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

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 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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Friday, June 29, 2007

Crowded House released “Silent House”

First posted 5/6/2020.

Silent House

Crowded House

Writer(s): Neil Finn, Martie Maguire, Natalie Maines, Emily Robison (see lyrics here)

Released: 6/29/2007 (album cut on Time on Earth)

First Charted: --

Peak: -- US (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, -- video, -- streaming


About the Song:

“Silent House” was a joint writing effort between Neil Finn and the Dixie Chicks. Neither released it as a single, but both recorded versions. It was first featured on the latter’s 2006 album Taking the Long Way Home, which won the Grammy for Album of the Year. A year later, Finn recorded his version of the song with his band, Crowded House. It was featured on Time on Earth, the band’s first album in fourteen years.

Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks said the song is about her grandmother, who’d been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for a decade. The song reflects on “memories of her triggered by walking through the house.” SF She described it as “a sad song that tries to be sweet” BT and that it takes the perspective that “it’s okay to forget, I’ll try and carry on.” BT

The Dixie Chicks’ version “is quintessential country, complete with banjos a-plucking and fiddles a-whining.” GW It isn’t a fast song, but the drums do give it momentum. Vocally, Maines has a “strong, forthright” voice and “the melody is firmly in her wheelhouse.” GW

By contrast, on the Crowded House version, the drums are “barely there: less percussive, and more like thumps, like heartbeats.” GW Additionally, Finn’s “voice is softer, more vulnerable.” GW As such, the latter version ends up striking a more somber, reflective tone. The song takes on even more weight with the knowledge that Paul Hester, Finn’s bandmate in Crowded House and Split Enz, had committed suicide in 2005. While a different kind of loss, one can’t help but wonder if Finn thinks about Hester when he sings the song.

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Jerry Lee Lewis charted with “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” 50 years ago today (6/17/1957)

Last updated 4/15/2020.

Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On

Jerry Lee Lewis

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

Released: April 15, 1957

First Charted: June 17, 1957

Peak: 3 US, 5 CB, 5 HR, 12 CW, 12 RB, 8 UK (Click for codes to singles charts.)

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

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, -- video, -- streaming


About the Song:

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

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 thanks to two primary ingredients. On the piano, Lewis blend of “honky-tonk and blues shuffle” MA 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 Song-licensing organization BMI thought so, initially banning the song, WI 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

Resources and Related Links:

  • Jerry Lee Lewis’ DMDB Encyclopedia entry
  • AMG All Music Guide review by Cub Koda
  • SJ Bob Shannon and John Javna (1986). Behind the Hits: Inside Stories of Classic Pop and Rock and Roll. New York, NY; Warner Brothers, Inc.
  • MA Dave Marsh (1989). The Heart of Rock and Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made. New York, NY; New American Library. Pages 16-7.
  • NRR National Recording Registry
  • SJ Bob Shannon and John Javna (1986). Behind the Hits: Inside Stories of Classic Pop and Rock and Roll. New York, NY; Warner Brothers, Inc. Page 210.
  • RS500 (2011). “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time
  • SF Songfacts
  • WI Paul Williams (1993). Rock and Roll: The Best 100 Singles. New York, NY: Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc. Pages 33-4.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

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

Last updated 2/18/2020.


Rihanna with Jay-Z

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

Released: March 29, 2007

First Charted: April 8, 2007

Peak: 17 US, 2 RR, 28 A40, 4 RB, 110 UK, 14 CN, 16 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 8.0 US, 1.2 UK, 11.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 0.5 radio, 562.1 video, -- streaming


About the Song:

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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Sunday, June 3, 2007

Elvis at #1 for 8th week with “All Shook Up” 50 years ago (6/3/1957)

First posted 10/30/2019; updated 4/13/2020.

All Shook Up

Elvis Presley

Writer(s): Otis Blackwell, Elvis Presley (see lyrics here)

Released: March 22, 1957

First Charted: March 30, 1957

Peak: 18 US, 17 CB, 16 HR, 11 CW, 14 RB, 17 UK, 11 CN, 5 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 4.0 US, 7.0 UK, -- world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 2.0 radio, 32.3 video, -- streaming


About the Song:

The song is credited to Otis Blackwell and Elvis although the singer had nothing to do with writing it. Elvis’ manager, Colonel Tom Parker, often demanded a share of the songwriting credit be given to his client. SF However, accounts of Elvis’ involvement are disputed. In his book Last Train to Memphis, Peter Guralnick says Elvis came up with the idea for the refrain, WK and Elvis himself claimed he got the idea for the song from a dream when he woke up all shook up. He then phoned a friend and told him about it and by morning had a new song. WK

Meanwhile Al Stanton, one of the owners of Shalimar Music – Blackwell’s publishing company – says the song came out of an incident in which he shook up a bottle of Pepsi and then suggested Blackwell write a song based on the phrase “all shook up.” WK Blackwell was struggling to write a follow-up to “Don’t Be Cruel,” his first chart-topping hit for Elvis. He took up the challenge as a dare and finished the song in a couple of days. SF

Regardless of its origins, Elvis was not the first to record it. Under the stage name David Hill, the actor David Hess recorded it for Aladdin Records. Hess claimed he came up with the title, Blackwell wrote it, and then Elvis was given a co-writing credit in order to get him to record it. WK Elvis recorded it at Radio Recorders in Hollywood on January 12, 1957. The Jordaniares and the Blue Moon Boys are featured on the record. WK Four gospel songs recorded from the two-day session were released on the Peace in the Valley EP the same month as the “All Shook Up” single. BR1

“All Shook Up” would spend eight weeks on top of the Billboard pop charts. At the time, the chart was a mix of three charts – Best Sellers in Stores, Most Played by Jockeys, and Most Played in Jukeboxes. The song topped all three of those charts as well. All told, its time atop the four charts spanned from April 13, 1957 to June 17, 1957. The latter chart was discontinued in June 1957, making “All Shook Up” the last song to top that chart. WK

“All Shook Up” was named Billboard’s song of the year, following his “Heartbreak Hotel” song topping the list for 1956. This makes him the only artist to top the year-end chart in two simultaneous years. BR1 All told, Elvis would spend 50 weeks at #1 in 1956 and 1957 with eight different songs. SF

In The Complete Beatles Chronicle, author Mark Lewisohn says the Beatles (when they were known as the Quarrymen) regularly performed the song from 1957 through at least 1960 with Paul McCartney on lead vocal. In his book John, Paul & Me, Len Garry, a former member of the Quarrymen, says it was one of the songs the group played on July 6, 1957 – the day when John Lennon and Paul McCartney met. WK There’s no known recording of their version. WK

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