Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s wins the Grammy for Album of the Year: February 29, 1968








Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band rates as the best album of all time according to many sources (just check out its list of awards below). Dave’s Music Database, for one, ranks it as the best album of all time (see the DMDB’s top 100 albums of all time list). However, when Sgt. Pepper’s found itself amongst the nominees for Album of the Year for the Grammys’ 10th annual celebration there was no guarantee it would go home a winner. After all, according to a DMDB blog post last December (“Past Album-of-the-Year Grammy Winners Ranked and Revisited”), the Grammys have picked the wrong album 31 out of 53 times. Considering their strong anti-rock stance in the early years, would it have been surprising to see the Beatles go home losers?





The most celebrated rock group of all time did win a dozen Grammys over the years, including Best New Artist in 1964 and Song of the Year in 1966 for “Michelle”. Still, a look at the list of those who’ve won the most Grammys reveals some of the Grammy bias. The Beatles’ 12 trophies doesn’t even rank them in the top 10. Georg Solti has the most wins with 31. Alphabetically, here are the acts who have taken home at least 17 Grammys: Pierre Boulez, Ray Charles, Eric Clapton, Chick Corea, Aretha Franklin, Vince Gill, Vladimir Horowitz, Quincy Jones, Alison Krauss, Henry Mancini, Pat Metheny, Al Schmitt, Georg Solti, Bruce Springsteen, Jimmy Sturr, U2, Kanye West, John Williams, and Stevie Wonder. There are some impressive names on this list, to be sure. However, would you rank all of these artists ahead of The Beatles? The next time you find yourself in an argument about the greatest musicians of all time, see how well it goes over to claim that polka musician Jimmy Sturr is better than the Beatles.

However, for the 1968 Album of the Year prize, the Grammys got it right. By they way, here’s what The Beatles were up against:
Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim by Frank Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim
It Must Be Him by Vikki Carr
My Cup Runneth Over by Ed Ames
Ode to Billie Joe by Bobbie Gentry

While there are notable names amongst the nominees, none of these four albums comes close to Sgt. Pepper’s. While that album ranks #1 of all time according to Dave’s Music Database, none of the others even ranks in the top 1000. Thanks for getting this one right, Grammy.




Awards:

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Saturday, February 25, 2012

In the wake of her death, Whitney Houston surges on the charts: February 25, 2012








In her lifetime (1963-2012), Whitney Houston accomplished more than most artists ever will. She topped the Billboard Hot 100 eleven times, most notably with her record-setting seven consecutive #1 songs from 1985 to 1988 (“Saving All My Love for You”, “How Will I Know”, “Greatest Love of All”, “I Wanna Dance with Somebody Who Loves Me”, “Didn’t We Almost Have It All”, “So Emotional”, and “Where Do Broken Hearts Go”).

During her late ‘80s chart dominance, she ruled the album chart as well. Her first two albums, 1985’s Whitney Houston and 1987’s Whitney, topped the charts for 11 and 14 weeks respectively. That already made her the only female artist to spend more than ten weeks atop the Billboard 200 album chart twice – and then along came The Bodyguard, the soundtrack for Whitney Houston’s first movie star turn. The album pulled off an astonishing 20 weeks at #1, making it the most successful chart run for an album driven by a female artist.



That album was fueled largely by the monstrous success of “I Will Always Love You”, a song which spent 14 weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100 and rates as one of The Top 100 Songs of the Rock Era, 1954-1999, according to the Dave’s Music Database book of that name.

As a testament to Whitney’s glory years, that song resurged in the wake of her death, re-entering the charts at an astonishing #7. “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” and “Greatest Love of All” also make comebacks at numbers 35 and 41 respectively. Whitney soared on the album chart as well – Whitney: The Greatest Hits sold 64,000 copies to re-enter the chart at #6. Five other albums re-entered as well. The total sales of 100,000+ albums for the chart week ending February 25 marked more sales for Whitney Houston than all of 2011-12 combined.






Awards:

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

“I’m Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover” gets lucky 21 years after it first charted: February 21, 1948

It isn’t often that a song has to wait 21 years to hit #1, but it took that long for “I’m Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover” to get lucky. The song was written by Harry Woods and Mort Dixon in 1927. Woods was a Tin Pan Alley lyricist who wrote the million-selling songs “When the Red Red Robin Comes Bobbing Along” (1926) and “Side by Side” (1927). AMG-1 Meanwhile, Mort Dixon did some songwriting for Broadway and Hollywood and also wrote hits such as “That Old Gang of Mine” (1923), and “Bye Bye Blackbird” (1926). AMG-2 Their collaborative efforts on “Clover” found success on April 30, 1927 when two versions of the song charted simultaneously. Nick Lucas took the song to #2 while Ben Bernie went to #3. Two weeks later, Jean Goldkette hit the charts with Billy Murray. Theirs hit #10. PM
In 1948, “Four-Leaf Clover” had a resurgence when six different acts charted with the song, including the Uptown String Band, Russ Morgan, Alvino Rey, The Three Suns, and Arthur Godfrey. PM However, the first and biggest of the batch was Art Mooney’s #1 version which featured Mike Pingatore. Originally the banjo playerwith bandleader Paul Whiteman JA-99 on hits such as 1923’s “Linger Awhile,” TY Pingatore forged a heavy-strumming style which became a blueprint for Dixieland banjoists. JA-99 The song also took on a life beyond the charts. It has become Warner Brothers cartoon favorite, used for Bugs Bunny (Operation Rabbit), Daffy Duck and the Tasmanian Devil (Ducking the Devil), and Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner (Fast and Furry-ous). WK It was parodied as “I’m Looking Over My Dead Dog Rover”, first by Kevin Gershon in 1973 and again by Hank Stu Dave and Hank in 1977. The latter received play on Dr. Demento’s radio show. WK “Clover” has also become a campfire sing-a-long and Scouter favorite. JA-99

Awards:


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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.

2012 Inductees for the Songwriters Hall of Fame

The Songwriters Hall of Fame has announced its 2012 class of inductees. To see more about the Hall and the full list of inductees from 1970 to 2012, check here. Here’s a bit more about each of this year’s inductees:

Gordon Lightfoot, a singer and songwriter, “is credited for helping to define the folk-pop sound of the 1960s and 1970s.” SH Among his best known work are songs “Sundown,” “If You Could Read My Mind,” and “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” He has also had songs recorded by Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Sarah McLachlan, Barbra Streisand, Peter Paul & Mary, Harry Belafonte, Jane’s Addiction, Richie Havens, Glen Campbell, Toby Keith, Anne Murray, Nana Mouskouri and George Hamilton IV. SH “He has received five Grammy® nominations and seventeen Juno Awards in his native Canada, and was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, among his many other distinctions.” SH

Bob Seger has rocked the world with a slew of favorites including “Old Time Rock and Roll,” “Night Moves,” “Turn the Page,” and “Against the Wind.” While immensely successful at recording his own work and selling more than 51 million records worldwide, SH he has also been covered by Metallica, Kid Rock, Tina Turner, Bette Midler, Rod Stewart, Cher, Johnny Hallyday, Martina McBride, Waylon Jennings, Dottie West, The Pointer Sisters, Barry Manilow, Brooks & Dunn, Conway Twitty and Keb’ Mo’. SH In its 17-year history, Seger’s Greatest Hits album has been a continuous presence on either the Billboard Top 200 Albums or Catalog Albums charts. SH It was named the #1 Catalog Album of the Decade (2000-2010). SH Seger is also a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee.

Don Schlitz made his name as a country songwriter with his first recorded song. Kenny Rogers’ recording of “The Gambler” took home the Grammy for Country Song of the Year in 1978. A decade later, Randy Travis’ recording of “Forever and Ever, Amen” garnered Schlitz another such award. With songs sung by Garth Brooks, Mary Chapin Carpenter, The Judds, Alison Krauss, Reba McEntire, Tanya Tucker, and Keith Whitley, Schlitz can boast a catalog of 24 #1 hits. He has been named ASCAP’s Country Songwriter of the Year four times won the CMA Song of the Year Award three times, and took home the ACM Song of the Year trophy twice.

Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones combined as the composer and lyricist team for the 1960 musical, The Fantasticks. “Try to Remember” became the show’s most beloved song, being recorded by hundreds of artists including Ed Ames, Harry Belafonte, Placido Domingo, and Barbra Streisand. The pair also earned Tony Award nominations for Best Composer and Lyricist for 110 in the Shade and I DO! I DO!. They’ve also been inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame and the Broadway Hall of Fame.

Jim Steinman started in musical theatre, but found his greatest fame when he teamed with Meat Loaf to write songs for the legendary Bat Out of Hell in 1977. With worldwide sales of more than 40 million, that album is one of the top 5 all-time best sellers worldwide. Steinman also wrote the #1 hits “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)”, and “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now,” as recorded by Bonnie Tyler, Meat Loaf, and Celine Dion resepectively. He also returned to Broadway, teaming with Andrew Lloyd Webber for the musical Whistle Down the Wind. His repertoire has sold more than 190 million records. SH


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Monday, February 20, 2012

The World's Top 100 All-Time Best-Selling Albums








You’d think it would be simple to generate this list; you just count up how many sales each album has and the one with the most is the best-seller and so on, right? Well…

There’s a couple problems. First, on a global scale, there just isn’t any solid means in place for tracking albums. Second, even those official sales measurers (such as the RIAA in the United States) favor more recent albums because of improvements in tracking over the years and simple population growth. Third, albums that preceded official tracking measures don’t even typically show up on all-time best-selling lists.

As a result, the DMDB has compiled what lists it can find to try to generate a worldwide bestsellers list. Click here for a complete list of those sources. In the event of ties, the oldest album is listed first. Click on an album to go to its DMDB page.

Note: One should certainly regard this list with at least some skepticism. Remember, these aren’t official numbers, just estimates. Also, to boost an album’s reputation, even official websites or record companies may inflate numbers. (Iron Butterfly has sold 25 million copies worldwide of In-A-Gada-Da-Vida? Really?) However, it is my opinion that these estimates come much closer to reflecting all-times sales than the official records reflect.





1. 72.4 million: Thriller – Michael Jackson (1982)
2. 49 million: Back in Black – AC/DC (1980)
3. 45 million: Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd (1973)
4. 44.5 million: Led Zeppelin IV – Led Zeppelin (1971)
5. 43 million: Bat Out of Hell – Meat Loaf (1977)
6. 42.9 million: Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 – Eagles (1976)
7. 40.4 million: Grease Soundtrack (1978)
8. 40 million: Rumours – Fleetwood Mac (1977)
9. 40 million: Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack (1977)
10. 39 million: Come on Over – Shania Twain (1997)





11. 37.3 million: The Bodyguard Soundtrack (1992)
12. 34.4 million: Gold: Greatest Hits – Abba (1993)
13. 33.2 million: Bad – Michael Jackson (1987)
14. 33 million: Jagged Little Pill – Alanis Morissette (1995)
15. 33 million: Falling into You – Celine Dion (1996)
16. 32.6 million: Brothers in Arms – Dire Straits (1985)
17. 32 million: Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Beatles (1967)
18. 32 million: Dirty Dancing Soundtrack (1987)
19. 32 million: Music Box – Mariah Carey (1993)
20. 31.5 million: The Immaculate Collection – Madonna (1990)






21. 31.5 million: 1 – The Beatles (2000)
22. 31.4 million: Hotel California – Eagles (1976)
23. 31.3 million: Legend – Bob Marley & The Wailers (1984)
24. 31 million: Let’s Talk about Love – Celine Dion (1997)
25. 30.7 million: The Wall – Pink Floyd (1979)
26. 30.4 million: Appetite for Destruction – Guns N’ Roses (1987)
27. 30 million: 1962-1966 – The Beatles (1973)
28. 30 million: Spirits Having Flown – Bee Gees (1979)
29. 30 million: Born in the U.S.A. – Bruce Springsteen (1984)
30. 30 million: The Joshua Tree – U2 (1987)





31. 30 million: Nevermind – Nirvana (1991)
32. 30 million: Titanic Soundtrack (1997)
33. 29.8 million: 1967-1970 – The Beatles (1973)
34. 29 million: Abbey Road – The Beatles (1969)
35. 28.5 million: Bridge Over Troubled Water – Simon & Garfunkel (1970)
36. 28.3 million: Baby…One More Time – Britney Spears (1999)
37. 28 million: Boston – Boston (1976)
38. 28 million: Slippery When Wet – Bon Jovi (1986)
39. 28 million: Dangerous – Michael Jackson (1991)
40. 28 million: Backstreet Boys (U.S. version): Backstreet Boys (1997)





41. 27.6 million: Greatest Hits – Queen (1981)
42. 27.6 million: Spice – Spice Girls (1996)
43. 27 million: Greatest Hits – Elton John (1974)
44. 27 million: Supernatural – Santana (1999)
45. 26.45 million: Phil Collins – No Jacket Required (1985)
46. 26.3 million: True Blue – Madonna (1986)
47. 26 million: Purple Rain – Prince & the Revolution (1984)
48. 26 million: Like a Virgin – Madonna (1984)
49. 25.6 million: Metallica (aka 'The Black Album') – Metallica (1991)
50. 25.1 million: Greatest Hits – Simon & Garfunkel (1972)





51. 25 milion: Iron Butterfly – In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida (1968)
52. 25 million: Tapestry – Carole King (1971)
53. 25 million: Whitney Houston – Whitney Houston (1985)
54. 25 million: Daydream – Mariah Carey (1995)
55. 25 million: Millenium – Backstreet Boys (1999)
56. 24.5 million: Led Zeppelin II – Led Zeppelin)
57. 24.4 million: But Seriously – Phil Collins (1989)
58. 24.3 million: Whitney – Whitney Houston (1987)
59. 24.3 million: Unplugged – Eric Clapton (1992)
60. 24 million: Hybrid Theory – Linkin Park (2000)





61. 24 million: Backstreet Boys – Black & Blue (2000)
62. 23.9 million: Cracked Rear View: Hootie & The Blowfish (1994)
63. 23.4 million: Eliminator – ZZ Top (1983)
64. 23.35 million: The Marshall Mathers LP – Eminem (2000)
65. 23 million: No Fences – Garth Brooks (1990)
66. 23 million: Ace of Base – The Sign (1993)
67. 22.5 million: Come Away with Me – Norah Jones (2002)
68. 22.5 million: The Eminem Show – Eminem (2002)
69. 22.3 million: Greatest Hits 2 – Queen (1991)
70. 22 million: The Sound of Music Soundtrack (1965)





71. 22 million: Def Leppard: Hysteria (1987)
72. 22 million: What's the Story Morning Glory – Oasis (1995)
73. All the Way…A Decade of Song – Celine Dion (1999)
74. 21.5 million: The Beatles (aka ‘The White Album’) – The Beatles (1968)
75. 21.5 million: HIStory: Past, Present, and Future Book1 – Michael Jackson (1995)
76. 21.4 million: Greatest Hits Volume I & II – Billy Joel (1985)
77. 21.3 million: Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd (1975)
78. 21 million: Can’t Slow Down – Lionel Richie (1983)
79. 21 million: II – Boyz II Men (1994)
80. 21 million: No Angel – Dido (1999)





81. 20.4 million: Tracy Chapman – Tracy Chapman (1988)
82. 20.4 million: Achtung Baby – U2 (1991)
83. 20.2 million: Cross Road – Bon Jovi (1994)
84. 20 million: Tommy – The Who (1969)
85. 20 million: Parallel Lines – Blondie (1978)
86. 20 million: Off the Wall – Michael Jackson (1979)
87. 20 million: Flashdance Soundtrack (1983)
88. 20 million: Private Dancer – Tina Turner (1984)
89. 20 million: Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em – MC Hammer (1990)
90. 20 million: Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell – Meat Loaf (1993)





91. 20 million: The Colour of My Love – Celine Dion (1993)
92. 20 million: Dookie – Green Day (1994)
93. 20 million: The Score: The Fugees (1996)
94. 20 million: Ricky Martin – Ricky Martin (1999)
95. 20 million: Oops!...I Did It Again – Britney Spears (2000)
96. 19.9 million: Top Gun Soundtrack (1986)
97. 19.6 million: Faith – George Michael (1987)
98. 19.1 million: Houses of the Holy – Led Zeppelin (1973)
99. 19 million: Christmas Album – Elvis Presley (1957)
100. 19 million: Ropin’ the Wind – Garth Brooks (1991)






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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Styx’s Dennis DeYoung was born: February 18, 1947






The oft-mocked Kilroy Was Here and its hit song “Mr. Roboto” loom large in the background of whatever DDY does.



Happy birthday, Dennis DeYoung! Most know him as the voice of Styx, although even from its earliest days that rock band switched off vocals between singers of different styles. James Young mostly stuck to guitar, but occasionally took a lead vocal (“Miss America”, “Snowblind”). When Tommy Shaw came into the fold in 1975 after John Curulewski’s departure, he struck a balance between the more balladry style of DDY and the full-on rock approach from JY to craft classics like “Crystal Ball”, “Renegade”, “Blue Collar Man”, and “Too Much Time on My Hands”.

When Styx ended their initial run in 1984, the three chief songwriters embarked on solo careers with DDY’s being the most successful. In 1990, they reunited without Shaw, who was busy with supergroup Damn Yankees. However, the lineup which brought Styx its greatest fame came back together in the mid-‘90s to record new material for a couple compilations and then did a tour. The 1999 Brave New World album saw DDY, JY, and Shaw back together on a studio album for the first time in 16 years, but it didn’t last. In what has now become a clich├ęd move in the rock industry, DDY got sick and the band unceremoniously dumped their founder and soldiered on without him. Check out my article, “Are These the New Faces of Classic Rock?” on Pop Matters for an in-depth look at this trend.





Regardless of the bumpy spots in their history and some of their questionable musical endeavors, Styx has always remained a favorite of mine. In 2010, I penned a blog entry (“The Styx Defense”, available in my book No One Needs 21 Versions of ‘Purple Haze’) in which I used the band as an example of why people love what they love regardless of what critics say. DDY has endured a healthy chunk of the criticism for his tendencies toward Broadway and ballads.

Regardless of the criticisms, the Dennis DeYoung-led Styx will always be a favorite of mine. In celebration of the man behind so many classic rock standards, here’s a look at ten of my favorite DDY songs.

What Has Come Between Us (1972). It wasn’t a hit, but this cut from the first Styx album showcased DDY’s simultaneous ability to craft a ballad and a pseudo-prog-rock tune.



Lady (1973). A quintessential DDY ballad which also bares the distinction of launching Styx’s career when it was picked up a year after its initial release and turned into a national hit, going top 10 on the Billboard charts.



Golden Lark (1974). This is my favorite of the Wooden Nickel era Styx (the first four albums before they signed with A&M records). This was an early example of DDY shunning the rock side (for better or worse) and going for over-the-top schmaltz with violins instead of guitars.



Suite Madame Blue (1975). This is perhaps the Styx song best deserving of the tag “epic”. DDY crafted this homage to America in the wake of its Bicentennial celebration. It captures the keyboards and sweeping sound that defined Styx.



Mademoiselle (1976). This was a minor top 40 hit notable mostly for a rare duet between DDY and new bandmate Tommy Shaw. Frankly, I think it belongs in the canon of Styx classics, but it is often overlooked.



Come Sail Away (1977). This may well be the definitive Styx song. Like “Suite Madame Blue”, this captures DDY at his bombastic best with a keyboard-driven slice of classic rock that also found a home in the Billboard top 10.



Babe (1979). For better or worse, this #1 song may just be the place to start when criticizing bands for their obligatory forays into rock balladry which belong on radio stations devoted more to adult contemporary than classic rock.



The Best of Times (1981). This was the lead single from Paradise Theater, my favorite Styx album and one of my ten favorite albums period. DDY was showing some of his Broadway leanings with the concept behind this, but he hadn’t gone over the top yet. “Best” shows how to strike just the right balance between a conceptual album and a song that stands just fine on its own.



Mr. Roboto (1983). This one, however, does not. Timing wise, this came out when I was at the height of my “show Styx the love” phase so I unashamedly loved this one. It may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back, though, when DDY forced a goofy concept about a Big Brother-style world where rock and roll is outlawed and DDY comes to save the day in robot gear. Yeah, it was as ridiculous as it sounds.



Desert Moon (1984). This one is a nod to DDY’s post-Styx years. It was a top ten hit and suggested he might do just fine commercially without Styx. He didn’t, but this slice of nostalgia was well crafted and deserving of the airplay it got.




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Thursday, February 16, 2012

"Till We Meet Again" charts for the first time: February 15, 1919








Henry Burr was one of the most successful recording artists of the first quarter of the 20th century, landing 15 songs at #1 as a solo artist. However, he also regularly worked with Albert Campbell (who sent three songs to the top on his own) and they landed another seven songs atop the charts. “Till We Meet Again” was their most successful pairing. PM

This “heartfelt farewell of a beau who promises to return and wed his love” RCG was “the most successful of all the ballads of the First World War,” RCG selling 5 million in sheet music. The United States had already entered the war when Richard Whiting and Raymond Egan penned this waltz. However, they threw it away because they disliked it. Luckily, their secretary heard the song, liked it, salvaged it from the trash, and sent it to the publisher. RCG

In 1919, five versions of the song charted – Nicholas Orlando’s Orchestra and the duo of Charles Hart & Lewis James also went to #1 with it, but Burr & Campbell had the most successful version (9 weeks at #1). Vernon Dalhart & Gladys Rice took their duet to the top 10, as did Prince’s Orchestra. PM

World War II saw the song revived and recorded by Kay Starr, Rosemary Clooney, Patti Page, Mitch Miller, and Jaye P. Morgan. RCG Doris Day and Gordon MacRae performed it for the 1951 film On Moonlight Bay. JA The song was also played for years at the adjournment of the United States Congress. RCG




Awards:

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Monday, February 13, 2012

The Top 60 Songs of Peter Gabriel and Genesis








In honor of Peter Gabriel’s birthday (born February 13, 1950) here are the top songs from him as a solo artist and as the frontman of Genesis. A similar list was done in honor of Phil Collins’ birthday on January 30, 1951. This list was created by considering chart status, sales, airplay, awards, placement on the DMDB’s overall list, appearances on compilations, and an aggregate of Genesis and Peter Gabriel-focused best-of lists.

1. Sledgehammer (1986)
2. In Your Eyes (1986)
3. Solsbury Hill (1977)
4. Biko (1980)
5. Shock the Monkey (1982)



6. Games without Frontiers (1980)
7. Don’t Give Up (with Kate Bush, 1986)
8. Steam (1992)
9. Big Time (1986)
10. The Carpet Crawlers (1974) *



11. Digging in the Dirt (1992)
12. I Know What I Like in Your Wardrobe (1973) *
13. The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (1974) *
14. Supper’s Ready (1972) *
15. Red Rain (1986)



16. Firth of Fifth (1973) *
17. The Musical Box (1971) *
18. In the Cage (1974) *
19. Family Snapshot (1980)
20. I Don’t Remember (1980)



21. The Cinema Show (1973) *
22. Kiss That Frog (1992)
23. I Have the Touch (1982)
24. Watcher of the Skies (1972) *
25. Here Comes the Flood (1977)





26. Counting Out Time (1974) *
27. Come Talk to Me (1992)
28. That Voice Again (1986)
29. San Jacinto (1982)
30. Shaking the Tree (with Youssou N’Dour, 1989)



31. No Self Control (1980)
32. Blood of Eden (with Sinead O’Connor, 1992)
33. The Knife (1970) *
34. Washing of the Water (1992)
35. Lovetown (1994)



36. More Than This (2003)
37. Secret World (1992)
38. I Go Swimming (1983)
39. Mercy Street (1986)
40. I Grieve (2002)



41. The Family and the Fishing Net (1982)
42. On the Air (1978)
43. When You’re Falling (with Afro Celt Sound System, 2001)
44. Dancing with the Moonlit Knight (1973) *
45. After the Ordeal (1973) *



46. Walk Through the Fire (1984)
47. The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging (1974) *
48. Lilywhite Lilith (1974) *
49. Sky Blue (2002)
50. D.I.Y. (1978)



51. A Different Drum (1989)
52. The Fountain of Salmacis (1971) *
53. The Return of the Giant Hogweed (1971) *
54. It (1974) *
55. Humdrum (1977)



56. Happy the Man (1972) *
57. Not One of Us (1980)
58. Growing Up (2002)
59. Love to Be Loved (1992)
60. Intruder (1980)
61. Kiss of Life (1982)

* Genesis song






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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Why the Grammys Are Hard to Take Seriously








Well, the Grammys are tonight. In past years, I’ve made my predictions for Album of the Year, but not much else. Of course, Adele is so widely expected to sweep tonight that it makes predictions somewhat, well, predictable. Even my “Steve Theory” (initially presented in a January 2010 blog post called And the Grammy Goes to…Steve?) supports her 21 as the winner. Okay, I haven’t actually asked Steve which album would win, but I know his tastes and this is the one he’d pick.

Since the only real story tonight will be if Adele doesn’t win Album of the Year, Song of the Year, and Record of the Year, there isn’t much else of note to report. With the death of Whitney Houston just yesterday, the most moving moment at the Grammys is likely to be a tribute on her behalf. We’ll see what happens.

Is anyone NOT picking Adele to go home with a lot more than two of these tonight?



Instead, this seems like a good time to vent. For those who regularly follow this blog, this entry won’t be too surprising. As some of you may know, Dave’s Music Database is a consolidation of all kinds of data such as sales figures, chart data, airplay, awards, and appearances on best-of lists to determine the best songs, albums, and acts of all time. This mix of looking at commercial success and critical acclaim for artists and their works over time produces pretty sturdy results, if I do say so myself.

The Grammys, however, don’t often prove to much of an indication of what will stand the test of time. As evidenced through several previous DMDB blog posts, the Grammys have a habit of bad picks for the big four: Best New Artist, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, and Record of the Year (check those links here or under the “Related DMDB Blog Entries” heading below). While there are certainly deserving winners each year, there are so many worthy candidates who either don’t win or don’t even get nominated as to make the Grammys laughable.

The Grammys never saw fit to award Led Zeppelin with any of its prizes.



Oh, I’ll still watch. I’m eager to see Bruce Springsteen perform. The Beach Boys are supposed to play alongside some of today’s hip new acts. I hope someone offers a moving speech in tribute to Whitney Houston. There will hopefully be some surprises. I also think if the big four awards go the way they should, this might prove to be the rare year when the Grammys get it right. Still, it doesn’t make up for how many grievous errors music’s king of the hill has made. While Starland Vocal Band and Milli Vanilli can boast to having Grammy gold sitting atop their fireplace mantels (albeit the latter only held on to it briefly), a slew of notable acts can make no such claim. Just check out this post from Spinner.com from a year ago at Grammy time, in which they note the following acts who’ve never won a Grammy for ANYTHING, much less one of the big four awards: The Beach Boys, Chuck Berry, The Doors, The Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Holly, Janis Joplin, The Kinks, Led Zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bob Marley, Queen, Diana Ross, Tupac Shakur, The Supremes, The Who, and Neil Young. Sigh.

The Grammys decided Milli Vanilli was more worthy of Grammy gold than any of those fly-by-night acts listed above.





Related DMDB Blog Entries and Other Resources:

In Memory of Whitney Houston

image from bet.com

Note: This blog entry was initially posted in the early morning hours of 2/12/2012 and updated as more details emerged. Orginally a list of her top 50 songs accompanied this post but it has been re-created as a new entry (Whitney Houston: Top 50 Songs; August 9, 2013).

February 11, 2012: Whitney Houston, 48, was pronounced dead at 3:55pm in a Beverly Hills hotel room. Police revealed there was no evidence of foul play. It appeared she may have drowned in the bathtub after a mix of alcohol and prescription drugs. No illegal drugs were found in her room. MTV

Earlier in the afternoon, reporters and hotel staff noted her erratic behavior and disheveled clothes. She was also dripping with sweat. She was reportedly disruptive at rehearsals that day for an annual pre-Grammy bash hosted by Clive Davis, the record executive who launched her career. LA Click here to see her last singing performance, captured on video that day.

Whitney was born August 9, 1963, in Newark, New Jersey. Her mother was Cissy Houston, a gospel singer who had also done back-up work with Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, and Dusty Springfield. She was cousins with Dionne Warwick and Aretha Franklin was her godmother.

She started singing in her church choir at age 11. In high school, she was singing back-up for Chaka Khan, Jermaine Jackson, and Lou Rawls and launched a modeling career. She rose to musical fame in 1985 when her debut album spawned three #1’s and sold 13 million copies in the U.S. alone. Her 1987 follow-up album gave her four more chart-toppers, making her the only artist to send seven consecutive songs to the top. In total, she scored eleven #1 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 in a decade’s time. The biggest was a cover of country singer Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You.” The song was featured in the movie The Bodyguard, which starred Whitney Houston as a music diva. “Love You” logged a massive 14 weeks in the pole position in 1992-93 and became the all-time best-selling single by a female artist. LA

Her “world-class smile and approachable glamour” LA made her fans around the globe. Her total record sales topped 170 million and she earned six Grammys and 22 American Music Awards, more AMAs than any other woman. LA While “her skills were often wasted on bland adult-contemporary songs” GU her “gospel-trained…voice also lent itself to R&B, pop and ballads, and she was adept at each style.” GU

In 1992, she married fellow pop singer Bobby Brown. He was abusive and jealous of her success. She started drug use around that time, developing a daily habit by 1996. GU In the late 2000s, she kicked a cocaine addiction, but she “didn’t think about the singing part any more” GU She missed gigs, turned up late, left shows early, and was widely panned for bad performances. Photos of her often captured her looking “disheveled and frighteningly haggard.” GU Few stars have “treated their talent with the frustrating indifference she did toward the end of her life.” GU


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Saturday, February 11, 2012

And the Best New Artist Is…Huh?








The Grammys have long been mocked as “the granny” awards for being out of touch with popular music. Nowhere is this more apparent than with the Best New Artist Award. Dave’s Music Database analyzed the nominees and winners from each year and rated them based on chart history, sales, airplay, other awards, and status on best-of lists. The results were astonishing.

Here’s a list of acts ranked in the top 100 of all time by the DMDB who were not even nominated for the coveted mantelpiece dust-collector: AC/DC, Aerosmith, The Beach Boys, The Bee Gees, David Bowie, Garth Brooks, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Neil Diamond, The Doors, Bob Dylan, Fleetwood Mac, Four Tops, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Jimi Hendrix, Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, The Jackson 5, Billy Joel, John Lennon, Madonna, Bob Marley, Paul McCartney, Willie Nelson, Nirvana, Dolly Parton, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Pink Floyd, Prince, Queen, R.E.M., Kenny Rogers, Smokey Robinson, The Rolling Stones, Diana Ross, Santana, Simon & Garfunkel, Bruce Springsteen, Rod Stewart, Barbra Streisand, The Supremes, The Temptations, U2, The Who, Stevie Wonder, and Neil Young.

The Rolling Stones: We’re not worthy – so said the Grammys



In fact, when the DMDB determined the top-rated act of each year, only 14 acts were nominated for Best New Artist. That means the other 37 years were represented by acts other than those listed above.

While it could be argued that some of these were solo artists who’d formerly been with groups and therefore weren’t technically new artists, the Grammy for Best New Artist has gone to acts like Jody Watley and Lauryn Hill, who’d first been part of the respective groups Shalamar and the Fugees.

Also, it could be argued that some of the acts above didn’t really make a strong showing the first year they would have hit the public scene. Considering the Grammys odd sense of “new”, this one doesn’t wash either. This year’s Bon Iver shouldn’t even be eligible considering the 2008 release of For Emma, Forever Ago. Similarly, Esperanza Spalding hardly represents the class of 2011 since her debut album came out in 2006.

Bon Iver: one of this year’s nominees for Best New Artist. First album came out in…2008?



Even when just those acts who were actually nominated are evaluated, the Grammys have a startling bad record of picking the act that has gone on to have the most influence or success. Based on the DMDB’s ratings, The Grammys only gave it to the top-rated nominee 12 out of 51 times. Certainly it isn’t fair to expect Grammy voters to gaze into a crystal ball and predict which artist will have the greatest impact on future music, but can’t we expect a better rate than this?

Here are the actual winners for each year followed by who the DMDB considered the top-rated nominee from that class. The third act is the one the DMDB says should have won. Those few cases when that act was even in the running are noted with an asterisk (*). Note: the year reflects when the award was given, but the act made its name in the year before (or earlier). This is also why you will see some acts show up in more than one year. Example: Green Day is the highest rated nominee in 1995, but based on their first release, should have actually been in the class of 1989.

The Beatles: one of the few cases when a deserving act was nominated and won



1959: Bobby Darin; highest rated nominee: Bobby Darin; should’ve won: Kenny Rogers
1960: no award; should’ve won: Isley Brothers
1961: Bob Newhart; highest rated nominee: Leontyne Price; should’ve won: Four Tops
1962: Peter Nero; highest rated nominee: The Lettermen; should’ve won: The Beatles *
1963: Robert Goulet; highest rated nominee: The Four Seasons; should’ve won: Stevie Wonder
1964: The Swingle Sisters; highest rated nominee: Vikki Carr; should’ve won: The Rolling Stones
1965: The Beatles; highest rated nominee: The Beatles; should’ve won: Rod Stewart
1966: Tom Jones; highest rated nominee: The Byrds; should’ve won: The Who
1967: no award; should’ve won: David Bowie
1968: Bobbie Gentry; highest rated nominee: Jefferson Airplane; should’ve won: Bee Gees
1969: Jose Felciano; highest rated nominee: Cream; should’ve won: Elton John *

1977 winner: Starland Vocal Band – because everyone knows they were far more influential than, say, Boston or the Sex Pistols



1970: Crosby, Stills & Nash; highest rated nominee: Led Zeppelin; should’ve won: Led Zeppelin *
1971: Carpenters; highest rated nominee: Elton John; should’ve won: Paul McCartney
1972: Carly Simon; highest rated nominee: Carly Simon; should’ve won: Michael Jackson
1973: America; highest rated nominee: Eagles; should’ve won: Eagles *
1974: Bette Midler; highest rated nominee: Barry White; should’ve won: Bruce Springsteen
1975: Marvin Hamlisch; highest rated nominee: Bad Company; should’ve won: AC/DC
1976: Natalie Cole; highest rated nominee: Natalie Cole; should’ve won: Tina Turner
1977: Starland Vocal Band; highest rated nominee: Boston; should’ve won: Sex Pistols
1978: Debby Boone; highest rated nominee: Foreigner; should’ve won: Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
1979: A Taste of Honey; highest rated nominee: Elvis Costello; should’ve won: Prince

Rickie Lee Jones: what a savvy pick because, as we all know, fellow class of 1980 prospects Dire Straits and U2 went nowhere



1980: Rickie Lee Jones; highest rated nominee: Dire Straits; should’ve won: U2
1981: Christopher Cross; highest rated nominee: Pretenders; should’ve won: Stevie Ray Vaughan
1982: Sheena Easton; highest rated nominee: Luther Vandross; should’ve won: R.E.M.
1983: Men at Work; highest rated nominee: The Human League; should’ve won: Madonna
1984: Culture Club; highest rated nominee: Eurythmics; should’ve won: Metallica
1985: Cyndi Lauper; highest rated nominee: Cyndi Lauper; should’ve won: Whitney Houston
1986: Sade; highest rated nominee: Sade; should’ve won: LL Cool J
1987: Bruce Hornsby + the Range; highest rated nominee: Simply Red; should’ve won: Guns N’ Roses
1988: Jody Watley; highest rated nominee: Jody Watley; should’ve won: Public Enemy
1989: Tracy Chapman; highest rated nominee: Rick Astley; should’ve won: Green Day *

Yup. Milli Vanilli won a Best New Artist Grammy. Nirvana wasn’t even nominated.



1990: Milli Vanilli; highest rated nominee: Milli Vanilli; should’ve won: Nirvana
1991: Mariah Carey; highest rated nominee: Mariah Carey; should’ve won: Mariah Carey *
1992: Marc Cohn; highest rated nominee: Boyz II Men; should’ve won: Pearl Jam
1993: Arrested Development; highest rated nominee: Billy Ray Cyrus; should’ve won: Tupac Shakur
1994: Toni Braxton; highest rated nominee: Toni Braxton; should’ve won: R. Kelly
1995: Sheryl Crow; highest rated nominee: Green Day; should’ve won: Oasis
1996: Hootie & the Blowfish; highest rated nominee: Shania Twain; should’ve won: Backstreet Boys *
1997: LeAnn Rimes; highest rated nominee: LeAnn Rimes; should’ve won: Jay-Z
1998: Paula Cole; highest rated nominee: Puff Daddy; should’ve won: Andrea Bocelli *
1999: Lauryn Hill; highest rated nominee: Backstreet Boys; should’ve won: Britney Spears *

2001 Best New Artist Shelby Lynne. First Album? 1989. Wait, huh?



2000: Christina Aguilera; highest rated nominee: Britney Spears; should’ve won: Eminem
2001: Shelby Lynne; highest rated nominee: Brad Paisley; should’ve won: Pink
2002: Alicia Keys; highest rated nominee: Alicia Keys; should’ve won: Alicia Keys *
2003: Norah Jones; highest rated nominee: Avril Lavigne; should’ve won: Beyonce
2004: Evanescence; highest rated nominee: 50 Cent; should’ve won: Kanye West *
2005: Maroon 5; highest rated nominee: Kanye West; should’ve won: Akon
2006: John Legend; highest rated nominee: John Legend; should’ve won: Rihanna
2007: Carrie Underwood; highest rated nominee: Carrie Underwood; should’ve won: Taylor Swift *
2008: Amy Winehouse; highest rated nominee: Taylor Swift; should’ve won: Lady Antebellum *
2009: Adele; highest rated nominee: Adele; should’ve won: Lady Gaga

Once again, the Grammys are confused by the meaning of the word “new”. 2011 winner Esperanza Spalding released her debut album in 2006.



2010: Zac Brown Band; highest rated nominee: Zac Brown Band; should’ve won: Glee Cast
2011: Esperanza Spalding; highest rated nominee: Justin Bieber; should’ve won: Nicki Minaj *


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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Van Halen and David Lee Roth reunite for their first album in 28 years: February 7, 2012








28 years ago, Van Halen were arguably the biggest rock band in the world, riding high with 1984 and its lead-off single “Jump”, a #1 hit in the U.S. Fast forward a couple years and frontman David Lee Roth was out, replaced by Sammy Hagar. The Red Rocker kept the band on top, helping them top the Billboard album charts with four studio albums over the next decade. When Hagar left, VH figured they could strike magic once again, but struck out with the Gary Cherone-led Van Halen III album in 1998. While the group still came out with a couple greatest-hits collections and did a couple tours, it looked like III, the band’s poorest received album in both sales and critical acclaim, might be the band’s tepid hurrah.

However, as evidence that all fences can be mended, Roth returned to the fold for a tour in 2007 (although original bassist Michael Anthony had been replaced by Eddie’s son Wolfgang) and now this, the band’s long overdue 12th album. Comeback projects rarely prove to be necessities, but Truth is, according to AntiQuiet, “a true return of the ‘80s cock-rock overlords.” WK SleazeRoxx said, “regardless of how much bad blood has been spilled over the years, of how insane Roth and the Van Halen brothers can act, one thing is certain – when they get together magic happens.” WK

As evidence of the pent-up demand for new VH with Roth as the frontman, lead single Tattoo was the #1 selling rock song in the U.S. Canada, Finland, and the Netherlands a day after it was released to iTunes. In its first week of release, the video got two million hits on YouTube. WK

“Obsessive fans instantly noted the similarity between [that song] and ‘Down in Flames,’ a 1977 song played live, but never released on an album.” HF It isn’t the only case of one of the album songs reaching back into the group’s past. Big River is “based on the oft-discussed ‘Big Trouble’ demo which has circulated amongst fans for years, and was actually originally intended for Diver Down and then 1984.” CS She’s the Woman dates back to a 1976 demo that signed the band to Warner Bros.” MR and Beats Workin’ “culls its energy from past demo ‘Put Out the Lights’, another lost gem off that Warner Bros. tape.” CS Blood and Fire “has ties to the band’s score for the 1984 film The Wild Life;” CS Bullethead dates back to 1977; and Outta Space began as “Let’s Get Rockin’” in 1976. CS

Hagar accused the band of just recording old songs because they couldn’t write new stuff. MR However, as Roth told the Los Angeles Times, the band deliberately made an attempt to link to its past “by taking the most promising chunks of coal from four decades ago and polishing them into diamonds.” HF It “turns out to be a savvy move, as they not only saved promising songs, but re-oriented the band, pushing them toward their essence” AMG as they use “their history to revive their present.” AMG

In the end, “it’s pretty clear that these dudes put in the hours.” MR “Fans will revel in Eddie’s killer licks;” CS even “if he’s no longer in tip-top form, he’s still close enough that there are mnay moments throughout the album to dazzle Eddie wanna-bes.” HF “Alex Van Halen remains the meatiest drummer in hard rock.” VS and while Roth’s “voice is not the soaring, singular rock wonder that it used to be, …he’s still got plenty of horsepower under the hood” HF and that he “has been waiting for years to really let loose, and A Different Kind of Truth offers him plenty of opportunities.” CS

This “could have been a train wreck of epic proportions and it’s far from it.” HF It has just “enough flashes of past brilliance” HF and is “a frequently thrilling return.” GN “Against the odds, the party metal kings are back and blazing.” GN




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Monday, February 6, 2012

Madonna’s Super Bowl Halftime Performance







Nicki Minaj, Madonna, and M.I.A.



The last couple days’ blog posts focused on the Super Bowl halftime shows with one post focused on the 5 worst halftime shows of all time and another post dedicated to the top 10 halftime shows. To wrap things up, today we’ll revisit Madonna’s halftime performance from last night in which she delivered a football-themed “high-energy spectacle packed with Roman warriors, Cirque du Soleil dancers, marching bands, cheerleaders, and some very famous guests.” MTV

She entered in “Cleopatra mode” MTV on a throne accompanied by Roman warriors while she sang “Vogue”. She segued into “Music”, complete with dancers doing acrobatics on bleachers, a tightrope walker doing flips on a wire, and a mash-up with LMFAO and brief bits from their #1 hits “Party Rock Anthem” and “Sexy and I Know It”.

In continuing the guest star parade, she trotted out Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. in cheerleader outfits to contribute to “Give Me All Your Luvin”, the new Madonna single on which the pair also sing. By aligning herself with some of today’s biggest names in music, Madonna seemed to “position herself as the queen of a new generation of pop stars.” CBS

Finally, Cee-Lo Green entered as a drum major, backed by dancers in maching band attire. After brief interludes of “Open Your Heart” and “Express Yourself”, Madonna, Cee-Lo, and the dancers shifted into gospel wear and closed out the show with “Like a Prayer”. After that, she disappeared in a puff of smoke down a trap door and the field lit up with the words “World Peace”.

As expected, the 12-minute show was very visual and heavily choreographed. As one blogger said, everyone knew she’d make it “dazzling and unforgettable” NJ and the show “was probably the most impressive Super Bowl halftime performance ever.” NJ Despite how nervous she’d said she was before hand, Madonna tore “through her hits with plenty of superstar swagger.” MTV Unlike last year’s Black Eyed Peas, who looked like “awkward amateurs,” NJ Madonna looked like “she belonged there.” NJ

Critics were quick to suggest that her “vocals were not strong throughout” CBS and simultaneously rip on her for her “vocals being lip synched or augmented by tapes.” WSJ She also appeared to slip on the stage during “Music”, but quickly recovered. For those fearing a “wardrobe malfunction” or other deliberate controversy-baiting moments, Madonna managed several costume changes, but all without incident. However, M.I.A. flipped the bird while belting out a line with an expletive bleeped out.

One of the strangest pre-show criticisms was that Madonna wouldn’t appeal to football fans. For those uttering such rumblings, perhaps they need a reminder that this is the most televised event of the year attracting the eyeballs of more than 100 million viewers. There are a lot more than just football fans tuning in. The halftime show should feature an iconic singer who can provide solid entertainment. Given that criteria, Madonna was a perfect fit.




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