Category: film song

On this day in music history: July 17, 1958 – …

On this day in music history: July 17, 1958 – “Hard Headed Woman" by Elvis Presley hits #1 on the Billboard Best Sellers chart for 2 weeks, also peaking at #2 on the R&B singles chart on the same date. Written by Claude Demetrius, it is the tenth chart topping single for Presley. The song is written for and included in his fourth film “King Creole”, directed by Michael Curtiz (“Casablanca”, “The Adventures Of Robin Hood”, “Angels With Dirty Faces”) and co-starring Carolyn Jones (“The Addams Family”) and Walter Matthau. Recorded on January 10, 1958, Presley records the soundtrack and stars in the film just prior to being inducted into the Army. He receives a deferment from the US Government from January to March, to allow him time to complete his work on the film. Presley receives his best reviews yet for his performance, and sites it as his personal favorite among the thirty one films he makes between 1956 and 1969. Entering the Best Sellers chart at #15 on June 26, 1958, it streaks to the top of the chart three weeks later. “Hard Headed Woman” is Elvis’ third single to be officially certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: July 13, 1985 – …

On this day in music history: July 13, 1985 – “A View To A Kill” by Duran Duran hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks. Written by Duran Duran and John Barry, it is the second US chart topper for the Birmingham, UK based pop/rock band. The members of Duran Duran are invited to write the theme for the fourteenth James Bond film after bassist John Taylor meets Bond producer Albert “Cubby” Broccoli at a party. This encounter leads to the two sides talking seriously about composing the title song. Broccoli then introduces Duran Duran to score composer John Barry who co-writes and arranges the song with the band. Fresh off of working on The Power Station project, producer and musician Bernard Edwards of Chic produces the song. The track is recorded at CTS Studios and Maison Rouge in London, with Barry conducting a sixty-piece orchestra, augmenting Duran Duran’s instrumentation. The recording sessions become so contentious (particularly between Nick Rhodes and Andy Taylor), that the band members end up overdubbing their parts separately. Released in early May of 1985, the single is an immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #43 on May 18, 1985, it climbs to the top of the chart eight weeks later. “A View To A Kill” is the only Bond theme to top the US pop singles chart, and is the last Duran Duran single to feature all five original band members until they reunite in 2001. Prior to “Kill” reaching the summit, the two highest charting Bond themes are Wings’ “Live And Let Die” and Carly Simon’s “Nobody Does It Better” (from “The Spy Who Loved Me”), both peaking at #2 on the Hot 100. On the same day the single hits number one, Duran Duran perform it at Live Aid in Philadelphia. Lead singer Simon LeBon unintentionally hits a bad note during the song on the live telecast. This faux pas leads to it being excised from the band’s set on the Live Aid DVD box set, and has not been rebroadcast since. After the original track is cut, Duran Duran along with Steve Thompson and Michael Barbiero create an extended remix of “Kill” with the intent of issuing it along side the original single version. For reasons unknown, this version is shelved and remained unheard by the public for nearly thirty years. Mysteriously, it surfaces online on the Soundcloud  and YouTube websites in November of 2014. Since then it has been widely circulated among Duran Duran fans. To date, no official release of the 12" remix has been officially sanctioned by the band.  "A View To A Kill" is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: July 12, 1986 – …

On this day in music history: July 12, 1986 – “Who’s Johnny” by El DeBarge hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #3 on the Hot 100 on July 5, 1986. Written by Peter & Ina Wolf, it is the lone solo chart topper for the singer, songwriter and musician from Grand Rapids, MI. Undone by infighting and drug use among its members, the family vocal group DeBarge begins to implode during the making of their fourth album “Rhythm Of The Night”. Seeing the writing on the wall, their label Motown Records grooms lead singer El DeBarge for solo stardom. DeBarge works with producers Jay Graydon (Manhattan Transfer, Al Jarreau), and husband and wife songwriter/producers Peter and Ina Wolf (not the former J. Geils Band lead singer). While working on El’s album, the Wolfs are approached by film producers David Foster and Lawrence Turman, asking them if they will write a song for their comedy “Short Circuit”. The film starring Steve Guttenberg (“Police Academy”) and Ally Sheedy (“War Games” , “The Breakfast Club”), is about a military robot named Number 5 that is struck by lightning and develops a human like personality and intelligence. Seeing a rough cut of the film, the Wolfs accept the assignment and agree to write a song. The inspiration for “Who’s Johnny” comes from a scene where Number 5 expresses his dislike of being referred to by a number, and someone suggests “how about Johnny?”. When Peter and Ina present the song to El, initially he is not in favor of it, feeling that is it doesn’t really suit his musical style. When they tell him that it’s for a movie soundtrack and that it could potentially broaden his audience, he agrees to record it. Released as single in April of 1986, like the film “Short Circuit”, it quickly becomes a major success, racing to the top of the R&B singles chart, into the top five on the pop chart, propelling El DeBarge’s debut album to Gold status in the US.

