Thursday, December 31, 2015

twostepcubchart's Best of 2015: Part Ten - #10 to #1 and the whole she-bang...

Well, 2015 is coming to a close, and it's time for the final installment in my recap of the 100 biggest songs on my weekly music chart this year. If you'd like to catch up on the other nine parts, plus the bonus of the 25 that almost made it, you can click here. And away we goooooo...

#10 - "Lean On" - Major Lazer & DJ Snake featuring
          from the album Peace Is The Mission (2015)
          Highest rank: #3 (one week)
          Weeks on the chart (so far in 2015): 33 [still charting]
          Billboard Hot 100 peak: #4
          Songwriters: Karen Ørsted [MØ], Thomas Pentz [Diplo], William Griachine [DJ Snake], Martin Bresso [Tchami], Philip Meckseper

"Artisan Dance Music" had a banner year in 2015, and the biggest proof was the success of veteran alt-dance act Major Lazer, who landed an international smash with this trippy bouncer with south Asian influences by collaborating with dubstep Frenchman DJ Snake, and the voice of Swedish songstress MØ to guide it all. The fact that this got passed over for a Grammy nom is a travesty.

Killer lyrics: What will we do when we get old?
                     Will we walk down the same road?
                     Will you be there by my side?
                     Standing strong as the waves roll over...

(Click below to see the rest of the post)

Songoftheday 12/13/15 - I've got the room upstairs from you it's a room without a view, but all that could change if I just get through up to you...

"Strange But True" - Times Two
from the album X2 (1988)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #21 (two weeks)
Weeks in the Top-40: 8

This year's final SOTD comes from the duo Times Two. Johnny Dollar and Shanti Jones hail from a northern California town just north of San Francisco, and they released their debut album X2 in 1988. Getting a prime spot opening for fellow teen-pop star Debbie Gibson on her debut tour, the pair's first single, "Strange But True", written by Jones with Gardner Cole, was a heavily-produced slice of hooks and beats disguised as a quirky love song...

"Strange But True" became Times Two's first and only top-40 pop hit in May of 1988. The extended version climbed to #12 on Billboard's Dance Club Play chart. They would follow it up with a bouncy take on Paul Simon's "Cecilia" (done by producer Jay King like Club Nouveau's "Lean On Me" remake), but petered out at #79. Two years later, they re-appeared with a more new-soul sound like Soul II Soul on the single "Set Me Free", which landed at #26 on the dance chart and popped on to the R&B list at #97. They split up shortly thereafter.

I hope everyone has a great New Year's Eve! I'll return on Saturday with a British journeyman needing another excuse.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

twostepcubchart's Best of 2015: Part Nine - #20 to #11...

We're almost to the end of my countdown of the 100 biggest songs on my weekly music chart for 2015. I've tallies the scores of every song that's appeared on my list week by week, and these have peaked the highest and stayed the longest. You can check out the rest of the countdown if you'd like, including the bonus "bubbling under" chart, by clicking here...

#20 - "I Bet My Life" - Imagine Dragons 
          from the album Smoke + Mirrors (2015)
          Highest rank: #7 (three weeks)
          Weeks on the chart (in 2015): 22 [spent three more weeks in 2014]
          Billboard Hot 100 peak: #28
          Songwriters: Imagine Dragons [Dan Reynolds, Wayne Sermon, Ben McKee, Daniel Platzman]

The first single from the modern rock band's sophomore effort may have not done the business that "Radioactive" or "Demons" did from their debut, but it places at a respectable mark on my year-end list. This askance of forgiveness was possibly too real and straightforward to make a big impression, but it did make a lasting one.

Killer lyrics: Now remember when I told you that's the last you'll see of me,
                     Remember when I broke you down to tears,
                     I know I took the path that you would never want for me,
                     I gave you hell through all the years...

(Click below to see the rest of the post)

Songoftheday 12/30/15 - Can't you see the heartbeat that you know so well is better than some strange one you're looking for?

"Everything Your Heart Desires" - Daryl Hall and John Oates
from the album Oooh Yeah! (1988)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #3 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 11

Today's song of the day is by the most popular pop duo of the 1980's, Hall & Oates, who had racked up 18 top-40 hits in the first half of the decade, including five that went all the way to #1. After a live record with two of the Temptations found themselves with another hit with "The Way You Do The Things You Do/My Girl", the pair took a break, with Hall releasing his second solo album and nabbing a top-5 pop hit on his own with "Dreamtime", while Oates co-wrote the top ten hit from Australian rockers Icehouse, "Electric Blue". Switching labels to Arista Records, Hall and Oates came back in 1988 with a new record, Ooh Yeah!. The first single from the set, "Everything Your Heart Desires" (written by Hall), picked up where they left off, with a synth-driven adult-pop love song that relied on its chorus and backgroup vocals to sail along...

"Everything Your Heart Desires" became Hall and Oates' sixteenth and what proved to be so far their most recent top ten pop hit in America in June of 1988. The single also climbed to #2 for a week on Billboard's Adult Contemporary (or "easy listening") radio chart, while it was their third-biggest hit on the R&B chart at #13. Internationally, the record went to #6 in Canada, and #28 in New Zealand, but missed the top 75 in the UK altogether.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

twostepcubchart's Best of 2015: Part Eight - #30 to #21...

We're up to the eighth installment of my countdown of the 100 biggest songs on my personal weekly music chart this year. If you'd like to catch up, you can click over to check out part one, part two, part three, part four, part five, part six, part seven, and the bonus edition with the songs that almost made the cut...

#30 - "Tear In My Heart" - twenty-one pilots
          from the album Blurryface (2015)
          Highest rank: #3 (one week)
          Weeks on the chart: 20
          Billboard Hot 100 peak: #82
          Songwriter: Tyler Joseph

The indie-pop/rock duo gets "lost in translation" and has their biggest year to date, with a #1 album and this, the #2 rock single. From going from a love song to a snark on the music business to a wish for proper civil project improvements, Tyler and Josh rewrite the "witty piano rock song" for this year.

