Tuesday, September 30, 2014

6 of the 60s: 9/30/14 (1968)

This week's 60s flashback goes back to 1968, the year the 'Summer Olympics' were held in Mexico City in October...

Jeannie C. Riley - "Harper Valley PTA"
from the album Harper Valley PTA (1968)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #1
Songwriter: Tom T. Hall

The first song by a female performer that topped both the pop and country charts, this story of an independent woman (is the Mrs. a widow? a divorcee'? a woman whose husband is off to war?) was a natch to expand to make a TV show starring former genie Barbara Eden...

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French Sweep: September 30, 2014...

Bonjour, mes amis, it's time to check out the top ten singles over in France this week, as Lilly Wood & The Prick hold on at #1 for an eleventh week with "Prayer In C"...

1. "Prayer In C (Robin Schulz Remix)" - Lilly Wood & The Prick (1)
2. "Chandelier" - Sia (3)
3. "Habits (Stay High)" - Tove Lo (2)
4. "Fade Out Lines" - The Avener (DEBUT)
5. "Budapest" - George Ezra (6)
6. "Stay With Me" - Sam Smith (7)
7. "A Sky Full Of Stars" - Coldplay (4)
8. "Lovers On The Sun" - David Guetta f/Sam Martin (5)
9. "La Legend Black" - Black M (DEBUT)
10. "Sur Ma Route" - Black M (10)

The first of the two new entries this week is from French alternative dance-pop act The Avener with "Fade Out Lines"...

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Songoftheday 9/30/14 - Here I am again in this mean old town...

Dire Straits - "So Far Away"
from the album Brothers In Arms (1985)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #19 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 7

Today's Song of the Day is by the British blues-rock band Dire Straits, whose fifth album Brothers In Arms had broke big in America, scoring a #1 pop hit with "Money For Nothing" and a top-10 follow-up with "Walk Of Life". For their third single in America they went with the track they led off with in the UK and Europe, the laid-back slide guitar rock of "So Far Away", where Mark Knopfler does his best Bob Dylan impersonation, over a repetitive lyric that seems like a folk hymn...

"So Far Away" became the third top-20 pop hit from Brothers In Arms in April of 1986. The song also climbed to #29 on the Mainstream Rock radio chart, but its biggest success was at adult contemporary (or 'easy listening') radio, where it peaked all the way at #3. Internationally, "So Far Away" went top ten in Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland, and top-40 in Canada, Australia, Italy, and their native Britain.

It would be their final time on the pop chart, though. The band split initially after touring behind this album, reuniting in 1991 for On Every Street, which sent three songs to the top-10 on the rock chart in America, including a #1 check-in with "Heavy Fuel". Knopfler called it a day again, concentrating on his solo work. His bandmates had reunited as "the Straits" periodically in concert.

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Robbed Hit of the Week 9/29/14 - Meli'sa Morgan's "Do Me Baby"...

Meli'sa Morgan - "Do Me Baby"
from the album Do Me Baby (1986)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #46

This week's "robbed hit" is brought to us by R&B singer Meli'sa Morgan, a Queens native that was a member of two charting acts before her own solo success. First, in 1982, as one of the three in Shades Of Love, who climbed the charts with "Keep In Touch (Body To Body)", which peaked at #26 on the club chart and #52 on the R&B chart in Billboard. The following year, she sang on the High Fashion, and landed in the top-40 on the R&B list with "Feelin' Lucky Lately". (Another member of that group, Alyson Williams, would also have solo success later on in the 80s.)

After stints as a backup singer, Morgan got her chance to record her first solo album on Capitol Records (who were enjoying success with labelmates Freddie Jackson and Melba Moore). The title song from that record, "Do Me Baby", was a remake of a Prince song from his Controversy album. The oversexual track stiffed as a single for him in '82, but with a more lush production and Morgan's more nuanced cooing that turned the sex into romance, the single found a home on R&B radio...

While "Do Me Baby" went all the way to #1 on the R&B chart in Billboard magazine, the record stopped on the Hot 100 a few steps away from the top-40 in March of 1986. It would turn out to be her sole appearance on the pop chart, though she continued to have success on soul radio stations, with a total of nine top-40 hits, and five that made the top-10. Her last top-40 R&B hit came in 1992 with "Through The Tears", but as hip-hop and new jack was crowding out traditional soul, so did her fortunes on black radio. However, in 1994 a rework of her Shades Of Love single "Body To Body" went all the way to the top of the dance club play list in Billboard. In the "naughties", she reappeared with a couple of duets that made the chart, and most recently in 2006 she scaled to #86 with "I Remember"...

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Album Sweep: October 4, 2014 - Part Two...

The second half of this week's "album sweep", sampling the records making the official Top 200 Albums sales chart in Billboard magazine, is here. You can check out the first part by clicking here. As before I've included highlighted links to buy any of the new sets if possible, as well as the some of the artists' other big work...

