Saturday, September 28, 2013

Miley Cyrus “Wrecking Ball” hit #1

Wrecking Ball

Miley Cyrus

Writer(s): Miley Cyrus, Lukasz "Dr. Luke" Gottwald, Maureen McDonald, S. Skarbek, Stephan Moccio, Henry Walter (see lyrics here)

Released: August 25, 2013

First Charted: September 7, 2013

Peak: 13 US, 11 DG, 113 ST, 13 RR, 7 A40, 11 UK, 11 CN, 2 AU, 21 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 7.0 US, 1.2 UK, 10.39 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 1527.36 video, 777.03 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“Wrecking Ball” was the first #1 song for Miley Cyrus, but she was no newbie on the charts. At 22 years old, she’d already landed on the Billboard Hot 100 more than two dozen times, including #2 hits “Party in the U.S.A.” and “We Can’t Stop.” The latter was the lead single from Bangerz, her fourth studio album, but she’d also released five albums as Hannah Montana, her titular character on the Disney show that made her a star in her early teens.

“Wrecking Ball” was the second single from Bangerz. The pop ballad spent three weeks on top. After two weeks, it fell behind Lorde’s “Royals” for nine weeks before regaining the top slot, setting a record for the largest gap between stints at the top within a single chart run. WK Billboard declared it their favorite top 5 single from the past year. WK

Singer/songwriter MoZella (Maureen Anne McDonald) initially wrote the song with Goonrock for Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby movie. SF At another point, it was intended for BeyoncĂ©. WK Lyrically, the song’s theme of “the deterioration of a relationship” WK fit with Cyrus’ own experiences, as she split up with actor Liam Hemsworth soon after the song’s release. SF

It was accompanied by a controversial music video with footage of Cyrus nude, swinging on a wrecking ball. The Guardian’s Michael Hann criticized Cyrus for trying to distance herself from her Hannah Montana image by “exploring the iconography of porn.” WK There were also close-up shots of her tearfully singing, reminiscent of SinĂ©ad O'Connor’s iconic video for “Nothing Compares 2 U.” O’Connor wrote an open letter to Cyrus, warning her not to let the music business “make a prostitute of you.” SF In 2017, Cyrus said, “I’m never living that down. I will always be the naked girl on a wrecking ball.” SF

“Wrecking Ball” won the MTV Video of the Year award. It also won the World Music Award for World’s Best Video.


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First posted 7/27/2023.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Country-rock pioneer Gram Parsons died: September 19, 1973

Originally posted 9/19/11. Updated 9/19/13.

Gram Parsons has been called “the father of country-rock.” STE Writer Radley Balko argues that “Parsons may be the most influential artist yet to be inducted to either the Rock and Roll Country Music Hall(s) of Fame.” WK He was only 26 when he died on September 19, 1973 from an overdose of morphine and alcohol. However, he left behind an immensely influential body of work with his two solo albums as well as work with the International Submarine Band, the Byrds, and the Flying Burrito Brothers.

The circumstances surrounding his death make for one of rock and roll’s more unusual stories. Before launching his tour in support of his second solo album, Grievous Angel, he went to Joshua Tree National Monument in California. The spot was a frequent getaway and he’d even told his tour manager, Phil Kaufman, that when he died he wanted his ashes spread there. The resulting chain of events maded for an unbelievable and comic story; it was even turned into the 2003 movie Grand Theft Parsons starring Johnny Knoxville.

Parsons’ stepfather intended the body to be shipped from Los Angeles International Airport to New Orleans for a private ceremony. With a borrowed hearse, Kaufman and Michael Martin, a former roadie with the Byrds, stole the body from the airport and headed to Joshua Tree. Once there, they poured five gallons of gasoline into Parsons’ coffin and threw a lit match inside. It made for an enormous fireball, but not a successful cremation. Kaufman and his friend were arrested several days later and fined $750 for stealing the coffin, but there was no law against stealing a dead body. They were also not prosecuted for the 35 pounds of charred remains they left behind in their failed effort. WK

Parsons came from a wealthy but troubled family. He was born in 1946 to “Coon Dog” Connor, a World War II flying ace, and Avis, the daughter of John Snivley who owned about one-third of Florida’s citrus fields. STE Both parents were alcoholics. Two days before Christmas in 1958, Coon Dog committed suicide. WK Avis moved in with her parents in Florida and a year later married Robert Parsons. STE Tragedy struck again when, on the same day Gram graduated from high school, his mom died from alcohol poisoning.

