Sunday, April 29, 2012

I have decided to change the format of my Top Ten lists. Instead of highlighting a particular year each week, I am now going to highlight this week in recent history (over the past 50 years). These are songs you were likely to hear on the radio that particular week. It gives me a chance to increase my choices and also an opportunity to shake things up, as well.

As a result, the historical essays will instead be a listing of events that happened during this week in history and in most cases, one of these events will be the inspiration of that weeks list. Furthermore, the song descriptions themselves will be shorter.

I hope you like the changes and would love to hear your feedback.

Ten Great Songs From One Great Week

April 26-May 2, 1992

The Rodney King Beating and Riots - During this week in 1992, the South Central Riots were sparked when a jury acquitted three white and one Hispanic Los Angeles Police Department officers accused in the videotaped beating of black motorist Rodney King, following a high-speed pursuit. Thousands of people in the Los Angeles area rioted over the six days following the verdict. Widespread looting, assault, arson and murder occurred, and property damages topped roughly $1 billion. In all, 54 people died during the riots and thousands more were injured.

In the midst of the harrowing violence, King nervously uttered the phrase that would forever be synonymous with him and the riot: "Can we all just get along?" His sudden fame didn't make things much easier for King. He did win $3.8 million in damages from the City of Los Angeles for the beating incident, but much of it went into starting a rap record label, Straight Alta-Pazz Records, which soon folded. Over the next several years, he was arrested for various charges, including convictions for drunk driving and domestic abuse. He moved from Los Angeles to suburban Rialto to live quietly with his family.

Music Charts:

#1 Single -- "Jump" by Kriss Kross
#1 Album -- Adrenalize by Def Leppard

Other Events:

1429 – Joan of Arc arrives to relieve the Siege of Orleans.
1945 – VE Day: The German Army in Italy unconditionally surrenders to the Allies. Also, Adolf Hitler marries his longtime partner Eva Braun in a Berlin bunker and designates Admiral Karl Dönitz as his successor. Both Hitler and Braun will commit suicide the next day. And, The Dachau concentration camp is liberated by United States troops.
1974 – President Richard Nixon announces the release of edited transcripts of White House tape recordings related to the Watergate break-in scandal.
2004 – Dick Cheney and George W. Bush testify before the 9/11 Commission in a closed, unrecorded hearing in the Oval Office. Also, Oldsmobile builds its final car ending 107 years of production.
2011 - Wedding of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Kate Middleton.

Baby Got Back -- Sir Mix-A-Lot

This song is about women with big butts, and the men who love them. Mix-a-Lot got the idea for this when he was watching the Super Bowl on TV. A Budweiser beer commercial came on with models who were way too skinny for his taste. This started a trend of rap "booty" songs. Wreckx-N-Effect had a hit soon after with "Rump Shaker," and rappers have been singing the praises of "the bubble" ever since. The outrageous video was briefly banned by MTV. This added to the song's popularity, as Mix-a-Lot played up the controversy.

Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover -- Sophie B. Hawkins

The song was somewhat controversial in that towards the end of the song, the lyrics reveal it to be about a woman in love with another woman. The original music video created for the song was also controversial: MTV banned it due to its erotic content, forcing a new, more mainstream video to be made. A portion of this original video is featured in the documentary The Cream Will Rise.

Remember The Time -- Michael Jackson

This was the second single released from Dangerous. The song was written and composed by Teddy Riley, Michael Jackson and Bernard Belle. It was an attempt at connecting the smooth New Jack Swing sound that Riley was renowned for, with Jackson's more earthy R/B. The expensive video set in ancient Egypt was directed by John singleton and starred Eddie Murphy, Magic Johnson, and the Somali fashion model Iman, who married David Bowie in 1992. In the video, Iman plays the object of desire, and while Jackson had leading ladies in previous videos, including "Thriller" and "The Way You Make Me Feel," this was the first time he shared a kiss on screen. Jackson always seemed a bit reluctant to kiss in public, and at the 1994 MTV Video Music Awards he tried to placate fans by very publicly kissing his new bride, Lisa Marie Presley.

I Can't Dance -- Genesis

Genesis keyboardist Tony Banks said in an interview that this song showed a kind of direction the band could have gone in. Opposite to what Genesis has done as general practice, which is taking an idea and turning it into a long or complex composition, it was just taking an idea, and leaving it alone. The humorous music video (directed by Jim Yukich) illustrates the artifice and false glamour of television advertisements. Phil Collins comments that the video was designed to poke fun of the models in jeans commercials, and each verse refers to things that models in these commercials do. The ending is a parody to the "Black or White" music video, depicting Collins parodying the "Panther ending" in which Michael Jackson dances erratically. Banks and Mike Rutherford eventually arrive to escort Collins off the set, at which point he goes limp and they have to drag him away.

Come As You Are -- Nirvana

Kurt Cobain described this song as "About people, and what they're expected to act like." The lyrics are intentionally contradictory and confusing, with one line rebutting the next: "As a friend, as an old enemy." "Take your time, hurry up." The chords in this song are a slowed down replica of Killing Joke's 1985 song "Eighties." The songs were so similar that Nirvana considered holding off releasing this as a single. Killing Joke decided not to sue Nirvana, and in 1992, Dave Grohl helped them out by playing drums for them on an album.

Under The Bridge -- Red Hot Chili Peppers

Lead singer Anthony Kiedis wrote this about his days as a heroin addict and the loneliness that went with it. The bridge mentioned in the song is a place where he sometimes went to buy drugs and get high. In 1990, after the death of his best friend, Hillel Slovak, Kiedis suddenly became afraid. He was sitting behind the wheel of his car and just began singing "sometimes I feel like I don't have a partner..." Slovak, who played guitar in the band, died of a drug overdose in 1988. This song was originally just a poem that Kiedis wrote. He didn't write it for the Chili Peppers - it was a very personal poem that he thought he might use somewhere else. Producer Rick Rubin found it in one of his notebooks and told Anthony that it could be a great song. At first, he didn't want to sing it or share it with anyone, but he eventually came around.

Tears In Heaven -- Eric Clapton

Clapton wrote this about his 4-year-old son Conor, who died when he fell out of a 53rd floor window in the apartment where his mother was staying in New York City. Clapton had one other child at the time: His daughter Ruth was born in 1987, the year after Conor was born. In March 2004, Eric stopped playing this and "My Father's Eyes" in concert. While touring Japan in late 2003, he discovered he could no longer perform them. Said Clapton: "I didn't feel the loss anymore, which is so much a part of performing those songs. I really have to connect with he feelings that were there when I wrote them. They're kind of gone and I really don't want them to come back, particularly. My life is different now. They probably just need a rest and maybe I'll introduce them for a much more detached point of view."

One -- U2

This can be interpreted many ways. It could be about the band, a girl, or an AIDS victim. Bono has said it is "About relationships." The band wrote this song in Berlin after toiling there for months trying to record Achtung Baby, and it rejuvenated them creatively. Says The Edge: "It was a pivotal song in the recording of the album, the first breakthrough in what was an extremely difficult set of sessions." Proceeds from the single were donated to AIDS research, which was stated on the liner notes of the single.

Hazard -- Richard Marx

Richard Marx is known for songs about relationships, but he will write a story song every now and then. This purely fictional song is set in the small town of Hazard, Nebraska, which is a real place. It tells the story of a man who grows up there and is accused of murder when his girlfriend is found dead by the river. Marx plays the boyfriend/possible killer in the video, which looks like it could be a segment of a TV crime drama. The song and the video were completely different from what we had come to expect from Marx, but it worked; the song became his 8th Top-10 hit in the US.

Save The Best For Last -- Vanessa Williams

This elegant love song is a tale of unrequited love that comes together in the end. The message of the song is that life is full of unexpected events that often lead to what's ultimately for the best. For Vanessa Williams, the song had special meaning as she recovered from a scandal where she was stripped of her Miss America crown when nude pictures of her surfaced. Williams became a very successful singer and actress, overshadowing the scandal with her talents. This topped the Hot 100 for five weeks and was named by the ASCAP as its Song of the Year for 1992, meaning it was performed more than any other song in that year.

No comments: