Inspired by the January 18 birthdays of The Temptations’ David Ruffin, Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey, The Ting Tings’ Katie White, Bobby Goldsboro, Frankie Knuckles, Estelle, Hard-Fi’s Richard Archer and Kula Shaker’s Crispian Mills.
Tag Archives: Smokey Robinson
Foo Fighters – “Learn to Fly”
Today is Foo Fighter Dave Grohl’s birthday. This is easily my favorite song from the group’s album There Is Nothing Left to Lose. Grohl said it’s one of his least favorites on the album. What does he know?
Kings of Leon – “Sex on Fire”
Today is the birthday of Kings of Leon’s lead singer Caleb Followill. About this song, Caleb’s brother and fellow bandmate Nathan said in an interview “Sex On Fire was just kind of a little lyric just to fill in to kill some time until we could actually write something that wasn’t about sex and fire.”
Kings of Leon – “Use Somebody”
Grammy Award winner for Record of the Year.
Foo Fighters – “Everlong”
David Letterman introduced a performance of this song on his talk show as “my favorite band playing my favorite song.”
Bobby “Blue” Bland – “I’ll Take Care of You”
Written by Brook Benton and originally recorded by Bobby “Blue Bland,” this song was covered by Gil Scott-Heron, whose version was remixed by Jamie xx. That remix was sampled in the Drake/Rihanna hit “Take Care.”
James Brown – “King Heroin”
This song is a poem written by New York City Stage Delicatessen worker Manny Rosen set to music.
Barbara Lewis – “Baby I’m Yours”
This song was written by Van McCoy, who hit #1 with his classic disco recording “The Hustle.”
Mary Wells – “Two Lovers”
This song was written by Smokey Robinson, who was inspired by a movie he was watching on television in which a woman had two lovers. Imagine the song we would have gotten had Smokey been watching The Thing With Two Heads.
Oasis – “Slide Away”
Oasis member Noel Gallagher, who write this song, says it contains his brother Liam’s best vocals ever.
Foo Fighters – “I’ll Stick Around”
This song’s music video was directed by Jerry Casale of Devo, who is coming up later on this playlist.
Dionne Warwick – “Promises, Promises”
Like most of Dionne Warwick’s sixties hits, this one was written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David.
LL Cool J – “I’m That Type of Guy”
Today James Todd Smith turns 52 years old. He’s cool and the ladies love him, hence his rap moniker LL Cool J.
Run-D.M.C. – “Run’s House”
Run-D.M.C. sampled this in their final top 40 pop hit, “Down with the King.”
Clarence Carter – “Strokin”
Today is the 84th birthday of Clarence Carter Clarence Carter Clarence Carter Clarence Carter Ooh Shit Clarence Carter.
The Smashing Pumpkins – “Landslide”
In 1994, Smashing Pumpkins’ version of this Fleetwood Mac song hit #3 on the US Modern Rock chart, becoming the first version of this song to chart.
Arcade Fire – “The Suburbs”
The title track from the 2011 Album of the Year Grammy winner.
Jack Jones – “Wives and Lovers”
Another Grammy Award winner, this one for Best Vocal Performance, Male. As with the Dionne Warwick song earlier in this playlist, this was written by the team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David. The lyrics, which may have already seemed backwards when they wrote it in 1963, come across as downright anachronistic today, telling women they need to stay attractive and attend to their husbands if they want them to remain faithful. Today is Jack Jones’ birthday.
Clarence Carter – “Making Love (At the Dark End of the Street)”
Another classic performance from Carter, referenced in “Strokin.”
Devo – “Working in the Coal Mine”
A cover of the Lee Dorsey classic, written by the late Alan Toussaint, whose birthday is today.
The Pointer Sisters – “Yes We Can Can”
Alan Toussaint write this song also. He wrote a lot of great songs. He also co-produced the Labelle classic “Lady Marmalade.” Respect.
My favorite song of 2019 came out in 2016. Like most people, I slept on Lizzo’s “Good as Hell” upon its initial release three years ago. I also slept on her “Truth Hurts,” my #4 song of 2019, when it was released in 2017. Lizzo’s first track to make Glenn’s Ten was “Boys,” which hit #1 in July 2018, just two months before my favorite 2019 artist after Lizzo, Billie Eilish, made her Glenn’s Ten debut with “You Should See Me in a Crown.” Eilish’s “Bad Guy” is my #3 song of this year, breaking up Lizzo’s hold on the top four. L-to-the-izzo’s “Juice,” my #2 song of 2019, debuted on Glenn’s Ten on January 12, kicking off 49 consecutive weeks with at least one Lizzo track in my top ten, 22 of those weeks at #1. I’m sure both of those are records, something I would confirm if I weren’t too lazy to look it up.
At #5 for the year sits the only artist in my year end top ten who made their Glenn’s Ten debut in 2019, Megan Thee Stallion. (Megan’s her real first name; Thee is not her actual middle name and Stallion is not on her birth certificate. I’m a Megan Thee Stallion truther.) On that hit, “Hot Girl Summer,” Megan T. Stallion is assisted by Nicki Minaj, who is also at #55 with a solo number, and Ty Dolla $ign (Ty is short for Tyrone, his real first name; Dolla is not his actual middle name and $ign is not on his birth certificate. I’m a Ty Dolla $ign truther.), who is also at #100 assisting Kehlani. If you need assistance, call Ty D. $ign.
The remainder of the top ten boasts career bests for 21 Savage, Ariana Grande, Teyana Taylor, and Vince Staples, plus the first Glenn’s Ten entry for Vampire Weekend since 2013. Other Glenn’s Ten veterans making appearances this year include Bruce Springsteen, Liz Phair, Beck, Missy Elliott, Morrissey, Beyoncé, Rufus Wainwright, Smokey Robinson (yes, Smokey Robinson!), and Belle & Sebastian. Recent favorites such as Courtney Barnett, Cardi B, Grimes, Christine and the Queens, Robyn, Miranda Lambert, 21 Savage, BROCKHAMPTON, First Aid Kit, Chance the Rapper, Angel Olsen, The National and Kacey Musgraves are represented as well.
Enough blather. Here is my top 105 songs (5 by Lizzo, 100 by others, though one of those others with an assist from Lizzo) of 2019:
- Good as Hell – Lizzo
- Juice – Lizzo
- bad guy – Billie Eilish
- Truth Hurts – Lizzo
- Hot Girl Summer – Megan Thee Stallion featuring Nicki Minaj and Ty Dolla $ign
- WTP – Teyana Taylor
- FUN. – Vince Staples
- thank u, next – Ariana Grande
- Harmony Hall – Vampire Weekend
- A Lot – 21 Savage
- bury a friend – Billie Eilish
- Land of the Free – the Killers
- Before I Let Go – Beyoncé
- Keep the Change – Mattiel
- Blame It on Your Love – Charli XCX featuring Lizzo
- Drogba (Joanna) – Afro B
- Hot Shower – Chance the Rapper featuring MadeinTYO & DaBaby
- Rainbow – Kacey Musgraves
- Wedding Bell Blues – Morrissey
- Trip – Ella Mai
- Tempo – Lizzo featuring Missy Elliott
- Almeda – Solange
- Melody of Love – Hot Chip
- Anybody – Burna Boy
- Young Republicans – Lower Dens
- Motivation – Normani
- Throw It Back – Missy Elliott
- People – The 1975
- Rylan – The National
- Doin’ Time – Lana Del Rey
- BOY BYE – BROCKHAMPTON
- Hello Sunshine – Bruce Springsteen
- Summer Girl – HAIM
- Good Side – Liz Phair
- Saw Lightning – Beck
- Fukk Sleep – A$AP Rocky featuring FKA twigs
- It’s Not Living (If It’s Not with You) – The 1975
- Binz – Solange
- Something Keeps Calling – Raphael Saadiq featuring Rob Bacon
- This Life – Vampire Weekend
- wish you were gay – Billie Eilish
- My Type – Saweetie
- Sing Along – Sturgill Simpson
- Now I’m In It – HAIM
- Oh What a World – Kacey Musgraves
- Lark – Angel Olsen
- Sister Buddha – Belle & Sebastian
- Uneventful Days – Beck
- I’ve Been Waiting – Lil Peep & ILoveMakonnen featuring Fall Out Boy
- Love Yourself – Sufjan Stevens
- Nothing Breaks Like a Heart – Mark Ronson featuring Miley Cyrus
- Drip Too Hard – Lil Baby featuring Gunna
- Ibtihaj – Rapsody featuring D’Angelo & GZA
- Cuz I Love You – Lizzo
- Megatron – Nicki Minaj
- It All Comes out in the Wash – Miranda Lambert
- Sunflower – Vampire Weekend featuring Steve Lacy
- Blaxploitation – Noname
- Hurry on Home – Sleater-Kinney
- Western Stars – Bruce Springsteen
- Seventeen – Sharon Van Etten
- Crazy Classic Life – Janelle Monae
- Unshaken – D’Angelo
- 7 Rings – Ariana Grande
- Way Too Pretty for Prison – Miranda Lambert with Maren Morris
- Hey Brother (Do Unto Others) – The Family Daptone
- Earth – Lil Dicky
- Make It Better – Anderson .Paak featuring Smokey Robinson
- Lo/Hi – the Black Keys
- Tarantula – Beck
- all the good girls go to hell – Billie Eilish
- Trouble in Paradise – Rufus Wainwright
- The greatest – Lana Del Rey
- Ordinary Pleasure – Toro y Moi
- Twerk – City Girls featuring Cardi B
- Ever Again – Robyn
- BLACKJACK – Aminé
- Red Bull and Hennessy – Jenny Lewis
- I BEEN BORN AGAIN – BROCKHAMPTON
- Money – Cardi B
- Brown Skin Girl – Beyoncé, SAINt JHN, WizKid and Blue Ivy
- Fucking Crazy – Robert Ellis
- Eye in the Wall – Perfume Genius
- sad day – FKA twigs
- Between the Lines – Robyn
- Nothing Is Safe – clipping.
- Redesigning Women – the Highwomen
- Tell Me (Doko Mien) – Ibibio Sound Machine
- Sofia – Clairo
- With My Whole Heart – Sufjan Stevens
- Go – the Black Keys
- Turn the Light – Karen O and Danger Mouse
- Fortune – Wye Oak
- holy terrain – FKA twigs featuring Future
- Young Enough – Charly Bliss
- Everybody Here Hates You – Courtney Barnett
- Gone – Charli XCX featuring Christine and the Queens
- Everyday – Weyes Blood
- Capacity – Charly Bliss
- Nights Like This – Kehlani featuring Ty Dolla $ign
- No Bullets Spent – Spoon
- Gonna Love Me – Teyana Taylor feat. Ghostface Killa, Method Man & Raekwon
- My Name Is Dark – Grimes
- Sociopath – Pusha T featuring Kash Doll
- Strange Beauty – First Aid Kit
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In 1979, Giorgio Moroder, famous mostly for his production work on Donna Summer records, composed the score for the film American Gigolo. He asked Stevie Nicks to sing the movie’s theme song, for which Moroder wrote the music, but she had to decline for contractual reasons. He next turned to Deborah Harry of Blondie.
Harry write the lyrics to the song that became “Call Me,” the second #1 single for her band. Of her experience with Moroder, she told Billboard “He’s very nice to work with, very easy, (but) I don’t think he has a lot of patience with people who fool around or don’t take what they do seriously. I think he’s very serious about what he does and he’s intense and he’s a perfectionist and he’s very talented, so I think that people who are less talented or less concentrated bore him quickly…you really have to pay attention.”
Said Moroder of working with Blondie, “There were always fights. I was supposed to do an album with them after that. We went to the studio, and the guitarist was fighting with the keyboard player. I called their manager and quit.”
Moroder did end up working with Deborah Harry again years later on another soundtrack song, producing “Rush Rush” from Scarface, and in 2004 remixed Blondie’s single “Good Boys.”
Tunes du Jour’s Throwback Thursday playlist this week spotlights the best of 1980, kicking off with Blondie’s “Call Me.”
MTV debuted on August 1, 1981. Back then it was a music video network. It positioned itself as a rock station. Most of the videos shown were of songs made by Caucasian performers, though rock-leaning black acts such as Joan Armatrading and the Bus Boys got some play.
Then came “Billie Jean.” The second single from Michael Jackson’s Thriller, “Billie Jean” was accompanied by a stylish video featuring a mesmerizing performance from Jackson. However, it wasn’t a rock song. It didn’t fit the format of rock radio stations, and it didn’t fit the format of MTV either.
But there is a big difference between radio and music television. There were plenty of radio stations and many different formats. You may not hear “Billie Jean” on the rock stations, but you could hear it on r&b stations and pop stations and dance-leaning stations. However, there was only one music television – MTV.
In his autobiography, Howling at the Moon, Walter Yetnikoff, head of CBS Records, for whom Jackson recorded (and where I worked in my first music business job), wrote “I screamed bloody murder when MTV refused to air [Jackson’s] videos. They argued that their format, white rock, excluded Michael’s music. I argued they were racist assholes – and I’d trumpet it to the world if they didn’t relent. I’ve never been more forceful or obnoxious. I’ve also never been as effective, threatening to pull all our videos. With added pressure from [Thriller producer] Quincy Jones, they caved in, and in doing so the MTV color line came crashing down.”
Jackson’s video for “Billie Jean” aired on MTV, followed just weeks later by his video for “Beat It,” a song whose guitar solo from Eddie Van Halen helped make it a hit on rock radio. These two videos made Jackson, already a superstar, a worldwide phenomenon with a humongous fan base that transcended race, age and location in a way never seen before. These two videos made MTV, a year and a half old and fairly popular in white suburban areas, a cultural institution. These two videos made the music video, then not something done for many singles, particularly those performed by artists of color, an art form and a necessary marketing tool.
Some people tuned in to MTV to see the Michael Jackson videos, and while watching the channel, discovered other acts. Some people tuned in to MTV to watch “white rock” videos, and while watching the channel, discovered Michael Jackson.
MTV went to showcase more “non-rock” videos. In 1988, they launched their hugely popular program Yo! MTV Raps, something that would have been completely unexpected just five years earlier, pre-“Billie Jean.”
While MTV deserves credit for making “Billie Jean” and Thriller successful, the person most responsible is Jackson himself. He wrote the song. He sang the song. He danced the song. Quincy Jones did not want “Billie Jean” to appear on Thriller. He didn’t like the title. He didn’t like the bassline. He felt the song’s introduction was too long. Jackson argued “But that’s the jelly!…That’s what makes me want to dance.” Jones wasn’t ready for this jelly, but Jackson stood his ground.
In May of 1983, NBC aired a tribute to Motown Records. Motown: Yesterday, Today, Forever featuring many legends who recorded for the storied label performing their classics. We saw Diana Ross, the Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Stevie Wonder, the Four Tops, Martha Reeves, Lionel Richie and the Commodores, Mary Wells, Junior Walker and then some. It was a terrific show, but the talk of the town following its airing was the performance of a song not from the Motown catalogue – Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.” The iconic performance, during which Jackson brought the famous moonwalk to the world at large, pushed him that much more ahead of any other performer working in music back then.
Following “Beat It,” CBS Records released four more singles from Thriller. All seven of the singles released (the album had only nine songs!) went top ten, breaking the record of most top ten hits from a single-artist album that was set a few years earlier by…Michael Jackson, whose Off the Wall gave us four. Before Thriller, four singles for one album was considered a lot. Thriller raised the bar for blockbuster albums, and subsequent releases such as Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A., Prince’s Purple Rain, Def Leppard’s Hysteria and Janet Jackson’s Control each produced more than four hits.
“Billie Jean” changed everything.
On this week’s Throwback Thursday playlist, Tunes du Jour spotlights 1983, kicking off with Michael Jackson’s classic “Billie Jean.”
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This week’s Throwback Thursday playlist is comprised of hits from 1987, a pretty nondescript year for pop music. The new wave music that dented the US charts earlier in the decade faded in popularity, while rap and alternative had yet to cross over in a major way. What we had was some good mainstream rock and pop. Here are twenty of that year’s biggest:
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For this week’s Throwback Thursday playlist, we revisit 1981. The 1981 Grammy Award for Album of the Year went to John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Double Fantasy. The Best New Artist was Shena Easton. Record of the Year and Song of the Year went to “Bette Davis Eyes,” performed by Kim Carnes. Both Carnes and Easton were nominated for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female, along with Olivia Newton-John for “Physical” and Juice Newton for “Angel of the Morning,” but those ladies lost to Lena Horne for “WTF?”. Rick Springfield won Best Rock Performance, Male (naturally) for “Jessie’s Girl.” “Just the Two of Us,” the Grover Washington, Jr./Bill Withers hit, took home the trophy for Best Rhythm & Blues Song.
Here are some of 1981’s biggest hits:
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