Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Who: The Good, the Bad…and Their Top 30 Songs

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June 27 marks two significant events in the history of The Who. On the positive side, in 1989 the group performed its classic rock opera Tommy in full for the first time in 17 years. On a sad note, that same date in 2002 marked the death of John Entwistle. The group were set to launch a U.S. tour when the group’s bassist died of a cocaine-induced heart attack.

Despite being down to just Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey, The Who continued as an entity. They released their first studio album in 24 years with 2006’s Endless Wire. In 2010, they performed the Super Bowl halftime show (see my blog entry, Now Presenting the Half Time Show Starring the Theme Songs of CSI). That prompted me to post a top-ten list on the Dave’s Music Database Facebook page.

On August 23, 2011, I expanded it to a top-thirty list in honor of what would have been Keith Moon’s 65th birthday. I have not changed that list, but have simply reposted here on the blog, complete with extra links and videos.

The Who – The Top 30 Songs

My Generation

1. My Generation (1965)
2. Won't Get Fooled Again (1971)
3. Baba O'Riley (1971)
4. Pinball Wizard (1969)
5. I Can See for Miles (1967)

Won’t Get Fooled Again

6. I Can't Explain (1965)
7. Who Are You (1978)
8. Behind Blue Eyes (1971)
9. Magic Bus (1968)
10. Happy Jack (1966)

Baba O’Riley

11. Substitute (1966)
12. Squeeze Box (1975)
13. You Better You Bet (1981)
14. Love Reign O’er Me (1973)
15. We’re Not Gonna Take It/See Me Feel Me (1970)

16. 5:15 (1973)
17. The Kids Are Alright (1966)
18. Pictures of Lily (1967)
19. I’m Free (1969)
20. Join Together (1972)

Pinball Wizard

21. The Seeker (1970)
22. Summertime Blues (1970)
23. Bargain (1971)
24. I’m a Boy (1966)
25. Eminence Front (1972)

I Can See for Miles

26. The Real Me (1973)
27. Long Live Rock (1974)
28. Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere (1965)
29. Athena (1982)
30. Boris the Spider (1966)

I Can’t Explain


Resources and Related Links:

Monday, June 25, 2012

Ella Fitzgerald hit #1 with “A-Tisket, A-Tasket”: June 25, 1938

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“A-Tisket, A-Tasket” began life as an American children’s rhyming game in 1879. Children sang to it while dancing in a circle. One child ran outside the circle and dropped a handkerchief behind another child who then chased whoever had dropped the handkerchief. WK The words “tisket” and “tasket” were likely made up since they don’t appear in any standard dictionaries. WK As stated on the Don’t Stay Up Too Late blog, it wasn’t one of the better nursery rhymes; in fact, it was “a strong contender for Mother Goose’s retarded stepchild.” DS

In 1938, Ella Fitzgerald and Al Feldman adapted it into a song with very little change to the lyrics. “‘She was truckin’ on down the avenue’ is an example of a phrase added by Ella and Al.” TY In a 1973 lecture series at Harvard, Leonard Bernstein said that research showed the song’s melodic motif “is the same all over the world, wherever children tease each other. On every continent, in ever culture, it is one of the few musical universals.” TY

The result was the first million seller TY for the woman who has been called “the greatest jazz singer ever,” DS a claim upheld by a statement in Pop Memories referring to her as “the most honored jazz singer of all time. PM She was picked as the top female vocalist more than 20 times in Down Beat’s annual polls. PM She also came to be known as “The First Lady of Jazz” TY and “The Lady of Swing.” From 1936-38, Ella had charted eight times, but never hit the top 10. This song served as her breakthrough hit and has become a jazz standard. It ranked as the top song of 1938 WHC and was listed in Variety’s ‘Fifty Year Hit Parade’ as one of eight songs for 1938. TY

Ella sang the song in the 1942 Abbott & Costello movie Ride ‘Em Cowboy. It was also included in The Three Stooges’ 1941 comedoy short In the Sweet Pie and Pie, the 1944 film Two Girls and a Sailor, and the 1952 MGM cartoon Magical Maestro. The song was also adapted for television ads for Triscuit. WK

“A-Tisket, A-Tasket” as featured in Ride ‘Em Cowboy


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Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Animals charted with "The House of the Rising Sun": June 24, 1964

This content is taken from the The Top 100 Songs of the Rock Era, 1954-1999, available at as a standard book or ebook!

The Animals concocted an unusual recipe for their breakthrough hit and signature song – a century-old tune about a New Orleans brothel. The song hailed as “the first folk-rock hit” MA and a “classic…of the British Invasion” WK may date back to 18th century American settlers WK as an African-American folk song. SF Folklorist Alan Lomax archived several versions in the ‘30s or it might have been lost forever. WK The song was recorded by Roy Acuff, Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, Frankie Laine, and Bob Dylan, among others. WK

Drummer John Steel says Dylan’s version inspired them. “We followed the same chord sequence and we just made it electric.” HL They also took a cue from Dylan on refining the song’s bawdy lyrics, BR1 changing the perspective of a Southern girl trapped in a whorehouse RS500 to a gambling, boozing man. WK Ironically, Dylan abandoned playing the song live because people assumed he was copying the Animals. WK

Singer Eric Burdon claims to have heard folk singer Johnny Handle cover the song at a club in Newcastle WK although other reports say he heard Josh White’s version at ten years old. BR1 Regardless, Burdon thought it would distinguish the Animals from Chuck Berry, for whom the group was opening at the time. BR1 The song got a positive enough audience response to convince producer Mickie Most to record it. WK

While it is uncertain whether the Rising Sun is real or fictional, WK one account says it is named after Madame Marianne LeSoleil Levant (French for “Rising Sun”) and operated from 1862 to 1874 in New Orleans. WK

Supposedly on the advice that everyone’s names wouldn’t fit, only Alan Price was credited with arranging the traditional song. That meant only he got the songwriting royalties, a source of discontent which eventually split the band. KL

The House of the Rising Sun


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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Cock Roaches and Keith Richards: Some Bands Seem to Last Forever

Originally published in my "Aural Fixation" column on on June 21, 2012. See original post here.

Rolling Stones publicity photo, image from

The Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys, Metallica and other rock groups have been around for decades. What are the keys to their longevity?
In 1986, the Beach Boys had a sturdy discography built on surf-pop gems like “Good Vibrations,” “California Dreamin’,” and “Surfin’ U.S.A.” They were closing in on their 25th anniversary, but with their last top ten hit a decade behind them, they were in danger of becoming an embarrassing nostalgia act. Their last couple singles hadn’t even cracked the top 40. Obviously their days were numbered.

That same year, the Rolling Stones’ Dirty Work album was the most panned of their career. Guitarist Keith Richards was feuding with singer Mick Jagger, who wouldn’t tour to support the new album because he was off doing a solo thing. The band was rumored to be on the verge of breaking up.

Meanwhile, a group named Metallica released their third album, Master of Puppets. It was hailed as a classic of the heavy metal genre, seemingly positioning the band for even bigger and better things. Then a bus crash killed bassist Cliff Burton.

Metallica, the Cliff Burton years; image from

A funny thing happened over the next few years, though. These groups wouldn’t go away. The Beach Boys landed their first #1 song on the Billboard charts in 22 years with 1988’s “Kokomo.” The Rolling Stones patched up their differences and stormed back into the limelight in 1989 with a massive tour in support of the return-to-form album, Steel Wheels. Metallica enlisted a new bassist and landed their first top-ten album with 1988’s …And Justice for All.

Fast forward to 2012 and these bands are still around. To celebrate their golden anniversary, the Beach Boys have launched a major tour, and gifted the world with their first studio album, That’s Why God Made the Radio, in 16 years.

Technically it shouldn’t be called an anniversary since the current lineup of Brian Wilson, Mike Love, David Marks, Al Jardine, and Bruce Johnston never performed together on a public stage prior to the 2012 Grammys. That is nit-picky, though, since all five “boys” have rich histories with the band. Wilson formed the band in 1961 with his brothers Dennis and Carl (who died in 1983 and 1998 respectively) as well as cousin Mike Love and friend Al Jardine. Brian did his last full tour with the band in 1965 at which point Johnston came on board. Marks was an early member who left in 1963 but returned in 1997. Jardine returns to the fold after a 14-year absence.

You have to offer kudos to a band who’s ridden the waves for so many years. Theirs is a remarkably rare feat. Today’s kiddos – and I’m talking about of-the-moment boy bands like One Direction and The Wanted – can learn a few lessons from the old foagies like the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones, Metallica and others if they want to still be kicking in 2062. For the record, I don’t expect either of those groups to last ten years, much less fifty, but if they follow these tips they might just surprise me.

Maintain a core.

Like the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones have endured roster changes over the years, but maintained a basic core for five decades. The audience of less than a hundred on that first historic night witnessed the seemingly indestructible Keith Richards riff on his guitar while Mick Jagger waggled those famous lips. By January 1963, drummer Charlie Watts joined and the trio have anchored the group ever since. The newbie of the group, guitarist Ronnie Wood, signed on in 1975.

A year after Wood joined the Biggest Band in the World, a quartet of Irish lads formed the band which would eventually wrestle that title away from the Stones. Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen Jr. formed U2 and have stayed together ever since. Think of it this way – it has become a rarity for anyone to retire from a job after 36 years of service. Imagine if four guys at the same company collected their gold watches at once.

U2, image from

Take vacations, but let fans know you’re coming back.

Even millionaire musicians are entitled to occasional breaks. There’s no way the Beach Boys or the Stones could keep up the grueling pace of touring and releasing a couple albums a year like they did at the onset. As the decades roll on, the gaps between projects grow wider. The Stones graced us with their last studio effort, A Bigger Bang, in 2005 and the subsequent tour wrapped two years later.

The difference in a long layoff being labeled as a “break” or a “break up” comes down to public perception – and how much dirty laundry the band members air. When the Eagles went on hiatus in 1980, Don Henley famously stated the band would get back together again when Hell froze over. People definitely considered the band kaput, a point which Glenn Frey jokingly referenced on the band’s live 1994 album with the tongue-in-cheek title Hell Freezes Over: “For the record, we never broke up. We just took a fourteen-year vacation.”

the Eagles on the Hell Freezes Over tour, image from

Stay together for the kids.

The relationships amongst band members can resemble the for-better-or-worse nature of a romantic couple. Sturdier bands withstand the rocky times, knowing the kids (or the fans) depend on them. The Stones’ near break-up of ’86 was one of many Jagger and Richards squabbles. They most recently tangled over the latter’s 2010 no-holds-barred autobiography, Life, but never to the point that fans thought it was over. There’s still serious talk of a tour and maybe even an album next year.

Metallica has now thrilled the world for 30+ years by unleashing aggression through thrashing guitars and ear-crunching vocals. However, in 2004 they took the very un-heavy-metal move of releasing a documentary, Some Kind of Monster, which keyed in on their group therapy. Even the toughest of rockers have to talk out their feelings to keep the relationship going.

What else are you gonna do?

Bono stated in a Daily Mail article (“‘Til death do them part: Bono believes unshakable U2 will stay together until they die”, 9 September 2011) that he believed the members were so defined by their band roles that they are otherwise “unemployable.” He continued, saying, “There’s only one way out, in a coffin.”

The dedication to music at all costs has never been captured better than in the 2008 documentary Anvil! The Story of Anvil. The titular Canadian heavy metal band formed in 1978 and seemed on the brink of success in 1984. The movie shows them enduring the humilities of paltry audiences, sleeping in train stations, and scuffling with bar owners who won’t pay them. Their big dream hasn’t happened, but they refuse to quit. Singer Steve “Lips” Kudlow said, “I started out with Rob when I was 14 years old and we said we’re gonna do it ‘til we’re old men. We really meant that.”

Richards says in Life, “There’s something beautifully friendly and elevating about a bunch of guys playing music together…It’s really teamwork, one guy supporting the others, and it’s all for one purpose.”

The Four Tops, image from

The Four Tops made some of the biggest hits during Motown’s 1960s heyday with gems like “Reach Out (I’ll Be There)” and “I Can’t Help Myself”. Until the passing of member Lawrence Payton in 1997, they’d kept the same lineup for 44 years. Years ago, a Eugene Register-Guard article (“The Four Tops come spinning to town”, 2 December 1988) discussed their endurance, citing their bio which read, “They were never greedy, never riddled by egotism or impatience, and never lost sight of what they wanted to do most: sing!”

Share the same sense of ethics and mission.

Since 1974, Rush (who just released Clockwork Angels) have maintained the same lineup of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neal Peart. Their Wikipedia page credits the rock trio’s strong work ethic and commitments to philanthropic causes.

An article at article (“Great Teams: The Extraordinary Unity of U2”, 20 August 2008) asserts that keys to U2’s longevity include their similar values, shared mission, and consensus-oriented decision-making style. The Daily Mail article quoted Bono saying U2 had “a kind of belligerent respect” for each other.

Let tragedy unite you.

The article also acknowledges the role tragedy can have in bringing a group closer together. Bono’s mother died when he was 14; Mullen lost his mom when he was 16. Through their grief, the two became very supportive friends. Later, the band rallied around Clayton to support his battle against drug and alcohol addiction.

image from

Like Metallica, other bands have rallied back from the death of a member. AC/DC may have the most phenomenal story. Brothers Angus and Malcolm Young formed the hard-rock outfit in 1973. Acute alcohol poisoning took the life of lead singer, Bon Scott, in February 1980 and seemingly sank the group’s ship just sailing into international waters. A mere six months later Back in Black, featuring new frontman Brian Johnson, made it clear the group was still afloat. 32 years later, the band is still electrifying audiences the world over and Back has put them firmly in the black: the album’s 49 million in worldwide sales is second all-time only to Michael Jackson’s Thriller (“The World’s Top 100 All-Time Best-Selling Albums”, 20 February 2012).

Hey, you’ve got a legacy to uphold – and bucks to be made.

With the exception of Anvil, the bands spotlighted here haven’t just stuck around for decades, but been hugely successful. It’s hard to keep playing if no one comes to see you. At, Melissa Ruggieri (“The Beach Boys display fine-tuned nostalgia on anniversary tour”, 29 April 2012) sums up the Beach Boys concert trek: “There is one point to a 50th anniversary tour: nostalgia.”

The Rolling Stones, U2, Metallica, Rush, AC/DC, and other bands with thirty or more candles on their birthday cakes, aren’t new to the party. Their days of being hailed as “the next big thing” are long gone. However, these bands have entered another phase of their musical lives: fans want to see these rock and roll legends before they’re gone.

Surely it is more likely that in another quarter century, The Wanted or One Direction will still be around while the Rolling Stones’ rocking years and the Beach Boys days of harmonizing will be long behind them. Then again, there’s a long-standing joke that when the world ends the only thing left will be cock roaches and Keith Richards. Here’s hoping cock roaches know how to appreciate a good guitar solo.

The Harmonicats hit #1 with “Peg O’ My Heart”: June 21, 1947

“Peg O’ My Heart” shares the rare distinction of having hit #1 on the pop charts four different times. Only this song and “Over There” have accomplished the feat. PM However, while “Over There” accomplished its task during 1917 and 1918, “Peg” spread its accomplishment out over 34 years. PM

The song was inspired by a 1912 Broadway comedy called Peg O’ My Heart in which Laurette Taylor portrayed a “spunky Irish girl.” RCG Alfred Bryan and Fred Fisher were inspired to write a song of the same name, dedicating the song to Taylor T and even releasing sheet music featuring her face. RCG The song was featured in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1913 with Jose Collins singing. JA

Charles Harrison “Peg O’ My Heart”