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On this day in music history: July 11, 1980 – …

On this day in music history: July 11, 1980 – “Late In The Evening” by Paul Simon is released. Written by Paul Simon, it is the sixteenth solo single for the singer, songwriter and musician from Queens, NY. The Latin flavored “Late In The Evening”, is issued as the first single from the soundtrack to his first starring role in the film “One Trick Pony”. The plot (based on both true life experiences and dramatic fictionalization) centers around Simon, portraying a once popular musician on the down side of his career, looking to make a comeback. The song and soundtrack album features instrumental backing by the Jazz/Funk band Stuff. The film and the accompanying soundtrack album actually feature different versions of the same material. “Late In The Evening” features musicians Steve Gadd (drums), Eric Gale, Hiram Bullock (guitars), Tony Levin (bass), Richard Tee (keyboards), Ralph MacDonald (percussion), Michael Brecker, David Sanborn (saxophones), Jon Faddis (flugelhorn), Randy Brecker, Marvin Stamm (trumpets), Patti Austin and Lani Groves (background vocals). “Late In The Evening” peaks at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 on September 27, 1980, and also receiving a Grammy Nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male in 1981.

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On this day in music history: July 8, 1957 – &…

On this day in music history: July 8, 1957 – “(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear” by Elvis Presley hits #1 on the Billboard Best Sellers chart for 8 weeks, also topping the Country & Western chart for 1 week on August 5, 1957 and the Rhythm & Blues chart for 1 week on September 2, 1957. Written by Kal Mann and Bernie Lowe, it is the rock & roll icon’s seventh number one single in just under fifteen months. Songwriters Mann and Lowe (co-founders of Philadelphia based Cameo-Parkway Records) hear of a rumor started (no one is certain where or by whom) that Elvis Presley collected teddy bears, leading his fans to send him thousands of the cuddly toys. This provides the inspiration for the pair to write the song for Presley’s second film “Loving You”. The track is recorded at Radio Recorders in Hollywood, CA on January 24, 1957 with Presley’s regular band including Scotty Moore (guitar), Bill Black (bass), D.J. Fontana (drums) and The Jordanaires (background vocals). Entering the Best Sellers chart at #23 on June 24, 1957, it pole vaults to the top of the chart two weeks later. “Teddy Bear” quickly sells over two million copies in the US, and is the third of four chart topping singles for Elvis during 1957. Presley becomes the only artist in history to hold the top spot on the pop singles chart for 25 weeks, which he does consecutively in both 1956 and 1957. “(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear” is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: July 7, 1984 – &…

On this day in music history: July 7, 1984 – “When Doves Cry” by Prince hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 5 weeks, topping the R&B singles chart for 8 weeks on June 30, 1984, and also topping the Club Play chart for 6 weeks on June 30, 1984. Written and produced by Prince, it is the first pop and second R&B chart topper for the virtuoso singer, songwriter and musician from Minneapolis, MN. After principal photography on his first film “Purple Rain” is completed, director Albert Magnoli asks Prince to write another song for the film to underscore a montage sequence describing the vibe that he’s looking for. Stating “that it’s about your parents and about loss and redemption”. Prince tells Magnoli “OK”, and comes back the next day with not one but two songs that he feels will suit the director’s request. The two settle on “When Doves Cry”, and Prince goes off to work on it immediately. Prince enters Sunset Sound in Hollywood, CA on March 1, 1984, with the assistance of engineer Peggy McCreary (aka “Peggy Mac”) recording and mixing the track in a single thirty six hour long session. Released on May 16, 1984, ten weeks ahead of the films July 27, 1984 opening date, the record is an instant smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #57 on June 2, 1984, it streaks to the top of the chart five weeks later. By the time the single drops off the charts it has sold over three million copies in the US alone, making “When Doves Cry” the top selling single of 1984. The single is backed with the non-LP B-side “17 Days” (full title: “17 Days (the rain will come down, then U will have 2 choose. If U believe, look 2 the dawn and U shall never lose.)”). Originally intended for Apollonia 6’s album, Prince keeps the track for himself, becoming a firm fan favorite. “When Doves Cry” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: July 3, 1978 – &…

