Saturday, January 28, 2012

Rihanna and Calvin Harris log 10th week at #1 with “We Found Love”

Last updated 1/31/2021.

We Found Love

Rihanna with Calvin Harris

Writer(s): Calvin Harris (see lyrics here)


Released: September 22, 2011


First Charted: September 25, 2011


Peak: 110 US, 17 RR, 14 AC, 5 A40, 54 RB, 16 UK, 111 CN, 2 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 9.0 US, 1.8 UK, 12.82 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 1039.3 video, 200.0 streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

Rihanna launched her sixth album with the Calvin Harris-penned, “uptempo electro house song” WK “We Found Love.” The Scottish electro-pop producer had worked with Dizzee Rascal, Kelis, and Kylie Minogue. He’d also had top ten hits on his own in the UK, including the #1 “’m Not Alone” (2009). 2011 marked his first foray onto the U.S. pop charts with his own Feel So Close (#12) and this monster duet with Rihanna. Originally the song was intended for Leona Lewis; Nicole Scherzinger turned it down as well. When it was recorded by Rihanna, her fans pressured Harris on Twitter that “The song better not be rubbish.” SF

Critical reception was mixed. New York magazine’s Amanda Dobbins said “Harris’s electro fingerprints are all over this one – it plays like a straight house track, with some dreamy Rihanna vocals added in over the beat.” WK Idolator’s Robbie Daw called the song’s line “We found love in a hopeless place” the best lyrics in pop music in 2011. WK On the flip side, NME’s Priya Elan said the over-all effect is underwhelming WK and Rolling Stone’s Jody Rosen called it “an inspid tune” and the worst single of her career. WK

The song hit the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100 in October 2011, making for her 20th time in the top 10. She first landed there in June 2005 with “Pon de Replay,” giving her a span of six years and four months to land 20 songs in the top ten, besting Madonna’s record of six years and nine months to accomplish the same feat. SF “We Found Love” spent ten non-consecutive weeks, breaking Rihanna’s previous record of seven weeks on top with “Umbrella.” SF Her 11th trip to the top also became the longest-running U.S. #1 song of 2011, topped the charts in 25 other countries, WK and was the most played song on U.S. radio in 2012. SF

The video was directed by Melina Matsoukas, who’d also done Rihanna’s “Rude Boy” and “S&M.” Rihanna is depicted as “a drug-abusing thrill-seeker in a relationship that quickly spirals downward into addiction and violence.” WK Matsoukas said the video was intended to be a warning about the dangers of addiction and not a reference to the singer’s past experience with domestic violence, but not everyone found the video’s message favorable. Eileen Kelly of the Rape Crisis Centre told the Daily Star that the “video is a disgrace. It sends the message that she is an object to be possessed by mne, which is disturbingly what we see in real violence cases.” SF Despite the controversy, it won the Grammy for Best Short Form Video and MTV’s Video of the Year.


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Aretha Franklin held her first Atlantic Records recording session: January 27, 1967








Aretha Franklin launched her recording career in 1960, releasing her first single for Columbia when she was 18. The song, “Today I Sing the Blues”, reached #10 on the R&B charts and led to a handful of other hits, including two more top tens (“Won’t Be Logn” and “Operation Heartbreak”).

However, she opted not to resign with Columbia when her contract expired in 1966. She’d made nine albums with the company, but didn’t have any money to show for it. Jerry Wexler of Atlantic Records quickly signed her and took her to Alabama’s legendary FAME Studios for her first recording session with the new company on on January 27, 1967. Along with the famed Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, Aretha was joined by Stax Records’ Chips Moman and Tommy Cogbill. While she had largely covered standards while with Columbia, Atlantic would help her forge a new direction which allowed her to display her gospel roots and become one of the most important acts in R&B history.

One of her first endeavors at forging her new direction was a blues ballad called “I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You”. The song topped the R&B charts for eight weeks, peaked at #9 on the pop charts, and gave Aretha her first gold single. During Aretha’s Atlantic stint, she sent more than 30 songs into the top ten of the R&B charts; 17 of those went to #1.

Aretha’s 1967 album I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You also featured the classic “Respect”, a #1 pop and R&B song. The album comprised those first legendary recording sessions as well as recording she did in New York City. The “Queen of Soul” had been born.





Awards for Aretha Franklin:

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mahalia Jackson charted with “Move on Up a Little Higher”: January 24, 1948








The Reverend William Herbert Brewster composed “Move on Up” almost as a sermon in which he built up the imagery of a “Christian climbing the ladder to heaven.” WK It was originally intended for one of his religious pageants or passion plays. WK

However, the song also had a strong undercurrent about civil rights for “black Americans’ gradual ascent to economic and social power.” TM The reverend acknowledged that “There were things that were almost dangerous to say, but you could sing it.” TM

When it came to singing it, the task was put to Mahalia Jackson, “The Queen of Gospel.” She was born in New Orleans and, at age 16, moved to Chicago where she joined a Baptist church choir. In 1929, she met Thomas A. Dorsey, a composer often heralded as “The Father of Gospel Music.” Over the next decade and a half, she toured singing his songs.

While she gained a name for herself, it was after signing to Apollo in 1947 that she gained her greatest fame. In her hands, “Move on Up” transcended the boundaries of gospel music and thrust itself upon the secular world as well. It found an audience with whites and blacks alike, reportedly becoming the best-selling gospel song to date. NRR Her singing was accompanied only by the standard church instruments of piano and organ, but her “delivery has the rhythm of preaching and the force of a lightning storm.” TM She blended “the vocal styles of blues singers, such as Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey, with the heartfelt emotion and commitment common to traditional gospel singing.” NRR




Awards:

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Top 100 R&B Acts of All Time


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With the passings of Etta James (see blog entry here) and Johnny Otis this week, the timing seemed right for a list of the best R&B acts of all time. Besides, today also marks the birthday of Sam Cooke (born January 22, 1931) who I consider the best soul singer of all time. However, the aggregated list says otherwise. Here are the results of 26 consolidated lists with R&B related awards and chart performance also included.

Louis Jordan



1. Stevie Wonder
2. Aretha Franklin
3. Marvin Gaye
4. Michael Jackson
5. James Brown
6. Ray Charles
7. Sam Cooke
8. Smokey Robinson
9. Luther Vandross
10. R. Kelly

The Drifters



11. Whitney Houston
12. Al Green
13. Prince
14. Gladys Knight & The Pips
15. Patti LaBelle
16. Otis Redding
17. Mariah Carey
18. Etta James
19. The Isley Brothers
20. Janet Jackson

Ray Charles



21. Barry White
22. Curtis Mayfield
23. Diana Ross
24. Mary J. Blige
25. Teddy Pendergrass
26. The Temptations
27. The O’Jays
28. Earth, Wind & Fire
29. Chaka Khan/Rufus
30. Boyz II Men

Sam Cooke



31. The Supremes
32. Dionne Warwick
33. The Drifters
34. The Jackson 5/The Jacksons
35. Usher
36. The Miracles
37. Four Tops
38. Kool & the Gang
39. Jackie Wilson
40. Donny Hathaway

James Brown



41. Wilson Pickett
42. Little Richard
43. Beyonce
44. Spinners
45. Alicia Keys
46. Bobby Womack
47. Lionel Richie
48. Louis Jordan
49. Fats Domino
50. Sly & the Family Stone

Marvin Gaye



51. Jerry Butler
52. IsaacHayes
53. The Impressions
54. Parliament/Funkadelic
55. Sade
56. The Dells
57. Chuck Berry
58. Rick James
59. New Edition
60. Babyface

Aretha Franklin



61. Joe Tex
62. Tina Turner
63. Anita Baker
64. Bobby “Blue” Bland
65. LL Cool J
66. The Clovers
67. Ashford & Simpson
68. Solomon Burke
69. Johnnie Taylor
70. Destiny’s Child

Stevie Wonder



71. The Chi-Lites
72. Ruth Brown
73. Commodores
74. Donna Summer
75. Keith Sweat
76. Nat “King” Cole
77. B.B. King
78. Tyrone Davis
79. Aaliyah
80. Joe Simon

Michael Jackson



81. The Platters
82. The Whispers
83. Elvis Presley
84. Robert Flack
85. Maze featuring Frankie Beverly
86. TLC
87. Freddie Jackson
88. Bobby Brown
89. Hank Ballard & the Midnighters
90. Cameo

Mariah Carey



91. Maxwell
92. Dinah Washington
93. Jay-Z
94. D’Angelo
95. Little Willie John
96. Erykah Badu
97. Ohio Players
98. Brook Benton
99. En Vogue
100. Peabo Bryson

R. Kelly






Friday, January 20, 2012

100 years ago: Harry MacDonough “Down by the Old Mill Stream” hit #1

Down by the Old Mill Stream

Harry MacDonough

Writer(s): Tell Taylor (see lyrics here)


First Charted: December 11, 1911


Peak: 17 US, 13 GA, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 6.0 (sheet music)


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

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

With hundreds of songs under his belt, Tell Taylor was “one of the powerhouses in musical composition during the early 20th century,” PS but of all his songs, probably none is more familiar than “Down by the Old Mill Stream.” He wrote it in 1908 while sitting on the banks of the Blanchard River in Ohio, WK although it has been reported that it was modeled on “Down by the Old Stream,” a Joseph P. Skelly song from 1874. SS The lyrical focus is on someone older looking back on a lifelong romance, but true to form for post-1900 songs, it focuses more on reality than sentiment. SS

Musically, MacDonough’s version was unique in that he sang the first half with an orchestra, but then the orchestra is replaced by a quartet – most likely the Haydn Quartet, of which MacDonough was a member. The rest of the song is then handled a cappella by the quartet. SS That combination of four-part harmony alongside the “beautifully flowing melody with romantic lyrics” PS made the song a barbershop quartet favorite RCG and arguably the song that defines that genre. PS

The song was one of only four from 1890-1954 to sell 5 million in sheet music. PM One of those, “Let Me Call You Sweetheart,” shares other traits with “Stream.” Both songs were published in 1910 and first charted in 1911. The first chart versions of each were by Arthur Clough. Usually the first charted version of a song was the biggest, but the Peerless Quartet and Harry MacDonough each topped the chart for seven weeks with, respectively, their recordings of “Sweetheart” and “Old Mill Stream,” leaving poor Arthur Clough the dubious distinction of also-ran status – twice.

“The song was originally published with not only the piano version but also with an arrangement for male vocal quartet.” PS The song resurfaced in the 1936 film Her Master’s Voice JA and the Mills Brothers revived the song in the 1940s “with a more swinging style to it.” RCG In 1965, Alvin and the Chipmunks recorded the song and Snoopy played the song in the 2000 animated special It’s the Pied Piper, Charlie Brown. WK


Resources:

  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Harry MacDonough
  • JA David A. Jasen. (2002). A Century of American Popular Music: 2000 Best-Loved and Remembered Songs (1899-1999). Routledge: Taylor & Francis, Inc. Page 51.
  • PS ParlorSongs.com
  • RCG RimChiGuy.com The Old Songs (1900-1929)
  • SS Steve Sullivan (2013). Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings (Volumes I & II). Scarecrow Press: Lanham, Maryland. Page 436.
  • PM Joel Whitburn (1986). Pop Memories 1890-1954. Menomonee Falls, WI; Record Research, Inc. Page 634.
  • WK Wikipedia


First posted 12/11/2016; last updated 7/25/2022.

Etta James: 1938-2011


Check out these books by Dave Whitaker available through DavesMusicDatabase.com or Amazon.

Also check the Dave’s Music Database Facebook page for daily music-related posts.




Etta James, “one of the great voices of the 20th century who fused R&B with gospel and blues,” RS died January 20, 2012, less than a week shy of her 74th birthday. The Grammy winner was an inductee in the Blues Hall of Fame, R&B Foundation, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Her song “The Wallflower (Roll with Me Henry)” (1955), was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, and “Tell Mama” (1967) was selected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s list of 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll. However, she may be most associated with wedding favorite “At Last” (1961), a Grammy Hall of Fame inductee, National Recording Registry entry, and one of the top 100 jazz songs of all time according to the DMDB. At his inauguration, President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama danced to “At Last” as sung by BeyoncĂ©, who portrayed James in the 2008 film Cadillac Records.

James was diagnosed with leukemia in 2010 and battled other health problems such as drug addiction, dementia, and hepatitis C. At one point, she ballooned to a reported 400 pounds and then cut that weight in half. Lupe DeLeon, her longtime friend and manager, said “This is a tremendous loss for the family, her friends and fans around the world…She was a true original who could sing it all – her music defied category. I worked with Etta for over 30 years. She was my friend and I will miss her always.” CNN

She was born Jamesetta Hawkins in Los Angeles in 1938. Her teen mother largely abandoned her and never revealed the father’s identity, although James suspected it was famed pool player Minnesota Fats. CNN Johnny Otis, best known for the song “Willie and the Hand Jive”, discovered James when she was 14. She hit #1 on the R&B charts with “The Wallflower”, a song Otis wrote as an answer song to Hank Ballard’s “Work with Me Annie”.

Over the next decade, James charted a dozen top ten hits on the R&B charts, most with Chess Records. Her most successful run on the pop charts was “Tell Mama” with a #23 peak. She discussed her songs with CNN in 2002: “Most of the songs I sing, they have that blue feeling to it. They have that sorry feeling. And I don’t know what I'm sorry about.” CNN

She continued touring until sidelined by illness in 2009. She has been cited as an influence by current British singer Adele. In 2008, Bonnie Raitt told Rolling Stone, “There’s a lot going on [in] Etta James’ voice…A lot of pain, a lot of life, most of all, a lot of strength. She can be so raucous and down one song, and then break your heart with her subtlety and finesse the next. As raw as Etta is, there's a great intelligence and wisdom in her singing.” RS She also said, “Anybody who has a bluesy side to what they do can point to Etta James as the bridge between R&B, blues and pop singing.” UT

As James told Rolling Stone, “Life’s been rough…But life’s been good. If I had to go back and do it all over again, I would live it the exact same way.” RS





Awards:

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