Charles Harrison had the first chart success with the song, taking his version to #1 in 1913. Henry Burr and Walter Van Brunt also recorded top tens of the song in 1913-14. More than 30 years passed before the song resurfaced on the charts. In 1947, Buddy Clark, the Harmonicats, and the Three Suns each topped the charts with their versions – and all three appeared on the year-end top ten. WHC Art Lund, Ted Weems, and Clark Dennis all had top ten hits. PM

However, the most successful was the instrumental version by the Harmonicats, a trend-setting harmonica group led by Turkish-born Jerry Murad. PM The song has also been recorded by Josephine Baker, Peggy Lee, Glenn Miller, Red Nichols, and Andy Williams, but it has become most closely identified with the Harmonicats and the harmonica. RCG

The Harmonicats “Peg O’ My Heart”


Resources and Related Links:
  • DMDB page for “Peg O’ My Heart”
  • The Harmonicats’ DMDB Music Maker Encyclopedia entry
  • JA David A. Jasen. (2002). A Century of American Popular Music: 2000 Best-Loved and Remembered Songs (1899-1999). Routledge: Taylor & Francis, Inc. Page 156.
  • RCG The Old Songs (1900-1929)
  • TY Don Tyler (1985). Hit Parade 1920-1955. New York, NY: Quill. Page 133.
  • PM Joel Whitburn (1986). Pop Memories 1890-1954. Menomonee Falls, WI; Record Research, Inc. Pages 196 and 566.
  • WHC Joel Whitburn (1999). A Century of Pop Music. Menomonee Falls, WI; Record Research, Inc. Page 66.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Rock of Ages might make you throw up…in your pants.

image from

I was a big fan of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, an improv show which originally aired on British television from 1988-98 and then got an American face list and ran from 1998-2006. One of the games was built around the actors being given a movie scene to act out. The gimmick, and much of the humor, grew out of the “director” constantly interrupting the scene to tell the actors to perform in a different style.

Alan Shankman, the director of Rock of Ages, thought it would be fun to direct an entire movie that way. Each actor was given different instructions about how to perform in the film. The two leads, Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta, were asked to play their roles like they were in a made-for-tweens Disney television show. While it made them into eye-rolling caricatures, at least their performances matched the script’s completely clichéd story. Small-town girl heads to Hollywood with a solitary suitcase and dreams of stardom. She barely steps off the bus when she’s mugged, rescued by a cute boy, and is offered a job as a waitress at a bar. The wide-eyed pair immediately become a couple, only to be torn apart by a misunderstanding worthy of every lame sitcom plot twist ever written. I won’t tell you the ending – not because I’m worried about spoilers, but because you know how this wraps up already.

Rock of Ages trailer

Telling such a story could be funny if done with a campy, wink-wink, nod-nod approach. This apparently was how Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand were told to play it. I don’t need to hear them singing again any time soon, but they get the only laugh-out-loud moment in the movie when they duet on an REO Speedwagon song.

Speaking of singing, there are major problems, which really isn’t a good omen for a musical. Julianne and Diego are at least consistent in that they sing the same way they act. They seem unaware that the songs they’re belting out are rock songs, not Broadway show tunes as interpreted by the cast of Glee (which Shankman has directed, by the way).

This brings us to Tom Cruise. Some are touting his performance as rock star Stacee Jaxx as Oscar-worthy. His is definitely the most interesting role in the movie, even when he distracts with the over-the-top intensity he brings to everything he does. He gets a scene with a Rolling Stone reporter where you glimpse the pain and loneliness of a celebrity with the status of, oh, I don’t know – Tom Cruise? It’s the kind of moment you wish a whole movie were built around. Then he breaks into Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive” and the magic is over.

Cruise’s performance is actually the most maddening. Don’t believe the hype about him having a backup career as a rocker if the acting thing doesn’t work out. It was very considerate of Poison’s Bret Michaels to let Cruise raid his 1980s wardrobe. Cruise also has the whip-an-audience-into-a-frenzy stage moves down. That doesn’t means Cruise can approximate the vocal growl of the era’s hair bands and arena rockers. Considering how widely panned many of those singers were, it doesn’t bode well for soundtrack sales to have an album loaded with second-rate versions of those songs. I mean, has anyone ever said, “Oh, sure, Guns N’ Roses’ ‘Paradise City’ was good, but wouldn’t it be better if we let the star from Top Gun sing it?”

I’m not being completely fair. We do get Mary J. Blige’s pipes in the movie. Unfortunately, her trademark “no one can sing like Aretha, except maybe me” style simply embarrasses everyone else. If only she sang every line of her performance as the streetwise nightclub owner with a heart of gold. She definitely doesn’t need to become a singer with a “hyphenated” career.

Speaking of hyphens, Catherine Zeta-Jones is one of those lucky people who gets terms like “Oscar-winning” and “Tony-award winner” tacked on to her name. She won’t be adding any new trophies to her collection this time around. She plays a politician’s wife bent on cleaning up the Hollywood Strip. It’s the least interesting character in the show – and she’s got plenty of competition.

The movie was summed up for me with a medley of her leading her religious flock in singing “We’re Not Gonna Take It” while Brand rallies the troops for “We Built This City.” Blender magazine called the latter the worst song of all time. When cameos from Sebastian Bach (of the long-disappeared Skid Row), a white-haired Kevin Cronin (who still helms REO Speedwagon), and Debbie Gibson rate as one of a movie’s highlights, the movie has serious problems.

One of Baldwin’s lines in the movie roughly sums it up: “I just threw up…In my pants…Through my ass.”

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Paul McCartney was born: June 18, 1942 / His Top 70 Songs

image from

Happy birthday, Paul McCartney! In honor of the Beatle’s 70th birthday, the DMDB presents its list of his best songs solo, with Wings (W) and with The Beatles (B). For the latter, songs which featured Paul as the primary writer or singer were included as were those which jointly tapped his efforts along with another Beatle. Songs which make the DMDB’s top 1000 of all time list (DMDB 1000) or hit #1 in the U.S. (#1 U.S.) are noted.

The rankings are determined by aggregating multiple best-of lists and factoring in songs’ sales, chart stats, and appearances on compilations.

Paul McCartney’s Top 70 Songs

1. Hey Jude (1968) B DMDB 1000 #1 U.S. #1 UK
2. Yesterday (1965) B DMDB 1000 #1 U.S.
3. I Want to Hold Your Hand (1963) B DMDB 1000 #1 U.S. #1 UK
4. Let It Be (1970) B DMDB 1000 #1 U.S.
5. She Loves You (1963) B DMDB 1000 #1 U.S. #1 UK
6. A Day in the Life (1967) B DMDB 1000
7. Band on the Run (1973) W DMDB 1000 #1 U.S.
8. Penny Lane (1967) B DMDB 1000 #1 U.S.
9. Maybe I’m Amazed (live, 1977) W
10. Ebony and Ivory (with Stevie Wonder, 1982) DMDB 1000 #1 U.S. #1 UK
11. Get Back (1969) B DMDB 1000 #1 U.S. #1 UK
12. Eleanor Rigby (1966) B DMDB 1000 #1 UK
13. Silly Love Songs (1976) W #1 U.S.
14. Say, Say, Say (with Michael Jackson, 1983) DMDB 1000 #1 U.S.
15. My Love (1973) W #1 U.S.
16. Live and Let Die (1973) W
17. Can’t Buy Me Love (1964) B DMDB 1000 #1 U.S. #1 UK
18. Coming Up (live, 1980) W #1 U.S.
19. Jet (1973) W
20. Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey (with Linda McCartney, 1971) #1 U.S.
21. Paperback Writer (1966) B #1 U.S. #1 UK
22. Day Tripper (1965) B DMDB 1000 #1 UK
23. We Can Work It Out (1965) B #1 U.S. #1 UK
24. Mull of Kintyre (1977) W #1 UK
25. I Saw Her Standing There (1963) B
26. Hello Goodbye (1967) B #1 U.S. #1 UK
27. Lady Madonna (1968) B
28. Junior’s Farm (1974) W
29. Love Me Do (1962) B #1 U.S.
30. No More Lonely Nights (1984)
31. The Long and Winding Road (1970) B #1 U.S.
32. The Girl Is Mine (with Michael Jackson, 1982)
33. With a Little Luck (1978) W #1 U.S.
34. Another Day (1971)
35. And I Love Her (1964) B

36. Let ‘Em In (1976) W
37. Listen to What the Man Said (1975) W #1 U.S.
38. Michelle (1965) B
39. Got to Get You into My Life (1966) B
40. Helen Wheels (1973) W
41. Blackbird (1968) B
42. Eight Days a Week (1964) B #1 U.S.
43. Venus and Mars Rock Show (1975) W
44. Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five (1974) W
45. Take It Away (1982)
46. Let Me Roll It (1973) W
47. My Brave Face (1989)
48. Hi, Hi, Hi (1972) W 49. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) B
50. Goodnight Tonight (1979) W
51. Helter Skelter (1968) B
52. All My Loving (1963) B
53. The World Tonight (1997)
54. Back in the U.S.S.R. (1968) B
55. Here, There and Everywhere (1966) B
56. Girls’ School (1977) W
57. From Me to You (1963) B #1 UK
58. Here Today (1982)
59. Spies Like Us (1985)
60. Wanderlust (1982)
61. Wonderful Christmas Time (1979)
62. Every Night (1970)
63. So Bad (1983)
64. Pipes of Peace (1983) #1 UK
65. Hope of Deliverance (1983)
66. Beware My Love (1976) W
67. Dance Tonight (2007)
68. C Moon (1972) W
69. This One (1989)
70. Tug of War (1982)


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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Gotye spends 8th week at #1 with “Somebody That I Used to Know”

Updated 11/30/2018.

image from

Somebody That I Used to Know

Gotye with Kimbra

Writer(s): Wally de Backer (see lyrics here)

Released: 7/5/2011

First Charted: 8/15/2011

Peak: 18 US, 119 AC, 113 AA, 112 MR, 15 UK, 16 CN, 18 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales *: 8.0 US, 1.8 UK, 13.0 world (includes US + UK)

Radio Airplay *: --

Video Airplay *: 1137.47

Streaming *: 200.0

* in millions


In 2012, Gotye exploded on the music scene with his multi-format #1 smash, “Somebody That I Used to Know.” However, the Belgian-Australian singer and multi-instrumentalist born Wouter (“Wally”) De Backer wasn’t a complete newbie. He’d been releasing albums for ten years as both a solo artist and as a member of the rock trio The Basics. Originally released in July 2011, “Somebody” didn’t take hold in the U.S. until six months later. In April 2012, it topped the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States; it hit #1 in 25 other countries as well, WK selling more than 10 million copies worldwide along the way. WK

Gotye wrote the mid-tempo, indie-pop ballad about his experiences with relationships. As he said, the song deals with “the memory of those different relationships and what they were and how they broke up and what’s going on in everyone’s minds.” WK Allmusic’s Jon O’Brien described it as “an oddball break-up song whose stuttering rhythms, reggae hooks, and hushed vocals sound like The Police as remixed by the XX.” AMG

It samples the 1967 instrumental “Seville” by Brazilian jazz guitarist Luiz Bonfá. He used New Zealand singer Kimbra for the female vocal on the song after a higher profile singer dropped out. The video, which has nabbed well north of 300 million views, showed a naked Gotye and Kimbra slowly being covered in a paint pattern thanks to stop motion animation. It was an MTV Video of the Year nominee. In a true sign of the video’s viral quality, it has been covered by Walk Off the Earth, featuring all five group members playing the song on one guitar. It has received 143 million hits.’s Bill Lamb said of the song, “Pop perfection does not come along often, but Gotye’s ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’ is flawless.” WK Click Music’s Martin Davies said it is “that rare example of a track that hits you squarely between the eyes.” WK

Resources and Related Links:

Note: Footnotes (raised letter codes) refer to sources frequently cited on the blog. Numbers following the letter code indicate page numbers. If the raised letter code is a link, it will go directly to the correct page instead of the home page of a website. You can find the sources and corresponding footnotes on the “Lists” page in the “Song Resources” section.