Saturday, June 25, 1988

50 years ago: Ella Fitzgerald hit #1 with “A-Tisket, A-Tasket”

A-Tisket, A-Tasket

Ella Fitzgerald with Chick Webb’s Orchestra

Writer(s): Al Feldman, Ella Fitzgerald (see lyrics here)


First Charted: June 18, 1938


Peak: 110 US, 16 HP, 11 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US


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

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

“A-Tisket, A-Tasket” began life as an American children’s rhyming game in 1879. Children sang to it while dancing in a circle. One child ran outside the circle and dropped a handkerchief behind another child who then chased whoever had dropped the handkerchief. WK The words “tisket” and “tasket” were likely made up since they don’t appear in any standard dictionaries. WK As stated on the Don’t Stay Up Too Late blog, it wasn’t one of the better nursery rhymes; in fact, it was “a strong contender for Mother Goose’s retarded stepchild.” DS

In 1938, Ella Fitzgerald and Al Feldman adapted it into a song with very little change to the lyrics. “‘She was truckin’ on down the avenue’ is an example of a phrase added by Ella and Al.” TY In a 1973 lecture series at Harvard, Leonard Bernstein said that research showed the song’s melodic motif “is the same all over the world, wherever children tease each other. On every continent, in ever culture, it is one of the few musical universals.” TY

The result was the first million seller TY for the woman who has been called “the greatest jazz singer ever,” DS a claim upheld by a statement in Pop Memories referring to her as “the most honored jazz singer of all time. PM She was picked as the top female vocalist more than 20 times in Down Beat’s annual polls. PM She also came to be known as “The First Lady of Jazz” TY and “The Lady of Swing.” From 1936-38, Ella had charted eight times, but never hit the top 10. This song served as her breakthrough hit and has become a jazz standard. It ranked as the top song of 1938 WHC and was listed in Variety’s ‘Fifty Year Hit Parade’ as one of eight songs for 1938. TY

Ella sang the song in the 1942 Abbott & Costello movie Ride ‘Em Cowboy. It was also included in The Three Stooges’ 1941 comedy short In the Sweet Pie and Pie, the 1944 film Two Girls and a Sailor, and the 1952 MGM cartoon Magical Maestro. The song was also adapted for television ads for Triscuit. WK


Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Ella Fitzgerald
  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Chick Webb
  • DS Don’t Stay Up Too Late (2008). 100 Great 1930s Records for the New Depression (Autumn 2008).
  • TY Don Tyler (1985). Hit Parade 1920-1955. New York, NY: Quill. Pages 92-3.
  • WHC Joel Whitburn (1999). A Century of Pop Music. Menomonee Falls, WI; Record Research, Inc. Page 55.
  • PM Joel Whitburn (1986). Pop Memories 1890-1954. Menomonee Falls, WI; Record Research, Inc. Page 159.
  • WK Wikipedia.org

First posted 6/25/2012; last updated 4/21/2021.

Tuesday, June 21, 1988

Paula Abdul’s Forever Your Girl released

First posted 4/1/2008; updated 11/24/2020.

Forever Your Girl

Paula Abdul


Released: June 21, 1988


Peak: 110 US, 3 UK, 1 CN, 11 AU


Sales (in millions): 7.0 US, 0.3 UK, 18.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: dance pop


Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.)

  1. It’s Just the Way That You Love Me (9/10/88, 3 US, 9a RB, 74 UK, 5 CN, 76 AU, sales: ½ million)
  2. Knocked Out (5/21/88, 41 US, 8 RB, 27 CN, 82 AU)
  3. Opposites Attract (with the Wild Pair) (12/16/89, 1 US, 3 RB, 45 AC, 2 UK, 1 CN, 1 AU, sales: ½ million)
  4. State of Attraction
  5. I Need You
  6. Forever Your Girl (3/11/89, 1 US, 24 UK, 54 RB, 11 AC, 24 UK, 1 CN, 51 AU, sales: ½ million)
  7. Straight Up (12/3/88, 1 US, 3 UK, 2 RB, 39 AC, 3 UK, 2 CN, 27 AU, sales: 1 million)
  8. Next to You
  9. Cold Hearted (6/24/89, 1 US, 46 UK, 2 CN, 68 AU, sales: ½ million)
  10. One or the Other

Rating:

3.722 out of 5.00 (average of 9 ratings)


Quotable: “A consistent album with some great dance-pop songs” – Bryan Buss, All Music Guide


Awards:

About the Album:

Paula Abdul started her career as a cheerleader for the L.A. Lakers, later becoming the head choreographer. She became an in-demand choreographer for music videos for artists including Janet Jackson, George Michael, Duran Duran, and ZZ Top. WK Jeff Ayeroff, who’d worked with Janet Jackson, signed Abdul to a record deal with Virgin Records after she made a singing demo. He said years later, “Here’s someone with a personality and she’s gorgeous, and she can dance. If she can sing, she could be a star. So she went into the studo and cut a demo record and she could sing.” WK

She was relatively untrained as a singer, but worked with coaches and producers to develop her voice. While she still had “a slight voice, her voice is distinct and perfectly suited to…synthesized late-‘80s dance-pop.” AMG Her first album, Forever Your Girl, became the most successful debut album of all time. WK It sold 7 million copies on the strength of of four chart-topping singles in the U.S., a first for a debut album. WK

As big as it became, the album’s rise was slow and steady. It didn’t really take off until Straight Up, the third single. The first single, Knocked Out, stalled just outside the top 40 and It’s Just the Way That You Love Me failed to hit the pop charts. It would, however, rechart and reach #3 after it was re-released a year later.