Killer lyrics: You fell asleep in my car I drove the whole time,
                      But that's okay I'll just avoid the holes so you sleep fine,
                      I'm driving here I sit cursing my government,
                      For not using my taxes to fill holes with more cement...

(Click below to see the rest of the post)

Songoftheday 12/29/15 - I've got sunshine on a cloudy day, when it's cold outside I've got the month of May...

"My Girl" - Suave'
from the album I'm Your Playmate (1988)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #20 (two weeks)
Weeks in the Top-40: 7

Today's song of the day comes from R&B singer Waymond Anderson Jr, who recorded under the moniker Suave'. He released his debut album I'm Your Playmate in 1988, and the first single from the set was a cover of one of the most loved Motown singles of the 60s, the Temptations' "My Girl". Originally released in December of 1964 and written by Smokey Robinson and Ronald White of the Miracles, the single marked the debut as a lead vocalist for David Ruffin, who would go on to be their greatest asset, landing the group their first #1 pop and R&B hit. (They also returned to the adult contemporary chart at #27 in 1992 due to its inclusion in the same-titled Macauley Culkin movie...)

It took a lot of confidence to take on such a revered song, producer Dwayne Omarr drowned out his voice with a ton of new jack swing sound effects and background voices...

"My Girl" landed Suave' a top-20 pop hit in May of 1988, while climbing all the way to #3 for two weeks on Billboard's R&B chart. He would release one more single from the album, "Shake Your Body", which peaked at #22 on the R&B list. However, his second record bombed, and by 1994, he found himself turned into a drug dealer who was sent to prison for arson and murder, where he stands today.

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Monday, December 28, 2015

twostepcubchart's Best of 2015: Part Seven - #40 to #31...

Here we go, back to the countdown of the biggest songs on my weekly music chart for 2015. I've tallied the numbers each week, and this is what went the highest and stayed the longest this year. In case you're just getting here, you can click to check out part one, part two, part three, part four, part five, and part six, as well as my Boxing Day bonus of the 25 songs that just missed the list. And away we go as we enter the top-40....

#40 - "Blank Space" - Taylor Swift
          from the album 1989 (2014)
          Highest rank: #13 (two weeks)
          Weeks on the chart (in 2015): 21 [was on for four weeks in 2014]
          Billboard Hot 100 peak: #1
          Songwriters: Taylor Swift, Max Martin, Shellback

"The one where Taylor makes fun of her own image." The second single from Swift's 1989 pop departure begins with a "For Your Eyes Only" keyboard tag, then flows like a hip-hop track, as she revels in the crazy, and smartly, it works. Branding in the Madonna fashion, but with wordplay that keeps you hooked beyond the hooks, she apparently has the best of the Martin/Shellback compositions.

Killer lyrics: Saw you there and I thought,
                      "Oh my God, look at that face
                      You look like my next mistake
                      Love's a game, wanna play?"

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Robbed hit of the week 12/28/15 - Merry Clayton's "Yes"...

"Yes" - Merry Clayton
from the album Dirty Dancing (Original Soundtrack) (1987)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #45

This week's "robbed hit" comes from the soundtrack of the hit movie Dirty Dancing, which had already placed three songs into the pop top five in the U.S., with "Hungry Eyes" from Eric Carmen, "She's Like The Wind" by the movie's star Patrick Swayze, and the #1 duet "(I've Had) The Time Of My Life" from Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes. It was looking like the set was going to be like Footloose from 1984, spinning off six top-40 hits. The fourth release from Dirty Dancing was from veteran soul singer Merry Clayton, who was most known for providing backup vocals for the Rolling Stones' classic album cut "Gimme Shelter" in 1969. Merry also released her own version of the song, which was a minor hit in 1970 at #73. Three years later, her single "Oh No, Not My Baby" climbed to #30 on the R&B chart (and #72 pop). In 1975, Clayton put out "Keep Your Eye On The Sparrow", the theme to the show Baretta, which peaked at #45 on the Hot 100 pop list in America.  Merry's contribution to the soundtrack was "Yes", a bouncy Pointer Sisters-type dance-R&B number...

"Yes" said "no" to the top-40 in April of 1988, while stalling at #79 on the R&B chart. Over in the UK, the single stopped at #70. It would be her so-far latest appearance on the charts. However, she never left the biz, appearing in the phenomenal documentary 20 Feet From Stardom. Merry also sings backup on two tracks on Coldplay's latest album, including the single "Adventure Of A Lifetime".

(Click below to see the rest of the post)

Songoftheday 12/28/15 - I've had enough of danger and people on the streets, I'm looking out for angels just trying to find some peace...

"One More Try" - George Michael
from the album Faith (1987)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #1 (three weeks)
Weeks in the Top-40: 14

Today's song of the day is by George Michael, whose first solo album after disbanding Wham!, Faith, had already scored a pair of #1 hits with "Father Figure" and the title track, as well as the #2 hit from Beverly Hills Cop II, "I Want Your Sex". The fourth single released from the record was "One More Try", written and produced by the artist. With a slow pacing and church organ background (with minimal percussion), the song had the feel of a gospel hymn, with George professing his reluctance to getting into another romantic tangle. It's a no-go until the very end, when the titular "one more try" is offered...

"One More Try" became the third #1 hit from Faith in May of 1988. The song also spent three weeks atop Billboard's Adult Contemporary (or "easy listening") radio chart, and climbed all the way to #2 on their R&B chart. Internationally, the record topped the chart in Canada and Ireland, yet surprisingly only peaked at #8 in his native Britain. It also made the top ten in France, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, and Norway.

