Saturday, April 30, 2016

Rihanna spent ninth week at #1 with “Work”

Last updated 2/16/2020.


Rihanna with Drake

Writer(s): Jahron Braithwaite, Matthew Samuels, Allen Ritter, Rupert Thomas, Aubrey Graham, Robyn Fenty, Monte Moir (see lyrics here)

Released: January 27, 2016

First Charted: February 13, 2016

Peak: 19 US, 9 RR, 111 RB, 2 UK, 14 CN, 5 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 6.0 US, 1.3 UK, 10.6 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 1183.8 video, 919.0 streaming


About the Song:

After her seventh album, Unapologetic (2012), Rihanna intended to take a hiatus from recording. It lasted a week and she found herself back in the studio. She released three singles in 2015 and then, at the onset of 2016, released “Work,” the lead single from her eighth album, Anti. It became her 14th #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, putting her just behind The Beatles, Mariah Carey, and Elvis Presley. WK It was also her 50th song to chart on the Hot 100 and 27th to hit the top ten. WK She also became the first artist to have #1 songs from seven consecutive studio albums. SF It was her third collaboration with Drake, following 2010’s “What’s My Name?” and 2011’s “Take Care.” SF

The song was written in the summer of 2015 by a team while at Drake’s house. One of the writers, Sevn Thomas and Boi-1da, who’d previously worked with Drake, crafted the dancehall rhythm SF and then sent it to PartyNextDoor, who wrote the lyrics, which talk about working for money as well as fragile relationships. WK Drake then wrote and recorded a verse before the song was played for Rihanna. WK However, her label didn’t care for the Caribbean flavor of the song and it was nearly passed on to Alicia Keys. However, Rihanna fought to keep it, saying “this is my family’s favorite song.” SF

Billboard’s Taj Ran said the song had “deep roots in Jamaica’s club scene that spun off from reggae in the 1970s.” WK Forbes’ Hugh McIntyre described the song as urban with hip hop influences and “island vibes,” WK an observation echoed by Rolling Stone’s Daniel Kreps, who said it had a “tropical house vibe.” WK Slant Magazine’s Alexa Camp called it an understated midtempo jam” which “recalls Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis’s masterful production work on Janet [Jackson]’s The Velvet Rope.” WK Complex’s Zach Frydenlund said the song “is slower and very rhythmic with Rihanna showing off her vocal skills over the crafty production.” WK

By contrast, The A.V. Club’s Robin Reiff said “the sheer repetition of the hook creates a built-in experiation date for when this song transitions from catchy to mildly annoying.” WK Rolling Stone called it a “barely-there tune,” but noted it was still irresistible. WK The song’s “off-kilter” nature led The Guardian to name it the best track of 2016. The song was nominated for a Grammy for Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.

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Friday, April 29, 2016

In Concert: The Who

The Who’s Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend, image from

Venue: Sprint Center; Kansas City, MO

The Players: Pete Townshend (guitar, vocals), Roger Daltrey (vocals, guitar, harmonica), Simon Townshend (guitar, mandolin, backing vocals), Pino Palladino (bass), Zak Starkey (drums), Loren Gold (keyboards, backing vocals), John Corey (keyboards, backing vocals), Frank Simes (musical director, keyboards, backing vocals, assorted instruments)

Opening Act: Slydigs

“We’re late. Thanks for waiting.” It was the perfect opening line from Pete Townshend to open the Kansas City show which had been postponed twice. Judging from the full house, no one seemed to mind the wait.

Only Townshend and singer Roger Daltrey remain from the original incarnation of the Who, although Pino Palladino and Zak Starkey have been long-time band replacements for John Entwistle and Keith Moon respectively. Daltrey doesn’t have the voice he once did, but still could hit the classic scream on “Won’t Get Fooled Again” and belted out the powerful “Love Reign O’er Me.” He and Townshend engaged the audience in plenty of stage banter and broke out their trademark moves of mike swinging and windmilling on the guitar.

My favorite moment was “The Rock,” a largely unknown instrumental accompanied by a powerful video showcasing world history moments during the history of the Who. The song was part of a trifecta of tunes from 1973’s Quadrophenia (the others being “I’m One” and “Love Reign O’er Me.” There was also a four-song set from 1969’s Tommy amongst a largely hits-based set list. See full list below.

