes its way to Britain debuting at #1...

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Album Sweep: May 3, 2014 - Part One....

Hey gang, I'm ready to start the first half of this week's "album sweep", sampling the records making their first appearance on this week's Top 200 Albums sales chart in Billboard magazine. As always, I've included highlighted links to buy anything you the artists! (But if you can, make yourself down to an indie record store, you get twice the good karma!)

Even though the weather has finally gotten warmer, the soundtrack to Disney's Frozen just won't quit, and with the release of the DVD and Easter has its biggest week ever selling over a quarter of a million copies in its eleventh non-consecutive week at #1...

 Selling just about a quarter of what Frozen did is the album at #2, Testimony from August Alsina. The New Orleans native had an EP out last year, but this is the first full-length that includes his wildly popular "I Luv This Shit" single from last year...

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Songoftheday 4/27/14 - I'm not easy to live with I know that it's true, You're no picnic baby, that's one of the things I loved about you...

Don Henley - "Not Enough Love In The World"
from the album Bulding The Perfect Beast (1984)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #34 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 5

Today' Song of the Day is by singer/drummer/songwriter Don Henley, whose second solo album after the first break-up of the Eagles, Building The Perfect Beast, had scored two top-10 hits with "The Boys Of Summer" and "All She Wants To Do Is Dance". For the third single, Don released the midtempo reflective shuffler of "Not Enough Love In The World", which may or may not been about Stevie Nicks, and written with his guitarist Danny Kortchmar and Tom Petty/Heartbreakers keyboard man Benmont Tench.

The line that makes my heading is one of my favorites of the decade...

"Not Enough..." became Don's fourth top-40 pop single in the U.S. in July of 1985, while also reaching #6 on the adult contemporary and #17 on the Mainstream rock radio charts in Billboard magazine. In Canada, it was also a minor hit at #63.

It actually remains my favorite and most "real" of the singles from the album. Just a direct and thoughtful reflection on past love.

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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Dance Sweep: May 3, 2014...

I'm ready to wind this week's "chart sweeps" up with the latest dance music on the Billboard charts...

On the DJ-polled Dance Club Play chart, newcomers A Great Big World and club veteran Christina Aguilera team up at #1 with the remixes of their ballad collaboration "Say Something"...

This week only two new songs enter the chart. First up at #43 is newbie Israeli-born Maor from New York with "Exit", my "Dance Pick of the Week"...

Right behind that is My Crazy Girlfriend, whose debut single "Go F**k Yourself" topped the club chart last year. They're back at #44 with "Crazy Stupid Love"...

Meanwhile, on the radio-monitored Dance Airplay/Mixshow list, Tiesto's "Red Lights" is on top for a tenth week...

British producer Naughty Boy takes his top-20 club hit "La La La" featuring vocals by Sam Smith to #23 on this chart...

...and at #25 is the Swedish EDM duo Qulinez with "Rising Like The Sun" with singer Cara Salimando...

That's all for now...thanks for taking time for today's musical journey...I'll return tomorrow with another song of the day and part one of this week's "album sweep"... Cheers!

Country Sweep: May 3, 2014...

Part four of today's "chart sweeps" has the latest country songs hitting the radio waves...

On Billboard magazine's Country Airplay chart, Jerrod Niemann spends a second week at #1 with "Drink To That All Night"...

The highest of this week's two debuts is from Tim McGraw, whose last single "Lookin' For That Girl" stalled at #15. He brings the "big" guns in, meaning wife Faith Hill, for his next one, "Meanwhile Back At Mama's", which leaps in at #41 and is my "Country Pick of the Week"...

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Soul Sweep: May 3, 2014...

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

On the main R&B/Hip Hop Airplay chart, Pharrell Williams' "Happy" spends a sixth week at #1...

The top entry at #37 is Pittsburgh-area rapper Wiz Khalifa with "We Dem Boyz". It's the first single from his fifth album Blacc Hollywood. His "Black And Yellow" went to #6 on this list...

