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Sunday, October 24, 1999

Santana hit #1 with "Smooth": October 23, 1999

Originally posted October 23, 2011.



When Santana hit #1 on the pop charts with “Smooth”, it marked the 30th anniversary of his chart debut on the Billboard 100 and the longest span in chart history between an artist’s chart debut and first trip to #1. SF In October 1969, “Jingo” became Carlos’ first hit, albeit it a minor one with a peak at #56. Over the next few years, he had notable hits with “Evil Ways” (#9), “Black Magic Woman” (#4), and Oye Como Va” (#13). He regularly landed top 40 hits during the 1970s, but by the 1980s, his success with singles had dwindled. He landed only five songs on the Hot 100 during the entire decade, although “Winning” and “Hold On” were top 20 hits.

Arista Records’ chief Clive Davis, who had worked with Santana at Columbia Records, signed him to record an album with an all-star guest roster. Santana had been fronted by many lead singers over the years, but this was a new approach. Among those lending their aid to Santana’s comeback were Eric Clapton, Cee-Lo Green, Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean, Dave Matthews, and Rob Thomas. Thomas was one of the hottest names around as the front man of pop-rock group Matchbox 20. His co-writing and singing on “Smooth” launched one of the most impressive career resurgences in chart history.

Itaal Shur, a songwriter and producer who had worked with Jewel and Maxwell, brought a song called “Room One Seven” to Arista. They liked the instrumental, but thought his lyrics were too sexual and tapped Thomas for a rewrite. SF Inspired by his wife’s Puerto Rican descent, Thomas crafted the new song with the Spanish-flavored lyrics. WK Thomas envisioned George Michael singing the, but recorded a demo to play for Santana. WK

With “Smooth”, Santana didn’t just land the biggest hit of his career, but the biggest pop single of 1999. WHC In its 2008 run-down of the biggest hits in the fifty-year history of the Hot 100, Billboard magazine named it the #2 all-time song on that chart. BB100 “Smooth” spent a dozen weeks at the chart pinnacle and a grand total of 30 weeks in the top 10.





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Saturday, October 16, 1999

Creed hit #1 with Human Clay: October 16, 1999

Originally posted October 16, 2012.


“Creed burst out of Florida with 1997’s My Own Prison, a dark but commercial debut reminiscent of the early-‘90s Seattle sound. Creed’s moody guitar grunge and ardent lyrics, coupled with singer Scott Stapp’s passionate vocals, helped My Own Prison sell millions.” KT Human Clay proved even more successful, debuting at #1 in the U.S. and selling 17 million copies worldwide.

The first single, Higher, “is typical Creed – safe, emotive guitar rock for the masses, but with a slight edge.” KT It spent a then-record 17 weeks atop the album rock tracks chart. The third single, With Arms Wide Open, reached even higher, going all the way to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, a rare occurrence for a rock band at a time when boy bands ruled the charts.



The group didn’t mess with the success of their first album, turning out a “a sophomore outing rife with evocative moodiness, soaring guitars, and a dark, roiling, intense vibe.” KT “Nobody could figure out why this group managed to not just survive, but thrive…After all, at the time, not only were post-grunge bands dying, but so were such grunge heavyweights as Pearl Jam and Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell.” STE

When one listens to the album, though, “a realization sets in: Unlike their influences – from Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains to Stone Temple Pilots – Creed is happy to be a rock band.” STE “Their music may not be particularly joyous and they may even favor foreboding, heavy riffs, but they’re not trying to stretch into political causes or worldbeat like Pearl Jam; they’re not reveling in dark psychedelia like Soundgarden; nor are they attempting a glam Abbey Road like Stone Temple Pilots.” STE This “a straightforward grunge and hard rock band, embracing everything that goes along with that.” STE “They might not have as strong an identity as their forefathers, but they’re not faceless.” STE It makes “Human Clay at once compelling and effectively redundant.” KT




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