Musically, Parsons was smitten with music at 9 years old after seeing Elvis Presley perform at his school. As a teen, he was a member of several bands. In his solitary semester at Harvard, formed the International Submarine Band. They released an album, Safe at Home, in 1968 but the group was already defunct by its release.

Parsons met Chris Hillman, the bassist of the Byrds, and was brought into the group. He only lasted one album – 1968’s Sweetheart of the Rodeo, but it is considered one of the most important in the development of country-rock.

He then formed the Flying Burrito Brothers with Hillman. They released two albums, 1969’s The Gilded Palace of Sin and 1970’s Burrito Deluxe. During this era, Parsons became close friends with Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. He also dove deep into substance abuse.

After a failed attempt in 1971 to record his first solo album, Parsons released G.P. in late-1972. A second album, Grievous Angel, was released after his death.

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Hozier “Take Me to Church” released

Take Me to Church


Writer(s): Andrew Hozier-Byrne (see lyrics here)

Released: September 16, 2013

First Charted: April 12, 2014

Peak: 2 US, 2 RR, 12 AC, 11 A40, 11 AA, 2 MR, 3 UK, 2 CN, 2 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 12.0 US, 3.0 UK, 19.95 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 1610.9 video, 2125.2 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Andrew John Hozier-Byrne was born in Ireland in 1990. The singer/songwriter had his music breakthrough in 2013 with his debut single, “Take Me to Church.” The song was originally released on his debut EP of the same name that year and on his debut album, Hozier, the next year.

He wrote the mid-tempo soul song over three months’ time at his parents’ home in Bray, County Wicklow and recorded a demo in the attic. WK He wrote the song after breaking up with his girlfriend as “both a love song and a contemplation of sin.” SF It was a “metaphor comparing a lover to religion.” SF He said, “You kind of watch yourself die in a wonderful way…everything you believed about yourself gone. In a death-and-rebirth sense.” SF

He also spoke about how sex was viewed by the church, saying “an act of sex is one of the most human things…but an organization like the church, say, through its doctrine, would undermine humanity by successfully teaching shame about sexual orientation.” WK He was raised in the Protestant Quaker faith and was frustrated with what he saw as the domination of the Catholic Church over Ireland’s social and political outlook. WK

A video for the song went viral after its September 2013 release on YouTube, resulting in a bidding war from major labels. He was signed to Columbia Records in the U.S. and Island Records in the UK. The song went on to top the Billboard Hot Rock Songs chart for 23 weeks, tying it with “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons as the chart’s longest-running #1 at the time. WK It became the most-streamed song on Spotify in 2014. WK

“Take Me to Church” was nominated for a Grammy for Song of the Year.


First posted 7/21/2023.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Katy Perry hits #1 with “Roar”


Katy Perry

Writer(s): Katy Perry, Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald, Max Martin, Bonnie McKee, Henry Walter (see lyrics here)

Released: August 10, 2013

First Charted: August 11, 2013

Peak: 12 US, 14 BA, 14 DG, 11 ST, 15 RR, 115 AC, 15 A40, 12 UK, 15 CN, 19 AU, 6 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 10.0 US, 2.4 UK, 16.1 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 0.14 radio, 3254.4 video, 980.24 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

For the lead single for her Prism album, Katy Perry and her songwriting team crafted a message of empowerment, which many saw as a commentary on her failed marriage to Russell Brand. She told BBC Radio 1 “I wrote it because I was sick of keeping all these feelings inside me and not speaking up for myself.” SF Fellow co-writer Bonnie McKee described it as a “pick yourself up and dust yourself off and keep going” song. WK Max Martin, another of the songwriters, talked about seeing a video of the staff from a children’s hospital singing the song. “A song finds its way outside the studio and comes to really mean something to people. It’s not every time that I’m proud of a tune, but I am when it comes to a song like ‘Roar.’” SF

Musically, the song “features elements of arena rock” WK while the lyrics reference Muhammad Ali, Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman,” and the “eye of the tiger” phrase from the 1982 movie Rocky III. The movie’s main character, Rocky Balboa, used the phrase as “a mantra of courage and determination.” SF The movie’s theme song, “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor, topped the U.S. charts for six weeks.

MTV’s James Montgomery called it “one of the more perfect pop songs to come down the pipeline in quite a while.” WK There was controversy over the song’s similarities to Sara Bareilles’ “Brave.” McKee said she’d never heard the song and noted it was written before “Brave” even came out. SF Bareilles said “People got really excited about being angry about something…Katy is an old friend and I had no beef with her.” SF “If I’m not mad, I don’t know why anybody else is upset.” WK

“Roar” hit #1 in 15 countries, SF including the U.S., where it was her eighth #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was only the eleventh song to debut at #1 on the Canadian Hot 100 WK and Australia’s best-selling song of 2013. SF. It was certified for more than ten million sales in the U.S., making her the first act with three songs in that range. WK Perry became the first artist in history to have two videos garner one billion views on Vevo. WK It garnered Peoples’ Choice Awards for Favorite Music Video and Favorite Song. Perry opened her 2015 Super Bowl halftime show with the song and also performed it at the Democratic National Convention in 2016.

The video cast Perry as a kind of Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. The presence of exotic animals earned criticism from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Spokeswoman Merrilee Burke said that just having them on set exposed the animals to unnecessary stress. SF Perry responded with a letter from the American Humane Society affirming “that no animal was harmed in the making of this music video.” WK


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Last updated 7/27/2023.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” spent 12th week at #1

Blurred Lines

Robin Thicke with Pharrell Williams & T.I.

Writer(s): Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams, and Clifford Harris Jr. (see lyrics here)

Released: March 26, 2013

First Charted: April 13, 2013

Peak: 112 US, 111 BA, 110 DG, 110 RR, 7 AC, 16 A40, 116a RB, 15 UK, 113 CN, 18 AU (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 10.0 US, 1.95 UK, 15.60 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 0.43 radio, 886.63 video, 776.05 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Before 2013, Robin Thicke had a respectable amount of success. He wasn’t a household name like his father, actor Alan Thicke, but he’d released five albums, three of which hit the top 10 on the Billboard album chart. He’d released more than a dozen singles, topping the R&B chart twice with “Lost Without U” in 2007 and “Sex Therapy” in 2009. The former was his only appearance on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #14. Guest appearances from chart-topping American singer and producer Pharrell Williams (#1 twice before) and rapper T.I. (three previous #1’s) gave the song clout, but “Blurred Lines” even trumped their previous successes.

The “disco-influenced funk track” BB topped the charts in 14 countries and hit the top 5 in another 14. WK The song’s dozen weeks atop the Hot 100 made it the longest-running #1 of 2013 in the U.S. and of the second decade of the 21st century. In just over six months, it sold 6 million downloads, faster than any other song in digital history. WK The song also set the record for the highest weekly audience with 228.9 million. BB Jackson Howard of The Michigan Daily said it was “one of Pharrell’s best beats in years…by the time the multilayered and carnal harmonies of the chorus come in, the song is completely on fire.” WK Billboard’s Chris Payne called it a “bubbly bit of disco-shuffling R&B.” WK On the flip side, Rolling Stone’s Rob Sheffield called it “the worst song of this or any other year.” WK

The song generated controversy on several fronts. A video featuring topless models was initially removed from YouTube, but later restored, although flagged as inappropriate. Thicke’s manager, Jordan Feldstein, said the video was specifically designed to be controversial in the hopes of getting banned and going viral. WK It did – inspiring countless online parodies. BB Thicke said of the video, “What a pleasure it is to degrade a woman. I’ve never gotten to do that before. I’ve always respected women.” He later said the comments were a bad joke and that the video was tongue-in-cheek. WK He even tried to claim the song was “actually a feminist movement within itself.” SF

In addition, the song’s lyrics were attacked as being misogynistic and promoting date rape. WK Thicke was also sued by the estate of singer Marvin Gaye for the song’s similarities to “Got to Give It Up;” Thicke admitted he wanted to capture the vibe of what he called his favorite song of all time. SF Thicke also generated negative attention when he performed “Lines” as a medley with Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop” at the MTV Video Music Awards. It became the most-tweeted-about even in history with 360,000 tweets per minute. WK


Last updated 8/16/2023.