Wednesday, January 31, 2018

50 years ago this month: Love “Alone Again Or” released

Alone Again Or


Writer(s): Bryan MacLean (see lyrics here)

Released: January 1968

First Charted: May 4, 1968

Peak: 99 US, 96 HR, 5 CL, 3 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

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

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 2.5 video, 47.55 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The band Love formed in 1965 in Los Angeles. Fronted by Arthur Lee, the band incorporated garage, folk-rock, and psychedelia into their sound. They had a top-40 hit in 1966 with “7 and 7 Is” but are best remembered for “Alone Again Or,” from their third album, 1967’s Forever Changes. The album ranks as the #3 psychedelic rock album and #11 folk album of all time, according to Dave’s Music Database lists.

“Alone Again Or’ was the sole single and signature song from the album. It was written by the band’s rhythm guitarist, Bryan MacLean, about waiting for a girlfriend. WK The song is also said to be a tribute to MacLean’s mother, a flamenco dancer. DT The melody drew loosely on Sergei Prokofiev’s Lieutenant Kije Suite. The song, written in 1965, was intended for the group’s debut album, but MacLean hadn’t completed the song yet. WK

MacLean has said that the orchestral arrangement of the song “was the happiest I ever was with anything we ever did as a band.” WK All Music Guide’s Stewart Mason calls the song “lushly beautiful but also achingly sad, thanks both to MacLean’s distressed lost-love lyrics and Lee’s high-register vocals.” AMG The voice sounds “off-kilter…due to the fact…that Lee’s vocals were originally meant to be simply a high harmony to MacLean’s gruffer lead.” AMG However, co-producer Bruce Botnick said MacLean’s vocals weren’t strong enough alone and he pushed Lee’s vocals up in the mix. WK

The song has been covered by Sarah Brightman, the Boo Radleys, Calexico, the Damned, Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs, and UFO. The 1987 version by the Damned reached #27 on the UK charts and #50 on the Billboard album rock tracks chart.


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First posted 3/11/2023; last updated 4/1/2023.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Bruno Mars’ “That’s What I Like” won Grammy for Song of the Year

That’s What I Like

Bruno Mars

Writer(s): Bruno Mars, Philip Lawrence, Christopher Brody Brown (see lyrics here)

Released: January 30, 2017

First Charted: December 10, 2016

Peak: 11 US, 19 BA, 12 AC, 2 A40, 16 RB, 12 UK, 3 CN, 5 AU, 22 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 10.0 US, 1.2 UK, 12.66 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 2000.1 video, 1691.41 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The 60th Annual Grammy Awards, held on January 18, 2018, proved to be Bruno Mars’ night when he won all six Grammys for which he was nominated. His 24K Magic won Album of the Year and R&B Album of the Year while the title track took Record of the Year. The big winner, though, was “That’s What I Like.” The song, which he’d performed at the Grammys the year before, walked away with honors for Song of the Year, Best R&B Song, and Best R&B Performance.

The song also won some other significant awards, including the American Music Award for Favorite Soul/R&B Song and the Soul Train Music Award for Song of the Year. Mars also performed the song at the 2017 Brit Awards and the 2017 iHeartRadio Music Awards. WK

Released as the second single from 24K Magic, “That’s What I Like” spent 24 weeks in the top 5 of the Hot 100, one of only five songs to do so. WK It also spent 20 weeks on top of Hot R&B Songs, which tied it with The Weeknd’s “Starboy” and Drake’s “One Dance” for most weeks at #1. WK It became Mars’ fifth #1 song as a lead artist and seventh time on top overall (he was featured on B.o.B.’s “Nothin’ on You” and Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk”). Mars was also on his way to another significant achievement – when the album’s fourth single, “Finesse,” went top 5 it made him only the second male artist in history (after Lionel Richie), to send at least three songs to the top ten from each of his first three albums.

