Wednesday, January 31, 2018

This Month in Music (1968): Love “Alone Again Or” released

Alone Again Or

Love

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


Released: January 1968


First Charted: May 4, 1968


Peak: 99 US, 96 HR, 5 CL, 58 UK, 3 DF (Click for codes to charts.)


Sales (in millions): --


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 3.1 video, 51.94 streaming

Awards:

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 4/26/2024.

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

Awards:

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

Havana

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

Awards:

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 Time.com’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


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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


Parts/Movements:

  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

Review:

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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