Friday, November 23, 2007

Fifty Years Ago Today: “Great Balls of Fire” charted (11/23/1957)

image from culturemap.com


Jerry Lee Lewis “Great Balls of Fire”


Writer(s): Otis Blackwell, Jack Hammer (see lyrics here)

First charted: 11/23/1957

Peak: 2 US, 12 CW, 3 RB, 12 (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 5.0 world (includes US and UK)

Radio Airplay (in millions): 1.0 Video Airplay (in millions): --


Review: Some of rock ‘n’ roll’s earliest architects walked a fine line between their religious Southern upbringings and the shockingly sexual and aggressive style that defined early rock music. With a musical prowess birthed as much from the black honky-tonks as the Assembly of God Church, CL-114-5 Lewis concocted an uncomfortable blend of music inspired by God and the devil. His “onstage terrorization of the piano” FR-50 earned him the nickname “The Killer.” It also got him booted out of Bible college. CL-114-5

Nowhere was Lewis’ musical dichotomy more on display than with “Great Balls of Fire.” Jerry Lee’s signature song was “full of Southern Baptist hellfire turned into a near-blasphemous ode to pure lust.” RS500 Lewis realized the shock in 1957 of such sexual innuendo coming from a Southern music man SF and initially refused to sing the song. RS500 He and Sun Records’ founder Sam Phillips delved into a theological argument which was eventually swayed Sam’s way by the ever-flowing liquor during the session. RS500

Sam Phillips turned to Otis Blackwell to pen the song as a follow-up to Lewis’ first hit, “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.” Blackwell had a proven track record, having written “the biggest record of the rock ‘n’ roll era” with Elvis Presley’s “Don’t Be Cruel.” CL-114 This poor kid from Brooklyn, New York, was the first black man to really tap into the Nashville sound, dominating the country and rock charts in the mid to late-‘50s. CL-116

As for Blackwell’s writing partner, Jack Hammer, there are contradictory stories. One account says his sole contribution is coming up with the title and selling it to Otis Blackwell, LW-118 while another account says the name is a pseudonym for Blackwell. AMG


Resources and Related Links:

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.


Award(s):


Saturday, November 3, 2007

Leona Lewis debuted at #1 in the UK with “Bleeding Love”

Updated 1/18/2019.

image from bsidesbadlands.com

Bleeding Love

Leona Lewis

Writer(s): Jesse McCartney, Ryan Tedder (see lyrics here)


Released: 10/19/2007


First Charted: 11/3/2007


Peak: 14 US, 74 RB, 17 UK, 11 CN, 15 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales *: 4.7 US, 1.2 UK, 7.7 world (includes US + UK)


Radio Airplay *: 0.7


Video Airplay *: 192.77


Streaming *: --


* in millions

Review:

Leona Lewis rose to fame in the UK as the winner of the third TV season of The X Factor in 2006. She was awarded a recording contract with Sony BMG and released “A Moment Like This” as her debut single. The song also served as the first single for Kelly Clarkson in 2002 after she won the first TV season of American Idol.

In February 2007, One Republic’s Ryan Tedder teamed with singer/songwriter Jesse McCartney to write “Bleeding Love” for McCartney’s third album, Departure. He said he was “thinking about being in love so much that it hurts. I was away from my girlfriend for four months at the time and I really wanted to [quit] and fly home.” WK

One account suggested that McCartney’s record company rejected the song, but another story says record executive Clive Davis specifically wanted the song for Lewis. SF In any event, when Tedder heard Lewis, he said hers was “one of the best voices I’ve ever heard.” WK In her hands, the song transformed to a tale of a woman who is emotionally hurt by her lover, but accepts the pain and continues to love him. WK

She recorded the song and released it in October 2007 as the first single from her debut album, Spirit. It debuted at #1 in the UK WK selling 218,000 copies – more than any debut week since “A Moment Like This.” SF It went on to be the UK’s best-selling single of 2007 WK and iTunes’ most downloaded single of 2008. SF It also hit #1 in 35 countries, WK including the United States in April 2008. The song was nominated for Grammys for Record of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

BBC America thought it sounded like dated filler from a long-lost, late ‘90s Mariah Carey album, WK but About.com praised Lewis for “her stunning voice that is equal parts Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, and her own restrained gracefulness.” AB’00 Digital Spy called it a “brilliantly smart pop record.” WK Billboard’s Chuck Taylor called it “a colossal and timeless debut” WK and Metromix Atlanta called it “the most seductive diva anthem of the decade.” MX


Resources and Related Links:

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.

Awards: