Friday, June 30, 2017

Pride Month: TLC Song Facts


This song talks about girls' inner beauty. The first line (sung by T-Boz), "I wish I could tie you up in my shoes make you feel unpretty too," is talking about the people who say that a person is ugly. Chilli sings about satisfying her boyfriend for what he wants from her. In the video, directed by Paul Hunter, she and her boyfriend are looking at an online web page of a hospital which specializes in breast implants. Her boyfriend would like Chilli to get bigger breasts, but she thinks that she shouldn't. The video continues with more scenes of people compromising their health and principles for the sake of beauty, including a girl who uses bulimia to stay thin.

Dallas Austin, who also wrote and produced the trio's #1 hit "Creep," wrote this song based on a poem T-Boz composed called "Unpretty." He explained to Billboard: "Once I saw the title, I went to my keyboard and guitar and started playing melodies that would complement it. I didn't want it to be aggressive. I wanted it to be friendly - for a song called 'Unpretty' talking about how much you don't like stuff about yourself - so the message would come across to people with those kinds of problems or issues. I thought it would be unique to get it across in a sweet way."

Austin, who had first met the group back in high school long before they were famous, was careful to stay true to the girls' personalities by tailoring the verses for each of them: "When I write for TLC, I write for each one of the members. So when I do a Tionne part, it's different from what Chilli's part would be. When we first did 'Unpretty' it was one of the most exciting records we'd ever done because it was different. And it still stayed along the lines of TLC having messages for people."

This was used on the TV series Sabrina, the Teenage Witch in the 1999 episode "Aging, Not So Gracefully."

This earned Grammy Award nominations for Song of the Year and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in 2000, but lost both to Santana (for "Smooth" and "Maria Maria," respectively).


This was the first Top 40 hit for TLC. It introduced the group and explained who represented each letter: Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins, Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, and Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas.

This contains samples of "Escape-ism" (James Brown), "Jungle Boogie" (Kool & the Gang), "School Boy Crush" (AWB), "Fly Robin Fly" (Silver Convention), and "Take Me to the Mardi Gras" (Bob James).

The video made sure to introduce each singer. When each girl sang her part, her name flashed on the screen. Like many of their songs, T-Boz sang the lyrics, Left Eye did the rap, and Chilli sang on the chorus.

This is about sex. They made it clear, however, that they advocated safe sex, by prominently displaying condoms. Lopes wore one over her left eye in their early days.

This is not the same song as the Temptations classic of the same name. In that song, a man swallows his pride and begs his girl to come back to him. In this, the girls state that they are not afraid to ask a man for sex.

It took a long time for radio stations to figure out what this song was about, but when they did, a lot of them censored the line, "Two inches or a yard, rock hard or if it's sagging - I ain't too proud to beg." The line was part of Left Eye's rap.

This was written by Dallas Austin, except for Left Eye's rap which, like the majority of what she sang, she wrote herself.

The Ooooooohhh...On the TLC Tip album sold over 3 million copies. Their next one sold 5 million, but TLC still managed to go broke and had to file for bankruptcy in 1995. Their contract paid them only 7% of revenue from album sales, which wasn't enough to cover their expenses when split three ways.


This song is about a woman who is not happy with her man, so she sneaks around ("Creeps") and cheats on him.

This uses a sample from Slick Rick's 1988 song "Hey Young World."

This was written and produced by the Atlanta-based producer Dallas Austin. Though he had already made a name for himself working alongside producers like L.A. Reid and Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, and hot acts like Another Bad Creation and Bell Biv DeVoe, "Creep" would be an important song for Austin because it proved he could write from a female perspective.

The trio had mixed feelings about the adulterous relationship portrayed in the lyrics. Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins thought the subject was an important one. She told Billboard: "We thought that was a good relationship to talk about because a lot of people don't admit that's how they feel - that their man's playing on them and they want to be with him so they seek attention elsewhere, but they really want to be with their guy."

But Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, who was on probation for setting her boyfriend's (pro football player Andre Rison) house on fire, didn't like the idea and refused to contribute a rap to the song. Austin remembered: "The reason there's not a rap on it is because Lisa said, 'Dallas, I don't want this to offend people personally. I don't want it to interfere with my relationships. If he thinks I'm doing this, it's going to cause problems and I'm making a record out of it.'"

Left Eye also didn't believe in an eye-for-an-eye when it came to cheating. She threatened to protest the single by wearing black tape over her mouth in the video.

Austin held onto the song for six months because he thought it might be too corny, but when he couldn't get it out of his head, he decided to record it.

This was TLC's first #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. They would have three more: "Waterfalls," "No Scrubs" and "Unpretty."

This won a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals in 1996. It was also nominated for Best R&B Song but lost to Stevie Wonder's "For Your Love."

The music video shows the group hanging out in their pajamas while T-Boz gets friendly with a trumpet player (played by former Janet Jackson dancer Omar Lopez). Two other videos were made, but went unreleased, including one that follows Chilli and T-Boz cheating on their boyfriends while Left Eye dances by herself.

TLC performed this on Saturday Night Live on the May 6, 1995 episode hosted by Bob Saget.

This was used in the TV series New York Undercover in the 1995 episode "CAT."

The song was inspired by a situation that T-Boz found herself in. "'Creep,' unfortunately, was one of my true stories," she told Billboard magazine with a laugh. "You're with a guy and he's not showing you attention, so another guy comes along and you're like, 'Hey, if you were where you were supposed to be, he couldn't be showing me attention right now!' I was in the middle of this drama, because the other guy was [my boyfriend's] friend, and my boyfriend was just not getting it together."

T-Boz shared her personal state of affairs with Dallas Austin, whom she grew up with in Atlanta, and Austin in turn penned "Creep."


This song is about men who have nothing going for them, but hit on women just the same, even resorting to hopeless tactics like hollering at women from the passenger seat of their friend's car. The song vaulted the term "Scrub" into the popular lexicon, and it became a well-used word to describe a worthless man.

Future Real Housewives of Atlanta cast member Kandi Burruss wrote this with help from producer Kevin "She'kspere" Briggs, and Tameka "Tiny" Cottle. Burruss and Cottle were members of the recently disbanded group Xscape, who had a hit in 1993 with "Just Kickin' It," and they had formed their own duo, which they called KAT (Kandi And Tameka). Briggs was an up-and-coming producer at LaFace records, home of TLC, and he had written what would become "No Scrubs," but with completely different lyrics. After meeting Briggs through their manager, Burruss and Cottle asked if they could try writing different lyrics to the song, which they then hoped to record. Burruss got the "No Scrubs" idea after talking about some of her ex-boyfriends - she and her friends used the word "Scrubs" a lot. She and Cottle finished the new lyrics and took them to Briggs, who instead of putting the song together for KAT, brought it to LaFace where the execs decided it would be a great song for TLC. Burruss, who had songwriting aspirations but didn't write in Xscape, was hesitant about giving up the song, but knew it was the right thing to do. It worked out well for her, as even though her singing career wound down, she became a popular songwriter, later teaming up with Briggs to write another man-basher: "Bills, Bills, Bills" for Destiny's Child.

This was the first single released from Fanmail, the followup to TLC's wildly successful second album CrazySexyCool, which sold over 11 million copies. "No Scrubs" kept them in the groove and was a major hit. The song was a no-brainer for radio stations, as it was a fresh sound from an established group that had already made the R&B, Pop and Adult Contemporary charts. A smooth, mid-tempo number with a very memorable title, it found a home on all these formats, as did their next single, "Unpretty."

The word "scrub" has developed many uses, including what you do to rid your computer of viruses or remove items from a budget. "Scrubs" are what hospital workers wear, and a show with that name debuted on NBC in 2001.

The group Sporty Thievz released a response song from the male perspective called "No Pigeons." This renewed the popularity of "No Scrubs" as radio stations played the songs back-to-back.

This song is heavy on the "C" and light on the "T" and "L." It was the first TLC song that Chilli (Rozanda Thomas), sang lead on by herself; T-Boz (Tionne Watkins) did most of their lead vocals to that point. Kevin Briggs is the one who decided she would sing on it, and he worked with her to get the vocal down. He thought her vocal range was right for the track, and liked the idea of having her get her first lead. "We had some resistance from the other girls at one point, but we ended up working it out," said Briggs.

This won Grammys for Best Rhythm & Blues Song and for Best Rhythm & Blues Performance by a Group.

This song is TLC's biggest seller in the UK, selling 553,200 copies.

The futuristic music video, directed by Hype Williams, has the trio performing in space on metallic sets, with multiple wardrobe changes and a dance sequence in front of a TLC logo. The clip won the 1999 MTV Video Music Award for Best Group Video.

The vocal melody in Ed Sheeran's 2017 hit "Shape Of You" bears much resemblance to the one used in this song. When Sheeran sings:

Girl, you know I want your love
Your love was handmade for somebody like me

It's pretty close to:

No, I don't want no scrubs
A scrub is a guy that can't get no love from me

It was close enough that Sheeran added the "No Scrubs" songwriters to the credits of "Shape Of You," likely to avoid a lawsuit.


"Chasing Waterfalls" is TLC's way of expressing how people chase intangible dreams with no thought of the consequences. The first verse is talking about an inner city mother and son relationship. He is chasing "waterfalls" (money and respect by dealing drugs), but his mother knows this cannot end well. The second verse deals with a man's relationship with a woman. His "waterfall" is casual sex - he has a "natural obsession for temptation." This could mean he is cheating on someone or the woman he is seeing is cheating on someone. Either way, he contracts HIV and dies ("three letters took him to his final resting place"). TLC were big on AIDS awareness - Left Eye would often wear condoms attached to her clothes and in her glasses to promote safe sex.

Cee-Lo Green sang backup on this. He's well-known as a songwriter and producer, and as a member of Goodie Mob and Gnarls Barkley. Cee-Lo recalled to The Guardian newspaper March 22, 2008: "I was working at the same studio and of course I know the girls too, because we were on the same label, so they just asked me. I didn't realize at the time what a big song it was going to be."

The Atlanta production team Organized Noize, who produced the track, wrote this song with Marqueze Etheridge, and TLC's Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes came up with the rap. Lopes was dealing with some personal problems at the time, which are expressed in her rap. She had a very turbulent relationship with the football player Andre Rison, and on June 9, 1994 she burned his new shoes in his bathtub, which set fire to his entire $2 million mansion. She pled guilty to arson, but did reconcile with Rison.

This makes the "songs discussed in movies" list thanks to its use in the 2010 film The Other Guys, where Michael Keaton's character keeps unknowingly quoting TLC songs, starting with this one.

The video won the MTV Video Music Award for Video of the Year in 1995, beating out "Buddy Holly" by Weezer and "Basket Case" by Green Day. The "Waterfalls" clip had lots of fancy computer generated effects, including a lot of water, which was notoriously difficult to render.

The rap lyrics Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes performed on this song were engraved in her casket. Lopes died in a car accident in Honduras in 2002.

Three-piece British girl group Stooshe released a cover of this song for their third single from their self-titled debut album in 2012. "We are huge fans and have met T-Boz, who told us she loved our version," Courtney Rumbold of the trio told The Sun. "It's meeting heroes like that that spurs us on, and we have the most loyal of fans." Their version peaked at #21 on the UK singles chart.

Stooshe managed to secure cameos from TLC's T-Boz and Chilli for their accompanying music video.

T-Boz and Chilli re-recorded the song with Japanese popstar Namie Amuro to mark their twentieth anniversary. The new version of the track was dedicated to their fans in Japan and finds Namie rapping Left Eye's verse almost at a whisper.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Pride Month: Rihanna Song Facts


This bass-heavy dance anthem was co-produced by Norwegian duo Stargate with David Guetta, and it features the French king of Pop himself as a credited performer. Dutch newcomer Nicky Romero also has a credit as a co-producer. Romero attained a joint residency with Guetta at Ibiza for the summer of 2012 and collaborated with the French DJ on his Nothing But the Beat 2.0 Edition track, "Metropolis."

When the demo for this dance floor anthem first surfaced in the summer of 2012, it featured vocals by Ne-Yo. "We mixed the first version with Ne-Yo's vocals because he was part of the writing process," explained Romero to MTV News.

It was Guetta who suggested to Romero that they try penning something for Rihanna when the pair was working together at London's Metropolis Studios on some music. "We played a few songs that we made, a few hip-hop songs and a few dance songs and a lot of stuff," the Dutch DJ recalled to MTV News. "And she was like 'Yeah, I want to have this song combined with that world. And actually I want both worlds to glue together and make it one thing.' That's how 'Right Now' turned out to be on her album and I'm super, super proud to be part of it."

Finding a date when all parties were free to work on the track proved to be a scheduling nightmare. "Everyone's so busy and everyone's touring all the time, especially Rihanna, David Guetta and my schedule, it's insane," Romero told MTV News. "Basically we made the whole setup in London and we made it in a few hours."


Rihanna indulges an unnamed dude's fantasies on this Anti Deluxe Edition bonus track. She describes sex with her as "amazing" and "doesn't get any better" before continuing to turn him on with her dirty talk.

The song was written by OVO label singer-songwriter PartyNextDoor, the same guy that penned Rihanna's single "Work." Speaking to North Carolina's Power 98 FM station on how he came to write for the Bajan star, he said, "She let me into her house, literally. It was a working environment. She told me a few stories, I like interviewed her and I wrote a few songs for her."


Rihanna is addressing a former lover on this R&B power ballad, telling him to stop being so stubborn and just take her back. She knows that like her, he's been hurt by their breakup, so she urges him to swallow his pride and "kiss it better." The song was first previewed in December 2014 on Rihanna's Instagram page.

Rihanna wrote the song with:

American songwriter and producer Jeff Bhasker who has won Grammy Awards for the songs "Run This Town" by Jay-Z, "All of the Lights" by Kanye West, and "We Are Young" by Fun. His other credits include co-writing and co-producing Mark Ronson's smash hit, "Uptown Funk."

British singer-songwriter and actress Teddy Sinclair (real name Natalia Cappuccini), who started her recording career under the name of Verbalicious and released her debut single "Don't Play Nice" in March 2005. The song charted at #11 in the UK singles chart but her then record label later filed for bankruptcy and little was heard from her for a few years. Cappuccini then adopted the stage name Natalia Kills from the interjection "you killed it!", after her record company advised her that her legal name was "indescribable." She released two albums under that name, before reverting to Teddy Sinclair in 2015.

American vocal producer Thaddis "Kuk" Harrell who was a member of a songwriting–production team comprised of himself, Christopher "Tricky" Stewart and Terius "The Dream" Nash. Harrell was the vocal producer and co-writer of Rihanna's Grammy-winning single "Umbrella" and earned another Grammy for the vocal production of Rihanna's "Only Girl (In The World)". His other credits include being a composer and engineer on Beyoncé's chart topping "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on it)."

Producer/songwriter Glass John, whose other credits include Chris Brown's 2013 single "Home." John caused a stir at the end of 2015 when he took to Twitter on an extended rant about the delay in completing Anti and how Rihanna's alleged boyfriend Travi$ Scott was sabotaging the LP.

John then went on to claim that "Kiss It Better" was supposed to be the album's lead single, tweeting, "ME AND MY WIFE (meaning Rihanna) WENT IN THE STUDIO W/ CLASSIC HIT MAKER @JEFFBHASKER TO CREATW A CLASSIC ANTHEM. And f--king Travis prevented it from being her first $ingle and launching her album last year."

Rihanna was scheduled to perform this song at the Grammy Awards in 2016, but she had to cancel after coming down with bronchitis.

The sultry black-and-white music video was directed by British fashion photographer Craig McDean. It features Rihanna moving around and rolling about in various stages of undress. The singer is literally the only thing in the frame throughout the clip.

McDean, who had previously shot Rihanna for magazines such as T and Vogue, told The Fader that he filmed the video in Los Angeles over a "very long night." McDean added that the inspiration for the clip was based on ideas which were inspired by dadaism and surrealism. "It all comes from you as a person, your inner inspiration and ideas you've had inside for a lifetime," he said.

McDean also spoke about the prominent use of dice that he and creative partner Masha Vayukova incorporated into the video: "Me and Masha watch the same kind of films, we look at a lot of books and art and it all merges together on the set, which is a great playground for visual experiments," he said. "Sometimes it's all about combining things that might not make any sense, [like] subconsciousness and dreams. Dice is such a graphic and surrealistic object so it came into play."

Rihanna recorded the song at Jungle City Studios, New York City and enlisted Extreme's Nuno Bettencourt to play guitar on the track.


Penned by Rihanna with Jamille Pierre, Badriia Bourelly, and Travis Scott, the Bajan singer premiered this expletive-laden trap anthem at the iHeartRadio Music Awards on March 29, 2015. Actress Taraji P. Henson introduced Rihanna as a boss, and she more than lived up to the billing with her fierce, bleeped performance of the cash-obsessed track.

Also stylized as "BBHMM", the grimy track finds Rihanna demanding that she gets paid what she's owed, and quickly. It has a similar theme to Ri-Ri's 2012 strippers and dollar bills-themed anthem, "Pour It Up."

Roc Nation producer Deputy helmed the tune, with help from Kanye West. Travis Scott and Canadian teenager Wonda Gurl both provided additional production for the song.

The title phrase dates back to Keenen Ivory Wayans' 1988 blaxploitation film spoof I'm Gonna Git You Sucka. Rappers who have used the misogynistic lyric include:

West Coast rhymer AMG on his 1991 cut of the same name, (actually a diss song aimed at rival DJ Quik).

Old Dirty Bastard during his 1999 single "Got Your Money"

Drake on his Nothing Was The Same track "Worst Behavior" (Bitch you better have my money when I come for the s--t like O.D.B.")

How's this for an irony: It could be that Rihanna owes someone else some cash because of this song! Fans of Houston singer/songwriter Just Brittany have pointed out the similarities of her 2014 track "Betta Have My Money" and the Bajan superstar's single. Brittany herself took to Twitter to claim that Rihanna had "jacked" her song. She later deleted the tweet.

Badriia "Bibi" Bourelly, a musician from Berlin, Germany, originally penned the song in a Los Angeles studio with Deputy. She recalled to Noisey: "We were just vibing with Deputy in one of the local studios I record out of. It was back when I was into writing to beats, which I don't do anymore. He played me it, I went in and started saying something like 'BITCH BETTER HAVE MY MONEY!,' because I was feeling ratchet that day."

"We got that s--t done in three hours, then Dep went home and worked on it some more," Bourelly added. "It came out the way it did, and people seemed to like it."

The seven-minute NFSW cinematic video was co-directed by Rihanna and Megaforce, a quartet of French filmmakers who've previously masterminded videos for everyone from Kid Cudi to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. It originated from an idea that the Bajan star came up with in 2014.

The explicit and violent clip follows Rihanna as she kidnaps and tortures a wealthy socialite, played by Canadian actress and model Rachel Roberts. to get back what she's owed. At the end of the visual it is revealed that the woman is actually the mistress of Rihanna's cheating accountant boyfriend, who is played by Hannibal's Mads Mikkelsen.

Rihanna described the revenge fantasy story line to Vogue as, "Just a way to describe a situation. It's a way to be in charge, to let people know that you're all about your business."

Julia Roberts' actor brother Eric Roberts makes a cameo appearance. The Runaway Train star has featured in a number of music clips, including the ones for The Killers' "Mr. Brightside" and "Miss Atomic Bomb," Mariah Carey's "We Belong Together" and "It's Like That," plus Akon's "Smack That."

The torture scenes as well as the shots of Rihanna covered in blood and cavorting naked proved divisive among fans online. Asked by NME if he anticipated the controversy, Leo Berne of Megaforce replied: "With the other videos that we've done, some of them could have been controversial, but it's never been our aim to do that. It's just the tone of the video [this time]. The song is about kidnapping, and we wanted to stay true to the tone of the song. It was never our intention to be controversial."

Asked if he has a favorite moment on the video, Berne replied: "I think it's the very last shot when her face is all covered in blood. I really like that shot because it's quite iconic. It was the very last shot of a very long day when we started at 5 p.m. and finished at 11 a.m. the following day."

Rachel Roberts is locked in a trunk and hung upside down, but it was being put under water that was the biggest challenge for the actress. "I can tell you the most challenging was the underwater scene where I was holding my breath while Rihanna held me under," she told MTV News. "I thought, you know, I'm pretty good in water, but there's still a sense of nervousness just because it's water."

One of the stars of the video, Seattle resident Sanam, who plays one of Rihanna's friends, had no previous acting experience. According to an interview with Vice, Rihanna randomly found a selfie Sanam posted on Instagram and direct messaged her about the project. "When we were down there, the first day I met her, I was like, 'How did you find me?'" Sanam told Vice. "She was like, 'I saw you on my Explore page.' She saw that picture of me where I was wearing my nath and my tika. She was like, 'I just thought you were so cool, and I was like, I don't know if I should message her or not. I don't know if she's going to be down.' I'm just sitting there, like, 'Are you crazy? How could you be nervous to message me?'"


This bluntly-titled cut is the opening track from Barbadian recording artist Rihanna's fifth studio album, Loud. The Stargate-produced and Ester Dean-penned song finds the singer proclaiming her vices: "I may be bad, but I'm perfectly good at it/Sex in the air, I don't care, I love the smell of it/Sticks and stones may break my bones, but chains and whips excite me."

Rihanna told Spin magazine that people shouldn't take the raunchy lyrics too literally. "I don't think of it in a sexual way, I'm thinking metaphorically," she said. "It's more of a thing to say that people can talk… people are going to talk about you, you can't stop that. You just have to be that strong person and know who you are so that stuff just bounces off. And I thought it was super bad ass."

Rihanna told Q magazine the refrain "Sex in the air/I love the smell of it" is a raised middle finger to the media monks who say she is too raunchy. "You think I give a f--k what you think about me dressing sexy?" she exclaimed. "I love it. Come on, I love you for hating me."

The song's racy music video was shot in Los Angeles during the weekend of January 15, 2011 with director Melina Matsoukas, who had previously directed the promos for "Hard", "Rude Boy" and "Rockstar 101". It's concept is about the media's fascination with the Bajan pop star and features a cameo from blogger Perez Hilton who is seen paraded by Rihanna on a dog leash. Matsoukas told Billboard magazine the clip is inspired by the singer's "sadomasochist relationship with the press... it isn't just about a bunch of whips and chains."

On its release, the video was immediately banned in eleven countries, mainly in South Asia, due to its overt sexual content and BBC 1 Radio refused to play the track before 7 p.m. The clip was also labeled "inappropriate" for viewers under the age of 18 on YouTube, and a restriction put in place. Rihanna responded to the news via her Twitter account, posting "They watched Umbrella... I was full nude."

