Tag Archives: James Brown

“Brother”, Can You Spare A Rhyme? Records Keeping It Relative

Hermanos with hits,

Hermanos with hits.

He’s got a magic touch. 24-year-old Avicii is folking things up one more time with vocalist Dan Tyminski, a member of Alison Krauss‘s backing band, Union Station. Their collaboration, titled “Hey Brother”, has already gone to #1 in the DJ and producer’s native Sweden, as well as several other European territories. However, the song has yet to be a hit in the States, though it does get serviced to an assortment of radio formats within the next few weeks. Until it inevitably storms onto the scene next year, enjoy this list of brotherly hits from the past, bro. (Please remind me to never say “bro” again.)

“Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show”, Neil Diamond (#22, 1969)
After a series of top 40 misses, it was this that brought Diamond back into the 20’s on the Hot 100 and would lead to the Platinum selling followups “Sweet Caroline” (#4) and “Holly Holy” (#6). No word on his live plans thus far for the new year.

“He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”, The Hollies (#7, 1970) and remade by Neil Diamond (#20, 1970)
The original by the English group was their third top ten hit in America and first of the 70’s. Diamond’s remake was featured on Tap Root Manuscript. “Heavy” was also a U.K. #1 last year as a charity single from The Justice Collective.

“Tell It All Brother”, Kenny Rogers & The First Edition (#17, 1970)
Before Rogers became a top-selling Country star of the 70’s and 80’s, his band was big on the pop survey with a handful of charting singles beginning in 1967. This was their penultimate top 40 entry and the group would eventually split by 1976.

“Brother Rapp (Parts 1 & 2)”, James Brown (#32, 1970)
It was yet another hit for The Godfather Of Soul and did even better on the R&B survey, where it peaked at #2. The two part record is about 5 1/2 minutes in total and both sections were credited when it charted. Brown passed away in 2006.

“I’m Not My Brother’s Keeper”, The Flaming Ember (#34, 1970)
Bringing the soul of Detroit to the charts, this American band ranked three songs on the Hot 100’s top 40 between in 1969 and 1970, this being the last of the three. It also made the top 20 on the R&B chart in 1970. The band is no longer together.

“Hey Big Brother”, Rare Earth (#19, 1971)
Signed to Motown Records, the band was the label’s first all-white act to find success on the Hot 100 with three top ten singles in 1970-71. This was their last record to make the top 40, and they continued to chart through 1978’s “Warm Ride”.

“Brother Louie”, Stories (#1, 1973)
The quartet from New York City had a big #1 in the States with a song that originally went to #7 in the U.K. for Hot Chocolate. The driving force behind it was its theme: an interracial relationship between a white male and a black female.

“Me And Baby Brother”, War (#15, 1973)
This was the followup to “Gypsy Man” (#8) and the second single from the top ten album Deliver The Word, which was certified Gold. The funk rock band last made the top 40 in 1978, though they are still together today under a varied lineup.

For more on that brotherly love and other singles from the siblings that sing, 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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PROFILE: John Newman Looks For “Love” In The U.K. And Beyond

He's not giving in.

He’s not giving in.

He became one of last year’s breakout stars on the scene in the United Kingdom with one of the top 20 selling singles of 2012: quite the introduction to the industry from someone who was planning on being a mechanic after his schooling. Meet 23-year-old John Newman, a singer I hope is going to make 2013 shake, rattle and soul with his first release as a solo artist. It’s only a matter of time before he makes the United States fall in “love” with him.

Newman was born in the small town of Settle in the country of North Yorkshire in England and was largely into house music through his early teens, though he soon developed an affection for his mother’s record collection full of R&B music of the 70’s and 80’s. He also found a liking for singer-songwriters like Ben Harper and Damien Rice, so, he learned the guitar and built a small studio in his home in 2005. He went to the College Of Music in Leeds, then moved to London where he played live and was eventually signed by Island Records last year. It was also in 2012 that he got his big break singing on a number-one record.

Newman was approached by the British electronic quartet Rudimental to appear on two of their songs from their album released a few weeks ago, Home. They both became singles from the effort. The first, “Feel The Love”, a dubstep number with a jazzy twist, easily claimed the #1 spot on the Singles Chart in the United Kingdom for a week in May of last year. It also did well in Australia, Belgium and Netherlands. It was never released in the United States. This also occurred with the followup single, “Not Giving In”, which also featured a vocal from Alex Clare. That only rose to #14, but it did feature similar jazz and dubstep elements. Newman could’ve chosen to gone that route with his new solo deal, but he’s decided to go in a more traditional direction, and it serves him well.

With a full-length album in the pipeline and a couple of dates scheduled in July for performances in the United Kingdom, Island Records is releasing the first single from the effort, a song called “Love Me Again”. It gets a U.K. release on July 1. “Love” is one of the songs that represents a huge musical melting pot that doesn’t particularly represent one particular era or style. His voice has the grit and soul of the south in the 60’s, like James Brown or Alex Chilton of The Box Tops. The strings that come in at the end of the chorus are easily late 70’s disco, very much reminiscent of the 1979 hit for Gloria Gaynor, the classic “I Will Survive”. The keys give off an early 90’s house vibe, similar to “How To Dance” by the Bingoboys and Princessa (1991) or “What Is Love?” by Haddaway (1993). Then, there’s the drum, which I attribute to a more modern approach; listen to the 2011 single by Olly Murs and Rizzle Kicks, “Heart Skips A Beat” and you’ll recognize the percussion line.

Now, while this setup is perfect for the United Kingdom and will likely propel his single to the top of the charts, it’s more of a puzzle for our fragmented format system here in the United States. It could be serviced to the AAA format, but it might be seen as too commercial-sounding, especially with the really polished strings part. It could go to the Hot AC format, but again, it might be seen as too edgy because of the much-layered sound of it. Then, there’s the CHR format, who would probably pass on it for sounding too dated. There in lies the problem. I may not be picky when it comes to these kinds of songs, but certainly, a lot of people would skip right over it. However, it’s his most accessible single to date when it comes to worldwide potential. I loved it from the first listen. We’ll see if a U.S. release actually comes to fruition, because we’re definitely missing out on a good thing.

He has the style in his button down and jacket and he has the sound with his seamless ability to roll through the decades without missing a beat. With a video approaching 500,000 hits on YouTube and 125,000 streams on his SoundCloud account, Newman didn’t have to wait too long for the public to love him again. It’s all right there in front of him.

Watch the video for Newman’s debut solo single, “Love Me Again”. / Pre-order “Love Me Again” on iTunes (U.K. only.)

Are you already fan of Newman’s collaborations with Rudimental and looking forward to his solo material? Are you just discovering him for the first time? Let me know! Comment below or find me on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.


Filed under Charts/Trade Papers, Music News, Single Reviews

Inauguration Sensation: The Presidents of Pop

Mr. President, meet Mr. President.

Mr. President, meet Mr. President.

Today, January 21, 2013, marks the public ceremony of the second inauguration of President Barack Obama. Regardless of whether you voted the candidate or not, it’s always interesting to see the different performers during the event and hear what the President has to say during his speech. This year, the acts include Beyoncé (“The Star Spangled Banner”), James Taylor (“America The Beautiful”) and Kelly Clarkson (“My Country, ‘Tis of Thee”.) In order to prepare for the big day, I thought I’d put together a list of some of the songs and artists that have charted nationally using the word “president” or any variation of it (presidents, presidential, etc.) There’s some intriguing finds in the bunch, so I hope you enjoy.

Surprisingly enough, out of the eleven Hot 100 singles to contain some form of the word “president”, none have made the top 40. Some were novelty songs like 1960’s “Alvin For President” by David Seville and the Chipmunks and 1968’s “Snoopy For President” by The Royal Guardsmen. Two were by young female singers: 1962’s “My Daddy Is President” by 7-year-old Little Jo Ann, supposed to be taken from the perspective of then 7-year-old Caroline Kennedy, and 1975’s “Please Mr. President” by 10-year-old Paula Webb, a spoken-word appeal to Gerald Ford from a young girl whose father had lost his job at an automobile plant.

Three made the top 50 while just missing a coveted spot in the top 40. In 1996, rapper Jay-Z scored his very first hit single with “Dead Presidents”, about the faces of presidents you see on dollar bills, which went as high as #50. In 1969, soul singer Johnnie Taylor got up to #48 with “I Could Never Be President”. However, it was the Godfather Of Soul, James Brown, who passed the closest to the top 40, peaking at #44. His charting entry was “Funky President (People It’s Bad)” in 1974, referring once again to Ford’s presidency just after Richard Nixon’s resignation from office.