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Rock Sweep: May 3, 2014...

Round two of this week's "chart sweeps" is up, and this time I've got the latest songs on Billboard magazine's rock radio charts...

On the main Rock Airplay chart, the Arctic Monkeys stay firm at #1 with "Do I Wanna Know?" for a tenth week...

The sole debut on the chart at #49 is suburban Chicago-based garage punk band the Orwells with "Who Needs You". The song has been on the Alternative chart for two months, where it moves up to #26...

..and onwards to the rock radio format charts...

On the Mainstream Rock radio panel, Chevelle spends a second week on top with "Take Out The Gunman"...

Heavy metal "supergroup" HellYeah preview their upcoming fourth album Blood For Blood with "Sangre Por Sangre (Blood For Blood)" at #36. The group, which includes members of Pantera, Mudvayne, and Nothingplan, has had three top-ten hits here, with both "You Wouldn't Know" and "Hell Of A Time" both reaching #5...

And making their debut at #39 is Swedish "melodic death metal" act Avatar with their first American hit, "Bloody Angel"...

Meanwhile, on the Alternative/Modern Rock chart,  Fitz & The Tantrums score their second consecutive #1 hit with "The Walker"...

Jumping in at #34 is modern rock band Panic At The Disco with the follow-up to their top ten hit "Miss Jackson" with "This Is Gospel"...

And at #39 is Foster The People, who's lead-off single "Coming Of Age" didn't do as well as I'd have forecasted here, peaking at #4 and already down to #20 on its 14th week. They're back with "Best Friend", this week's "Rock Pick Of the Week"...

Lastly, on the Triple-A (adult album alternative, or "hipster rock") format, the Black Keys enjoy a second week on top with "Fever"...

The singular debut at #25 is a former "Pop Pick of the Week", the divine "Stay With Me" by British 'blue-eyed' soul singer Sam Smith...

I'll be back in an hour and a half with the newest R&B songs on the radio....Rock on!

Pop Sweep: May 3, 2014...

It's time to kick off the first of today's five "chart sweeps", checking out the songs reaching the various radio and singles charts in Billboard magazine. As always, I'll start on the pop side, and then move on to rock, R&B, country and dance music...

On the "big" chart, Billboard's Hot 100, which combines tallies of radio airplay, internet streaming, and sales, Pharrell Williams hangs on to #1 for a ninth straight week with "Happy"...

The top debut of the week comes from alternative pop singer Lana Del Rey, who rockets in at #17 with her latest, "West Coast". It's the first single from her upcoming album Ultraviolence, and immediately becomes her second-highest charting single after her revamp of "Summertime Sadness" mixed by Cedric Gervais went to #6 last year. Sounds a bit like Tori Amos' more pop-music forays, no?

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Songoftheday 4/26/14 - So you stand here an angry young woman taking all the pain to heart, I hear you saying you want to see changes but you don't know how to start...

Amy Grant - "Find A Way"
from the album Unguarded (1985)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #29 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 6

Today's Song of the Day comes from one of the biggest artists in 80s contemporary Christian music, Amy Grant, who was signed while she was only 15 years old, and released her self-titled debut album back in 1977 (she was 17 by then). A single from the record, "Old Man's Rubble", was her first to reach the Christian airplay chart, landing at #17. Two years later, with her second album, Amy topped that chart with "My Father's Eyes". She would continue to have success there, charting three more #1 inspirational hits in the early 80s, and selling over a million copies of her 1982 album Age To Age.

In 1985 Amy released her ninth album, Unguarded, which pointed more in a pop music direction, though still retaining a positive message. Produced by the youth minister who discovered her, Brown Bannister, the record included the single "Find A Way", written by Grant with fellow CCM star Michael W. Smith, which would give her her first big pop radio break...

