Category Archives: Countdowns

TOP TEN: An Innocent List

He's got a way about him.

He’s got a way about him.

He’s playing the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on New Year’s Eve and he already has three dates planned at Madison Square Garden early in 2014. With that and he being the subject of a tribute episode of Glee airing tonight, we still can’t get enough of the legendary Billy Joel. From Piano Man to River Of Dreams, the classics are all there, and even in his earlier and lesser known works still find a big audience even today. This was the hardest Top Ten list to compile so far; there’s way too many songs to enjoy from his decades of recorded music. So, I limited it to singles, specifically those that charted on the Hot 100. It didn’t help as much as I wanted it to, but, the list got done. Here they are, my ten favorites, all ranked in order:

10. “SHE’S ALWAYS A WOMAN” [from The Stranger]
Year: 1978 / Peak: #17

It was the last release from his Diamond-certified album, and though its run was abbreviated due to the release of “My Life”, it’s still a very pretty ballad. I also liked a cover by Fyfe Dangerfield, a top ten U.K. hit in 2010.

09. “UPTOWN GIRL” [from An Innocent Man]
Year: 1983 / Peak: #3

From his 1983 concept album, probably my favorite from him, this song is an ode to the Four Seasons and written about his then-girlfriend and now ex-wife, model Christie Brinkley. It’s still one of his most played hits to date.

08. “GOODNIGHT SAIGON” [from The Nylon Curtain]
Year: 1983 / Peak: #56

This was the only single from Joel’s 1982 album to not go top 40, but it’s certainly the most poignant of them. The ballad written about the Vietnam War touched a lot of veterans and climbed to #1 in several European countries.

07. “THE ENTERTAINER” [from Streetlife Serenade]
Year: 1975 / Peak: #34

One of the more biting songs about the woes of the music industry, this somehow made it as a single, although it cracked the top 40 for just a few weeks. Sometimes songs with a heavy message like this just “don’t stay on the charts.”

06. “MY LIFE” [from 52nd Street]
Year: 1978 / Peak: #3

Produced by the late Phil Ramone, “Life” is Joel’s anthem about independence. It was one of his first big songs to reach the top ten following “Just The Way You Are” in 1978 and solidified his place on the charts for years to come.

05. “I GO TO EXTREMES” [from Storm Front]
Year: 1990 / Peak: #6

Saying sorry for his crazy lifestyle never sounded so good. Joel’s followup to “We Didn’t Start A Fire” was another hit from his 1989 effort and was received well by the critics during the album’s initial release. Apologies accepted.

04. “TELL HER ABOUT IT” [from An Innocent Man]
Year: 1983 / Peak: #1

Here’s another classic song with a classic sound as well. His ode to the Motown era featured a memorable video in which Joel appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, which got a lot of airtime on MTV. The results? A number one hit.

03. “HONESTY” [from 52nd Street]
Year: 1979 / Peak: #24

This tender ballad is a lovely one and receives some attention today on Classic Hits stations. After “Big Shot” failed to go top ten in early 1979, this also missed, though it became a moderate radio record despite its weaker sales.

02. “THE RIVER OF DREAMS” [from River Of Dreams]
Year: 1993 / Peak: #3

This is the first song I can remember hearing from Mr. Joel; my father had the album on cassette in the car for some time. The poppy track was his last big hit around the world, going top five in Australia, Canada and in the States.

01. “SAY GOODBYE TO HOLLYWOOD (LIVE)” [from Songs In The Attic]
Year: 1981 / Peak: #17

It may not be the most popular or the most remembered song of his career, but it’s my absolute favorite from Joel, a song written about his move back to New York City in 1975. The original version was on 1975’s Turnstiles; the hit version ended up on this compilation of live tracks from a summer tour for his previous album, Glass Houses, in 1980. I first heard it on an older radio show and fell in love with it immediately. Now, it’s time to “say goodbye to” this countdown.

For more Billy Joel and those songs up in the attic, down in the basement and pumping on your stereo, follow the blog below or hit the “Get Social!” tab to find out how you can connect with PGTC on social media.

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TOP TEN: Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A List After Midnight)

Thank you for the music.

Thank you for the music.

You know them, you love them; they’re ABBA, the Swedish quartet originally from Stockholm. Though they haven’t performed together in over 30 years, the internet is abuzz over an interview singer Agnetha Fältskog gave to German magazine Welt am Sonntag, in which she said that the band is considering a reunion next year to mark the 40th anniversary of their win at the Eurovision Song Contest with “Waterloo”. Wouldn’t that be something? Everyone seems to be excited, so how about another top ten list to celebrate? These are my top ten singles from the band to chart in America:

10. “WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE” [from The Visitors]
Year: 1982 / Peak: #27

We begin with the group’s last ever top 40 single, a minor hit with the lead done by Anni-Frid Lyngstad. It was written and recorded during a period when she and husband, band member Benny Andersson, were divorcing.

09. “MAMMA MIA” [from ABBA]
Year: 1976 / Peak: #32

It topped charts around the globe and even became the name of a musical turned movie that incorporated the band’s music. Despite being so well-known, the song barely scratched the top 40 during its U.S. run as a single.

08. “MONEY MONEY MONEY” [from Arrival]
Year: 1977 / Peak: #56

“It’s a rich man’s world.” So says the fierce foursome on this single which smashed all across Europe, but didn’t light up any cash registers here in the States. A promotional clip for the song is inspired by the 1972 movie Cabaret.

07. “S.O.S.” [from ABBA]
Year: 1975 / Peak: #15

Agnetha Fältskog takes the led on this one, which I still hear occasionally on Classic Hits stations. This release holds the distinction of being the only charting Hot 100 single in which both the artist and single are palindromes.

06. “THE WINNER TAKES IT ALL” [from Super Trouper]
Year: 1981 / Peak: #8

It was a big ballad that led off their 1980 album and one that resonated with many, becoming their last U.S. top ten hit. The band’s never performed the song in concert; understandably, it would be a very emotional experience.

05. “WATERLOO” [from Waterloo]
Year: 1974 / Peak: #6

In most of the world, including in the United States, this was the song that started it all for them. Winner of the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest and a 5 million seller worldwide, it’s a classic and a little bit of a history lesson.

04. “DOES YOUR MOTHER KNOW?” [from Voulez-Vous]
Year: 1979 / Peak: #19

This disco meets rock release is the only song on here with a lead vocal by one of the males in the group, Björn Ulvaeus. It was their last top 20 hit of the decade, though “Chiquitita” would make the top 40 by the end of the year.

03. “DANCING QUEEN” [from Arrival]
Year: 1977 / Peak: #1 for one week

Don’t you just want to get out on the floor and boogie? As the band’s signature song, it ruled the airwaves and the clubs in 1977, becoming their only #1 on the Hot 100. A cover by the A*Teens made my personal chart in 2000.

02. “SUPER TROUPER” [from Super Trouper]
Year: 1981 / Peak: #45

Named after a type of spotlight, this song from the group features a music video with a massive circus troupe, also depicted on the album cover. Though it missed the top 40 in the U.S., it managed top ten placement across Europe.

01. “TAKE A CHANCE ON ME” [from ABBA: The Album]
Year: 1978 / Peak: #3

Chances are, you know this song pretty well. It was on their biggest singles here, going top 5 here during the summer of 1978. The simple euro-pop number was certified Gold under the old requirement of 1,000,000 copies shipped to record stores. I’m also a fan of the version done by Erasure on their 1992 EP Abba-esque; it was a minor airplay-only single that never made the Hot 100 due to lack of a physical release (which was a rule at the time, now eliminated.)

For more on the band ABBA and all the dancing queens and super troupers you can handle, follow the blog below or hit the “Get Social!” tab to find out how you can connect with PGTC on social media.

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TOP TEN: Everybody Wants To Rule The World

No tears or fears here.

No tears or fears here.

It’s been #1 for six weeks on the Hot 100: “Royals” by the now 17-year-old singer from New Zealand named Lorde. The international smash was ultimately going to inspire some cover versions, but now it seems like everyone and their mother wants to jump on YouTube and upload one. It’s kind of insane how many new ones are popping up every day. So, of the hundreds and/or thousands of takes out there, I’ve narrowed it down to ten that I really enjoy. They aren’t ranked in numerical order, but each version has its own quirks and are all worth a listen. Check these ten covers out:

Release Date: August 6

The quartet from Boston, now based in Brooklyn, is currently tearing up the Hot AC charts with “Best Day Of My Life”. This band’s version is a folksy take with some really great uplifting harmonies and cheery hand clap line. This is as upbeat as it gets.

Release Date: September 20

The six sisters in this band have a fairly large viral following; I first blogged about them when their single “Made In America” went to radio in June. Their cover has some small lyric changes, but works well with a great vocal and some snapping fingers.

Release Date: October 4

Hawthorne is having a great year on my personal top 40 with three hits from his recent album, Where Does This Door Go. Performed live for VEVO, this guy is smooth and soulful. It’s a risky arrangement, but he and his band pull it off flawlessly.

Release Date: October 8

The Origibabes, as some call them, charted earlier this year in the U.K. with a song called “Flatline”. Their take is stripped down to just acoustic guitar and their three-part vocal, and the harmonies that they’re known for shine through beautifully.

Release Date: August 22

These gals from London just missed the U.K. top ten earlier this year with their debut single called “Trouble”. The quartet’s version stays true to the original with a little more hip-hop edge, along with a solid vocal and, of course, a cute British charm.

Release Date: September 10

They just released Overnight this year, and as a part of an ongoing web series, lead singer Will Anderson posts covers of current songs in the studio, just he and his piano. Bare bones and vulnerable, his emotive remake has a lot of girls swooning.

Release Date: October 2

At over twelve million views and counting, the five-piece a cappella group from Texas likely have the most watched cover when it comes to “Royals”. You know their vocals are rich and their percussionist is strong, making this quite the success.

Release Date: August 20

Disney kid and pop singer Gomez is touring around the world to promote her latest hit album, Stars Dance. Lorde’s publicly spoken out against her, but she keeps it restrained and to the point, and while it may not be the best of the bunch, it’s pleasant.

Release Date: November 5

Their self-titled EP went Platinum in Australia and just last week, their “Hold My Tongue” topped my chart. Maybe I’m a little biased when it comes to this sextet, but the initial sparse arrangement into pop/rock jam along with those harmonies is gold.

Release Date: August 11

From up north in Ontario, the quintet’s made a home for themselves on YouTube and on radio with singles like “Red Hands”. The five find the most inventive ways to cover songs, and this is no different, with rotating ukuleles, drums, keys and more.

Just in case you can’t get enough “Royals” remakes, some other noteworthy versions out there include Kina Grannis & Fresh Big Mouf (August 12), MKTO (October 22) and Taryn Southern & Julia Price (August 4).

For more on Lorde and the rulers of the web and the charts, follow the blog below or hit the “Get Social!” tab to find out how you can connect with PGTC on social media.

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TOP TEN: All Synced Up

It's gonna be them.

It’s gonna be them.

They were one of the biggest boy bands of the late 90’s and early 00’s, selling millions of records and playing to sold out dates around the world. They had t-shirts, bedspreads, lunch boxes… all the merchandise under the sun. They also managed to be pitted against the Backstreet Boys in the biggest boy band rivalry of all-time. Then, in 2002, the boys took a hiatus, with Justin Timberlake and J.C. Chasez pursuing solo efforts, and although there’s always been speculation that *NSYNC will reunite, there hasn’t been a rumor as loud as the one recently that the band will be back together and performing at the MTV Video Music Awards this Sunday. Cue the screaming girls! Before they (potentially but probably) hit the stage, let’s do a rundown of my favorite songs from the band, both singles and album tracks:

Home For Christmas / 1998

While you were waiting for Santa Claus to sneak the presents under the tree, this original song from their holiday-themed album was a favorite both on MTV’s Total Request Live and on all-holiday music radio stations.

*NSYNC / 1998

Ah, yes, the one the started it off for the boys here in the States. The cool pop track, co-written by Max Martin, caught on very quickly at radio, going to #5 on the pop airwaves, while cruising up to #13 on the Hot 100.

08. “MUSIC OF MY HEART” (with Gloria Estefan)
Original Soundtrack to Music Of The Heart / 1999

This is the band’s only collaboration on the list, a duet with Estefan. She also starred in the film with Angela Bassett and Meryl Streep. Due to strong physical sales, “Heart” went to #2 on the Hot 100 in the fall of 1999.

07. “HERE WE GO”
*NSYNC / 1998

Although never released as a single in the U.S., “Go” was a top ten success in Austria and Germany and went to #5 on the Swiss Singles Chart. It was also promoted in conjunction with the 1998 Disney film A Bug’s Life.

*NSYNC / 1999

Originally titled “Thinking Of You”, this was the fourth U.S. single from *NSYNC. Unfortunately, they “made a mistake” releasing two ballads in a row; “Crazy” topped out at #12 on CHR radio and #67 on the Hot 100.

Celebrity / 2001

This is the highest non-single on the list, although one of the local stations sold it as the “second single” from Celebrity before it was officially announced as “Gone”. It’s as glossy as they come, fusing pop with dance.

No Strings Attached / 2000

I’m sure you remember the video where they appeared as toy dolls, or at least for the “It’s gonna be May” meme that goes around every year. “Gonna” spent six weeks at #1 at CHR radio and also topped the Hot 100.

*NSYNC / 1998

This was the first song I ever heard of theirs, mainly from seeing the video so much on the now defunct Fox Family Countdown. It’s a classic pop record. It tore up the radio charts too, going to #5 in the fall of 1998.

02. “POP”
Celebrity / 2001

This one came in with a bang and crashed just as quickly, which was too bad because it’s just an excellent song. Plus, member Lance Bass named his SiriusXM show after it, Dirty Pop. This landed at #5 on CHR radio.

No Strings Attached / 2000

Call it the “Holy Grail” of *NSYNC singles (I see what you did there, Adam) but it was ultimately the song that built the hype up that lead No Strings Attached to a debut week of over 2.4 million copies sold in the U.S. alone. I certainly couldn’t wait for it, and for a time, I knew most of the moves in the music video. I’ll have to brush off my steps and see how I can do. “Bye” went to #1 for ten weeks at CHR and top ten on the Hot 100.

For more on *NSYNC and everything ‘n the pop atmosphere, follow the blog below or hit the “Get Social!” tab to find out how you can connect with PGTC on social media. Also, don’t forget to watch the MTV Video Music Awards this Sunday at 9PM Eastern to see if the rumors are true!

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TOP TEN: A Keane Sense Of Music

Rolling through the Strangeland of charts.

Rolling through the Strangeland of charts.

In a few months, we’ll be able to purchase a new greatest hits compilation from British rockers Keane. Titled The Best Of Keane, it arrives in the United Kingdom on November 11 and in the United States on the following day. It’s hard to believe that the band’s been recording together for over a decade, so I guess now would be a good time for them to put all their best singles and a few great album tracks all on one album. In honor of that, I’m celebrating with the top ten Keane releases to make my personal top 40 chart. In fact, 14 of their singles have made my list between 2004 and the beginning of this year, one of the top bands in terms of total number of charted entries. So, let’s go, shall we? Starting off, we have…

10. “THE NIGHT SKY” [non-album release]
#19 for 1 week / 9 weeks on / 2007

Released as a charity single for the U.K. group War Child, “Sky” quickly rose up the chart, only to crash downward. It was deemed ineligible to chart in the U.K. because of an added poster in the 7″ single sleeve.

09. “PERFECT SYMMETRY” [from Perfect Symmetry]
#18 for 3 weeks / 14 weeks on / 2009

The title track from their third album was the first to miss the top 75 in the U.K. and failed to go top 40 in any one country. It was perhaps due to a shift in sound for the band into a more 1980’s synth-pop realm.

08. “CRYSTAL BALL” [from Under The Iron Sea]
#17 for 2 weeks / 10 weeks on / 2006

The Fortune Teller was foreseeing cloudy skies with this release. Although it did moderately well in Europe and on my personal chart, it wasn’t exactly their biggest hit. Two non-top 20 singles followed this one.

07. “THE LOVERS ARE LOSING” [from Perfect Symmetry]
#17 for 2 weeks / 15 weeks on / 2008

This era was the only one for the band that didn’t feature a first single going top ten, though I do like the song quite a bit. It was also one of their last singles to receive a physical release in some European countries.

06. “DISCONNECTED” [from Strangeland]
#8 for 1 week / 20 weeks on / 2012

The third and final song to make my chart from the band’s latest album ended the era on a high note, reaching as high as #8 that fall. It managed minor peaks on the official surveys of Belgium and The Netherlands.

05. “SOMEWHERE ONLY WE KNOW” [from Hopes And Fears]
#7 for 2 weeks / 17 weeks on / 2004

Ah, yes, the debut single. Back in the fall of 2004, “Know” quickly hopped up to #7 before sliding down the chart before the year was over. Needless to say, this smash hit is most definitely their signature song.

04. “EVERYBODY’S CHANGING” [from Hopes And Fears]
#6 for 3 weeks / 24 weeks on / 2005

Though this second single from their first album peaked at #6, it spent 24 weeks in the top 40, the second longest run for any of their songs on my chart. A new radio mix of “Changing” accompanied its release.

03. “STOP FOR A MINUTE” (featuring K’naan) [from Night Train EP]
#4 for 1 week / 21 weeks on / 2010

“Minute” is their only collaboration thus far to make my top 40 and, so far, is rapper K’naan‘s only appearance to date. It was their first official single in four years to reach the top ten, peaking at #4 for a week.

02. “IS IT ANY WONDER?” [from Under The Iron Sea]
#2 for 2 weeks / 20 weeks on / 2006

At the time, this was the band’s biggest by far on my chart, spending two weeks at #2 behind Daniel Powter‘s “Bad Day”. It remains tied as their highest charted position in the U.K. with “Know”, peaking at #3.

01. “SILENCED BY THE NIGHT” [from Strangeland]
#1 for 4 weeks / 26 weeks on / 2012

If you follow my chart, there’s no surprise that this song ranks up here as my favorite. It was just last year that Keane scored their first #1 single on here, which also did well at AAA radio here in the States. The four-week reign stretched from mid-May to mid-June, and after spending half a year in my top 40, it ranked as my #12 song of last year. We’ll see if a new single from The Best Of Keane can top this very soon.

For more on the band Keane and everything keen in the music industry, follow the blog below or hit the “Get Social!” tab to find out how you can connect with PGTC on social media.


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THE FRIDAY FORTY: The Sounds Of “Summer”

Happy Friday! Welcome to another special edition of an occasional segment I’m putting together called The Friday Forty. Consider it a definitive list on all sorts of music-related topics. It’s been a while since the last one, but I hope you enjoy my latest list.

Today, June 21, marks the Summer Solstice, and while the weather may feel like the summer’s already come, this would officially be the start of it. So, get out your shades and your sunscreen because the beach party awaits. You may have your favorite song that reminds you of summer, but how about the songs that actually have “summer” in the titles? From the breeze to the girls to the nights, there’s a lot to love about summer, and here are 40 of the biggest “summer” songs that have graced the charts over the past 50 years.

(This survey is based off of Billboard’s year-end tabulations from 1963-2012, with attention paid to chart life, peak and weeks in the top 40 for those that didn’t rank highly enough to make a year-end chart and tied songs.)

40. Tony Carey – The First Day of Summer (#33, 1984)
39. Belinda Carlisle – Summer Rain (#30, 1990)
38. Dawn – Summer Sand (#33, 1971)
37. Kenny Chesney – Summertime (#34, 2006)
36. Walter Wanderley – Summer Samba (So Nice) (#26, 1966)
35. Ronnie Dove – Happy Summer Days (#27, 1966)
34. Celebration featuring Mike Love – Almost Summer (#28, 1978)
33. Marianne Faithfull – Summer Nights (#24, 1965)
32. Frank Sinatra – Summer Wind (#25, 1966)
31. The Who – Summertime Blues (#27, 1970)

30. Diesel – Sausalito Summernight (#25, 1981)
29. The Lettermen – Theme From “A Summer Place” (#19, 1965)
28. Ruby & The Romantics – My Summer Love (#19, 1963)
27. Bobby Goldsboro – Summer (The First Time) (#21, 1973)
26. Peter Nero – Theme From “Summer Of ’42” (#21, 1971)
25. Night – Hot Summer Nights (#18, 1979)
24. Johnny Rivers – Summer Rain (#14, 1963)
23. Robin Ward – Wonderful Summer (#14, 1966)
22. Billy Stewart – Summertime (#10, 1966)
21. The Ataris – The Boys Of Summer (#20, 2003)

20. The Motels – Suddenly Last Summer (#9, 1983)
19. Nat “King” Cole – That Sunday, That Summer (#12, 1963)
18. Kid Rock – All Summer Long (#23, 2008)
17. Seals & Crofts – Summer Breeze (#6, 1972)
16. Bryan Adams – Summer Of ’69 (#5, 1985)
15. Bananarama – Cruel Summer (#9, 1984)
14. War – Summer (#7, 1976)
13. Nat “King” Cole – Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days Of Summer (#6, 1963)
12. John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John – Summer Nights (#5, 1978)
11. Ace Of Base – Cruel Summer (#10, 1998)

The top ten:
10. Blue Cheer – “Summertime Blues”
PEAK: #14, 1968

9. Don Henley – “The Boys Of Summer”
PEAK: #5, 1985

8. Mungo Jerry – “In The Summertime”
PEAK: #3, 1970

7. Chad & Jeremy – “A Summer Song”
PEAK: #7, 1964

6. Justin Timberlake – “Summer Love”
PEAK: #6, 2007

From Bel-Air to the charts.