Ray Romulus, who was part of the song’s production team, talked about Mars’ writing process. “When he was in the studio he was…dancing for us and showing us, like, ‘I can’t move like that to this chord or to this drum…change it.’” SF Jonathan Yip, also of the production team, said “We would just go back and forth and were messing around with rhythms” SF because, as Mars had said, “We need to make this bounce.” SF


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Last updated 7/21/2023.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Camila Cabello’s “Havana” hit #1


Camila Cabello with Young Thug

Writer(s): Camila Cabello, Young Thug, Pharrell Williams (see lyrics here)

Released: August 3, 2017

First Charted: August 26, 2017

Peak: 11 US, 17 RR, 14 BA, 12 DG, 11 ST, 5 AC, 11 A40, 15 UK, 16 CN, 13 AU, 16 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 10.0 US, 1.2 UK, 19.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 2902.0 video, 1915.48 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Camila Cabello made a name for herself as a member of Fifth Harmony, best known for hit “Work from Home.” “Havana” was initially released as a promo single to support her first solo album, Camila, but became the proper lead single when it took off. WK She told BBC Radio 1 that “Everybody kept telling me it shouldn’t be a single and that it would never work for radio.” SF It ended up doing okay – it went to #1 in a dozen countries, including the U.S., UK, Australia, and Canada. WK In the U.S., the song took 23 weeks to hit the top, spending seven non-consecutive weeks at #2 behind Post Malone’s “Rockstar” and Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect.” WK In June 2018, it became Spotify’s most-streamed song ever by a female artist. WK

As a child, Camila moved back and forth between Havana and Mexico City before settling in Miami. In “Havana,” she sings about “a mysterious suitor from East Atlanta, though she has left her heart in her hometown.” WK She described it as a song with a “very wind-your-waist tempo.” SF The song emerged from an instrumental with a prominent salsa piano riff created by producer Frank Dukes. When he played it for Camila, it reminded her of her birthplace and she wrote the chorus on the spot. SF’s Raise Bruner said the song “hits a freshly sultry note” WK which Allison Browsher of Much said “arrives just in time to keep the summer heat going on the radio.” WK

The video was directed by Dave Meyers, who also did Missy Elliott’s “Work It,” Janet Jackson’s “All for You,” and Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble.” Camila plays two characters in the telenovela-style video – “the bespectacled homebody Karla and the sexy, outgoing Camila.” SF She explained that her family always called her by her middle name (Camila), but when she came to the United States, teachers called her by her first name (Karla). SF At the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards, the clip took the prize for Video of the Year. SF


Last updated 7/19/2023.

January 27, 1857: Liszt's Piano Sonata in B minor performed publicly for first time

Last updated August 29, 2018.

Piano Sonata in B minor, S. 178 (LW A179)

Franz Liszt (composer)

Composed: 1851-53

First Public Performance: January 27, 1857

Sales: --

Peak: --

Quotable: “A pinnacle of Liszt's repertoire” – Wikipedia

Genre: classical > sonata


  1. Lento assai – Allegro energico
  2. Grandioso – Recitativo
  3. Andante sostenuto – Quasi adagio
  4. Allegro energico – Stretta quasi presto – Presto – Prestissimo – Andante sostenuto – Allegro moderato – Lento assai

Average Duration: 29:40


Liszt completed his Piano Sonata in B minor in 1953 – specifically on February 2, according to his notes on the sonata’s manuscript. It was published the next year with a dedication to Robert Schumann in return for that composer dedicating his Fantasie in C major to Liszt. WK He wrote the piece during his transition from performer to composer. WK It has been argued both that the piece is autobiographical and that it is related to the Faust legend. AMG It can be considered “the only work he wrote in an absolute sonata form.” AMG

The work wasn’t well received by some of Liszt’s peers; pianist and composer Anton Rubinstein criticized the work and Johannes Brahms reportedly fell asleep during a performance of the work by Liszt in 1853. Eduard Hanslick said, “anyone who has heard it and finds it beautiful is beyond help.” WK In the German newspaper Nationalzeitung, Otto Gumprecht called it “an invitation to hissing and stomping.” WK