The Set List:

1. I Can’t Explain
2. Who Are You
3. The Seeker
4. The Kids Are Alright
5. I Can See for Miles
6. My Generation
7. 5:15
8. Pictures of Lily
9. Behind Blue Eyes
10. Bargain
11. Join Together
12. You Better You Bet
13. I’m One
14. The Rock
15. Love Reign O’er Me
16. Eminence Front
17. Amazing Journey
18. Sparks
19. Pinball Wizard
20. See Me Feel Me
21. Baba O’Riley
22. Won’t Get Fooled Again

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

K-Tel Top 100 Songs and Top 20 Albums

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In 1966, K-Tel released its first compilation, 25 Country Hits. Over the next two decades, the company would release more than a hundred compilations, most focused on the pop hits of the day. A 2013 Forbes article called the company “the spotify of the 1970s.”

The company was founded by Philip Kives, a business executive, entrepreneur, and marketing expert from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. He was born on February 12, 1929, and died at age 87 on April 27, 2016. In honor of him, the DMDB presents a list of the top 100 songs to appear on K-Tel compilations and the top 20 K-Tel compilations.

Top 100 Songs: Act “Song” (Year), featured K-Tel albums

1. Bill Haley & the Comets “We’re Gonna Rock Around the Clock” (1954), 25 Rockin’ and Rollin’ Greats, 25 Rock Revival Greats, Rockin’ and Rollin’, Juke Box Jive
2. Derek & the Dominos “Layla” (1971) 22 Explosive Hits, Today’s Super Greats Part 1
3. Roy Orbison “(Oh) Pretty Woman” (1964) 25 Rockin’ and Rollin’ Greats, 25 Rock Revival Greats, Rockin’ and Rollin’
4. Abba “Dancing Queen” (1976) Music Machine, The Magic of Abba
5. Chuck Berry “Johnny B. Goode” (1958) 25 Rock Revival Greats, Rockin’ and Rollin’
6. Gloria Gaynor “I Will Survive” (1978) High Energy
7. Carl Perkins “Blue Suede Shoes” (1956) 25 Rockin’ and Rollin’ Greats
8. Elvis Presley “Suspicious Minds” (1969) Elvis Love Songs
9. Little Richard “Tutti Frutti” (1955) Hometown USA
10. Rod Stewart “Maggie May” (1971) Believe in Music, Today’s Super Greats Part 2

11. Elton John “Your Song” (1970) Elton John: Milestones
12. Elvis Presley “Love Me Tender” (1956) Elvis Love Songs
13. Fats Domino “Blueberry Hill” (1956) 25 Rock Revival Greats, Rockin’ and Rollin’
14. Creedence Clearwater Revival “Proud Mary” (1969) 20 Super Hits – The Best of CCR
15. The Penguins “Earth Angel (Will You Be Mine)” (1954) Hometown USA
16. Blondie “Heart of Glass” (1978) High Energy
17. Jerry Lee Lewis “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” (1957) Hometown USA
18. Elvis Presley “It’s Now or Never” (1960) Elvis Love Songs
19. Del Shannon “Runaway” (1961) Juke Box Jive
20. Survivor “Eye of the Tiger” (1982) Hit Explosion

21. Chic “Le Freak” (1978) High Energy
22. Jerry Lee Lewis “Great Balls of Fire” (1957) 25 Rock Revival Greats, Rockin’ and Rollin’
23. The Platters “The Great Pretender” (1955) 25 Rockin’ and Rollin’ Greats
24. Debby Boone “You Light Up My Life” (1977) heartbeat of the ‘70s
25. Blondie “Call Me” (1980) Power Play, Rock 80, Women of Rock
26. Elvis Presley “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” (1960) Elvis Love Songs
27. The Knack “My Sharona” (1979) Power Play, Rock 80
28. Buddy Holly “Peggy Sue” (1957) 60 Flashback Greats of the ‘60s
29. The Five Satins “In the Still of the Night” (1956) Hometown USA
30. James Taylor “Fire and Rain” (1970) 20 Dynamic Hits

31. Paul Anka “Diana” (1957) Juke Box Jive
32. Gene Vincent & His Blue Caps “Be-Bop-A-Lula” (1956) 25 Rockin’ and Rollin’ Greats
33. Tony Orlando & Dawn “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree” (1973) 22 Fantastic Hits, Superstars Greatest Hits
34. Eurythmics “Sweet Dreams Are Made of This” (1983) Hot Tracks
35. Irene Cara” Flashdance…What a Feeling” (1983) Street Beat
36. Harry Nilsson “Without You” (1971) Reflections
37. Bo Diddley “Bo Diddley” (1955) 25 Rock Revival Greats, Rockin’ and Rollin’
38. James Brown “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” (1965) 60 Flashback Greats of the ‘60s
39. Little Richard “Long Tall Sally” (1956) 25 Rockin’ and Rollin’ Greats, 25 Rock Revival Greats, Rockin’ and Rollin’, Hometown USA
40. Free “All Right Now” (1970) 20 Power Hits

41. Olivia Newton-John “Physical” (1981) Women of Rock
42. 10cc “I’m Not in Love” (1975) Music Express
43. Boston “More Than a Feeling” (1976) The Rock Album
44. Commodores “Three Times a Lady” (1978) Spotlight, Together
45. Pretenders “Brass in Pocket” (1979) Rock 80, Certified Gold
46. Isaac Hayes “Theme from Shaft” (1971) Super Bad
47. Lipps Inc. “Funkytown” (1980) Sound Waves
48. The Everly Brothers “Wake Up Little Susie” (1957) Rockin’ and Rollin’, 25 Rock Revival Greats, 25 Rockin’ and Rollin’ Greats
49. Bonnie Tyler “Total Eclipse of the Heart” (1983) Women of Rock
50. The Drifters “Save the Last Dance for Me” (1960) Rock ‘N’ Roll Fever

51. The Box Tops “The Letter” (1957) 20 Explosive Hits, Today’s Super Greats Part 3
52. The Everly Brothers “Bye Bye Love” (1957) 24 Great Tear Jerkers
53. Wild Cherry “Play That Funky Music” (1976) Disco Rocket, Music Machine
54. Cream “Sunshine of Your Love” (1967) 60 Flashback Greats of the ‘60s
55. Gerry Rafferty “Baker Street” (1978) Spotlight
56. Michael Jackson “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” (1979) Hitline, Wings of Sound
57. George McCrae “Rock Your Baby” (1974) 20 Dynamite Hits, Disco Mania, Souled Out
58. Diana Ross “Upside Down” (1980) Sound Waves
59. Donna Summer “I Feel Love” (1978) Disco Fire
60. Captain & Tennille “Love Will Keep Us Together” (1975) Music Express

61. Roger Miller “King of the Road” (1965) 24 Great Truck Driving Songs
62. Creedence Clearwater Revival “Fortunate Son” (1969) 20 Super Hits – The Best of CCR
63. Elton John “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” (1973) Music Machine, Elton John: Milestones
64. Terry Jacks “Seasons in the Sun” (1974) 20 Dynamite Hits
65. Elton John “Bennie and the Jets” (1973) Elton John: Milestones
66. The Kingston Trio “Tom Dooley” (1958) Good Time Music
67. Creedence Clearwater Revival “Bad Moon Rising” (1969) 20 Super Hits – The Best of CCR
68. Elvis Presley “Can’t Help Falling in Love” (1961) Elvis Love Songs
69. The Orioles “Crying in the Chapel” (1953) 24 Great Tear Jerkers
70. Sister Sledge “We Are Family” (1979) Hitline

71. The Byrds “Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season)” (1965) 20 Power Hits Vol. 1
72. The Tokens “The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Wimoweh)” (1961) Juke Box Jive, Goofy Greats, Good Time Music
73. The Turtles “Happy Together” (1967) Rock ‘N’ Roll Feer, 60 Flashback Greats of the ‘60s
74. The Four Seasons “Big Girls Don’t Cry” (1962) The Greatest Hits of Franki Valli & the Four Seasons
75. The Platters “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” (1958) 24 Great Tear Jerkers
76. Elton John “Crocodile Rock” (1973) 22 Fantastic Hits, 20 Power Hits, Elton John: Milestones
77. Van McCoy “The Hustle” (1975) Disco Mania
78. Elton John & Kiki Dee “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” (1976) Elton John: Milestones
79. Andy Gibb “Shadow Dancing” (1978) Starburst, Disco Nights
80. Blue Ă–yster Cult “Don’t Fear the Reaper” (1976) The Rock Album

81. Elton John “Daniel” (1973) Right On, Elton John: Milestones
82. Dion “Runaround Sue” (1961) Hometown USA, 60 Flashback Greats of the ‘60s
83. Charlie Rich “Behind Closed Doors” (1973) Country Road
84. Tammy Wynette “Stand by Your Man” (1968) Country Road
85. Toy Orlando & Dawn “Knock Three Times” (1970) 20 Power Hits Vol. 2, Today’s Super Greats Part 2
86. Elton John “Rocket Man” (1972) 22 Fantastic Hits, 20 Power Hits, Superstar’s Greatest Hits, Elton John: Milestones
87. The Emotions “Best of My Love” (1977) Disco Fire
88. The Crystals “Da Doo Ron Ron (When He Walked Me Home)” (1963) Rock ‘N’ Roll Fever
89. Bill Withers “Lean on Me” (1972) 22 Fantastic Hits, Super Bad Is Back, Superstars Greatest Hits
90. Tommy James & the Shondells “Crimson and Clover” (1968) Superstars Greatest Hits

91. The Four Seasons “Sherry” (1962) Greatest Hits of Franki Valli & the Four Seasons
92. Carl Douglas “Kung Fu Fighting” (1974) Disco Mania, Out of Sight
93. Bachman-Turner Overdrive “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet” (1974) Out of Sight
94. The Police “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” (1981) Radio Active, The Hit List
95. Wilbert Harrison “Kansas City” (1959) Juke Box Jive
96. Sonny James “Young Love” (1956) The Best of Country Music Vol. 7
97. Andy Gibb “I Just Want to Be Your Everything” (1977) Music Machine
98. Gary Numan “Cars” (1979) Rock 80
99. The Dixie Cups “Chapel of Love” (1964) 60 Flashback Greats of the ‘60s
100. Kiss “Rock and Roll All Nite” (1975) Disco Mania, Hit Machine

K-Tel: Top 20 Albums (years covered, year of release):

1. Rock Revival Greats (1954-65, 1972)
2. Rockin’ and Rollin’ (1954-65, 1972)
3. 25 Rockin’ and Rollin’ Greats (1954-64, 1972)
4. Hometown USA (1954-66, 1979)
5. Juke Box Jive (1954-66, 1975)
6. Elton John: Milestones (1970-79, 1980)
7. Elvis Love Songs – 16 Original Hits (1956-71, 1981)
8. Music Machine (1973-77, 1977)
9. 24 Great Tear Jerkers (1955-65, 1976)
10. 20 Super Hits – The Best of Creedence Clearwater Revival (1968-71, 1978)

image from, my first EVER album purchase!

11. High Energy (1978-79, 1979)
12. Rock 80 (1978-80, 1980)
13. Music Express (1973-75, 1975)
14. Women of Rock (1978-84, 1986)
15. Believe in Music (1971-72, 1972)
16. 20 Dynamite Hits (1972-74, 1974)
17. 60 Flashback Greats of the ‘60s (1957-70, 1972)
18. Right On (1973-76, 1976)
19. 22 Fantastic Hits (1972-73, 1973)
20. Hit Machine (1974-76, 1976)

Sunday, April 24, 2016

4/24/1926: Irving Berlin’s “Always” charts for the first of 9 times

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George Olsen with Fran Frey, Bob Rice, & Edward Joyce “Always”

Writer(s): Irving Berlin (see lyrics here)

First charted: 4/24/1926

Peak: 13 US, 13 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US (sheet music sales)

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

Review: Writer Irving Berlin gave the rights to this song to his new wife, Ellis MacKay as a wedding gift, TY-31 which led to substantial royalies. WK Not that she needed the money – she was from a wealthy family, which meant her romance with Berlin was splashed all over tabloid headings. JA-9 Her father, Clarence MacKay, disinherited her and had nothing to do with her for years, but they eventually reconciled. TY-31

The legendary Groucho Marx claimed this song was intended for the Marx brothers’ movie The Cocoanuts WK However, the song was either cut or was never actually meant for the movie. WK Instead, “Always” got its introduction on vaudeville, thanks to Gladys Clark and Henry Bergman. It was an immediate hit, leading to multiple commercial recordings. George Olsen was the first to hit the charts with it, taking it to #1, as did Vincent Lopez. Henry Burr (#3), Nick Lucas (#4), and Lewis James (#12) also charted with it in 1926.

It resurfaced in 1942 as the theme music for the movie The Pride of the Yankees WK and again in 1944 when Deanna Durbin sang it in the film Christmas Holiday. JA-10 In 1945, the song showed up in Blithe Spirit, a movie based on a Noel Coward play. WK This gave the song a new chart life as Gordon Jenkins (#16), Paul Lavalle (#29), Sammy Kaye (#10), and Guy Lombardo (#10) all hit the charts with it in 1944-45.

The song has been covered by a diverse array of artists, including country versions by Patsy Cline and Kenny Rogers, MM-150 as well as recordings from Tony Bennett, Leonard Cohen, Phil Collins, Billy Corgan (from Smashing Pumpkins), Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman, Billie Holiday, the Ink Spots, Paul McCartney, and the Supremes. 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.


Thursday, April 21, 2016

Goodbye Sweet Prince: His Top 50 Songs / Top 20 by Other Artists

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The world was shocked by the news of Prince's death today at the age of 57. As his fans await details on what led to the tragedy, they celebrate his massive talent and contribution to music. The DMDB updates its list of his top songs as a performer and a writer. This was originally presented on the DMDB Facebook page on January 1, 2013, as a top 25 list and later expanded to a top 50 list for the blog. That version also included a list of the top 20 songs he wrote for others.

Top 50 Songs Performed by Prince

1. When Doves Cry (1984)
2. Purple Rain (1984)
3. Kiss (1986)
4. Little Red Corvette (1982)
5. 1999 (1982)
6. Sign ‘O’ the Times (1987)
7. Let’s Go Crazy (1984)
8. Raspberry Beret (1985)
9. Cream (1991)
10. The Most Beautiful Girl in the World (1994)

11. U Got the Look (with Sheena Easton, 1987)
12. Batdance (1989)
13. I Wanna Be Your Lover (1979)
14. I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man (1987)
15. Alphabet Street (1988)
16. I Would Die 4 U (1984)
17. Gett Off (1991)
18. When You Were Mine (1980)
19. Diamonds and Pearls (1991)
20. Thieves in the Temple (1990)

21. Delirious (1982)
22. Pop Life (1985)
23. If I Was Your Girlfriend (1987)
24. 7 (1992)
25. Controversy (1981)

26. Money Don’t Matter 2 Night (1991)
27. Take Me with U (with Appolonia, 1985)
28. Partyman (1989)
29. Mountains (1986)
30. My Name Is Prince (1992)

31. I Hate U (1995)
32. The Arms of Orion (with Sheena Easton, 1989)
33. Betcha by Golly Wow! (1996)
34. Sexy M.F. (1992)
35. Nothing Compares 2 U (1993)
36. Let’s Pretend We’re Married (1982)
37. Hot Thing (1987)
38. America (1985)
39. Anotherloverholenyohead (1986)
40. Pink Cashmere (1993)

41. Darling Nikki (1984)
42. Letitgo (1994)
43. New Power Generation (1990)
44. Black Sweat (2006)
45. The Morning Papers (1992)
46. Adore (1987)
47. Soft and Wet (1978)
48. Uptown (1980)
49. The Beautiful Ones (1984)
50. Gold (1995)

Top Songs Written by Prince and Performed by Others

1. Nothing Compares 2 U…Sinead O’Connor (1990)
2. I Feel for You…Chaka Khan (1984)
3. Manic Monday…Bangles (1986)
4. Stand Back…Stevie Nicks (written with Nicks, 1983)
5. Pray…MC Hammer (samples “When Doves Cry”, 1990)
6. The Glamorous Life…Sheila E (1984)
7. Love, Thy Will Be Done…Martika (written with Martika, 1991)
8. Jerk Out…The Time (written with Morris Day, Jimmy Jam, & Terry Lewis, 1990)
9. Sugar Walls…Sheena Easton (1984)
10. Round and Round…Tevin Campbell (1990)

11. Kiss…Art of Noise with Tom Jones (1988)
12. Jungle Love…The Time (written with Morris Day, 1984)
13. A Love Bizarre…Sheila E (written with Sheila E, 1985)
14. The Belle of St. Mark…Sheila E (1984)
15. The Bird…Time (written with Morris Day & Jesse Johnson, 1984)
16. How Come You Don’t Call Me Anymore…Alica Keys (2002)
17. ’03 Bonnie & Clyde…Jay-Z with Beyonce (samples “If I Was Your Girlfriend, 2002)
18. Darling Nikki…Foo Fighters (2003)
19. The Screams of Passion…The Family (1985)
20. Born 2 B.R.E.E.D….Monie Love (written with Love & Levi Seacer Jr., 1993)


Resources and Related Links:

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

4/13/1918: “Darktown Strutters’ Ball” hits #1

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Arthur Collins & Byron Harlan “Darktown Strutters’ Ball”

Writer(s): Shelton Brooks (see lyrics here)

First charted: 3/30/1918

Peak: 11 US, 12 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 3.0 (sheet music sales)

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

Review: Shelton Brooks, who also wrote Sophie Tucker’s “Some of These Days,” was inspired to write “Ball” by a 1915 social gathering during the Panama Pacific International Exposition he attended in San Francisco. SS-734 Tucker would then introduce the song on vaudeville. SS-734 In 1917, the Original Dixieland Jazz Band recorded an instrumental version, “whose recording was never imitated.” JA-44 Their version charted at #2 and, in 2006, was named to the Grammy Hall of Fame.

The next year, however, the song had its greatest success when the “masters of minstrel/blackface-styled romps, Arthur Collins and Byron Harlan” SS-734 “unveiled [the song] in all its rowdy glory.” SS-734 Collins and Harlan paired up in 1901 and charted eighty-nine times over the next seventeen years. “Ball” was their 88th chart hit and the last of their dozen trips to #1. PM-95 Individually, Collins racked up another 47 solo hits of which 11 hit #1 PM-90 and Harlan charted 54 times, also hitting the peak 11 times. PM-194 All told, they compiled 34 #1 hits collectively and independently.

Others to chart with the song include Alan Dale and Connie Haines (#29, 1948), the Jaudas’ Society Orchestra (#9, 1918), Ted Lewis (#12, 1927), Lou Monte (#7, 1954), and the Six Brown Brothers (#10, 1917) PM-499 Others to record the song included Ray Anthony, the Boswell Sisters, Larry Clinton, Jimmy Dorsey, Arthur Fields, Phil Harris, Pee Wee Hunt, Fats Waller, and Chick Webb. WK

The song was featured in the movie The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971), sung by Paul Frees during a murder scene. Robert Redford sang it in The Natural (1984) and Kristin Scott Thomas sang it in The English Patient (1996). WK The song has also been used in TV shoes, including Tom and Jerry (“Saturday Evening Puss,” 1950), M*A*S*H (premiere episode in 1971), and The Simpsons (“Old Money”). WK In 1972, “Strutters’ Ball” was one of ten songs named to the Songwriters Hall of Fame as an historic standard. SS-734

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.


Saturday, April 9, 2016

4/9/1927: “Blue Skies” charts for the first of 9 times

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Ben Selvin “Blue Skies”

Writer(s): Irving Berlin (see lyrics here)

First charted: 4/9/1927

Peak: 12 US, 12 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 (sheet music sales)

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

Review: Belle Baker first sang “Blue Skies” in the 1926 musical Betsy. JA-25 While the rest of the musical was scored by Rodgers and Hart, this song by Irving Berlin was added – depending on the account, at the request of either Baker JA-25 or the producer, Florenz Ziegfeld. TY-38 The number was so successful, it received 24 encores. RCG

The song was well received on the charts as well, with six versions charting in 1927 alone. Ben Selvin had the #1 hit, but Vaughn Deleath (#15), Vincent Lopez (#9), Johnny Marvin & Ed Smalle (#9), George Olsen (#2), Harry Richman (#13) also found success with the song. It topped sheet music sales for a year. MM-152 Frances Langford regularly sang it for World War II troops as a way to celebrate the good feelings soldiers had upon returning home. RCG Count Basie (#8, 1946), Benny Goodman (#9, 1946), and Johnny Long (#22, 1941) would find successs with the song in later years. Tommy Dorsey, Ella Fitzgerald, Michael Jackson, Glenn Miller, Willie Nelson, and Frank Sinatra have also recorded it. MM-152

It also became a staple in movies, notably sung by Al Jolson in the first sound film, 1927’s The Jazz Singer, TY-38 by Ethel Merman and Alice Faye in the 1938 film Alexander’s Ragtime Band, and Bing Crosby in 1946’s Blue Skies as well as 1954’s White Christmas. JA-25

Berlin captured the nature of love with the suggestion that it “can turn gray skies to blue.” TY-38 He also made clever use of the word blue by beginning each of the three main sections with references to blue – blue skies, bluebirds, and blue days. TY-38 The song’s structure “shifts from a bluesy chorus to an upbeat verse making it a mainstay of jazz artists.” RCG

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.


Percy Sledge charted with “When a Man Loves a Woman" 50 years ago today (4/9/1966)

First posted 4/9/2013; updated 4/8/2020.

When a Man Loves a Woman

Percy Sledge

Writer(s): Cameron Lewis/Arthur Wright (see lyrics here)

First Charted: April 9, 1966

Peak: 12 US, 12 CB, 12 HR, 14 RB, 2 UK, 11 CN (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 1. world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 7.0 radio, 121.5 video, -- streaming

Awards for Sledge’s version:

Awards for Bolton’s version:

About the Song:

Sledge called this song “a happy accident.” BR1 He was touring the South with an R&B group known as the Esquires. RS500 After a break-up, he was too distraught one evening to do the regular setlist. HL He asked bassist Cameron Lewis and organist Andrew Wright to improvise something to which he could sing along. SJ The descending riff created by the pair HL gave Sledge an outlet from which to pour out his soul. HL

Percy later polished up a version which won over Quin Ivy, who was “one of the movers and shakers in the music industry in Alabama.” BR1 Percy recorded the song at Fame studios under producer Rick Hall, who would put Muscle Shoals, Alabama, on the map, establishing it as the world headquarters for deep soul music. PA Atlantic Records’ Jerry Wexler was sent a copy. He wanted a new recording done at the expense of Atlantic TB because Sledge was off-key and the horn section was out of tune on the original. TB After much time and expense, a new version was created, but a mix-up led to Atlantic releasing the original version instead. TB It didn’t matter – “soulful to the max,” KX the song was a hit in any rendition.

Thanks to its use in a UK TV commercial for Levi’s,” HL the song recharted in England in 1987 at #2, besting its original #4 peak. In 1991, Michael Bolton topped the U.S. pop & AC charts and won a Grammy with his version. When Bolton’s version hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, it marked only the seventh time in chart history that two different recording acts took the same song to the pinnacle.

Although the song has generated millions in royalties, Percy has likely seen very little of it TB having given the writing credit to Lewis & Wright.

Resources and Related Links:

  • Percy Sledge’s DMDB Encyclopedia entry
  • Michael Bolton’s DMDB Encyclopedia entry
  • BR1 Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). New York, NY: Billboard Books. Page 199.
  • HL Michael Heatley and Spencer Leigh (1998). Behind the Song: The Stories of 100 Great Pop & Rock Classics. London, England: Blandford Books. Page 25.
  • KX KXXO Mixx 96, Olympia, WA. Top 96 Soft Rock Songs of All Time
  • PA Robert Palmer. (1995). Rock & Roll: An Unruly History. Page 92.
  • RS500 Rolling Stone (2011). “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time
  • 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 182.
  • TB Thunder Bay Press (2006). Singles: Six Decades of Hot Hits & Classic Cuts. Outline Press Ltd.: San Diego, CA. Page 81.