After five studio albums with their band Good Charlotte, the Madden Brothers strike out on their own at #57 with their project Greetings From California. With GC they had three top-10 efforts with The Chronicles Of Life And Death going to #3 in 2004...

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Songoftheday 9/29/14 - Josie's on a vacation far away come around and talk it over...

The Outfield - "Your Love"
from the album Play Deep (1985)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #6 (two weeks)

Weeks in the Top-40: 12

Today's Song of the Day comes from the British power-pop band The Outfield, who came together originally as "the Baseball Boys" in Manchester England in the early 80s. Changing their name for their first album, though still remaining as American-sounding in their moniker as they were in their sound, the trio of guitarist/songwriter John Spinks, drummer Alan Jackman, and lead singer and bass player Tony Lewis released their debut album in 1985. The first single from the project, "Say It Isn't So", was a personal favorite of mine as well as MTVs, who promoted the video, even though it stiffed on pop radio (it did manage to climb to #18 on the rock radio list in Billboard magazine).

The threesome made up for that with their second single, "Your Love". Written by Spinks and produced by William Wittman, the straightforward rocker had enough Brit earnestness to cover both sides of the rock spectrum, even though it basically is a 'booty call' for a 'cougar'-style lover...

"Your Love" became the first and so-far only top-10 pop hit for the Outfield in May of 1986, while peaking a notch lower on Billboard's Mainstream Rock radio chart. Their "American" sound didn't translate as well over the pond, as the single stopped down at #83 on the charts in their native Britain, and #52 over in Germany.

I think the fact that most listeners had no idea their were from the United Kingdom is a great back-handed compliment.

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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Brit Sweep: September 28, 2014...

The weekend is coming to a close, so it's time to check out the songs making their way on to the official singles chart in the UK this week...

The biggest song in Britain is a debut from three of the hottest acts in mindless pop today, Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj, as their "Bang Bang" takes over the top spot in its first week on the chart. It's Jessie's third time at #1 (after "Price Tag" and "Domino"), Ariana's second behind "Problem", and believe it or not, Nicki's first as either a lead or a featured artist....

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Album Sweep: October 4, 2014 - Part One...

Hey gang, I'm ready to roll out the first half of this week's "album sweep", sampling the records making their debut on the official Top 200 Albums sales chart in Billboard magazine. As usual, I've included highlighted links to buy the new crew if possible, as well as some of the artists' other major work. Support the talent!

Speaking of talent, the top-selling album in America comes from a national treasure, singer/actress/producer/all-around awesome Barbra Streisand, with her thirty-fourth studio album Partners. The collection of collaborations sells close to 200,000 copies in its first week. It's her tenth release to reach the top (including a greatest hits set and the Star Is Born soundtrack with Kris Kristofferson), her first being People back in 1964. As opposed to her Duets release from 2002 that collected songs from older albums with a couple of new tracks, this is all-new with duets with the likes of Lionel Richie, John Mayer, and Billy Joel...

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Songoftheday 9/28/14 - Sometimes you're better off dead, there's a gun in your hand and it's pointing at your head...

Pet Shop Boys - "West End Girls"
from the album Please (1986)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #1 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 14

Today's Song of the Day is the first hit single for the British electropop duo Pet Shop Boys, who met in the early 80s, and after originally naming themselves West End, changed to their current moniker. Neil Tennant was an up and coming music writer that just got hired by Smash Hits, one of the music tabloids of the day in the UK, while Chris Lowe, a former architecture student, was an keyboard whiz. Coming to America to interview the Police, Neil hooked up with freestyle producer/artist Bobby O, who collaborated with the duo for the original recording of their first single "West End Girls". With a narrative inspired by old 'gangster' films and set in the gritty streets of west London, and delivered in a deadpan rap that drew listeners to the bass synth, the single started to get play in American clubs and even made the Canadian singles chart at #81...

After parting ways with Bobby O, Neil and Chris enlisted producer Stephen Hague to revamp "West End Girls" from a freestyle novelty to the classic slice of new wave Britpop it's known for. The infectious bassline stayed, but an ominous minor chord of synths stayed in the back throughout the track...

"West End Girls" became a huge international hit in its second incarnation, climbing to #1 on the American pop chart in May of 1986, four months after doing the same (for an extra week, even) in Britain. The single also went to #1 on the dance club play chart in Billboard, and even crossed over to the Mainstream Rock (#37), adult contemporary (#26), and the R&B (#36) charts in the magazine. It was a hit all over the world, topping the chart in Canada, Norway, and New Zealand, and reaching the top-10 almost everywhere else.

And from the time it hit American radio waves, where it sounded nothing like anything else on their playlists, the single remains a classic, blending the street attitude and storyline of rap with the frenetic pacing of dance and new wave. It's like a book you don't mind picking up to re-read over again, even though you know the storyline. And that bass. Damn that bass.

