November 2015

220px-Barbra-streisand-guilty-albumBarbra Streisand – Woman In Love – 1980

I’m not a Barbra Streisand fan – in any way, shape or form. I do not get her appeal and growing up, I was never quite sure why she was even famous. That said, this is a song, that, when it came on the other day, I did not find myself skipping to the next song. It has a kind of brooding to it that’s actually pretty interesting. It was a Hot 100 #1 and was her biggest (and most recent major) hit.

220px-FootloosesoundtrackalbumcoverDeniece Williams – Let’s Hear It For The Boy – 1984

I just realized that the guy on the Footloose album cover is Kevin Bacon. I know that might seem obvious, but I just always assumed it was Kenny Loggins. This song was far and away Deniece Williams’ biggest solo hit, reaching #1 from the Footloose soundtrack (she had another #1, a duet with Johnny Mathis). It’s very “mid-80s.”

220px-DonnaSummerSWHftM590x590Donna Summer – She Works Hard For The Money – 1983

I think this is my favorite song by Donna Summer, the Queen of Disco. Maybe that’s because it’s really not as disco-heavy as the rest of her major hits. This was also her last major hit, coming in 1983. It has a cool new wave beat that makes the whole song feel like it’s supposed to only be used in montages. It hit #3 on the Hot 100.

dianaDiana Ross – I’m Coming Out – 1980

This song, famously sampled (and perhaps, in this case, the sample is more famous than the original song) in “Mo Money, Mo Problems” by the Notorious B.I.G. It was a top five hit for Diana Ross from what would be her final major hit-producing album in 1980 – quite the run for someone who got her start singing Motown back in the early 1960s. A complete transformation.

Staind_Break_the_CycleStaind – Epiphany – 2001

Much like Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory from last week, Staind’s Break The Cycle seemingly had every track released as a single. “Epiphany” actually was a single, the fifth (and final), having been released in August 2002 – nearly a full year and a half after the album came out. It’s more of a ballad than a hard rock song with a fairly slow tempo and general acoustic-ness. Also, I just has an epiphany: that’s a tree on the album cover. I always thought it was a tornado.

220px-DMB_CrashDave Matthews Band – So Much To Say – 1996

This Grammy Award-winning song from Dave Matthews is him bragging about having central heating. Well, not really, but that’s the lyric I always remember. This wasn’t really a Top 40 song – more of the alternative rock side of Dave, peaking in the top 20 on that chart. It was the second single off the album, released prior to “Crash Into Me,” which turned out to be one of this biggest hits.

Aja_album_coverSteely Dan – Peg – 1977

Steely Dan songs are, for some reason, really hard to find on YouTube. The version below is live, so it’s not quite as good. Recently, I was told that Steely Dan sounds completely different live as compared to their studio work, which I believe. This song almost made it to the top ten (#11) on the Hot 100 and is the fairly normal Steely Dan blend of jazz, R&B, and rock.

220px-Linkin_park_hybrid_theoryLinkin Park – Runaway – 2000

Linkin Park was the hottest thing in rock music in 2000 and 2001. Hybrid Theory officially only had four singles but I swear I heard 90% of this album on the radio. “Runaway” was not an official single but it did chart – peaking at #37 on the Mainstream Rock chart. I still know almost every word of this song somehow…

220px-BluesTravelerfourBlues Traveler – The Mountains Win Again – 1994

This was the third and final single from Four and it was the least successful but it’s still really good. I’m pretty sure Coors used to use it for their advertising. It sounds almost countryish or at least country rockish. Almost like a Bob Seger song from the 1980s (think “Like a Rock”).

Chicago16coverChicago – Hard To Say I’m Sorry/Get Away – 1982

How is it possible that this is the first Chicago song that’s been featured here? Crazy. This one was a Billboard Hot 100 #1 for two weeks. It was the first big hit for Chicago since 1977 and would be the first of a string of hits for the band in the 1980s. It’s their “Walk This Way.”

Billy_Joel_-_Piano_Man#1 – Billy Joel – “Piano Man” – (1973)

Man, could Billy Joel ever write some music. This is Joel’s signature song and he has become the Piano Man. It only reached #25 on the Hot 100, but it was his breakthrough hit and has become a legendary song that almost everyone knows some lyrics to. And the lyrics are brilliant, telling a complete story and setting a scene like few other songs can. It’s amazing. And yes, that album cover is kind of creepy.

Elton_John_-_Goodbye_Yellow_Brick_Road#2 – Elton John – “Candle in the Wind” – (1973)

This is one of Elton John’s finest songs. A wonderful tribute to Marilyn Monroe, “Candle in the Wind” came from one of Elton’s finest albums, as well. In 1997, he would re-lyric the song to honor Princess Diana after her death. That version would hit #1 and become the second-biggest selling single of all time. This one is no slouch, either.

There_Goes_Rhymin'_Simon#3 – Paul Simon – “Kodachrome” – (1973)

Paul Simon is responsible for some catchy songs – this among the finest (nothing beats “You Can Call Me Al”). Sadly, many people who are being introduced to this song for the first time don’t even know what Kodachrome is or that Kodak required it to be trademarked on the album’s song list. This song hit #2 on the Hot 100.