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

50 years ago: Harry Simeone Chorale “The Little Drummer Boy” charted for the first time

The Little Drummer Boy

Harry Simeone Chorale

Writer(s): Harry Simeone, Katherine K. Davis, Henry V. Onorati (see lyrics here)


First Charted: December 22, 1958


Peak: 13 US, 10 CB, 14 HR, 6 AC, 13 UK, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 25.0 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 28.03 video, 24.59 streaming

Peace on Earth/The Little Drummer Boy

Bing Crosby & David Bowie

Writer(s): Ian Fraser, Larry Grossman, Alan Kohan, Harry Simeone, Katherine K. Davis, Henry V. Onorati (see lyrics here)


Recorded: September 11, 1977


First Charted: November 27, 1982


Peak: 3 UK, 2 CN, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.45 UK


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 1.51 video, -- streaming

Awards (Simeone):

Click on award for more details.


Awards (Crosby/Bowie):

About the Song:

In 1941, Katherine Kennicott Davis translated an obscure Czech carol called “Carol of the Drum” into English. SF The song tells a story of a little drummer boy summoned to honor the newborn baby Jesus. Because he can’t afford a gift, he offers his talents on the drum instead. There isn’t actually any Biblical reference to any “such percussion prodigy.” SF A decade later the Austrian Trapp Family Singers (of The Sound of Music fame) covered the song. SFIn 1957, Jack Hollaran arranged the song and recorded it on his 1957 album, Christmas Is A-Comin’. SF

Producer Henry Onorati brought the arrangement to Harry Simeone, who was asked by Twentieth-Century Fox Records in 1958 to make a Christmas album. Simeone was a conductor and arranger from Newark, New Jersey, who had worked on Bing Crosby movies and served as conductor for The Firestone Hour from 1952 to 1959. SF

Onorati was credited on the song, as was Simeone, despite having nothing to do with its writing or composition. WK He recorded it for the album Sing We Now of Christmas. It was released as a single in 1958 and reached #13 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song went on to chart inside the top-40 each Christmas season for the next four years.

The song has been covered many times, perhaps most notably by Bing Crosby. In preparation for his 1977 Merrie Olde Christmas special, he was in London to record a duet of the song with David Bowie who, at 30, was 43 years younger. When Bowie got to the London studio, he said he hated the song and it didn’t suit his voice. The writers came up with a new arrangement within an hour with Bowie singing the words “peace on earth” and other lyrics as a counterpoint to Crosby. SF When Bowie died before the special aired, it kicked interest in the performance into high gear. The song was popularized by MTV in 1981 and released as a single in 1982, reaching #3 in the UK. SF


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First posted 8/13/2022.

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


Parts/Movements:

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


Average Duration: 32:50

Rating:

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

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Last updated 4/17/2022.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Beyoncé hit #1 with “Single Ladies”

Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)

Beyoncé

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, 4 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 13.0 US, 1.4 UK, 15.9 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 0.5 radio, 888.14 video, 822.22 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.


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First posted 1/29/2021; last updated 11/7/2022.