Tag Archives: Diana Ross

REWIND: Diana Ross Turns The Hot 100 “Upside Down”

Chart boss Ross.

Chart boss Ross.

A diva was at a crossroads in her career. Diana Ross was struggling on the Hot 100 after scoring two number-one singles in 1976: the “Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To)” and “Love Hangover”. While a dive back into disco from 1979’s The Boss gave her a minor hit of the title track (and #1 Dance entry), she was failing to fully connect with an audience nationally. That was, until she picked a pair of hot producers to take her back to the top of the pops and extend her chart life into the 80’s.

The guys she chose were Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers of the top-selling group Chic. They charted with a string of hits, including the #1’s “Le Freak” and “Good Times”. During the same time, the production duo reignited the career of Sister Sledge, the team behind 1979’s “He’s The Greatest Dancer” (#9) and “We Are Family” (#2). The “death” of disco occurred several months later, affecting a number of acts and their releases, but that didn’t stop Ross from working with two on her next album, which would simply be titled Diana.

After working with them for several months, she disapproved of how the album sounded, and on the advice of a friend, went back into the studio with Motown’s Russ Terrana, who had been engineering with the label since the mid-60’s, to re-edit and remix the album. Together, they removed a lot of longer instrumental extensions and sped up the tempo on several tracks; only one song was released in its original form when the album came out. (These initial versions would appear on a re-release in 2003.) This was all done behind the backs of Edwards and Rodgers, who were understandably hurt by the news, even threatening to remove their names from the credits. However, Ross and her label committed to issuing the new mix, as it was more commercial. All the extra work seemed to pay off.

On this date back in 1980, “Upside Down” debuted at #82 on the Hot 100, which wasn’t exactly a grand entry given the nature of the release. It was fifth-highest ranking new song on the countdown, behind “Lookin’ For Love” by Johnny Lee (#67, peak #5), “Save Me” by Dave Mason (and uncredited duet partner Michael Jackson) (#75, peak #71), “You’re The Only Woman” by Ambrosia (#76, peak #13) and “It Hurts Too Much” by Eric Carmen (#77, peak #75). Although the song kept up a steady pace, moving to #71 the next week, then to #59, then to #49, it didn’t appear that it was going to be the biggest of singles. Then, on the chart dated August 9, 1980, “Upside” made a spectacular leap from 49-10, becoming the first song to soar from outside the top 40 into the top ten since “Theme From Shaft” by Isaac Hayes, which jumped 50-9 in its second week on the October 23, 1971 chart. A month later, Ross and her record rose to #1, lasting in the top spot for five weeks and in the top 40 for 17, a longer run for the time. It ended the year at #18 on the countdown of 1980’s top singles.

Diana ended up being Ross’s highest-charting solo album on the Billboard 200, going to #2 and reaching Platinum status. Further singles “I’m Coming Out” and “It’s My Turn” (from the film of the same name, not on the album) would also reach #5 and #9, respectively, becoming her first album to produce three top ten singles. After the enormous success of it, she would go onto have a huge #1 with Lionel Richie, “Endless Love”, spending nine weeks at the top in the summer and fall of 1981. She then signed a deal with RCA, leaving her longtime home, Motown. Three more of her solo songs would go top ten through the fall of 1982, and her last in 1985, the #10 “Missing You”, would be her last top 40 single. A handful of additional tracks made the upper rungs of the R&B chart through the early 90’s and she was still just as popular in Europe until the end of the decade. She’s still performing in concert today.

As for Edwards and Rodgers, the results were mixed. Their band Chic disbanded in 1983 when their high sales and charting positions abruptly cut off, though they did reunite for a new album in 1992 and are currently back together. Edwards took on solo projects in the mid-to-late 80’s from ABC, Robert Palmer and Rod Stewart, though he passed away in 1996. Rodgers also went onto be an acclaimed solo producer in the 80’s, working his magic on hits by David Bowie, Duran Duran and Madonna, among others. He’s back on the charts today as a co-writer on Daft Punk‘s international smash with Pharrell Williams, “Get Lucky”, and is involved on two other tracks on their album Random Access Memories.

For more flashbacks on your favorite acts, follow the blog below or find me on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.

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Something To Reflect On: “Mirrors” In The Mainstream

Who's the fairest of them all?

Who’s the fairest of them all?

You’ve probably heard it on the air by now or on the best-selling album in the country for the past two weeks. It’s “Mirrors” by Justin Timberlake from The 20/20 Experience, and it’s already gone as high as #11 on the Hot 100. Timberlake’s song becomes the sixth song in the history of the Hot 100’s top 40 portion to contain the word “mirror” and the (lucky) thirteenth entry for the word overall. So, let’s look back into the looking glass and magnify those monster mainstream hits, from Mac Davis to Michael Jackson to M2M.

“MAN IN THE MIRROR”, Michael Jackson (#1, 1988)
He’s the late and great King Of Pop and he sure could make those ballads pop. “Man” spent two weeks at #1 and was the fourth chart-topping single from the Bad album, which became the first to have its first five singles all hit the top of the chart. It’s one of the singer’s most oft-covered songs and became one of the top sellers after his death in 2009. Two other versions of Jackson’s song also hit the Hot 100 in 2011, both from television shows. In the summer, The Voice season 1 winner Javier Colon and coach Adam Levine went to #45 and just before Christmas, the cast of Glee took their version to #76.

“MIRROR”, Lil Wayne featuring Bruno Mars (#16, 2011)
From the rapper’s album Tha Carter IV, the song was initally just a track on the deluxe edition of it, which normally would have never seen the light of day as a commercially released single. However, “Mirror” became a sales hit after the album debuted, and was eventually issued to radio as the sixth single from it. It also became the biggest hit for him (thus far) in many countries outside of the States; certainly didn’t hurt with Mars singing the hook. The rapper recently released the album I Am Not A Human Being II, which debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200.

“MIRROR MAN”, The Human League (#30, 1983)
After a set of classic new wave hits, “Don’t You Want Me?” (1982) and “(Keep Feeling) Fascination” (1983), crashed the top tier of the Hot 100, this Motown-inspired effort issued from the EP Fascination! only shuffled up to a #30 peak during the fall of 1983 and is largely forgotten today. It was released a year earlier in the United Kingdom where it got to #2 around the holidays. The group scored top-40 hits until 1995 (including the #1 single “Human” in 1986) and the trio is back together today, last releasing an album in 2011.

“MIRROR MIRROR”, Diana Ross (#8, 1982)
From leading The Supremes to singing her own, she’s a legend. After making the jump from her longtime home of Motown Records to RCA, Ross put out her first album with her new label in 1981, Why Do Fools Fall In Love. After the title track (and remake) went top ten on the Hot 100, “Mirror Mirror” became the second single from the effort, climbing to #8 in early 1982. Ross continued to chart with a number of moderate-sized top 40 hits until 1985, last entering the lower rungs of the Hot 100 in 1986. She occasionally tours today, though rarely puts out new music.

“OBJECTS IN THE REAR VIEW MIRROR MAY APPEAR CLOSER THAN THEY ARE”, Meat Loaf (#38, 1994)
I’m guessing no one could have predicted that the singer born Marvin Lee Aday could make a stellar comeback with 1993’s Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell. This third single and epic power ballad from the multi-Platinum album just dented the top 40 in the spring of 1994. It remains one of the longest song titles to hit the Hot 100 at twelve words in length. Though he only had one other top 40 single the following year, he’s charted on the Billboard 200 several times since then. He is currently working on a new album, Brave And Crazy, his followup to 2011’s Hell In A Handbasket.

The rest of the reflectors:
“Dancing With My Mirror”, Corey Hart (#88, 1987)
“Mirror Mirror”, M2M (#62, 2000)
“Mirror Star”, Fabulous Poodles (#81, 1979)
“Stranger In My Mirror”, Randy Travis (#81, 1999)
“Texas In My Rear View Mirror”, Mac Davis (#51, 1980)

So, which song is your selection for the best reflection? Let me know! Comment below or contact me on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.

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What “Child” Is This? Youngsters In The Top Ten

Burning down the House.

Burning down the House.

Swedish House Mafia finally have their first big hit in the States as “Don’t You Worry Child”, featuring vocalist John Martin, sits at #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 this week. Though this may be the only time the group charts together (they’re currently on a farewell tour), they’ve it done with a song that becomes the first top ten title since the 90’s to feature the word “child” in it.

In total, 59 song titles with the word “child” (or some variation like “children”) in them have made the Hot 100 since it began in 1958, 27 of those making the top 40. The first of them, in early 1959, was “The Children’s Marching Song (Nick Nack Paddy Whack)” by Cyril Stapleton and His Orchestra, which was quickly followed by a version from Mitch Miller and his “Sing Along With Mitch” Chorus. The Stapleton version rose to #13 and the Miller version got to #16.

Just eleven of those nearly sixty top-40 hits made it into the top ten. Here are the other ten besides “Worry”:

“Little Children”, Billy J. Kramer with The Dakotas (#7, 1964)
This English band came to the States as a part of the British Invasion in 1964 and launched four songs into the top 40, this one being the biggest. After two additional Hot 100 singles in 1965, the group experienced several membership changes and ultimately folded several years later. They’ve reunited since, but haven’t charted again.

“Love Child”, Diana Ross & The Supremes (#1, 1968)
Girl groups don’t come bigger than this. In just about five years, they accumulated twelve #1 singles on the Hot 100, this two-week topper being the eleventh of them. Ross departed the group roughly a year after this single and they had several years of top-40 hits without her, including two top tens. Ross, of course, did quite a bit better, with six additional #1 hits on her own. Dance group Sweet Sensation took their version onto the charts in 1990, just missing the top ten with a peak of #13.

“Runaway Child, Running Wild”, The Temptations (#6, 1969)
Another of Motown’s biggest acts makes the list with this single, which also spent two weeks at #1 on the R&B chart in March. All five members sang lead on the song. The quintet scored Hot 100 and R&B hits for several decades to come, including songs like the #1 “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone”.

“O-O-H Child”, The Five Stairsteps (#8, 1970)
After years of top-40 misses, this song from the Chicago group featuring the Burke siblings cracked the top ten during the summertime. They made the Hot 100 several other times after this song hit, but nothing placed within the top 40. A remake by Dino in 1993 hit the top ten in CHR airplay, but managed a lower #27 on the Hot 100. One other cover, done by Daryl Hall and John Oates, became a minor adult contemporary hit in 2005.

“Mother And Child Reunion”, Paul Simon (#4, 1972)
After his partnership with Art Garfunkel dissolved in 1970, Simon began his string of solo successes with this first hit, which also made the top 5 in countries like Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom. Simon would soon eclipse this solo peak with bigger entries like his only #1, 1976’s “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover”.

“Hot Child In The City”, Nick Gilder (#1, 1978)
English-born, Canadian-raised Gilder only made the top-40 once in the States with this #1 hit. He scored several other big singles in Canada, including a #1 with his former group Sweeney Todd, “Roxy Roller”, in 1976.

“Sweet Child O’ Mine”, Guns N’ Roses (#1, 1988)
Axl Rose and the boys garnered their first and only chart-topper with their first single to make the Hot 100, spending two weeks at #1 in September. The Los Angeles band took five other songs into the top ten through 1992. Their long-awaited Chinese Democracy album was finally released in 2008 and they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame just last year.

“When The Children Cry”, White Lion (#3, 1989)
This ballad was the second and final top-40 hit for this rock band from Denmark, placing just behind songs from Paula Abdul and Sheriff. The first, “Wait”, hit the top ten the previous year. They continued to make the Billboard 200 album chart in the U.S. until 1991.

“This One’s For The Children”, New Kids On The Block (#7, 1989)
In 1989, one of the biggest bands out of Boston managed to place six songs in the top 40, all within that one chart year. This was the last of them, from the album Merry, Merry Christmas, and appropriately peaked during the week of Christmas. NKOTB managed two other top ten hits after this, then broke up in 1994 and experienced a successful reunion in 2008. They release a new studio album, 10, in April.

“Jesus To A Child”, George Michael (#7, 1996)
From his album Older, the single marked a major comeback for Michael, his first top ten hit in four years on the Hot 100. Followup single “Fastlove” would be his last single to make the Hot 100, peaking at #8, though he’s had a top-40 single in the United Kingdom as recent as last year.

For the young at heart and on the charts, make sure to click the follow button to get updates from POP! Goes The Charts and follow me on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.

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