|Persona Digital Music |
Some samples of the best popular songs in recent times, from several countries: The musical range is great but the elements of the best songs are enduring - creative composing, good lyrics, good arrangements, excellent singers and the best recordings.
Since hit singles became the goal of recording companies in the 1950's, frequent radio play was the main route to popularity. In Aug. 4, 1958, Billboard magazine began to list the most popular 100 tunes in the US based on sales and plays on jukeboxes and the radio. The first No. 1 it was Ricky Nelson’s "Poor Little Fool." As recorded popular music emerged, song writers and arrangers became the new composers who dominated radio play. Geoff Mayfield recalled: “If you found only one easy listening song in a college student's music library during the early '60s, it would have been Percy Faith's rendition of "Theme from 'A Summer Place.'" With a melody carried by Faith's orchestra string section, the instrumental entered the Hot 100 at No. 96 in the Jan. 16, 1960, issue and rose to No. 1. "Summer Place" enjoyed the hit longest popularity at the time, a record broken in 1968 when the Beatles' "Hey Jude" topped the chart for nine weeks, becoming the band's longest-running chart topper. No other instrumental to date has led the Hot 100 as long as Summer Place. Some of the hit makers became rich and famous but less lucky song writers and musicians remained poor. Recording companies grew richer, bigger and more autocratic.
For those of us who value the tradition of good melodies, meaningful lyrics and skilled singers who could really sing, the search for good 21st century tunes continues. I recall going to an open house in a new apartment complex in Vancouver a few years ago. The showcase apartment was the ultimate in urban sophistication with muted grey tones, stainless steel appliances; great view of the city and on the living room wall was a flat LCD panel with Diana Krall singing and playing cabaret style. Her soothing voice and gentle jazz accompaniment came from hidden speakers in pure DVD hi-fidelity. If you had any doubts that the apartment represented ultimate sophistication, Diana's music removed them. This is cabaret music, century 21.
Holden recalled the “the golden age of live entertainment that faded with the incursions of rock ’n’ roll and television. From the late 1940s through the mid-’60s there were several tiers of live entertainment in New York: glamorous hotel supper clubs like the Persian Room at the Plaza Hotel, and the Empire Room at the Waldorf-Astoria, high-end nightclubs like the Blue Angel, smaller hole-in-the-wall Midtown jazz clubs, and smaller piano bars scattered through Manhattan where one could drop in for the price of a drink. As the nightclub world has shrunk, that kind of informality is largely a thing of the past is there is a young generation to carry on the tradition? The few younger singers, such as Harry Connick, Diana Krall, and Michael Bublé, passed through cabaret and jazz clubs on their way to the national spotlight. The concept of cabaret is only one of many in a genre that also shades into Broadway, traditional jazz, rock and even world music. Because a cabaret is the best place for a theatrically trained Broadway performer to step out of a role, it is a natural adjunct to the musical theater… instrumental jazz has established almost no footing in cabaret, where a charismatic personality matters as much as musical talent. The peak cabaret experience is a three-way relationship among singer, song (often a standard) and audience in which performers pour their life experiences in thematic shows using the American songbook as a platform; songs are stations in an autobiographical journey shared with the listener."
Poplar songs cross genre boundaries. The best idea is to separate the songs from rock and roll, country, jazz, blues, folk and consider their popularity and merit. good songs have pleasing melodies. meaningful lyrics and are presented by singers and musician as well-crafted, good-recordings. A topic often discussed among musicians who have not yet made the big time is what are the ingredients of hit songs? The are many ideas. One idea, for sure, is that a lot of people must like the tune. Liking a tune requires hearing the tune often, so that it becomes as familiar as brushing your teeth. Since hit singles became the goal of recording companies in the 1950's, frequent radio play was the route to popularity. The competition for radio play led to big business control of the airways, shady deals and some criminal involvement. More recently music videos have taken over and songs presented on You Tube and other video streaming services get the most attention. I have chosen some of my favorites that I have recorded and include some You Tube performances by the original artists (best enjoyed with full screen, large monitor and good headphones or speakers).
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