Wednesday, May 11, 1988

Irving Berlin: Top 100 Songs

First posted 12/7/2019.

Composer and lyricist Irving Berlin was born Israel Isidore Baline 100 years ago today on 5/11/1888 in Tyumen, Russia. Died 9/22/1989. George Gershwin called him “the greatest songwriter who ever lived.” Jerome Kern said, “Irving Berlin has no place in American music – he is American music.” A 2001 Time magazine article estimated Berlin wrote around 1250 songs. 25 have reached #1 on the pop charts. He wrote 17 complete scores for Broadway musicals and revues including Call Me Madam and Annie Get Your Gun. See an extensive list of Berlin songs here. For a complete list of this act’s DMDB honors, check out the DMDB Music Maker Encyclopedia entry.

“Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” “Cheek to Cheek,” “Always,” “God Bless America,” “Blue Skies,” and “White Christmas” – the number 1 song of all time according to the DMDB – are featured in the DMDB book The Top 100 Songs of the Pre-Rock Era, 1890-1953.

Top 100 Songs

Dave’s Music Database lists are determined by song’s appearances on best-of lists as well as chart success, sales, radio airplay, streaming, and awards. Many of these songs have been recorded multiple times. Only the highest-ranked version in Dave’s Music Database is included in this list. There are also some songs not identified as being by any particular artist. Additionally, songs which hit #1 on any of the following charts are noted: United States’ pop charts (US), Hit Parade (HP), U.S. R&B charts (RB), Australian pop charts (AU).

DMDB Top 1%:

1. White Christmas (Bing Crosby with the Ken Darby Singers & John Scott Trotter’s Orchestra, 1942) #1 US, HP, RB, AU
2. Alexander’s Ragtime Band (Arthur Collins & Byron Harlan, 1911) #1 US
3. Cheek to Cheek (Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers with Leo Reisman’s Orchestra, 1935) #1 US, HP
4. Always (George Olsen with Fran Frey, Bob Rice, & Edward Joyce; 1926) #1 US
5. God Bless America (Kate Smith, 1939)
6. Blue Skies (Ben Selvin, 1927) #1 US
7. Puttin’ on the Ritz (Earl Burtnett & Harry Richman, 1930) #1 US
8. Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning (Arthur Fields, 1918) #1 US
9. A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody (John Steel, 1919) #1 US
10. What’ll I Do? (Paul Whiteman, 1924) #1 US

11. When I Lost You (Henry Burr, 1913) #1 US
12. All Alone (Al Jolson with Ray Miller’s Orchestra, 1925) #1 US
13. How Deep is the Ocean? (Guy Lombardo with Carmen Lombardo, 1932)
14. All by Myself (Ted Lewis, 1921) #1 US
15. Say It with Music (Paul Whiteman, 1921) #1 US
16. When the Midnight Choo Choo Leaves for Alabam’ (Arthur Collins & Byron Harlan, 1913) #1 US

DMDB Top 5%:

17. Marie (Tommy Dorsey with Jack Leonard, 1937) #1 US
18. I’ve Got My love to Keep Me Warm (Les Brown, 1948) #1 US
19. Say It Isn’t So (George Olsen with Paul Small, 1932) #1 US
20. Remember (Isham Jones, 1925) #1 US

21. Mandy (Van & Schenck, 1919)
22. Easter Parade (Leo Reisman with Clifton Webb, 1933)
23. Russian Lullaby (Roger Wolfe Kahn with Henry Garden, 1927) #1 US
24. Change Partners (Fred Astaire with Ray Noble’s Orchestra, 1938) #1 US, HP
25. Let’s Take an Old-Fashioned Walk (Ada Jones & Billy Murray, 1907) #1 US
26. Top Hat, White Tie, and Tails (Fred Astaire with Johnny Greer’s Orchestra, 1935)
27. Let’s Face the Music and Dance (Fred Astaire with Johnny Greer’s Orchestra, 1936)
28. Tell Me Little Gypsy (Art Hickman, 1920)
29. I’ll See You in C-U-B-A (Billy Murray, 1920)
30. There’s No Business Like Show Business (Ethel Merman, 1946)

31. You’d Be Surprised (Eddie Cantor, 1920)
32. I Love a Piano (Billy Murray, 1916) #1 US
33. Play a Simple Melody (Billy Murray & Edna Brown, 1916)
34. Nobody Knows and Nobody Seems to Care (Irving & Jack Kaufman, 1920)
35. Doin’ What Comes Naturally (Freddy Martin with Glenn Hughes, 1946)
36. Lazy (Al Jolson with Gene Rodemich’s Orchestra, 1924)
37. This is the Life (Peerless Quartet, 1914)
38. Some Sunny Day (Marion Harris, 1922)
39. They Say It’s Wonderful (Frank Sinatra, 1946) #1 HP
40. The Song Is Ended But the Melody Lingers On (Ruth Etting, 1928)

41. Home Again Blues (Original Dixieland Jazz Band, 1921)
42. He’s a Devil in His Own Home Town (Billy Murray, 1914)
43. I’m Putting All My Eggs in One Basket (Fred Astaire with Johnny Greer’s Orchestra, 1936) #1 US
44. After You Get What You Want, You Don’t Want It (Van & Schenck, 1920)
45. They Were All Out of Step But Jim (Billy Murray, 1918)
46. I Want to Go Back to Michigan (Down on the Farm) (Eldia Morris, 1914)
47. He’s a Rag Picker (Peerless Quartet, 1915)
48. When I Leave the World Behind (Henry Burr, 1915)
49. How Many Times? (Benny Krueger, 1926)
50. Heat Wave (Glen Gray with Midred Bailey, 1933)

51. Soft Lights and Sweet Music (Fred Waring’s Pennsylvanians, 1932)
52. I Got the Sun in the Morning (Les Brown with Doris Day, 1946)
53. Let Yourself Go (Fred Astaire with Johnny Greer’s Orchestra, 1936)
54. At the Devil’s Ball (Peerless Quartet, 1913)
55. Syncopated Walk (Prince’s Orchestra, 1915)
56. You Keep Coming Back Like a Song (Dinah Shore, 1946) #1 AU
57. Pack Up Your Sins and Go to the Devil (Emil Coleman, 1923)
58. Be Careful, It’s My Heart (Bing Crosby with John Scott Trotter’s Orchestra, 1942)

DMDB Top 10%:

59. That Mysterious Rag (Arthur Collins & Albert Campbell, 1912)
60. In My Harem (Walter Van Brunt, 1913)
61. The Girl That I Marry (Eddy Howard, 1947)
62. Goodbye France (Nora Bayes, 1919)
63. Reaching for the Moon (Ruth Etting, 1931)
64. Araby (Harry MacDonough, 1916)
65. Down in Chattanooga (Arthur Collins & Byron Harlan, 1914)
66. I’m Going Back to Dixie (aka “I Want to Be in Dixie”) (Arthur Collins & Byron Harlan, 1912)
67. You’re Just in Love (Perry Como with the Fontane Sisters & Mitchell Ayres Orchestra, 1950) #1 AU
68. Isn’t This a Lovely Day to Be Caught in the Rain? (Fred Astaire with Johnny Greer’s Orchestra, 1935)
69. No Strings (Fred Astaire with Leo Reisman’s Orchestra, 1935)

DMDB Top 20%:

70. It’s a Lovely Day Today (Doris Day with George Siravo’s Orchestra, 1951)
71. Along Came Ruth (Arthur Fields, 1914)
72. From Here to Shanghai (Al Jolson with Charles Prince’s Orchestra, 1917)
73. Let’s All Be Americans Now (American Quartet, 1917)
74. Smile and Show Your Dimple (Sam Ash, 1918)
75. Somebody’s Coming to My House (1913)
76. It Only Happens When I Dance with You (Frank Sinatra, 1948)
77. Count your Blessings Instead of Sheep (Rosemary Clooney, 1954)
78. I Used to Be Color Blind (Fred Astaire with Ray Noble’s Orchestra, 1938)
79. Back to Back (Glenn Miller with Marion Hutton and Tex Beneke, 1939)
80. All of My Life (Sammy Kaye with Billy Williams, 1945)

Beyond the DMDB Top 20%:

81. Anything You Can Do (Ethel Merman & Ray Middleton, 1946)
82. Alexander’s Bag Pipe Band (1912)
83. Supper Time (1933)
84. Fools Fall in Love (1940)
85. I Got Lost in His Arms (1946)
86. The Best Thing for You Would Be Me (1950)
87. Mr. Jazz Himself (1917)
88. Over the Seas, Boys (1918)
89. You Cannot Make Your Shimmy Shake on Tea (1919)
90. Steppin’ Out with My Baby (Fred Astaire, 1947)

91. Stay Down Here Where You Belong (Henry Burr, 1915)
92. Always Treat Her Like a Baby (1914)
93. Try It on Your Piano (1910)
94. Cuddle Up (1911)
95. Dog Gone That Chilly Man (1911)
96. Sombrero Land (1911)
97. That Monkey Tune (1911)
98. When I’m Alone I’m Lonesome (1911)
99. The Monkey Doodle Doo (1913)
100. The Old Maids Ball (1913)


Saturday, May 7, 1988

Tracy Chapman charted with “Fast Car”

Fast Car

Tracy Chapman

Writer(s): Tracy Chapman (see lyrics here)

Released: April 6, 1988

First Charted: May 7, 1988

Peak: 6 US, 4 CB, 8 RR, 7 AC, 19 AR, 5 UK, 11 CN, 4 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, 1.2 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 163.6 video, 328.0 streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

“Tracy Chapman was a hardened veteran of Boston coffeehouse gigs (she once got a demo-tape rejection letter suggesting she tune her guitar) when a classmate at Tufts University told his music-publisher dad to check her out. Soon after, she made her 1988 debut, featuring this haunting meditation on escape.” RS Chris Gerard of Metro Weekly describes the song as “a grittily realistic story of a working poor woman trying to escape the cycle of poverty.” WK Critic Dave Marsh called it “an optimistic folk-rock narrative.” WK Chapman said “It’s not really about a car at all…basically it’s about a relationship that doesn’t work out because it’s starting from the wrong place.” SF

Chapman was relatively unknown when she was booked as one of the acts for the Nelson Mandela 70th birthday concert at Wembley Stadium. Her appearance at the June 11, 1988 event served as a catalyst for her career breakthrough. She performed a few songs in the afternoon and thought she was done for the day, but was called back when Stevie Wonder’s performance was delayed. She performed “Fast Car” in front of a huge prime time audience and the song subsequently raced up the charts. SF

It went to #1 in Canada and was a top-ten hit in the United States, the U.K. and Australia. It was nominated for Grammys for Record and Song of the Year. The song got renewed attention in 2011 when Britain’s Got Talent contestant Michael Collings performed the song. Chapman’s original re-charted in the UK, besting its original #5 ranking by one spot. WK

In 2015, British record producer Jonas Blue released a dance version featuring singer Dakota. It reached #2 on the UK charts and hit #1 in Australia, giving the remake greater chart success than the original in those countries. Blue said Chapman’s song was a favorite of his mother’s. WK Among other artists to perform the song: R.E.M., Matchbox 20, and Kelly Clarkson and Chris Daughtry in a duet. BC

Resources and Related Links:

First posted 11/14/2019; last updated 7/14/2021.

Sunday, May 1, 1988

Aha released Stay on These Roads

First posted 1/18/2009; updated 9/12/2020.

Stay on These Roads


Released: May 1, 1988

Peak: 148 US, 2 UK, -- CN, 55 AU

Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.1 UK, 0.1 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: synth pop


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

  1. Stay on These Roads (3/14/88, 5 UK, 56 UK)
  2. The Blood That Moves the Body (6/6/88, 25 UK)
  3. Touchy! (8/15/88, 11 UK)
  4. This Alone Is Love
  5. Hurry Home
  6. The Living Daylights (6/22/87, 5 UK, 29 AU)
  7. There’s Never a Forever Thing
  8. Out of Blue Comes Green
  9. You Are the One (11/21/88, 13 UK)
  10. You’ll End Up Crying

Total Running Time: 43:16

The Players:

  • Morten Harket (vocals, guitar)
  • Magne Furuholmen (keyboards, guitar, bass)
  • Pål Waaktaar-Savoy (guitars, drums, percussion)


2.875 out of 5.00 (average of 4 ratings)

About the Album:

After 1985’s Hunting High and Low and the international #1 hit “Take on Me,” the Norwegian synth-pop trio a-ha fell off the radar in America with their second album, Scoundrel Days, only managing a #50 peak with the song “Cry Wolf.” With their third album, Stay on These Roads, a-ha seemed ready to redeem themselves as a group who could craft catchy songs that deserved radio attention in the U.S. The singles Touchy! and You Are the One weren’t on par with “Take on Me,” but seemed deserving of at least minor attention in the states. They failed to chart there, but were both top-20 hits in the UK.

Even more surprising was the The Living Daylights didn’t even dent the charts, considering its placement in the James Bond movie of the same name. It seemed like a surefire top-40 hit. It was – in Norway – where it became the trio’s fourth #1 song. It was also a top-5 hit in the UK, but in the U.S. it went nowhere.

The title cut was also a top-5 hit in the UK and #1 in Norway. It maintained some of the more intriguing, less-poppy sound of some of the material on Scoundrel Days but proved a-ha could still craft very listenable fare even when they were being more serious.

While the album only got to #155 on the U.S. Billboard album chart, the band showed they still had an audience in the UK, where Stay on These Roads was their third straight to peak at #2, and in Norway where the album was the band’s third #1.

Resources and Related Links: