Monday, January 9, 2012

Nasty Girl - Nitty

(J. Barry, A. Kim, R. Martinez, F. Ross) Universal 075021039162


Chart Entry: 24th January, 2005
Highest Position: #1
Accreditation: Platinum
Points: 103,378
From the album "Player's Paradise".


There was something missing on the cover of pop-rapper Nitty's one and only album, Player's Paradise. No "Parental Advisory" sticker meant that true rap and hip hop fans were going to steer clear of this album. To further deter those hardcore hip hop lovers, Nitty stated that he set out to model himself on Will Smith, his sole mission "to make hip hop fun again". It was clear that Nitty's music was aimed for an age group way below the hip hop norm, leaving his window of success very limited as the teenies quickly grew up in search of something harder.

Growing up in The Bronx as Frank Ross, Nitty "rebelled" against that backdrop which has seen many hardened entertainers be influenced by the less than luxurious surroundings. He turned that negative energy into positive, honouring the usual themes of hip hop music, but adding a sense of respect in his delivery. If he's getting sexy with the ladies, then he's doing it without degradation.

As usual with hip hop music, Nitty was aided by well known samples to kick his music along. That squeaky clean mentality is most evident here, with The Archies' "Sugar Sugar" helping "Nasty Girl" to become the massive hit that it was. He further cemented his lighthearted musical style with the follow-up, "Hey Bitty" which used a sample from Toni Basil's 1982 hit, "Mickey". The generation gaps combined with the nostalgic retro samples catering to the 30+ crowd, and trendy hip hop sounds giving the teenagers something to spend their pocket money on.

In what used to be an unheard of occurrence, the early to mid 2000's saw a barrage of unknown artists debut at #1 with their very first release. Extensive marketing campaigns and heightened exposure on radio and television helped these artists to literally become overnight sensations. Nitty reinforced its worth when "Nasty Girl" hit #1 in January 2005 in its first week of release. He defied the norm that saw many similar chart feats drop considably from the top and out of the Top 100 rapidly, but after a second week at #1, Nitty still held in the Top 5 for a total of seven weeks. Not so lucky was "Hey Bitty" which just missed the top ten by peaking at #11. Strangely, it has become quite a common occurrence to see a #1 smash followed up by a #11 hit.

Nitty took a back seat to his own career after his 2005 success subsided. He is yet to provide a follow up album to Player's Paradise, but with seven years passing since its release, it looks like it may never happen. Nitty still has his finger on all the buttons, though, turning his attention to producing. It may only be a matter of time before his own recording itch returns to provide us with some more of his "playboy rap".


Chart Run: (20 weeks)
(ARIA Top 100)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Ramblin' Rose - Nat "King" Cole

Nat "King" Cole
(N. Sherman, J. Sherman) Capitol CP 1487


Chart Entry: 1st September, 1962
Highest Position: #1
Points: 103,344
From the album "Ramblin' Rose".


Ray Charles shocked the music industry in 1962 with the release of his Modern Sounds In Country And Western Music, but the daring move was inspired, prompting a string a copy cat crossovers. Nat "King" Cole had ruled the charts during the 50's as one of the premier crooners, but even he couldn't compete with the changing musical platform. The hits were few and fare between for Nat, with the dawn of the new decade, so it was time to shake up his own career, taking a leaf out of Ray's book.

A who's who of Country music provided the material needed for Nat's genre crossing release, Ramblin' Rose. Featuring Claude King's "Wolverton Mountain", Jim Reeves' "He'll Have To Go" and Hank Williams' "Your Cheatin' Heart", Nat's interpretations didn't exactly re-write the Country music textbooks. There was barely a trace of what is considered true Country music, nevertheless, it struck a chord with devoted Nat "King" Cole devotees, proven by the success of the title track, "Ramblin' Rose".

"Ramblin' Rose", the single, reached #2 on the US Billboard charts, helping it to over one million sales in the country. However, in terms of chart success, it was Australia that put Nat's career back on track by sending the single to #1 on the Kent Top 20. It would be the last #1 in this country, capping off one of the most successful singles careers ever seen.

The success of "Ramblin' Rose" prompted Nat to continue his Country music experiment with a second album during the same year, Dear Lonely Hearts. The less successful album didn't do much to reinforce Nat's new direction, but it didnt stop Nat from including litterings of Country inspired music in his music, right up until his untimely death in 1965.

Nat "King" Cole's dallyence with Country music wasn't totally in vain as a couple of true Country music stars included "Ramblin' Rose" in their repertoire, Johnny Lee reaching #37 in the US during 1977 with his version, and Hank Snow popping his head in at #93 a year later. Since then, Nat "King" Cole's Country music career has been highlighted and separated with various compilation albums devoted to his new found genre experience.


Chart Run: (25 weeks in Top 100)
(Kent Top 20)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Emotion - Samantha Sang

Samantha Sang
(B. Gibb, R. Gibb) Private Stock PVT 11610


Chart Entry: 19th December, 1977
Highest Position: #2
Points: 103,300
From the album "Emotion".


There were plenty enough hits coming out of the 1977 film, Saturday Night Fever that Samantha Sang had to miss out featuring on one of the biggest soundtrack albums of all time. The Bee Gees could do no wrong with hit after hit grooving their way into the charts. Samantha Sang's "Emotion", also written by the Bee Gees' Barry and Robin Gibb, was picked up off the SNF cutting room floor and rescued for the less inspired Joan Collins vehicle, The Stud. Nevertheless, "Emotion" found success to rival any Saturday Night Fever release as it smooched its way towards the top of the charts worldwide.

What was seemingly a breakthrough hit for Samantha, "Emotion" was really the highlight of a career reborn after she had moved to England from Australia in 1969. It was at this time that Barry Gibb heard her sing and championed a signing by his manager, Robert Stigwood. She worked closely with Barry and the other members of the Bee Gees, recording a few European minor hits including "Love Of A Woman" and "Nothing In The World Like Love". Visa restrictions forced Samantha out of the UK and back to Australia but the tie with the Bee Gees was never severed, the guys keeping her in mind when "Emotion" needed a softer and sexier delivery.

Samantha Sang's 70's career was actually an extension of her former career as Cheryl Gray. During her initial chart success in Australia during the late 60's, she enjoyed moderately successful career highlighted by the #8 hit, "You Made Me What I Am". A 1967 Go-Set poll placed her third among the "Top Girl Singers" and further exposure on television kept her career afloat, but Cheryl felt there was more to achieved internationally prompting her trip to the UK. Unfortunately for Cheryl, it was her former success in Australia that was her most rewarding up to this point.

Samantha had returned to Australia for about two years before an invitation to visit the Bee Gees' Saturday Night Fever recording sessions in France came her way. They had a song for her called "Emotion" that would finally give her significant success, the promise fulfilled with a #2 hit in Australia. Worldwide attention was received with the single making its way to #3 on the US Billboard charts and a credible #11 peak in the UK. It seemed that Samantha had finally broken her dry spell, but as these things usually go, further success was limited forcing her back into relative obscurity once again.

The Bee Gees enjoyed a few hits as a songwriting team for other artists during their career, celebrating a handful of these tracks by recording them themselves later in the 90's. The extensive collection, Their Greatest Hits: The Record, released in 2001, brought both facets of their career together in one impressive collection. "Emotion" was one of the tracks given the Bee Gees treatment, but the original recording by Samantha has stood the test of time to become the true classic that it is.


Chart Run:
(31 weeks) (Australian Music Report)

Friday, January 6, 2012

I Touch Myself - Divinyls

(C. Amphlett, M. McEntee, T. Kelly, B. Steinberg) Virgin VOZ 094


Chart Entry: 2nd December, 1990
Highest Position: #1
Accreditation: Platinum
Points: 103,106
From the album "Divinyls".


Not afraid of pushing the sexual boundaries in music, Chrissie Amphlett and co. delivered a unique "self love" song that didn't cover up the content of the lyrics with innuendo and double entendre. "I Touch Myself" was quite simply about doing just that, down there.

The combined forces of the Divinyls' Chrissie Amphlett and Mark McEntee, with the hit songwriting team of Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg, eventually brought "I Touch Myself" to the record stores late 1990. The two pairs were used to working in their own small teams, Chrissie and Mark writing all the Divinyls preceding hits, and Tom and Billy providing an array of artists with some of their biggest hits, including Madonna's "Like A Virgin" and Cyndi Lauper's "True Colors". It was quite a crowd, a situation Billy never felt comfortable with, stating he could stretch a songwriting team to three people, but four was a crowd. The exception to Billy's rule proved to be a gamble well taken as "I Touch Myself" gave the Divinyls their one and only #1 hit, and added another to the Kelly/Steinberg tally board.

As obvious as the lyrical content of "I Touch Myself" was, the song was rarely banned from radio. The subject was as plain as you could get, but its lighthearted treatment saw the success of the single continue unimpaired. In addition to its #1 placement on the Australian charts in February 1991, the single popped its head into the UK top ten at #10, and an gained impressive peak of #4 on the US Billboard charts. The Divinyls became one of relatively few Australian acts to make waves in the US as "I Touch Myself" continued its charting might with a #2 peak on the US Modern Rock Tracks chart.

Subject matter aside, "I Touch Myself" proved to be a bit of a challenge for all involved. The songwriting process became a little tricky piecing the verse, chorus and bridge of the song together in an order that worked. In the end, an interesting structure accidentally came together. Without the use of today's digital recording process, "I Touch Myself" was recorded on 2 inch tape, making the song quite hard to edit. The resulting experimental process forced the songs' bridge to enter before the first chorus, something rarely seen in a hit single.

As an Australian single, "I Touch Myself" wasn't exactly breaking new ground for local artists on the global stage, but the long-lasting success of the single has seen it featured in films such as 1992's Prelude To A Kiss and 1997's Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery. Its simple and obvious composition has also ensured the single joins the A-list of concert sing-a-longs, performed live by Ben Folds, Rolf Harris and P!nk, just to name a few.

Life returned to normal for the Divinyls after their massive success during 1990/91. "I Touch Myself" joined the 1981 #8 hit, "Boys In Town" as the bands only top ten successes in the Australian singles chart. Two further Top 20 hits, "I Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore" (1992, #19) and "I'm Jealous" (1995, #14) brought the career of one of Australia's most interesting bands to a close.


Chart Run:
(27 weeks) (ARIA Top 100)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Brand New Key - Melanie

(M. Safka) Buddah 2011 105


Chart Entry: 8th January, 1972
Highest Position: #1
Points: 103,096
From the album "Gather Me".


It was meant to be a quirky break from her more serious work, an innocent tune inspired by the music of the 30's, but Melanie's "Brand New Key" took on a life of its own once it hit the airwaves in 1971.

Apparently, Melanie's search for spiritual enlightenment caused her to go on a 27 day fast, drinking nothing but distilled water. The fast seemed to have failed as the urge for a McDonald's burger prompted her to write "Brand New Key" on the return trip from the restaurant. It took just 15 minutes for the hit to be written, the lyrics suggesting nothing more than a day with a young girl who has just bought herself a brand new pair of rollerskates. No cause for controversy? Think again.

In an interview, Melanie acknowledged that once a song was written, the listeners may interpret it in any way they choose, and in the case of "Brand New Key" it was taken in the Freudian way, the famous lock and key analogy of a sexual encounter replacing the innocent travels of the rollerskating girl. Melanie insists that the song is about the former and not the latter. Nevertheless, "Brand New Key" was banned by radio stations, possibly adding to its worth to purchase the single, propelling it to #1 in Australia, Canada and the US.

The supposed sexuality of the song was further reinforced during the 1997 film, Boogie Nights when Heather Graham's character, the aptly named Roller Girl, has sex for the first time with Mark Wahlberg. I guess with all that attention devoted to the perverse side of "Brand New Key", Melanie would have to cave into the "new" meaning of the song and reap the rewards.

There wasn't too much more for Melanie in the way of commercial success after her biggest hit. In Australia, she enjoyed another four minor hits, 1973's "Bitter Bad" the only one to make any impression on the Top 50 when it peaked at #49. In 1989, Melanie received an Emmy for writing the lyrics for the theme to TV's Beauty And The Beast, "The First Time I Loved Forever". Since then, ten albums have been added to Melanie's extensive discography, the last, 2010's Ever Since You Never Heard Of Me.


Chart Run: (26 weeks in Top 100)
(Go-Set Charts)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

100% Pure Love - Crystal Waters

Crystal Waters
(C. Waters, T. Douglas, T. Davis, J. Steinhour) Mercury 858 667-2


Chart Entry: 19th June, 1994
Highest Position: #2
Accreditation: Platinum
Points: 103,091
From the album "Storyteller".


Crystal Waters had made her mark on the worldwide charts in 1991 with "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)", the song a result of a very impressive demo. Initially employed as an in-house songwriter for Mercury Records, Crystal penned the track for Ultra Nate who would have included it on her debut album, Blue Notes In The Basement, but the accompanying demo recorded by Crystal impressed the producers so that she was soon out of the writers chair and planted behind the microphone. Crystal Waters was now a top priority dance artist.

"Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)" just missed the top ten in Australia, peaking at #11 on the singles charts, but made up for it overseas with a #8 placement on the US Billboard charts and a #2 peak in the UK. The "la da dee, la dee da" refrain and keyboard hook has been sampled frequently, most prominently for T.I.'s "Why You Wanna" in 2006. But as things turn out for most dance artists, a one hit wonder was on the cards for Crystal as "Gypsy Woman" was left without a successful follow-up.

Of course, the story doesn't end there as Crystal Waters made an unexpected comeback in 1994 with "100% Pure Love", timed perfectly for the emerging club scene that saw Eurodance dominate the charts. The vocals were weak, the beat disjointed, the lyrics of no significance, but it all came together to provide one of the brighter moments of pop during the year. Attitude is everything and Crystal new how to deliver it.

It was Australia this time around carrying Crystal's success for "100% Pure Love". We sent her to #2 making the single the 11th biggest seller of the year. The US just missed giving her a second top ten hit when "100% Pure Love" stalled at #11, but a lengthy 45 week chart run ensured the singles' overall success. At the time it was one of the longest chart runs ever helping Crystal to the Top Selling Hot Dance Music Club Play Single category at the 1994 Billboard Awards.

Continued mainstream success was a little hard for Crystal Waters after "100% Pure Love", her two hit singles all that could be shown for her Australian chart account in the Top 100. The same could be said in the US with just a couple of minor hits added to her resume, but the US Dance charts kept her alive with another three #1's added to the three she had already clocked up, "100% Pure Love" included. Crystal kept relevant on the dance scene during the 2000's by providing vocals for Dutch's "My Time" (2003, #18) and Alex Gaudino's "Destination Calabria" (2007, #3), so there's everything chance that Crystal will return with yet another comeback hit.


Chart Run: (22 weeks)
(ARIA Top 100)