By the way, the last presidential song to hit the Hot 100 was “President Carter” by Lil Wayne, an album track from Tha Carter IV that charted due to digital download sales. It peaked at #94 in the fall of 2011.

As for the acts, the first of them to chart was way back in the fall of 1970. They called themselves The Presidents, a soul group based out of the national’s capital. Over the Christmas holiday, they peaked at #11 with their only big hit, “5-10-15-20 (25-30 Years Of Love)”, before dropping out rather quickly after that. They made the Hot 100 with a followup single, “Triangle Of Love”, but it failed to climb higher than #68 and the group fell off the radar.

In the 90’s, a trio out of Seattle made some waves on Alternative radio, calling themselves The Presidents of the United States of America. In 1995, they hit the #1 spot on rock radio with “Lump”, which became a mainstream crossover, but failed to make the Hot 100 due to a lack of a physical CD or vinyl single at the time. However, their next release, “Peaches”, made up for that. It was another top ten record on the Alternative survey and gained about the same mainstream exposure as “Lump”, but with the added sales, it made it to #29 on the Hot 100 in 1996. The band is still together today and making music, though they haven’t broken onto any chart, genre-specific or overall, since 1997.

The last of the three presidential acts and most recent is from a one-man, two-woman trio out of Germany, Mr. President. The group was pretty successful in their native country for the latter half of the 90’s, scoring seven top-20 hits, including a #2 in 1996 called “Coco Jamboo”. It quickly spread across Europe and Asia, becoming a significant top ten hits in most of those countries. It eventually made it to the States in 1997, peaking at #21 on the Hot 100. It was the band’s only charting song here. They last hit the Austrian and German charts in 2003 and broke up in 2008.

Don’t forget to tune in to see all the coverage of the inauguration — check your local listings to see when the festivities begin in your respective time zone. In the meantime, thank you for casting your ballot for POP! Goes The Charts and follow the blog and my personal Twitter account (@AdamFSoybel) for more music news!

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Leave It To Bieber: The J.B.’s Before Justin

A lighter shade of Brown(e).

A lighter shade of Brown(e).

If you hear the initials J.B. nowadays, you’d probably think of pop star Justin Bieber. The pint-size Canadian singer has taken the world by storm with international hits like “As Long As You Love Me”, “Baby”, and his newest release, “Beauty And A Beat”. Although, as of late, the charts aren’t the only thing he’s been “lighting up”. However, he’s not the only J.B. to make the charts, nor is he the biggest. There’s been at least ten other acts to make it into the top 40 in the last forty years. Here they are, in chronological order from when they first debuted:

They called him the “Godfather of Soul” and the “Hardest Working Man In Show Business” for a reason. He’s a legendary and energetic performer, one of the best we’ve ever seen. The singer from South Carolina released his first single with his group, The Famous Flames, way back in 1956, “Please, Please, Please”. It just missed the Hot 100, but was reissued and remixed a number of times afterwards. In 1965, the singer had his biggest breakout, a top ten entry called “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag”, followed by the biggest hit of his career, the #3 “I Got You (I Feel Good)”. By 1968, the Flames were dropped from the main credit when Brown reached the #10 spot with “Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud”, and despite dozens of other top-40 hits that did even better on the R&B survey, the soulful singer only scored one other top ten hit on the pop chart: “Living In America”, from the soundtrack to Rocky IV. It went to #4 in 1986. Brown died on Christmas Day in 2006, but with his nearly 100 singles to make the Hot 100 and four decades worth of charting hits on at least one genre-specific chart, he’ll always be remembered as the original J.B. to many.

German-born Browne was an original member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, but left after several months and pursued a solo career. His first charting single was 1972’s “Doctor My Eyes”, which hit #8, but the big singles didn’t come easy for him despite some growing numbers on the Albums Chart. It wasn’t until 1978 that he came close to the top ten again with the Classic Rock staple “Running On Empty”, which went as high as #11. By 1980, he had his first #1 album, Hold Out, and in 1982, he had his biggest single to date with “Somebody’s Baby”, featured in the movie Fast Times At Ridgemont High. It went to #7, and Browne enjoyed a few more years of charting singles before things died down. He’s released albums on and off since then, most recently in 2008 with Time The Conquerer, which received positive reviews.

This singer from Mississippi started out in the world of Country before charting with a string of more novelty-type singles. “Come Monday”, one of his more serious tunes, managed a #30 peak in 1974, but it was “Margaritaville” that everybody knows and loves. That one managed a #8 on the Hot 100 in 1977 and after a few other minor entries (1978’s “Cheeseburger In Paradise” being the biggest, at #32), he was generally off the radar, scoring a few adult contemporary and country hits here and there for the better part of 25 years. Since then, Buffett’s been featured on two #1 collaborations on the Country survey: “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” with Alan Jackson from 2003 and “Knee Deep” with the Zac Brown Band in 2011.

In the late 60’s and early 70’s, Bristol worked as a songwriter and producer with the biggest of Motown’s acts. His most notable successes include co-production work on “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, as well as a full production credit and background vocals on “Someday We’ll Be Together” by Diana Ross & The Supremes. Bristol’s lone hit in the Hot 100’s top 40 was “Hang On In There Baby”, which hit #8 in 1974. He had charting songs on the R&B chart until 1980, but none of them managed to hit the top 40 nationally.

John Benitez was a disc jockey in New York City, specializing in production of the 12″ remixes that were often popular in the discotheques under the stage name Jellybean. In the mid-80’s, he linked up with superstar Madonna and the two became boyfriend and girlfriend, which last for a few years. In addition to all the other mainstream acts he was producing for, he engineered the remixes on most of Madonna‘s early singles, and she returned the favor by writing and singing on his first credited top-40 hit. That was “Sidewalk Talk”, which hit #18 in early 1986; Madonna sang the chorus, while another vocalist, Kat Buchanan, did the verses. One year later, he reached #16 with “Who Found Who?”, featuring a lead vocal by Elisa Fiorillo. It was her biggest of two top-40 hits. Jellybean worked well into the late 90’s on his remixes, though he never scored another big hit on the Hot 100.

This quintet was part American and part English, and though they did better in the United Kingdom, they managed to score one hit on the Hot 100: 1983’s “Just Got Lucky”, which peaked at #36. Just a few years ago, it was featured in The 40-Year Old Virgin, starring Steve Carrell.

South Africa native Butler managed one single on the Hot 100 in 1987: “Lies”, which peaked at #27. It was one of five songs for him that made the top ten on the R&B chart. Butler is primarily a Jazz artist today; his latest album, Grace and Mercy, debuted at #1 on the Jazz Albums chart back in October.

Take a cartoon rabbit and put him as the leader of a faceless group that remixes oldies but goodies into big mega mixes and, poof, instant hit. “Swing The Mood” combined early rock classics like “Hound Dog” and “Rock Around The Clock” into one song, becoming a huge #1 single in the U.K. in 1989. In the U.S., it lagged on the airplay charts, but was a huge seller in stores, reaching #11 on the Hot 100 in early 1990. Followup single “That’s What I Like” edged into the top 70, but was another easy #1 across the pond, where the group managed to place singles in the top 40 until 1991.

Former British Army member Blunt became a breakout star in 2005 when his ballad “You’re Beautiful” spent five weeks at #1 on the Singles Chart in the United Kingdom. “Beautiful” also spent a week at #1 on the Hot 100 in March 2006. Blunt managed six other top-40 hits in the U.K., most of which attracted limited airplay in the U.S. in the Hot Adult Contemporary format. His last to make the Hot 100 was “Stay The Night”, which went to #94 in 2011 after being featured in an advertising campaign for ABC.

This trio from New Jersey became Disney darlings and hit the top 40 on the Hot 100 in 2007 with “Year 3000”, a rewrite of a hit for the boy band Busted in the United Kingdom. Teen girls came out by the hundreds to buy their singles digitally, resulting in eight total top-40s, only five of which gained radio airplay. Their biggest, “Burnin’ Up”, hit #5 on the Hot 100 in 2008 while stalling in the teens at CHR radio. They haven’t had a hit since 2009, but the brothers recently reformed their group and may be releasing new material this year.

Who is your favorite J.B. act? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.

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