Friday, January 1, 2021

Music History Today: January 2, 2021

January 2, 1983: Michael Jackson released the single "Billie Jean."

There is before Thriller, and there is after. Michael Jackson’s sixth solo album has nine songs. Jackson released seven of those songs as singles, and all seven of them made it into the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100.

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Thriller has sold something on the order of 66 million copies — sextuple diamond, with another six million copies left over as spare change. When Jackson released Thriller, MTV almost never played Black artists, and Jackson’s record label had to fight to get his “Billie Jean” clip into rotation. 
Read more: Stereogum

January 2, 1936: Country singer-songwriter Roger Miller is born in Fort Worth, Texas.

When it comes to well-rounded performers, few in country music history match the skill set of Roger Miller. 

Roger Miller
His discography is chock-full of songs that range from kid-friendly comedy tunes to some of the saddest songs cut during one of popular music's golden eras.

Read more: Wide Open Country

January 2,1993: "The Last Song" by Elton John charts at number 24. It's his 23rd consecutive year with a song in the US Hot 100, breaking Elvis Presley's record. 

 "The Last Song" was composed by John, with lyrics provided by Bernie Taupin. It marked the first of John's American singles to benefit his AIDS foundation. 

Elon John
Taupin faxed the lyrics to him in Paris, shortly after Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury had died the previous year. 
The song tells of an estranged father coming to terms with the sexuality of his gay son, who is dying of an AIDS-related illness. Originally titled "Song for 1992", it was renamed to avoid dating it. 
Read more: Wikipedia

January 2, 1971:  The Osmonds' first single, "One Bad Apple," debuted on the charts on this date. It reaches number 1 on February 13, where it stays for four weeks.

In 1970, the Jackson 5 were a comet blazing across the sky. What they managed in that one year was monumental and historic: four consecutive singles, all of them perfect or near-perfect pieces of pop music, hitting #1 over the course of a single calendar year. And then they never got back to #1.  

The Osmonds

The Jackson 5 (later known as the Jacksons) kept scoring hit singles into the ’80s, but they never hit #1 again, at least as a group. And the year after that quick and dominant Jackson 5 era, they were replaced atop the charts by a group of toothy Mormon brothers. 

The Osmonds were such transparent, obvious Jackson 5 wannabes that their one big song was a literal Jackson 5 reject.

Read more: Stereogum

January 2,1990: Phil Collins started a three-week run at the top of the Billboard album chart with "...But Seriously." 

When Phil Collins released his fourth solo album, … But Seriously, on Nov. 6, 1989, he made good use of the five-year gap since No Jacket Required.

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It’s not that he wasn't busy – he’d been working with Genesis, Eric Clapton and on the movie Buster – but Collins had time to think out what he was going to say when the chance finally came to say it. The title was well-chosen: 

While his previous albums often took irreverent glances, the new LP found Collins exploring issues from a straighter-faced perspective. 

Read more: Ultimate Classic Rock

Billie Jean
Michael Jackson

 

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