"Find A Way" became Amy's first pop top-40 hit in July of 1985, while going as high as #7 on the adult-contemporary (or "easy-listening") radio chart in Billboard magazine. Although there was hesitation from Christian outlets on her shift in promotion to secular radio, nonetheless the single became her fifth #1 single in that format.

This single was really important in that it was the first of the modern Christian music singles to make the pop charts in any significant way. And doing it without proselytizing or judging.

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Friday, April 25, 2014

Aussie Sweep: April 23, 2014...

It's time to head Down Under to check out the songs making the official sales chart in Australia this week, as Sheppard spend a second week at #1 with "Geronimo"...

The top debut of the week is from X Factor Australia fourth-season winner Samantha Jade, with "Up!" at #18. It's her fifth single to make the top-40 here - in 2012 her "winner's song" "What You've Done To Me" topped the chart...

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twostepcub's music chart for April 25, 2014...

Friday is upon us, and it's time to run down my top 100 tunes from the week. This time out Pharrell Williams hangs on for a seventh week at #1, while Fitz & The Tantrums (pictured above) leap into the top-ten. Songs by Luke Bryan, Coldplay, and Avicii make the biggest jumps on the list (moves of 10+ places highlighted in red), while former big hits from Lady Antebellum and Audio Playground drop out. What is that giraffe doing?

