Sunday, February 9, 2014

Fifty Years Ago Today: The Beatles performed on The Ed Sullivan Show: February 9, 1964

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In what became one of the most important moments in rock history, The Beatles performed on The Ed Sullivan Show for the first time on February 9, 1964. A record-setting 73 million people and 45% of television households tuned in for the Fab Four’s first U.S. televised live performance. ES

The group had been hyped for weeks prior to their arrival. “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, one of the songs they performed that night, had already sold a million copies ES and was the #1 song in the country. The group also performed “All My Loving”, “Till There Was You”, “She Loves You”, and “I Saw Her Standing There”.

The Beatles became a sensation in their native England nearly a year before with the release of their debut album, 1963’s Please Please Me. The story goes that Ed Sullivan learned about the Beatles when arriving at London’s Heathrow airport with his wife on Halloween that year. Sullivan was curious why thousands of youngers were there. It turned out the Beatles were returning home from a tour in Sweden. It has been reported that once in his hotel room, Sullivan looked into booking the group for his show, ES a notion which Sullivan himself has purported. BA

The more accurate story would seem to be that the incident peaked Sullivan’s curiosity, but that it wasn’t until later that he actually followed through. Peter Prichard, a London theatrical agent who was employed by Sullivan and good friend’s with Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein, recommended Sullivan book The Beatles. While interested, Sullivan still wanted an angle to promote the group. Prichard said the group were the first “long haired boys” invited to appear before the Queen of England and Sullivan was convinced. BA Epstein then secured a deal for the Beatles to perform on three shows in 1964. Sullivan agreed to pay them $10,000 and cover transporation and lodging. When they arrived in New York at Kennedy Airport on February 7, 1964, three thousand fans greeted them. Beatlemania had reached a feverish pitch.

The February 24, 1964, issue of Newsweek panned the performance, saying “Musically, they are a near-disaster: guitars and drums slamming out a merciless beat that does away with secondary rhythms, harmony, and melody. Their lyrics (punctuated by nutty shouts of ‘yeah, yeah, yeah!’) are a catastrophe…the odds are they will fade away, as most adults confidently predict.” ES

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Saturday, February 8, 2014

Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” hit #1

Last updated 2/6/2021.

Dark Horse

Katy Perry with Juicy J

Writer(s): Katy Perry, Jordan Houston, Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald, Sarah Hudson, Max Martin, Henry Walter (see lyrics here)

Released: December 17, 2013

First Charted: September 28, 2013

Peak: 14 US, 15 RR, 6 AC, 2 A40, 12 RB, 4 UK, 12 CN, 5 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 10.3 US, 0.6 UK, 13.2 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 2924.0 video, 200.0 streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

“Dark Horse” was the third official single from Perry’s fourth studio album, Prism. It was a #1 hit in the U.S., Canada, and the Netherlands and went to the top ten in nearly 20 countries. Perry worked with Dr. Luke and Max Martin on the track, who’d previously collaborated with her on #1 hits “I Kissed a Girl,” “California Gurls,” “Teenage Dream,” and “Roar.” Dr. Luke put Perry in touch with Memphis rapper Juicy J, whose Stay Trippy album was executive-produced by Dr. Luke. SF

Perry said of the song that she wanted it to have a “witchy…kind of black magic-y idea.” WK Inspired by the 1996 movie The Craft, she wrote it from the perspective of a witch warning a man not to fall in love with her, lest it be his last time. WK Musically, the song has been described as “a Southern rap-techno mashup, combining trap and hip hop” WK along with, according to MSN Entertainment’s Kathy Iandoli, elements fro “trippy pop, EDM, and dubstep.” WK

A Winnipeg Free Press writer described it as a “brooding, borderline sleazy trap-pop excurscion” that is “unexpected, unconventional, and unstoppable.” WK Spin magazine’s Marc Hogan called the lyrics a “cliché salad” but said the “soaring hooks” and “sleekly sculpted production” were likely to make it a hit. WK Blogcritics’ Dylan Mial said Perry’s vocals and Juicy J’s rap made for “a perfect musical storm.” WK

The video was directed by Matthew Cullen, who’d also worked with Perry on “California Gurls.” The video depicted Perry as a mystic queen in ancient Egypt. It evoked criticism from the Muslim community for depicting Perry killing a male subject wearing a pendant with the word “Allah.” It was digitially removed from the video after a petition was signed by more than 65,000 people. SF Another petition signed by more than 60,000 people protested the use of blasphemy by promoting witchcraft, paganism, and black magic. SF

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Monday, February 3, 2014

Marion Harris released “The Man I Love” on this day in 1928

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Marion Harris “The Man I Love”

Writer(s): George Gershwin/ Ira Gershwin (see lyrics here)

Released: 2/3/1928, First charted: 3/10/1928

Peak: 4 US (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Radio Airplay (in millions): -- Video Airplay (in millions): --

Review: In 1964, Wilfrid Mellers wrote in Music in a New Found Land that “The Man I Love” could “stake a claim to being the most moving pop song in our time SS-25 In 1950, Sigmund Spaeth wrote in the New York Times that it was “the best popular song ever written.” SS-25

The Gershwin brothers wrote the song in the spring of 1924 SS-25 following George’s masterful “Rhapsody in Blue.” Deena Rosenberg noted that George used motifs in “Rhapsody in Blue” – including its conclusion – to craft the chorus melody for “The Man I Love,” which meant that the latter “almost literally picks up where the ‘Rhapsody’ leaves off.” SS-25

Originally intended for the Broadway show Lady, Be Good! starring Fred and Adele Astaire, it was dropped JA-128 when she couldn’t match the emotional demand of the song. SS-25 The song was then slated for Strike Up the Band which never made it to New York, and then got bumped from the musical Rosalie SS-25 before finally finding success on Tin Pan Alley. RCG George speculated that the song didn’t catch on because it was difficult to whistle or hum. RCG Eventually, though, it became one of the brothers’ most-recorded ballads. RCG

Eva Gauthier gave the first public performance of the song at one of her concerts and it slowly gained in popularity when publisher Max Deyfus liked the song enough to publish it despite not being featured in a Broadway musical. RCG Helen Morgan then featured it in her nightclub act RCG and Marion Harris had a top 5 hit with it in 1928. Three more versions charted that year – Sophie Tucker (#11), Paul Whiteman (#15), and Fred Rich (#19). In 1937, Benny Goodman charted with a top 20 version of the song. PM-546 The song was featured in at least ten films RCG including the Gershwin biopic Rhapsody in Blue (1945), the Billie Holiday biopic Lady Sings the Blues (1972), JA-128 and New York, New York (1977). RCG

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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.


Saturday, February 1, 2014

50 years ago: The Beatles hit #1 in the U.S. with “I Want to Hold Your Hand”

I Want to Hold Your Hand

The Beatles

Writer(s): John Lennon/Paul McCartney (see lyrics here)

Released: November 29, 1963

First Charted: December 5, 1963

Peak: 17 US, 18 CB, 19 HR, 15 UK, 16 CN, 17 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 4.0 US, 1.86 UK, 12.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 3.0 radio, 67.9 video, 233.71 streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

Beatlemania exploded in the UK in 1963. “From Me to You” hit #1 in May, followed by “She Loves You” in September and “I Want to Hold Your Hand” in December. Manager Brian Epstein couldn’t get Capitol Records (EMI’s American company) interested because, as one label executive said, “We don’t think the Beatles will do anything in this market.” BR He couldn’t have been more wrong.

“I Want to Hold Your Hand” ended up launching the group in the United States. Paul McCartney remembers the group telling Epstein, “We’re not going to America till we’ve got a #1 record.” RS500 They kept their promise. When the Beatles touched down in New York for their first U.S. visit, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” was the number one song in the U.S. BB100 On February 9, 1964, the Beatles performed for an estimated 73 million people on The Ed Sullivan Show.

It went on to become the biggest hit of the year WHC and the Beatles’ first of twenty #1’s on the Billboard Hot 100, a still untouched record. BB100 It was also the opening shot for the British Invasion. AMG Previously, only two British artists had topped the U.S. charts – Acker Bilk with “Stranger on the Shore” and the Tornados with “Telstar.” LW However, during 1964 and 1965, the Brits occupied a whopping 52 weeks at the American chart pinnacle. LW

The tame sexuality of the title phrase was mocked by some critics AMG but “the lyrics are typical of the period – all euphemism and innuendo.” CR The Beatles had more on their minds than hand holding. KL Their goal was to “make maximum impact rather than last as a transcendent song,” LW However, they achieved the latter nonetheless with “one of the most important songs in rock history.” AMG

Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for The Beatles
  • AMG All Music Guide
  • BB100 Billboard (9/08). “All-Time Hot 100
  • BR Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 143.
  • CR Toby Creswell (2005). 1001 Songs: The Great Songs of All Time. Thunder’s Mouth Press: New York, NY. Pages 857-8.
  • JA David A. Jasen (2002). A Century of American Popular Music: 2000 Best-Loved and Remembered Songs (1899-1999). Routledge: Taylor & Francis, Inc. Page 89.
  • KL Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh (2005). 1000 UK Number One Hits: The Stories Behind Every Number One Single Since 1952. London, Great Britain: Omnibus Press. Page 96.
  • LW Alan Lewens (2001). Popular Song – Soundtrack of the Century. Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 121.
  • RS500 Rolling Stone (12/04). “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time
  • WHC Joel Whitburn (1999). A Century of Pop Music. Menomonee Falls, WI; Record Research, Inc. Page 89.

First posted 4/15/2019; last updated 4/13/2021.