Friday, September 29, 2006

50 years ago: Fats Domino charted with “Blueberry Hill”

Blueberry Hill

Glenn Miller

Writer(s): Vincent Rose, Al Rose, Larry Stock (see lyrics here)

First Charted: August 10, 1940

Peak: 11 US, 14 GA, 2 HP (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

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

Blueberry Hill

Fats Domino

First Charted: September 29, 1956

Peak: 2 US, 4 HP, 4 CB, 3 HR, 111 RB, 6 UK, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 25.43 video, 42.32 streaming

Awards (Miller):

Click on award for more details.

Awards (Domino):

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“It’s hard to believe that any other performer could have found in [‘Blueberry Hill’] the excuse for sly lasciviousness that Fats did. And it’s surely true that nobody else could have made that sly lasciviousness seem so harmless as this jaunty Creole pianist.” DM The song that established Fats Domino as one of the pivotal figures in transforming R&B into rock and roll began life as a number in the 1940 Western The Singing Hill SF sung by Gene Autry. It quickly entered the public conscience with Sammy Kaye, Gene Krupa, Glenn Miller, Kay Kyser, Russ Morgan, Connee Boswell, and Jimmy Dorsey WK all taking a crack at it. After Autry’s original, the song charted three times in 1940. Kyser and Morgan each took it into the top 20 while Miller went all the way to #1 on the U.S. pop charts with his take on the song.

In 1949, Louis Armstrong added a more R&B vibe to “Blueberry Hill.” Armstrong’s interpretation informed Fats’ recording NRR as he birthed a “rock and roll standard.” WK The song was Domino’s biggest hit, giving him his greatest audience but his producer, Dave Bartholomew, opposed doing a song which had already been a hit several times, TB insistent that it would ruin Domino’s career. AH He even called Lew Chudd, the president of Imperial Records, begging him not to release it. SS He later admitted what a huge mistake it had been to try to block it. AH

Fats Domino’s success is significant. He was a black R&B artist who ended up being successfully marketed to white teens who’d jumped on the rock and roll bandwagon. Rockabilly star Carl Perkins said, “In the white honky-tonks where I was playin’, they were punchin’ ‘Blueberry Hill.’ And white cats were dancin’ to Fats Domino.” RS500 “The wave of white rockabilly acts that had hits throughout 1955 and ’56 had all fizzled – Carl Perkins, Gene Vincent, and Bill Haley would between them never have another major hit in the U.S.” AH Domino, however, had over 60 entries on the Billboard pop chart from 1955 to 1968. Then of those were top-10 hits and “Blueberry Hill” was the biggest of all, reaching #2.

The song reemerged in the ‘70s as a sort of theme for a television character on the popular series Happy Days. High schooler Ritchie Cunningham, played by now famous director Ron Howard, would break into the song whenever he’d scored a dating coup. SF

The Doors’ Ray Manzarek confirmed the song’s influence on future generations of rock and roll when he revealed on a BBC Radio 2 program that the Doors’ classic #1 hit “Light My Fire” took its baseline from “Blueberry Hill.” SF The song has also been cited as influence from artists as diverse as Mick Jagger and Leonard Cohen. AH


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Last updated 3/25/2023.

Saturday, September 9, 2006

Justin Timberlake hit #1 with “SexyBack”


Justin Timberlake

Writer(s): Justin Timberlake/Tim Mosley/Nate "Danja" Hills (see lyrics here)

Released: July 18, 2006

First Charted: July 14, 2006

Peak: 17 US, 14 BA, 15 DG, 15 RR, 18 A40, 11 RB, 11 UK 1 CN, 12 AU, 22 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 4.9 US, 0.65 UK, 6.22 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 0.5 radio, 223.3 video, 623.31 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“Even back in N Sync’s heyday, you always got the feeling that Timberlake was just a little bit…well, funkier than those other boy band singers.” MX Naysayers couldn’t help but ask who is “this skinny, pasty, curly-haired, girly-singing, Walt Disney World teeny-bopper to talk about bringing sexy back? And BACK? Back from where?” LR However, doubters were “forced to sign off…on Justin’s hot, hot hit” LR and acknowledge that he could “do no wrong. Two great albums after leaving a boy band, television and movie appearances where he’s proven to be pretty damn funny and a collaborator with many, he’s almost untouchable.” PD Kanye West said at one point that “Justin Timberlake should be the #1 artist on the planet (right before stating that he himself is actually that guy, of course).” PD

Timberlake told Observer Music Monthly, “The chorus is very James Brown-ish…It’s a very physical song, meant to provoke sexual dance. ‘Sex Machine’ is the closest reference.” SF He also said the song’s vocals were influenced by Prince, WK but that he sang the song in a rock style instead of an R&B style, as if David Bowie and David Byrne were covering James Brown’s “Sex Machine.” WK He said the end result “doesn’t qualify as rock or straight funk” WK but that he liked it being described as “club funk.” WK

Andrew Murfett of The Age said the song “introduced a new phrase into the pop cultural lexicon.” WK Billboard’s Katy Kroll said one “can almost feel beads of sweat rolling off” WK the track and that when Timberlake “claims to be bringing sexy back to pop music…indeed he is.” WK Entertainment Weekly amusingly wrote, “We didn’t even know that sexy was missing until 2006. We’re just happy Justin brought it back safe and sound.” WK

The instrumental backing is built on “a pounding bass beat, electronic chords, and beat box sounds.” WK Instead of his “famous falsetto,” WK Timberlake’s voice is distorted on the track and features backing vocals from Timbaland, who also produced the track. He’d previously worked on Timberlake’s “Cry Me a River” and also produced Nelly Furtado’s #1 hit “Promiscuous.” SF’s Quentin B. Huff called “SexyBack” a ‘fraternal twin” with “Promiscuous.” WK

Timberlake had top five hits with “Cry Me a River” and “Rock Your Body” from his previous album, 2002’s Justified, and hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with *NSYNC on “It’s Gonna Be Me” from 2000. This, however, was his first #1 as a solo artist. The song also won a Grammy for Best Dance Recording, a People’s Choice Award for Favorite R&B Song, and and MTV Video Music Award for Male Artist of the Year.


Last updated 4/25/2023.

Friday, September 8, 2006

50 years ago: Harry Belafonte’s Calypso hit #1 for 1st of 31 weeks

First posted 3/25/2008; updated 9/29/2020.


Harry Belafonte

Charted: June 16, 1956

Peak: 131 US, -- UK, -- CN, -- AU

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 1.0 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: world music


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

  1. The Banana Boat Song (Day-O) (2/23/57, 5 US, 7 RB, 2 UK)
  2. I Do Adore Her
  3. Jamaica Farewell (10/20/56, 14 US)
  4. Will His Love Be Like His Rum?
  5. Dolly Dawn
  6. Star-O
  7. The Jack-Ass Song
  8. Hosanna
  9. Come Back Liza
  10. Brown Skin Girl
  11. Man Smart (Woman Smarter)

Total Running Time: 31:23


4.347 out of 5.00 (average of 10 ratings)

Quotable: “This landmark album…had a revolutionary effect on folk music in the 1950s and ‘60s” – Cary Ginell, All Music Guide


About the Album:

“This is the album that made Harry Belafonte’s career. Up to this point, calypso had only been a part of Belafonte’s focus in his recordings of folk music styles. But with this landmark album, calypso not only became tattooed to Belafonte permanently; it had a revolutionary effect on folk music in the 1950s and ‘60s.” AMG

“The album consists of songs from Trinidad, mostly written by West Indian songwriter Irving Burgie (aka Lord Burgess). Burgie’s two most successful songs are included – Day O and Jamaica Farewell…as are the evocative ballads I Do Adore Her and Come Back Liza and what could be the first feminist folk song, Man Smart (Woman Smarter).” AMG

Calypso became the first million-selling album by a single artist, spending an incredible 31 weeks at the top of the Billboard album charts, remaining on the charts for 99 weeks. It triggered a veritable tidal wave of imitators, parodists, and artists wishing to capitalize on its success.” AMG

“Years later, it remains a record of inestimable influence, inspiring many folksingers and groups to perform, most notably the Kingston Trio, which was named for the Jamaican capital. For a decade, just about every folksinger and folk group featured in their repertoire at least one song that was of West Indian origin or one that had a calypso beat. They all can be attributed to this one remarkable album.” AMG

“Despite the success of Calypso, Belafonte refused to be typecast. Resisting the impulse to record an immediate follow-up album, Belafonte instead spaced his calypso albums apart, releasing them at five-year intervals in 1961, 1966, and 1971.” AMG

Notes: A 2005 reissue added bonus tracks “Venezuela,” “Kukla-Mu,” “Sylvie,” “Baby Darlin’,” “Hello Everybody,” and “Melda Massi.”

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