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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Dance Sweep: October 4, 2014...

I'm ready to wrap up the last of today's "chart sweeps", checking out the latest songs to make the singles chart in Billboard magazine, with the latest dance jams in the clubs and on the radio...

On the DJ-polled Dance Club Play chart, Iggy Azalea scores her second #1 hit after "Fancy" as "Black Widow" with Rita Ora moves to the top spot...

The top two pop hits on the Hot 100 are the two high debuts on the club chart this week. First at #37 is Meghan Trainor with "All About That Bass"...

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Country Sweep: October 4, 2014...

Part four of today's "chart sweeps" is up with the latest songs on country radio as monitored by Billboard magazine.

On their Country Airplay chart, Dustin Lynch spends a second week at #1 with his first chart-topper, "Where It's At (Yep, Yep)"...

As Eric Church's third single from his Outsiders album, "Cold One", drops from its peak of #20 to #30 this week, he can take consolation as his fourth one, "Talladega", leaps in as the highest debut of the week at #45. It sounds like something Kenny Chesney would've released ten years ago...

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Soul Sweep: October 4, 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 radio...

On the main R&B/Hip Hop Airplay chart Jeremih and YG rule for a fifth week with "Don't Tell 'Em"...

The top debut at #39 is from new singer/rapper from Atlanta I LOVE MAKONNEN, a protege' of Drake with his first hit "Tuesday" featuring the Canadian rapper...

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Rock Sweep: October 4, 2014...

Round two of this week's "chart sweeps" is up, with the latest rock songs on the radio as monitored by Billboard magazine.

On their main Rock Airplay chart, Vance Joy enjoys a seventh week on top with "Riptide"...

British singer/songwriter George Ezra jumps in at #39 with his international hit "Budapest". The single is already at #17 on the Triple-A format...

Jack Antonoff's side-project from fun, Bleachers, sits in at #46 with "Roller Coaster". It follows "I Wanna Get Better", which went to #6 on this chart. The new one (well, it sounds straight from the early 80s) moves up to #27 on the Alternative rock chart...

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

On the Mainstream Rock radio panel, The Pretty Reckless' "Messed Up World" is at #1 for the third non-consecutive week....

Bush leaps in at #25 with "The Only Way Out", their new one that also moves up to #38 on the Rock Airplay chart, and enters at #40 on the Alternative list. Back in the 90s Gavin Rossdale and the band went to #2 twice, with "Comedown" from their first album and "Swallowed" from their second...

Metalcore band In This Moment enter at #35 with "Sick Like Me", from their upcoming Black Widow album. Their last set produced three top-20 hits, with "Blood" going to #9. Consider this the merger of Evanescence with Metallica, and it's my "Rock Pick of the Week"...

At #39 is South African post-grunger band Seether, who follow-up their #1 MR hit "Words As Weapons" (which is still at #10) with "Same Damn Life". Speaking of Evanescence, this sure does sound like he's singing passive-aggressively to former girlfriend Amy Lee, but what do I know...

Meanwhile, on the Alternative/Modern Rock chart, Milky Chance is on top for a second week with "Stolen Dance"...

Besides the Bush song entering at #40, Danish modern rock band New Politics come in at #32 with "Everywhere I Go (Kings & Queens)". It's the first single from their upcoming third album. Last year they climbed to #4 with "Harlem". This is definitely "harder" than their previous work, with some salty language thrown in. It's more like a hardcore mainstream rock track...

Lastly, on the Triple-A (adult album alternative, or "hipster rock") format, the aforementioned "Stolen Dance' is at #1 for a seventh week...

The sole debut at #30 it "Fools Gold" from the modern rock outfit Fitz & The Tantrums. The song also is up a notch to #29 on the Alternative list...

I'll return in an hour and a half with the newest on R&B radio...rock on!

Pop Sweep: October 4, 2014...

I'm ready to kick off the first of today's five "chart sweeps", checking out the songs making their debut on the various singles charts in Billboard magazine. As usual, I'll start off on the pop side of the house, and then later on in the day bring you the latest on rock, R&B, country, and dance radio.. And away we go...

On the "big" chart, Billboard's Hot 100, which combines tallies from sales, internet streaming (like YouTube and Spotify) and radio airplay from all formats, Meghan Trainor holds tight at #1 for a third week with "All About That Bass"....

Rocketing on to the chart at #18 is a song from Jennifer Lopez, who's been having a rough go with her latest album A.K.A. The first two singles from the project, the shitty faux-street-level "I Luh Ya Papi" and the surprisingly enjoyable "First Love", both stalled on the bottom quarter of the chart. Well, add a soft-porn music video with homoerotic overtones to goose up your numbers and this is the result. The new non-album remix of "Booty" features "hot girl of the moment" Iggy Azalea traipsing around in a dirty white swimsuit over a cookie-cutter Arabic riff that is just as inane as Nicki Minaj's "Anaconda" without even the sample to remind you of a better song. Hopefully as boys grow tired soon of choking their chickens to this, this will fade rather quickly.

