Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Black Eyed Peas hit #1 with “Boom Boom Pow”

Last updated 3/28/2020.

Boom Boom Pow

Black Eyed Peas

Writer(s): William Adams, Allan Pineda, Jaime Gomez, Stacy Ferguson (see lyrics here)

Released: November 12, 2008

First Charted: March 8, 2009

Peak: 112 US, 16 RR, 21 A40, 51 RB, 12 UK, 19 CN, 16 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 6.9 US, 0.73 UK, 10.8 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 0.5 radio, 367.9 video, -- streaming


About the Song:

With their lead single from their fifth studio album, The E.N.D., the Black Eyed Peas achieved a feat they hadn’t accomplished before – they topped the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. The song spent an amazing 12 weeks atop the charts – but it was only the beginning. The Peas didn’t have to wait long for their next #1 – the album’s follow-up single, “I Gotta Feeling,” followed “Pow” into the pole position, giving the Peas the rare distinction of knocking themselves from the top. “Feeling” proved even more successful, holding on to #1 for 14 weeks – giving the Peas a full six-month lock on #1!

All four members –, Fergie, Taboo, and – have solo raps in the futuristic-sounding, auto-tuned song. Boston Globe described the song and others from the album as “substance-free, grammatically suspect dance floor jams” which were nonetheless “booty-shaking pleasures.” WK Digital Spy’s Nick Levine called it “a fairly ridiculous robopop stomper” but also said, “Frankly who cares? Right now this just sounds cracking.” WK Rolling Stone said it was “an assault on the senses, and on good taste. And it’s the best thing The Black Eyed Peas have ever recorded.” WK acknowledge the song’s unusual and repetitive nature when he told Rolling Stone, “It has one note. It says ‘Boom’ 168 times. The structure has three beats in one song. It’s not lyrics – it’s audio patterns, structure, architecture.” SF He told Billboard the song “was made for underground clubs. Like, if I would’ve thought that was gonna be a radio song, I would’ve made it different…‘Boom Boom Pow’ is proof that if something’s dope, regardless of if it has that sprinkled radio vibe, that it should be played on the radio and the people are gonna like it.” WK

People definitely liked it. They watched the video on YouTube more than 100 million times WK and scooped up 6 million copies of the song in the U.S. and another 2.5 million internationally. It was the best-selling song on iTunes in 2009. It was a big seller right out of the gate, hitting 465,000 downloads in its first week, making it the highest sum which had been achieved at that point by a group in one week. SF

Resources and Related Links:

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Lady Gaga hit #1 with “Poker Face”

Poker Face

Lady Gaga

Writer(s):Stefani Germanotta/ Nadir “RedOne” Khayat (see lyrics here)

Released: September 23, 2008

First Charted: November 17, 2008

Peak: 11 US, 15 RR, 12 A40, 75 RB, 13 UK, 19 CN, 18 AU, 10 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 10.0 US, 1.29 UK, 14.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 0.5 radio, 1122.54 video, 611.09 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

As her follow-up single to the #1 “Just Dance,” Lady Gaga had her work cut out for her with “Poker Face.” With lyrics about gambling and her own experiences with bisexuality, she wasn’t exactly going for the most radio-friendly theme either. She told Fashionista 101 that the song was about “playing with guys as if she was a poker player.” SF As she said to an audience at an April 11, 2009, performance in Palm Springs, California, the song was about being “with a man but fantasizing about a woman, hence the man in the song needs to read her ‘Poker Face’ to understand what is going through her mind.” WK

No worries, though – the song not only followed “Just Dance” to the top of the U.S. charts, but peaked at #1 in sixteen other countries as well. WK It made Gaga the first artist to top the U.S. charts with her first two entries since Christina Aguilera did it nearly a decade earlier WK with “Genie in a Bottle” and “What a Girl Wants.” It became “the song with which she placed her stamp on the waning months of the decade.” LR

Producer RedOne, with whom Gaga wrote “Poker Face” and “Just Dance,” told Billboard magazine how the two clicked immediately. “We’re not overthinking. We just do what we feel right.. Before you know it the song is pretty much done…We wrote ‘Just Dance’ in one hour. Done. ‘Poker Face’? One hour. It just happened. Magic.” SF

Both songs sold 4 million downloads in the U.S., making her the first artist in digital history to do so. WK The songs have gone on to sell six million each. Another 900,000 downloads in the U.K. also made “Face” the most downloaded song in Britain since they introduced the download chart in 2004. WK


Related Links:

First posted 3/15/2020; last updated 10/17/2022.

Friday, April 10, 2009

100 years ago: “Shine on, Harvest Moon” hit #1

Shine on, Harvest Moon

Harry MacDonough with Miss Walton

Writer(s): Jack Norworth, Nora Bayes (see lyrics here)

First Charted: April 10, 1909

Peak: 19 US, 13 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 (sheet music)

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


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Nora Bayes was a Broadway and vaudevillian performer in the early 1900s. In 1908, she married Jack Norworth, a singer, songwriter, and dancer. The pair toured and composed together. The duo’s collaboration, “Shine on, Harvest Moon,” resulted in what may be “the most recognized of the many ‘moon’ ballads.” RCG It was “decidedly old-fashioned and a product of twentieth century innocence.” RCG The duo introduced the song in Florenz Ziegfeld’s Follies of 1908. The couple didn’t last, divorcing in 1913 (the second of five marriages for Bayes!), SF but the song survived. Both performed it the rest of their lives and it became Bayes’ signature song. RCG

It became a favorite for player pianos and barbershop quartets RCG and “remains a perennial among amateur singers everywhere.” JA-172 It had an impressive chart life with seven takes on the song peaking in the top 20 over the next quarter century. The first, and most successful, was a duet between Harry MacDonough and Miss Walton (believed to be Elise Stevenson) in 1909. They took the song to #1 for 9 weeks. Three other versions of the song charted that year. Ada Jones and Billy Murray also took it to #1 while the duo of Frank Stanley and Henry Burr hit #2 and Bob Roberts’ version went to #6. The following year, Arthur Pryor also went top 5 with the song.

“Harvest Moon” was revived by Ruth Etting in Ziegfeld Follies of 1931. JA-172 Ethel Waters took the song back to the top ten that same year. Two years later, Kate Smith took the song back to the top 20. Over the years, the song has also been sung by Judy Garland, Vera Lynn, Glenn Miller, and Liza Minnelli. RCG At age 8, Britney Spears sang it for her Mickey Mouse Club audition. WK

It has also appeared in at least a dozen films, most notably an eponymously titled 1944 biopic starring Ann Sheridan and Dennis Morgan as Bayes and Norworth. RCG A 1938 Roy Rogers western was named after the song and Laurel & Hardy performed it in their 1939 film The Flying Deuces. It was also used in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945) and Pennies from Heaven (1978). WK


First posted 4/10/2012; last updated 12/27/2021.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

“The Saints Go Marching” marched onto the charts 70 years ago (4/1/1939)

First posted 4/11/2020.

When the Saints Go Marching In

Louis Armstrong

Writer(s): James M. Black/Katharine E. Purvis (see lyrics here)

First Charted: April 1, 1939

Peak: 10 US (Click for codes to singles charts.)

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

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 24.05 video, -- streaming


About the Song:

“When the Saints Go Marching In,” also known as “When the Saints Are Marching In” and simply “The Saints,” originated as a traditional slavery-era spiritual, although it has been suggested it developed in the Bahamas. FU The song promised “an end to suffering for the righteous,” SS a reference to the Book of Revelations. SS The song, however, evolved into a “joyous hymn, especially in New Orleans,” SS and standard often played by jazz bands. WK

Lyricist Katharine Purvis and composer James Milton Black published the song as “When the Saints Are Marching In” in 1896. She was the daughter of a Methodist minister who became a music teacher at the seminary of a Methodist Episcopal Church in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. FU Black was a hymn composer, choir teacher, and Sunday school teacher who worked at the same church. FU The song was published again as “When the Saints Go Marching In” in 1927 with similar words and music. FU

The Paramount Jubilee Singers were the first to record it in 1923. Over the next few years it was recorded by the Four Harmony Kings (1924), the Elkins-Payne Jubilee Singers (1924), Wheat Street Female Quatet (1925), Bo Weavil Jackson 91926), Deaconess Alexander (1926), Rev. E.D. campbell (1927), Barbeque Bob (1927), Blind Willie Davis (1928), the Pace Jubilee Singers (1928), DX and Memphis Minnie (1935), sometimes under slightly different titles. SS

The song remained relatively unknown nationally until Decca Records asked Louis Armstrong to record some songs in the Dixieland tradition. He tapped into some of his own classics from the 1920s as well as this hymn he knew from childhood. SS Whle the song had been a staple in New Orleans for years, it was Armstrong’s recording which turned it into an American jazz standard. It became the “universally known anthem” for the 1940s Dixieland revival. SS

Resources and Related Links:

  • Louis Armstrong’s DMDB Encyclopedia entry
  • DX Robert M. W. Dixon, John Godrich, & Howard Rye (1997). Blues and Gospel Records 1890–1943. Oxford University Press: Oxford, NY.
  • FU James J. Fuld (1966). The Book of World Famous Music: Classical, Popular and Folk. Crown Publishers, Inc.: New York, NY. Pages 641-2.
  • SS Steve Sullivan (2013). Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings (Volumes I & II). Scarecrow Press: Lanham, Maryland. Pages 750-1.
  • WK Wikipedia