Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008: Top 25 Albums

First posted 1/8/2021.

Dave’s Music Database:

Top Albums of 2008

Based on a combination of year-end lists and overall status in Dave’s Music Database, these are the top 25 albums of 2008:

  1. Taylor Swift Fearless
  2. Lady Gaga The Fame
  3. Coldplay Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends
  4. Kings of Leon Only by the Night
  5. Fleet Foxes Fleet Foxes
  6. Bon Iver For Emma, Forever Ago
  7. Vampire Weekend Vampire Weekend
  8. Portishead Third
  9. Lil Wayne Tha Carter III
  10. Beyoncé I Am…Sasha Fierce

  11. Adele 19
  12. Jack Johnson Sleep Through the Static
  13. TV on the Radio Dear Science
  14. Duffy Rockferry
  15. Metallica Death Magnetic
  16. MGMT Oracular Spectacular
  17. Benny Andersson & Björn Ulvaeus (composers) Mamma Mia! soundtrack
  18. Erykah Badu New Amerykah Pt. 1: 4th World War
  19. T.I. Paper Trail
  20. Shery Crow Detours

  21. R.E.M. Accelerate
  22. John Mellencamp Life, Death, Love and Freedom
  23. Elbow The Seldom Seen Kid
  24. Kanye West 808’s & Heartbreak
  25. Nickelback Dark Horse

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Monday, December 22, 2008

200 years ago: Beethoven premiered his 5th symphony

Symphony No. 5 in C minor (Fate)

Ludwig van Beethoven

Composed: 1804-1808

First Performed: December 22, 1808

Peak: --

Sales (in millions): --

Genre: classical > Romantic symphony


  1. Allegro con brio
  2. Andante con moto
  3. Allegro
  4. Allegro

Average Duration: 32:50


3.905 out of 5.00 (average of 8 ratings)

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony is “one of the most popular and best-known compositions in all of classical music, and one of the most often played symphonies.” AZ The poet and composer E.T.A. Hoffman called it “one of the most important works of the time.” AZ The symphony consists of four movements: “an opening sonata, an andante, and a fast scherzo which leads attacca to the finale.” AZ Beethoven toiled away for more than four years to compose it, finally introducing it on December 22, 1808 in Vienna’s Theater an der Wien.

Also included in the program were Symphony No. 6, Piano Concerto No. 4, and parts of his Mass in C. MJ While it might be considered “one of the most extraordinary concerts in history,” MJ it also should be noted that “the hall was unheated, and the musicians woefully under-prepared. As Schindler noted, ‘The reception accorded to these works was not as desired, and probably no better than the author himself had expected. The public was not endowed with the necessary degree of comprehension for such extraordinary music, and the performance left a great deal to be desired.’” MJ

However, “the work achieved its prodigious reputation soon afterwards.” AZ Hoffman wrote, “How this magnificent composition carries the listener on and on in a continually ascending climax into the ghostly world of infinity!...the human breast, squeezed by monstrous presentiments and destructive powers, seems to gasp for breath; soon a kindly figure approaches full of radiance, and illuminates the depths of terrifying night.” MJ

In Howard’s End, E.M. Forster writes about the symphony, saying it satisfies “all sort and conditions.” MJ The fact that he focuses heavily on the work “shows the extent to which it had become absorbed into the Romantic consciousness.” MJ

“Hermann Kretzschmar wrote of the ‘stirring dogged and desperate struggle’ of the first movement, one of the most concentrated of all Beethoven’s symphonic sonata movements. It is derived almost exclusively from the rhythmic cell of the opening, which is even felt in the accompaniment of the second subject group. There follows a variation movement in which cellos introduce the theme, increasingly elaborated and with shorter note values at every reappearance. A second, hymn-like motif is heard as its counterfoil.” MJ

“The tripartite scherzo follows; the main idea is based on an ominous arpeggio figure, but we hear also the omnipresent ‘Fate’ rhythm, exactly as it is experienced in the first movement. The central section, which replaces the customary trio, is a pounding fugato beginning in the cellos and basses, and then running through the rest of the orchestra. Of particular structural interest is the inter-linking bridge passage which connects the last two movements. Over the drumbeat referred to by Forster’s Tibby, the music climbs inexorably toward the tremendous assertion of C major triumph at the start of the finale. The epic grandeur of the music, now with martial trombones and piccolo added (the Fifth also calls for contrabassoon), has irresistible drive and sweep, though that eventual victory is still some way off is suggested by the return of the ominous scherzo figure during the extended development.” MJ

Resources and Related Links:

Last updated 4/17/2022.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Beyoncé hit #1 with “Single Ladies”

Last updated 1/29/2021.

Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)


Writer(s): Christopher "Tricky" Stewart, Terius "The-Dream" Nash, Thaddis Harrell, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter (see lyrics here)

Released: October 12, 2008

First Charted: October 25, 2008

Peak: 14 US, 13 RR, 16 A40, 112 RB, 7 UK, 2 CN, 5 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 5.0 US, 0.6 UK, 7.7 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 0.5 radio, 765.0 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

With “Single Ladies” Beyoncé gave the world “a dance craze that requires little more than the deployment of jazz hands with a wrist twist.” NPR’09 It helped that the song was accompanied by a “stunning, iconic black and white video” AB’00 which featured Beyoncé and two other dancers. It was famously lampooned on Saturday Night Live by Justin Timberlake and launched more than a few parodies on YouTube. Rapper Kanye West thought it so worthy of attention that he infamously interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech for Best Female Video at the Video Music Awards to tell the world so.

With a message “as complicated as half a decade of psychotherapy,” TM the song captured the persona of Beyoncé as a woman “who won’t settle for less than the best.” TM She “sounds like a total pro: contained, on-message,” NPR’09 as she issues “her definitive statement for ladies stuck in limbo with a dude who can’t commit.” RS’09

Musically, “Single Ladies” “encapsulates the lessons pop songs have picked up from hip-hop: that a great beat and a great voice can carry a lot of weight, that a slightly sour sound (the little electronic swoop that keeps tugging at the song’s fringe) can make everything else sweeter, that looping your audience into a hook is a great idea.” TM

The song also established The-Dream and Tricky Stewart as “the premier pop songwriters and producers of the late 2000s” NPR’09 and even let Beyoncé “stake a claim to the title Queen of Pop,” NPR’09 even if the likes of Rihanna, Lady Gaga, and Katy Perry were waiting in line to swipe it from her.

Resources and Related Links:

Monday, November 24, 2008

50 years ago: “La Bamba” hit the charts

First posted 3/29/2021.

La Bamba

Ritchie Valens

Writer(s): William Clauson, Ritchie Valens (see lyrics here)

First Charted: November 24, 1958

Peak: 22 US, 49 CB, 49 HR, 49 UK, 14 CN (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 2.0 radio, 43.76 video, -- streaming

La Bamba

Los Lobos

First Charted: June 27, 1987

Peak: 13 US, 12 CB, 12 RR, 4 AC, 11 AR, 1 CO, 12 UK, 17 CN, 17 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, -- UK, 3.03 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 2.0 radio, 117.29 video, -- streaming

Awards (Valens): (Click on award for more details).

Awards (Los Lobos): (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

“La Bamba” is a traditional folk tune which, according to Cesar Rosas of Los Lobos, the song “probably goes back 200 years.” BR It has been attributed to slaves who chanted the names of their African villages, one of which was Mamamba. That chant became the wedding song “La Bamba” when it travelled to Mexico. KL The lyrics varied greatly since performers usually improvised, but the music stayed largely the same. WK The title is presumably based on the Spanish verb “bambolear,” which means “to sway, shake, or wobble.” WK

It may have been recorded as early in 1908, but the earliest confirmed recording was in 1939 by Alvaro Hernández Ortiz, known as El Jarocho. It gained popularity in 1945 when Miguel Alemán Valdés, a Mexican presidential candidate, used it in his campaign. The Huesca brothers recorded it that year and two years later it emerged in the musical film Fiesta, performed by Los Bocheros. Subsequent versions were recorded by Swedish-American folk singer William Clauson in the early ‘50s, Cynthia Gooding in 1953, and Juanita Linda in 1956. WK

In 1958, the song was recorded by Ritchie Valens, born Richard Steven Valenzuela. His sister, Connie, said he heard the song performed at family gatherings and learned to sing it in Spanish even though he never spoke the language. BR He “adapted the time signature and added electric bass and guitar to the sound” CR to create “the first Spanish rock & roll song.” CR Sadly, he was only 17 when he was killed in a plane crash on February 3, 1959, which also took the lives of Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper. After his death, his song “Donna” reached #2. The flip side, “La Bamba,” peaked at #22 the day before he died.

The song became iconic, with subsequent versions recorded by Harry Belafonte, Glen Campbell, Neil Diamond, and Trini Lopez. However the most successful version was recorded by “Los Lobos, an innovative California-based band who play a wide range of music from Tex-Mex to their own original songs.” JA Their #1 version, which was recorded for the 1987 biopic La Bamba about Valens’ life, was the first #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 by a Hispanic act. CR

Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Ritchie Valens
  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Los Lobos
  • BR Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 675.
  • CR Toby Creswell (2005). 1001 Songs: The Great Songs of All Time. Thunder’s Mouth Press: New York, NY. Pages 560-1.
  • JA David A. Jasen (2002). A Century of American Popular Music: 2000 Best-Loved and Remembered Songs (1899-1999). Routledge: Taylor & Francis, Inc. Page 114.
  • KL Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh (2005). 1000 UK Number One Hits: The Stories Behind Every Number One Single Since 1952. London, Great Britain: Omnibus Press. Page 325.
  • WK Wikipedia

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Taylor Swift’s Fearless released


Taylor Swift

Released: November 11, 2008 (Original Version)

Released: April 9, 2021 (Taylor’s Version)

Peak: 111 US, 135 CW, 5 UK, 11 CN, 2 AU

Sales (in millions): 10.0 US, 0.3 UK, 12.0 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: country/pop

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

    Tracks (Original Album):

  1. Fearless (Swift, Liz Rose, Hillary Lindsey) [4:01] (11/1/08, 9 US, 69 CN, sales: 1 million)
  2. Fifteen [4:54] (11/29/08, 23 US, 10 CW, 34 AA, 19 CN, 48 AU, sales: 1.5 million)
  3. Love Story [3:55] (9/27/08, 4 US, 1 CW, 1 AC, 3 AA, 2 UK, 4 CN, 1 AU, sales: 8.1 million worldwide, airplay: 0.6 m)
  4. Hey Stephen [4:14] (11/29/08, 94 US)
  5. White Horse (Swift, Rose) [3:54] (11/29/08, 13 US, 2 CW, 60 UK, 43 CN, 41 AU, sales: 2 million)
  6. You Belong with Me (Swift, Rose) [3:51] (11/22/08, 2 US, 1 CW, 1 AC, 2 AA, 30 UK, 3 CN, 5 AU, sales: 4.9 million, airplay: 0.5 m)
  7. Breathe (with Colbie Caillat) (Swift, Caillat) [4:23] (11/29/08, 87 US)
  8. Tell Me Why (Swift, Rose) [3:20]
  9. You’re Not Sorry [4:21] (11/15/08, 11 US, 11 CN, sales: 0.7 million)
  10. The Way I Loved You (Swift, John Rich) [4:03] (11/29/08, 72 US)
  11. Forever & Always [3:45] (11/29/08, 34 US)
  12. The Best Day [4:05] (5/23/09, 56 CW, gold single)
  13. Change [4:39] (8/30/08, 10 US, 57 CW)

    Tracks (Platinum Edition):

  14. Jump Then Fall [3:57] (11/14/09, 10 US, 59 CW)
  15. Untouchable (Swift, Carly Barlowe, Nathan Barlowe, Tommy Lee James) [4:27] (11/14/09, 19 US)
  16. Forever & Always (piano version) [4:27] (4/24/21, 65 US)
  17. Come in with the Rain (Swift, Rose) [3:57] (11/14/09, 30 US)
  18. Superstar (Swift, Rose) [4:23] (11/14/09, 26 US)
  19. The Other Side of the Door [3:58] (11/14/09, 23 US)

    Tracks (Taylor’s Version):

  20. Today Was a Fairy Tale [4:01] (1/19/10, 2 US, 19 RR, 21 AC, 21 A40, 41 CW, 57 UK, 1 CN, 3 AU)
  21. You All Over Me (with Maren Morris) (Swift, Scooter Carusoe) [3:40] (3/26/21, 51 US, 52 UK, 34 AU)
  22. Mr. Perfectly Fine [4:37] (4/7/21, 30 US)
  23. We Were Happy (Swift, Rose) [4:04]
  24. That’s When (with Keith Urban) (Swift, Brad Warren, Brett Warren) [3:09]
  25. Don’t You (Swift, James) [3:28]
  26. Bye Bye Baby (Swift, Rose) [4:02]

Total Running Time (Original Version): 53:41

Total Running Time (Taylor’s Version): 106:20


3.643 out of 5.00 (average of 21 ratings)

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

Swift’s sophomore album did anything but slump. Once you count five charted songs from the 2009 re-release known as the platinum edition, Fearless was responsible for landing an astonishing 17 hits on the charts. 16 of those made it on the U.S. Hot 100 and five of those were top 10 hits. It was “the first album in music history to produce thirteen top forty hits. Swift now holds the record for most singles on the Hot 100 at the same time by a female artist with nine.” WK

“The album debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200, selling 592,304 copies in its first week, the best first-week sales for a female artist in 2008. Fearless became the first album to sell one million copies in 2009.” WK In addition to 11 non-consecutive weeks atop the Billboard 200, giving it the most weeks at #1 since Santana’s 1999 Supernatural album. “The album has spent 45 weeks in the top ten on the Billboard 200, becoming the longest run for a country album in the top ten since Shania Twain’s Come On Over, which had 53 weeks from 1997-1999.” WK The album also spent 35 non-consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard Top Country Albums chart. WK

The album also cleaned up on awards. It is the only album in history to take home the Country Album of the Year prizes from the Academy of Country Music, American Music Award, Country Music Assocation, and the Grammys. It also won the Grammy for Album of the Year.

It wasn’t just that the album was a success based on awards and sales, though. It was also a display of her growth as an artist. She “abandons any pretense that she’s a teen…which isn’t to say that she suddenly tarts herself up, running away from her youth in a manner that’s all too familiar to many teen stars. Swift’s maturation is deliberate and careful, styled after the crossover country-pop of Shania Twain and Faith Hill before they turned into divas. Despite the success of her self-titled 2006 debut, there’s nothing at all diva-like about Swift on 2008’s Fearless: she’s soft-spoken and considerate, a big sister instead of a big star.” STE

“There may be a hint of youthfulness to her singing but that’s the only hint of girlishness here; her writing – and she had a hand in penning all 13 tracks here, with six of them bearing her solitary credit – is sharply, subtly crafted and the music is softly assured, never pushing its hooks too hard and settling into a warm bed of guitars and keyboards. Like many country-pop albums of the 2000s, the pop heavily outweighs the country – there aren’t fiddles here, there are violins – yet Fearless never feels garish, a crass attempt at a crossover success. It’s small-scale and sweetly tuneful, always seeming humble even when the power ballads build to a big close. Swift’s gentle touch is as enduring as her songcraft, and this musical maturity may not quite jibe with her age but it does help make Fearless one of the best mainstream pop albums of 2008.” STE

The album’s first official single, Love Story, “was her first song to achieve commercial success outside the United States; it reached number one in Australia [and Canada] and number two in the United Kingdom.” WK The song also won CMT’s Video of the Year award.

White Horse was the second official US single from FearlessWK but “like its predecessor, …became successful before its single release.” WK

You Belong with Me was the third official US single from Fearless.” WK It “has become the biggest hit of Swift’s career domestically, and became the highest charting country single since 2005, peaking at number two on the Billboard Hot 100.” WK It won Best Female Video at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. “Controversy ensued while during Swift’s acceptance speech for the award, rapper Kanye West stole her microphone away from her, and said that Beyoncé’s ‘Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)’, which was one of the videos ‘You Belong With Me’ beat out, deserved to win the award…Beyoncé, after winning the award for Video of the Year for ‘Single Ladies’, invited Swift to the stage to finish her acceptance speech, instead of delivering her own.” WK

Fifteen, which was one of the many album tracks to chart when the album was released, “was announced to be the fourth official US single from Fearless.” WK The song is “a kind warning for a teen to watch her heart sung from the perspective of a woman who’s perhaps twice that age – a sly trick for the 18-year-old Swift.” STE

“On the chart week of November 14, 2009, Swift set a record for the most songs on the Billboard Hot 100 by a female artist at the same time with eight singles from the re-release of her 2008 album Fearless.” WK Three of those had previously charted or were still on the charts from the previous week, but with a non-Fearless song (Boys Like Girls’ ‘Two Is Better Than One’, which featured Swift) also debuting that week, Swift also had “six debuts in one week, the biggest number of debuts by any female artist of all time. It also lifts the number of her simultaneously-charting songs to nine, setting another record for the biggest number of charting songs by the same female artist in the same week.” WK That same week, Swift became the artist with the most number of Top 20 debuts in her career. WK

Notes: The platinum edition of the album added five new songs. In 2021, Taylor re-recorded and re-released the entire album, including the tracks on the Platinum Edition, plus eight more songs.

Resources and Related Links:

Other Related DMDB Pages:

First posted 11/30/2009; last updated 4/21/2022.