A Little Respect

Today on the blog, I’m paying a little respect to the legendary Aretha Franklin. Here is the Queen of Soul performing “Think” in a classic scene from 1980’s The Blues Brothers. RIP.

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Top Ten Summer Hits of 2008: A Look Back

As I do each summer on the blog, I’m giving you the top 10 seasonal ditties from 10, 20, and 30 years ago as tabulated by Billboard. I’ve already covered 1988 and 1998 and if you missed them, here ya go:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/06/21/top-ten-summer-hits-of-1988-a-look-back/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/06/28/top-ten-summer-hits-of-1998-a-look-back/

We now move to one decade ago. As with past posts, I’m ranking each song on a scale of 1 (summer bummer) to 10 (summer classic) and letting you know whether or not said track is on my Apple Music. Let’s get to it…

10. “Dangerous” by Kardinal Offishall feat. Akon

This reggae tinged hip hop effort represents the biggest hit for Canada’s Offishall with an assist from Akon. It’s adequate though not particularly memorable.

My Rating: 6

Is It On My Apple Music? No

9. “Leavin'” by Jesse McCartney

This is the biggest hit from the second most famous McCartney in pop music. It gives exposure to G5 planes and is rather disposable, but pleasant enough.

My Rating: 6

Is It On My Apple Music?: No

8. “Disturbia” by Rihanna

Now we’re talking. She’s got tons of hits, but I find the dance groove of “Disturbia” to be among Rihanna’s very best.

My Rating: 9 and a half

Is It On My Apple Music?: Yes

7. “Pocketful of Sunshine” by Natasha Bedingfield

The Emma Stone pic Easy A had a whole sequence about how she couldn’t stand this pop confection by English artist Bedingfield and then found herself loving it and listening to it incessantly. I wouldn’t go that far, but it is annoyingly catchy.

My Rating: 6

Is It On My Apple Music?: No

6. “Forever” by Chris Brown

These were better times for Mr. Brown as this techno sounding dance smash serves as one of his musical highlights.

My Rating: 7

Is It On My Apple Music?: No

5. “Bleeding Love” by Leona Lewis

This one was pretty inescapable in summer 2008 with solid vocals from Brit singer Lewis. It’s co-produced by none other than Jesse McCartney.

My Rating: 7 and a half

Is It On My Apple Music?: No

4. “Viva La Vida” by Coldplay

Sorry Coldplay haters, but I find this string heavy work to be pretty darn terrific. It earns its place as one of their signature tunes.

My Rating: 9 and a half

Is It On My Apple Music?: Yes

3. “Lollipop” by Lil Wayne feat. Static Major

Lil Wayne was all the rage ten years ago yet I actually find this auto-tune monster hit to have lost some luster. Still, it’s his biggest selling single.

My Rating: 6 and a half

Is It On My Apple Music?: Yes

2. “Take a Bow” by Rihanna

How about a round of applause for more fine work from Rihanna. This ballad stands as one of her best. Co-produced by Ne-Yo.

My Rating: 9

Is It On My Apple Music?: Yes

1. “I Kissed a Girl” by Katy Perry

The song that turned Perry into a superstar, the lyrics certainly caught the attention of many. It’s a well-crafted pop track for sure. It’s not her greatest song, but it serves as an impressive breakout point for a career still roaring.

My Rating: 8

Is It On My Apple Music?: No

And there you have it! The summers of 1988, 1998, and 2008 are covered! I look forward to next summer when 1989, 1999, and 2009 are on deck…

Top Ten Summer Hits of 1998: A Look Back

Each summer on the blog, I recount the top 10 summer hits from 30, 20, and 10 years ago. Last week was 1988 and the sounds of three decades ago. If you missed it, you can find it here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/06/21/top-ten-summer-hits-of-1988-a-look-back/

Today we move to 1998 and the tunes burning up our CD players (if we were lucky enough to have one in our car) 20 years ago. As with previous posts, I rank each track from 1 (summer bummer) to 10 (summer smash) and reveal the most important truth: is said song on my Apple Music?

Let’s get to it!

10. “All My Life” by K-Ci & JoJo

We start off quite well with this ballad from K-Ci and JoJo, who originally rose to fame with the R&B group Jodeci. It’s schmaltzy, yes, but in the best way and it gets the job done with the singers expert vocal performances.

My Ranking: 9 and a half

Is It On My Apple Music?: Yes

9. “Crush” by Jennifer Paige

I must confess to having no recollection of this track when I saw it was #9. Listening to it again, it’s a pleasant enough ditty from the one-hit wonder. That said, it’s also rather forgettable.

My Ranking: 6

It Is On My Apple Music?: No

8. “Make It Hot” by Nicole featuring Missy Elliot and Mocha

Timbaland was mostly busy around this time stirring up classics for Aaliyah and Missy Elliot. Yet he concocted this gem for Nicole with assists from Elliot and Mocha. It was her only major hit, but it’s a terrific example of its producer’s wizardry behind the boards.

My Rating: 9

Is It On My Apple Music?: Yes

7. “Come with Me” by Puff Daddy featuring Jimmy Page

Combine Puff’s love of sampling with the guitar riffs of Jimmy Page’s “Kashmir” and promoting the summer’s unfortunate Godzilla reboot? You get a hit… albeit one that is just as ultimately disappointing as the film in which it appeared on the soundtrack.

My Rating: 5

Is It On My Apple Music? No

6. “My All” by Mariah Carey

Ms. Carey has certainly had her share of powerful ballads. “My All” is an effective one, though I don’t rank it among her most memorable.

My Rating: 7

Is It On My Apple Music?: Yes (but mostly because I have her greatest hits and don’t listen to this one hardly at all)

5. “Adia” by Sarah MacLachlan

The Canadian singer is now mostly known for causing you tear up during commercials to help dogs, but she had a string of hits including this one. I’ve never been a big fan and this track does little for me, despite her lovely voice.

My Rating: 5 and a half

Is It On My Apple Music?: No

4. “My Way” by Usher

The title track from Usher’s multi-platinum album is a Jermaine Dupri produced banger that spent lots of time being played loudly in my 1987 Ford Thunderbird 20 years ago. Check out Tyrese in the video as well.

My Rating: 9

It Is On My Apple Music?: Yes

3. “Too Close” by Next

An incredibly catchy R&B song from a band that didn’t produce many more hits. This one, however, could still be a massive hit today.

My Rating: 9 and a half

Is It On My Apple Music?: Yes

2. “You’re Still the One” by Shania Twain

Another Canadian crooner had her first major crossover hit with this ballad. It moved Twain out of just being known as a country act to one with serious pop appeal.

My Rating: 8

Is It On My Apple Music?: No

1. “The Boy is Mine” by Brandy & Monica

It’s no “The Girl is Mine” by Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney, but this mid-tempo pop track paired two of the era’s most successful R&B singers to hugely successful results on the charts. Looking back now, I don’t love it (I could list stronger tracks by both Brandy and Monica) but it’s decent.

My Rating: 7 and a half

Is It On My Apple Music?: No

And there you have it! The sounds of 1998 in the summertime…

I’ll return soon with 2008.

Top Ten Summer Hits of 1988: A Look Back

Today marks the first official day of summer 2018 and that means some seasonal traditions are back on the blog! For the past few years, I have recounted the top summer tunes from the last 30, 20, and 10 years. It’s a chance to put on our nostalgia goggles and for me to take a look back on if the songs are a summer smash or summer bummer in hindsight. We begin with the tracks of 1988. As in posts from previous summers, I rank each ditty on a scale of 1 (awful) to 10 (classic) and reveal the most important detail of all – whether said song is on my personal Apple Music collection.

In the coming days, we’ll travel to 1998 and 2008. In July, I’ll get to the movie side recounting the top 10 hits, notable pictures, and flops of ’88, ’98, and ’08.

Let’s get to it!

10. “I Don’t Wanna Live Without Your Love” by Chicago

This group that’s been around for decades scored numerous power ballad smashes in the 1980s. This is… one of them. And it’s not nearly as memorable as many of their others from earlier in the period. That said, it nearly deserves an extra half star for its gloriously cheesy music video.

My Ranking: 5

Is It On My Apple Music: Yes (but only because I have their greatest hits downloaded… I never listen to this one)

9. “I Don’t Wanna Go on with You Like That” by Elton John

Keeping on with the “I Don’t Wanna…” themed hits of three decades ago… ok, so it may not be one of the legend’s classic tunes, but this synth heavy concoction is a well-crafted effort at a time when Elton’s career needed a boost.

My Ranking: 8

Is It On My Apple Music? Yes

8. “Make Me Lose Control” by Eric Carmen

Best known for “Hungry Eyes” from Dirty Dancing, Carmen’s follow-up is a decent sing-along in the car with the windows down experience.

My Ranking: 7

Is It On My Apple Music?: No

7. “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns n Roses

One of the signature tracks from the band with its unmistakable guitar riff to start it off, “Sweet Child O’ Mine” is part of our DNA now. That said, there are certainly songs from GnR I would rank higher.

My Ranking: 8 and a half

Is It On My Apple Music?: Yes

6. “Hands to Heaven” by Breathe

The London pop group came and went fairly quickly, but ballad “Hands to Heaven” was their initial smash. Cheesy, sure. Solid chorus – yes.

My Ranking: 6 and a half

Is It On My Apple Music?: No

5. “Pour Some Sugar on Me” by Def Leppard

VH-1 ranked it the second best song of the 1980s in a poll and it certainly is the signature tune of the rock group’s career. I wouldn’t go quite that far, but it’s pretty darn iconic. I will, however, confess that the hair bands fad isn’t totally my cup of tea for the most part.

My Ranking: 8 and a half

Is It On My Apple Music?: No

4. “Hold On to the Nights” by Richard Marx

Another rather cheesy power ballad, this was nevertheless a smash from Marx that actually kept Leppard’s “Sugar” from hitting #1.

My Ranking: 6

Is It On My Apple Music?: No

3. “Monkey” by George Michael

The fourth single from his landmark Faith album, this uptempo dance track (with production assistance from Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis) gets the job done even if it doesn’t quite rank with some other classics from the 1987 multi-platinum effort.

My Ranking: 9

Is It On My Apple Music?: Yes

2. “The Flame” by Cheap Trick

A bit of a comeback single from the Illinois group, it found them traveling down the power ballad lane that dominated this particular summer. It’s fine. I don’t love it. Give me “I Want You To Want Me” any day.

My Ranking: 6 and a half

Is It On My Apple Music?: No

1. “Roll With It” by Steve Winwood

Is it catchy? Sure, but I was surprised to recall just how much of a hit this was. Four weeks at #1 and multiple Grammys, but I find it just perfectly adequate and far from a summer classic.

My Ranking: 7

Is It On My Apple Music?: No

I’ll have 1998 up soon! “I Don’t Wanna” keep you waiting long…

Music Biopics: The Name Game

A growing trend in movies for the past few years (and a bit beyond) is the musical biopic that incorporates one of the band or artist’s songs into the title. The latest example will come out this fall with Bohemian Rhapsody, the behind the scenes story of Queen.

2019 will bring us Rocketman with Taron Egerton as the legendary Elton John.

We’ve seen this trend in years past. For instance, the 1980s saw La Bamba about Richie Valens.

The 1990s gave us Angela Bassett in her Oscar nominated role playing Tina Turner in What’s Love Got to Do With It?

In 2005, we had Walk the Line with Joaquin Phoenix in his Academy nominated turn as Johnny Cash and Reese Witherspoon winning as June.

More recent ones have been in the hip hop world with Straight Outta Compton (N.W.A.) and All Eyez on Me (Tupac Shakur). There’s also Get On Up with Chadwick Boseman as the Godfather of Soul, James Brown.

So this got me thinking. What would be some other movie/song titles if certain iconic musicians got their biopic? For this blog post’s purposes, I tried to focus on artists where I feel a big screen treatment on them is at least feasible. In other words, while Rico Suave might be a spectacular title, I don’t envision two hours on Gerardo coming anytime soon.

There is already a Madonna flick reportedly in the works and it takes its name not from a tune, but from one of her tours – Blond Ambition. I suppose Material Girl or Like a Prayer could have worked, but Blond Ambition is just about perfect.

Some choices seem obvious. You gotta call the Bon Jovi story Livin on a Prayer, after all. And My Way seems like the natural fit for Frank Sinatra. And Born to Run for Bruce Springsteen. And there’s Piano Man for Billy Joel.

It doesn’t end there. Respect (Aretha Franklin) and Fire and Rain (James Taylor).

When it comes to some recently dearly departed legends, Prince presents a challenge because you can’t call it Purple Rain. And a number of his other massive hits don’t fit. When Doves Cry is probably the name the studio would go for considering it’s his biggest hit. Personally, I rather like the thought of My Name is Prince, taken from his Love Symbol album of 1992.

With Michael Jackson, Thriller would work but it’s hard to imagine Man in the Mirror not being the choice.

For David Bowie, Starman seems like the winner, but that’s also the name of a fairly well-known 1980s science fiction effort starring Jeff Bridges. That may not matter, but if so, Space Oddity or simply calling it Ziggy Stardust might fit.

Tom Petty? How about Free Fallin or Runnin Down a Dream. George Michael? Faith or Freedom. Whitney Houston? Tough one. Perhaps a studio would want I Will Always Love You. Maybe So Emotional works as well.