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Songoftheday 9/27/14 - Oh not like one who finds the sweetest but cannot believe that the best will do...

Jermaine Jackson - "I Think It's Love"
from the album Precious Moments (1986)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #16 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 9

Today's Song of the Day comes from Jacksons brother Jermaine, whose self-titled 1984 album had scored him a pair of top-20 pop hits with "Dynamite" and "Do What You Do". In the two years before his next album, Jackson produced three songs from Whitney Houston's debut album (coincidentally the three that were never singles anywhere). In 1986, he released his eleventh solo album Precious Moments. The first single from the project, "I Think It's Love", was co-written with Stevie Wonder and producer Michael Omartian, and it's a slice of bouncy adult-synthpop that is readymade for office-radio play, and a much more natural performance than the forced pseudo-funk of "Dynamite"...

"I Think It's Love" became Jermaine's seventh and so far last top-40 pop hit in April of 1986. The single also crossed over to the adult contemporary (#5) and R&B (#14) radio charts in Billboard magazine. The song also reached the Dutch singles chart at #50, and snuck into the British list at #96.

His follow-up single, the dance-pop track "Do You Remember Me", made the top-40 on the R&B chart and nicked the club chart as well. The third release from the set was the lush ballad "Words Into Action", which was also included on the soundtrack to About Last Night, and peaked at #90 on the R&B list. Jermaine's next album, Don't Take It Personal, scored a #1 R&B hit with the title track, but that record failed to even reach the top-40 on the Hot 100. In 1991, he put out You Said, which included the Michael-dissing song "Word To The Badd", which became his most recent minor pop hit at #78, along with a couple of R&B top-40 singles, ending with "I Dream, I Dream" (#30) in 1992.

Since then, Jermaine's been more recognized for his tabloid-fodder goings-on, as well as his press run defending Michael during the latter's trials, and then for Jermaine's string of reality-show appearances including Celebrity Big Brother in England and Gone Country and Celebrty Wife Swap in America. In the midst of it he independently released a jazz vocal album in 2012.

Up tomorrow: A couple of animal merchant guys "rap" their way to a #1 hit.

Friday, September 26, 2014

twostepcub's music chart for September 26, 2014...

Friday's back, and so is my rundown of my top 100 tunes from the week. Sam Smith is on top for a fourteenth week, while Adam Levine (pictured above) and his band Maroon 5 move into the top-5. Songs by Erika Jayne, Jessie J/Ariana Grande/Nicki Minaj, and Linkin Park make the biggest jumps (moves of 10+ places highlighted in red), while former big hits from Godsmack, Dave Aude/Andy Bell, Brad Paisley, and Billy Currington drop off the list. Welcome, Autumn!

This Week              Song/Artist (last week's position in parentheses)
1. Stay With Me - Sam Smith (1)
2. All About That Bass - Meghan Trainor (4)
3. A Sky Full Of Stars - Coldplay (3)
4. Dangerous - Big Data f/Joywave (2)
5. Maps - Maroon 5 (6)
6. Riptide - Vance Joy (8)
7. Stolen Dance - Milky Chance (11)
8. Rude - Magic! (5)
9. Chandelier - Sia (7)
10. Rather Be - Clean Bandit f/Jess Glynne (14)
11. Roller Coaster - Luke Bryan (19)
12. Love Runs Out - OneRepublic (10)
13. Latch - Disclosure f/Sam Smith (9)
14. Really Don't Care - Demi Lovato f/Cher Lloyd (16)
15. Am I Wrong - Nico & Vinz (13)
16. Hideaway - Kiesza (12)
17. Bartender - Lady Antebellum (17)
18. Don't - Ed Sheeran (21)
19. Never Say Never - Basement Jaxx (23)
20. Take Me To Church - Hozier (18)
21. Prayer In C (Robin Schulz Mix) - Lilly Wood & The Prick (29)
22. Cool Kids - Echosmith (24)
23. Pretty Hurts - Beyonce (25)
24. Secrets - Mary Lambert (28)
25. Do It Again - Royksopp & Robyn (15)
26. Lovers On The Sun - David Guetta f/Sam Martin (36)
27. Problem - Ariana Grande f/Iggy Azalea (20)
28. First Love - Jennifer Lopez (32)
29. Shake It Off - Taylor Swift (33)
30. Girls Chase Boys - Ingrid Michaelson (26)
31. Hope You Get Lonely Tonight - Cole Swindell (37)
32. Come With Me Now - KONGOS (22)
33. Bang Bang - Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj (53)
34. Superheroes - The Script (49)
35. Drunk On A Plane - Dierks Bentley (30)
36. Break Free - Ariana Grande f/Zedd (51)
37. My Sweet Summer - Dirty Heads (45)
38. U Get Me High - Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers (38)
39. West Coast - Lana Del Rey (43)
40. Love Never Felt So Good - Michael Jackson & Justin Timberlake (34)
41. Fever - The Black Keys (31)
42. Summer - Calvin Harris (27)
43. Waves (Robin Schulz Mix) - Mr. Probz (35)
44. Back To The Shack - Weezer (48)
45. Angel In Blue Jeans - Train (46)
46. Ghost - Ella Henderson (40)
47. Baby Baby 2014 - Amy Grant f/Dave Aude (47)
48. Good Kisser - Usher (54)
49. PAINKILLR - Erika Jayne (71)
50. Where It's At (Yep Yep) - Dustin Lynch (55)
51. Gimme Something Good - Ryan Adams (60)
52. Boom Clap - Charli XCX (58)
53. Try - Colbie Caillat (57)
54. Meanwhile Back At Mama's - Tim McGraw f/Faith Hill (44)
55. Somethin' Bad - Miranda Lambert & Carrie Underwood (56)
56. Reservation For Two - Fantine (68)
57. It's You - Kem (61)
58. Do You - Spoon (66)
59. Believer - American Authors (59)
60. I Don't Dance - Lee Brice (42)
61. Back Home - Andy Grammer (65)
62. Burnin' It Down - Jason Aldean (74)
63. I Was Gonna Cancel - Kylie Minogue (41)
64. Do I Wanna Know? - Arctic Monkeys (64)
65. Small Town Throwdown - Brantley Gilbert f/Justin Moore & Thomas Rhett (67)
66. Gotta Get Away - The Black Keys (82)
67. Until It's Gone - Linkin Park (85)
68. Bye Felicia - Joe Gauthreaux f/Mitch Amtrak (69)
69. Dirt - Florida Georgia Line (73)
70. Later On - Swon Brothers (70)
71. American Kids - Kenny Chesney (75)
72. Five Hours - Deorro (72)
73. I Don't Want To Be Here Anymore - Rise Against (77)
74. Be Okay - Oh Honey (76)
75. Black Widow - Iggy Azalea f/Rita Ora (79)
76. Left Hand Free - alt-J (81)
77. I'm Not The Only One - Sam Smith (87)
78. Ready Set Roll - Chase Rice (78)
79. Believe - Irina (83)
80. Ballast - Nothing More (80)
81. Shelter Me - Lee Dagger f/Inaya Day (89)
82. Battleships - Daughtry (86)
83. Day Drinking - Little Big Town (DEBUT)
84. Last Call - Bello Boys f/Kat Deluna (84)
85. Sunshine & Whiskey - Frankie Ballard (92)
86. Habits (Stay High) - Tove Lo (DEBUT)
87. Dust - Eli Young Band (91)
88. What's Best For You - Trey Songz (93)
89. Didn't Say - M Carnaval, D Marano, P Jeveaux f/Neysa (DEBUT)
90. Messed Up World - The Pretty Reckless (94)
91. Leave The Night On - Sam Hunt (96)
92. Yeah - Joe Nichols (52)
93. Neon Light - Blake Shelton (RE-ENTRY)
94. Bailando - Enrique Iglesias f/Descemer Bueno or Sean Paul & Gente De Zona (DEBUT)
95. Won't Look Back - Duke Dumont (DEBUT)
96. Scarecrow - Counting Crows (DEBUT)
97. Don't Tell 'Em - Jeremih f/YG (97)
98. Classic - MKTO (63)
99. This Is How We Do - Katy Perry (DEBUT)
100. Tear The Roof Up - Alesso (DEBUT)

There are eight songs making their debut 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. And here they are on video after the break...

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Songoftheday 9/26/14 - When we all give the power we all give the best, every minute of an hour don't think about a rest...

Opus - "Live Is Life"
from the album Up & Down (1985)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #32 (two weeks)
Weeks in the Top-40: 5

Today's Song of the Day comes from the Austrian rock band Opus, who started out as a garage band in the early 70s, but didn't get to release their first album until the start of the next decade. It took a couple more years, but the group finally scored their first homeland top-10 hit with "Flying High". In 1984, they released a live album in Europe, Live Is Life. The title track was a folksy sing-a-long number that became immensely popular all over Europe, going to #1 in Germany, France, Canada, and Austria, and top-10 in England, Holland, and Italy. The song about how concerts are more important to them, caught an audience in American as they toured opening for Stevie Nicks, so the song was tacked on to their studio album Up & Down...

"Live Is Life" became Opus' first and only American hit single in March of 1986.

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

8 of the 80s: 9/25/14 (1987)

It's throwback Thursday 80s style time, and this week I'm back to 1987, the year German teen pilot Mathias Rust was tried for flying into Moscow with his Cessna plane, eventually causing the dismissal of much of Russia's old-guard military leaders and leading to the end of the Cold War.

Kool & The Gang - "Holiday"
from the album Forever (1986)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #66
Songwriters: Robert Bell, Ronald Bell, George Brown, Claydes Smith, J.T. Taylor, Curtis Williams

This final (well, so-far) top-10 R&B hit for the New Jersey pop/funk act also was a hit in Germany, reaching the top-40 on their pop chart.

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Aussie Sweep: September 25, 2014...

It's time to head Down Under to check out the songs making their debut on the top-50 of the official singles chart in Australia this week, as Meghan Trainor comes back to spend a fourth non-consecutive week at #1 with "All About That Bass"...

The top debut of the week at #19 is the current #1 song in the UK right now, "Changing" by Sigma with Paloma Faith. It follows "Nobody To Love", which peaked at #11 in this country...

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Songoftheday 9/25/14 - Sometime she talks to him sometimes when she's only dreaming, then when she wakes up somehow she still believes him...

Stevie Nicks - "I Can't Wait"
from the album Rock A Little (1985)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #16 (two weeks)
Weeks in the Top-40: 8

Today's Song of the Day is by singer/songwriter Stevie Nicks, whose third album apart from her stint in the rock band Fleetwood Mac had already scored her fourth top-40 pop hit (and highest non-duet rank) with "Talk To Me". She also was on the charts coming in to 1986 with her featured appearance on Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers' live single cover of "Needles And Pins". At the same time, she released her second single from Rock A Little; "I Can't Wait" was a percussive uptempo pop song co-written with Rick Nowels and Eric Pressly. It would be her "danciest" of singles, driven by the thundering drumrolls and the power chord synths. And in the frenetically paced video, you can see the coke is taking its toll...

"I Can't Wait" became the second top-20 pop hit from the album in April of 1986. The single also climbed to #6 on the Mainstream Rock radio chart (her sixth top-10 solo effort) and even showed up on the dance club play chart at #26. Internationally, the record went to #20 in Australia, and top-40 in Ireland and New Zealand, but petered out at #54 in the United Kingdom the fist time around, though came back on the British charts in 1991, scaling to #47.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

7 of the 70s: 9/24/14 (1977)

It's Hump Day 70s party-time, and this week I've got seven more nuggets from 1977, the year Voyager 1 is launched.

Mary MacGregor - "Torn Between Two Lovers"
from the album Torn Between Two Lovers (1976)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #1 
Songwriters: Phil Jarrell, Peter Yarrow

Peter Yarrow of  folk-rock trio Peter, Paul & Mary co-wrote and co-produced this tale of complicated love and recruited a different Mary to sing it. A Lee Remick/George Peppard TV movie followed.

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German Sweep: September 24, 2014...

On the official singles chart in Germany this week, David Guetta's "Lovers On The Sun" spends a fifth week at #1 with "Lovers On The Sun"....

1. Lovers On The Sun - David Guetta f/Sam Martin (1)
2. When The Beat Drops Out - Marlon Roudette (2)
3. Ghost - Ella Henderson (5)
4. Prayer In C (Robin Schulz Remix) - Lilly Wood & The Prick (3)
5. Au Revoir - Mark Forster f/Sido (4)
6. Maps - Maroon 5 (6)
7. Wicked Wonderland - Martin Tungevaag (7)
8. Rude - Magic! (8)
9. Bad Chick - Cro (DEBUT)
10. Superheroes - The Script (10)

Debuting at #9 is German comic rapper Cro with "Bad Chick". It's his sixth single to make the top-10...

Songoftheday 9/24/14 - Going round and round cuz you can't get off your feet, going round and round still taking all the heat...

The Cars - "I'm Not The One"
from the album Greatest Hits (1985)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #32 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 4

Today's Song of the Day comes from the American new-wave/power-pop band the Cars, who released their greatest hits album in 1985 and already had scored another top-10 pop hit with "Tonight She Comes". For its followup they released another cut from the hits set that was originally an album cut on their 1981 record Shake It Up. "Tonight She Comes" was given a "fresher" remix and released as a single, and became their next hit...

"I'm Not The One" became the twelfth top-40 pop hit for the Cars in March of 1986. The single also climbed  to #29 on the Mainstream Rock and #24 on the Adult Contemporary radio chart in Billboard magazine. Internationally the single was a minor hit in Canada and Australia.

It may not be one of their best-remembered songs, but it's a nice atmospheric piece and I always like "second chance" hits...

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

6 of the 60s: 9/23/14 (1967)

It's time to go back to the 60s again, and this week I've got a half-dozen nuggets from 1967, the year the residents of Gibraltar had a vote somewhat like Scotland's, whether to remain with Britain or join with Spain. less than 50 sided with the Spaniards.

Aretha Franklin - "Respect"
from the album I Never Loved A Man The Way I Loved You (1967)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #1 (two weeks)
Songwriter: Otis Redding

The musical version of Devin Hester scoring a touchdown on a kickoff return in the Super Bowl. From her first words Aretha told you how things are gonna be. One of those absolute perfect records that you can listen to eight times in a row focusing on different aspects of the production.

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French Sweep: September 23, 2014...

On this week's French singles chart, the Robin Schulz remix of Lilly Wood & The Prick's "Prayer In C" stays at #1 for a tenth week...

1. Prayer In C (Robin Schulz Mix) - Lilly Wood & The Prick (1)
2. Habits (Stay High) - Tove Lo (2)
3. Chandelier - Sia (3)
4. A Sky Full Of Stars - Coldplay (4)
5. Lovers On The Sun - David Guetta f/Sam Martin (5)
6. Budapest - George Ezra (9)
7. Stay With Me - Sam Smith (6)
8. Calogero - Un Jour Au Mauvais Endroit (7)
9. Jungle - Emma Louise (DEBUT)
10. Sur Ma Route - Black M (8)

Another remix of an older title, this title Australian singer/songwriter Emma Louise, is the sole new entry at #9, with "Jungle" from 2013. German DJ Wanklemut has reworked the track...

Songoftheday 9/23/14 - Your lights are on but you're not home, your mind is not your own...

Robert Palmer - "Addicted To Love"
from the album Riptide (1985)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #1 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 14

Today's Song of the Day was the breakthrough solo hit single for suave British singer Robert Palmer, who started his career back in the 70s, at first in a duo called Vinegar Joe, and then releasing his first solo set in 1974. With dabblings in both roots-rock, soul, and reggae, he first appeared on the American singles chart in 1976 with a cut from his third album, "Man Smart, Woman Smarter". But with a smoother approach in the later 70s, he scored back-to-back albums with top-20 pop hits in America with the breezy "Every Kinda People" which won over with its steel drum riff, and the harder retro rock of "Bad Case Of Lovin' You", where it sounds like writer Moon Martin was writing a Chuck Berry through Mitch Ryder song. But this success didn't carry over to his native England until 1980, when "Looking For Clues" became his first top-40 hit there, and it took two years more for his first top-20 with a cover of "Some Guys Have All The Luck". But with his evolving sound coasting more towards a new-wave sort of funk, American radio cooled a little bit.

In 1985, when Duran Duran was taking a break from each other, Andy and John Taylor split to record a project called the Power Station, eventually recruiting Palmer to become the sole lead vocalist for their self-titled album. The result was a horde of Fab Five fans and increased MTV exposure, with a pair of top-10 pop hits in "Some Like It Hot" and "Get It On (Bang A Gong)" that gave face and voice recognition to the singer he hadn't had as much before. Rather than touring with the supergroup, which also included Chic drummer Tony Thompson (and Tony's bandmate Bernard Edwards producing), Robert set out to record another solo album, Riptide. With Power Station mates Andy Taylor and Tony Thompson playing on the set, as well as Edwards producing, it sonically was an extension of the Power Station record, though even more funky (now that Edwards himself was playing the bass).

Looking back, it's easy to forget that the first single from the project, the groovalicious "Discipline Of Love" (which reminds me of "Some Like It Hot"), relatively stiffed, peaking at #63 on the US pop chart. But I loved that single, eager to pick up Riptide on its original release. So on hearing the then album track "Addicted To Love", I was like "this sounds like a good single for the radio. It sounds like he's remaking a ZZ Top song!". Well, radio did take a liking to this beat-you-on-the-head rock-ish throwdown, but what sent this song into immortal culture consciousness is the music video. Directed by fashion photographer Terence Donovan, the clip featured Palmer fronting a team of mannequin-like ladies expressionlessly and horribly miming playing instruments while swaying sometimes to the beat, sometimes not, with Robert coming like a dapper Playboy host and ringmaster...

"Addicted To Love" shot to the top of the American pop chart in May of 1986. The single also went to #1 on the Mainstream Rock chart and even crossed over to #36 on the Dance Club Play chart in Billboard magazine. Internationally, the record topped the chart in Australia, and made the top-10 in Canada, Ireland, and the UK, in the latter going to #5 and becoming his first and biggest top-ten single in his home country.

But while "Addicted" remains a favorite from the 80s to this day, it's more than just the video that gives the record legs; it really is one of Andy Taylor's best, making you totally not realize you're listening to the guitarist from Duran Duran. And the punch of Wally Badarou's keyboards will come in handy on his own later work with Level 42.

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Monday, September 22, 2014

Robbed hit of the week 9/22/14 - Dan Seals' "Bop"...

Dan Seals - "Bop"
from the album Won't Be Blue Anymore (1985)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #42

This week's "robbed hit" comes from a singer/songwriter that started out as one half of a big soft-rock duo from the 70's. Dan Seals got his first big break with schoolmate John Ford Coley using the name "England Dan", and the pair placed six singles into the top-40 during the decade, including four that reached the top-10, and one, "I'd Really Love To See You Tonight", which peaked at #2 in 1976. At the beginning of the 1980's, Dan and John split, with Seals pursuing a new path in country music. At first keeping the "England" in his moniker, his first solo single "Late At Night" was a minor pop hit in 1980. After a second album that didn't go anywhere, Seals switched labels to Capitol Records, which signaled a turning point in his solo direction, as country radio was embracing more softer-sounding artists (as well as more traditional artists competing for airtime). His first album on the label placed four singles into the country top-40, with "God Must Be A Cowboy" scoring him a top-10 hit in 1984. His next did even better, with three top-tenners and "My Baby's Got Good Timing" almost reaching the #1 spot.

With his third Capitol album, "Won't Be Blue Anymore", that slight was quickly corrected, with three #1 hits from the record. The first, "Meet Me In Montana", was an adult-contemporary duet with a fellow pop refugee, Marie Osmond, and sounds like and England Dan/John Ford Coley outtake. The follow-up was a more up-tempo but still mall-friendly ditty named "Bop". Co-written by yet another pop singer gone country, Paul Davis ("I Go Crazy", "'65 Love Affair"), "Bop" was more of a lite-pop song that was really big on mainstream top-40 radio at the beginning of the decade. In fact, I'm sure if this came out in say the beginning of 1982, it would've been at least a top-20 hit...

"Bop" became Dan's biggest solo hit, not only topping the country chart, but going all the way to #10 on the adult-contemporary (or "easy listening") radio chart in Billboard magazine. That airplay and resulting sales pushed the record on to the Hot 100 pop list, but it stalled right under the pop top-40 at #42. (It did manage to go to #1 in Canada)

The song would be the second of a string of #1 hits - in fact Dan had nine consecutive chart-toppers, and even had a couple more after one hit #5, with his last fittingly at the beginning of the 90's with a cover of 60s soul singer Sam Cooke's "Good Times". That last one would also mark his final single to even reach the top-40 on the country chart, though he managed a few more minor hits up until "All Fired Up" in 1994 (which is one of my faves of his).

Dan continued to tour and record more modestly after that, until in 2008 he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, which he finally succumbed to at the age of 61 in 2009. But Dan's musical legacy remains intact, and "Bop" is a good memory of the days when country cleaned up for a little bit.

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Album Sweep: September 27, 2014 - Part Two...

The second half of this week's "album sweep" is up, sampling the records making their first appearance on the Top 200 Albums chart in Billboard magazine. You can check out part one by clicking here, and as before I've included highlighted links to buy any of the new sets when possible as well as some of the artists' other big work. Support the talent!

Karen O of the indie-rock group Yeah Yeah Yeahs released her first solo album, Crush Songs, which is in at #44. Her band's most recent album, Mosquito, was their first top-10 effort at #5 last year...

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Songoftheday 9/22/14 - Act your age not your shoe size, maybe we can do the twirl....

Prince & The Revolution - "Kiss"
from the album Parade (1986)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #1 (two weeks)
Weeks in the Top-40: 13

Today's Song of the Day is by the Minneapolis musician that bridged the gap between funk and rock and along with Michael Jackson paved the way for African-American artists on MTV. Prince had followed up the biggest moment in his recording career, the movie and soundtrack to his opus Purple Rain, with the psychedelic pop experiment of Around The World in a Day, which scored the "Purple One" two top-10 hits with "Raspberry Beret" and "Pop Life". The following year, Prince went back to the movies, filming a second movie named Under The Cherry Moon. Despite his critical success with Purple Rain, this second movie was a complete departure, with the artist directing himself (after disputes with music video queen Mary Lambert led her to quit), and music being downplayed in the film. Under The Cherry Moon ended up tanking both with moviegoers and critics, scoring a handful of "Golden Raspberry" awards (no pun intended), but the companion music album did signal a return to form for Prince, with a loose funk/rock groove throughout that brought radio back. The first released single from the project, "Kiss", was like Purple Rain's "When Doves Cry" an sparse, rhythm guitar-driven song with no bass and lots of room for him to wail and inprovise James Brown-style on this slinky sexual-without-mentioning-how song. Originally meant for one of his mentoring bands, Mazerati, he claimed it back for himself...

"Kiss" became Prince's third #1 pop hit in America in April of 1986. The single also went to the top of both the R&B and Dance Club Play lists in Billboard magazine. Internationally, the single was a smash, reaching the top-10 in Canada, the UK, Germany, Austria, Holland, Sweden, Australia, and New Zealand.

Despite the movie being panned, Prince's music made up for it, landing him a Grammy award for best R&B performance from a duo or group. And it remains one of his most loved songs still, probably for it's directness and pure fun.

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