Saturday, January 28, 2012

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

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, 112 BA, 15 DG, 17 RR, 14 AC, 5 A40, 54 RB, 16 UK, 111 CN, 2 AU, 22 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 10.0 US, 2.4 UK, 14.68 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 1267.6 video, 1224.48 streaming


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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Last updated 7/29/2023.

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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Friday, January 27, 2012

Lana Del Rey Born to Die released

Born to Die

Lana Del Rey

Released: January 27, 2012

Peak: 2 US, 12 UK, 3 CN, 11 AU

Sales (in millions): 5.0 US, 1.5 UK, 18.0 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: alternative rock


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

  1. Born to Die (12/30/11, 9 UK, 34 AU)
  2. Off to the Races (1/6/12, --)
  3. Blue Jeans (4/6/12, 32 UK)
  4. Video Games (10/10/11, 91 BB, 15 AA, 9 UK, 72 CN, 23 AU)
  5. Diet Mountain Dew
  6. National Anthem (7/6/12, --)
  7. Dark Paradise (3/1/23, --)
  8. Radio
  9. Carmen (1/26/12, --)
  10. Million Dollar Man
  11. Summertime Sadness (6/22/12, 6 BB, 2 RR, 16 A40, 4 UK, 7 CN, 3 AU)
  12. This is What Makes Us Girls

Total Running Time: 49:28


3.590 out of 5.00 (average of 31 ratings)


(Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

Singer/songwriter Lana Del Rey was born Elizabeth Woolridge Grant in 1985 in New York City. She released her self-titled debut album in 2010 but it got pulled from stores after the label was unable to properly fund it. She then signed with Stranger Records in 2011 and released the song Video Games, which she described as “Hollywood sadcore.” WK After the video went viral it was released as a single and eventually reached the top 10 on the UK charts.

Her major-label debut, Born to Die, followed in 2012. It was her first of six #1 UK albums as of 2023. In the United States, the album reached #2, the first of eight consecutive top-ten albums through 2023. The album became only the second by a woman to spend more than 500 weeks on the Billboard album chart.

Del Rey said most of the album was written about her experiences with alcohol. She was sent to boarding school in Connecticut at age 14 to get sober. She said, “I would drink every day. I would drink alone…A great deal of what I wrote on Born to Die is about these wilderness years…I feel like I’m writing about alcohol because that was the first love of my life.” WK Albumism’s Chris Lacy called it “a realistic portrait of addiction, sexual obsession, abnormality and fear.” WK

Del Rey cited Britney Spears, Elvis Presley, and Antony & the Johnsons as influences. WK’s John Bush called her ”a femme fatale with a smoky voice.” AMG Born to Die has been characterized as “a predominantly baroque pop and trip hop album.” WK The album was praised for its “distinctive sound” WK while also criticized for “repetitiveness and melodramatic tendencies.” WK NME’s Alex Denney said the album “marks the arrival of a fresh – and refreshingly self-aware – sensibility in pop.” WK

Off to the Races is “a freak show of inappropriate co-dependency” that “recalls Sheryl Crow’s ‘down and out drunken loner persona’ in her 1994 single ‘Leaving Las Vegas’.” WK Her vocals on Million Dollar Man were compared to those of “a highly medicated Fiona Apple.” WK’s Bill Lamb said National Anthem has a “rousing yet graceful arrangement that solidifies the song’s point of view as a clever critique of a society that is just as messy as these words.” WK

A dance remix of Summertime Sadness with French DJ Cedric Gervais proved to be the biggest hit from the album. “Lana is cruising down the coast with her bad boy beau by her side, but she is sad” SF because she fears losing him. She penned the song with Rick Nowels, who also has credits on Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven Is a Place on Earth” and Dido’s “White Flag.” SF

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First posted 3/13/2024.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Top 100 R&B Acts of All Time

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

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

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

Today in Music (1912): 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


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


  • 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
  • RCG 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.