Sunday, December 31, 2017

Twostepcub's Best of 2017: Part Ten - #10 to #1 and the whole she-bang...

Well, it's New Year's Eve, and we're down to the top ten biggest songs of 2017 on my weekly music chart. These are the ones that climbed the highest and stuck around the longest for the year, and you can catch up with parts one through nine (plus my 25 also-rans) by clicking here.

#10 - "Despacito" - Luis Fonsi featuring Daddy Yankee
          from the album Despacito & My Greatest Hits (2017)
          Highest rank: #1 (five weeks)
          Weeks on the chart: 28
          Billboard Hot 100 peak: #1
          Songwriters: Luis Rodriguez (Luis Fonsi), Ramon Ayala (Daddy Yankee), Erika Ender

It's totally fitting that in the first (and hopefully last) year of the Creamsicle Pretend-King, that this Spanish-language reggaeton track by two Puerto Rican music stars spent the most weeks at #1 and dominated the summer. The crest of the Latin wave that's been building for years, it's refreshing that this addictive and seductive record from a guy who has been a mainstay of the genre without any mainstream love finally gets his break. And NO, there is no room for the "Bieber" remix here.

Killer lyrics: Quiero ver bailar tu pelo,
                     Quiero ser tu ritmo,
                     Que le enseñes a mi boca,
                     Tus lugares favoritos (favoritos, favoritos baby)...

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Songoftheday 12/31/17 - No longer can I resist your guiding light, that gives me the power to keep up the fight...

"Love...Thy Will Be Done" - Martika
from the album Martika's Kitchen (1991)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #10 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 9

Today's song of the day comes from the actress and dance-pop singer Martika, who had gone from being a star of the childrens musical program Kids Incorporated to her successful debut album, which spun off three top-40 pop hits in the U.S. with "More Than You Know", a cover of Carole King's "I Feel The Earth Move", and the #1 song "Toy Soldiers". In 1991, she released her sophomore effort Martika's Kitchen, with four of the twelve tracks co-written and produced by Prince. That included the first single "Love...Thy Will Be Done", an understated yet emotionally powerful song that pulsates as she sings. He also sings backup, giving his sound complete control over the record...

Martika - Love Thy Will Be Done (Video) from Eric West on Vimeo.

"Love...Thy Will Be Done" became Martika's fourth and final top-40 pop hit in America in October of 1991. The single also crossed over to Billboard's Adult Contemporary (or "easy listening") radio chart at #40. Internationally, the song spent a week at #1 in Australia, and reached the top ten in New Zealand (#4), Canada (#7), Ireland (#8), the UK (#9), and France (#10).

The follow-up single and title track, "Martika's Kitchen", was also written and produced by Prince, but even though it was insanely catchy, still a favorite of mine, and reached the top-40 in the UK (#17), Australia (#29), Canada (#34), and Germany (#40), it stalled down at #93 on the American pop Hot 100. A third release, "Coloured Kisses", was produced by Clivilles and Cole of the C+C Music Factory. It missed the charts altogether in the U.S., but hit #39 in Australia and just missed the British top-40 at #41. Since then she has mostly retired from the music business, but her profile spiked in the 2000s when rapper Eminem interpolated her "Toy Soldiers" into a #1 single in the UK and #34 in America in "Like Toy Soldiers". She's also gone on a few "retro" tours as well.

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Saturday, December 30, 2017

twostepcub's Best of 2017: Part Nine - #20 to #11...

We're getting close to the end of my year-end countdown of the biggest songs on my weekly music chart for 2017. You can catch up on everything so far by clicking here and checking out parts one through eight...

#20 - "Stay" - Zedd & Alessia Cara
          from the album Everything, Everything (Original Soundtrack) (2017)
          Highest rank: #7 (six weeks)
          Weeks on the chart (in 2017): 27
          Billboard Hot 100 peak: #7
          Songwriters: Anton Zaslavski (Zedd), Alessia Caracciolo (Alessia Cara), Linus Wiklund, Sarah Aarons, Anders Frøen (Mood Melodies), Jonnali Parmenius (Noonie Bao)

Russo-German DJ/producer Zedd, who had the third biggest song on my countdown for 2013 with "Clarity" and at #47 the year after with "Stay The Night", returns to the year-end with his collaboration with Canadian singer/songwriter Cara, who was at #46 last year with "Here" and is coming up again soon. Cara makes this slowed down EDM track warmer than it would've been with another voice.

Killer lyrics: Won't admit what I already know,
                      I've never been the best at letting go,
                      I don't wanna spend the night alone...

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Songoftheday 12/30/17 - First day we met my heart stood still, I never had a man like you and I doubt I ever will...

"Got A Love For You" - Jomanda
from the album Someone To Love Me (1990)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #40
Weeks in the Top-40: 1

Today's song of the day comes from the dance music act Jomanda, who hail from New Jersey, and got together in the late 1980's. Members Cheri Williams and Joanne Thomas were childhood friends, and then hooked up with Renee Washington to form the trio. Their first single, "Make My Body Rock", was a decent club hit, reaching #6 on Billboard's Dance Club Play chart in the States in 1989 and almost making the top-40 in the UK at #44. That was followed by "Don't You Want My Love", which also landed in the Dance Club top ten at #10 (and #67 in Britain). The next year, a third single release, "Share", also hit the Dance chart at #25, and led to the recording of their debut album Someone To Love Me. A front to back house music jam, the album featured their biggest success, the dancefloor classic "Got A Love For You". Written by Williams with the production team Ruffneck (Derek Jenkins, Dwayne Richardson, and Joel Washington) along with dance artist Cassio Ware from Newark, the pulsating bassline and vocal gymnastics of the group that were chopped up nicely on the breaks resulted in one of the most iconic singles of the genre...

"Got A Love For You" became Jomanda's sole top-40 pop hit, spending a week at the bottom rung in August of 1991. The song also climbed to #66 on Billboard's R&B chart, while the remixes on the 12" vinyl/CD single helped it spend a week at #1 on their Dance Club Play list. Internationally, the record went to #43 in the UK. A fifth release from the album, "The True Meaning Of Love", scored Jomanda a fourth top ten club hit at #7.

In 1992, British DJ/producer Felix reworked "Don't You Want My Love" into a new track, "Don't You Want Me", and took it and Jomanda again to #1 on the Dance Club Play chart in the U.S. It also was a huge international hit, reaching the top ten in Britain and all over Europe, and almost made the American pop chart, "bubbling under" at #110. And by transforming the song into a trance/rave anthem, gave a whole new audience for the group. With this momentum, the trio released a second album, Nubia Soul, in 1993. However, they went in a more R&B direction like the likes of SWV and Jade, and though the first single, a remake of Debarge's "I Like It", was their biggest R&B hit at #45, it stalled down at #83 on the pop Hot 100 (it did climb to #29 on the club chart). A second offering, "Back To You", slipped onto the R&B chart at #96 for a week, while another track from the album, a return to deep house music with "Never", became their sole top-40 hit in the UK at #40. Lastly, the single "I Cried The Tears", remixed by house music legend Ralphi Rosario, climbed up to #15 on the American dance chart in 1993.

They wouldn't release another album after that, but in 1995 the producers, along with Jomanda member Joanne Thomas (now renamed Yavahn), scored a #1 dance club hit with "Everybody Be Somebody". Then, their "Move Your Body" single hit #2 on that list for a week. Sadly, Thomas passed from cancer in 2003. 

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Friday, December 29, 2017

twostepcub's Best of 2017: Part Eight - #30 to #21...

The eighth installment of my year-end recap of the biggest songs on my weekly music chart is up right now. You can catch up with the other seven parts as well as my list of also-rans by clicking here...

#40 - "Don't Wanna Know" - Maroon 5 featuring Kendrick Lamar
          from the album Red Pill Blues (2017)
          Highest rank (in 2017): #4 (four weeks) (was also #4 for two weeks in 2016)
          Weeks on the chart (in 2017): 19 (was on the chart for seven weeks in 2016)
          Billboard Hot 100 peak: #6
          Songwriters: Adam Levine (Maroon 5), Kendrick Duckworth (Kendrick Lamar), Benjamin Levin (Benny Blanco), the Arcade (Kurtis McKenzie & Jon Mills), Jon Ryan, Jacob Kasher, Ammar Malik, Alex Ben-Abdallah

This tale of heartbreak and longing for your ex is made sweeter by this tropical-house experiment by the biggest American pop band who placed three songs on this year's list. In the music video's case, it's Adam as a Pokemon-like creature longing for another (Sarah Silverman). Two years ago, they were at #12 with "Sugar".

Killer lyrics: Do you think of me?
                     Of what we used to be?
                     Is it better now that I'm not around?

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Songoftheday 12/29/17 - Knock down the doors and break through the walls tear out the phone run from it all, I'm here to tell ya babe it's been one of those days...

"The Sound Of Your Voice" - .38 Special
from the album Bone Against Steel (1991)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #33 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 4

Today's song of the day comes from the southern rock group .38 Special, whose first album after losing one of their original lead singers Don Barnes, Rock & Roll Strategy, nonetheless gave them their highest-charting pop single with the soft-rock ballad "Second Chance" in the spring of 1989. ( A fourth single from the record, "Coming Down Again" hit #67 pop and #43 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart.)

In 1991, the band, still with new lead singer and keyboard player Max Carl, released their ninth studio album Bone Against Steel. The first single from the record, "The Sound Of Your Voice", brought them somewhat back to uptempo workingman rock, though much more slick and commercial sounding. Written by Carl with bandmates Danny Chauncey and Jeff Carlisi along with Jim Peterik of the rock band Survivor, it gave them their final mainstream radio hurrah...

"The Sound Of Your Voice" became .38 Special's ninth and so-far last top-40 pop hit in September of 1991. The track did much better on rock radio, peaking at #2 for a week on Billboard's Mainstream Rock format chart. Up in Canada, the single stopped right under the top-40 at #43.

A second single from Bone Against Steel, "Rebel To Rebel", missed the pop chart but did land at #30 on the Mainstream Rock radio tally. After this album, Carl left, with Barnes rejoining the band for their 1997 effort Resolution. From that set "Fade To Blue" became their most recent rock radio hit at #33. Since then they've released a Christmas album, and their most recent studio set, Drivetrain, was released in 2004. Original member Donnie Van Zant (who sang on "Rebel To Rebel") had to retire from touring then the band itself for health reasons.

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Thursday, December 28, 2017

twostepcub's Best of 2017: Part Seven - #40 to #31...

We're down to the top-40 of my year-end countdown of the biggest songs on my weekly music chart for 2017. You can catch up with parts one through six along with my also-ran halftime show by clicking here.

#40 - "A Million Reasons" - Lady Gaga
          from the album Joanne (2016)
          Highest rank: #9 (two weeks)
          Weeks on the chart: 22
          Billboard Hot 100 peak: #4
          Songwriters: Stefani Germanotta (Lady Gaga), Hillary Lindsey, Mark Ronson

After the lead single from Gaga's fifth album Joanne, "Perfect Illusion", relatively stiffed here in the States, missing the top ten on the pop chart and falling fast and quick after its release, Gaga took a left turn with this country-style ballad co-written with that genre's go-to "song doctor", Hillary Lindsey, and scored a hit with this simple song, without the dance-pop gimmicks and only with the power of her voice.

Killer lyrics: Head stuck in a cycle, I look off and I stare,
                      It's like that I've stopped breathing, but completely aware...

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Songoftheday 12/28/17 - Something's wrong shut the light, heavy thoughts tonight and they aren't of Snow White...