This Week                  Song/Artist (last week's position in parentheses)
1. Happy - Pharrell Williams (1)
2. All Of Me - John Legend (2)
3. Into The Blue - Kylie Minogue (3)
4. Rather Be - Clean Bandit f/Jess Glynne (4)
5. The Man - Aloe Blacc (6)
6. The Walker - Fitz & The Tantrums (12)
7. Do I Wanna Know? - Arctic Monkeys (5)
8. Red Lights - Tiesto (8)
9. Team - Lorde (7)
10. Sleeping With A Friend - Neon Trees (11)
11. Hey Brother - Avicii (9)
12. Pompeii - Bastille (10)
13. Dark Horse - Katy Perry f/Juicy J (14)
14. Drink To That All Night - Jerrod Niemann (18)
15. Story Of My Life - One Direction (13)
16. Let It Go - Idina Menzel (24)
17. Goodnight Kiss - Randy Houser (19)
18. The Best Day Of My Life - American Authors (16)
19. Fall In Love - Phantogram (21)
20. Human - Christina Perri (22)
21. Coming Of Age - Foster The People (15)
22. Come A Little Closer - Cage The Elephant (20)
23. Talk Dirty - Jason Derulo f/2 Chainz (23)
24. Come With Me Now - KONGOS (39)
25. Burn - Ellie Goulding (25)
26. Fever - Black Keys (44)
27. Heaven Knows - The Pretty Reckless (37)
28. #SELFIE - The Chainsmokers (42)
29. It's About Time - Young The Giant (17)
30. Doin' What She Likes - Blake Shelton (32)
31. She Keeps Me Warm - Mary Lambert (26)
32. I Choose You - Sara Bareilles (36)
33. Counting Stars - OneRepublic (31)
34. Say Something - A Great Big World & Christina Aguilera (30)
35. Money On My Mind - Sam Smith (35)
36. Rewind - Rascal Flatts (41)
37. Girls Chase Boys - Ingrid Michaelson (45)
38. Holding On For Life - Broken Bells (34)
39. Bottoms Up - Brantley Gilbert (53)
40. Tonight You're Perfect - New Politics (40)
41. I Hold On - Dierks Bentley (28)
42. Young Girls - Bruno Mars (38)
43. Take Me Away - Rokelle f/Dave Aude (43)
44. Everything I Shouldn't Be Thinking About - Thompson Square (29)
45. Timber - Pitbull f/Kesha (33)
46. Find You - Zedd f/Matthew Koma & Miriam Bryant (62)
47. Chocolate - The 1975 (27)
48. 19 You + Me - Dan + Shay (52)
49. On Top Of The World - Imagine Dragons (51)
50. Blue Moon - Beck (54)
51. Shiny Disco Balls - Scotty Boy f/Sue Cho (63)
52. Automatic - Miranda Lambert (72)
53. Magic - Coldplay (77)
54. Time After Time 2014 - Cyndi Lauper (58)
55. Ain't It Fun - Paramore (60)
56. When She Says Baby - Jason Aldean (46)
57. Play It Again - Luke Bryan (87)
58. Raging Fire - Phillip Phillips (66)
59. Beat Of The Music - Brett Eldredge (61)
60. Stay The Night - Zedd f/Hayley Williams (56)
61. Give Me Back My Hometown - Eric Church (65)
62. Addicted To You - Avicii (84)
63. Invisible - U2 (48)
64. Get Me Some Of That - Thomas Rhett (69)
65. For The Rest Of My Life - Robin Thicke (55)
66. Cop Car - Keith Urban (70)
67. Celebrate - Empire Of The Sun (67)
68. Supernova - Ray Lamontagne (73)
69. I Got U - Duke Dumont f/Jax Jones (71)
70. Can't Remember To Forget You - Shakira f/Rihanna (57)
71. Not A Bad Thing - Justin Timberlake (81)
72. Bad Blood - Bastille (83)
73. With You - Kimberly Davis (49)
74. My Love - Route 94 f/Jess Glynne (74)
75. Southern Sun - Boy & Bear (76)
76. Waves - Mr. Probz (80)
77. Helluva Life - Frankie Ballard (59)
78. Dare You - Hardwell f/Matthew Koma (78)
79. Kinks Shirt - Matt Nathanson (79)
80. You're Mine (Eternal) - Mariah Carey (DEBUT)
81. Revolution - R3Hab & NERVO f/Ummet Ozcan (85)
82. This Is How We Roll - Florida Georgia Line f/Luke Bryan (86)
83. Blow - Beyonce (68)
84. Take Out The Gunman - Chevelle (88)
85. Lettin' The Night Roll - Justin Moore (90)
86. March - George Tandy Jr. (92)
87. Drunk In Love - Beyonce f/Jay Z (82)
88. I Blame You - Ledisi (93)
89. Guilty All The Same - Linkin Park f/Rakin (91)
90. Demons - Imagine Dragons (64)
91. Turn Down For What - DJ Snake f/Lil' Jon (DEBUT)
92. Memory - Asher Monroe f/Chris Brown (DEBUT)
93. The Monster - Eminem f/Rihanna (89)
94. Ten Feet Tall - Afrojack f/Wrabel (DEBUT)
95. Changes - Faul & Wad Ad f/PNAU (96)
96. If I Could Change Your Mind - Haim (98)
97. Here We Go - Consuelo Costin (97)
98. Lookin' For That Girl - Tim McGraw (DEBUT)
99. The Worst - Jhene Aiko (DEBUT)
100. I'm A Freak - Enrique Iglesias f/Pitbull (RE-ENTRY)

There are six songs making their debut 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...

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Songoftheday 4/25/14 - Tougher than diamonds rich like cream, stronger and harder than a bad girl's dream...

Huey Lewis & The News - "The Power Of Love"
from the album Back To The Future (Original Soundtrack) (1985)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #1 (two weeks)
Weeks in the Top-40: 15

Today's song of the day comes from the Bay Area "bar-rock" band Huey Lewis & The News, who managed to put five top-20 hits from their third album Sports on the charts, including a trio all reaching #6 in 1984 with "I Want A New Drug", "The Heart of Rock & Roll", and "If This Is It". The following year, Huey and the band recorded two songs for the soundtrack to the fantasy movie Back To The Future starring Michael J. Fox. One of those, "The Power Of Love", would be released as a single to promote both the movie and the band, and it became their biggest hit as yet. Written by Lewis with band members Johnny Colla and Chris Hayes, the single was a more urgent version of any of the songs on Sports...

