Saturday, February 28, 2004

Usher hit #1 with “Yeah!,” his first of 4 chart toppers that year


Usher with Lil’ Jon & Ludacris

Writer(s): Lil Jon/Sean Garrett/Usher/Patrick J. Que Smith/Ludacris/Robert McDowell/James Phillips/LaMarquis Jefferson (see lyrics here)

Released: January 27, 2004

First Charted: January 3, 2004

Peak: 112 US, 14 RR, 18 RB, 12 UK, 110 CN, 11 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 4.0 US, 1.2 UK, 6.55 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 0.9 radio, 262.7 video, 335.5 streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

“Yeah!” secured Usher as the artist of 2004. Its 12 weeks atop the pop charts, followed by three more chart-toppers that year, gave him a record-breaking 28 weeks at the pinnacle. TB He became the first solo act, and only third recording act overall (after the Beatles and Bee Gees) with three simultaneous top ten hits. SF As the lead single from Confessions, “Yeah!” propelled that album to first week sales of 1.1 million, doubling R. Kelly’s previous record for a male R&B artist in the Nielsen SoundScan era. BB100

“The synthy hook of Usher’s biggest, danciest hit” LR about a guy seduced at a club while his girlfriend is out of town looked like it might establish him as the Michael Jackson of the 21st century, but “he has yet to come up with another single as transcendent as this jam.” PD Kudos go to Ludacris, with the “greatest guest verse ever.” DS “His quotable moments are off the charts. Consider: ‘I won’t stop ‘til I get ‘em in they birthday suits,’ ‘take that and rewind it back,’ and the immortal ‘we want a lady in the street but a freak in the bed.’” BS

Then there’s the crunk sound contributed by producer/vocal contributor Lil’ Jon. His “parody-worthy exhortations that are as infuriating as they are catchy” LR make him “a one-note guy, but for the space of a single song, that one note is the greatest party ever.” DS

However, “Yeah!” nearly didn’t make it on the Confessions album. Usher had submitted the album to his label and they thought it needed, as Lil’ Jon said, “that first powerful monster.” WK The song’s similarity to Petey Pablo’s “Freek-a-Leek” then became problematic. Usher told MTV News that after he and Lil’ Jon had finished “Yeah!” they discovered it had the same beat as “Freek.” SF Another account, however, suggests that before Confessions, Lil’ Jon had been commissioned by Jive Records to produce some beats for rapper Mystikal. One of those was passed on to Pablo and became “Freek.” Lil’ Jon then later reworked the track into “Yeah!” WK

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Last updated 3/31/2021.

Friday, February 27, 2004

50 years ago: Doris Day hit #1 with “Secret Love”

Secret Love

Doris Day

Writer(s): Sammy Fain (music), Paul Francis Webster (lyrics) (see lyrics here)

Released: October 9, 1953

First Charted: November 28, 1953

Peak: 14 US, 17 HP, 15 CB, 11 UK (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 6.6 video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“The careers of Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster were inextricabily linked to the old aristocracy of Tin Pan Alley” LW and “Secret Love” “was one of the last gasps for the old craftsmen of Tin Pan Alley” LW as pop music gave way to rock ‘n’ roll. “Power was ebbing away from the artists and writers towards the record companies.” LW

The song was featured in the film Calamity Jane, “the story of an accient prone, rough and ready cowgirl of the old Wild West.” LW The movie starred Doris Day in the title role, falling in love – secretly – with Wild Bill Hickok. It won the Oscar for Best Song.

Fain brought the song to Day’s house and played it for her. WK She said “I almost fainted. It was so beautiful.” LW On the day of the recording session, the musical director, Ray Heindorf, suggested a practice run-through with the orchestra prior to recording any takes. However, she asked that they record the first performance after which Heindorf said, “That’s it.” It was the only take they did. WK

The song charted multiple times, including versions by Tommy Edwards (#28 US, 1954), Ray Anthony (#29 US, 1954), Slim Whitman (#2 CW, 1954), Kathy Kirby (#4 UK, 1963), Billy Stewart (#11 RB, 1966), Richard “Groove” Holmes (#27 AC, 1966), Tony Booth (#47 CW, 1973), and Freddy Fender (#1 CW, 1975). Others who recorded the song included Count Basie, Bing Crosby, Connie Francis, Spike Jones, Loretta Lynn, George Michael, the Moonglows, SinĂ©ad O'Connor, the Orioles, Frank Sinatra. WK Bigs Bunny even sang “Secret Love” in the 1966 animated featurette “Rabbitson Crusoe.” WK


First posted 11/25/2022.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Hoobastank hit the charts with “The Reason”

The Reason


Writer(s): Douglas Robb, Dan Estrin, Chris Hesse, Markku Lappalainen (see lyrics here)

Released: April 27, 2004

First Charted: February 14, 2004

Peak: 2 US, 18 RR, 17 AC, 110 A40, 4 AR, 11 MR, 12 UK, 7 AU, 13 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 4.5 US, 0.4 UK, 4.94 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 0.87 radio, 933.5 video, 686.05 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Rock band Hoobastank formed in 1994, self-releasing an album four years later and a major-label-released eponymous album in 2001. The latter went platinum on the strength of two singles which hit the top ten on both the alternative and mainstream rock charts. However, the band’s pinnacle came with “The Reason,” the second single from their 2003 album of the same name.

The gold-selling single reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the adult Top 40 and alternative rock charts. It was also featured in the final episode of hit TV show Friends, garnering over 52 million viewers. MTV The song also received a Grammy nomination for Song of the Year.

Hoobastank lead singer Doug Robb said he wasn’t sure why the song was so popular. “If anybody knew why, then everybody would be [writing hits]. For one reason or another, it’s connected with people. People come up to me and say, ‘I feel like you’re sitting right next to me and you picked my brain.’ Or ‘It’s everything I’m going through.’” MTV

The video starts off showing a woman getting hit by a car. By the end, however, it becomes clear it was staged when she gets up at the end and rides off on a motorcycle with an accomplice. It turns out the band members were planning a jewel heist and used the accident as a diversion. The viewers and the presumed owner of the victimized shop realize what has happened at the end.


First posted 5/9/2020; last updated 10/22/2022.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Kanye West released The College Dropout

The College Dropout

Kanye West

Released: February 10, 2004

Charted: February 28, 2004

Peak: 2 US, 13 RB, 12 UK

Sales (in millions): 4.0 US, 0.6 UK, 4.73 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: rap


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

  1. Intro [0:19]
  2. We Don’t Care [3:59]
  3. Graduation Day [1:22]
  4. All Falls Down (with Syleena Johnson) (12/21/03, 7 US, 4 RB, 10 UK)
  5. I’ll Fly Away
  6. Spaceship (with GLC & Consequence)
  7. Jesus Walks (5/8/04, 11 US, 2 RB, 16 UK)
  8. Never Let Me Down (with Jay-Z)
  9. Get ‘Em High (with Talib Kweli & Common)
  10. Workout Plan
  11. The New Workout Plan (5/22/04, 60 RB)
  12. Slow Jamz (with Twista & Jamie Foxx) (11/15/03, 1 US, 1 RB, 3 UK)
  13. Breathe in Breathe Out (with Ludacris)
  14. School Spirit Skit 1
  15. School Spirit
  16. School Spirit Skit 2
  17. Lil’ Jimmy Skit
  18. Two Words (with Mos Def & Freeway)
  19. Through the Wire (10/18/03, 15 US, 8 RB, 9 UK)
  20. Family Business
  21. Last Call

Total Running Time: 76:13


4.214 out of 5.00 (average of 37 ratings)

Quotable: “The smartest, funniest and most important rap album of the new century.” – Josh Tyrangiel & Alan Light, Time magazine

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

In 2003, the Chicago kid Kanye West was “the pink Polo-wearing son of an ex-Black Panther and a college English professor.” TL He’d “produced some hot beats for Jay-Z,” RS’20 becoming “the most sought-after hip-hop producer not named Pharrell.” DH However, he “wanted to be on the mic, not behind it.” RS’20 “Record labels were skeptical, but West got over on wit and determination” RS’20 and proved to be “a remarkably versatile lyricist and a valuable MC.” AMG College Dropout is as explosive, contradictory, and complex as rap music gets.” DH

“The week The College Dropout came out, three singles featuring his handiwork were in the Top 20, including his own” AMG “catchy Through the Wire…[in which] he spits some impeccable rhymes despite his jaw being wired shut after a near-fatal car accident.” DH “A daring way to introduce himself to the masses as an MC…Heartbreaking and hysterical (‘There's been an accident like Geico/ They thought I was burnt up like Pepsi did Michael’), and wrapped around the helium chirp of the pitched-up chorus from Chaka Khan’s ‘Through the Fire,’ the song and accompanying video couldn't have forged his dual status as underdog and champion any better.” AMG The only downside is that the song is “placed so deep into the album that it’s almost anticlimactic.” AMG

Otherwise, the “momentum keeps rolling through The College DropoutAMG as West “delivers the unthinkable: [he]magically sledgehammers home his opinions on taboo topics over beats that are equally daring. The envelope-ripping beats shouldn't come as a surprise given that he's supplied the soundscapes to monster singles by everyone from Alicia Keys (‘You Don't Know My Name’) to Talib Kweli (‘Get By’).” DH West is “consistently potent and tempers his familiar characteristics — high-pitched soul samples, gospel elements — by tweaking them and not using them as a crutch. Even though those with their ears to the street knew West could excel as an MC, he has used this album as an opportunity to prove his less-known skills to a wider audience.” AMG

“The feel-good club tune of the year, Slow Jamz,” AMG is “about the seductive power of soul music.” RS’20 It is “a side-splitting ode to legends of baby-making soul that originally appeared on Twista’s Kamikaze, just before that MC received his own Roc-a-Fella chain.” AMG

“One of the most poignant moments is on All Falls Down.” AMG “Maybe it was [his] brush with mortality that kicked his lyrics into high gear;” DH in any event, the “self-effacing West examines self-consciousness in the context of his community: ‘Rollies and Pashas done drive me crazy/I can't even pronounce nothing, yo pass the Versacey/Then I spent 400 bucks on this just to be like ‘Nigga you ain’t up on this.’” AMG

Never Let Me Down “featured a tremendous guest verse from his mentor and record company president, Jay-Z.” TL That song, along with” TL “the gospel riot Jesus WalksRS’20 “and ‘All Falls Down’ showed that West could infuse rap “with wit, intelligence and most of all, complexity.” TL

“In West’s world, rhymes about strippers, God, college life, and guns can co-exist tidily and not undermine each other.” DH He also “made arrogant claims about his talent, and then professed his insecurity — which made his music all the richer.” RS’20 “On Breathe in Breathe Out he raps ‘I gotta apologize to Mos and Kweli / Is it cool to rap about gold if I told the world I copped it from Ghana and Mali’ – tongue firmly planted in cheek.” DH

“The skits on here are just as potent,” DH although there are “a few too many.” AMG One in particular pokes “fun at the overeducated underclass that makes a small fraction of the loot he does.” DH

In the end, West delivers “an album that’s nearly as phenomenal as the boastful West has led everyone to believe.” AMG “Even with extended skits and lots of filler, West’s debut stands as the smartest, funniest and most important rap album of the new century.” TL

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First posted 3/16/2010; last updated 4/21/2022.