Wednesday, November 23, 2016

70 years ago: Nat “King” Cole charted with “The Christmas Song”

The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)

Nat “King” Cole

Writer(s): Mel Tormé/Robert Wells (see lyrics here)

First Charted: November 23, 1946

Peak: 3 US, 10 HP, 16 AC, 3 RB, 45 HR, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 41.2 video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Two-time Grammy winner Mel Tormé had a career spanning more than 50 years. His smooth, crooning style earned him the nickname “The Velvet Fog.” When he wrote “The Christmas Song,” however, he was at the beginning of his career. He was 19 and his friend Robert Wells was 22 when they wrote what BMI says is the most-performed Christmas song of all time. SB According to Tormé, they penned the song in the heart of summer, trying to “stay cool by thinking cool.” SB

Tormé and Nat “King” Cole were both managed by Carlos Gastel. Tormé and Wells presented the song to Cole, who was used to recording with the King Cole Trio, which he’d established in 1937. Cole served as pianist alongside guitarist Oscar Moore and bassist Wesley Prince. Gastel and the executives at Capitol Records insisted Cole should record with strings and a studio orchestra – and suggested Cole stand and sing instead of taking up his usual position behind the keyboard. SS

Despite the objections of Capitol Records, Cole made two recordings – the first with the Trio in June 1946 and the second, in August, WK with a small section of strings. It was the latter which became the seasonal classic, peaking at #3, but returning every season. In 1953, Cole recorded the song again with the same arrangement, but this time with a full orchestra arranged and conducted by Nelson Riddle. JA He recorded it again in 1961 with an orchestra conducted by Ralph Carmichael. SB

“The Christmas Song” ranks as the fifth most-recorded song of the rock era. SS Other artists who recorded the song include Christina Aguilera, Julie Andrews, Tony Bennett, Justin Bieber, Michael Bolton, Garth Brooks, James Brown, Chicago, Natalie Cole, Bing Crosby, Doris Day, John Denver, Celine Dion, Bob Dylan, Gloria Estefan, Aretha Franklin, Judy Garland, Whitney Houston, Etta James, Peggy Lee, Demi Lovato, Barry Manilow, Paul McCartney, The Miracles, New Kids on the Block, Kenny Rogers, Linda Ronstadt, Frank Sinatra, Rod Stewart, Barbra Streisand, The Supremes, James Taylor, The Temptations, Luther Vandross, and Stevie Wonder. WK Cole’s version was one of the first eight inductees into the Grammy Hall of Fame.


  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Nat “King” Cole
  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Mel Torme
  • 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.
  • SB
  • SS Steve Sullivan (2013). Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings (Volumes I & II). Scarecrow Press: Lanham, Maryland. Page 66.

Last updated 8/19/2022.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

American Music Award of Merit

American Music Award of Merit:


After a four-year layoff, the American Music Award of Merit returned in 2008. The award was initiated in 1974 as one of the original awards for the first annual American Music Awards show, which was televised on February 19, 1974. The Hollywood Reporter says the award is given to artists “who have made truly exceptional contributions to the music industry.”

The award was given each year from 1974 to 2004. Then it was given again until 2008 and then there was an eight-year gap before it was given again, this time to Sting on November 20, 2016. As of May 24, 2021, the award has not been given again.

See other lifetime achievement awards.

Sting receives the American Music Award of Merit; image from

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First posted 11/23/2008; last updated 5/24/2021.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Chainsmokers spend 12th week at #1 with “Closer”


The Chainsmokers with Halsey

Writer(s): Andrew Taggart, Ashley Frangipane, Shaun Frank, Frederic Kennett, Isaac Slade, Joe King (see lyrics here)

Released: July 29, 2016

First Charted: August 20, 2016

Peak: 112 US, 110 RR, 8 AC, 14 A40, 14 UK, 113 CN, 19 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 10.0 US, 1.8 UK, 15.39 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 2972.6 video, 1667.0 streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

“Closer” was about a couple rekindling their romance. The Chainsmokers’ Andrew Taggart and guest vocalist Halsey each sing their sides of the story before coming together by chance at the end. SF Right after the song’s release, the Chainsmokers tweeted “This song is dedicated to anyone that hooked up with their EX and right after remember all the reasons why they broke up.” SF

Taggart said the “EDM song with a retro style synthesizer” WK was inspired by Blink-182. SF Taggart crafted the beat during a studio session with Freddy Kennett (from EDM duo Louis the Child) and then wrote the words with Shaun Frank – a Canadian DJ, singer, and producer. SF Taggart said Shaun convinced him he could sing – so Taggart sang on a Chainsmokers’ song for the first time. SF

When similiarities were noted between “Closer” and the Fray’s “Over My Head (Cable Car),” the Chainsmokers reached out to the Fray’s Isaac Slade and Joe King. SF King told ABC Radio that “There was no friction or tension…So it’s all good.” SF Slade and King were added to the songwriting credits on September 2, 2016. WK

Billboard’s Matt Medved said the song “sounds like an instant classic” and boasts “an earworm chorus and evocative verses.” WK MTV’s Deepa Lakshmin called it “an upbeat dance-worthy jam that deserves a spot on your summer playlist.” WK

The Chainsmokers became the first duo or group since Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (“Thrift Shop”) more than two years earlier to top the Billboard Hot 100. WK It was the longest-running #1 song of the year and also spent more time in the top 5 (26 weeks) than any song in history SF and was only the second song – the other being LeAnn Rimes’ “How Do I Live” – to spend 32 weeks in the top ten. WK It also topped the charts in 10 other countries WK and was the first song since “Harlem Shake” by Baauer to top the Hot 100 and Hot Dance/Electronic Songs charts. SF In May 2017, it became only the second song to surpass one billion streams on Spotify. WK

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Last updated 9/8/2021.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Sting's 57th & 9th released

57th & 9th


Released: November 11, 2016

Peak: 9 US, 16 UK, 18 CN, 9 AU

Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, 0.6 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: rock


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

  1. I Can’t Stop Thinking About You [3:38] (9/2/16, 37 A40, 2 AA)
  2. 50,000 [4:17] (9/23/16, --)
  3. Down, Down, Down [3:48]
  4. One Fine Day [3:14] (1/10/17, 21 AA)
  5. Pretty Young Soldier [3:06]
  6. Petrol Head [3:32] (11/4/16)
  7. Heading South on the Great North Road [3:18]
  8. If You Can’t Love Me [4:34]
  9. Inshallah [4:56]
  10. The Empty Chair [2:49] (12/23/16, --)

Total Running Time: 37:05


3.044 out of 5.00 (average of 12 ratings)

About the Album:

After a collection of lute recordings (Songs from the Labyrinth, 2006), a Christmas collection (If on a Winter’s Night, 2009), and a Broadway show (The Last Ship, 2013), this was Sting’s first more conventional rock album since 2003’s Sacred Love. The title, 57th & 9th, is a reference to the intersection in New York City which Sting crossed each day to get to Avatar Studios in Hell’s Kitchen, where most of the album was recorded. WK

Thematically, he said the album focuses on “searching, travelling, the road and the pull of the unknown.” WK Rolling Stone described it as “a kind of travelogue through his own musical past, from the Chaucer-y balladry of Heading South on the Great North Road to If You Can’t Love Me, a mordantly Kafkaesque echo of the jazz rock Sting made in the Eighties.” RS

Sting wrote 50,000 the week that Prince died in memory of Prince as well as other musicians who’d recently died, including David Bowie, Glenn Frey, and Lemmy. WK One Fine Day “is a plea for sanity regarding…climate change.” WK Inshallah, an Arabic word meaning “if God wills,” is a Middle East-tinged refugee’s prayer. WK

Sting initially recorded The Empty Chair for The James Foley Story, a documentary about American photojournalist James “Jim” Foley who was kidnapped in Syria and beheaded by ISIS. It was released as a single and nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song, losing to “City of Stars” from La La Land. He recorded another version of the song with guitar instead of piano for the 57h & 9th album.

Notes: Bonus tracks on deluxe and super deluxe editions included other versions of “I Can’t Stop Thinking About You” and “Inshallah,” as well as live versions of “Next to You,” “Fragile,” “Message in a Bottle,” “I Can’t Stop Thinking About You,” “One Fine Day,” Englishman in New York,” and “Every Breath You Take.”

Resources and Related Links:

Other Related DMDB Pages:

First posted 11/18/2021.