"The Power Of Love" became the News' first #1 pop hit in the US in August of 1985, while also returning them to the top of the Mainstream Rock radio chart in Billboard (their second after "Heart and Soul"). The record also crossed over to both the dance (#22) and adult contemporary (#6) lists. Internationally, the single was their first big one in the UK, peaking at #9, while topping the singles chart in Australia and Canada and making the top-3 in New Zealand.

Though as big as they were, the amount of square-ish uncouth pervaded any supposed "fan" of the band over, say, 15. But all alone, you can't deny the charms of this.

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

8 of the 80s: 4/24/14 (1989)...

Now we move on to today's 80's throwback, and this week it's eight more from 1989, the year that NATO celebrated its 40th anniversary...

Wang Chung - "Praying To A New God"
from the album The Warmer Side Of Cool (1988)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #63
Songwriters: Nick Feldman, Jack Hues, Dean Rotheman

Wang Chung followed up their success with "Everybody Wang Chung Tonight" with one of those frenetic overpromising singles that missed the mark success-wise.

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7 of the 70s: 4/24/14 (1979)...

Hey gang, it's throwback Thursday time 70s style, and this week I'm going back to 1979, the year that the "Pinwheel Network" becomes future kids powerhouse Nickelodeon...

Earth Wind & Fire - "After The Love Has Gone"
from the album I Am (1979)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #2
Songwriters: Bill Champlin, David Foster, Jay Graydon

The soul collective's second-highest charting hit (after "Shining Star") was co-written by the soft-rock producing king with Champlin, who would go on to helm the "lite" version of Chicago in the 80s.

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Songoftheday 4/24/14 - Knew you'd be a vision in white, how'd you get your pants so tight?

Aretha Franklin - "Freeway Of Love"
from the album Who's Zoomin' Who (1985)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #3 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 13

Today's Song of the Day is by the Queen of Soul herself, Aretha Franklin, who had a bit of a musical renaissance in the early 80s with two albums produced by Luther Vandross, one of which spun off a top-40 pop hit with "Jump To It", while the second managed a #1 R&B single with "Get it Right". However, it wasn't until she brought on Narada Michael Walden as her producer for most of her next album, Who's Zoomin' Who, that put her back in the "A-list" of pop stars of the 80s. With synthesizers dominating the backdrop to her still strong and wailing voice. Aretha announced she was "back" with the retro-yet-relevant soul-pop of "Freeway Of Love". Written by Walden with Jeffrey Cohen and featuring a big sax solo from the E Street Band's Clarence Clemons, along with gay disco singer Sylvester on backup vocals, this song was a breath of fresh air cutting through all the British new wave like a pink Cadillac...

"Freeway Of Love" rocked to the top of the pop charts, reaching the top-3 in August of 1985, her first time since "Until You Come Back To Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)" a dozen years before. It also became her 20th and so-far most recent single to make it to #1 on the R&B chart in Billboard, while also claiming her first chart-topper on the dance club play list. The single even crossed over to adult-contemporary stations, peaking at #11 on that chart. Internationally, while the record went top-ten in Canada and Australia, it failed to even make it to the top half of the British top-100.

I remember buying the 7" single and being so excited that she seemed to have this great come back in top voice without sounding at all out of place on her own record. She would continue this success for quite a few more years...

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

6 of the 60s: 4/23/14 (1969)...

It's 60s flashback humpday, and this time I'll go back to 1969, with a half-dozen more nuggets from the year the first temporary artificial heart was put in by Dr. Cooley in Texas...

Peter, Paul & Mary - "Leaving On A Jet Plane"
from the album Album 1700 (1967)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #1
Songwriter: John Denver

The iconic folksong written by the future 70s pop star took two years after its release to catch on with the American public to become the trio's only single to top the pop chart.

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Songoftheday 4/23/14 - I've been lonely I've been waiting for you, I'm pretending and that's all I can do...

Heart - "What About Love?"
from the album Heart (1985)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #10 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 12

Today's Song of the Day comes from the classic rock band Heart, whose last appearance as a band on the top-40 when 1985 rolled around was three years prior, when their milquetoast "This Man is Mine" spent a month in the lower reaches of that chart level. After firing the band's rhythm section, their next effort, Passionworks, was artistically more cohesive but it failed to even put a single in the pop top-40, with "How Can I Refuse" coming four notches below that mark. What may have re-piqued interest in the group was Ann Wilson's turn on the Footloose duet "Almost Paradise" with Loverboy's Mike Reno, which made the top-10 on the pop chart in the US in 1984.

 Moving over to Capitol Records, the band, now with the Wilson sisters Ann and Nancy along with longtime guitarist Howard Leese and new drummer Denny Carmassi and bassist Mark Andes, set out to record their first record for the label, a self-titled effort produced by Ron Nevison (The Who, Bad Company). The first single from the project was a song co-written by Bryan Adams' collaborator Jim Vallance and originally recorded by a Canadian rock band named Toronto in 1982...

When that band passed on including the song on their album, it took three years for Heart to get ahold of it and release it as the lead-off 45...

"What About Love?" returned Heart to the pop top-10 in the U.S. for the first time since the beginning of the decade in August of 1985, while climbing to #3 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock radio chart. Internationally, the single made it to #8 in Canada, and top-40 in Australia. Over in England, where the album's hits didn't get wide notice until a rerelease three years later, the band saw "What About Love" reaching #14 in 1988.

What this single did is establish the band as a "softer" mainstream rock version of their Led Zep-ish previous incarnation, while avoiding the treacle that their early-80s work was pointing to. 

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

German Sweep: April 22, 2014...

I'm ready to cross the border to Germany to check out the songs making their way on to the official singles chart in Germany, as Clean Bandit spend a second week at #1 with "Rather Be"...

The top debut of the week belongs to rappers KC Rebell and Farid Bang who collaborate at #32 with "Kanax In Moskau". Last year the pair took "Kanax In Paris" to #60...

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French Sweep: April 22, 2014...

Bonjour, mes amis, it's time to cross the Atlantic yet again to check out the songs reaching the official sales chart top-100 in France this week, as Pharrell shows no signs of letting go as he spends a nineteenth non-consecutive week at #1 with "Happy"...

The top debut of the week and this week's "French Pick of the Week" comes from the country's top dance DJ/producer, David Guetta, with "Bad" featuring Dutch EDM act Showtek and Australian singer Vassy, which arrives at #6, the same rank as his last single, "Shot Me Down", did a couple of months ago...

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Songoftheday 4/22/14 - If I get to know your name then I could trace your private number baby...

Dead Or Alive - "You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)"
from the album Youthquake (1985)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #11 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 11

Today's Song of the Day is from the British new wave group Dead Or Alive, who formed at the beginning of the 80s behind the flamboyant androgynous singer Pete Burns. They released a series of indie singles in the first years of the decade, but it wasn't until 1983, when their single "Misty Circles" scraped the bottom of the UK singles chart, while becoming a decent hit in American clubs, peaking at #4 on Billboard's dance chart that year. That record sounded like a bridge between the goth/new Romantic British dance music and the gay post-disco of Patrick Cowley. On the strength of that success, their label Epic commissioned a full album, and their debut set, Sophisticated Boom Boom, popped out three more singles, with a remake of KC & The Sunshine Band's "That's The Way (I Like It)" reaching #22 on the UK chart (their first top-40) and #28 on the American dance chart. I remember seeing the video for this somewhere on TV (most likely MTV but not totally sure) and was entranced by their totally wild campy image and Burns' eccentric but powerful voice.

After guitarist Wayne Hussey left following the release the the album, the remaining four teamed up with the production team of Stock Aitken and Waterman, who had previously helmed mostly gay underground disco singles from the likes of Hazell Dean and actor/drag performer Divine. The trio produced the band's second album, Youthquake, which was a solid set of pop radio-friendly yet extra-campy songs that were all so over the top that they only probably could have worked right then at that moment to break both the band and the production team. The first single, "You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)", sounded like it was concocted by the gods as a gift to pop music on how fun and carefree a single should be, and the self-financed video made absolutely no apology for Burns' eccentricities. As Culture Club straddled the gender line to allow Boy George to coo soulfully over a sophisticated beat, Dead or Alive was about unbridled debauchery...

"You Spin Me Round" became Dead or Alive's first pop success in America, stopping one notch of the Hot 100's top ten in August of 1985, while making it to #4 on the dance club play chart in Billboard. In their native England their song topped the singles chart, the first for both the band and the producers (the single would also go to #1 in Anglophile Canada and Ireland as well). Internationally, the song was a huge hit, reaching the top ten in places like Australia, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and more, establishing the band as more than just a UK local novelty.

And I was so enamored with this. Between my own self-discovery and the total joy this record gave me (it was one of those 45s I would play over and over again), I had been convinced that Dead Or Alive were going to be as big as the boys in Culture Club. And for a while they did a respectable job of it. But even so, I will still defend to the death the fact of this being one of the best pop singles of all time.

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Robbed Hit of the Week 4/21/14 - John Fogerty's "Centerfield"...

John Fogerty - "Centerfield"
from the album Centerfield (1985)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #44

This week's springtime "robbed hit" comes from John Fogerty, who finally got back on track after leaving the classic rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival when he released his 1985 album Centerfield, which gave him a #1 album as well as a top-10 pop single with "The Old Man Down The Road" and a top-20 follow-up with "Rock and Roll Girls". For his third single John released the title track from the album, a baseball "comeback" analogy that shows he may have taken notes from Bruce Springsteen's Born In The USA album, as well as name-checking Chuck Berry's "brown-eyed handsome man" from "Johnny B Goode"...

While "Centerfield" became the third straight top-5 single on Billboard's Mainstream Rock radio chart, it surprisingly stalled right under the top-40 on the pop chart. Perhaps a combo of fans already having the album and pop radio swaying from old-school rock (save for Springsteen) kept it from the top-40, but its timeless sound and yearly subject matter interest make it probably the best known of the songs from the album in the long run.

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Album Sweep: April 26, 2014 - Part Two...

I'm back with the second half of this week's "album sweep", sampling the records making their way on to the Top 200 Albums sales chart in Billboard magazine this week. You can check out part one by clicking here, and as before I've included highlighted links to buy anything you see as well as some of the artists' other work when available...

Arriving at #67 is punk "supergroup" OFF!, which contains members of the Circle Jerks, Redd Kross, Burning Brides, and Hot Snakes, with their third album Wasted Years. It's the highest they've been yet...

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Songoftheday 4/21/14 - In violent times you shouldn't have to sell your soul, in black and white they really really ought to know...

Tears For Fears - "Shout"
from the album Songs From The Big Chair (1985)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #1 (three weeks)
Weeks in the Top-40: 13

Today's Song of the Day is by the English new-wave group Tears For Fears, who broke through in America big with their second album Songs From The Big Chair, which had produced a #1 pop hit in the US with "Everybody Wants To Rule The World". Their second single release from the album in American (and coincidentally in the UK, where "Mother's Talk" was issued first) took a similar political protest edge, and not explicitly the "primal scream" therapy that the title and emotional release of the vocals imply. The video, directed by Nigel Dick, found the boys on the beach...

"Shout" became Tears For Fears' second #1 pop hit in the U.S. in August of 1985, while also topping the Billboard Dance Club Play chart as well. The single climbed to #6 on the rock radio list, and even made it on the R&B chart for two months, peaking at #56. In their native England, the record went to #4 (their first top-ten from the album), and internationally it went to #1 in at least seven other countries including Canada, Germany, and Australia. The simplistic yet interesting arrangement would go on to make this probably their pinnacle in both their artistic and successful work combined together.

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