Nineteen ninety-four was not one of rock and pop music’s pivotal years. I didn’t realize how lackluster it was until compiling this week’s Throwback Thursday playlist. I always begin such lists with a look at the pop charts of the year being spotlighted. What a sad state of affairs they were in 1994! I found around 15 good songs that peaked in the top 40 that year, and included all of them in this list (except for Ƭ̵̬̊’s “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World,” which is not on Spotify). A few great songs came close to making the Top 40, such as Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer” (peaked at #41) and The Breeders’ “Cannonball (peaked at #44). More great (mostly “alternative”) tracks would have made the Billboard Hot 100’s top 40 if not for Billboard‘s archaic rule that in order for a song to be eligible for the Hot 100, it needs to be commercially released as a single. Record companies stopped releasing many singles in the late 80s so as to force consumers into buying more profitable full-length albums. What that means is the Hot 100, which was supposed to represent the 100 most popular songs in the US, did not represent the 100 most popular songs in the US. And what mad the top 40 in 1994 was a lot of wussy drek. And Kurt Cobain died in 1994. Not a good year for music. Here are its gems:
In 2001 HBO aired a Britney Spears concert around the time Jive Records released the singer’s album Britney. A few days before the first promo for the concert was to run on HBO, Jive’s head of publicity had the idea that Britney’s then-brand new single “I’m a Slave 4 U” should be used in the promo spots. The song was written (and produced) by the team of Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo. I was running the licensing department at Jive at that time. I went to Pharrell and Chad’s publishers, EMI, to secure the necessary permissions. It was on a Wednesday. The spot was scheduled to premier the coming Saturday. The person at EMI with whom I spoke told me the song is so new that it is not yet in their system, and therefore she couldn’t license it. “Can’t you just add it to your system? You know they’re signed to your company.” “No. You won’t be able to use the song.”
Oh, really? A song cannot be licensed simply because someone at that company can’t think outside the box and figure out a way to effect the deal before the usual ingestion process is complete? That explanation doesn’t work for me. EMI will forego a license fee if the song isn’t used, which is fine, as their employee is the one not allowing it. Also, standing to forego revenue? Pharrell and Chad, who rely on EMI to make the deals for their music so they can get paid.
I called the Jive executive who paired Pharrell and Chad with Britney and told him EMI’s stance. He called Pharrell and/or Chad. Pharrell and/or Chad called EMI. On Thursday I got EMI’s approval to proceed. Don’t tell me something can’t be done.
Producer/Songwriter/NERD Pharrell Williams turns 47 today. In his honor I present to you this playlist of thirty songs Pharrell, often with Chad Hugo, had a hand in writing and/or producing and/or performing. You may be surprised at how many of these you know.
Inspired by the March 9 birthdays of ABC’s Martin Fry, The Velvet Underground’s John Cale, Lloyd Price, The Raiders’ Mark Lindsay, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band’s Chris Thompson, YG, Chingy, and L.T.D.’s Jeffrey Osborne.
Inspired by the September 8 birthdays of P!nk, The Cars’ Benjamin Orr, Patsy Cline, Aimee Mann, Neko Case, Peter Sellers, The Beau Brummels’ Sal Valentino, Wiz Khalifa, Slim Thug and Bob & Earl’s Earl Nelson.
Inspired by the July 3 birthdays of Erasure’s/Yaz’s Vince Clarke, Laura Branigan, Heatwave’s Johnny Wilder Jr., Elle King, Fontella Bass, Johnny Lee, Betty Buckley and The Seekers’ Judith Durham, and the July 2 birthdays of The Temptations’ Paul Williams, Vince Staples, Justice’s Xavier de Rosnay, Monie Love, Saweetie, Burna Boy and Michelle Branch.
Inspired by Black Music Month, LGBTQ Pride Month, the passings of Carl Reiner and composer Johnny Mandel, and the June 30 birthdays of Patrick Wolf, The Supremes’ Florence Ballard, The Moments’ Billy Brown, Sneaker Pimps’ Kelli Dayton, and Girls Aloud’s Cheryl Cole.
Inspired by Black Music Month, LGBTQ Pride Month, the June 5 birthdays of The Psychedelic Furs’ Richard Butler, Badfinger’s Tom Evans, Ronnie Dyson, Laurie Anderson, Aesop Rock, Marky Mark, and Cherish’s Felisha and Fallon King; and the June 4 birthdays of The Mamas and the Papas’ Michelle Phillips, Freddy Fender, Peter & Gordon’s Gordon Waller, El DeBarge and Devin the Dude.