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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Predictions for the 2012 Grammy Nominations


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The 2012 Grammy nominations will be officially announced tonight. Keeping in mind that the eligibility period is from October 1, 2010 to September 30, 2011, here are my predictions for the four major awards:

Adele can plan on hearing her name announced a few times.



ALBUM OF THE YEAR:
  • Adele 21. This is as close to a shoo-in for a nomination (and win) as it gets this year. It was the dominant seller of the year and is exactly the critically-acclaimed mainstream kind of stuff the Grammy voters love. Other mainstream pop which hold possibilities include Bruno Mars’ Doo Wops & Hooligans, Beyonce’s 4, Lady Gaga’s Born This Way, and Rihanna’s Loud.
  • Tony Bennett Duets II. Of course, they also love old-timers. This is the most likely shot (although he already won for his Unplugged album), although I’m surprised I haven’t seen more predictions touting Elton John & Leon Russell’s The Union or Glen Campbell’s Ghost on the Canvas. There’s also Grammy favorite Paul Simon with So Beautiful or So What.
  • Taylor Swift Speak Now. Her last album, Fearless, took home the Album of the Year two years ago, but she’s likely to get a nod here to satisfy the country slot. Alison Krauss’ Paper Airplane, Jason Aldean’s My Kinda Party, or Lady Antebellum’s Own the Night are also possibilities.
  • Kanye West My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. The Grammys like to nominate him for the big prize; they just don’t give it to him. The other most likely rap contender would be Nicki Minaj with Pink Friday.
  • Bon Iver Bon Iver. This one fits the “who the hell is that?” cache which Grammy likes. It is a critically acclaimed album by a respected indie artist. Other albums which fall into the indie, rock, or alternative arena and could take this slot include Radiohead The King of Limbs, Foo Fighters Wasting Light, PJ Harvey Let England Shake, or Fleet Foxes Helplessness Blues.


RECORD OF THE YEAR: (goes to the performers)
  • Adele “Rolling in the Deep”
  • Tony Bennett with Amy Winehouse “Body and Soul”
  • Bruno Mars “Grenade”
  • Katy Perry “Firework”
  • Foster the People “Pumped Up Kicks”

Can sentiment for old-timer Tony Bennett (former Album of the Year winner) and died-too-young star Amy Winehouse (former Record/Song of the Year winner) – derail Adele’s hopes for winning the big three awards?

Once again, Adele is a shoo-in for a nomination here and probably the win. However, Tony Bennett’s recording with Amy Winehouse not only has old-timer clout, but a Grammy favorite who died this year. Mars and Perry make this category heavy on pop, leaving Foster the People to represent the more rock or indie crowd (even if it was a #3 pop hit). There doesn’t seem to be anything particularly edgy which keeps coming up, but here are some other songs that deserve mention: Jason Aldean with Kelly Clarkson “Don’t You Wanna Stay”, Kanye West “All of the Lights”, Maroon 5 with Christina Aguilera “Moves Like Jagger”, Taylor Swift “Back to December”, LMFAO “Party Rock Anthem”, Coldplay “Paradise”, Nicki Minaj “Super Bass”, and Foo Fighters “Walk”.


SONG OF THE YEAR: (goes to the songwriters)
  • “Rolling in the Deep” – Adele and Paul Epworth
  • “Grenade” – Bruno Mars, Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine, Brody Brown, Claude Kelly, Andrew Wyatt (performed by Bruno Mars)
  • “Firework” – Katy Perry, Mikkel S. Eriksen, Tor Erik Hermansen, Sandy Wilhelm, Ester Dean (performed by Katy Perry)
  • “The Cave” – Mark Mumford (performed by Mumford & Sons)
  • “I Was Here” – Diane Warren (performed by Beyonce)

Could Bruno Mars land three nominations in the big categories?

