Saturday, May 28, 1983

Irene Cara hit #1 with “Flashdance…What a Feelin’”

First posted 11/2/2019.

Flashdance…What a Feelin’

Irene Cara

Writer(s): Irene Cara, Keith Forsey, Giorgio Moroder (see lyrics here)


First Charted: April 2, 1983


Peak: 16 US, 16 CB, 15 RR, 4 AC, 2 RB, 2 UK, 13 CN, 17 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales *: 1.0 US, -- UK, 3.25 world (includes US + UK)


Radio Airplay *: --


Video Airplay *: 84.20


Streaming *: --


* in millions

Review:

Italian composer Giorgio Moroder, dubbed the “Father of Disco,” was a pioneer in electronc dance music. He was best known for his production work with Donna Summer, but also worked with Blondie, David Bowie, Janet Jackson, and others. He also worked on soundtracks, including 1978’s Midnight Express, 1980’s American Gigolo, and 1983’s Flashdance. The latter sold more than 20 million copies worldwide, fueled by Michael Sembello’s “Maniac” and Irene Cara’s “Flashdance…What a Feelin’,” both #1 hits. Moroder wrote the music for the latter with Irene Cara in mind because of what she did with the theme song for Fame. He would later write “Danger Zone” and “Take My Breath Away” for 1986’s Top Gun. SF

The 1980 theme song for the Fame movie had given Cara a #3 hit. Moroder specifically had her in mind for Flashdance because of what she did with that song. However, she was initially reluctant to work with Donna Summer’s producer because, as she expected, critics suggested she sounded like Summer on “What a Feelin’.” BR1 She considered the accusations sexist because, as she said, “There are so many records made by male artists today that sound alike. But nobody makes an issue of that.” BR1

She wrote the lyrics for “What a Feelin’” with Ken Forsey, who later wrote “Don’t You Forget About Me” for The Breakfast Club and “Shakedown” for Beverly Hills Cop II. SF Cara and Forsey wrote the song while driving to a recording session. She suggested the idea of singing about the feeling associated with dancing. Forsey extended the idea to be about “dancing for my life.” As Cara said, the phrase “‘what a feeling’ was a metaphor about a dancer, how she’s in control of her body when she dances and how she can be in control of her life.” BR1

The Flashdance soundtrack knocked Michael Jackson’s Thriller from the top of the album chart for two weeks during Irene Cara’s six-week run at the top with “Flashdance…What a Feelin’.” Thriller would return to the top for 20 more weeks – 37 total – before getting knocked out by another music-themed movie soundtrack – Footloose. “What a Feelin’” earned an Academy Award for Best Original Song and a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song.


Resources and Related Links:

Awards:


Friday, May 27, 1983

50 years ago: Duke Ellington charted with “Sophisticated Lady”

Sophisticated Lady

Duke Ellington

Writer(s): Duke Ellington (music), Mitchell Parish and Irving Mills (words) (see lyrics here)


Recorded: February 15, 1933


First Charted: May 27, 1933


Peak: 3 US, 12 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)


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


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 1.8 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

Duke Ellington initially recorded “Sophisticated Lady” as an instrumental in 1933. It is “a classic example of early Duke Ellington balladry…[that] features…lush ensemble scoring.” JS The song was inspired by three of his grade school teachers from his Washington D.C. neighborhood. He said, “They taught all winter and toured Europe in the summer. To me that spelled sophistication.” AJ George Gershwin was “one of the song’s early admirers.” SS

The song grew out of a practice riff played by Lawrence Brown with contributions from fellow trombonist Sam Nanton. SS The original composition reportedly credited Brown and saxophonist Toby Hardwick, but they received no credit – and subsequently no royalties – once the song was published. JS Ellington is said to have paid Brown and Nanton $15.00 apiece for their contributions. SS It was a common practice at the time to pay a flat fee to musicians. JS In addition to solos from Ellington, Hardwick, and Brown, the final recording featured ao solo from clarinetist Barney Bigard. SS

That same year, Tin Pan Alley lyricist Mitchell Parish, best known for “Stardust,” gave the song words AJ with additional credit to Irving Mills. “Sophisticated Lady” became “an enduring standard for vocalists.” SS Ellington gave a mixed blessing of the added words, calling them “wonderful – but not entirely fitted to my original conception.” AJ

In 1933, Glen Gray took the song to #4 and Don Redman had a #19 hit with it. In 1948, Billy Eckstine went to #24 with his version. PM Others to record the song included Chick Corea, Dave Grusin Billie Holiday, Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk, Art Tatum, WK and a 1956 recording with Rosemary Clooney on vocals alongside Duke Ellington’s band. SS


Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Duke Ellington
  • AJ AllAboutJazz.com
  • JS JazzStandards.com
  • SS Steve Sullivan (2013). Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings (Volumes I & II). Scarecrow Press: Lanham, Maryland. Pages 540-1.
  • PM Joel Whitburn (1986). Pop Memories 1890-1954. Menomonee Falls, WI; Record Research, Inc. Page 583.
  • WK Wikipedia

First posted 4/23/2021.

Monday, May 23, 1983

Bob Marley & The Wailers released Confrontation

Confrontation

Bob Marley & the Wailers


Released: May 23, 1983


Peak: 55 US, 31 RB, 5 UK, 11 AU


Sales (in millions): 0.5 US, -- UK, 3.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: reggae


Tracks:

Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Chant Down Babylon
  2. Buffalo Soldier (5/7/83, 4 UK, 71 RB)
  3. Jump Nyahbinghi
  4. Mix Up, Mix Up
  5. Give Thanks and Praise
  6. Blackman Redemption
  7. Trench Town
  8. Stiff Necked Fools
  9. I Know
  10. Rastaman Live Up!


Total Running Time: 37:47


The Players:

  • Bob Marley (vocals, guitar)
  • Aston “Family Man” Barrett (bass)
  • Carlton “Carlie” Barrett (drums, percussion)
  • Tyrone Downie (keyboards)
  • Junior Marvin (electric guitar)
  • Alvin “Seeco” Patterson (percussion)
  • Earl “Wire” Lindo (keyboards)
  • Rita Marley, Judy Mowatt, Griffiths (backing vocals)
  • Carlton “Santa” Davis (drums)
  • Glen Da Costa (tenor saxophone)
  • David Madden (trumpet)
  • Ronald “Nambo” Robinson (trombone)
  • Devon Evans (percussion)

Rating:

3.134 out of 5.00 (average of 20 ratings)

About the Album:

“A posthumous collection produced by Rita Marley, based on work left behind by Bob upon his death. Some of his best post-Wailers work is here, with songs like Buffalo Soldier, Chant Down Babylon, and Blackman Redemption. Given that he wasn't alive to do the production that he usually helped in, this album seems remarkably true to the general vision of Bob Marley's albums. Other somewhat lesser-known tracks also help to fill in all of the cracks with some remarkable material. Case in point: Jump Nyabinghi, a nice danceable groove with perhaps less of the usual politics mixed in, but with just as much musicality. Overall, any Bob Marley fan ought to own this album.” AMG


Notes: The 2001 reissue adds a remix of “Buffalo Soldier.”

Resources and Related Links:

First posted 3/26/2008; last updated 5/10/2021.

Saturday, May 21, 1983

David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” hit #1

Let’s Dance

David Bowie

Writer(s): David Bowie (see lyrics here)


Released: March 17, 1983


First Charted: March 25, 1983


Peak: 11 US, 11 CB, 2 RR, 14 RB, 8 AR, 1 CO, 13 UK, 11 CN, 2 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 1.06 UK, 3.16 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 23.27 video, 272.86 streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

As iconic as David Bowie was, he hadn’t been a significant chart presence over the years in the United States. “Ashes to Ashes” was a #1 in the UK but didn’t even chart in the U.S. “Fame” hit the top stateside in 1975 and was followed by the ttop-10 hit “Golden Years,” but Bowie was then absent from the upper eschelons of the charts until “Let’s Dance” became his second U.S. chart-topper. Three more top 10 hits followed in the ‘80s making it his most successful period commercially, even if it wasn’t up to the level of his chameleonic creativity in the 1970s.

“Let’s Dance” seemed designed to give Bowie mainstream success. He “shook off the zonked-out ambient art-rock trappings of his immediate past and dove into American soul and club music” SG after signing with EMI for a reported $10 million. BR Bowie invited Nile Rodgers to produce his new album after meeting him in a nightclub in New York in 1982. They “were an odd-couple combination in the best way, and they came together to make a slick, unlikely little epic” SG that married the chameleonic David Bowie with the “distinctive disco sound that was synonymous with Chic.” KL “Let’s Dance” was the first song they worked on together. Rodgers transformed what he called a “folk song” into “high-stepping club music.” SG

“Let’s Dance” was “a witty dance record with…quirky lyrics” KL that painted “a metaphorical picture of people weaving lies together and trying to will away sadness.” SG Nile Rodgers said Bowie “was talking about the dane people do in life, the conceptual dance of not being honest…Like you’re pretending to be happy but you’re sad.” SF Stereogum’s Tom Breihan comically points out how Bowie asks the listener to “dance the blues” but even with “then-rising Texas guitar star Stevie Ray Vaughan” AMG “soloing all over it” it “sounds absolutely nothing like any conventional notion of ‘the blues.’ But then, willful perversity was the David Bowie brand.” SG

“The sociological content with which the song has historically been credited derives entirely from the accompanying video, as opposed to a lyric which does little more than repeat the title around scattered invocations of ‘serious moonlight’ and scarlet footwear.” AMG The video was shot in Australia and follows a young Aboriginal couple who find a pair of red shoes that give them the instant ability to dance. The couple are mocked by the white locals and thrown into a world of “visiting museums, enjoying candlelit dinners and casually dropping credit cards, drunk on modernity and consumerism.” WK It recalls the Hans Christian Andersen story “The Red Shoes.” WK Bowie said the video was intended as a message against racism and capitalism.


Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for David Bowie
  • DMDB page for parent album Let’s Dance
  • AMG All Music Guide review by Dave Thompson
  • BR Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 572.
  • KL Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh (2005). 1000 UK Number One Hits: The Stories Behind Every Number One Single Since 1952. London, Great Britain: Omnibus Press. Page 290.
  • SF Songfacts
  • ST StereogumThe Number Ones” by Tom Breihan
  • WK Wikipedia

First posted 8/3/2021; last updated 8/4/2021.