Saturday, August 24, 2019

Bobby Darin charted with "Mack the Knife" 60 years ago (8/24/1959)

First posted 8/24/2011; updated 4/13/2020.

Mack the Knife

Bobby Darin

Writer(s): Kurt Weill (m)/Mark Blitzstein (l)/Berthold Brecht (l) (see lyrics here)

First Charted: August 24, 1959

Peak: 19 US, 18 CB, 15 HR, 6 RB, 12 UK, 12 CN (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 2.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 24.03 video, -- streaming


About the Song:

“Mack the Knife” originated in 1928 as “Moritat,” which translates to “murder deed.” RCG Bertlot Brecht and Kurt Weill wrote the original German song about “a bloodthirsty Berlin gangster” RS500 on the prowl for the musical The Three Penny Opera. Despite the song’s gruesome subject matter, the irresistible melody made the song hit-worthy. KL Instead of translating the lyrics literally, Marc Blitzstein was assigned to give the song a rewrite. SJ

The song had become a standard before Darin ever recorded it. “Mack” charted six times in 1956; the Dick Hyman Trio’s #8 instrumental version being the most successful. However, Darin’s version trumped them all.

A year earlier, at age twenty-two, Darin first hit with the “Splish Splash”, followed by three more hits which cemented his appeal to the teen market. However, Darin wanted the kind of longevity enjoyed by Frank Sinatra. At the time he even told Billboard, “In night clubs I learn to other things. I even do ‘Mack the Knife.’” BB100

For his standards album That’s All, Darin recorded the song, but he never saw it being a single. SJ His record company thought otherwise and the song transformed Darin’s image into that of “a finger-snapping sophisticate at home in the cocktail lounge.” RS500

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Thursday, August 22, 2019

Dave’s Music Database Hall of Fame: Album Inductees (Aug. 2019)

Originally posted 8/22/2019.

January 22, 2019 marked the 10-year anniversary of the DMDB blog. To honor that, Dave’s Music Database announced its own Hall of Fame. This month marks the third batch of album inductees. These are the top ten best-rated albums of all time (with at least 20 ratings from various sources including All Music Guide, Amazon, CD Universe, New Musical Express, Q Magazine, Rolling Stone, and USA Today. (Click here for a full list of sources.) Two of them were previously inducted – Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue and Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde, – leaving eight inductees in this round.

Beach Boys Pet Sounds (1966)

Inducted August 2019 as a “Top Rated Album.”

“In everything written about this album, ‘genius’ and ‘masterpiece’ are two words that invariably appear.” SP “The former is applied to the album’s creator and spiritual avatar, Brian Wilson,” SP who humbly “set out to construct the greatest pop record ever made.” SP By general accounts, he succeeded; it is “a pop milestone” SP “considered by many to be one of the most influential albums ever.” SM “This is more than just an album by a great American band; it’s THE great American pop album.” CDU

Derek & the Dominos Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (1970)

Inducted August 2019 as a “Top Rated Album.”

Eric Clapton was a superstar by 1970 when he formed the supergroup Derek & the Dominos with fellow guitarist Duane Allman and members of Delaney & Bonnie, with whom he’d just toured. This was their only studio recording, but it proved to be “one of the few blues-based classic rock albums which avoids dull predictability or Led Zep-ish testosterone riffs.” PK It gave Clapton “his greatest album” AMG and made for “one of the all-time classic dual-guitar albums.” VH1

Bob Dylan Highway 61 Revisited (1965)

Inducted August 2019 as a “Top Rated Album.”

This is “Dylan’s most relentless and flawless album,” TL but also his “most accessible.” NO It “changed the face of popular music, and serves as proof of his legendary status as one of the true masters of both words and music.” NO In hiring a full rock band, “powered by Mike Bloomfield’s slashing guitar lines and Al Kooper’s bracing, rudimentary organ,” TL “Dylan didn’t abandon folk music; he just hauled it forward a few centuries. Out went acoustic hymns of protest, in came a whirlwind of images – mad, random, yet cruelly precise.” BL

The Jimi Hendrix Experience Are You Experienced? (1967)

Inducted August 2019 as a “Top Rated Album.”

This is “one of the quintessential statements of psychedelic rock” NRR and “one of the most groundbreaking guitar albums of the rock era.” NRR Hendrix “expanded the sonic possibilities of the electric guitar” TL “radical new techniques in feedback and distortion” RV and other things “no one ever dreamed about trying.” DV The songs “sound as revolutionary and as far beyond category today as they did the day they were recorded.” TL

Velvet Underground & Nico Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)

Inducted August 2019 as a “Top Rated Album.”

While it took ten years for VU’s debut to crack six figures, AMG there’s a classic line from producer Brian Eno that “everyone who bought one…started a band.” JD This is “chapter one of alternative rock” BL and made VU “the poster children of the avant-garde;” TL they “proved that rock, too, can be art.” RV “Glam, punk, new wave, goth, noise, and nearly every other left-of-center rock movement owes an audible debt to this set.” AMG

The Who Who’s Next (1971)

Inducted August 2019 as a “Top Rated Album.”