From Bel-Air to the charts.

PEAK: #4 in 1991

Once upon a time, Will Smith actually paid the bills by rapping his way onto the charts. So, when he (as The Fresh Prince) and his main man DJ Jazzy Jeff hadn’t scored a big hit in three years, they decided to tackle a song about babes, basketball and barbecues. It became the biggest hit of their career, launching into the top 5 while Smith was also starring on The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air. After one more album together and a few more seasons of his television show, Smith had his own solo career for a few years, tellin’ us how to get jiggy with it and party for the Willenium. He’s still acting today and so is his son, Jaden.

Keepin' it Lyte.

Keepin’ it Lyte.

4. LFO – “Summer Girls”
PEAK: #3 in 1999

New Kids On The Block had a bunch of hits…” and so did this Boston trio. The Lyte Funkie Ones decided that after a few singles using that name, they should just shorten it to LFO. After a demo tape of this song made it into the hands of the program director at a Washington, D.C. radio station, he knew it was a hit, and he put it on the air in its unmixed form. This move led to airplay around the country and in the heat of the boy band invasion, a physical single sold well enough to lead it into the top 5 on the Hot 100. The group recorded one additional album released in 2001. Lead singer Rich Cronin passed away in 2010.

He Marx the spot.

He Marx the spot.

3. RICHARD MARX – “Endless Summer Nights”
PEAK: #2 in 1988

Released as the third single from Marx’s self-titled debut album, this ballad recalls the protagonist’s memories of a summer love and all the good times they had together. Marx didn’t have to look far for the inspiration for it; the song was written after a trip to Hawaii that he took with his now-wife, former Animotion singer Cynthia Rhodes. However, the male in the song doesn’t end up with the girl when the season ends; he just has those images in his mind of what once was. It was Marx’s biggest hit at that time in his career, peaking at #2 in the spring of 1988, blocked behind Michael Jackson‘s “Man In The Mirror”.

Living for the "City".

Living for the “City”.

2. THE LOVIN’ SPOONFUL – “Summer In The City”
PEAK: #1 in 1966

Out of New York, John Sebastian and his band The Lovin’ Spoonful hit it big with a string of singles beginning in 1965 including “Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind?”, “Do You Believe In Magic?” and “You Didn’t Have To Be So Nice”. However, it was in the summer of 1966 that they scored the biggest of the top-selling tracks, which spent three weeks at #1 on the Hot 100 in August. By 1967, group members began to exit the band, and Sebastian was gone the next year. However, he managed to score another #1 in 1976 as he was welcomed back to the charts with the theme from Welcome Back, Kotter.

Havin' "Fun".

Havin’ “Fun”.

1. SLY & THE FAMILY STONE – “Hot Fun In The Summertime”
PEAK: #2 in 1969

Combining members of the Stone family with several other musicians, Sly & The Family Stone became one of the top R&B acts of the 1960’s with a soulful, funkadelic sound that pleased several audiences. Originally released as a stand-alone single, “Fun” was eventually featured on the group’s Greatest Hits album in 1970. Both the single and album peaked at #2 on their respective charts, with “Fun” also making the top ten on the year-end chart. After “Family Affair” and There’s A Riot Goin’ On rose to the top in 1971, drug abuse and the egos of various band members tore the group apart, eventually splitting by 1975.

Thanks for taking some time and checking out another of the Friday Forty posts and if you have any suggestions for themes or a favorite song on the list, let me know! Post away in the comments or find on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel. Until then, keep cool and enjoy the warm days while they’re here.

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FRIDAY FORTY: Just A Fool Or Forty

Happy Friday! Welcome to another special edition of an occasional segment I’m putting together called The Friday Forty. Consider it a definitive list on all sorts of music-related topics (and much better than those VH1 lists!)

It’s still a few days before you have to put your April Fool’s Day pranks into action, so make it a good one this year. I’m sure you’ll come up with something extra special. In the meantime, there’s been some foolish behavior on the music charts for years, from dancing fools to fools in the rain. We’ve kissed them and believed them. We’ve even questioned ourselves about being the fool. Everybody plays the fool, and we played these records a lot, even if they didn’t peak around the Day. (Some of them indeed did.) So, instead of my yapping and fooling around, I present to you the Friday Forty: The Top 40 Fools of the Rock Era.

(I’m still figuring out the best way to compile these lists. In this case, songs are ranked by peak from the Hot 100 (1958-1973) or the CHR airplay chart (1974-present.) Ties in peak are broken up by year-end positions on the respective survey. Enjoy!)

40. The Impressions – Fool For You (#22, 1968)
39. James Ray – If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody (#22, 1961)
38. Lulu – Oh Me, Oh My (I’m A Fool For You Baby) (#22, 1970)
37. Styx – Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man) (#21, 1978)
36. The Rolling Stones – Fool To Cry (#19, 1976)
35. Frankie Valli – I Make A Fool Of Myself (#18, 1967)
34. Eddie Money – Maybe I’m A Fool (#18, 1979)
33. Dino, Desi and Billy – I’m A Fool (#17, 1965)
32. Sammy Davis, Jr. – What Kind Of Fool Am I (#17, 1962)
31. Wilson Pickett – Don’t Let The Green Grass Fool You (#17, 1971)

30. Larsen-Feiten Band – Who’ll Be The Fool Tonight (#16, 1980)
29. Quarterflash – Find Another Fool (#16, 1982)
28. The Who – Won’t Get Fooled Again (#15, 1971)
27. Foghat – Third Time Lucky (First Time I Was A Fool) (#14, 1980)
26. Andy Williams – A Fool Never Learns (#13, 1964)
25. Luther Vandross – Don’t Want To Be A Fool (#12, 1991)
24. Rick Nelson – Fools Rush In (#12, 1963)
23. Steve Perry – Foolish Heart (#10, 1985)
22. The Tams – What Kind Of Fool (Do You Think I Am?) (#9, 1963)
21. Aaron Neville – Everybody Plays The Fool (#9, 1991)

20. Chris Rea – Fool (If You Think It’s Over) (#9, 1978)
19. Rick Springfield – What Kind Of Fool Am I? (#9, 1982)
18. Barbra Streisand & Barry Gibb – What Kind Of Fool (#7, 1981)
17. Diana Ross – Why Do Fools Fall In Love? (#7, 1981)
16. Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66 – The Fool On The Hill (#6, 1968)
15. George Michael – Kissing A Fool (#6, 1988)
14. Kenny Loggins – Nobody’s Fool (#6, 1988)
13. Lesley Gore – She’s A Fool (#5, 1963)
12. The Shirelles – Foolish Little Girl (#3, 1963)
11. Brenda Lee – Fool #1 (#3, 1961)

The top ten:
10. The Main Ingredient – “Everybody Plays The Fool”
PEAK: #3, 1972

9. Elvin Bishop – “Fooled Around And Fell in Love”
PEAK: #3, 1976

8. Elvis Presley – “A Fool Such As I”
PEAK: #2, 1959

7. Aretha Franklin – “Chain Of Fools”
PEAK: #2, 1968

6. Ashanti – “Foolish”
PEAK: #2, 2002

Not just a "Little" hit.

Not just a “Little” hit.

5. RICKY NELSON – “Poor Little Fool”
PEAK: #1 in 1958

Teen idol Ricky Nelson blew up at an early age, starring on the 50’s sitcom The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet along with the rest of his family. In 1957, Nelson began his recording career with a #1 album, Ricky, and a #2 single, “A Teenager’s Romance”. “Poor” was issued in the spring of 1958 and went to #1 for two weeks in August. It holds the distinction of being the first #1 song on the then newly introduced Billboard Hot 100 chart. Nelson had a number of big singles into the early 60’s, but by the middle of the decade, his success experienced a sharp cutoff. “Garden Party” became his final top-40 hit in 1972, peaking at #6, his biggest single in nearly a decade. He had 35 top-40 hits total. Nelson died in a plane crash on New Year’s Eve, 1985.

"Somebody" familiar to the top ten.

“Somebody” familiar to the top ten.

4. CONNIE FRANCIS – “Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool”
PEAK: #1 in 1960

She was on the last Friday Forty about fashion-themed hits, and now, Connie Francis is back again. Like Nelson at #5, Francis also hit the charts for the first time in 1957 with the #4 “Who’s Sorry Now?” but her track record was a little more inconsistent. “Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool” was originally the b-side of another single, “Jealous Of You”, which only went to #19. However, in this rare case, the song that was demoted to a b-side actually went to the top spot, spending two weeks there. Francis followed it up with “My Heart Has A Mind Of Its Own”, which also went to #1. She last hit the top 40 in 1964, but she occasionally made the Hot 100 until the end of the decade. Francis is now 74 years old and sometimes performs.

Couldn't quite "Beat" the top two.

Couldn’t quite “Beat” the top two.

3. DEBBIE GIBSON – “Foolish Beat”
PEAK: #1 in 1988

New Yorker Debbie Gibson wanted to make it big very young, performing in community theater and playing multiple instruments. In 1987, Atlantic Records signed her, and her debut album Out Of The Blue became a multi-Platinum success. This fourth single from the effort became the only #1 hit from it, and, at the tender age of 17, made her the youngest act to write, produce and perform a chart-topping single. Electric Youth, released in 1989, went to #1 on the Billboard 200 album chart on the strength of “Lost In Your Eyes”, but her sales slowly diminished at this point. Gibson last cracked the national charts in 1993, though she’s made some genre-specific surveys since then. She still performs today; in fact, I’ll be seeing her on April 12 at a local event here.

For your chart, your intuition...

“Games” people play.

2. JEWEL – “Foolish Games”
PEAK: #1 in 1997

After two big singles from her Pieces Of You album, this dark track from the Batman & Robin soundtrack was one of two from it to make the mainstream radio chart. (The other was the mid-charter “Gotham City” by R. Kelly.) “Foolish Games” spent four weeks at #1 in the fall, the most out of any song on the list. Jewel scored hits for a number of years afterwards, including 1998’s “Hands” and 2003’s “Intuition”, and also leaped into the world of Country music. Still, her days of big national hits are behind her. She recently put out a Greatest Hits album and a new song from it, “Two Hearts Breaking”, is receiving some minor airplay at the adult contemporary format. She’ll be on tour through the late spring and early summer.

You better "Believe" it.

You better “Believe” it.

1. THE DOOBIE BROTHERS – “What A Fool Believes”
PEAK: #1 in 1979

Now, the most foolish of the fools at #1 on the countdown. After lead singer Tom Johnston fell ill in 1975, The Doobie Brothers took on a different sound with new leader Michael McDonald. “What A Fool Believes” was the first single from Minute By Minute and was a huge and unexpected hit, spending three weeks at #1 on the airplay chart (including over April Fool’s Day) in the spring of 1979. (It only spent one week atop the Hot 100.) The group had a handful of other charting singles, then disbanded in 1982, until they reunited in 1987. They managed to take one more single into the top 40, 1989’s “The Doctor”, though McDonald had left the band at that point. The group still tours today with different lineups and Johnston reinstated as lead singer.

Thanks for logging on and checking out another of the Friday Forty posts and if you have any suggestions for themes or a favorite song on the list, let me know! Post away in the comments or find on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.

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FRIDAY FORTY: A Passion For Fashion

Dressed to impress.

Dressed to impress.

Happy Friday! Welcome to another special edition of an occasional segment I’m putting together called The Friday Forty. Consider it a definitive list on all sorts of music-related topics (and much better than those VH1 lists!)

I guess we’ve decided recently that if you want to have a big hit nowadays, it needs to be fashion forward. Look at “Suit & Tie” by Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z. That one’s a formal affair. “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis recently topped the charts and explored the less expensive side of things. It wasn’t exclusively about clothing, but it’s so hard to ignore a bargain. So, inspired by these two songs, especially the former one, I give you the Top 40 Most Fashionable Titles of the Rock Era. The list contains those song titles that either mention a specific article of clothing (pants, shirt, etc.), a major component of it (a collar or a pocket, but not a button) or a style of clothing. So, you won’t be seeing titles with the generic word “clothes” in them (like Shakira‘s “Underneath Your Clothes”), songs with solely materials in the title (like “Black Velvet” by Alannah Myles) or other songs that may otherwise use “dress” or “wear” but without something else to complete it (like “You Wear It Well” by Rod Stewart.) Oh, and no songs about a “sock” when its clearly meant to be a verb. Now, get ready to run down the aisles, ’cause this sale on singles won’t last long.

(Statistics are from the Hot 100, 1958 to the present, with ** indicating Hot 100 Airplay peaks, thus releases like the original “Blue Suede Shoes” by Elvis Presley from 1956 are left off.  You didn’t want to see “Chattanooga Shoe Shine Boy” at the top, did you?)

Just so you can make some room in your closet, the majority of these songs are about pants and shoes (10 each). Four are about hats, two mention sunglasses, another two dive into some swimwear, and I’ll let you figure out the rest.

40. Chris YoungGettin’ You Home (The Black Dress Song) (#33, 2009)
39. TLCHat 2 Da Back (#30, 1993)
38. James BrownI Got Ants in My Pants (and I Want to Dance) (#27, 1973)
37. Dr. HookBaby Makes Her Blue Jeans Talk (#25, 1982)
36. Morris DayFishnet (#23, 1988)
35. StyxBlue Collar Man (Long Nights) (#21, 1978)
34. Neil DiamondForever In Blue Jeans (#20, 1979)
33. Timbuk3The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades (#19, 1986)
32. Eddie KendricksShoeshine Boy (#18, 1975)
31. Nigel OlssonDancin’ Shoes (#18, 1979)

30. David DundasJeans On (#17, 1977)
29. ApplejacksMexican Hat Rock (#16, 1958)
28. Elton JohnWho Wears These Shoes? (#16, 1984)
27. James BrownHot Pants (She Got to Use What She Got to Get What She Wants) (#15, 1971)
26. Alanis MorissetteHand In My Pocket (#15**, 1995)
25. The Ohio PlayersSkin Tight (#14, 1974)
24. RoxetteDressed For Success (#14, 1989)
23. The PretendersBrass In Pocket (I’m Special) (#14, 1980)
22. Joe South & The BelieversWalk A Mile In My Shoes (#12, 1970)
21. Adam AntGoody Two Shoes (#12, 1983)

20. Tommy TuckerHi-Heel Sneakers (#11, 1964)
19. GinuwineIn Those Jeans (#8, 2003)
18. David BowieBlue Jean (#8, 1984)
17. Jimmy ClantonVenus In Blue Jeans (#7, 1962)
16. Corey HartSunglasses At Night (#7, 1984)
15. Del ShannonHats Off To Larry (#5, 1961)
14. Natasha BedingfieldPocketful Of Sunshine (#5, 2008)
13. Connie FrancisLipstick On Your Collar (#5, 1959)
12. Justin Timberlake featuring Jay-ZSuit & Tie (#4, 2013)
11. TacoPuttin’ On The Ritz (#4, 1983)

The top ten:
10. Mitch Ryder & The Detroit WheelsDevil With A Blue Dress On/Good Golly Miss Molly (#4, 1966)

I think I’ve heard this medley a few too many times on the local classic hits station. The original song, combined with the Little Richard hit, became the biggest of their five singles to make the top 40, hitting #4. Ryder also made the Hot 100 as a solo artist later in the decade. The Michigan native still tours in the U.S. and in Europe.