The initial negative reception and the sonata’s technical difficulty meant it took a long time to become commonplace in concert repertoire. However, it became established by the early twentieth century and “has been a popularly performed and extensively analyzed piece ever since,” WK becoming “an enduring masterpiece even in the estimation of those listeners who tend to find Liszt’s music overblown.” AMG It is considered “his finest example of the musical technique of continuous ‘thematic transformation,’” AMG which would profoundly affect the future of music, especially later operas by Richard Wagner. AMG Wagner was one of Liszt’s peers who praised the sonata, calling it “sublime” and beautiful “beyond all conception.” AMG

It wasn’t until January 27, 1857, that the work was publicly premiered in a performance by Hans von B├╝low in Berlin. WK

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Monday, January 22, 2018

50 years ago: Aretha Franklin released Lady Soul

First posted 3/16/2008; updated 12/2/2020.

Lady Soul

Aretha Franklin

Released: January 22, 1968

Charted: February 24, 1968

Peak: 2 US, 116 RB, 25 UK

Sales (in millions): 0.5 US

Genre: R&B


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

  1. Chain of Fools (12/9/67, 2 US, 43 UK, 1 RB, gold single)
  2. Money Won’t Change You
  3. People Get Ready
  4. Niki Hoeky
  5. You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman (9/30/67, 8 US, 2 RB)
  6. Since You’ve Been Gone (Sweet Sweet Baby) (3/2/68, 5 US, 47 UK, 1 RB, gold single)
  7. Good to Me As I Am to You
  8. Come Back Baby
  9. Groovin’
  10. Ain’t No Way (3/2/68, 16 US, 9 RB)

Total Running Time: 28:41


4.500 out of 5.00 (average of 17 ratings)

Quotable: --

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“Appearing after a blockbuster debut and a sophomore set that was rather disappointing (in comparison), 1968's Lady Soul proved Aretha Franklin, the pop sensation, was no fluke. Her performances were more impassioned than on her debut, and the material just as strong, an inspired blend of covers and originals from the best songwriters in soul and pop music.” JB

“The singing here isn’t technically perfect – the roots of what would become Franklin’s unwavering campaign of melody obliteration are evident – unless we're speaking emotionally, in which case there's not a wrong note.” TL This is a “master class in technique, power and pure feel. No filler – just 10 cuts of complete artistic control” BL and “ten steps to R&B perfection.” BL

“The opener, Chain of Fools, became the biggest hit, driven by a chorus of cascading echoes by Franklin and her bedrock backing vocalists, the Sweet Impressions, plus the unforgettable, earthy guitar work of guest Joe South.” JB The song was “inspired by the lines of cotton pickers songwriter Don Covay saw growing up in the south.” TL

“The album's showpiece, though, was You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman.” JB “the sexually liberating star turn.” BL It was “written expressly for her by Brill Building pop stalwarts Gerry Goffin and Carole King, based on a title coined by producer Jerry Wexler.” JB “One of the landmark performances in pop music” JB and “an enduring gender anthem,” TL the song floats serenely through the verses until, swept up by Ralph Burns' stirring string arrangement again and again, Franklin opens up on the choruses with one of the most transcendent vocals of her career.” JB

“It’s a testament to Franklin that these songs sound unwritten, as if they didn't exist until she opened her mouth and gave them life.” TL

“Just as she'd previously transformed a soul classic (Otis Redding’s ‘Respect’) into a signature piece of her own, Franklin courageously reimagined songs by heavyweights James Brown, Ray Charles, and the Impressions. Brown’s Money Won't Change You is smooth and kinetic, her testifying constantly reinforced by interjections from the Sweet Inspirations. Curtis Mayfield's People Get Ready, a 1965 civil-rights anthem and a hit for the Impressions, is taken at a slower pace than the original; after a quiet verse, Franklin lets loose amidst a magisterial brass arrangement by Arif Mardin.” JB “Even her cover of the Young Rascals’ throwaway Groovin’ is transcendent.” TL

“Powered by three hit singles (each nested in the upper reaches of the pop Top Ten), Lady Soul became Aretha Franklin's second gold LP and remained on the charts for over a year.” JB

Notes: A reissue of the album adds the singles remixes of “Chain of Fools,” “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman,” “Since You’ve Been Gone (Sweet Sweet Baby),” and “Ain’t No Way.”

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