Many consider this “the Who’s crowning achievement.” MU It “set a hard rock standard that even its creators struggled to emulate.” CD Lead singer Roger “Daltrey fully comes into his own,” EK Pete Townshend’s guitar playing “alternates between delicate acoustic picking and earthshaking riffing,” SM and dummer Keith Moon and bassist John Entwistle play as if theirs “were lead and/or melody instruments.” EK “You essentially have four lead players…In the hands of any other musicians it would have repeatedly collapsed into chaos.” EK

Stevie Wonder Innervisions (1973)

Inducted August 2019 as a “Top Rated Album.”

Innervisions stands as Stevie Wonder’s masterpiece.” RV It is “the summit of the wunderkind’s blend of funk-addled synth-pop and socially conscious lyrics.” UT “Introspective, melancholy, sassy and uplifting, it transcends all notions of soul as schmaltz.” WR It is “by far his most political work” RV with “songs addressing drugs, spirituality, political ethics, the unnecessary perils of urban life, and what looked to be the failure of the ‘60s dream.” AMG

Neil Young After the Gold Rush (1970)

Inducted August 2019 as a “Top Rated Album.”

Young had already been a member of the highly-influential Buffalo Springfield and worked with Crosby, Stills & Nash on the blockbuster Déjà Vu album when this, his third solo album, was released. This collection of “country-folk love songs” AMG “represents the morning after the mayhem, both personal and cultural – the sound of Young waking up with a post-‘60s hangover, catching his breath, and trying to sort through the wreckage.” TL

Saturday, August 3, 2019

8/3/2019: “Old Town Road” becomes biggest #1 in Hot 100 History

First posted 7/6/2019; updated 3/16/2020.

Old Town Road

Lil Nas X with Billy Ray Cyrus

Writer(s): Montero Hill/Trent Reznor/Atticus Ross/Kowa Roukema (see lyrics here)

Released: December 3, 2018

First Charted: May 4, 2019

Peak: 119 US, 16 A40, 19 CW, 118 RB, 12 UK, 118 CN, 113 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 11.0 US, 1.8 UK, 16.21 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 1367.0 video, 1337.0 streaming



At 19 years old, Montero Lamar Hill (professionally known as Lil Nas X) released his debut single, “Old Town Road.” On August 3, 2019, it spent its 17th week atop the Billboard Hot 100 making it the biggest #1 in the chart’s history. The song’s U.S. chart run has been marked by eight weeks in which it accumulated twice as many chart points as the runner-up song, a feat last accomplished by Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” in 1992-93. WK

Hill initially wrote the song out of frustration at being discouraged by his parents and sister. After writing it, he spun the meaning so that “old town road” was a symbol of success. WK YoungKio, a Dutch record producer, produced the beat a year before the song’s release by sampling Nine Inch Nails’ “34 Ghosts IV.” Hill bought the beat for $30. WK

He released it independently and after creating memes to promote the song, it was picked up by users on TikTok, a social video sharing app. The song got picked up on radio when the daughters of two different program directors – DJ Riddler in Houston and Indianapolis and Joe Mack in Memphis – showed their dads the TikTok memes. RS The song grew so quickly in popularity that radio stations had to download the audio from YouTube. WK The song had the rare distinction of debuting simultaneously on the Hot 100 and Billboard’s R&B/hip-hop and country charts in March 2019. However, after its #19 debut on the latter, Billboard magazine disqualified the song, saying it didn’t fit the definition of the genre. WK The move sparked controversy as some, such as music critic Robert Christgau said, “Taking ‘Old Town Road’ off the country chart strikes me as racist pure and simple.” WK When asked if he consider it a country song, Lil Nas X said, “the song is country trap. It’s not one, it’s not the other. It’s both.” WK

Hill was signed to Columbia Records on March 22, 2019 and then they distributed the single. WK The song hit #1 the week ending April 4, 2019. At one minute and fifty-three seconds, it was the fifth shortest single in the history of the Hot 100 to reach #1 and the shortest since 1965 when Herman’s Hermits topped the charts with “I’m Henry VIII, I Am.” WK

In the wake of the controversy about whether or not the song was country, a remix was released featuring Billy Ray Cyrus, best known for the 1992 country hit “Achy Breaky Heart.” That resulted in 143 million streams in a week, breaking the previous record of 116.2 million streams by Drake’s “In My Feelings.” WK The song exceeded 100 million streams in each of the next eight weeks, landing 9 of the 11 highest streaming weeks in the history of digital music. WK Another remix featuring Cyrus and Diplo was released on April 29. WK Various versions of the song topped the charts in more than a dozen countries. WK

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