Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*: #400-391

If you're just discovering the music special that everyone is talking about, we strongly encourage you to start at the beginning and listen to the first 100 songs before you hear this segment.  We dive into The Top 400* with these 10 great songs:



Missing You 
John Waite

"I just love this song!"

"Good classic song."

"Lovely song"


"Pure genius."

This former art student began playing and singing with rock and jazz groups when he was 14.  In 1976, John Waite co-founded the Babys, which soon signed a recording contract with Chrysalis Records.  Waite sang lead for the Babys on  hits such as "Isn't It Time", "Every Time I Think Of You", and "Back On My Feet Again" before going solo. 

Waite wrote this song as the lead single from his 1984 album No Brakes, with help from Mark Leonard and Charles Sandford, who teamed to write the music.  Sandford also wrote "Talk To Me" by Stevie Nicks and "What Kind Of Man Would I Be?" for Chicago. 
In June, the song faced "What's Love Got To Do With It" by Tina Turner, "Hello" from Lionel Richie, "When Doves Cry" and "Let's Go Crazy" by Prince, "Against All Odds" by Phil Collins, "Time After Time" by Cyndi Lauper, "I Just Called To Say I Loved You" by Stevie Wonder, "You're The Inspiration" by Chicago, "Footloose" by Kenny Loggins, "Dancing In The Dark" by Bruce Springsteen, and "Caribbean Queen" by Billy Ocean. 
"Missing You" climbed to #1 in the U.S., spending 9 weeks in the Top 10, and peaked at #7 on the Adult Contemporary chart.  It also reached #1 in Canada, #6 in Ireland, and #9 in the U.K. 
While the song only helped sell .5 million albums at the time, it has gone on to record over three million in radio airplay.



One More Night
Phil Collins

"This  song is one of the best with a lot of love, passion and deep thought."
"Great song forever."
"I will always cherish this song."
"Wonderful song!"

The man who began as a child actor, appearing as the Artful Dodger in the London stage presentation of Oliver and an extra in the Beatles movie A Hard Day's Night, became one of the top stars of the 80's.
After the departure of Peter Gabriel from Genesis in 1975, Phil Collins stepped up as lead singer and took the group to the stratosphere.  While with Genesis, Collins also began a parallel solo career in 1981, and somehow still found time to guest on albums by Eric Clapton, Gabriel, Robert Plant, Howard Jones, and Adam Ant.  Combined, Collins had 30 hits in the 80's, with an incredible 8 of those going to #1 and 17 Top 10's. 
Collins was playing around with his drum machine when he began saying the chorus to "One More Night".  He said that the rest of the song was written rather quickly.  The song helped the album No Jacket Required to a seven-week run at #1 on the Album chart in the U.S.
Competition included Madonna's "Like A Virgin" and "Crazy For You", "Everybody Wants To Rule The World" and "Shout" by Tears for Fears, "We Are The World" by USA for Africa, "Careless Whisper" by Wham!, "Can't Fight This Feeling" by REO Speedwagon, and "I Want To Know What Love Is" from Foreigner.
"One More Night" rose to #1 for two weeks overall and #1 for three weeks on the Adult Contemporary chart.  The song also led the way in Canada, and was #2 in Australia, #4 in the U.K., #5 in New Zealand, and #8 in the Netherlands.
The song helped Collins win Grammies for Album of the Year, Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male and Producer of the Year.  "One More Night" went Gold, and has helped sell over 15.5 million albums.




Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves 

 "Great song!"

"Absolutely an awesome song...ageless-timeless."

"It's a classic."

"Superb song."

"I love this classic song so much!"


Here is one of 19 songs from 1971 to make The Top 500*, making it one of the best years of the Rock Era.  It's by a show business legend who began her career working for Phil Spector, singing backup on songs by the Ronettes and others.