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Sunday, December 27, 2015

Dance Sweep: January 2, 2016...

I'm ready to wrap up this week's 'music sweeps', sampling the songs making their way on to the charts in Billboard magazine, with the latest dance jams in the clubs and on the radio.

On the DJ-polled Dance Club Play chart, Swedish DJ/producer Lucas Nord lands his first #1 hit with "Run On Love" featuring Tove Lo (it's her third chart-topper after "Talking Body" and "Heroes")...

Ariana Grande takes the top debut at #42 with her former top 10 pop hit "Focus"...

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Country Sweep: January 2, 2016...

Part four of this week's "music sweeps" is up with the latest hits on country radio as monitored by Billboard magazine.

On their Country Airplay chart, Thomas Rhett scores his fifth consecutive #1 hit single with "Die A Happy Man"...

Cole Swindell rockets on to the chart up at #26 with "You Should Be Here", my "Country Pick of the Week". It's the first single from his yet-to-be-named second album. His self-titled debut set landed two #1 and two #2 hits, and this new one pulls all the heartstrings, so the normally inflated debut put aside this has the best chance to follow them to become his biggest single yet...

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Soul Sweep: January 2, 2016...

Carrying over from yesterday, we're at the "hump" of this week's 'music sweeps', checking out the songs making their way on to the various singles charts in Billboard magazine, and this time out I'm serving up the latest on R&B radio...

On their main R&B/Hip Hop Airplay chart, Drake remains on top for an eleventh week with "Hotline Bling"...

Rapper Young Thug moves in at #43 with his latest, "Best Friend".  His first solo single "Stoner" reached #10...

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twostepcubchart's Best of 2015: Part Six and a Half - the "bubbling unders", #125 to #101...

Hey guys and gals and to all in-between, I've been counting down the top 100 songs of the year on my weekly music chart for 2015 (click here to catch up on it), and in this weekend break I'll add a bonus, with the songs "bubbling under" the year-end list, the 25 that also ran, but where totally worthy.

#125 - "Right Here, Right Now" - Giorgio Moroder featuring Kylie Minogue
            from the album Deja Vu (2015)
            Highest rank: #12 (two weeks)
            Weeks on the chart: 11

The 75-year-old disco legend returned with a new album Santana-style this year, with guest vocalists like Sia, Britney Spears, and Charli XCX, but none captured the bliss of the Studio 54 time as this collaboration with Australia's princess. In a just world, this should've been a worldwide smash.

(Click below to see the rest of the post)

Songoftheday 12/27/15 - We've been friends real close friends for a long time, I can tell there's something heavy hanging on your mind...

"Say It Again" - Jermaine Stewart
from the album Say It Again (1988)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #27 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 5

Today's song of the day comes from singer/dancer Jermaine Stewart, who had the safe-sex booty-shaking anthem of 1986 with "We Don't Have To Take Our Clothes Off". His follow-up single, "Jody" (dedicated to friend and fellow Soul Train alumnus Jody Watley), just missed the pop top-40, though it climbed into the dance top-10. In 1988, Jermaine issued his third solo album, Say It Again, produced by Andre Cymone (who did most of Jody Watley's debut album) and the team of Jerry Knight (of "Breakin'"'s Ollie and Jerry) and Aaron Zigman. Those last two produced the title track and first single from the set, which was written by R&B artist Bunny Sigler and Carol Davis. With a midtempo lite-reggae groove not unlike the later work of Boy George and Culture Club, the track was more for a beach chair than a disco floor, but it had his most relaxed and funky performance, and the breakdown at the end is quite nice...

"Say It Again" became Jermaine's second and final top-40 pop hit in May of 1988, while peaking at #15 on Billboard's R&B chart. Internationally, the song did very well in Britain, peaking at #7, while making the same level in Ireland (#8) and Norway (#10). 

Jermaine's next single, the new jack swing groove "Get Lucky", climbed to #12 on the dance chart, #69 R&B, and #13 in the UK. Also from the album, third release "Don't Talk Dirty To Me" (obvs a callback to his breakthrough single), made it to #13 dance but stalled down at #61 in England. By the 90s, though, he'd have fallen through the cracks as rock and rap ruled the airwaves, and sadly, in 1997, Stewart passed away from complications from AIDS.

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Saturday, December 26, 2015

twostepcub's music chart for December 25, 2015...

Hey folks, I'm a little late due to Christmas, but it's finally time to run down my top 100 tunes from the previous week. Adele holds tight at #1 for a third week, while country singer Cam (pictured above) leaps into the top ten. Songs from James Bay, Disturbed, and Dmitri Vegas & Like Mike with Ne-Yo make the biggest jumps (moves of 10+ places highlighted in red), while former big hits from Audien, Hozier, NERVO, Jamie Lawson, Kenny Chesney, Major Lazer/DJ Snake, and Leona Lewis drop off the list. Whew! That holiday went quickly!

This Week            Song/Artist (last week's position in parentheses)
1. Hello - Adele (1)
2. Stressed Out - twenty-one pilots (4)
3. S.O.B. - Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats (2)
4. Nothin' Like You - Dan + Shay (5)
5. Wildest Dreams - Taylor Swift (3)
6. Ex's & Oh's - Elle King (6)
7. Burning House - Cam (11)
8. On My Mind - Ellie Goulding (8)
9. First - Cold War Kids (9)
10. Lay It All On Me - Rudimental f/Ed Sheeran (10)
11. Top Of The World - Tim McGraw (13)
12. Hold My Hand - Jess Glynne (14)
13. I'm Comin' Over - Chris Young (7)
14. The Ghosts Of Beverly Drive - Death Cab For Cutie (16)
15. Like I'm Gonna Lose You - Meghan Trainor f/Charlie Puth (15)
16. Gonna Know We Were Here - Jason Aldean (20)
17. Ocean Drive - Duke Dumont (17)
18. Stay A Little Longer - Brothers Osborne (22)
19. Stitches - Shawn Mendes (19)
20. Hotline Bling - Drake (21)
21. Adventure Of A Lifetime - Coldplay (29)
22. Smoke Break - Carrie Underwood (12)
23. 2 Heads - Coleman Hell (23)
24. Renegades - X Ambassadors (18)
25. Gonna - Blake Shelton (25)
26. Levels - Nick Jonas (28)
27. Here - Alessia Cara (32)
28. Die A Happy Man - Thomas Rhett (34)
29. Confident - Demi Lovato (42)
30. Insomnia 2.0 - Faithless (30)
31. Stand By You - Rachel Platten (38)
32. Boomerang - Emin f/Nile Rodgers (36)
33. Shame - Tyrese (33)
34. Break Up With Him - Old Dominion (24)
35. The Fire and the Flood - Vance Joy (39)
36. The Hills - The Weeknd (31)
37. Mess Around - Cage The Elephant (49)
38. Good To Be Alive (Hallelujah) - Andy Grammer (40)
39. No Sleeep - Janet Jackson (37)
40. How Deep Is Your Love - Calvin Harris f/Disciples (26)
41. Automatic - Zhu vs AlunaGeorge (53)
42. Break Up In A Small Town - Sam Hunt (52)
43. Already Callin' You Mine - Parmalee (47)
44. Run On Love - Lucas Nord f/Tove Lo (54)
45. Take You Over - Bleona (45)
46. Irresistible - Fall Out Boy (51)
47. Let It Go - James Bay (67)
48. I Got The Boy - Jana Kramer (56)
49. Hold On Forever - Rob Thomas (59)
50. Can't Sleep Love - Pentatonix (60)
51. Spin Spin Sugar - Scotty Boy f/Sue Cho (63)
52. Let Me See Ya Girl - Cole Swindell (48)
53. I Love This Life - LoCash (68)
54. Take Me Higher - Nytrix (64)
55. La Jungla - Ralphi Rosario f/Julissa Veloz (55)
56. Return To The Moon - EL VY (58)
57. Drag Me Down - One Direction (57)
58. The Light - Disturbed (78)
59. Sax - Fleur East (69)
60. Smooth Sailin' - Leon Bridges (70)
61. Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart - Chris Cornell (46)
62. She Used To Be Mine - Sara Bareilles (66)
63. Hold Each Other - A Great Big World f/FUTURISTIC (43)
64. Dibs - Kelsea Ballerini (74)
65. Bad Blood - Ryan Adams (65)
66. Locked Away - R. City f/Adam Levine (62)
67. Can't Feel My Face - The Weeknd (50)
68. Home Alone Tonight - Luke Bryan f/Karen Fairchild (DEBUT)
69. Take Me Home - Jess Glynne (79)
70. Carry On - Coeur De Pirate (DEBUT)
71. Love Myself - Hailee Steinfeld (81)
72. Same Old Love - Selena Gomez (82)
73. Don't Be So Hard On Yourself - Jess Glynne (73)
74. One Call Away - Charlie Puth (DEBUT)
75. Higher Place - Dmitri Vegas & Like Mike f/Ne-Yo (95)
76. Til It Happens To You - Lady Gaga (DEBUT)
77. Earned It - The Weeknd (77)
78. Nightlight - Silversun Pickups (88)
79. Back In My Arms - Jaheim (89)
80. Love Me Like You - Little Mix (80)
81. Used To Love You - Gwen Stefani (83)
82. Once A Day - Michael Franti & Spearhead f/Sonne Rele (86)
83. Kiss Me - Olly Murs (87)
84. Throne - Bring Me The Horizon (84)
85. Heaven (Beautiful Life) - Punch Inc. (85)
86. Another Lonely Night - Adam Lambert (DEBUT)
87. Backroad Song - Granger Smith (91)
88. IN2 - WSTRN (92)
89. Runnin' (Lose It All) - Naughty Boy f/Beyonce & Arrow Benjamin (75)
90. Roses - The Chainsmokers f/ROZES (97)
91. We Went - Randy Houser (DEBUT)
92. Don't Worry - Madcon f/Ray Dalton (96)
93. Wash It All Away - Five Finger Death Punch (DEBUT)
94. Wanna Be Happy? - Kirk Franklin (98)
95. Catch & Release (Deepend Mix) - Matt Simons (DEBUT)
96. Never Leave - DVBBS (DEBUT)
97. Geiles Leben - Glasperlenspiel (99)
98. Country Nation - Brad Paisley (100)
99. You Don't Own Me - Grace f/G-Eazy (DEBUT)
100. New Americana - Halsey (DEBUT)

There are eleven 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...

(Click below to see the rest of the post)

Rock Sweep: January 2, 2016...

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

On their main Rock Airplay chart, the Cold War Kids spend a seventh non-consecutive week at #1 with "First"...

British progressive-rock heroes Muse land at #45 with "Reapers", from their Drones album. The track moves up to #21 on the Mainstream Rock list. Name-checking the albums title and theme of being attacked in love, the harder-edged single rides on its wall of guitar noise...

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Pop Sweep: January 2, 2016...

It's time to kick off the first of today's five "chart sweeps", checking out the songs making their debuts on the various singles and radio charts in Billboard magazine. As usual, I'll start out on the pop side of things, then later in the day move on to the latest in rock, R&B, country, and dance...

On the "big" chart, Billboard's Hot 100, which combines tallies of internet streaming (like Spotify and YouTube), radio airplay from all formats, and sales (like iTunes and Amazon MP3), Adele's "Hello" spends an eighth week on top, becoming the longest stay of her career....