9. H-TownKnockin’ Da Boots (#3, 1993)

Named after their hometown of Houston, Texas, this trio catapulted to the #3 slot in 1993 with the first single. It led them to a win at the Soul Train Music Awards the following year in the category of Best R&B New Artist. They largely struggled to find a hit single after “Boots”, charting three other times below the top 40. They haven’t recorded any music during this decade… yet.

8. Helen ReddyLeave Me Alone (Ruby Red Dress) (#3, 1973)

Australia’s darling was taking over the charts here in the States in the early 70’s, which included three number-one singles like “Angie Baby” and “I Am Woman”. “Alone” only got to #3, but it was one of six top ten hits Reddy collected on the Hot 100. As disco infiltrated the mainstream, Reddy could no longer make the top 40 by 1977, and she last hit nationally in 1981. She occasionally performs today.

7. NellyAir Force Ones (#3, 2003)

The rapper from St. Louis took us to Nellyville back in 2002 and this song about Nike-brand shoes (rather than the presidential aircraft) from the multi-Platinum album went #3 in the early 2003. He’s recorded several albums since then and recently made the Hot 100 with his latest single, “Hey Porsche”. He’s also featured on a new remix of Florida-Georgia Line‘s “Cruise”.

6. Dodie StevensPink Shoe Laces (#3, 1959)

She was born Geraldine Pasquale, but was given her stage name on a local talent show. Stevens was just 13 years old when she found herself in the pop spotlight with her Gold-certified debut single about a wacky guy’s sense of clothes. It took her to #3 on the Hot 100, her highest charting position. She had several other minor singles make the big chart. She has a daughter and performs with her today.

No ordinary "Song".

No ordinary “Song”.

5. SisqoThong Song (#3, 2000)

After taking a break from Dru Hill, it was clear that Sisqo was the frontrunner from the group to achieve a solo career. The goals of a long career, however, were stunted rather quickly when his novelty “Thong Song” blew up. Whether you were at the beach or the club, you couldn’t ignore it. “Thong” went to #3 on the Hot 100, which was followed by the #1 “Incomplete”, which secured the spot thanks to big R&B airplay and strong physical sales. His second album ultimately tanked, and Dru Hill‘s next release couldn’t measure up to the success of their 90’s material. In other words, he bottomed out.

When "Cool" goes hot.

When “Cool” goes hot.

4. The HolliesLong Cool Woman (In A Black Dress) (#2, 1972)

After several charting records on the Hot 100 in the 60’s, including a handful of top-ten hits like “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”, these Brits scored their biggest entry in 1972 with the #2 “Woman”, just stuck behind the monster that was “Alone Again (Naturally)” by Gilbert O’Sullivan. It’s the highest song on this list about a dress. The group would have one more big single two years later, “The Air That I Breathe”, before largely disappearing from the U.S. charts. They last made the top 40 in 1983 and remain together with a few replacement members.

A man of many hats.

A man of many hats.

3. Prince & The RevolutionRaspberry Beret (#2, 1985)

Prince and his band The Revolution were on fire in 1985 after just coming off the success of Purple Rain and its corresponding soundtrack full of hits like “Let’s Go Crazy” and “When Doves Cry”. “Beret” was the first single from Around The World In A Day, which went to #1 on the Billboard 200, though the single itself only made it to #2. One other song from the album, “Pop Life”, went to top ten. The video for “Beret” was combination of both live performance and animation which the Purple One ended up editing himself. Let’s just say juggling all those berets didn’t quite help him on that one.

She won't be defeeted.

She won’t be defeeted.

2. Nancy SinatraThese Boots Are Made For Walkin’ (#1, 1966)

As the daughter of the iconic Frank Sinatra, Nancy was bound for big things once she decided to pursue a career in music. After a single failed to achieve a high position in 1965, Sinatra went to the top of the Hot 100 the next year with “Boots”, which became her signature song. She enjoyed some modest success with the occasional top ten single for the rest of the decade, last reaching the Hot 100 in 1969. She hosts a weekly show on a SiriusXM Radio channel named after her father, Siriusly Sinatra.

Taking the Hy-Road.

Taking the Hy-Road.

1. Brian HylandItsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini (#1, 1960)

Watching the snow melt away day after day brings us closer to the summer season, and now, a musical memory from the summer of 1960. It’s the most popular song on this list about articles of clothing. 16-year-old Brian Hyland was objection of affection for many a young girl back then as he went to the top of the Hot 100 with his mouthful of a song title. Sales of the garment skyrocketed because of the song’s popularity, and it’s been featured in a number of movies and advertisements in the nearly 53 years since its release. Hyland went onto other top ten singles like “Sealed With A Kiss” (1962) and “Gypsy Woman” (1970), but he’ll always be remembered as the teen idol who sang the sweet sounds of swimsuits. Not surprisingly, it’s still his most requested song on his tours.

That’s going to do it for this Friday Forty. Hope you enjoyed this look back in the glamorous genre of pop music, and let me know if I missed any along the way! Or, suggest a topic for the next Friday Forty! Leave a comment below or contact me on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.

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