Saturday, November 28, 2009

Jay-Z hit #1 with “Empire State of Mind”

Updated 1/19/2019.

image from mtv.se

Empire State of Mind

Jay-Z with Alicia Keys

Writer(s): Angela Hunte, Alicia Keys, Alexander Shuckburgh, Burt Keyes, Janet "Jnay" Sewell-Ulepic, Shawn Carter, Sylvia Robinson (see lyrics here)


Released: 10/20/2009


First Charted: 9/19/2009


Peak: 15 US, 39 A40, 13 RB, 2 UK, 3 CN, 4 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales *: 5.51 US, 0.77 UK, 6.49 world (includes US + UK)


Radio Airplay *: 0.4


Video Airplay *: 213.07


Streaming *: --


* in millions

Review:

“Empire State of Mind” was written by Angela Hunte and Jane’t Sewell Ulepic as a tribute to their hometown of New York City. They wrote it while overseas in London and feeling homesick. They submitted the song to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label and it was initially rejected. However, EMI’s Jon Platt heard the track at a barbeque and sent it to Jay-Z again.

Jay-Z kept the singing part of the hook, but changed the verses. WK Initially Hunte was still going to sing the hook, but she suggested Alicia Keys. WK Because of the track’s piano loops, Jay-Z wanted Key’s piano and vocal talents. He called her and said, “I feel like I have this record that’s going to be the anthem of New York…and it couldn’t be the anthem of New York without you.” WK She went by the studio and listened to it and, as she said, “I really felt the energy of New York all through it…I said ‘I love it, so let’s do it.’” SF

Complex magazine agreed with Jay-Z’s assessment, saying that the song “has replaced Frank Sinatra’s ‘New York, New York’ as the city’s go-to anthem.” WK The New York Racing Association concurred when they replaced “New York, New York” with “Empire State of Mind” as the opening song at the 142nd running of the Belmont Stakes. WK The song also got attention during the New York Yankees’ World Series run and Jay-Z performed it at their victory parade. SF

The song was Jay-Z’s fourth time to reach the pinnacle of the Billboard Hot 100, but his first time as a lead artist. WK The song was a top ten hit in Australia, Canada, France, Italy, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. WK The song won Grammys for Best Rap Song and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. Entertainment Weekly named it the best single of 2009. WK


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:


Sunday, November 15, 2009

40 Years Ago: Led Zeppelin chart with “Whole Lotta Love” (11/15/1969)

Updated 1/27/2019.

image from ewbankauctions.co.uk

Whole Lotta Love

Led Zeppelin

Writer(s): John Bonham, Willie Dixon, John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant (see lyrics here)


Released: 11/7/1969


First Charted: 11/15/1969


Peak: 4 US, 2 CB, 4 HR, 21 UK, 2 CN, 12 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales *: 1.0 US, 0.2 UK, 1.2 world (includes US + UK)


Radio Airplay *: --


Video Airplay *: 75.6


Streaming *: --


* in millions

Review:

“Whole Lotta Love” can be traced back to a 1962 Willie Dixon song, although he wasn’t credited until 1985. Dixon was a Chicago blues songwriter who penned the song “You Need Love” in 1962 for Muddy Waters. The Small Faces, a British rock band, covered the song as “You Need Loving” on their debut album in 1966. According to Steve Marriott, the band’s singer and guitarist, future Led Zeppelin members Jimmy Page and Robert Plant came to some of their gigs and expressed interest in the song. WK

Jimmy Page was the guitarist in the Yardbirds in the late 1960s. When the group folded, Page set about creating a group originally dubbed “The New Yardbirds” which included Plant on vocals. The group eventually settled on the monker “Led Zeppelin” and set about “jamming on the blues standards they loved, stretching them out into psychedelic orgies.” RS500 On its first two albums, Led Zeppelin covered “You Shook Me,” “I Can’t Quit You, Baby,” and “Bring It on Home” – all by Willie Dixon. RS500

The band’s reworking of “You Need Love” bore similarities to the Small Faces’ version. Marriott pointed out that Plant “sang it the same, phrased it the same, even the stops at the end were the same.” WK However, it wasn’t until Dixon brought legal action in 1985 that he got a rightful share of the credit. RS500 The band settled out of court for an undisclosed amount and, on subsequent releases, included Dixon’s name in the credits. WK Dixon used the money to set up a program which provided instruments for schools. SF

Plant also tossed in lines from “Shake for Me” and “Back Door Man,” a pair of Dixon songs written for Howlin’ Wolf. RS500 The band also borrows a phrase from Blind Lemon Jefferson and Robert Johnson, in asking to have one’s lemon squeezed “till the juice runs down my leg.” RP-124

Page developed the riff in the summer of 1968 on his houseboat on the River Thames in England, although bassist John Paul Jones said it came out of improvisation on stage during their song “Dazed and Confused.” WK In 2014, a BBC radio listeners’ poll rated “Whole Lotta Love” as having the greatest guitar riff of all time. WK The song was also rated in the top 5 on similar lists from Q magazine and VH1. WK


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: