The Wheel Thing: Riding In The Top 40 “Taxi”

Music drives us.

Music drives us.

2015 was a fairly inconsistent year for rapper Pitbull on CHR/Pop radio, with just one top ten single (“Time Of Our Lives”), a top 20 (“Fun”) and then two songs that failed to reach the top 50 altogether (“Drive You Crazy” and “FREE.K”.) However, it looks like the Miami performer may have finally found a single to put him back on track, one that’s rising thanks to unsolicited airplay in the Big Apple and his hometown.

It’s “El Taxi”, a song that features Sensato, Osmani Garcia and La Musa in its original version. In a new Spanglish version, Lil Jon is also credited. It heavily samples “Murder She Wrote”, a 1993 single by Chaka Demus & Pliers that didn’t chart well, but is still quite well-known. “El Taxi” has already been a big hit in Spain, which isn’t a surprise, and now, it may be close to ranking on the U.S. charts. Currently, the single is just below the top 50 on CHR/Pop radio, with detections at more than two dozen stations.

The promising reaction of this song got us thinking about other “Taxi” songs to be released to radio, and there are plenty of them. However, only one of the songs below actually appeared on the CHR/Pop chart, a remake of “Big Yellow Taxi” (#30) in 2003. So, I’ve decided to compile all of the Hot 100 titles to use the word, for “El Taxi” could find itself cruising up that chart as well soon. I think it’s time to step in and get to our destination…

“Tijuana Taxi”, Herb Alpert and The Tijuana Brass (#38, 1966)
The song from Alpert and his band isn’t the most memorable in his huge repertoire, but it was also a minor top 40 hit in Australia and the United Kingdom. They hit #1 in 1968 with “This Guy’s In Love With You”, while Alpert’s 1979 song “Rise” also hit the top.

“Big Yellow Taxi”, The Neighborhood (#29, 1970)
“Big Yellow Taxi (Live)”, Joni Mitchell (#24, 1975) (#67, 1970 in studio form – see below)
“Big Yellow Taxi”, Amy Grant (#67, 1995)
“Big Yellow Taxi”, Counting Crows featuring Vanessa Carlton (#42, 2003)
The most famous “Taxi” of all managed to reach the Hot 100 in four (five, counting Mitchell’s original) different versions. That’s a whole lot of mileage. A 1995 remix by Mitchell from the soundtrack to TV’s Friends went top 40 on the Hot Dance Club Play chart.

“Taxi”, Harry Chapin (#24, 1972)
This nearly seven-minute epic from the 1972 release Heads & Tales launched the recording career of this New York singer and his many great story songs. “Sequel”, Chapin’s follow-up to this, became his last top 40 single in the fall of 1980. He died a year later.

“Taxi Dancing”, Rick Springfield with Randy Crawford (#58, 1984)
The soundtrack from Hard To Hold, which Springfield also starred in, launched several singles onto the Hot 100. The biggest one was “Love Somebody”, a top five hit from the spring of ’84. This was the only single of the four from it to peak outside the top 40.

“Taxi”, J. Blackfoot (#90, 1984)
Born John Colbert, this Mississippi artist was a former member of The Soul Children. Their biggest crossover song, 1973’s “I’ll Be The Other Woman”, went to #36 on the Hot 100. Blackfoot’s biggest solo release was his first of eight to chart on the R&B survey.

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