The year was 1971, and Cher was in need of a hit.  It had been four years since her last Top 10 song, but things were looking up.  She and husband Sonny Bono landed their own show, The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour (On CBS-TV), Cher signed a new recording contract with Kapp Records, and Bob Stone wrote this for her.  It not only returned her to the Top 10, but became her first solo #1 song. 

"Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves" actually changed the title of her album, which was initially her self-titled album.   

Cher's great song went against a lineup that included "American Pie" by Don McLean, "Stairway To Heaven" by Led Zeppelin, "Without You" by Nilsson, "Maggie May" from Rod Stewart, "Imagine" by John Lennon, "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart" by the Bee Gees, "You've Got A Friend" by James Taylor, "Superstar" by the Carpenters, "Let's Stay Together" by Al Green, "Family Affair" by Sly & the Family Stone, "Spanish Harlem" by Aretha Franklin, and "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" by Paul McCartney & Wings.
I don't know about you, but that seems like quite a list of classics to encounter.  How many songs in the Rock Era would even make the Top 10 against that competition?  Yet Cher took "Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves" all the way to #1 for 2 weeks and spent 9 of 16 weeks locked in the Top 10 against those songs.  It also reached #6 on the Adult chart.  The song also topped the Canadian chart and went to #2 in New Zealand, #3 in Ireland, #4 in the U.K., and #5 in Australia.     

 "Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves" sold over one million copies in the U.S. (three million worldwide) and helped sell three million albums.  To date, it has achieved two million in radio airplay.



 Don't Fall In Love With A Dreamer
Kenny Rogers & Kim Carnes
 "Beautiful song and so true.  Passion can at times be very self-absorbed."

"Love this song."

"Can't get enough of this song."

"This is a beautiful, meaningful song."

Here's one of 17 songs in The Top 500 Songs* from the year 1980, a solid year in music.  It is one of eight "one-off" duets in the countdown, a pretty high number considering these combinations only recorded one song together, and were able to land in The Top 500 of the Rock Era* with them.

Kim Carnes began her career in the 1960's as a songwriter, writing for other artists while she performed in local clubs and sang backing vocals for the Waters sisters.  In 1966, Carnes joined the New Christy Minstrels, which also included Kenny Rogers at the time.   Carnes signed her first publishing deal with Jimmy Bowen, and shared demo-recording time with Bowen's other writers, including Don Henley, Glenn Frey, and J.D. Souther.  
Carnes released her debut album Rest on Me in 1972.  Kim enjoyed a few minor hits (most notably "You're A Part Of Me" with Gene Cotton and "More Love") before co-writing this classic with David Ellingson.  To record it with her, Kim called upon an old friend, Kenny Rogers, and the single was released in March, 1980 as the first single from Rogers' album Gideon.   
If you were listening back at the time, you would also hear "Another Brick In The Wall" by Pink Floyd, "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" by Queen, "It's Still Rock & Roll To Me" by Billy Joel, "Rock With You" by Michael Jackson, "Call Me" by Blondie, "The Rose" by Bette Midler, Kenny's song "Coward Of The County", "Lost In Love" and "All Out Of Love" by Air Supply, "Upside Down" by Diana Ross, "Magic" from Olivia Newton-John, "Sailing" by Christopher Cross and "Longer" from Dan Fogelberg. 
"Don't Fall In Love With A Dreamer" reached #4 for 3 weeks, and #2 for 4 weeks on the Adult chart.  It also rose to #3 in Canada.  The song has helped sell 19 million albums in the U.S. alone.



No One
 Alicia Keys


"Tears :')"
"I love this song--it is my jam."
"It is amazing."
"This song has so much passion."
That's my song."


Artists from New York State certainly contributed their share of songs to the elite 500.  Song #396* is one of 57 songs by artists born or groups formed in New York City.   

Alicia Keys appeared on The Cosby Show at the age of four.  She struck a chord with the public beginning with her debut album Songs in A Minor and hasn't let up since.  Alicia has now sold over 35 million records.
"No One" was one of the last songs written for Alicia Keys' third album As I Am.  Kerry Brothers, Jr. and George M. Harry co-wrote it with Alicia, and the song was released as the lead single from the album in September, 2007.  The song was all by itself on the charts, with no other songs out at the time that even approached The Top 500*. 

