Saturday, June 30, 2007

Soulja Boy Tell’Em charted with “Crank That (Soulja Boy)”: June 30, 2007

Originally posted on June 30, 2012.

image from toutelamusique.skynetblogs.be

American rapper DeAndre Way, better known as Soulja Boy, burst out of the gates in 2007, landing a huge hit his first time out. “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 the same day Way turned 17. The song went on to occupy the top spot on the charts for 7 weeks, making it the biggest pop hit of the year. HT It was also the most downloaded song of the year SF and, with four million + in sales, was the third most downloaded song in the U.S. all-time. WK The song was also nominated for a Grammy for Best Rap Song, but lost to Kanye West’s “Good Life.” WK

Part of the song’s charm came in Soulja Boy’s “strange way with words.” AMG The lyrics about bragging and dancing included such memorable lines as “Why me crank that Robocob?” sit[ting] next to nonsensical called-out dance instructions.” AMG

He told HipHoxDX.com that he created the song in just an hour on the computer, using the Fruity Loops computer system. SF It was later reproduced more professionally. WK The song is notable for its looping steel pan riff. WK Steel drums originated from the West Indian islands of Trinidad and Tobago, generally being made from 55 gallon oil drums. SF The Beach Boys’ 1988 #1 hit “Kokomo” also used the instrument. SF

The video, directed by Dale Resteghini, featured Chris Brown, Bow Wow, and other notable rappers and R&B performers. BET ranked it the top video of 2007. WK Various parodies of the video have been made featuring Michael Jackson, Barney, and others. WK

Crank That (Soulja Boy)


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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Fifty Years Ago Today: Jerry Lee Lewis charts with “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” (6/17/1957)

image from 991.com


Jerry Lee Lewis “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On”


Writer(s): Dave Williams, Roy Hall (see lyrics here)

First charted: 6/17/1957

Peak: 3 US, 12 CW, 12 RB, 8 UK (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 6.0 world (includes US and UK)

Radio Airplay (in millions): -- Video Airplay (in millions): --


Review: In April 1956, Jerry Lee Lewis was booked for a gig at the Rebel Room in Osceola, Arkansas. When the band ran out of material, Lewis turned to a song that had been recorded four times – one by writer Roy Hall – but had yet to meet with success. RS500 Obviously Lewis – and the crowd – was taken with the song. He performed it 21 times in a row! SJ-210

When it came time to capture the song in the studio, producer “Cowboy” Jack Clement wisely opted to capture the manic energy of Lewis’ stage presence. As Clement said, “I just simply turned on the machine, mixed it on the fly.” RS500

The song is “as perfect a rock and roll record as one could hope to find” WI-33-4 thanks to two primary ingredients. On the piano, Lewis blend of “honky-tonk and blues shuffle” MA-17 in “a relentless, pounding boogie rhythm” AMG left listeners’ mouths agape and their toes a-tapping. “Like Lewis himself, [they] had a hard time remaining seated during the performance.” NRR

Meanwhile, the lyrics left some listeners aghast; the words “were rather lascivious and quite shocking coming from a singer from the Bible Belt” SF making the case “that prudes really did have something to fear from rock and roll.” MA-16 Song-licensing organization BMI thought so, initially banning the song, WI-33 but it became a hit after Lewis’ TV debut on July 28, 1957 on The Steve Allen Show. SF The song has become “a testament to the power of charm, its ability to…smuggle…craziness into the homes and hearts of normal law-abiding citizens.” WI-33


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Note: Footnotes (raised letter codes) refer to sources frequently cited on the blog. Numbers following the letter code indicate page numbers. If the raised letter code is a link, it will go directly to the correct page instead of the home page of a website. You can find the sources and corresponding footnotes on the “Lists” page in the “Song Resources” section.


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Saturday, June 9, 2007

Rihanna hit #1 with “Umbrella”: June 9, 2007

Originally posted 1/7/2014.

image from tomsguide.com


Writer(s): Terius “The-Dream” Nash/Christopher “Tricky” Stewart/Jay-Z (see lyrics here)

Released: 29 March 2007

Peak: 17 US, #110 UK, #4 RB, #28 AA (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 3.0 US, 0.5 UK, 9.0 world (includes US and UK)

Radio Airplay (in millions): 0.5 Video Airplay (in millions): 116.32


Review: Rihanna had a string of hits throughout the decade, but “this song was 2007, plain and simple” PE and “may be the track that most defined pop music in the ’00s.” PD While constructed around a hip-hop beat and given a slick R&B-style production, it also had “an edgy rock sound” AB and a “quasi-yodeled chorus” CBC “so toweringly great it transcends genre boundaries.” NME

Rihanna told Q magazine “’it was one of the most original sounds that I’d heard for a while. But a lot of people didn’t really understand it. They thought the repetition was annoying. But I knew that was what people would catch on to right away, because that’s what stuck in my head.’” SF As Adam Graham notes in the Detroit News, “just try to deny that you’ve added your own ‘ella… ella… ay’ every time you’ve heard or used the word umbrella since.” DN

The song was first sent to Britney Spears, who had recorded “Me Against the Music,” which Nash also helped pen, but after her people rejected it as not having hit potential, it was offered to Mary J. Blige. However, Jay-Z aggressively pursued the song, deciding it was perfect for Rihanna. SF He even added “a fairly unnecessary, but marketable, guest rap.” PD

The song also works as a metaphor as Rihanna sings to a partner about being there for him through good and bad. SF She says, “‘an umbrella is protection, it protects you from rain. The rain in this case is negativeness and vulnerability.’” SF Rihanna told the Daily Mirror umbrellas have now cropped up in mass quantities at her shows and dancefloors. SF The song became the longest-running #1 of the decade in the U.K. and topped the charts in multiple other countries.


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