Songs About Dancing

When I’m able, I like to watch the UK Top 40 on Monday nights – you know, to keep up with what those crazy kids are listening to these days. If I consider each song on its own, I’m pretty much ok with chart music right now. No one song is so bad that I really hate it*, some are even catchy as hell.

On the other hand, I look at the chart as a whole and I’m all, ‘Wha’ happen?!’ Since when is a single sound represented in the charts? And I mean that almost literally: during a recent countdown, I counted about 6 songs out of 40 that did not use the same clubby dance beat. And on top of that, the beat kind of makes them all sing the same – to the point where choruses actually do all sound the same, note-wise. And what’s weird is that it’s almost as if artists are now afraid not to sound exactly like everyone else, if recent tracks by Snoop Dogg (ahem) and Flo Rida are anything to go by. I know that chart music is not always the most diverse, and every old fart like myself says it was better in their day, but seriously – this is out of hand. It’s like unique-ness is now a flaw in an artist, no longer their potential selling point.

While thinking about all this important stuff, I’ve also noticed something else weird (and same-y) about chart songs right now: they’re all about partying, getting wasted, dancing all night, having the night of our lives. Last Friday Night, Party Rock Anthem, On The Floor, Don’t Stop The Party. There are few artists that even pretend they’re offering any substance right now. Tracy Chapman, Aloe Blacc, and even Adele feel very out of place when you watch along on MTV. Doesn’t anyone have an opinion about anything anymore? Don’t these artists think about stuff? I really wish the youth of today had something to say that wasn’t about partying but – based on the charts, at least – I’m really not sure they do. Which is pretty much the most depressing thing ever.

But, if you think back a-ways, this isn’t actually new, it’s just a little worse than before. Here’s a weird little thought that’s been floating around in my head for years: there were a lot of songs about dancing in the 80s. Seriously, a lot – everybody just dancing all the time.

Lionel was dancing on the ceiling:

while Bruce danced in the dark:

and Billy danced with himself** :

Whitney wanted to dance with somebody who loved her:

but David was inviting us all to just dance already:

And, of course, Madonna was into the groove, Michael Sembello told us the story of the maniac on the floor, Kenny Loggins got footloose … the list goes on. Maybe we just always loved dancing and always will. Maybe, just maybe, there’s still some hope for those kids out there right now.

After all, we all turned out ok, right?

David Byrne – I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Whitney Houston cover)

* Other than that godawful Snoop Dogg song that’s popular right now. It’s so crap I can’t even be bothered to check the title. Please stop playing it. Seriously. Please stop.

** And some zombies, apparently. What the hell is going on in this video?!

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10 Random Facts: May 19th (A Special Edition)

Happy Birthday, Tamboosh!

Today is a special day here at 100b, because today we celebrate the birth of our own Mighty Tamboosh. It’s tradition ’round these parts to post a little something for each other’s birthdays, but Tamboosh is just too damn good at it. There’s no way on earth I could top the raw power of Saxon.

So instead, my dear Tamboosh, here’s a very special edition of 10 Random Facts just for you.

1.) Cool people who share your birthday: Joey Ramone, Malcolm X, Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca!), and Jenny Berggren of Ace of Base. Nice.

2.) On this day in 1960, just 21 years before Tamboosh (BT), the Drifters recorded their classic “Save The Last Dance For Me”.

3.) The No. 1 single in the UK on the very day you were born was Adam and The Ants’ “Stand And Deliver”.

4.) The No. 1 single in the US was Kim Carnes’ “Bette Davis Eyes”.

5.) Kim Carnes also topped the overall top spot for 1981. The second highest-selling single of that year was Lionel Richie and Diana Ross’ “Endless Love”. Kenny Rogers’ “Lady” came in third, John Lennon’s “(Just Like) Starting Over” was fourth, and Rick Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl” rounded up the top 5.

6.) The top-grossing movie of 1981 was Raiders Of The Lost Ark (coincidentally, a movie that I saw for the first time with you, approximately 25 years after its release).

7.) Sadly, Raiders Of The Lost Ark did not win the Oscar for Best Film in 1981, although it was – surprisingly – nominated. That honor was awarded to Chariots of Fire.

8.) On May 19th in 1965, 16 years BT, the FBI (lead by the ever-wise J. Edgar Hoover) visited Wand Records to investigate the lyrics of The Kingsmen’s “Louie Louie”. Parents had complained about the lyrical content of the song, and the FBI was tasked with determining whether it violated obscenity laws. The Kingsmen had nothing to worry about though, because the FBI eventually decided that they couldn’t tell what The Kingsman were singing, so couldn’t rule one way or the other.

9.) On the very day of your birth in 1981, Sting was named ‘songwriter of the year’ at the 16th Ivor Novello awards. Oh well – they can’t all be good.

10.) On your birthday in 1962, 19 years BT, the lovely Marilyn Monroe sang her famous rendition of Happy Birthday to President Kennedy in New York. And what better way to wish our Tamboosh the best birthday ever?

Marilyn Monroe – Happy Birthday Mr President

Those Zany Charts…

Billboard Hot 100

By way of an introduction to this episode of Those Zany Charts, I’m going to ask you, gentle reader, to hazard a guess at which artist or band has had the most No. 1 hits in the history of the Billboard Hot 100. Have a think about it, I’ll wait.

Michael Jackson, right? That was my guess anyway, and that of some people I posed the same question to. Somehow none of us thought of the obvious.

I recently came across this chart of charts – the Billboard list of the biggest hit-makers in the history of their Hot 100 (the first edition occurred in August 1958). Of course the answer is The Beatles, with a whopping 20 (twenty!) chart-topping singles. I’m almost ashamed not to have gotten it right, though I will say that none of the Beatles’ #1s are songs I really love. (Go here to see a detailed list of specific singles.) Maybe that’s because, since they were so big, they’re the ones that are played most frequently and you gradually get sick of them over your lifetime. Or maybe I just like other Beatles songs much better. Whatever the case, I’m not at all surprised to see them at the top, only embarrassed not to have figured it out for myself.

As for the rest of these chart-topping artists, let’s have a more general look. Yup, there’s Michael Jackson, down at #3 with 13 top hits. And what a 13 they are (other than maybe “Say Say Say” and “You Are Not Alone”, ugh), though I am kind of surprised at how short they each stayed at the top. Ditto for Madonna, just below Mr. Jackson with 12 #1s. The Supremes and Rolling Stones (12 and 8 hits, respectively) are hardly a shock, nor are Stevie Wonder (10), the Bee Gees (9), or Elton John (9).

Whitney Houston (11) and Janet Jackson (10) aren’t people I’d have thought of but I guess it does make sense that they’re represented on this list. It does seem funny though that neither “My Love Is Your Love” nor “Got ‘Til It’s Gone” – in my opinion, their best songs – were #1s. Anyway, the real surprises, for me at least, are:

– Paul McCartney/Wings with 9 chart-topping singles. Yeah yeah, he was a Beatle, the emphasis being on was. Paul McCartney without John, George, and Ringo? Blerg.

– Mariah Carey, right below the Fab Four with a total of 18 #1s. Seriously? The second highest chart-topper of the last 50-ish years? That’s quite shocking, and somehow I only know about half of those songs anyway. Hmm.

– And Usher, down at the bottom, but still kickin’ it with 8 #1s. Again, I only know a few of these songs (no, I’m not so much with chart music – what gave it away?) and the only Usher song I really loved back in the day, “You Make Me Wanna”, apparently only made it to Number 2 in 1997.

And what about The King? Billboard does note that a good number of Elvis’ big hits pre-date the Hot 100. Apparently there is some controversy over how many ‘hit’ singles Elvis actually had, but at least 7 of them were No. 1s on the Hot 100 chart, including these classics:

Elvis Presley – A Big Hunk O’ Love (Elvis’ first Hot 100 #1, 1959)
Elvis Presley – Suspicious Minds (Elvis’ last Hot 100 #1, 1969)

Those Zany Charts …

I love Halloween. It’s the best holiday ever and you will never get me to think otherwise. In celebration of this most holy day, I bring you my very own Top 10 Spooky Songs list. There’s a whole ton of lists like this out there – just Google “spooky songs” or “scary songs” and you’ll get loads of results – but I didn’t quite agree with any of them. So here’s my own, based on nothing but my own opinion and love of all things spooky and cheesy.

#10 Ray Parker, Jr., “Ghostbusters”
A dumb, dumb song but, here at 100b, we like dumb. Besides, because of this song, no one will ever be able to answer the question “Who ya gonna call?” like a normal person, so you can’t pretend that it hasn’t had an influence on popular culture.

#9 DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, “Nightmare On My Street”
Sadly, I have no mp3 or video to share for Will Smith’s 80s, ahem, classic “Nightmare On My Street”. Supposedly, there was a video, but it was scrapped when the Nightmare On Elm Street people were unimpressed by the song’s not-so-subtle references to their movies. Listen to the song here.

#8 Tom Petty, “Zombie Zoo”
In a funny coincidence, I put Tom Petty’s Full Moon Fever on my iPod just recently, because I always forget I have it and even though I love Tom Petty, I only know a few songs from it. While hanging around, doing our thing, the Tamboosh and I heard “Zombie Zoo” come up on shuffle and, of course, it caught our attention. It being Tom Petty and all, it’s not really about zombies, but it sure it catchy and a zombie zoo (if considered literally, that is) is too great of an image to pass up.

#7 Bobby “Boris” Pickett, “Monster Mash”
Yeah, it’s obvious, but it’s a classic. Plus – did you know that Leon Russell played on “Monster Mash”? Or that the BBC banned it on its original release in 1962 for being ‘too morbid’?! Or that a new version (one of many) called “Monster Rap” was released in 1985 to try and capitalize on the new popularity of rap?!?! (Thanks, Wikipedia!)

#6 Banjo Kate, “Zombie Jamboree”
I don’t know anything about Banjo Kate, or where this version of “Zombie Jamboree” came from (other than the Queens of Noize Folking It Up compilation), but it’s absolutely lovely. And about zombies. Who doesn’t love zombies? In my very quick search about this track, I learned that “Zombie Jamboree” is a pretty old song and has quite an interesting story, go check it out.

#5 The Five Blobs, “The Blob”
So awesome. There’s really nothing else to say. Listen here.

#4 Michael Jackson, “Thriller”
Again – pretty obvious. But there’s dancing zombies. And Vincent Price! This is the ultimate silliness, with a thin layer of cult-y cool. Admit it, you love “Thriller” and its absurdity just makes you love it more.

#3 The Doors, “Riders On The Storm”
Not a spooky song like some of the others on this list, but “Riders On The Storm” creeps me out. It’s all thunderstorms and abandoned dirt roads and perhaps the abandoning of bodies on the side of said roads. Creepy.

#2 The White Stripes, “Red Death At 6:14”
Is it me or does anyone else find the la la la las in this song kind of spooky? It’s like the voice belongs to the ghost of a little girl in pigtails and a pretty pink dress. The whole thing is just weird and vaguely sinister. But in a really good way.

#1 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, “Red Right Hand”
“Red Right Hand” is, without a doubt, the creepiest song of all time. Nick Cave’s voice is all dark and menacing, the music sounds like the slow, heavy footsteps of a crazed killer. I don’t really get scared easily, but this song might seriously creep me out if I played it alone at night. It’s very threatening and makes the hair on the back on my neck stand up. A Halloween #1 if ever there was one.

Happy Halloween!

Those Zany Charts…

It’s been quite a long time since we looked at the current singles charts, so this week we’re going to use the BBC Radio 1 Chart Show list and pick on the Top 10.

#10: Biffy Clyro, “Mountains” (YouTube link)

To be honest, I don’t get Biffy Clyro. There’s nothing bad about this, I just don’t understand the total devotion some people have with this band. In any case, they’ve dropped two positions since last week but are still rocking out in the Top 10.

#9: Kid Rock, “All Summer Long”

I’m sort of shocked that this song is doing so well in the UK. It’s also dropped two places but has been in the chart for 11 weeks – erm, all summer long, as it happens. This single sounds particularly American to me, and to tell you the truth, a little bland for Kid Rock, so I’d never have expected it to be such a big hit on this side of the world. I do however, like the use of the “Sweet Home Alabama” riff and choir in the chorus, so it’s got that going for it.

#8: Madcon, “Beggin'” (YouTube link*)

Holy crap – rap from Norway?! Who knew? This is pretty cool, the video’s got a whole 1970s Shaft / Foxy Brown thing going on and the song is ridiculously catchy. I’m curious what else Madcon will bring us now that they’ve broken through to international charts (as far as I can tell, this is their first big hit).

#7: The Script, “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved” (YouTube link*)

The Tamboosh once told me her theory that groups like this are the boy bands of the 00s. This totally proves her point.

#6: Eric Prydz, “Pjanoo” (YouTube link)

Hmm, dance-type music is one of the few genres I don’t really listen to, so I can’t judge if this is any good or not. I didn’t hate it, but it didn’t convert me into a dance/techno (dude, I don’t even know what to call it!) fan, either. What’s up with the tiny Indians?

#5: Rihanna, “Disturbia” (YouTube link*)

I’m usually quite impressed with Rihanna and her willingness not be exactly like every other gorgeous singer out there in Popland. Sadly, this single is kind of a dud for me – it’s not different enough to stand out, like her singles often do, and it’s not catchy enough to make up for it.

#4: The Pussycat Dolls, “When I Grow Up”

Since I don’t get paid for this, you can’t make me listen to the Pussycat Dolls. Seriously, I won’t do it.

#3: Cliff Richard, “Thank You For A Lifetime” (YouTube link)

Oh, dear. I couldn’t skip two in a row, could I? This is pretty much as painful and cringe-worthy as I expected it to be. Please say this is a farewell / retirement song – that might improve it a little.

#2: Katy Perry, “I Kissed A Girl”

I’ve read a lot about Katy Perry but not heard her music until now. This single is apparently very controversial, which I guess should be expected, but it all seems a little silly to me. Though, to be fair, if it wasn’t, it probably wouldn’t be so popular. It’s a decent enough pop song, pretty much what pop should be, in my opinion: catchy, danceable, fun – but let’s face it, it’s no “Umbrella” or “Crazy In Love”.

#1: Kings Of Leon, “Sex On Fire” (YouTube link*)

Ah, the mighty Kings Of Leon at #1, right where they should be. They get a tiny bit more stadium with every release, but that’s not a bad thing, as long as they continue to hang on to that Southern grittiness that made them so great in the first place. This feels more John Cougar Mellencamp than any of their previous singles, but I can get down with that. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m really looking forward to Monday’s release of Only By The Night – we can always do with a little more KOL in this world.

And there you have – another week, another totally in-depth chart investigation here at 100b. Until next time…

* Sadly, these YouTube channels won’t allow embedding on these videos. Which, of course, is completely absurd since it’s basically free advertising. What the hell is up with that?! Hrmph.

Those Zany Charts…

Isn’t it funny how you can get totally into The Olympics yet have no interest in sports whatsoever? Knowing you don’t really care at all, you still have this intense need to watch the Long Jump. Seriously – I’m watching rowing right now. Rowing. What’s that all about? I call it being Olympnotized. To kick off this year’s world-wide Olympnosis, I was planning on giving you all a run-down of past Olympic theme songs.

Sadly, the New York Times beat me to it.

So, if you’re interested in decades of Olympic cheese, go check it out. Since all eyes are on China right now, I decided instead to have a look at Chinese pop culture and see what those crazy kids are listening to over there. I found this chart on yesasia – it’s a couple of weeks old, but it’s the best I could do in a language I can actually read. So, let’s have a look at the top 5 …

(Note: the titles of these songs can be seen at the yesasia link above – I have absolutely no idea what they mean.)

#5

This is, apparently, “Lam Man Lung” by Juno featuring Softhard. It’s a smooth funky R&B/hip-hop-ish jam, not at all unpleasant. I seriously wish I could understand what they were singing about because I’m incredibly curious if the flashy virtual reality video has anything to do with the song. In any case, I love the bit at about 1:08 with the robot-y voice – I could listen to that all day long.

#4

I couldn’t find a proper video for this one, but at least you can check out the song. It’s listed on yesasia as Kay Tse, but – according to my shaky research – is actually Kelvin Kwan featuring Kay Tse. This song is odd – it’s hip-hop-ish in some of the vocals, but also a little like a Chinese Evanescence song.

#3

I think one is my favorite of the bunch – Ms. Ivana Wong is adorable and even though I have no idea what’s going on, it’s quite catchy. But what on earth is going on with the bar codes and paint and stuff?

#2

I have to admit, I watched this video twice and I’m still not sure what happened with this couple. And that has nothing to do with a linguistic or cultural barrier, only my own inability to understand the constant time shifts. No matter what happened to these guys, Kary Ng proves that breaking up is hard and love songs are relevant anywhere.

#1

And at the top of the chart, here is Fama, another hip-hop-ish song. Funny how all of these songs could be popular anywhere if they were in a different language. I love these guys – the song itself isn’t the kind of thing I’d expect to hear pumping from my stereo though it does kind of suck you in about halfway through. Mostly I love how they’re regular-looking and, well, kind of dorks. They make me incredibly happy and I’m glad they got the top spot.

So there you have it – a little taste of a land far far away. Now I have to go give my attention to some swimming heats that I don’t really care about.

Those Zany Charts …

Due to a tummyache and some general uckiness yesterday, I put Those Zany Charts off until today. I’d already decided to write about the most expensive videos ever made and started doing the research so I’d be ready to write it up today.

I found this wikipedia list and got ready to go find those videos on youtube. Which is when I discovered that someone’s already written my post, and they did a way better job than I had planned to do. Sigh.

If you’re interested in the most absurdly expensive videos ever made, and what exactly made them cost so damn much, go here:

Crazy Topic: 10 Most Expensive Music Videos

And marvel at how you barely remember most of them.

Except for Missy Elliot, she’s badass and her videos (especially around that time) were always pretty awesome.

   Missy Elliot – She’s A Bitch