Before it recharted, however, Abdul followed “Straight Up” straight to the top of the charts with two more #1 songs – the “sweet and accessible” AMG and the “insistent and catchy” AMG Cold Hearted. Her fourth trip to the top, Opposites Attract, teamed her up with the Wild Pair and was marketed by a clever video of her dancing with a cartoon cat.

“There is some filler – Next to You, for example – that hasn’t aged as well as the better material, but overall this is a consistent album with some great dance-pop songs. Unfortunately, as Abdul and her material matured, her audience waned.” AMG

Resources and Related Links:

Sunday, June 12, 1988

Crowded House released “Better Be Home Soon”

First posted 10/25/2020.

Better Be Home Soon

Crowded House

Writer(s): Neil Finn (see lyrics here)


Released: June 12, 1988


Peak: 42 US, 26 AC, 18 AR, 4 CO, 29 MR, 8 CN, 2 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


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


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 6.98 video, -- streaming

Awards:

About the Song:

After the new wave band Split Enz split up in 1984, Neil Finn formed Crowded House. The group found success with their debut album, which produced the“Don’t Dream It’s Over” and“Something So Strong,” #2 and #7 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 respectively.

When it came time to record their second album, the band jokingly said it would be called Mediocre Follow-Up. While the collection proved quite worthy, it didn’t measure up to its predecessor commercially. The lead single, “Better Be Home Soon,” just missed the top 40. It did, however, get to #2 in Australia and New Zealand. It also won Song of the Year at the 1989 ARIA Music Awards (the Australian equivalent of the Grammys).

The song’s lyrics are open to different interpretations. When asked specifically about the video for the song, Nick Seymour said it was “about being home, how it’s better being home.” WK In a StereoStories.com article, David Oke suggested it could “be about a relationship where the partner is ‘absent,’ but possibly, not physically. It seems to be a cry out for restoring a relationship and for partners being honest with one another.” SS

Oke also floats the idea that Neil wrote the song about Hester and his struggles and his need “to be in the security of being safe at home.” SS This takes on even greater weight in the context of Hester’s suicide in 2005 and Finn’s subsequent performance of “Better Be Home Soon” at the 2005 ARIA Awards as a tribute to Hester. SS


Resources and Related Links:

Friday, June 10, 1988

Toni Childs Union released

Union

Toni Childs


Released: June 10, 1988


Peak: 63 US, 73 UK, 8 AU


Sales (in millions): 0.5 US


Genre: adult alternative rock


Tracks:

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

  1. Don’t Walk Away (Childs, Phil Ramacon) [4:00] (8/6/88, 72 US, 80 CB, 17 MR, 53 UK, 17 AU)
  2. Walk and Talk Like Angels [5:48] (11/88, 70 AU)
  3. Stop Your Fussin’ [4:40] (10/88, 21 CO, 95 UK, 17 AU)
  4. Dreamer [5:01]
  5. Let the Rain Come Down (Childs, Ricketts, David Batteau) [4:51]
  6. Zimbabwae [6:18] (2/89, 74 AU)
  7. Hush (Childs) [4:04]
  8. Tin Drum [5:41]
  9. Where’s the Ocean? (Childs) [4:42]

Songs written by Toni Childs and David Ricketts unless noted otherwise.


Total Running Time: 44:52

Rating:

4.201 out of 5.00 (average of 5 ratings)


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

Union’s release in 1988 announced a bold, incendiary new voice in the singer/songwriter sweepstakes in Toni Childs.” AMG “The album was an infusion of rock/pop and world music with…strong African percussion.” WK It garnered her Grammy nominations for Best New Aritst and Best Female Rock Vocal Performance. It spent two weeks at #1 in New Zealand and was certified gold in the United States in 1995.

Childs wrote or co-wrote all the songs, drawing on “the vast experiences of her life and delivers them with an urgency that is hypnotically compelling. It’s all tied together by David Tickle’s production and aided by first-rate backing by musicians including songwriting collaborator David Ricketts, drummer Rick Marotta and guitarist David Rhodes.” AMG

Childs and Ricketts were living and working together and the album “has much to do with their relationship. In a 1988 article that praised Childs’ originality and the craftsmanship of Union, Time magazine said, “if she can get an album like Union from a single relationship, the music she makes from the rest of her life should really be extraordinary.” WK

The single Don’t Walk Away “kicks things off in high gear and Childs rarely looks back. Her take-no-prisoners vocal drives the funky, horn-driven track, which is backed by the gospel swell of the background vocalists.” AMG

“Although the rest of the album is a little more sedate, Childs never loses the urgent edge to her dusky voice. Stop Your Fussin’ is sung to a restless lover over a Caribbean rhythm and Hush has a playful bounce to it.” AMGZimbabwae is a parable detailing African strife complete with chanting background vocals and Dreamer provides her with a bed of keyboards that shimmer like stars.” AMG It “is riveting right through the moody poetry of the final track, Where’s the Ocean?AMG

Resources and Related Links:


Other Related DMDB Pages:


First posted 1/17/2009; last updated 9/3/2021.