Learn more about an era of music and the connections behind the songs. Interwoven with personal anecdotes, commentary and artist history. A unique way to tap into music nostalgia and discovery.
My Personal Chart, June 1, 2010
The companion Spotify playlist has all the songs discussed in the blog that are available. Individual playlists for each blog entry are available on My YouTube Channel.
My Personal Chart Blog, June 1, 2010
Part 3, Pop Got Punked and There Will Be Fall Out, Party Music and the Orbit Around Mars
Boys Like Girls/Heart Heart Heartbreak (3)
Aah, the aughts, and early 2010s saw a lot of boy bands under the Punk-Pop moniker and it certainly had an impact on me. This song had just dropped from #1 2 weeks earlier. The Boston area band emerged in 2007 with the top 10 Pop single “The Great Escape” and scored a couple of other top 25 hits in the following 2 years. Taylor Swift (I may get into my overall dislike of her at some point) helped bring them back to the Pop top 10 in late 2009 with “Two Is Better Than One”. Up to this point, the band did not register to a great degree, though they did make my 60 in 2009 with “Love Drunk”, another moderate Pop hit.
“Heart Heart Heartbreak” was their moment to shine on my chart with its huge hook. This one really never lets up the energy from beginning to end. It was their last Pop charter, reaching #31. It is a common occurrence that my favorite songs by an artist tend to not be their biggest hits. The song did make the music party top 40 at #36 the summer of 2010. For those uninformed, my annual music party, started in 1984, features a countdown of the top songs of the prior 12-month period, so June through May. The participants are mostly friends and usually in the 20-25 range so a song that is well-liked by a few people can make the lower reaches of the top 40.
The band released a final album in 2012 and made my chart 1 last time with “Be Your Everything”. Lead singer Martin Johnson re-surfaced in 2017 as the Night Game, a name he took from a Paul Simon song. His first single was “The Outfield” with backing vocals from Gotye, the artist who had the biggest song in the world in 2012, “Somebody That I Used To Know” (and also the #1 song at the summer 2012 party). It’s as if Gotye vanished after the success of that song, he never released another album. The funny thing about “The Outfield” is that it totally reminds me of the 80’s band of the same name, especially their song “Your Love”.
It was the more interesting song, “Once In A Lifetime” that would make it to #3 on my personal chart in December 2017. This one starts with a subdued, almost mysterious vocal style. It has a quality that is unlike any other song I can remember though I could hear Crowded House doing this song. His guitarist is from Australia (as is Gotye) so maybe that makes sense. Also, though sounding different, I can relate this to the late 80’s song “Welcome To The Boomtown” by David & David (the #3 song at the 1987 party). The Night Game just released a song on May 29 of this year called “Magic Trick”.
What is interesting to me is that Johnson co-wrote and produced songs for a lot of Pop artists over the last decade. These include Jason Derulo (“The Other Side”), Avril Lavigne (“Here’s To Never Growing Up”) and Elle King (“America’s Sweetheart”). He also is partially responsible for 2 other top 5 songs on my weekly chart, Lavigne’s “Rock N Roll” and Country artist Hunter Hayes’ “Yesterday’s Song”.
2 Canadian Punk-Pop bands from British Columbia were making some waves north of the border at the time. Faber Drive was discovered by Chad Kroeger of Nickelback (and husband of Avril Lavigne) in 2007. They were enjoying their biggest hit in 2009 with “G-Get Up And Dance”. 2 songs from 2007 made my top 20; “When I’m With You” and “Second Chance”.
Hedley has had the more prosperous career though mired in some scandal. All 7 of their albums have made the Canadian top 10 and they have had 10 top singles as well. They splashed on the Canadian charts at #1 in 2005 with their first song “On My Own”. This was right after lead vocalist Jacob Hoggard’s third-place showing in 2004 on “Canadian Idol”. In 2009-10 they were riding high with “Cha-Ching” and “Perfect”. It wasn’t until 2014-15 that they reached my top 10 with “Crazy For You” and “Hello”. In recent years Hoggard and the band have been involved in sexual assault accusations which led to their management company dropping them and the band going on indefinite hiatus.
The Tallahassee band Mayday Parade joins the conversation with 3 connections to the Night Game and Johnson. Their biggest radio song was a cover of Gotye’s hit in 2012 that made the Rock top 20. In 2010 they had 2 songs on my chart, “The Silence” with a #11 peak and “Kids In Love” (which is also the name of a Night Game song). Also, in 2010 they did a cover of Jason Derulo’s 2009 hit “In My Head”. The band has a penchant for long, strange song titles like 2018’s “It’s Hard To Be Religious When Certain People Are Never Incinerated By Bolts Of Lightning” and 2014’s “The Torment Of Existence Weighed Against The Horror Of Nonbeing”.
The Cab was a band that had a good amount of success on my chart between 2008-2014, racking up 2 #1’s, a #2 plus 2 other top 10’s. “I’ll Run” (19) saw a bit of action in 2009 but re-entered my chart in April 2010 and peaked at #2 in July. The Las Vegas band scored their initial #1 on my chart in 2011 with “Bad”, a song written and produced by Martin Johnson. ‘Run’ was from their debut 2008 album “Whisper War” that was produced by Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy and was on his independent label (with Pete Wentz of FOB) Decaydance. The lead song on the album “One Of THOSE Nights” features Brendon Urie of Panic! At The Disco. The Cab’s only song to really get radio exposure was “Bounce”, but not even reaching the Pop top 50.
Alexander DeLeon, the lead vocalist, was a co-writer of Panic’s 2015 single “Victorious” (Rivers Cuomo of Weezer also gets a songwriting credit on this song). Like Martin Johnson, he has emerged in the last couple of years with the moniker Bohnes, most recently with the song “Ugly Habits”.
There were 2 record labels in the 2005-2015 range that were responsible for a large amount of the Punk-Pop of the day. Both independent labels started up in the mid-’90s. Fearless Records, based in California was the home of Mayday Parade, Michigan’s Every Avenue, Virginia’s The Downtown Fiction, Australia’s Tonight Alive, and 2 bands just outside of Phoenix; Tempe’s The Maine and Scottsdale’s The Summer Set. Every Avenue made it to my weekly top 100 in 2010 with “Tell Me I’m A Wreck”. The latter 2 bands both reached my top 10 many years later. The Maine has charted 6 songs since 2016 with the highest being “(Un) Lost” in 2018 (actually from a 2015 album “American Candy”). The Summer Set reached #1 in 2016 with the hooky and upbeat “All Downhill From Here” from their final album “Stories For Monday”. The name of the band came from opening an atlas and landing on Somerset, New Jersey.
Fueled By Ramen was formed in Gainesville, Florida, and now is based in New York City. The label started as an indie but struck a deal with WEA and operates in the best possible world, acting like an indie label but with the resources of a major label. Their earlier success was with the alt band Jimmy Eats World in 1998. It was around 2003 when they struck a deal to release Fall Out Boy’s first album “Take This To The Grave” before the band would move on to Island Records, who had plans to take the band to radio.
Fall Out Boy’s relationship with Fueled By Ramen remained intact with the creation of the aforementioned Decaydance Records. This label still fell under the indie/major agreement and released albums by The Academy is, Gym Class Heroes, Cobra Starship and Panic! At The Disco and the Cab (remember Stump and Brendon Urie were involved in the first album). For the Cab’s second album “Symphony Soldier”, one review called it a masterpiece, they also had collaborations with Fall Out Boy in addition to Adam Levine and Bruno Mars who co-wrote the song “Endlessly”.
2010 saw the debut of a superstar in Bruno Mars. His rise started in 2008 but his music industry journey started in 2004 when he signed a deal with Motown Records. That contract went south after a year and he then devoted his energy to songwriting. He teamed with songwriter Phillip Lawrence and the first song that made a splash was Menudo’s Pop top 40 song “Lost”. In January 2009 Mars also had a songwriting credit on Flo Rida’s Billboard #1 “Right Round” which was the first song to feature Kesha. She went on to nab Billboard’s #1 song of the year in 2010 with “Tik Tok” (music party entries #18 and #21 respectively). She had quite a year in 2010, placing 6 songs in the Billboard top 10 by the end of the year including “We R Who We R”, “Your Love Is My Drug”, and “My First Kiss” with 3OH!3; all of those getting substantial radio play. Flo Rida also nabbed a Billboard top 10 in 2010 with “Club Can’t Handle Me”, his collaboration with David Guetta.
Another international smash in 2009 that Mars co-wrote was “Wavin’ Flag” by Somalian/Canadian artist K’Naan. It became Coca-Cola’s anthem for the World Cup in 2010. The remixed version was produced by The Smeezingtons, a production and songwriting team including Mars, Lawrence, and Ari Levine. K’Naan joined forces with Keane on the 2010 song “Stop For A Minute” (55), on its way to a #35 peak. The UK band has reached my personal chart top 10 11 times out of 36 appearances.
The Smeezington team was responsible for putting Mars on the map as a vocalist. This was first on B.O.B.’s #1 song “Nothin’ On You” (77), which debuted in December 2009. In March he showed up on Travie McCoy’s top 5 “Billionaire”. McCoy was the leader of the band Gym Class Heroes who topped the Billboard Hot 100 in 2006 with “Cupid’s Chokehold”, a song that was built largely on Supertramp’s song “Breakfast In America”. This New York band skillfully straddled Hip-Hop, Rock, and Pop, resulting in 6 Pop hits between 2006-2011. On ‘Chokehold’ they got an assist from fellow Fueled By Ramen/Decaydance labelmate Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy.
Around the same time in 2006, Travie McCoy also showed up on a song from another band on the label’s roster, Cobra Starship. “Bring It (Snakes On A Plane)”, the theme to the movie on the same name, was too ridiculous and fun. The swirling synths of the intro lead into a hooky Alt-Pop gem. The song existed before the movie so the lyrics were altered to incorporate the gist of the movie (“kiss me goodbye, I can see the venom in your eyes”). The top 40 Alternative song had no choice but to go to #1 on my weekly chart. Between 2009-11 the band had 2 Pop top 10’s with “Good Girls Go Bad” and “You Make Me Feel”. Neither of those songs had much of an impact on me with ‘Feel’ not even making my chart. In 2014 they made my top 5 again with “Never Been In Love” featuring Icona Pop. The band pays homage to Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy on the song “Pete Wentz Is The Only Reason We’re Famous”
Cobra Starship’s vocalist Gabe Saporta was friends with Wentz before Cobra Starship was formed. He had been in a Punk-Pop band called Midtown with fellow Rutgers University friends and released 3 albums on Drive-Thru Records between 1998-2004. That was another independent label that fueled the evolution of Punk-Pop with bands like New Found Glory, Something Corporate, and Hellogoodbye, who landed my #27 song of 2014 with “Everything Is Debatable”.
Something Corporate was led by Andrew McMahon and had a few minor Alternative hits in the early 2000s, one of which, “Space” made it to #26 on my chart. McMahon went on to form the band Jack’s Mannequin (leaving the Punk part behind and moving more Adult Pop) which similarly had a couple of minor hits including “The Resolution” a #27 Alternative song and the best performing of their 6 songs on my chart, reaching #13 in 2008. In 2012 he went solo under the name Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness and has had better luck on the Alternative chart with 2 top 10’s and a few others making the top 40. The Concord, Massachusetts native would reach #1 on my chart in 2015 with “Cecilia and The Satellite”, his only top 10 out of 7 tries.
Florida’s New Found Glory got as high as #11 on the Alternative chart in 2004 with a different “All Downhill From Here” (I guess those punk-poppers are a sad bunch) and #5 in 2002 with “My Friend’s Over You”. Their U.S. radio activity was all early 2000s but they have released 10 albums since 1999, the latest called “Forever + Ever x Infinity” this past Friday. Also, they had released 4 cover albums, 3 being a series called “From The Screen To Your Stereo”. Last year they had their best showing on my chart with Huey Lewis’ “The Power Of Love”, a song that forever will be associated with my Mom. For the 1986 music party, it was her #1 song, though that was not enough for it to get into the top 100, only placing at #132. The New Found Glory album also boasts versions of “This Is Me” from “The Greatest Showman” and “Let it Go” from “Frozen”.
Colorado’s 3OH!3 could loosely fall under the Punk-Pop umbrella and had a similar style to Gym Class Heroes, melding Electronic Dance and Hip-Hop in the mix. In 2009 they went to #1 on Pop radio with “Don’t Trust Me” before their 2 Billboard top 10’s with Kesha. Their song “Starstrukk” with Katy Perry was featured on the soundtrack to the Kristen Bell/Josh Duhamel romantic comedy “When In Rome” and was a substantial hit in Australia and across Europe (especially the UK and Poland) while only achieving moderate success in the States.
I was surprised that Gym Class Heroes had 5 songs hit the Pop top 20 including a second #1, “Stereo Hearts” with Adam Levine of Maroon 5 and “The Fighter” with Ryan Tedder of Onerepublic. My relationship with Maroon 5 has gone sour in recent years, the last time they made my top 10 was in 2011 with “Moves Like Jagger” and nothing has hit my top 100 since 2014. Funny thing is back in 2009 there were some thoughts of the band disbanding, the irony being that they are 1 of the biggest Pop artists of the last decade.
In 2010 they had 2 songs make my top 100 of the year, “Misery” at #69, which also saw a second life on my chart in 2011 (not sure why) and the funky “Give A Little More”, #46 and the best performer by the band ever for me. In another irony, it is the worst performer on the Hot 100 by the band ever, only landing at #86. Another odd stat for the band is that they reached #8 (but never higher) on my weekly chart 4 times. Besides ‘Jagger’ and ‘More’, “If I Never See Your Face Again” in 2008 and “Sweetest Goodbye”, a track from their debut album in 2004. I guess I like their funky side.
Since 2007, when they were integral to the huge Timbaland song “Apologize” (Billboard’s #5 song of the year in 2008), Onerepublic has had 9 appearances in the Pop top 25. Ryan Tedder since 2005 has produced and co-written a plethora of songs (Adele’s “Rumour Has It”, Beyonce’s “Halo” and Jonas Brothers “Sucker” to name 3) and has become a well-known name without the band. All 4 of those songs reached the music party top 12. In 2010 the band was promoting their second album “Waking Up”, spawning 3 hits, “All The Right Moves”, “Secrets” and “Good Life” (reaching #25 on my chart).
Besides, Tedder co-wrote songs for a few artists I have discussed here; Cobra Starship, K’Naan, and B.O.B. (that was a long aside from Bruno Mars!). He was also a featured vocalist on the Hot 100 top 10 song “Rocketeer” by Far East Movement, a song co-written by Bruno Mars and co-produced by The Smeezingtons. It was the follow-up to the group’s #1 Electro-Hip-Hop song “Like A G6”.
There is another coincidence that connects Onerepublic to Bruno Mars. The band was originally signed to Columbia Records but was dropped from the label 2 months before the release of their first album in 2006 (like Mars being dropped from Motown). They were highly active on Myspace and “Apologize” was to be the first single release, which they debuted on Myspace a short time after they were dropped. Timbaland caught attention of the song and thus a career was changed.
After laying the foundation with his collaborations, Mars released his first solo single in July 2010, “Just The Way You Are”, which brought him back to the Hot 100 #1 position. The mid-tempo love song spent 20 weeks at #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart as well and won the Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. A relatively simple yet effective song. It showed up in Billboard’s top 20 of the year in both 2010 (#18) and 2011 (#15) along with a #17 showing at the 2011 music party.
The album “Doo-Wops and Hooligans” (Mars said he was inspired by Doo-Wop and his band is the Hooligans) surfaced in October and brought with it another Hot 100 #1 in “Grenade” (#6 of 2011). K’naan shows up again on the next single, the Reggae-Pop “The Lazy Song” as a co-writer. That one topped the UK chart and #4 on the Hot 100 (#26 of 2011). “Marry You” was an international success but not a single in the U.S., though it did get extensive airplay. “Talking To The Moon” was a #1 song in Brazil, thanks to its inclusion in a Brazilian telenovela and “Count On Me” #1 in Germany.
The final song on the album “The Other Side” features B.O.B. and Cee-Lo Green and of course, Mars co-wrote and The Smeezingtons produced his 2010 hit “F*** You” (Forget You for radio purposes). That song peaked at #2 on the Hot 100 and became Billboard’s #7 song of 2011 (#3 at the 20011 music party). It was nominated for Record and Song of the Year at the 2011 Grammys (alongside “Nothin’ On You” for Record of the Year). In both categories, the winner was “Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum. As of June 11 they are now called Lady A, after the band realized the connotation the word has to slavery. This created more controversy than it alleviated with an African American singer and activist Anita White (ironic, don’t ya think) having used that moniker for over 2 decades. Now that’s a failed attempt at righting a wrong.
To end on a happier note, many of the artists discussed here (both Punk-Pop and Pop/R&B) have shown up on Fearless Records album series “Punk Goes Pop”. There are 7 editions in that series between 2001-2017. In total there are 20 including Punk Goes Metal, Classic Rock, Crunk, and more.
Part 2, Manic Musings, the Queen is Everywhere, Trick Shots and Kickstarting Video Gimmicks
Manic Bloom/Tonight Is When I Say Goodbye (2)
This was the second song by the Nashville indie band to make my chart. They first appeared on a personal chart I processed for Beyond Radio that I called JDM. I can not remember what chart that was. I have lost a lot of data files, personal chart files of my own and Beyond Radio and Top Hits Online data files as well. Many were on an external hard drive that was damaged by a fall, and data could not be recovered. Other files were lost from computer crashes or on damaged floppy disks. I wish I had been more vigilant in saving things.
What I know about the debut of Manic Bloom is that it showed up on JDM’s chart the week of Nov. 15. 2009. The song was “Running From The Scene” and it reached the Beyond Radio Rock top 100 in December but not sure how long it was on or where it peaked. On my chart it peaked at #2 in early 2010 and was my #11 of the year. It is a mid-tempo rock song with prominent piano and a very polished sound for an indie band. I was hooked by the melody, singer David Joel Stevenson’s voice and the radio friendly grandiosity (somewhere between Muse and Queen).
“Tonight Is When I Say Goodbye” was their next appearance on my chart and again reached #2. I was falling in love with their sound (what they describe as epic, melodic rock) and all 5 songs from the 2008 self-titled debut EP reached my top 10. “Betrayer” and “What Scares You Most” (23) both hitting #10 and “Everything I Saved You From” spending 4 weeks at #1, which helped it land at #3 for the year. A great guitar hook and Stevenson’s soaring pipes solidified that. He is also and actor and an author. In August 2010 they released a second EP, “In Loving Memory”, and the first song from that to chart was a bit more of a love ballad (“just one more touch, just one more word, where would I be if I never had you here with me”). “A Thousand Angels” again hit #1 and was #4 for the 2010-2011 cycle.
Seeing a pattern here? They were my #2 artist of 2010, behind Shinedown. Most of the songs from “In Loving Memory” charted for me. A total of 5 hitting #1. The ‘what should have been a sports anthem’ and most straightforward rock song of theirs, “Never Back Down” was #1 for 3 weeks. Its lyric and the insistent guitar intro would be a perfect fit for a team. In fact, the band did garner some attention on the YouTube channel Dude Perfect, the second most subscribed to sports channel on YT. The channel has been around since 2009 and it is filled with trick shot videos and comedy musings.
Speaking of Muse, “Push Off the Ground” (3 weeks at #1), “Death And Conversation” (1 week) and “Toynbee” (2 weeks) veer the closest to Muse territory. Can’t really connect the title to the lyrics on that one. Wikipedia offers famous British people with the last name and mysterious “Toynbee” tiles, found in many cities around America. ‘Push’ has the most otherworldly sound, with great instrumentation and a 50 second instrumental bridge with the piano ascending and descending rapid fire, choral background and a wall of guitar and synths.
Their 2015 album “I Know What’s Next…But You Won’t Believe Me” hints much more directly to their Christian faith though they do not consider themselves a Christian band. They used a Kickstarter campaign to fund its production, which I contributed to. All those who contributed were thanked in the liner notes. The album produced 8 more songs for my personal chart top 100, including 3 more #1’s. “False Prophet” has some of the atmospheric sounds of “Push Off The Ground” but with a more driving rock chorus. “Farewell” segues from the instrumental “Prepare The Way” and eases into its gorgeous intro. The bands essence of melody throughout their catalogue is impressive. The only part of this song I could do without is the “I’m ready to break” scream. Other than that, this song kills with a chorus lyric “the one who holds the truth is saving you”. This seems to be a companion piece to “Everything I’ve Saved You From”. I get what the Christian message this album is espousing, and I think with a lot of Christian based music I have my own takeaway.
Funny until this moment I did not realize that the first song on the debut, “What Scares You Most”, has a bible verse from the Old Testament’s “Book of Daniel”; “Menne, Menne, Tekel Uparisin“. It speaks of the end of times and connects to the last book of the New Testament, “Revelations”. With that new-found knowledge it is easy to see how the intent of the band may have come full circle with “Farewell”. Why they were not embraced by Christian radio (or radio at all) baffles me.
The band’s biggest song on my chart also comes from this 2015 album. “One More Chance” spent 4 weeks at #1 and was my #1 for 2016 with 41 weeks on my chart. Based on the number of songs that made my year-end top 40 through the years Manic Bloom is tied for my #22 artist of all-time with The Carpenters and Chicago, though all 11 of those songs reached #1 or #2.
Muse had a good year on my chart (but not as good as the 2004-2005 cycle) with 6 songs from the album “The Resistance” plus 1 soundtrack song making my personal chart. That album hit #1 in 19 countries and hit #3 on the Billboard 200. “Guiding Light” (68) was the fourth to chart, the first 2, “Uprising” and “The Resistance” both peaked at #6 on my chart while “Uprising” was Billboard’s #1 Alternative track of the year and as of 2018 was the biggest song ever on the magazine’s Alternative chart.
The album was compared to Queen and Radiohead. I have always said that Muse took on the mantle of the sound that Radiohead had in the late 90’s before that band became pretentious and experimental into the 2000’s. That was evident on their debut album “Showbiz” in 1999 and the great songs “Muscle Museum” and “Cave”, though at the time they did not perform to their potential on my chart, both missing my weekly top 40. Funny tidbit about “Muscle Museum”, there is no lyric like that in the song. The title came from the words before and after muse in the dictionary.
In 2010 the band won the Silver Clef Award, which honors artists who have made significant contributions to the UK music scene. It was presented to them by Brian May and Roger Taylor of Queen. “The Resistance” also won a Grammy for Rock album of the year. On the album they perform a 3-part symphony called “Exogenesis”. Their Queen influence and grand theatrics are also displayed on “Neutron Star Collision”, their contribution to “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” film, which made the Alternative and UK top 15. For the tour to support the album they started with a 2 night stint in their hometown called “A Seaside Rendezvous”, most likely an homage to the song “Seaside Rendezvous” from Queen’s album “A Night At The Opera” (and a #1 song on my personal chart in May 1976).
Crash Kings are an L.A. band lead by brothers Tony and Mike Beliveau. They scored an Alternative #1 in 2010, and #13 Alt track of the year with “Mountain Man” (42). Like both Muse and Manic Bloom, there is prominent piano in their brand of Alt Rock. And in Manic Bloom fashion they employed a Kickstarter campaign to help complete their second album, Dark of The Daylight”, in 2013.
Reviewers at the time also compared them to the White Stripes, Ben Folds and Queen (isn’t everybody?). In fact, one review noted some similarity to the Stripes “My Doorbell”, with “Mountain Man” taking on a harder edge. That Stripes influence is also heard on “You Got Me”, a top 20 Alternative song in 2010, while the Folds connection comes into play on the lighter “Non Believer”, the third single from the debut album.
In 2010 Ben Folds teamed up with British writer Nick Hornby for the album “Lonely Avenue”, with Hornby writing the lyrics and Folds composing the music. Hornby is best known for the novels/movies/TV shows “High Fidelity” and “About A Boy”. The TV version of ‘Fidelity’ debuted on Hulu in February of this year with Zoe Kravitz (daughter of Lenny and Lisa Bonet), putting a female spin on the titular character, record store owner Rob. 2 songs from the Folds/Hornby collaboration were on my radar in 2010, “Belinda” and “From Above” yet neither reached my top 100. The album also includes a song called “Levi Johnston’s Blues”; yes that’s Bristol Palin’s former fiancé. It has been a while since Folds has been on my chart so I’m giving those songs another go.
OK Go (get the transition?) circles back nicely to Manic Bloom (well indirectly). “This Too Shall Pass” (50), was a top 40 Alternative song accompanied by a video that features a Rube Goldberg Machine. That is a machine that uses unrelated objects that are combined to create a series of actions. Named after early 20th century cartoonist Rube Goldberg who had a comic strip between 1929-1931 that lead to the phenomenon. To put it more simply, if you’ve ever played the game Mouse Trap, that would be an RBG.
The Chicago based group had gotten notoriety in 2007 with the song and video “Here It Goes Again”, top 20 Alternative and on my chart as well (#16). That one was choreographed with the band using 8 treadmills and won a Grammy for Best Music Video. Both are great to watch. There is a series of trick shot videos from the Dude Perfect guys using Rube Goldberg Machine style (the Manic Bloom reference). Which leads back to OK Go. On the video for their debut single “Get Over It” in 2002, there is a 5 second stop in the middle of the song with the 4 band members playing a game of ping pong. They sent out miniature ping pong tables to the press to promote the song.
Over the last 15 years they have made quite a number of gimmicky, synchronized, and choreographed videos with 10’s of millions views, but the music has always stood up as well. Their brand of power pop has made my chart 12 times, most recently with “Writing’s On The Wall” in 2019 and “Obsession” in 2018 (both from 2014’s album “Hungry Ghost”) but they have never reached by top 10, a surprise.
It was the video for ‘Pass” that would lead the band to leave their major label and start their own independent own, Paracadute. Their record company only allowed views of the video on YouTube and lead singer Damian Kulash posted a letter on their website with an embed code of the video, against the companies wishes. In April 2010 they severed relations with EMI and Capitol, took control of the album “Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky”, and formed their label. A cute aside, Kulash has a dog named Bunny Carlos, named after the drummer Bun E. Carlos of another power pop band from Chicago, Cheap Trick.
In watching the videos for this piece 2 other songs from “Hungry Ghost” will re-emerge on my chart, “The One Moment” and “I Won’t Let You Down”. There is a third brand new song, “All Together Now”, a tribute to healthcare workers that was released on May 12. Early in the pandemic Kulash and his wife contracted COVID-19; his was mild, hers lead to a hospital stay, and both have since recovered. The video is a zoom style video, done with the band’s signature inventive style, and it ends in a very sobering way. You can donate to “Partners In Health” by downloading the video.
My Personal Chart Blog, June 1, 2010
Part 1, Spiritual Questions to Ponder, an Unstoppable Album, a Potent Memory, a Hot 100 Analysis and the Soap Connection
Better Than Ezra/Just One Day (1)
“What would do, what would you say, if everyone you loved came back for just one day?”. That line helped to solidify the #1 position on my chart this week in 2010. There was quite a lot of emotion circling my chart at this time. I can not pinpoint what the reason was, I think maybe things sometimes go in cycles. It had been 9 years since my Mom had passed and I am certain this song triggered my sense of loss.
The Baton Rouge band, Better Than Ezra had their heyday in the mid to late 90’s with the songs “Good” and “Desperately Wanting” among others. Since 2001, when they were dropped by Elektra, the band had been releasing albums on independent labels, 4 between 2001-2014. They have graced my chart 24 times with 4 songs off the 2009 album “Paper Empires”. Besides the thought provoking ‘Day’, the first single “Absolutely Still” made my top 20 and the strummy yet funky “Black Light” made it up to #2. Unfortunately, they did not see any radio success with this album.
“Absolutely Still” was co-written by lead singer Kevin Griffin and singer-songwriter Val Emmich who had released it previously in 2007. Emmich is connected to the Broadway musical ‘Dear Evan Hansen” as he wrote a YA novel based on it. Griffin produced and co-wrote the song “Be There” for singer-songwriter Howie Day of Bangor, Maine. That song was a top 25 Adult Pop song in 2009 and made my top 40 of that year. His song “So Stung” (76), the lead song on his album, was co-written by Jay Clifford of the North Carolina band Jump, Little Children who had an Adult Alternative hit in 1999 with the gorgeous lament “Cathedrals”, a song that spent 2 weeks at #1 on my chart. It was really their only national success, but they have become a mainstay of the Charleston, South Carolina music scene. Clifford just released a video of the song on April 21, he alone with guitar, singing in an empty Charleston Music Hall, this to help raise money for artists during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Better Than Ezra’s producer Warren Huart was involved with some of the other artists on my chart this week including Howie Day and the next 2 artists. Vedera, a Kansas City, Missouri band whose song “Satisfy” (80) ponders the question “is there anything left in this world that will satisfy me?” Lead singer Kristen May went on to replace the lead singer of Christian rock band Flyleaf. Lacey Strum, in 2012. South Carolina’s Trevor Hall dabbles in a mix of rootsy folk and reggae. His moment in time on my chart was 2010-11 with 3 songs making impact. “Volume” (6) ending up as my #9 song of the year. This along with “Brand New Day” and “Unity” all possess a positive spiritual energy.