On this day in music history: July 3, 1978 – “Hopelessly Devoted To You” by Olivia Newton-John is released. Written and produced by John Farrar, it is seventh US top single for the British born/Australian raised pop vocalist. When Olivia Newton-John wins the role of Sandy Dumbrowski in the film adaptation of the hit stage musical “Grease”, her producer John Farrar is asked to write two new songs for the film. He goes away and come back with “You’re The One That I Want” and “Hopelessly Devoted To You”. Upon hearing the latter, director Randal Kleiser is unsure of the song, and where to place it in the film. Finally he decides to write in a new scene not in the original script, to make it fit in the proper context. The pop ballad also gives a nod to Newton-John’s earlier country music incarnation by adding a pedal steel guitar to the track. Since “Hopelessly” is a late edition to the film and soundtrack album, it is recorded after the main part of filming has wrapped, and the scene is quickly shot and edited into the film. When the soundtrack album is released eight weeks ahead of the film, the song begins receiving attention from fans and radio immediately. With it receiving heavy airplay as an album cut, “Hopelessly Devoted To You” is issued by RSO as the third single from the “Grease – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack”. Entering the Hot 100 at #68 on July 8, 1978, it peaks eleven weeks later at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100, on September 23, 1978. The third of four consecutive top five singles from the album, it also receives an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song, but loses to “Last Dance” from “Thank God It’s Friday”. “Hopelessly Devoted To You” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: July 2, 1977 – “…

On this day in music history: July 2, 1977 – “Gonna Fly Now (Theme From Rocky)” by Bill Conti hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Bill Conti, Carol Connors and Ayn Robbins, it is the biggest hit for the film score composer from Providence, RI. Prior to the theme being written, a temporary track written by Stallone’s brother Frank is used while the film is being edited. Someone suggests to the films director John G. Avildsen to replace the song with something else. Avildsen asks score composer Bill Conti if he can come up with something. Conti collaborates with lyric writers Carol Connors and Ayn Robbins, quickly completing the song. The final lyrics consist of only thirty words, but manages to perfectly capture the spirit and message conveyed in the film. Singers DeEtta Little (sister of actor Cleavon Little) and Nelson Pigford (co-writer of Barry White’s “It’s Ecstasy When You Lay Down Next To Me”) are brought in to sing the song. The huge popularity of the film generates demand for it to be released as a single, and is issued in February 1977 prior to the Academy Awards. Entering the Hot 100 at #84 on April 23, 1977, it climbs to the top of the chart ten weeks later. It is nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song (though it loses to Barbra Streisand and Paul Williams’ “Evergreen (Love Theme From "A Star Is Born”), the film itself wins Best Picture. The theme becomes a pop cultural touchstone, being featured in numerous other films and television programs outside of the “Rocky” film franchise. The popularity of “Gonna Fly Now” propels the soundtrack album featuring Bill Conti’s score to #4 on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum. Conti goes on to score four more “Rocky” films over the years including the last in the series “Rocky Balboa” in 2006. “Gonna Fly Now (Theme From Rocky)” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: June 16, 1990 – …

On this day in music history: June 16, 1990 – “It Must Have Been Love” by Roxette hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks. Written by Per Gessle, it is the third US chart topping single for the pop music duo from Halmstad, Sweden. Two years before Roxette make their breakthrough in the US with their first number one single “The Look” and the album “Look Sharp”, they are still making in roads to success across the European continent. With the German branch of their label EMI unable to secure airplay for their records in that country, an executive suggests that they record a holiday single to be released while the group are on a promotional tour of the country. Gessle writes “It Must Have Been Love (Christmas For The Broken Hearted)”, making reference to the ending of a relationship, and feelings of loneliness during the holiday in the wake of that break up. In the end, EMI Germany passes on releasing the song, but is released in Sweden where it becomes a top ten hit. In 1989, after Roxette hit the American charts in a major way with four back to back hits, they are asked to contribute a song for an upcoming film soundtrack. EMI Records executive Ron Fair is supervising the soundtrack for the film “Pretty Woman” along with Touchstone Pictures Senior VP of Music Chris Montan. They contact Per, asking him to write a song for the film. Gessle agrees, sending several demos, and their past recordings not released in the US. When Fair and Montan hear the original version of “It Must Have Been Love”, they know immediately they have found the right song for the film. Also playing it for director Garry Marshall, he re-edits the film in order for the song to be added to the soundtrack. Some minor changes are made to the original recording, including adding some new instrumentation, background vocals, and lead singer Marie Fredriksson changing the lyric “a hard Christmas day” to “a hard winter’s day”. With the film “Pretty Woman”, starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere becoming a huge hit at the box office, the accompanying soundtrack follows suit. Released as the second single from the soundtrack on March 20, 1990, “Love” quickly becomes a smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #67 on April 7, 1990, it climbs to the top of the chart ten weeks later. The success of “It Must Have Been Love”, propels the “Pretty Woman” soundtrack to number four on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA. One of the most played singles on radio during the 90’s and 2000’s, “It Must Have Been Love” receives an award from the music publishing society BMI in 2014, for more than five million plays on radio since its release. “It Must Have Been Love” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: June 7, 1986 – &…

On this day in music history: June 7, 1986 – “Live To Tell” by Madonna hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 3 weeks on May 31, 1986. Written and produced by Madonna and Patrick Leonard, it is the third chart topping single for the pop music superstar from Rochester, MI. After phenomenal success Madonna experiences during 1984-85 with her first two albums, and marrying actor Sean Penn, the newly anointed pop superstar takes a hiatus from public view. By December of 1985 work on her third studio album “True Blue” begins, with co-producer and musician Patrick Leonard. Leonard also receives an offer to score a film called “Fire With Fire” being produced by Paramount Pictures. He asks Madonna to write lyrics for one of the songs for the film titling it “Live To Tell”. The track, initially recorded just as a demo, with Leonard on keyboards and drum programming, Jonathan Moffett on live drums, and Bruce Gaitsch on guitars. Madonna quickly lays down a scratch vocal on tape, which is recorded in only one take. When the deal with Paramount falls through, Madonna suggests they submit it to James Foley, the director the film “At Close Range”, starring her husband, Christopher Walken and Chris Penn. Foley loves the song and agrees to use it. Madonna and Leonard goes back and attempt to re-cut her lead vocal, but when they find that it cannot be improved upon, it is remixed and released as is. Released on March 26, 1986, three months in advance of “True Blue”, the ballad is an immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #49 on April 12, 1986, it climbs to the top of the chart eight weeks later. “Live To Tell” also marks the first of many times that Madonna dramatically revamps her image. Ditching the lace, crucifixes and rubber bracelets of the “Madonna”/“Like A Virgin” era, she reveals her new look in the music video for “Tell”. Now sporting shoulder length honey blonde hair, less makeup, and a simple floral print dress, her “new” understated glamorous look is reminiscent of screen legends like Grace Kelly and Marilyn Monroe. Fans and the media immediately take notice and praise the singer for the change. Madonna’s first public performance of “Live To Tell” is at an AIDS charity benefit at Madison Square Garden, dedicating the song to the memory of her friend and early supporter Martin Burgoyne who had recently passed from the illness. Never a stranger to controversy, when Madonna performs “Live To Tell” during live performances on the Confessions Tour in 2006, the song is staged with the singer wearing a crown of thorns while hanging on a giant mirrored cross. After the concert at Olympic Stadium in Rome, Italy on August 6, 2006, Madonna is rebuked by religious leaders who consider the performance “an act of hostility” toward the Roman Catholic Church.

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