This category generally comes pretty close to duplicating the Record of the Year nominations. However, I’m inserting Mumford & Sons’ “The Cave” in the mix because it will be a nod to the folkie sound which has taken off in the last couple years – and which they have a lot to do with. Then I’m giving the fifth slot to “I Was Here”. Diane Warren is one of the most celebrated songwriters around and Beyonce adds big-name clout. For other possibilities, see the other Record of the Year runner-ups.


BEST NEW ARTIST:
  • Nicki Minaj
  • Bon Iver
  • The Band Perry
  • Foster the People
  • LMFAO

Could little known indie-folk rock singer/songwriter Justin Vernon (aka Bon Iver) best rapper Nicki Minaj, who seemingly is everywhere, in the Best New Artist category?

Finally a category Adele can’t win (since she already took home this prize a couple years ago). The consensus here seems to be for Nicki Minaj, but there’s also a lot of love out there in the prediction world for Bon Iver. I find that odd since his debut album was released independently in 2007, but the Grammys have strange rules about what constitutes a “new” artist, so he might well get a nod and even a win on the back of his sophomore album. The Band Perry fill in the country-pop crossover group slot for Lady Antebellum. Foster the People again fit the alternative/rock slot here, but voters may be scared of them being a one-hit wonder and not take them too seriously. LMFAO fits the bill here for a huge pop group, but their “Party Rock Anthem” isn’t likely to get them much critical clout. Other names which have come up as possibilities here include rapper Wiz Khalifa, Latin-pop group Il Volo, rapper Tyler the Creator, Ellie Goulding, and Jessie J. Thompson Square and The Civil Wars have also been mentioned, but they would be in direct competition with The Band Perry. I just don’t see more than one slot here going to a country act.

Do Foster the People have legitimate shots at winning any of the big awards or are they just potential slot-fillers?

It’s just a waiting game now to see how many kinks the actual Grammy nominations throw into my picks.


Resources and Related Links:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Top 25 Electronica Albums of All Time


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This is Dave’s Music Database’s take on the top electronica albums of all time. This list is the result of an aggregate of 16 other best-of lists focused on electronica albums. Links will take you to more detailed pages about the album at DavesMusicDatabase.com. Note: 19 of these albums also make the DMDB’s list of the top 1000 albums of all time.



Massive Attack Blue Lines


1. Massive Attack…Blue Lines (1991)
2. Portishead…Dummy (1994)
3. DJ Shadow…Endtroducing… (1996)
4. The Orb…Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld (1991)
5. Tricky…Maxinquaye (1995)



Portishead Dummy


6. Leftfield…Leftism (1995)
7. Moby…Play (1999)
8. Underworld…Dubnobasswithmyheadman (1993)
9. Daft Punk…Homework (1997)
10. The Prodigy…The Fat of the Land (1997)



DJ Shadow Endtroducing…


11. The Chemical Brothers…Dig Your Own Hole (1997)
12. Orbital…Orbital 2 (aka “The Brown Album”) (1993)
13. Primal Scream…Screamadelica (1991)
14. Global Communication…76:14 (1997)
15. Fatboy Slim…You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby (1998)



The Orb Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld


16. Aphex Twin…Selected Ambient Works 85-92 (1992)
17. Happy Mondays…Pills ‘N’ Thrills and Bellyaches (1990)
18. Air…Moon Safari (1998)
19. The Prodigy…Music for the Jilted Generation (1994)
20. Massive Attack…Mezzanine (1998)



Tricky Maxinquaye


21. The Chemical Brothers…Exit Planet Dust (1995)
22. Kraftwerk…Computer World (1981)
23. The KLF…Chill Out (1990)
24. Depeche Mode…Violator (1990)
25. New Order…Technique (1989)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Making a List and Checking It Twice

Originally published in my "Aural Fixation" column on PopMatters.com on Nov. 23, 2011. See original post here.

image from popmatters.com

Ah, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Shoppers rush home with their treasures and people are making their lists and checking them twice. While these lines might evoke visions of sugar plums dancing in your head, they make a particularly joyful noise in the ears of music geeks.

In the world of music fanaticism, the last month of the year is a time for 1) gathering the overlooked goodies of the last eleven months and 2) ranking, rating, and reviewing said releases ad infinitum in year-end best-of lists. For such aficionados, December is all about summing up the sounds of the year gone by. While Santa loads his sleigh with goodies, editors of every music mag known to mankind pack year-end magazine issues with plenty of treats. List junkies can expect their own fix for such addictions right here at PopMatters as guide you in their own trip down 2011 Memory Lane.

image from innovativeinteractivity.com

My particular insatiable urge for consuming and crafting lists has caused me to pollute the ‘net with a website, blog, and a Facebook page all devoted to music lists. All right, kiddos, settle in with your hot cocoa and egg nog and I’ll tell you a little story.

It began in September 1982. My local Top 40 radio station did a Labor Day weekend countdown of the biggest hits of the summer. I was inspired to scrawl my own list of favorites. I’m not convinced confession is entirely good for the soul – it certainly won’t boost my credibility – but I’ll admit that “soft rock” populated my list at that time. While my peers were spiking their hair to look like their latest MTV favorites, I spent the early part of my rebellious teen years headbanging to Neil Diamond, Barry Manilow, Olivia Newton-John, and Air Supply.

The trifecta of head-banging heroes...not exactly.

My initial “Super 70” list (that’s how many lines a sheet of notebook paper sported, front and back) ballooned into a weekly endeavor maintained over a dozen years. While my charts would never interest anyone else, they documented my musical journey from adolescence through young adulthood. Before I exited high school, my tastes gravitated to the arena rock of Styx, Journey, and Foreigner. College afforded me chances to dig into classic rock stalwarts like Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, and Rush as well as alternative fare like Squeeze and the Violent Femmes.

Then my tastes went more toward arena rock.

Some view institutes of higher learning as the place to educate one’s self on how best to get laid, get drunk, or get high. Some freaks out there consider it a place to get an education. For me, the university was the place to get more music. More than once, I hauled an armload of borrowed tapes from someone’s dorm room just minutes after meeting them.

However, music magazines and lists opened my ears to sounds beyond what blared from my mere dorm mates’ speakers. I made weekly excursions to the library to pore over Billboard magazine, the American king of charts. I regularly dove into issues of Rolling Stone, Q, New Musical Express, Spin, Blender, Melody Maker, and other tunefully-themed rags. As anyone knows who’s ever perused these publications, they regularly practice one-upmanship in trying to trump each other with the latest biggest and best-of-all time lists of anything noise-related. 



Lists, however, are a polarizing thing. With the exception of Justin Bieber, there may not be anything in the music community which simultaneously disgusts and delights so many. Detractors whine about what is included or excluded. Elitists argue that lists devalue artistic accomplishments via subjective rankings.

The love-hate relationship fans have with lists is readily apparent with even a minimum of online browsing. Find a list on the Internet about, say, the best guitarists of all time. Scroll down to the comments section and you can bet it will be littered with insightful observations such as “This list sucks” or “How the hell is so-and-so only ranked #58?”

List bashers fail to recognize three things:1) a list is one person’s opinion (or a group consensus of multiple opinions collected under the banner of a specific publication); 2) there is a 100 percent guarantee that the list in question will not match the list basher’s personal tastes, and’ 3) IT’S A LIST. Relax.

Now, to be clear, I am not suggesting refraining from voicing contrary opinions. Far from it. Some of those who’ve lobbed the harshest criticism at my lists have earned my greatest respect. Why? Because they were informed opinions which challenged me to either justify my point of view or rethink it. Healthy debate is a good thing. Venting ferociously about the moronic quality of the list maker is as productive as flipping the bird at someone who cuts you off in traffic.

As for those who roll their eyes at the value of lists, I argue that lists offer musical history snapshots for those willing to do the homework. One of the earliest lists to reel me in was a book – The Heart of Rock and Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made (1989). The author, rock critic Dave Marsh, plugged obvious classics like like Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”, The Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”, and Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone”. However, he also turned me on to unknown gems like Little Willie John’s “Need Your Love So Bad”, Clarence Carter’s “At the Dark End of the Street”, and Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five’s “The Message”.

Would I have discovered classics like this without lists?

This was the real point. Seeking out and falling in love with that song at #68 which the reader had never heard becomes the justification for a list’s existence.

Lists operate on the same plane as compilation albums. Album purists bash such collections as misrepresentations of an artists’ work, but anthologies are often a casual fan’s first dip of the toe into the artist’s greater pool of work, prompting the listener to dive deeper.

I didn’t learn about the Velvet Underground, Joy Division, Gram Parsons, Television, Love, the New York Dolls, or Big Star because friends spun them at parties. I learned about them because music critics hyped them in best-of lists. When the names cropped up enough, I felt obligated to check them out.

So this holiday season, as you sing your ancient yuletide carols and curl up with your iPod in front of the chestnuts roasting on the open fire, try embracing the holiday spirit. At least remember Mom’s advice: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Remember the Bearded Guy in Red is watching and knows if you’ve been good or bad. If you’d rather have the Black Keys’ new album in your stocking than a lump of black coal, then be good for goodness’ sake.

By the way, if the holiday spirit has left you with an urge to shower me with gifts, there’s no need to buy anything for me but you can head over to DavesMusicDatabase.com or Amazon.com and pick up No One Needs 21 Versions of Purple Haze or The Top 100 Songs of the Rock Era 1954-1999 for that music fanatic on your shopping list.

I’d also light up like a Christmas tree if you hit my blog a couple hundred times and left comments. Make sure to check out the index of Best-of Lists on the blog.

These last two shameless plugs are brought to you by… well, me. Happy holidays.


The jukebox debuted: November 23, 1889


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Also check the Dave’s Music Database Facebook page for daily music-related posts.



Photo from wired.com. Caption said, “For a nickel apiece a thrilled group tunes in on a screechy jukebox in the 1890s.” Photo: Bettmann/Corbis



The jukebox became popular in the 1950s, but its origins actually go back more than 50 years. The first jukebox was installed in the Palais Royale Saloon, although some accounts say the Palace Royal Hotel. The saloon, on 303 Sutter Street, was owned by Frederick Mergenthaler.

The Pacific Phonograph Company constructed the jukebox from an Edison Class M electric phonograph in an oak cabinet. The machine had no amplification, so four patrons at a time could listen via stethoscope-like tubes. A phonograph could only handle one song at a time, so it was only changed every day or so. At a nickel per play, the machine made $1000 in its first six months of operation. Incidentally, a nickel in 1889 would be more like a dollar today.

Louis T. Glass, the entrepreneur who patented the device, originally called it a nickel-in-the-slot player. In 1879, Glass left his job as a Western Union telegraph operator. He turned his interest to being a general manager and investor in telephone and phonograph companies.

The device eventually spelled doom for the player piano, or self-playing piano. As for the term jukebox, its origins aren’t clear, but it appeared in the 1930s in the southern U.S. and may derive from music played in a “juke house”, or brothel. The term “juke” was black American slang for dancing and brothels were some of the first places to install jukeboxes.

Meanwhile, the phonograph grew through 1920 to become a mass medium for playing music. In the mid-‘20s, the radio became prevalent and during the 1930s the jukebox became a popular means for sharing dance records. For more about the development of the phonograph and gramophone, check out the Dave’s Music Database blog entry “Thomas Edison Invents the Phonograph: August 12, 1877”.


