When one thinks of Herb Alpert, it’s easy to think about his long recording career. There were lots of hits, including a number one vocal hit and a number one instrumental hit. Most people, I would imagine, think mostly of the 1960s and 70s when thinking about all his hits. Fewer people, however, would think of a late 80s top ten hit that featured Janet Jackson.
It’s certainly not uncommon to hear of a popular recording artist switching labels. In some cases, the jilted label waits a while, then releases a greatest hits collection from that artist containing only those hits (and almost-hits) which that artist recorded while under contract to that particular label. And that’s all well and good. Less common, though, is for a label to continue to release singles by a long-gone artist. That, however, is exactly what happened with Donna Summer.
Once again, lovers of music from decades past have been saddened to hear of the passing of Aretha Franklin from cancer. To say that Ms. Franklin had a long and successful recording career, quite honestly, doesn’t do justice to the influence she had on many, many others.
Given all the chart successes enjoyed by Daryl Hall and John Oates in the mid to late 1970s and, especially, the early 80s, it’s not surprising that some of their songs from outside that period have fallen by the wayside. It’s possible, but certainly not proven, that their longer than usual hiatus after 1984’s Big Bam Boom caused them to be somewhat forgotten, even back then. But regardless, when the duo returned to the studio in the late 1980s, their songs, while fairly successful at the time, did not seem to have much of any staying power on American radio. Such was the case with “Everything Your Heart Desires”.
Any history of rock and roll music has to include Chuck Berry. One of the true pioneers of rock and roll, Mr. Berry started hitting the charts in 1955, right at the start of the rock era, and he achieved a level of fame that few people could reach. Whether it was his being the only rock artist to have a song (“Johnny B. Goode”) on Voyager 1’s Golden Record* or having a very tongue-in-cheek origin story told in Back to the Future, Chuck Berry is one of those few rock stars who will likely never be forgotten.
By far the biggest name to come out of the huge upswing in dance music in the late 1980s and early 1990s was Paula Abdul. To give the reader a sense of how pervasive Ms. Abdul’s music was in that era, it should be noted that her debut album, Forever Your Girl, is, as of this writing and per Ms. Abdul’s website, the third longest charting album on the Billboard Hot 100.*
2016 has not been a good year, if you judge years based on how many pop superstars died. The last week of December brought the news that George Michael died on Christmas Day. Though it has been a while since Mr. Michael hit the charts, his music still gets a fair amount of airplay, continuing to introduce him to a whole new generation and thereby making it that much more of a shock for so many when they heard of his death.
Three weeks after Prince’s death, the news cycle is still abuzz with stories about it. (Aside: 2016 has been really bad for music legends, and we’re still only about one-third through the year.) Even though his impact lessened quite a bit in recent years from its peak, there’s not denying that he was a major influence in popular music.