Saturday, February 25, 1995

Madonna “Take a Bow” #1 for first of 7 weeks

Take a Bow


Writer(s): Madonna, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds (see lyrics here)

Released: December 6, 1994

First Charted: December 9, 1994

Peak: 17 US, 18 CB, 15 RR, 19 AC, 40 RB, 16 UK, 12 CN, 15 AU, 29 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 0.5 US, 0.1 UK, 0.9 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 1.0 radio, 33.0 video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“Part of the reason that Madonna maintained her place near the top of the hierarchy for so long was that she could recognize shifts in fashion and aesthetic. She could see those changes coming in real time, and she could adjust her style to meet those changes.” SG However, in the early ‘90s, “the Erotica album, the Sex book, the movie Body of Evidence – all came off as try-hard attempts to be risqué.” SG

She adjusted with 1994’s Bedtime Stories, “a clear, unambiguous commercial move.” SG As she said, “I wanted a lot more of an R&B feel to this record.” FB That meant “Madonna, who was never exactly famous for her vocal firepower, was willingly putting herself in the same bracket as Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston and Boyz II Men.” SG

She turned to Babyface, who wrote and produced Boyz II Men’s huge #1 hit “I’ll Make Love to You,” as a collaborator on “Take a Bow.” They met at his house and he played a piece of music he’d written but wasn’t sure where to take it. FB She wrote lyrics about an actor (rumoured to be Warren Beatty, who Madonna dated in the early ‘90s) who blows an affair by taking the narrator for granted. SG The resulting song was recorded with a full orchestra, a first for Babyface. FB

It ended up as Madonna’s longest-running #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, which is surprising. The song is “soft and sleepy” SG and “sounds like it was built to become background music.” SG It doesn’t sound like “Madonna’s best hits, ballads included, [which] have always been big and dramatic and immediate. “ SG “The hooks just aren’t Madonna-sized.” SG

Balladry wasn’t new to Madonna, but her previous efforts had typically been from movies – “Crazy for You” from 1984’s Vision Quest, “Live to Tell” from 1986’s At Close Range, “This Used to Be My Playground” from 1992’s A League of Their Own, “I’ll Remember” from 1994’s With Honors.


  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Madonna
  • FB Fred Bronson (2007). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (4th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 834.
  • SG Stereogum (3/18/2022). “The Number Ones” by Tom Breihan

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First posted 8/22/2022.

Tuesday, February 21, 1995

Joan Osborne “One of Us” released

One of Us

Joan Osborne

Writer(s): Eric Bazilian (see lyrics here)

Released: February 21, 1995

First Charted: September 30, 1995

Peak: 4 US, 3 CB, 3 RR, 19 AC, 16 A40, 16 AA, 26 AR, 7 MR, 6 UK, 11 CN, 15 AU, 3 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 0.5 US

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 50.9 video, 137.32 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Rick Chertoff, Eric Bazilian, and Rob Hyman became friends while attending the University of Pennsylvania. Chertoff would go on to produce the Kinks, the Alan Parsons Project, and Air Supply for Arista Records before moving to Columbia. There he signed Cyndi Lauper and brought in Bazilian and Hyman as backing musicians for her debut album, 1983’s She’s So Unusual. The exposure helped them launch their band, the Hooters. Their 1985 major-label debut, Nervous Night, was a double-platinum seller fueled by three top-40 hits. It proved to be the band’s commercial peak and by 1993 it looked like they’d released their final album (although they would make a comeback in 2010).

Meanwhile, Rick Chertoff started his Blue Gorilla label at Polygram in 1992. The label released Relish, the 1995 major-label debut for singer/songwriter Joan Osborne. He brought in Bazilian for some songwriting duties, including “One of Us.” Bazilian said, “I wrote that song one night – the quickest song I ever wrote – to impress a girl. Which worked, because we’re married and have two kids.” WK He wrote it in January 1994 when his future wife asked him to record something. He said, “You can’t just sing, you have to write the song, you have to discuss the concept, you have to re-write then decide you were better in the first place.” SF Despite her protests, he obliged and, as he said, “the verses came out in the first pass, the chorus came out in the second pass.” SF

He played it for Rick and Joan the next day and they recorded a demo of her singing it. He said, “When I got into my car and popped the cassette in, I started practicing the Grammy speech that I should've gotten to give.” WK It didn’t win, but was nominated for Song of the Year, Record of the year, and Best Female Pop Vocal.

The song is “a simple, direct statement of faith, honest and unadorned, one framed in a near-perfect chorus and delectable Neil Young-ish guitar riff.” AMG Bazilian said it wasn’t about advocating any specific religious belief. SF It “was more about what happens to you when you look at something that has completely changed your world view, which could be meeting God, it could be meeting an alien, it could be a near-death experience.” SF


First posted 9/6/2022.

Thursday, February 9, 1995

Today in Music (1895): “The Sidewalks of New York” hit #1 - for the first time

The Sidewalks of New York

Dan Quinn

Writer(s): James W. Blake (lyrics), Charles B. Lawlor (music) (see lyrics here)

First Charted: February 9, 1895

Peak: 19 PM (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

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

Awards (Dan Quinn):

Click on award for more details.

Awards (J.W. Myers):

Awards (George J. Gaskin):

About the Song:

Charles Lawler (1852-1925) was a Dublin-born vaudeville performer who came to New York. On a walk home one night, he thought he should write a song of his own. He came up with a melody and the next day hummed the melody for James Blake (1862-1935), a salesman who worked at John Golden’s hat store. WK Blake told him to get the music down on paper and he’d write lyrics. Lawler returned twenty minutes later with the musical notes written out and Blake finished his already halfway-completed lyrics in another half hour. WK

The song was introduced by Lottie Gilson at the Old London Theatre in the Bowery. SS “The audience was so taken with it that they joine her in singing a repetition of the chorus.” SS She performed it at vaudeville houses for years. SS

The song was pivotal in the success of the music publishers Howley & Haviland as a staple of Tin Pan Alley, SS but the two authors of the song both died penniless, having sold the copyright of the song for $5000. WK The song became “a virtual anthem for New York City.” SS In 1928, New York’s Al Smith used it in his presidential campaign. SS

Dan Quinn was the first to chart with the song on February 9, 1895. After nine weeks at #1, it was knocked out by Edward M. Favor’s “My Best Girl’s a New Yorker” for five weeks. It was then replaced by J.W. Myers’ version of “The Sidewalks of New York” for four weeks. In between Quinn and Myers’ versions, George J. Gaskin also charted with the song, reaching #2. Nat Shilkret gave the song a fourth chart run in 1928, also peaking in the runner-up position. PM

The song has also been performed by artists as versatile as Blondie, Nat “King” Cole, Duke Ellington, the Grateful Dead, and Paul Whiteman.


First posted 6/26/2024.

Wednesday, February 1, 1995

50 years ago: The Andrews Sisters “Rum and Coca Cola” hit #1

Rum and Coca Cola

The Andrews Sisters

Writer(s): Rupert Westmore Grant, Morey Amsterdam, Jeri Sullivan, Paul Baron (words), Lionel Belasco (music) (see lyrics here)

Released: December 1944

First Charted: January 6, 1945

Peak: 110 US, 18 BS, 110 JB, 2 GA, 110 SM, 4 HP, 3 RB, 18 AU (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 8.7 video, 13.65 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

In 1906, Lionel Belasco – a calypso singer from Trinidad – composed a slong called “L’Année Passée,” which was based on a folk song from nearby Martinque. SF During World War II, local calypso musician Rupert Westmore Grant (under the stage name Lord Invader) wrote lyrics for it about American servicemen drinking rum and Coca Cola and trying to convince local women to prostitute themselves. It was a big hit in Trinidad in 1943. SF

While on vacation in Trinidad that year, Morey Amsterdam, who later starred on The Dick Van Dyke Show, heard the song. He assumed it was a folk song in the public domain and tapped Jeri Sullivan and Paul Baron to “clean up and sanitize some of the more unsavory lyrics” SM for American audiences. Sullivan then introduced the song at a New York City nightclub. TY2

In 1944, the Andrews Sisters recorded “Rum and Coca Cola” in “hammy Trinidadian accents” SF with Vic Schoen’s orchestra. It was considered “the first American Calypso hit.” SF The Minneapolis-based trio, comprised of Patty, Maxene, and Laverne, were “the most popular female vocal group of the entire pre-1955 era.” PM They charted 123 times, including 23 with Bing Crosby, from 1938 to 1951. They went all the way to #1 seven different times.

Their biggest hit was “Rum and Coca Cola.” Abe Lyman and Vaughn Monroe each charted with the song in 1945 as well. Both peaked at #8. PM Variety magazine ranked it the #5 song of the year. TY2 In the United States, it was the biggest-selling song of the year and the third biggest of the decade. SF It was banned in the UK, not because of references to alcohol or prostitution, but Coca Cola. That was considered free advertising and not allowed.

Belasco and Grant sued for copyright infringement. Both won. Grant was awarded $150,000 in compensation although Amsterdam was able to retain copyright on the song. SF Amsterdam claimed he’d never heard the original although the music and chorus were virtually identical and the lyrics were similar. WK


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First posted 8/12/2023.