The just-announced winner of the latest season of The Voice, Christian pastor and It's Pat cosplay winner Jordan Smith, places all three of his finals performances on to the Hot 100, with holiday classic "Mary Did You Know" becoming his second to make the top-40 at #24. Last week, his cover of Queen's "Somebody To Love" jumped in at #21 (and tumbles this time to #99). Again, why with the rabid screaming from the audience during this song? This isn't a song to be screeching at. Besides, his performance is pretty reedy, to be honest, considering the multitudes of amazing renditions of one of the best Christmas songs ever. And the "Wooooo!"? Really?

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Songoftheday 12/26/15 - If you were born in heaven girl I'd understand so well, but ever since I met you child you've made my life such hell....

"Dreaming" - Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark
from the album The Best Of OMD (1988)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #16
Weeks in the Top-40: 9

Today's Song of the Day comes from the new wave/electropop band OMD (Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark), who had gone from cult faves in the early part of the 80s to pop hitmakers like on their 1986 single "(Forever) Live & Die". After that album, their seventh, the group released their first greatest hits set, spanning the time between 1980 and 1988 when they placed twelve songs into the British top-40 (ironically, their biggest American success, the Pretty In Pink theme "If You Leave", missed the top-40 in the UK). Included on the compilation was a new offering, "Dreaming", it was written by band leaders Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys and produced by the group. With a "big" sound like their soundtrack hit, with lyrics about coming to the realization that their girl is a crazy ass that they are addicted to anyways....

"Dreaming" became OMD's fourth and so-far final top-40 pop hit in America in May of 1988. The 12" single contained remixes from the likes of William Orbit, Bruce Forest, and Tom Lord-Alge, and climbed to #6 on Billboard's Dance Club Play chart, their highest-charting entry there. Internationally, while the song made the top-40 in Canada (#22), Germany (#26), Australia (#33), and New Zealand (#37), the record missed that level in their home country, peaking at #50 in the UK.

Later in 1988 a promo record called "Brides Of Frankenstein", which was a remix of five of their hits redone by house music master Steve "Silk" Hurley and raver Mike "Hitman" Wilson, reached the top ten on the club chart. However, tensions within the group caused everyone save McCluskey to jump ship by the end of the decade.  Carrying on as a solo act under the OMD moniker, he released the Sugar Tax album in 1991, and the first single, "Sailing On The Seven Seas", matched the act's highest ever rank on the British charts at #3. The next release from the album, the stellar "Pandora's Box", also made the UK top ten and climbed onto the American modern rock radio chart at #19. Two years later, Andy's next album as OMD, Liberator, included "Stand Above Me", which reached #6 on the U.S. club chart, #5 on Billboard's Modern Rock list, and #21 in the UK. In 1996, OMD released Universal, and after "Walking On The Milky Way" went to #17 in Britain, and the follow-up missed the top-40 altogether, Andy shut down OMD for a decade.

Humphreys and McCluskey reunited in 2006 with 80s prime lineup members Martin Cooper and Malcolm Holmes, with started as a TV promo and ended with a successful tour. They have since released two more albums, which had reached the top-40 on the albums chart in the UK, while single "If You Want It" was a minor hit in Germany (#50). Holmes left after medical issues sidelined him, with 90s drummer Stuart Kershaw reupping with the band.

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Thursday, December 24, 2015

twostepcubchart's Best of 2015: Part Six - #50 to #41...

We're passing the halfway mark on my countdown recap of the biggest songs on my weekly music chart for 2015. If you want to catch up with what I've already posted you can click for part one, part two, part three, part four, and part five.

#50 - "Heartbeat Song" - Kelly Clarkson
          from the album Piece By Piece (2015)
          Highest rank: #14 (one week)
          Weeks on the chart: 20
          Billboard Hot 100 peak: #21
          Songwriters: Mitch Allan, Jason Evigan, Kara DioGuardi, Audra Mae

For the lead single from her lucky seventh studio album Piece By Piece, which is nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album at the upcoming Grammy Awards, Clarkson is at her best showing a strong man or woman overcoming the hurdle of a bad breakup and finding love again. With an inclusive video that tracks love overcoming heartbreak, the first American Idol proves she is the most relevant of the Idols in the pop realm.

Killer lyric: Until tonight I only dreamed about you,
                    I can't believe I'll ever breathe without you,
                   Baby you make me feel alive and brand new,
                   Bring it one more time, one more time...

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Songoftheday 12/24/15 - Ten cents a dance it's the only price to pay, why give 'em more when it's only love for sale?

"Kiss And Tell" - Bryan Ferry
from the albums Bête Noire (1987) and Bright Lights, Big City (Original Soundtrack) (1988)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #31 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 3

Today's song of the day comes from British singer Bryan Ferry, who comes from the northern English town of Washington. As one of the founders of the art rock band Roxy Music in the early 1970s, Ferry reached the top-40 on the American pop chart in 1975 with the seminal track "Love Is The Drug". Ferry also started his own solo recording career not long after, and bucking the norm, almost all of Roxy Music's works were written or co-written by the artists, while Bryan included a big chunk of covers for his solo work. In 1973, his version of "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" reached #10 on the British singles chart. Four years later, with his Let's Stick Together album, whose title track went to #1 in Australia and his highest-charting British hit at #4, Bryan landed his first minor solo single in the U.S. at #86 with "Heart On My Sleeve".

After Roxy Music split in 1982, Ferry continued on with his solo path, releasing his first solo record in seven years with Boys and Girls, which went gold in America (selling over a half-million copies). On that album was the single "Slave To Love", possibly his most remembered solo track. That song returned him to the UK top 10 at #10. The second single from the set, "Don't Stop The Dance", dropped Ferry onto the Adult Contemporary (or "easy listening") radio chart. After an appearance at the Live Aid charity concert bonanza, Ferry issued his seventh solo album Bête Noire in 1987. Co-produced by Ferry with Madonna producer/writer Pat Leonard, the album had more of a dance-pop sheen on it, as evidenced by the first single "Kiss And Tell". Also appearing in the dark (for him) Michael J. Fox movie Bright Lights, Big City, the song, with lyrics about an ex-lover who doesn't have discretion, had many people assuming it was about model Jerry Hall, who left Ferry for Mick Jagger in the late 70s, then wrote a tell-all book spilling the beans about their relationship. With acidic verses riding a fluid bassline that dominated the track, "Kiss and Tell" was as suave and cold-appearing as its singer...

 "Kiss And Tell" became Bryan's sole (so-far) top-40 pop hit in America in April of 1988. The 12" remix done by the Latin Rascals (whom I saw live spinning this past summer) climbed to #19 on Billboard's Dance Club Play chart. Internationally,while the song reached the top-40 in Australia (#38) and New Zealand (#26), it just missed the top-40 in Ferry's native Britain at #41.

After another five-year break which saw Ferry issuing a greatest hits set, he returned in 1993 with Taxi, another collection of covers, that had his two most recent UK top 40 hits with versions of "I Put A Spell On You" (#18) and "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" (#23). A year later, the title track from his Mamouna album popped in at #37 on the American Modern Rock radio chart in Billboard. He continues to record both solo, and briefly reunited with Roxy Music in the 2000s. Nominated for a Grammy in 1999, his image became more notorious in the naughties as seemingly Nazi-admiring statements (he claims it was about their style, not their policy, but yeah, right) and love for the Conservative Party (while still living a life of no angel).

[Sidenote: for you 80s fans, the soundtrack to Bright Lights, Big City is a MUST HAVE. With classic singles like "Pump Up The Volume" from MARRS, "Century's End" from Steely Dan's Donald Fagen, New Order's "True Faith", and producer Narada Michael Walden's "Divine Emotions" hitting the charts as well as "Kiss And Tell", a kick-ass song from Prince called "Good Love" appears here.]

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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

twostepcubchart's Best of 2015: Part Five - #60 to #51...

We're approaching the halfway mark in my countdown of the 100 biggest songs on my weekly personal chart at this here bloggie. You can click over to catch up on part one, part two, part three, and part four as well in case you missed, and as before I've included links to the artists' websites, as well as to Amazon if you feel like buying the track or the album...

#60 - "Like A Cowboy" - Randy Houser
          from the album How Country Feels (2013)
          Highest rank: #7 (two weeks)
          Weeks on the chart (in 2015): 15 [was on for two weeks in 2014]
          Billboard Hot 100 peak: #62
          Songwriters: Randy Houser, Brice Long

The fourth single from the country bear's How Country Feels album came with an epic 7 1/2 minute music video set in the wild, wild west. It also had his most soaring vocals, not sounding as hokey as could've been given another's hands. I guess this is what Toby Keith would be like if he didn't veer into parody. [Last year Houser landed at #96 for the 2014 with "Goodnight Kiss", while in 2013 "Runnin' Outta Moonlight" ended up at #51 as "How Country Feels" just missed the list at #103. All of these were from the How Country Feels album, showing how long "legs" the set had.]

Killer lyric: I keep your picture tucked inside my old hat
                    It brings me luck, I need a bunch of that
                   This midnight winding road runs through my blood
                    I can't give it up, like I said I would...

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Songoftheday 12/23/15 - So if you go away I know that I will follow, 'cause there's a place inside my heart that tells me hold out...

"Wait" - White Lion
from the album Pride (1987)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #8 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 11

Today's song of the day comes from the hard rock band White Lion, who came together in New York under Danish-born lead singer Mike Tramp and local boy and guitarist Vito Bratta. After releasing an album that hit the chart but didn't sell enough to keep the label around, the hard rock group with a glam-ish appearance switched over to Atlantic Records, where they recorded their second and breakthrough album, Pride. The first single from the set, "Wait", was released back in the summer of 1987, but it took months for radio to catch on, after MTV took a liking to the straight-forward metal "don't break up with me" song, written by Tramp and Bratta, and produced by Michael Waggener, guitarist for the seminal German metal band Accept...

"Wait" became White Lion's first big hit, reaching the top ten on the American pop chart in May of 1988. The song also reached #18 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock radio chart (at that time, it was more difficult for "metal" and "glam" bands to do really well in that format). In Canada, the song missed the top-40 at #48, while over in England it missed the top-75 altogether.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

twostepcubchart's Best of 2015: Part Four - #70 to #61...

I'm chugging along with my recap of the biggest songs on my weekly music chart on this here bloggie for 2015. I've tallied up the scores week by week, and have been running down my top 100 (on Christmas there'll be a bonus). You can click over to check out part one, part two, and part three as well. I've also included links to the artist's websites, as well as to Amazon to buy any of the music here.

#70 - "From Eden" - Hozier
          from the album Hozier (2014)
          Highest rank: #9 (two weeks)
          Weeks on the chart (in 2015): 14 [spent 5 more weeks in 2014]
          Billboard Hot 100 peak: did not chart
          Songwriter: Andrew Hozier-Byrne (Hozier) 

Due attention was paid to the Irish singer/songwriter's chilling "Take Me To Church" video, but the follow-up, which take the Bonnie and Clyde story and adds a child to the mix, is even more of an emotional rollercoaster. Portraying the bond these people take on with an abandoned child, mixing images of bliss amidst armed robbery and a police raid, while Hozier sings about badly influencing the subject of his love/lust, takes your emotions on a rollercoaster. ["Take Me To Church" ended up at #9 on my year-end chart last year, and will make a repeat performance later on...]

Killer lyric: Honey, you're familiar like my mirror years ago
                    Idealism sits in prison, chivalry fell on its sword...

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Songoftheday 12/22/15 - I find myself in a strange situation and I don't know how, what seemed to be an infatuation is so different now...

"I Don't Want To Live Without You" - Foreigner
from the album Inside Information (1987)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #5 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 11

Today's song of the day comes from the part-British, part-American rock band Foreigner, who by the mid-80's had softened their sound a tad and were able to stay up on the pop charts, with their sixth studio album Inside Information getting a good start with the top-ten pop and month-long #1 rock hit "Say You Will". The second single from the album was the mid-tempo love ballad "I Don't Want To Live Without You", written by band guitarist/producer Mick Jones. With background vocals that remind me of 10cc on "I'm Not In Love", and barely a guitar in sight, this record ended their transformation from rock bad boys to soccer-mom stars. And the video took "Say You Will" a bit farther, with not a trace of any of the band members in it, but rather interspersed nature videos and movie clips, like a YouTube proto-collage...

"I Don't Want To Live Without You" was (so-far) Foreigner's last top-40 pop hit, reaching the top 5 in May of 1988. The single was their first to go all the way to the top of the Adult Contemporary (or "easy listening" radio chart, while it peaked at #18 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock list. Internationally, the song went to #18 in Canada and #21 in Australia, but missed the top-75 in the UK altogether.

The following year, lead singer Lou Gramm left Foreigner after releasing his second solo album and having a second top-10 hit on his own with "Just Between You And Me". Mick Jones and the rest of the band carried on, hiring on Johnny Edwards as Gramm's replacement. A new album, Unusual Heat, arrived in 1991, and while rock radio took to the harder-edged single "Lowdown and Dirty", sending it to #4 on that genre chart, mainstream radio took a pass. Putting together material for another hits compilation, Gramm and Jones reunited, with Lou re-joining the band to record two new tracks for the set, with "Soul Doctor" putting them back in the top-5 on the rock chart in 1993. A new full-length studio album followed a year later, with the single "Until The End Of Time" reaching the top-ten on the Adult Contemporary chart at #8 and just missing the Hot 100 top-40 at #42. Another song from the record, "Under The Gun", popped on to the rock chart at #28. However after medical troubles ended up hindering Gramm on tour and the pair had another falling out, he left the band again, leaving Jones to completely redo the lineup as the sole remaining original member (and only member to be there before 2004). Nominally as "Foreigner", the act continues to play the "rock oldies" circuit, and have profited from re-recording the band's classics, with 2009 album Can't Slow Down reaching #29 on the albums chart in the U.S., no doubt helped by a bonus disc of redone hits.

Up tomorrow: An albino feline says "Stay".

Monday, December 21, 2015

twostepcubchart's Best of 2015: Part Three - #80 to #71...

It's time to pick back up on my recap of the biggest hits on my weekly chart from the past year. You can also check out what I've covered in part one (click here) and part two (click here)...

#80 - "Cool For The Summer" - Demi Lovato
          from the album Confident (2015)
          Highest rank: #7 (two weeks)
          Weeks on the chart: 15
          Billboard Hot 100 peak: #11
          Songwriters: Demi Lovato, Max Martin, Alexander Kronlund, Savan Kotecha, Ali Payami

It's been a year for pre-fab pop princesses to see a resurge, as records from Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, and, yes, Nick Jonas brought them back to mainstream pop radio. Demi's "Cool For The Summer", a slice of Katy Perry-esque electro-pop that dabbled with bisexuality in the lyrics. However the noise around her singing shielded any questioning parents as their daughters (and some hip sons) danced along.

Killer lyric: Take me down into your paradise
                    Don't be scared cause I'm your body type
                    Just something that we wanna try...

#79 - "Could Have Been Me" - The Struts
          from the EP Have You Heard (2015)
          Highest rank: #7 (two weeks)
          Weeks on the chart: 15
          Billboard Hot 100 peak: did not chart
          Songwriters: Adam Slack, Luke Spiller, Josh Wilkinson, Red Triangle [Rick Parkhouse & George Tizzard]

This British rock band from Derbyshire released "Could Have Been Me" in their home country back in 2013 to not much notice, along with a mid-charting album, but after some high-profile stints like opening for the Rolling Stones, they have broke through in the Colonies with this thumping sing-a-long about living life like grabbing the bull by its horns. Their follow-up "Kiss This" is a treat as well, and the album still has yet to be released stateside.

Killer lyric: Don't wanna live as an unsung melody
                    I'd rather listen to the silence telling me
                    I can't hear you, I won't fear you...

#78 - "Stay With Me" - Sam Smith
          from the album In The Lonely Hour (2015)
          Highest rank in 2015: #19 (one week) [spent 14 wks at #1 in 2014]
          Weeks on the chart (in 2015): 20 [spent 32 more weeks in 2014]
          Billboard Hot 100 peak: #2
          Songwriters: Sam Smith, Jimmy Napes, William Phillips (Tourist), Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne

After being the biggest hit on my year-end chart in 2014, spending over three months at #1, the British singer with the angelic voice made it a solid year on my chart by the end of its run in 2015. The song was only made more powerful by Smith's "coming out" during the initial rumblings of this record's promotion, and validated by its Grammy wins for Song and Record of the year in February of this year. Crossing over to the R&B chart and extending its "life" with an alternate version featuring Mary J. Blige, it's the simple hymn of one man pining for companionship after a hook-up and that's what makes this song so fresh every time. (This song added Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne to its songwriter list, because of its supposed resemblance to "I Won't Back Down", but besides some sketchy chord changes, I don't see it.)

Killer lyric: Guess it's true, I'm not good at a one-night stand
                    But I still need love 'cause I'm just a man...

