Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Music History Today: May 18, 2023

May 18, 2017: Singer, songwriter, and grunge icon Chris Cornell took his own life at 52.
Chris Cornell was born in Seattle, which put him in the perfect position for the grunge music scene that sprung up there in the '80s. Cornell formed Soundgarden with guitarist Kim Thayil and bassist Hiro Yamamoto in 1984.

Chris Cornell
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His first solo album, Euphoria Morning through Interscope, didn't do as well as Soundgarden's albums but still sold 75,000 copies in its first week of release. He covered Michael Jackson's song "Billie Jean" on his second album Carry On. American Idol contestant David Cook later performed Cornell's version of the song on the popular reality show. 
Read more: Louder Sound
May 18, 1963: Lesley Gore moved into the Top 40 section of Billboard, from Number 26 to 60, with "It's My Party."
Lesly Gore was 16 when she recorded "It's My Party," which led the media to call her "The Teen Queen." She took some voice lessons in New York City and recorded some piano demos with her instructor, which somehow got to Quincy Jones - at the time, an up-and-coming producer. Jones liked what he heard and decided to record her. In late February 1963, he brought a stack of demo tapes to her house, and they spent an afternoon listening to one after another. The only one they both liked was "It's My Party," so they decided to record it. 
Read more: Songfacts

May 18, 1974: Ray Stevens started a three-week run at Number 1 on the US singles chart with the novelty song "The Streak." It was inspired by a fad among college students where they would run around naked in public.

May 18, 1985: Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers peaked at Number 13 on the US music chart with "Don't Come Around Her No More." 
After their 1983 tour, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers took some time off. Petty started working with Dave Stewart from the Eurythmics. This was the first song they wrote together, and the psychedelic sound was a significant departure from Petty's work with The Heartbreakers. Southern Accents was going to be a Tom Petty double album produced by Stewart but ended up being a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers single album, with Jimmy Iovine producing some songs and Stewart producing others. 
Read more: Songfacts

September 22, 1991: R.E.M. went to Number 1 in America with their seventh album, Out of Time, which features the tracks "Losing My Religion" and "Shiny Happy People."
The phrase “Shiny Happy People” is said to have been derived from a poster in China which was basically a piece of propaganda promoting the aforementioned ideals. The implication is the Chinese government created that said poster.

Shiny Happy People REM poster

Meanwhile, the song itself came out just two years after the Tiananmen Square protests in China, which officially resulted in the deaths of almost 300 people. The band appears to be mocking the Chinese authorities by implying they are hypocrites.  
Read more: Songfacts

Billy Jean
Chris Cornell

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