"Enter Sandman" - Metallica
from the album Metallica (1991)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #16 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 16

Today's song of the day comes from the speed-metal band Metallica, who had first tasted mainstream success in the spring of 1989 with their first top-40 pop hit "One". With the momentum of that success, along with a top ten album behind them (a big thing for that underground type of metal), the group set out to record their eponymous fifth studio album, which was released in 1991. Metallica would become one of the biggest-selling albums of all time, in some part to their first single, "Enter Sandman". Written by lead singer James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich over a riff from lead guitarist Kirk Hammett that has become one of the most recognizable and iconic, the song was actually pretty dark, recalling horror movies involving children, and using kids' rhymes and stories to show a true monster hiding under the bed. The break at the end of the chorus when Hetfield sings "Take my hand we're off to Never-Neverland" still gives me chills...

"Enter Sandman" became Metallica's second top-40 pop hit in October of 1991, spending four months in the top-40. The track also climbed to #10 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock radio format chart. Internationally, the single topped the chart in Finland, and reached the top ten in Norway (#2), Poland (#4), the UK (#5), New Zealand (#8), Germany (#9), Australia (#10), and the Netherlands (#10). The record also made the top 20 in Switzerland (#11), Sweden (#14), Canada (#17), and Italy (#20). In 1992, the Metallica album won a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance, and "Enter Sandman" was nominated for Best Rock Song, losing out to Sting's "The Soul Cages". The video won an MTV moonman at the Video Awards Show for best Rock/Metal video.

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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Twostepcub's Best of 2017: Part Six - #50 to #41...

We've reached the halfway point of my year-end countdown of the biggest songs on my weekly music chart; the ones that climbed the highest and/or stuck around the longest. You can catch up on parts one through five by clicking here, and yesterday's recap of the 25 also-rans can be found by clicking here. Let's get back into it...

#50 - "Drinkin' Problem" - Midland
          from the album On The Rocks (2017)
          Highest rank: #3 (two weeks)
          Weeks on the chart: 19
          Billboard Hot 100 peak: #45
          Songwriters: Midland (Mark Wystrach, Cameron Duddy, Jess Carson), Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne

Who'd have thunk that a former soap opera actor would front the best of the neo-traditionalist bands of this year? Wystrach, an alum of Passions fronts this trio that sounds like they took the baton from Joe Nichols and ran with it, and this swaying track was one of the most different sounds mainstream country radio took ahold of. Their debut album is stellar.

Killer lyric: They keep on talkin' drawing conclusions,
                    They call it a problem, I call it a solution...

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Songoftheday 12/27/17 - In the morning when I rise, you are the first thing on my mind...

"Emotions" - Mariah Carey
from the album Emotions (1991)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #1 (three weeks)
Weeks in the Top-40: 20

Today's song of the day comes from Mariah Carey, whose self-titled debut album had landed four #1 pop hit singles in America with "I Don't Wanna Cry", "Someday", "Love Takes Time", and "Vision Of Love", the latter winning her a Grammy for Female Vocal Performance in 1991. She also grabbed the award for Best New Artist that year as well. That same year, Mariah recorded her sophomore effort, Emotions. However, legal disputes between her and her record company with pre-fame collaborator Ben Margulies, who co-wrote over half of her first album, killed their friendship and work partnership. Turning to Walter Afanasieff, who produced "Love Takes Time", and the team behind the C+C Music Factory, Rob Clivillés and David Cole, she came out with a resulting set that sounded more youthful and tuned into a younger audience than her classy soft-pop debut. The first single from the record, the title track "Emotions", was one of the four Clivillés and Cole productions, and had a neo-disco thump very very much like the 70s classic "Best Of My Love" (by, hmmmm, the Emotions). You can hear the house music influence as well in the piano chords and keyboard flourishes. Nevertheless, the girl-group-style vocal interplay between the lead and backup vocal tracks (sung by Mariah herself with Trey Lorenz and David Cole) became yet another big hit on mainstream radio. In fact, the song stayed longer in the top-40 than any single that peaked in 1991...

"Emotions" became Mariah's fifth consecutive #1 pop hit in the U.S. in October of 1991, the first artist or group to have that many chart-toppers as their first five singles. The track also spent a week on top of Billboard's R&B chart (her third after "Love Takes Time" and "Vision Of Love"), and also took a week at #3 on their Adult Contemporary (or "easy listening") radio format tally. The 12" vinyl/CD single remixes, reworked by Clivillés and Cole, helped the song go to #1 on their Dance Club Play list as well (her second after "Someday") Internationally, the record topped the singles chart in Canada for a week, went to #3 in New Zealand, and reached the top-40 in Australia (#11), the Netherlands (#13), the UK (#17), Ireland (#27), Sweden (#30), and Germany (#39).

In 1992, Mariah again was nominated for a Grammy for Pop Female Vocal Performance, but this time lost out to Bonnie Raitt's "Something To Talk About". Her Emotions album also was nommed for a Soul Train Award for album of the year, which went to Natalie Cole's Unforgettable.

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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Robbed hit of the week 12/26/17 - The La's' "There She Goes"...

"There She Goes" - The La's 
from the album The La's (1990)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #49

This week's "robbed hit" comes from the British alternative rock band the La's, who got their start in Liverpool in the early 80's under guitarist and singer, Mike Badger, who was originally joined by Lee Mavers, who in no time took over the band entirely, with Badger exiting by 1986. Their first single, "Way Out", got them a minor British hit at #86 and critical buzz. Two years later, their second release, "There She Goes", climbed a little higher, at #57, but conflict between the band, which had been shuffling members like cards (only bassist John Power was a relative standby), and an assortment of producers, dragged the recording of their first album all the way to 1990. And even those sessions, with Steve Lillywhite, weren't what Mavers wanted to put out, but the record company, who had shelled out a ton on these, simply forced their debut and only album The La's out. The original version of "There She Goes" was produced by Bob Andrews (Graham Parker & The Rumour, Brinsley Schwarz), and had a lo-fi indie edge to it..

Lillywhite punched up the arrangement a bit, and fleshed out a song that was all chorus and no verse...

While the 1990 version of the single finally reached the British top-40 at #13, and spent a week at #2 on Billboard's Modern Rock radio chart, it stalled right above the halfway mark on the pop Hot 100 list in America in August of 1991. The single also reached #18 in Ireland and was a minor hit in the Netherlands at #57. A follow-up, "Timeless Melody", climbed to #12 on the American Modern Rock chart and peaked at #57 in the UK. A final release from the album, "Feelin'", just missed the British top-40 at #43.

Because of the nature of the release of the album, and Mavers' general instability, the band disintegrated after touring in 1992. He continued under the name, with the label releasing archival music and various repackages through the 90s. Mavers and Powers occasionally have reunited to tour as well, but in general The La's were one of those shine bright then fade away one-offs whose big moment should've been a top-40 hit here in the States.

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twostepcub's Best of 2017: Part Five and a Half - the "Bubbling Unders", #125 to #101...

Hey gang, we've gone halfway through my countdown of the 100 biggest songs on my weekly music chart for 2017. You can catch up on parts one through five by clicking here. As a bonus, here's the 25 songs that just missed out, including some real gems.

#125 - "Mi Gente" - J. Balvin & Willy William featuring Beyonce
            from the single (2017)
            Highest rank: #18 (two weeks)
            Weeks on the chart (in 2017): 14 (still charting)
            Billboard Hot 100 peak: #3

Following on the heels of "Despacito", Columbian singer J. Balvin and French DJ Willy William had the next Latin breakout success with this track, which was actually a much better suited club and party song anyway. Enlisting Beyonce for a "remix" only gave it mainstream success (and a top ten placing).

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Songoftheday 12/26/17 - Honey I'll stay up late for you and wait for your call, buzz me up at 5 AM and I don't mind at all...

"Do Anything" - Natural Selection with Niki Haris
from the album Natural Selection (1991)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #2 (two weeks)
Weeks in the Top-40: 19

Today's song of the day comes from Natural Selection, who came together in the late 1980s in Minneapolis. Led by musician/producer Elliot Erickson and singer Frederick Thomas, the act was a local success until they released their self-titled debut album in 1991. The first single from the record, "Do Anything", was a slinkly mid-tempo dance-pop confection written by Erickson and Thomas, who did a passable Prince by way of Ready For The World impersonation. Originally, it was Ingrid Chavez cooing verses in the background, lifted from the parts of Madonna's "Justify My Life" that got Ingrid writer's credit, but in the final record it was actually Madge's back-up singer Niki Haris that got recording credit for the single. Haris had previously reached the pop chart earlier in the year with a collaboration with another connection with Madonna - remixer Jellybean, whose "What's It Gonna Be" hit #90 on the pop chart at #2 on the Dance Club Play list...

"Do Anything" became Natural Selection's first and biggest pop hit, climbing all the way to #2 on the American Top-40 in October of 1991. Internationally, the record reached the top ten in Australia (#10) and New Zealand (#9), climbed to #21 in Sweden and #26 in Canada, and went to #69 in the UK.

While the band scored a second top-40 pop hit, Haris hasn't as yet returned. However, she's landed a handful of club hits, where her gay fan base is substantial (given her Madonna link, no duh). In 1993, Niki sang lead on "Exterminate!", the Dr. Who-themed single from German dance group Snap!, and reached #29 on Billboard's Dance Club Play chart. She re-appeared again as the featured vocalist on "Let Me Hear The Music" from L.E.X. in 2006, which went to #3 on the dance chart. Three years later, Haris topped the Dance Club list with the Perry Twins on "Bad, Bad Boy". That same year, she hit #5 with a remake of "This Time Baby" with Eddie X. Most recently, in 2014 Niki and DJ John LePage peaked at #21 with "Not Enough".

Up tomorrow: Pop diva returns with feelings.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

twostepcub's music chart for December 22, 2017...

It's time to run down my top 100 tunes from the previous week. Sam Smith remains on top for a second week, while 30 Seconds To Mars (picture above) return to the top ten. Songs from Pink, Marshmello/Selena Gomez, and Andy Grammer make the biggest jumps (moves of 10+ places highlighted in red), while former big hits from Phillip Phillips, Rachel Platten, and All Time Love drop off my list. Also, I'm in the middle of counting down the biggest singles on this here weekly chart for 2017, and you can catch up by clicking here. Happy holidays, everyone...

This Week              Song/Artist (last week's position in parentheses)
1. Too Good At Goodbyes - Sam Smith (1)
2. Havana - Camila Cabello f/Young Thug (3)
3. What About Us? - Pink (2)
4. Thunder - Imagine Dragons (5)
5. Perfect - Ed Sheeran f/Beyonce (7)
6. Up All Night - Beck (8)
7. How Long - Charlie Puth (9)
8. Love So Soft - Kelly Clarkson (4)
9. Sorry Not Sorry - Demi Lovato (6)
10. Walk On Water - 30 Seconds To Mars (12)
11. Feel It Still - Portugal, The Man (10)
12. The Sky Is A Neighborhood - Foo Fighters (14)
13. New Rules - Dua Lipa (13)
14. No Roots - Alice Merton (24)
15. Silence - Marshmello f/Khalid (16)
16. 1-800-273-8255 - Logic f/Alessia Cara & Khalid (11)
17. Bad at Love - Halsey (19)
18. Light It Up - Luke Bryan (18)
19. Praying - Kesha (15)
20. Waving Through A Window - Ben Platt & Cast Of Dear Evan Hansen (21)
21. You're The Best Thing About Me - U2 (17)
22. Location - Khalid (22)
23. Ask Me How I Know - Garth Brooks (27)
24. What Lovers Do - Maroon 5 f/SZA (20)
25. Disco Tits - Tove Lo (25)
26. Round Here Buzz - Eric Church (28)
27. Lay It On Me - Vance Joy (23)
28. I Could Use A Love Song - Maren Morris (30)
29. Unforgettable - Thomas Rhett (26)
30. Losing Sleep - Chris Young (32)
31. Like I Loved You - Brett Young (36)
32. Woman - Kesha f/Dap King Horns (38)
33. Fix A Drink - Chris Janson (29)
34. Beautiful Trauma - Pink (79)
35. There's Nothing Holdin' Me Back - Shawn Mendes (31)
36. Smoke Clears - Andy Grammer (52)
37. The Gold - Manchester Orchestra (37)
38. Giants - LIGHTS (39)
39. Angela - The Lumineers (43)
40. When It Rains It Pours - Luke Combs (33)
41. When We - Tank (47)
42. Believer - Imagine Dragons (42)
43. Greatest Love Story - LANCO (44)
44. Every Little Thing - Carly Pearce (34)
45. Mi Gente - J. Balvin & Willy William f/Beyonce (35)
46. Lights Down Low - MAX f/gnash (50)
47. All On My Mind - Anderson East (51)
48. What Ifs - Kane Brown f/Lauren Alaina (46)
49. One Foot - Walk The Moon (57)
50. Two High - Moon Taxi (40)
51. Complicated - Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike f/David Guetta & Kiiara (63)
52. Yours - Russell Dickerson (54)
53. Don't Take The Money - Bleachers (53)
54. Rich Love - OneRepublic f/Seeb (56)
55. Anywhere - Rita Ora (55)
56. Reggaeton Lento - CNCO & Little Mix (60)
57. Too Much To Ask - Niall Horan (61)
58. Slow Hands - Niall Horan (41)
59. No Promises - Cheat Codes f/Demi Lovato (45)
60. Love In Ruins - Gryffin f/Sinead Harnett (64)
61. Cola - CamelPhat & Elderbrook (48)
62. Versace On The Floor - Bruno Mars (62)
63. I'm Too Sexy (Touch This Skin) - Ultra Nate & Quentin Harris as Black Stereo Faith (65)
64. Small Town Boy - Dustin Lynch (58)
65. Pain - The War On Drugs (69)
66. Redbone - Childish Gambino (66)
67. Go To War - Nothing More (67)
68. Day I Die - The National (70)
69. Shine Your Love - Scotty Boy & Lizzie Curious (84)
70. I'll Name The Dogs - Blake Shelton (71)
71. Outta Style - Aaron Watson (81)
72. Freak - Rosabel f/Tamara Wallace (82)
73. Rx (Medicate) - Theory Of A Deadman (59)
74. Wolves - Marshmello f/Selena Gomez (94)
75. A Girl Like You - Easton Corbin (76)
76. I Miss You - Clean Bandit f/Julia Michaels (92)
77. All Stars - Martin Solveig f/ALMA (89)
78. Body Like A Back Road - Sam Hunt (78)
79. Almost Home - Sultan + Shepard f/Nadia Ali & IRO (83)
80. Without You - Avicii f/Sandro Cavazza (80)
81. Little Of Your Love - HAIM (DEBUT)
82. Love Line - LeAnn Rimes (DEBUT)
83. X With U - Tom Budin & Luciana (97)
84. Think (About It) - Barbara Tucker (DEBUT)
85. Do I Make You Wanna - Billy Currington (85)
86. Legends - Kelsea Ballerini (DEBUT)
87. Carry You Home - Tiesto f/Stargate & Aloe Blacc (87)
88. I Got A Problem (I Wonder...) - G.H. Hat f/Mickey Shiloh (88)
89. Live In The Moment - Portugal, The Man (DEBUT)
90. Katchi - Ofenbach & Nick Waterhouse (90)
91. Blinded By Your Grace, Pt. 2 - Stormzy f/MNEK (91)
92. Meant To Be - Bebe Rexha f/Florida Georgia Line (96)
93. Betray and Degrade - Seether (93)
94. Let Me Go - Hailee Steinfeld & Alesso f/Florida Georiga Line & Watt (98)
95. LOVE. - Kendrick Lamar f/Zacari (100)
96. One Last Song - Sam Smith (RE-ENTRY)
97. 17 - MK (DEBUT)
98. Stuck In My Feelings - Andreas Moss (DEBUT)
99. I Only Lie When I Love You - Royal Blood (DEBUT)
100. Revolution - Van William f/First Aid Kit (DEBUT)

There are nine songs making their debut on my chart this week (highlighted in blue), and if you click on any of them, you'll connect to that artist's official web site for more info. And here they are on video, after the break...

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Songoftheday 12/24/17 - Life's ambition occupy my time priorities confuse the mind, happiness one step behind this inner peace I've yet to find...

"Hole Hearted" - Extreme
from the album Extreme II: Pornograffiti (1990)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #4 (two weeks)
Weeks in the Top-40: 17

Today's song of the day comes from the funk-metal band Extreme, whose sophomore album Pornograffiti spun off an out-of-character #1 pop hit with the acoustic ballad "More Than Words" in the summer of 1991. They followed that up with another folksy number from the mostly-metal album, "Hole Hearted". Written by lead singer Gary Cherone and guitarist Nuno Betancourt, the track, full of tight harmonies and strumming acoustic guitars, was an even catchier single than the first, and pop radio of course went along...

"Hole Hearted" became Extreme's second and final top-40 pop hit in October of 1991. The song also spent four weeks at #2 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock radio chart, as well as crossing over to their Adult Contemporary (or 'easy listening') format tally at #32. Internationally, the record reached the top-40 in Canada (#2), the Netherlands (#9), the UK (#12), Australia (#24), and Sweden (#30). After its success, earlier single "Get The Funk Out" was re-released, and while it missed the pop chart, the hard-rocking track climbed to #34 on the Mainstream Rock list. Another song from the album, the power-ballad "Song For Love", was released as a single in the UK, and went to #12 there.

In 1992, the band followed up with their third release, III Sides To Every Story, which also reached the top ten on the albums chart like its predecessor. A more ambitious effort, with meatier song topics, it was actually a stronger record, but didn't sell like the one with the two top ten hits on it. Lead single "Rest In Peace" was their sole #1 hit on Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart, staying there for two weeks, but only slipped on to the pop Hot 100 at #96. Then came "Stop The World", another social commentary that employed the gift of harmony they used in "Hole Hearted", but again only popped on to the pop chart at #95, though it peaked at #9 on the Mainstream Rock chart. But over in the UK, both of those tracks did very well, reaching #13 and #22 respectively. A third song from that album, "Am I Ever Gonna Change", had the folksy beat of "Hole Hearted" nixed with hard metal, and nabbed Extreme a third top ten rock radio hit from the set at #10. Meanwhile, in Britain the song "Tragic Comic", did pretty respectably, climbing to #15.

During the recording of their fourth album, Waiting For The Punchline, drummer Paul Geary left Extreme for what would become a very successful music management career (even becoming Extreme's manager). Replaced by Mike Mangini (who would eventually join Dream Theater), that album came out in 1995, with second single "Hip Today" the only success from the record, hitting #26 on the American rock radio chart and just missing the British top-40 at #44. At that time, Extreme split up, with Cherone ending up joining Van Halen as their new lead singer in 1996. He only lasted one album, though; in spite of the set spinning off three hit singles on rock radio, including the #1 "Without You", sales were way off the norm for the hard rock titans, and Cherone departed soon after. Extreme have reunited sporadically since 2004, even releasing a new album in 2008, Saudades De Rock, which landed on the albums chart at #78.

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Saturday, December 23, 2017

twostepcub's Best of 2017: Part Five - #60 to #51...

Wow, I'm already approaching the halfway mark on my countdown of the 100 biggest songs on my weekly music chart this year. You can check out by clicking part one, part two, part three, or part four...

#60 - "Cold" - Maroon 5 featuring Future
          from the album Red Pill Blues (2017)
          Highest rank: #13 (one week)
          Weeks on the chart: 20
          Billboard Hot 100 peak: #16
          Songwriters: Adam Levine (Maroon 5), Josh Ryan, Jacob Kasher Hindlin (Jacob Kasher), Justin Tranter, Phil Shaouy

For a while it seemed like Adam Levine's music career was getting to be a side job from his gig as a mentor on The Voice, but after missing out on last year's list, his band Maroon 5 places three songs on the tally. This trippy dance-pop experiment sported a video that convinced me never to do drugs ever. They were on the year-end list in 2015 with "Sugar" at #12...

Killer lyric: Are we taking time, or a time out?
                    I can't take the in-between
                   Asking me for space here in my house
                   You know how to fuck with me...

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Songoftheday 12/23/17 - Take me in your arms caress me gently oh I can't get enough, thrill me say the word I will surrender to your poetic charms...

"Romantic" - Karyn White
from the album Ritual Of Love (1991)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #1 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 19

Today's song of the day comes from R&B/pop singer Karyn White, whose eponymous debut album had scored her a trio of top ten pop hits with "The Way You Love Me", "Superwoman", and "Secret Rendezvous". In 1991 White released her sophomore effort, Ritual Of Love, and while her first set was dominated by the writing and production team of Babyface and L.A.Reid, eight of this one's twelve songs involved the Minneapolis Flyte Tyme crew of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis (the latter she would go on to marry in 1992). This included the first single, "Romantic", which Jam and Lewis created in the Janet Jackson dance-pop mold. Nevertheless, without a current single from Ms. J, radio welcomed the record, and it became Karyn's biggest hit...

"Romantic" climbed all the way to #1 on the American pop chart in November of 1991. The single also topped Billboard's R&B chart for a week, and crossed over to their Adult Contemporary (or "easy listening") radio format list at #37. The remixes on the 12" vinyl/CD single helped it go to #6 on their Dance Club Play list as well. Internationally, the song reached the top-40 in Canada (#16), the UK (#23), and Ireland (#29).

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Friday, December 22, 2017

twostepcub's Best of 2017: Part Four - #70 to #61...

I've been counting down the 100 biggest songs from my weekly music chart from 2017, and we're up to part four....You can check out the other parts by clicking here, here, and here...

#80 - "Wild Thoughts" - DJ Khaled featuring Rihanna & Bryson Tiller
          from the album Grateful (2017)
          Highest rank: #5 (two weeks)
          Weeks on the chart: 16
          Billboard Hot 100 peak: #2
          Songwriters: Khaled Khaled (DJ Khaled), Robyn Fenty (Rihanna), Bryson Tiller, Jahron Braithwaite (Partynextdoor), [Carlos Santana, Wyclef Jean, Jerry Duplassis, Marvin Moore-Hough, David McRae - from the sample of "Maria Maria"], Johnny & Leonardo Mollings (Nasty Beatmakers)

After releasing the sugary shitpile that was his collaboration with Justin Bieber and Lil' Wayne in "I'm The One", Palestinian-American DJ Khaled redeemed himself with the most fun thing Rihanna was involved in this year (including her mediocre club hits). Cribbing Santana's "Maria Maria" and joining Bryson Tiller who speak-sings through his verses, and this breezy single got noticed because the other hip-hop hits of the summer were mostly mumbling noise. (In 2016 Rihanna was at #21 for the year with her collab with Calvin Harris, "This Is What You Came For".)

Killer lyric: I hope you know I'm for the takin',
                   You know this cookie's for the baking,
                   Kitty, kitty, baby give that thing some rest,
                   Like the '68 Jets...

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Songoftheday 12/22/17 - Ok so your heart is broken you're sitting around mopin', Mopin' mopin' cryin' cryin' you say you're even thinking about dying...

"Everybody Plays The Fool" - Aaron Neville
from the album Warm Your Heart (1991)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #8 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 12

Today's song of the day comes from veteran singer Aaron Neville, who is part of the seminal New Orleans soul group the Neville Brothers. However, he got his start as a solo artist, with his first hit single going all the way back to 1960, when the single "Over You" climbed to #21 on Billboard's R&B chart. Neville truly didn't break out of the local bayou market until six years later, when he took the song "Tell It Like It Is" all the way to #1 on the R&B chart and #2 on the pop Hot 100. Although he wasn't able to follow up that success in the sixties and seventies, that classic single gave him enough notoriety that his name never became like those of the countless forgotten "one hit wonders" of that decade.

After joining up with his brothers to perform and record in the late 70s/early 80s (along with a one-off solo album in 1986), Aaron came back to mainstream radio in a big way in 1989, when he guested on Linda Ronstadt's Cry Like A Rainstorm, Howl Like The Wind album. Two of the duets from the record reached the top-40, with "Don't Know Much" going to #2 and "All My Life" peaking at #11. The pair won back-to-back Grammys for the two songs as well. Running on that momentum, Neville recorded another album, only his third solo studio set in over thirty years. The first single from Warm Your Heart was a cover of a song made popular by the R&B group the Main Ingredient, who took the advice-giving song "Everybody Plays The Fool" to #3 on the pop chart in America in 1972...

Aaron didn't stray from the vocal treatment of the song, but did take it from a harmonizing group focus to being a lite-reggae mantra that was all about his voice, as soft as velvet...

Neville's version of "Everybody Plays The Fool" became his third and final top-10 pop hit (and so far last top-40 hit in America) in October of 1991. The single topped Billboard's Adult Contemporary (or "easy listening") radio chart for a week as well (it was his third and last to do so). Internationally, the record went to #1 in New Zealand for two weeks, and peaked at #19 in Canada. The second single released from Warm Your Heart, "Somewhere Somebody", missed the pop Hot 100 but climbed to #6 on the Adult Contemporary chart, as did the third release and a duet with Linda Ronstadt (who produced the album) in the cover of the Peaches & Herb 60s hit "Close Your Eyes".

In 1993, Aaron released his next album, The Grand Tour, and while it didn't spin off any top-40 pop hits, the record actually outsold its predecessor, earning Neville a platinum album for shipping over a million copies. The lead single from the set, "Don't Take Away My Heaven", stalled at #56 on the Hot 100, but climbed to #4 on the Adult Contemporary format chart, and was hit biggest solo hit in Canada at #17. The title track, a cover of an iconic George Jones song, reached the top-40 on the Country Airplay chart (#38), and #90 on the pop chart. He appeared on the massively popular soundtrack to the film The Bodyguard, with his collaboration with sax man Kenny G, "Even If My Heart Would Break", "bubbling under" the Hot 100 at #122 (and #28 AC) but probably is still sending him healthy royalty checks.

Aaron came back in 1995 with his record The Tattooed Heart. The first single "Can't Stop My Heart From Loving You (The Rain Song)", is up to now his most recent charting pop hit at #99 (and #23 AC). From that same record, a cover of the Bill Withers song "Use Me" slipped on to the R&B chart at #93. His most recent hit single came in 2006 with the Impressions' "It's All Right" (#28, Adult Contemporary), though he's had a top ten album on the R&B tally in 2010 with My True Story. His latest album, Apache, reached the R&B albums list at #16 and spawned a smooth jazz hit with "I Wanna Love You" (#22).

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Thursday, December 21, 2017

twostepcub's Best of 2017: Part Three - #80 to #71...

I'm up to part three of my recap of the songs that climbed and highest and stayed the longest on my weekly music chart. You can check out the first two installments by clicking here and here...

#80 - "Closer" - The Chainsmokers featuring Halsey
          from the EP Collage (2016)
          Highest rank (in 2017): #11 (two weeks) (was #2 for two weeks in 2016)
          Weeks on the chart (in 2017): 15 (was on for 16 weeks in 2016)
          Billboard Hot 100 peak: #1 (twelve weeks)
          Songwriters: Andrew Taggart (Chainsmokers), Ashley Frangipane (Halsey), Shaun Frank, Frederic Kennett (Louis The Child), Isaac Slade & Joe King (the Fray)

The bro-dance duo's massive hit from last year (it was #50 on 2016's list) carried over to this year as it continued to resonate amongst the kiddies. The song also kick-started Halsey's exposure to middle America. The duo also had last year's #18 ("Don't Let Me Down") and #45 ("Roses") entries on the 2016 year-end recap.

Killer lyric:  You look as good as the day I met you,
                     I forget just why I left you, I was insane,
                     Stay and play that Blink-182 song,
                     That we beat to death in Tuscon, okay...

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Songoftheday 12/21/17 - We used to talk never owed a dime, now we live together never find the time...

"Love On A Rooftop" - Desmond Child
from the album Discipline (1991)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #40 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 1

Today's song of the day comes from Desmond Child, who along with Diane Warren and Holly Knight was one of the biggest songswriters in pop music in the 1980's. Born John Barrett in Gainesville, Florida (home to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers), Desmond success began in 1979, when he penned the disco-rock hit for KISS, "I Was Made For Lovin' You", which peaked at #11 on the pop chart. He also formed his own band, Desmond Child and Rouge, which had a minor pop hit that same year with "Our Love is Insane" (#51). However, that group didn't last past two quickly-released albums, and Child concentrated on writing and producing others. And with that tack his profile tore through the roof, writing top ten hits for Cher ("We All Sleep Alone"), Aerosmith ("Angel"), Joan Jett ("I Hate Myself For Loving You"), Alice Cooper ("Poison"), Michael Bolton ("How Can We Be Lovers"), and most notably, Bon Jovi, with whom he helped write their #1 hits "You Give Love a Bad Name", "Livin' On A Prayer", and "Bad Medicine". His status as a "song doctor" for mainstream rock acts landed Child a solo record deal, and he released his disc Affliction in 1991. With an all-star lineup with members of Bon Jovi, Joan Jett, Kane Roberts, and Vivian Campbell on board, the album was meant to be a big-time affair. The first single from the record, "Love On A Rooftop", was originally recorded by 60s girl-group queen Ronnie Spector. Written by Child with Diane Warren, it had all the bells and whistles of the music for artists he had written for, though his voice wasn't quite as strong or memorable as like Jon Bon Jovi or Steven Tyler. But the girl-group-style "whoa-whoa's" that carried over from Spector's version made for a nice hook...

"Love On A Rooftop" slipped in to the American top-40 for a week in August of 1991. The follow-up single, "You're The Story Of My Life" (also penned by Child and Warren), slipped in at #74 on the pop Hot 100, but did climb to #29 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary (or "easy listening") radio chart. A third single, "Obsession" with former Rouge bandmate Maria Vidal, went to #19 on that latter chart, his final appearance so far as an artist.

Focusing back on producing and writing, Desmond continued to have massive success with Bon Jovi and Aerosmith, as well as for artists as diverse as Ricky Martin ("Livin' La Vida Loca"), Sisqo ("Thong Song"), and Carrie Underwood ("Inside Your Love"). Also, coming out to the public as a gay man, Child and his husband Curtis live in Nashville, with their sons, and produced a documentary about their journey to start a family.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

twostepcub's Best of 2017: Part Two - #90 to #81...

Round two of my year-end recap of the biggest songs on my weekly music chart for 2017 is up right now. You can check out part one by clicking here...

#90 - "All The Pretty Girls" - Kenny Chesney
          from the album Cosmic Hallelujah (2016)
          Highest rank: 12 (one week)
          Weeks on the chart: 15
          Billboard Hot 100 peak: #63
          Songwriters: Josh Osborne, Tommy Lee James, Nicolle Galyon

After a period of Buffett-ish island fare, Chesney (who was on last year's list at #71 with "Setting The World On Fire" featuring Pink) brings back the guitars for this rockin' ode to the lovely ladies. Not as corny as it could be in more naive hands.

Killer lyric: All the seventeens said I'm getting outta Dodge,
                    All the big dreams said I'm selling all I got,
                    All the high rollers busy placing their bets,
                    Me, I'm heading south 'cause all the pretty girls said...

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Songoftheday 12/20/17 - People are talkin' talkin' 'bout people I hear them whisper you won't believe it, They think we're lovers kept under covers I just ignore it but they keep saying...

"Something To Talk About" - Bonnie Raitt
from the album Luck Of The Draw (1991)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #5 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 15

Today's song of the day comes from blues-rock legend Bonnie Raitt, who came from an unusual background for a blues artist; the daughter of a Broadway stage legend, John Raitt (Oklahoma!, Carousel), she was born in Burbank, a suburb of California not really known for its hard-luck tales. A radical college student, it was a chance gig in New York that caused critics to spread the word about her live performances, and from that she was signed to a record deal. Bonnie released her self-titled debut record in 1971, which was warmly received but didn't sell much. Her second effort, Give It Up, put her on the Billboard albums chart for the first time (#138). She continued to release albums until her break in 1977, when the record Sweet Forgiveness spun off her first minor hit single with a cover of Del Shannon's 60s classic "Runaway", which reached #57 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart. The album also was her first to reach the Albums top-40 at #25. With that success, she scored a big-time renegotiation of her contract with Warner Brothers. However, her next record, The Glow, wasn't as warmly received, despite another minor pop hit in "You're Gonna Get What's Coming" (#73). Two years later, Raitt had a third top-40 album with Green Light, which had a single that reached the new Mainstream Rock radio chart, "Keep This Heart In Mind". Despite that, she was dropped by Warners right after recording a follow-up album, which ended up being put out re-recorded as Nine Lives in 1986, with "No Way To Treat A Lady" climbing to #15 on the Mainstream Rock list. But even though that would be her third Grammy-nominated track, by then her sound was watered down by trying for a mainstream sound as well as her fight with drugs and alcohol.

Cleaning herself up in 1987, Bonnie eventually got together with Don Was, member of Was (Not Was) and go-to producer for Americana-style rock in those days, and recorded her tenth album Nick Of Time. The first single from the set, "Thing Called Love", sported a video with Dennis Quaid, and peaked at #11 on the Mainstream Rock radio chart (her career best showing on that list). That was followed by the softer lite-reggae of "Have A Heart", which just missed the pop top-40 at #49, made it all the way to #3 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary (or easy listening) radio format. A third offering, the title track "Nick Of Time", was a minor pop hit at #92 and another top ten AC hit at #10, but by that time she had dominated the Grammy Awards, winning four trophies including Album of the Year and both Rock and Pop Female Vocal Performances. So while she didn't have a "top-40" pop hit per se, the Nick Of Time album went to #1 after the Awards and sold over five million copies.

In 1991, Raitt released her next album, Luck Of The Draw, again with Don Was, and following the same musical path set by Nick Of Time. The first single, "Something To Talk About", was a simple by the books blues-rock number with no fancy bells and whistles. Written by Shirley Eikhard, it was originally intended for Canadian snowbird Anne Murray. Was (Not Was) singers Sweet Pea Atkinson and Sir Harry Bowens sing backup on the record and in the video...

"Something To Talk About" became Bonnie's first and biggest top-40 pop hit, reaching the top-five in October of 1991. The song also climbed to #5 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary radio chart, and hit #12 on their Mainstream Rock list. Internationally, the single went to #3 in Canada, and hit the top-40 in New Zealand (#33). It would be nominated for Record of the Year at the 1992 Grammys, losing to Natalie Cole's "Unforgettable", but she did nab the trophy there for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for the single.

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