Resources and Related Links:



Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Kinks released Village Green Preservation Society: November 22, 1968


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This was the sixth album by the Kinks and the final one by the original foursome since bassist Pete Quaife left early in 1969. WK Frontman Ray Davies was ““Sensing that the Beatles, Stones, and Who were radically transforming rock music by turning it literate and conceptual” RO and responded with this effort. His “sentimental, nostalgic streak emerged on Something Else, but it developed into a manifesto on The Village Green Preservation Society, a concept album lamenting the passing of old-fashioned English traditions.” STE

The album’s concept grew out of the November 1966 track Village Green. The song neatly sums up what became the album’s theme: “I miss the village green and all the simple people.” WK For the subsequent album, Davies relied “on English music hall tradition and sentiments” RO to create “a series of stories, sketches, and characters about a picturesque England that never really was. It’s a lovely, gentle album, evoking a small British country town, and drawing the listener into its lazy rhythms and sensibilities. Although there is an undercurrent of regret running throughout the album, Davies’ fondness for the past is warm, making the album feel like a sweet, hazy dream.” STE

“Davies did not compose many of the songs to fit the predetermined theme of the album” WK so the “songs touch on a wide range of emotions and experiences.” WK However, “the title track, one of the last written and recorded (in August 1968), effectively unifies the songs through an appeal to preserve a litany of sentimental objects, experiences, and fictional characters from progress and modern indifference: ‘God save little shops, china cups, and virginity’. This last lyric inspired the slogan, ‘God save the Kinks’ which was used in the US promotion for the album, and was associated with the band through the 1970s.” WK

“Considering the subdued performances and the detailed instrumentations, it’s not surprising that the record feels more like a Ray Davies solo project than a Kinks album.” STE It also has a calmness to it, but that “doesn’t mean tame or bland – there are endless layers of musical and lyrical innovation on The Village Green Preservation Society.” STE “Davies’ singing has always been rough and non-Kinks fans may have trouble getting past his sloppy pitch. But for those listening closely, the tales are one of a kind.” RO This album’s “defiantly British sensibilities became the foundation of generations of British guitar pop.” STE




Awards:
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Friday, November 18, 2011

Patti Page charted with “Tennessee Waltz”: November 18, 1950

image from media.azpm.org


Writer(s): Pee Wee King/ Redd Stewart (see lyrics here)

First charted: 18 November 1950

Peak: 113 US, 16 19 UK, HP, 14 CB, 2 CW, (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 6.0 US, -- UK, 6.0 world

Radio Airplay (in millions): 3.0 Video Airplay (in millions): --


Review: Pee Wee King and Redd Stewart played in a band called the Golden West Cowboys. Stewart was a singer and fiddler while King, who was born Julius Frank Kuczynski, brought accordion and brass into his music, which helped shape the merger of country and jazz in what has been called Western swing. While riding in Stewart’s truck one day in 1947, the pair scribbled out “Tennessee Waltz”, LW modeling it after “Kentucky Waltz” by Bill Monroe.

In 1948, King’s recording of the song hit #3 on the country charts. Cowboy Copas’ recording hit the same peak and a version by Roy Acuff went to #12. However, when Patti Page, the best-selling female singer of the ‘50s, JA put her stamp on the song, it marked the moment when country went mainstream. LW With 13 weeks at #1 on the pop charts and sales of six million, it was the biggest hit of 1950 and one of the ten best sellers of the first half of the century. PM

At the end of World War II, the “Swing Era” of big-band-oriented music had given way to the “Sing Era”, which was more dominated by individual vocalists. However, record companies didn’t generally entrust the singers to find their own material. They enlisted A&R men for the task. It was Jerry Wexler, the man who later produced Aretha Franklin, who saw the song’s potential. Page was a dance band singer with a voice reminiscent of Ella Fitzgerald. LW Page’s recording was significant for the use of multi-tracking. Even though audiotape wasn’t used yet in recording, Page sang four-part harmony with herself. SA

The song’s success encouraged other performers to turn to country for cover material as well. In addition, the song inspired more state waltzes. JA King and Stewart’s composition became the official Tennessee state song in 1965. LW


Resources and Related Links:

  • original page on DMDB website
  • Patti Page’s DMDB Encyclopedia entry
  • JA David A. Jasen. (2002). A Century of American Popular Music: 2000 Best-Loved and Remembered Songs (1899-1999). Routledge: Taylor & Francis, Inc. Page 190.
  • LW Alan Lewens (2001). Popular Song – Soundtrack of the Century. Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 91.
  • SA David Sadowski (1999). Haven’t Named It Yet: A Rock ‘N’ Roll Prehistory, 1926-55.
  • TY Don Tyler (1985). Hit Parade 1920-1955. New York, NY: Quill. Pages 136 and 148-9.
  • PM Joel Whitburn (1986). Pop Memories 1890-1954. Menomonee Falls, WI; Record Research, Inc. Page 631.

Award(s):


Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Top 50 Soundtracks of All Time


Check out these books by Dave Whitaker available through DavesMusicDatabase.com or Amazon.


Also check the Dave’s Music Database Facebook page for daily music-related posts.





This week marks anniversaries for half a dozen of the top-rated soundtracks of all time. The November 13 blog post highlighted the soundtrack for The Sound of Music, which hit #1 in the U.S. on that date in 1965. November 14, 1987, marks the arrival of the Dirty Dancing soundtrack at #1. On that same day in 1995, the Waiting to Exhale soundtrack was released. November 15, 1977, saw the release of the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. The 8 Mile soundtrack hit the top of the charts on November 16, 2002. Finally, it was on today’s date in 1992 when The Bodyguard soundtrack was released. To top all that off, it was just last week when the DMDB’s list of Top 50 Music Movies of All Time was posted. Obviously the time is ripe for a list of the top soundtracks of all time.

This list was first posted on April 17, 2011, as a Note on the Dave’s Music Database Facebook page. That date marked the birthdays of two artists – Jan Hammer (1948) and Michael Sembello (1954) – who are practically one-hit wonders from a Billboard Hot 100 standpoint. Both artists, however, had #1 hits in the 1980s with soundtrack songs (Hammer’s “Theme from Miami Vice” and Sembello’s “Maniac”) which helped lift the Miami Vice and Flashdance soundtracks, respectively, to #1 album status. It has been revised since then with four new entries now making the list. Note: links will take you to more detailed pages at DavesMusicDatabase.com. Also, the top 32 albums on this list also make the DMDB’s list of top 1000 albums of all time. Anyway, here goes:

1. Purple Rain (1984)
2. Saturday Night Fever (1977)
3. South Pacific (1958) *
4. Grease (1978)
5. A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
6. West Side Story (1961) *
7. The Sound of Music (1965) *
8. The Bodyguard (1992)
9. Superfly (1972)
10. Dirty Dancing (1987)

11. Titanic (1997)
12. The Harder They Come (1973)
13. O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
14. Help! (1965)
15. The King and I (1956)
16. The Student Prince (1954)
17. The Lion King (1994)
18. Blue Hawaii (1961)
19. G.I. Blues (1960)
20. Mary Poppins (1964)

21. An American in Paris (1951)
22. Footloose (1984)
23. Top Gun (1986)
24. Music from Peter Gunn (1959)
25. Gigi (1958)
26. Star Wars (1977)
27. That’s the Way of the World (1975)
28. The Graduate (1968)
29. Pulp Fiction (1994)
30. Oklahoma! (1955) *

31. Parade (Under the Cherry Moon soundtrack, 1986)
32. Waiting to Exhale (1995)
33. Evita (1996)
34. American Graffiti (1973)
35. Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
36. With a Song in My Heart (1952)
37. Songs He Made Famous (1947)
38. Forrest Gump (1994)
39. Show Boat (1951) *
40. The Commitments (1991)

41. The Jazz Singer (1980)
42. Batman (1989)
43. High School Musical 2 (TV movie soundtrack, 2007)
44. Miami Vice (TV soundtrack, 1985)
45. A Star Is Born (1976)
46. Flashdance (1983)
47. Love Me or Leave Me (1955)
48. The Great Caruso (1951)
49. Loving You (1957)
50. Exodus (1961)

These four were on the original list, but have been bumped: The Wizard of Oz (1939), 8 Mile (2002), High School Musical (TV movie soundtrack, 2006), and I’m Breathless (Dick Tracy soundtrack, 1990). Also check out the Top 10 Show Tune Albums of All Time list, which featured albums which initiated as cast albums for stage productions, but all were later reworked as soundtracks for movies. Those albums marked above with asterisks (*) appear on both lists.