#77 - "Tonight Looks Good On You" - Jason Aldean
         from the album Old Boots, New Dirt (2014)
         Highest rank: #13 (two weeks)
         Weeks on the chart: 17
         Billboard Hot 100 peak: #46
         Songwriters: Rhett Akins, Dallas Davidson, Ashley Gorley

Aldean continued his dominance on the country charts, as this fifth #1 hit in a row smolders with a desire that wins him over Luke Bryan in the "booty-call" race. Maybe its because his voice cuts clearer than Bryan's "younger Jim Nabors" tone and the guitars ring truer in the mix.

Killer lyric: There's something bout the way you're smilin'
                    Making them stars fall right on cue...

          from the album Old Boots, New Dirt (2014)
          Highest rank: #8 (one week)
          Weeks on the chart: 16
          Billboard Hot 100 peak: #54
          Songwriters: Rhett Akins, Ashley Gorley, Chris DeStefano
...and here we are again with Aldean, who had made #74 on my 2014 year-end list with "When She Says Baby". Sharing two of the three songwriters from the previous song, this rock-country hybrid shared its lady-seducing charms. He's lumped in with the "bro-country" phenomenon, but he does sing with more darker emotions and at least he's one of the few left to keep the cowboy hat.
Killer lyric: The way you look at me baby I don't know
                     If we even gonna make it to the party...
          from the album Get Weird (2015)
          Highest rank: #12 (one week)
          Weeks on the chart: 16
          Billboard Hot 100 peak: #67
          Songwriters: Ed Drewett, Camille Purcell, Edvard Erfjord, Henrik Michelsen

The pre-fab winners of the eighth season of the X Factor UK (and the sole group winners) have gelled into a unit as cohesive as One Direction, and they been aiming for the American market for a while, already scoring two top-ten albums. It looked like this massive British hit, which spent three weeks atop the UK chart, would make their breakthrough in the States. It's an international crime that it didn't quite do so, though it got much support from their American fans. Especially with this super-fun video take-off of Potter-style antics. Muggles don't understand.

Killer lyric: Full of honey,
                   Just to make him sweet
                   Crystal balling,
                   Just to help him see...

#74 - "Girl Crush" - Little Big Town
          from the album Pain Killer (2014)
          Highest rank: #3 (one week)
          Weeks on the chart: 15
          Billboard Hot 100 peak: #18
          Songwriters: Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna, Liz Rose

The winner of the CMA awards for Single and Song of the Year, written by three very successful women songwriters, was also one of the genre's most controversial, with lyrics about being obsessed over the woman who is with the man she truly loves being misconstrued as a veiled lesbian love song. In fact, the song is so full of pain and desperation that what it veils is the singer's true history with the man she craves. Whether it's an ex who broke her heart or someone she even more hurtfully cannot ever have, is something truly universal between the sexes, and really what the heart of country music is about, telling stories about real life. And I tell you, I've lived this song too many times. Especially this year. It's up for Grammys for Song of the Year and Country Song, and deserves them both. (This song was the follow-up to "Day Drinking", which "bubbled under" my year-end chart of 2014 at #119.)

Killer lyric: I want her long blonde hair, I want her magic touch
                   Yeah, ‘cause maybe then you’d want me just as much...

 #73 - "The Wolf" - Mumford & Sons
           from the album Wilder Mind (2015)
           Highest rank: #15 (two weeks)
           Weeks on the chart: 17
           Billboard Hot 100 peak: did not chart, "bubbled under" at #102
           Songwriters: Mumford & Sons (Marcus Mumford, Ben Lovett, Winston Marshall, Ted Dwane)

The third album from this British band was the one where they took a leap from their folk-rock base into an electric medium, much like Dylan in the 60s. And this all-out throwdown rocker expressing the desire of a man who pretty much lives for her romantic validation is the sonic highlight of the set. And you get them crashing Bonaroo in a wedding dress and such.

Killer lyric: Leave behind your wanton ways
                    I want to learn to love in kind
                   'Cause you were all I ever longed for...

#72 - "I Lived" - OneRepublic
          from the album Native (2013)
          Highest rank: #17 (two weeks)
          Weeks on the chart (in 2015): 15 [spent 8 weeks in 2014]
          Billboard Hot 100 peak: #32
          Songwriters: Ryan Tedder, Noel Zancanella

The pop/rock band from Colorado's Native album was released back in the spring of 2013, but in 2015 there still were hits sprouting from it, like this motivational anthem that sported a truly inspiring video, featuring a fan who thrives overcoming the hardships of living with cystic fibrosis. Last year OneRepublic had two songs in my year-end top 40 with "Love Runs Out" at #31 and "Counting Stars" at #36 (the latter also made my 2013 year-end chart at #41).

Killer lyric: Hope that you fall in love, and it hurts so bad
                    The only way you can know is give it all you have
                    And I hope that you don't suffer but take the pain
                    Hope when the moment comes, you'll say...

#71 - "Homegrown" - The Zac Brown Band
          from the album Jekyll & Hyde (2015)
          Highest rank: #22 (four weeks)
          Weeks on the chart: 21
          Billboard Hot 100 peak: #35
          Songwriters: Zac Brown, Wyatt Durrette, Niko Moon

   Like Mumford & Sons, this country-jam band took some risks and expanded their musical horizons with their first studio album in three years, Jeckyll & Hyde. With a fluid mix from country to hard rock to electro-pop to old-style standard, it was definitely an interesting listen as well as a fulfilling one. This lead single was a great distillation of the idea, starting with the roaring wall of guitars before the classic-country harmonies and guitar-pickin' kick in for the verses. They remain the most substantial of the mainstream country bands.

Killer lyric: It's the weight that you carry from the the things that you think you want...

I'll be back tomorrow with an Irishman in the garden, a Congregation seeking Nirvana, an Australian family jumps for joy, and more.