Some bands have more than one title that seem appropriate. Aerosmith has three great ones: Dream On, Sweet Emotion, or Walk This Way. With AC/DC – Back in Black or Thunderstruck.

Guns n Roses is an interesting one. Welcome to the Jungle is fantastic, but it was just the subtitle for the blockbuster Jumanji reboot. In this matter, you might have to go with their album name Appetite for Destruction, which is ideal.

Metallica could have For Whom the Bell Tolls or Enter Sandman. Nirvana might have Smells Like Teen Spirit as the studio choice, but I’m a little partial to Come As You Are.

I like Runnin with the Devil for Van Halen and I suppose Stairway to Heaven would be the choice for Led Zeppelin.

Let’s move off rock. How about Britney Spears? That may depend on what direction the studio goes. It could be Toxic or Stronger. Maybe Baby One More Time instead.

Stevie Wonder? Superstition or Sir Duke are possibilities, but I like Higher Ground.

With Bob Marley, maybe Get Up, Stand Up or One Love.

Circling back to hip hop, Fight the Power is the clear pick for Public Enemy and the same may hold true for Mama Said Knock You Out with LL Cool J.

And then there’s my favorite… the Rick James biopic Super Freak. Why hasn’t this been made already?

I could go on, but you get the idea. Let’s see if any of these suggested titles end up playing out in the future. Maybe there will be surprises… Barbie Girl: The Aqua Story, anyone?

My Top 25 Maroon 5 Songs

Every once in a while I move away from the movie portion of my blog and go to my love of music and my love of making lists. And seeing Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine carpool karaoke with James Corden got me thinking – I could totally make a top 25 list of my favorite tracks by the pop/rock group that’s been around since 2002 with hit after hit.

Interestingly, throughout their six albums, their first two make up about half of the songs listed here. Yet their album before the last one produces only one, but it happens to be the track that tops the list. So crank up my playlist of my personal favorite Maroon 5 tracks if you like! Here they are:

25. “Goodnight Goodnight” from It Won’t Be Soon Before Long (2007)

24. “Secret” from Songs About Jane (2002)

23. “Nothing Lasts Forever” from It Won’t Be Soon Before Long (2007)

22. “Who I Am” from Red Pill Blues (2017)

21. “Love Somebody” from Overexposed (2012)

20. “Won’t Go Home Without You” from It Won’t Be Soon Before Long (2007)

19. “If I Never See Your Face Again” from It Won’t Be Soon Before Long (2007)

18. “The Sun” from Songs About Jane (2002)

17. “What Lovers Do” from Red Pill Blues (2017)

16. “Harder to Breathe” from Songs About Jane (2002)

15. “She Will Be Loved” from Songs About Jane (2002)

14. “Wait” from Red Pill Blues (2017)

13. “Wake Up Call” from It Won’t Be Soon Before Long (2007)

12. “Moves Like Jagger” from Hands All Over (2010)

11. “Misery” from Hands All Over (2010)

10. “One More Night” from Overexposed” (2012)

9. “Just a Feeling” from Hands All Over (2010)

8. “Closure” from Red Pill Blues (2017)

7. “Beautiful Goodbye” from Overexposed (2012)

6. “Makes Me Wonder” from Hands All Over (2010)

5. “Back at Your Door” from It Won’t Be Soon Before Long (2007)

4. “This Love” from Songs About Jane (2002)

3. “Sweetest Goodbye” from Songs About Jane (2002)

2. “Sunday Morning” from Songs About Jane (2002)

1. “Sugar” from V (2014)

My Top Ten Tom Petty Songs

I’ve listened to a whole lot of Tom Petty over the past few days since we’ve learned of the legendary singer’s untimely death. Yet more than most artists, his songs (the majority with his group The Heartbeakers) have been part of our fabric forever.

This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for over a week now. Truth be told, deciding on a Top Ten Petty Songs is almost impossible. My best advice – get on your streaming service or get out your record player and enjoy this musical genius.

These are my personal top ten favorite songs by him-

10. “It’s Good to Be King” from Wildflowers (1994)

9. “Breakdown” from Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (1976)

8. “Walls (Circus)” from Songs and Music from She’s the One (1996)

7. “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” from Greatest Hits (1993)

6. “Southern Accents” from Southern Accents (1985)

5. “I Won’t Back Down” from Full Moon Fever (1989)

4. “Runnin’ Down a Dream” from Full Moon Fever (1989)

3. “American Girl” from Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (1976)

2. “Free Fallin” from Full Moon Fever (1989)

1. “Don’t Do Me Like That” from Damn the Torpedoes (1979)

RIP