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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” hit the charts: November 16, 1968


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Marvin didn’t want to record it, RS500 Motown didn’t want to release it, RSP and the company head honcho thought it was horrible. BR1 Naturally it became Gaye’s first pop #1 and biggest hit, as well as Motown’s longest running #1 to date. BR1

Norman Whitfield, a producer for Motown, had a habit of pushing the same song on multiple acts. While it frustrated some of his charges, it also worked, at least on occasion. Never was that more the case than with Gaye’s cover of “Grapevine.” RS500 First the Miracles put their spin on it, then the Isley Brothers, whose version is still locked somewhere in the Motown vaults. BR1 In 1967, both Gaye and Gladys Knight & The Pips tackled it. WK Before year’s end, the Pips had a #1 R&B and #2 pop hit with it.

Gaye’s version, which was slower and spookier than the Pips’ “journeyman rendition,” MA was more aligned with the song’s lyrical theme. TB When they were recording the song, Whitfield encouraged the reluctanct Gaye to sing in a high, raspy voice. As was generally the case, Whitfield got his way. WK

Even while seemingly everyone else at Motown thumbed their noses at it, Whitfield championed Gaye’s “Grapevine.” Motown chief Berry Gordy finally threw Whitfield a bone and, while still unwilling to release it as a single, agreed to include the song on Gaye’s In the Groove album. TB Once the song finally saw the light of day, radio DJ’s discovered it and began spinning it. Once the song was an obvious hit, Gordy finally gave in and allowed the single to be released. WK




Awards:
Resources and Related Links:
  • the DMDB page for “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”
  • Marvin Gaye’s DMDB Encyclopedia entry
  • BR1 Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). New York, NY: Billboard Books. Page 249.
  • MA Dave Marsh. (1989). The Heart of Rock and Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made. New York, NY; New American Library. Page 2.
  • RSP Rolling Stone. (September 8, 1988; Issue 534)."The 100 Best Singles of the Last 25 Years." New York, NY; Straight Arrow Publishing Company. Page 65.
  • RS500 Rolling Stone (12/04). “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.
  • TB Thunder Bay Press (2006). Singles: Six Decades of Hot Hits & Classic Cuts. Outline Press Ltd.: San Diego, CA. Page 106.
  • WK Wikipedia.org




Monday, November 14, 2011

New Musical Express published the first British singles chart: November 14, 1952



The British music magazine NME or New Musical Express, launched as a weekly publication on March 7, 1952. On November 14 of that year, it became the first British paper to include a chart of the current singles. The NME chart survived a barrage of competitors over the years, lasting until the early 1990s.

Percy Dickins, the paper’s advertising manager, compiled the first chart by calling roughly 20 shops and asking for lists of their ten best-sellers. Those results were aggregated into a top 12 chart. Al Martino’s “Here in My Heart” topped that first list. On October 1, 1954, the chart expanded to twenty positions.

In 1955, rival publications began compiling charts. The most notable was Record Mirror which started a top 20 chart in October 1955. In April 1956, NME expanded its chart to thirty positions. That same month, Melody Maker began a top ten chart. In February 1958, Dsic launched a top 20 singles chart. In 1960, Record Retailer initiated a top 50 singles chart.

By 1962, Record Mirror stopped its chart, opting to publish the Record Retailer chart instead. Prior to 1969, there was no official chart although NME’s was the most widely recognized. At the time, the BBC released an aggregated chart which compiled lists from NME, Melody Maker, Disc, and later Record Mirror.

In 1969, the BBC and Record Retailer allied to form the first official chart. The British Market Research Bureau chart was established in 1969, they adopted Record Retailer’s charts back to 1960 as the “official charts” and turned to NME for pre-1960 charts. In 1982, the BMRB lost its contract to Gallup who then implemented electronic data as the gathering format instead of the previously used sales diaries. Today the chart is compiled by The Official Charts Company and ranks the top 200 singles in the United Kingdom as determined by downloads and physical sales.



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Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Sound of Music soundtrack hits #1: November 13, 1965

Originally posted 11/13/2011. Updated 3/9/2013.


Opened on Broadway: 16 November 1959, Charted: 20 March 1965 S
Tracks: * (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Cast Album: 1. Preludium 2. The Sound of Music (12/28/59, Patti Page #90) 3. Maria 4. My Favorite Things (12/14/68, Herb Alpert #45) 5. Do-Re-Mi (12/14/59, Mitch Miller #70; 12/28/59, Anita Bryant #94) 6. Sixteen Going on Seventeen 7. The Lonely Goatherd 8. How Can Love Survive? 9. The Sound of Music (Reprise) 10. Laendler 11. So Long, Farewell 12. Climb Ev’ry Mountain (12/21/59, Tony Bennett #74; 5/25/68, Hestations #90) 13. No Way to Stop It 14. An Ordinary Couple 15. Processional 16. Sixteen Going on Seventeen (Reprise) 17. Edelweiss 18. Climb Ev’ry Mountain (Reprise)

Soundtrack: 1. Prelude/The Sound of Music 2. Overture/Preludium (Dixet Dominus) 3. Morning Hymn/Alleluia 4. Maria 5. I Have Confidence 6. Sixteen Going on Seventeen 7. My Favorite Things 8. Do-Re-Mi 9. The Sound of Music 10. The Lonely Goatherd 11. So Long, Farewell 12. Climb Ev’ry Mountain 13. Something Good 14. Processional/Maria 15. Edelweiss 16. Climb Ev’ry Mountain (Reprise)

* As was common in the pre-rock era, multiple versions of a single song from a Broadway show would become hits. None of the versions above are actually on the cast album or soundtrack. All chart positions are from the U.S. Billboard pop charts.

Sales (in millions): 2.5 C, 15.0 S US; 2.44 S UK; 2.5 C, 22.0 S world (includes US and UK)

Peak: 116-C, 12-S US; 170-S UK

Rating:

C cast album
S soundtrack


Review: The cast album for The Sound of Music went to #1 for 16 weeks in the U.S. in 1959. Six years later, the soundtrack spent two weeks at #1 in the U.S., but topped the U.K. charts for an astounding 70 weeks. The soundtrack has been estimated at worldwide sales of 22 million which makes it one of the top 100 best sellers of all time. It sparked standards such as the title song, Climb Ev’ry Mountain, and Do-Re-Mi.

The Sound of Music was the final work for the famous musical theater team of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. The pair previously worked on iconic musicals like South Pacific and The King and I. Like those, this was “set in a foreign locale, it starred a female lead in charge of children, it concerned an unlikely romance between an older man and a younger woman, it had a social/political element, and it featured a stirring anthem for a soprano (in this case, ‘Climb Ev’ry Mountain’). The ‘based on a true story’ plot concerned an aspiring nun who becomes a governess in pre-World War II Austria” WR-C for “a wealthy naval captain with seven children,” WR-S “only to marry the children’s father and flee with the family from the Nazis.” WR-C

The film opened in March 1965 and “became the highest grossing movie in history up to that time, and went on to win the Academy Award for best picture. WR-S While the musical starred Mary Martin, the movie version went with Julie Andrews, who had starred in the musical My Fair Lady and was fresh from an Academy Award for her title role in Mary Poppins, another story about a children’s nanny. She “proved to be superb in the film as well as on the soundtrack album.” WR-S


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