Saturday, November 29, 2014

Taylor Swift dethrones herself at #1 with “Blank Space”

Blank Space

Taylor Swift

Writer(s): Taylor Swift, Max Martin, Shellback (see lyrics here)


Released: November 10, 2014


First Charted: November 2, 2014


Peak: 17 US, 16 BA, 17 DG, 17 ST, 15 RR, 14 AC, 16 A40, 4 UK, 16 CN, 13 AU, 11 DF (Click for codes to charts.)


Sales (in millions): 8.0 US, 1.63 UK, 11.68 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 3301.3 video, 1336.73 streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“Blank Space” was the second single from Taylor Swift’s fifth studio album 1989. It followed previous single, “Shake It Off,” to the top of the Billboard Hot 100. In fact, Swift knocked herself out of the top spot, becoming the first woman in the history of the chart to do so. WK So far, it has been her longest reign at #1.

The “electropop song” was compared by some critics to the work of Lorde (“Royals”). WK Lyrically, it “satirizes the media’s perception of Swift and her relationships.” WK She is portrayed as “an overly attached maneater who dates for songwriting material.” WK She sings that she’s “got a long list of ex-lovers, they’ll tell you I’m insane” and that she has “a blank space, baby, and I’ll write your name.” Swift wrote the song with Max Martin and Shellback, who also produced.

PopMatters called the song “likely the best of Swift’s career.” WK The New York Times said “This is Ms. Swift at her peak.” WK The song was nominated for Gramys for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Pop Solo Performance. She also took home an iHeart Radio Music Award for Best Lyrics for the song. SF

For the video, Swift wanted to continue with the jokes about how she included her ex-boyfriends in her songs. Joseph Kahn, who’d done Eminem’s “Without Me” and Katy Perry’s “Waking Up in Vegas,” was tapped to direct the video. Swift is depicted as “an unhinged lovelorn woman who lives alone in a giant mansion.” SF In July 2015, the video became the fourth to reach one billion views on Vevo. WK It won the MTV awards for Best Pop Video and Best Female Video. WK


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Last updated 7/25/2023.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Nov. 21, 1964: B.B. King recorded his Live at the Regal album

Originally posted September 16, 2011. Last updated September 7, 2018.

Live at the Regal

B.B. King

Recorded: Nov. 21, 1964


Released: 1965


Charted: Sept. 25, 1971


Sales (in millions):
US: --
UK: --
IFPI: --
World (estimated): --


Peak:
US: 56
UK: --
Canada: --
Australia: --

Quotable: “An absolutely necessary acquisition for fans of B.B. King or blues music in general.” – Daniel Gioffre, All Music Guide


Genre: blues


Album Tracks:

  1. Every Day I Have the Blues (1/29/55, #8 RB)
  2. Sweet Little Angel
  3. It’s My Own Fault
  4. How Blue Can You Get? (3/28/64, #97 RB)
  5. Please Love Me (6/27/53, #1 RB)
  6. You Upset Me Baby (11/6/54, #1 RB)
  7. Worry, Worry
  8. Woke Up This Morning (My Baby’s Gone) (3/14/53, #3 RB)
  9. You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now
  10. Help the Poor (6/27/64, #90 US, #36 RB)

Singles/Hit Songs:

Click here for the chart codes for singles/hit songs. Note: chart data is for original studio releases.

Review:

B.B. “King, who has been called ‘The King of the Blues’ and the ‘best blues artist of his generation,’ has been a primary influence on a number of artists, including Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton and Mike Bloomfield.” NRR “King is not only a timeless singer and guitarist, he’s also a natural-born entertainer, and on Live at the Regal the listener is treated to an exhibition of all three of his talents. Over percolating horn hits and rolling shuffles, King treats an enthusiastic audience (at some points, they shriek after he delivers each line) to a collection of some of his greatest hits.” DG

The album was significant in King’s career because it graduated him from a largely black following to a much larger white audience. ABC-Paramount had signed King in 1961 in the hopes of emulating the crossover success of label-mate Ray Charles. Having struck out so far, they returned to basics and let King do what he did best – play live. Studio albums bounced back and forth between showcasing King’s vocals and guitars. A live performance let him excel at both simultaneously while also allowing King to prove himself the consummate performer.

This album was recorded “at the Regal Theater in Chicago in 1964” NRR “in front of a few hundred lucky fans” SM and “is considered by many to be one of the definitive blues albums.” SM It was “one of the first of an in-concert blues performance.” NRR It “documents King’s intimate relationship with his audience” NRR as he puts “on a stunning performance by which all others would soon be judged.” SM

“The recording showcases King’s inventive and emotional guitar style, which blends Delta blues with a rhythm and blues beat, spiking the combination with his ‘sliding note’ style.” NRR The style “has been copied by just about every guitarist around.” SM

“Things get off to a lively start with the classic Every Day I Have the Blues, and they don’t let up till the CD’s over. The guitar work is superb (yet never overdone) throughout the disc, and B.B.’s unique storytelling abilities are unmatched.” SM

“The backing band is razor-sharp, picking up the leader’s cues with almost telepathic accuracy. King’s voice is rarely in this fine of form, shifting effortlessly between his falsetto and his regular range, hitting the microphone hard for gritty emphasis and backing off in moments of almost intimate tenderness.” DG This is clear by the second number, when…he immediately slows things down with Sweet Little Angel, “climaxing when King unleashes his guitar, the legendary Lucille, into an inspired less-is-more solo.” GW

A similar highlight is “at the climax of How Blue Can You Get, where the Chicago venue threatens to explode at King’s prompting. Of course, the master’s guitar is all over this record, and his playing here is among the best in his long career. Displaying a jazz sensibility, King’s lines are sophisticated without losing their grit.” DG

“Most of the songs here are fairly short, so King doesn’t get to stretch out much. Worry Worry is an exception though. Largely an instrumental (at least in the first half), B.B. really cuts loose on this one.” SM

“More than anything else, Live at the Regal is a textbook example of how to set up a live performance. Talking to the crowd, setting up the tunes with a vignette, King is the consummate entertainer. Live at the Regal is an absolutely necessary acquisition for fans of B.B. King or blues music in general. A high point, perhaps even the high point, for uptown blues.” DG


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Awards:


Related DMDB Link(s):


Monday, November 17, 2014

On This Day (1914): “The Memphis Blues” charted for the first time

The Memphis Blues

Charles Adams Prince’s Orchestra

Writer(s): W.C. Handy (music), George A. Norton (words) (see lyrics here)


Recorded: July 24, 1914


Released: October 1914


First Charted: November 7, 1914


Peak: 4 PM, 17 GA (Click for codes to charts.)


Sales (in millions): --


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

Awards (W.C. Handy):

Click on award for more details.


Awards (Prince’s Orchestra):


Awards (Victor Military Band):


About the Song:

W.C. Handy’s ‘The Memphis Blues” was one of the first blues songs ever published and “the first to make a significant impact on the music industry.” SS Handy originally wrote the piece as “Mr. Crump” as a means of campaigining for Edward Crump in his bid for mayor of Memphis in 1909. He became the head of one of the most dominant political machines in the nation, ruling Memphis until he died in 1954. SS

The song may have derived from “Mama Don’t Allow No Easy Talking Here” by Willie Perry and Susie Johnson, a Memphis-based husband-and-wife black vaudeville comedy team. SS Their publishing company threatened to prosecute anyone using their songs, a warning that may have been directed at Handy. However, no action was taken even though Johnson insisted years later that the song was stolen from her. SS

Handy published an instrumental version of the song on September 28, 1912. He self-published it again with lyrics by the end of the year. He eventually sold the rights for $50 to New York music publisher TY2 Thomas C. Bennett and George A. Norton gave it new lyrics. George “Honey Boy” Evans, a white minstrel entertainer, then started performing the song around the country and it eventually became a hit. SS Because he’d sold the rights, Handy wouldn’t see any roylaties from the song until the copyright expierned 28 years later and reverted back to him. Handy has since been christened with the moniker “The Father of the Blues.” SS

The chart version by Charles Adams Prince’s Orchestra reached #4 in 1914. He was born in San Francisco in 1869 and traveled with circuses and minstrel shows for several years before beginning a recording career and becoming the musical director of Columbia Records from the turn of the century through the early 1920s. PM He had 82 chart entries from 1905 to 1923, including three chart toppers.

Music historian Steve Sullivan says Prince’s rendition is “a very straightforward instrumental arrangement in the carefully structured style of the time, without any improvisation, but with the luxury of a fairly extended playing time (close to four minutes), it conveys the song’s beauty and distinctiveness.” SS

Prince made his recording nine days after the first recorded version by the Victor Military Band (#9 PM, 1914), but Prince’s version showed up on the charts first and has been deemed “the first hit recording of a blues song.” PM Other chart versions followed by Arthur Collins & Byron Harlan (#8 PM, 1915), Ted Lewis (#9 PM, 1927), and Harry James (#15 PM, 1944). “The Memphis Blues” has also been featured in the movie musicals Belle of the Nineties (1934) and The Birth of the Blues (1941).


Resources:


First posted 9/6/2023.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

“All About That Bass” logs 8th week at #1, gives Epic Records biggest hit

All About That Bass

Meghan Trainor

Writer(s): Meghan Trainor, Kevin Kadish (see lyrics here)


Released: June 30, 2014


First Charted: July 13, 2014


Peak: 18 US, 13 BA, 18 DG, 110 ST, 13 RR, 7 AC, 2 A40, 14 UK, 18 CN, 14 AU, 9 DF (Click for codes to charts.)


Sales (in millions): 10.0 US, 1.38 UK, 14.34 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 2694.03 video, 746.98 streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Trainor was signed to a songwriting deal with the publisher Big Yellow Dog right out of high school. She was paired with Kevin Kadish, a producer who’d worked with Jason Mraz and Stacie Orrico. Kadish had the title “All About That Bass” written in his idea notebook, always envisioning it not as a song about “the low end of the audio spectrum” but about booty. He’d pictured a male hip-hop artist singing it, but Trainor, who often used the phrase “I’m all about that…,” loved it. SF They wrote the song in 40 minutes. WK

As she said, “It’s pretty clear I ain’t no size two.” SF She made it into a message about “confidence and positive body image.” SF Trainor said she struggled in high school with self image, WK although her “beautiful, popular, skinny friends had trouble finding a good dude” while she never had a problem. SF She told Entertainment Weekly she figured they’d never make any money off the song, but that she was fine with that. SF

Trainor and Kadish gave “Bass” a retro feel with, appropriately, an acoustic upright bass as well as backing vocals and a musical backdrop which harkened back to the sound of sixties girl groups. SF Still, while Trainor’s voice sounded like a single from 1963, she gave it a modern touch with lyrics not suited to that era and in a rap vein. SF When Kadish and Trainor shopped the song, labels suggested changes, such as adding synthesizer or AutoTune, to modernize it. WK However, when Epic Records’ chairman L.A. Reid heard the song, he signed her. Other than some mastering, he resisted the urge to tweak or remix, opting to leave the song intact and release it as her debut single. SF

It was one of several popular songs in 2014 (others being Colbie Caillat’s “Try” and John Legend’s “You & I”) to celebrate women’s natural beauty, possibly a reaction to the perceived misogynistic nature of lyrics on songs like Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines.” SF The Guardian’s Caroline Sullivan said the song had the “aura of a hard-won victory against self-doubt” WK and Yahoo! writer Paul Grein called it “one of the biggest and best ‘message songs of recent times.” WK The song topped the charts in 21 countries and was nominated for Grammys for Record and Song of the Year. WK It was the first single to enter the UK Top 40 based purely on streams. SF It became the only debut single in the history of the Billboard Hot 100 to spend 15 weeks in the top two and, with eight weeks at #1 in the U.S., became the biggest hit in the history of Epic Records. SF


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Last updated 8/15/2023.