"No One" jumped to #1 for 4 weeks and spent 21 weeks in the Top 10, the second number inflated with weak competition.  It also reigned at #1 for 9 weeks on the R&B chart and reached #9 on the AC chart.  "No One" also rose to #1 in Switzerland, #2 in Canada and New Zealand, #3 in Germany, Australia, the Netherlands, and Austria, #5 in France and Sweden, #6 in the U.K., and #7 in Denmark.  According to the Nielsen Company, "No One" was the most listened song on U.S. radio of 2008 with 3.08 million listeners. 

"No One" helped Keys win Grammy Awards for Best R&B Song and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, American Music Awards for Favorite Pop/Rock Album and Favorite Soul/R&B Album, and a World Music Award for Best-Selling Female R&B Artist.

"No One" sold over three million copies and helped sell three million albums.



Under The Bridge
 Red Hot Chili Peppers

"I really love this song."

"Great song by RHCP."


"Veramente incredibile!:)))"

"Great, great, great, great song."

As we continue to climb the ladder to #1 for the last 60 years, we arrive at this song from the Los Angeles group Red Hot Chili Peppers.  They originally formed as classmates at Fairfax High School under the name Tony Flow and the Majestic Masters of Mayhem.
Lead singer Anthony Kiedis wrote the lyrics to this song as a way to express loneliness and depression.  Kiedis to his credit had given up drugs, unlike his bandmates.  Because of this, he felt alienated from the other group members, and felt that the city of Los Angeles was his only companion.  The song discusses the harsh effects of drugs, their role in destroying many of Kiedis' personal relationships, and the impact on his happiness. 

Specifically, it tells the story of how Kiedis entered the territory of a gang under a bridge to purchase drugs.  To gain admittance, Kiedis pretended that a sister of one of the gang members was his fiancée.  Kiedis considers the experience to be one of the lowest points of his life as it showed the level to which he went to in order to feed his addiction.     
Kiedis at first did not feel that "Under The Bridge" would fit the group, but was talked into sharing the song with the other members of the Peppers by producer Rick Rubin.  The other members loved the song and wrote the music to the song, released as the second single from the album Blood Sugar Sex Magik on March 10, 1992.
Among the songs out at the same time were "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston, "End Of The Road" by Boyz II Men, "Tears In Heaven" from Eric Clapton, "Save The Best For Last" by Vanessa Williams, and "If I Ever Fall In Love" by Shai. 
Yet "Under The Bridge" peaked at #2 and spent 12 weeks in the Top 10, essentially enabling the Red Hot Chili Peppers to cross into the mainstream.  It also landed at #6 on the Modern Rock chart in the U.S., and went to #1 in Australia and the Netherlands and #2 in New Zealand. 
"Under The Bridge" has sold over one million singles and helped sell over 10 million albums.  It is one of the first songs from the last 15 years to go over the one-million mark in airplay.




Keep On Loving You
REO Speedwagon

"It's just simply the best música ever!!!"
"Love it!"
"This is one of the classics."
"Awesome song!"
"Deep song..."


If rock & roll is about paying your dues, this group is one of the biggest dues-payers of the Rock Era.  They formed in 1968 in Champaign, Illinois, named after a make of antique fire engine.  Irving Azoff, who later became famous for managing the Eagles, became REO Speedwagon's manager in 1972.  The group's debut album failed to chart, despite extensive touring by the group. 
The group's second album did not chart either.  REO tried, in succession, with the albums Ridin' The Storm Out (#171), Lost In A Dream (#98), This Time We Mean It (#74), R.E.O. (#159), You Can Tune A Piano But You Can't Tuna Fish (#79), and Nine Lives (#33).  Still, the band performed live at breakneck pace.  In 13 years, "Time For Me To Fly" was the best song what REO had to show for it, at #56. 
Then in 1980, lead singer Kevin Cronin wrote this song for the REO album Hi Infidelity, which was recorded from March through October.  Hi Infidelity became the group's breakthrough release.  "Keep On Loving You" was not only the group's first song to reach the Top 50; it went all the way to #1.
"Keep On Loving You" took hold in November of 1980, out at the same time as great songs such as Kenny Rogers' "Lady", "Another One Bites The Dust" by Queen, "Woman In Love" from Barbra Streisand, "All Out Of Love" by Air Supply, "Woman" by John Lennon, "Upside Down" by Diana Ross, and "Celebration" by Kool and the Gang. 
REO reached #1 with this classic, which remained in the Top 10 for 9 weeks.  It also landed at #2 in Canada, #3 in Australia, #4 in Switzerland, #6 in Ireland, #7 in the U.K., and #9 in the Netherlands.
"Keep On Loving You" has sold over two million singles and helped sell over 12 million albums in the U.S. alone. 



"This song is a fave of mine."
"Perfect song."
"An amazing song."
"Absolutely love this SO MUCH!"
"This is true music."

The next great song is one of just 12 songs since 2000 to make The Top 500*, far and away the weakest time of the Rock Era.
At age 11, this superstar joined his first band in Atlanta, Georgia, called NuBeginnings.  The group recorded 10 songs in 1991.  When he was 13, Usher competed on the television program Star Search, where an A&R representative from LaFace Records saw him and arranged for an audition with L.A. Reid, co-founder of LaFace.  Reid signed Usher to a recording contract on the spot.   
Usher co-wrote this smash with Jermaine Dupri and Bryan-Michael Cox, who also produced the song.  "Burn" is about a breakup, not dissimilar to what Usher was experiencing in his personal life.  The song was released as a single in July from his album Confessions 
"Burn" roared to #1 for 8 weeks, with 18 weeks in Top 10.  It also flew to #1 in the U.K. and New Zealand, #2 in Australia and Ireland, and #10 in Norway and Switzerland.  Unfortunately for Usher, those numbers were put together against weak competition, with his song "Yeah!" being the only other significant song out at the time.

The song helped Usher win the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary R & B Album, American Music Awards for Favorite Pop/Rock Album, Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist, Favorite Soul/R & B Album and Favorite Soul/R & B Male Artist, and helped him win 14 Billboard Awards (including Artist of the Year, Hot 100 Artist of the Year, Album
of the Year, Hot 100 Singles Artist of the Year, R&B/Hip-Hop Artist of the Year, R&B/Hip-Hop Song of the Year, Mainstream Top 40 Artist of the Year, R&B/Hip-Hop Singles Artist of the Year, R&B/Hip-Hop Album Artist of the Year, R&B/Hip-Hop Album of the Year, and Digital Artist of the Year).

"Burn" sold 500,000 singles and helped sell 10.5 million albums. 




The Closer I Get To You
Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway
 "Love that soulful sultry sound."
"My favorite duet!!! Classic."
"One of my all-time favorites."
"So nice.  So nice."
"Great song--love it!"

James Mtume and Reggie Lucas, two former musicians with Miles Davis' band who had hooked up with Roberta Flack, wrote Song #392*.  Flack and Donny Hathaway, who had recorded an album of duets in 1972, teamed up again for this gem.
Originally, the song was written solely for Flack, but Roberta's manager, David Franklin, decided to re-write the song to include him.  Hathaway had been suffering from depression, and the producers of the song had to get permission from the hospital to fly Donnie to the recording sessions.  Roberta recalled the experience:

I tried to reach out to Donny. That's how we managed to do the song we did last year. I felt this need because I didn't know what to do. I couldn't save him, I knew he was sick. But I knew when he sat down at that piano and sang for me it was like it was eight or nine years ago because he was amazing.
Flack released the song as a single in 1978 from her album Blue Lights in the Basement.  The song debuted in February, where it faced great songs such as "How Deep Is Your Love", "Stayin' Alive", and "Night Fever" by the Bee Gees, "You Light Up My Life" from Debby Boone, "Three Times A Lady" by the Commodores, "Baker Street" by Gerry Rafferty, Billy Joel's "Just The Way You Are", "Lay Down Sally" by Eric Clapton, "We Are The Champions" by Queen, "If I Can't Have You" by Yvonne Elliman, Linda Ronstadt's "Blue Bayou", "Shadow Dancing" by Andy Gibb, "Sometimes When We Touch" by Dan Hill, "Baby Come Back" by Player and "Dust In The Wind" by Kansas.

 "The Closer I Get To You" reached #2 for 2 weeks with 8 weeks in the Top 10 in the U.S.  It also landed at #1 on the R&B chart for 2 weeks and #3 on the Adult Contemporary chart.  "The Closer I Get To You" also charted at #1 in Canada and #10 in France.

The song sold over one million singles and helped sell two million albums.  To date, it has been played over two million times in the U.S. alone.
Although he was brilliant on this song, Hathaway committed suicide the following year.  Flack announced after his death that all money made from the song would be donated to Donny's wife and two children.    




Up-Up And Away
 5th Dimension


"Just makes you feel good."

"Awesome music!"

"The perfect summer song!"

"Absolutely wonderful music."

Great songwriter Jimmy Webb penned this one, which became one of the 5th Dimension's best-loved songs.  Some of their releases were bigger hits at the time, but this one it seems has stood the test of time better.
Webb got the idea for the song from a balloon that his friend William F. Williams flew on promotions for radio station KMEN in San Bernadino, California.  The song was first recorded by the Los Angeles group The Sunshine Company, which included it on their debut album in 1967.  Linda Kay Henning, star of the television show Petticoat Junction, also recorded the song with The Sunshine Company singing backing vocals. 
The 5th Dimension had originally formed as the Versatiles in Los Angeles in 1966.  The Versatiles toured with several acts, including Nat "King" Cole and Ray Charles, before hooking up with Marc Gordon, who became their manager.  Gordon introduced them to Johnny Rivers, who had started his own record label, Soul City.  Rivers signed the group in February of 1967, but suggested they change their name.  The group came up with the 5th Dimension, and they were trying to get off the ground, so to speak, with their best effort to date being "Go Where You Wanna' Go", which reached #16.  
Producer Rivers had to reschedule sessions for the group's first album so he could perform at the San Remo Song Festival.  It so happens that rehearsal pianist Jim Webb took the time to go to a fair, where he saw Williams and his balloon.  After writing "Up, Up And Away", Webb came back to the studio and played it for the 5th Dimension.  They loved it and insisted on recording it, as well as four other songs from Webb to complete the album.  "Up, Up And Away" became the title song from their 1967 album, and radio stations began playing it in June.
Keep in mind that this new aspiring group's new song was out at the same time as great songs like "Light My Fire" by the Doors, "Groovin'" by the Rascals, "Ode To Billie Joe" by Bobby Gentry, "The Letter" by the Box Tops, "Never My Love" by the Association, "Windy" by the Association, "All You Need Is Love" and "A Day In The Life" by the Beatles, "Respect" from Aretha Franklin, "Brown-Eyed Girl" by Van Morrison, and "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" by Frankie Valli, among many others.   
"Up, Up And Away" flew to #7 for three weeks, and also reached #9 on the Adult chart.  Anyone who looks at the #7 (for a peak) without looking at the above competition is simply missing the boat, or in this case the balloon.
The Grammy Awards paid attention, and rewarded the 5th Dimension with Grammys for Record of the Year, Song of the Year (which went to Webb, for writing the song), Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, and Other Pop/Rock & Roll/Contemporary Awards or Instrumental.  This great song has now been played six million times, one of the most-played songs of the Rock Era. 
The Top 500* will continue tomorrow in only one place--Inside The Rock Era! 

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