An edited version was released in the UK for daytime radio titled "Come On."

The controversial video became the target of a lawsuit from prominent photographer David LaChapelle after a number of media and bloggers noted the similarities between the clip and LaChapelle's work. Even Perez Hilton who appears in the clip tweeted: "The next time you make a David LaChapelle music video you should probably hire David LaChapelle."
The celebrity snapper accused Rihanna of ripping off images from his popular photographs, which have appeared in various publications. He claimed that the video copied the "composition, total concept, feel, tone, mood, theme, colors, props, settings, decors, wardrobe and lighting" of his work.

In an interview with Vogue magazine, Rihanna insisted the controversial hit is only superficially about sex. "The song can be taken very literally, but it's actually a very metaphorical song. It's about the love-hate relationship with the media and how sometimes the pain is pleasurable," she explained. "We feed off it - or I do. And it was a very personal message that I was trying to get across."

The song was Rihanna's tenth Hot 100 chart-topper. The Bajun singer was 23-years-old when it reached pole position, making her the youngest artist to rack up ten #1 hits. Mariah Carey held the previous record when she was 25.

The song's ascent to the summit was fueled by a "Rih-mix" featuring Britney Spears. The Rihanna/Spears collaboration was only the fourth #1 to feature two or more solo women. Can you work out the three previous chart-toppers to do so? They were:
1979 Barbra Streisand & Donna Summer "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)."
1998 Brandy & Monica "The Boy Is Mine."
2001 Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mya and Pink "Lady Marmalade."

Ester Dean told Billboard magazine how the song came about: "I wrote it, Father forgive me, on a Sunday. The track was already there," she recalled. "The first thing that came to me was 'Come on, come on.' I'm thinking, 'I don't know what in the hell this is about to be.' And I remembered I'd seen something that said, 'Sticks and stones may break my bones.' Then came 'But chains and whips excite me.' And I'm like, 'Oh, my God, I got to write that.' I'm in the studio with the engineer and just kept looking at him, asking, 'Is that OK?' And he says, 'I like it.' When people have a great track that speaks to me, it feels like it already has a story in it."

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Pride Month: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Song Facts


Ben Haggerty is a rapper from Seattle, Washington, who records under the name of Macklemore. After releasing his debut solo album, The Language of My World, in 2005, Macklemore was forced to take a break in order to battle his addiction to drugs and alcohol. After cleaning himself up in 2008, Macklemore teamed up with producer Ryan Lewis to become a collaborative and creative unit, having originally met through MySpace. Without a publishing or record deal, the pair spent several years recording their first album together, The Heist. Independently produced and recorded by the duo, the record debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200 after being released on October 9, 2012.

This song was used to soundtrack an international Miller Genuine Draft advertising campaign during the summer of 2012. Its use helped increase Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' recognition in Europe.

Although originally released before "Thrift Shop," the song served as the follow up single to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' #1 hit. Its sales were boosted by a performance of the song on Saturday Night Live.

The song's music video finds the duo and guest singer Ray Dalton traveling the globe with their live band. The clip was created entirely by Macklemore and Lewis with their friends. The filming took place for three months, in over six continents and sixteen different shoots, ranging from New Zealand landscapes to the Space Needle in the duo's native Seattle. Lewis noted that his collaborators, "simply don't work within the conventional hierarchy of the film industry (director, producer, etc.) Sure, people have concrete pre-defined roles based on their expertise, but our team has the remarkable ability to wear multiple hats. 'Can't Hold Us' was a video that showcased this well."

Ray Dalton's chorus was actually the last part of the song to be crafted. "What happened was we were looking for a hook and it had no hook. There was just space; there weren't even words," Dalton explained to MTV News. "So when Ryan was testing my levels, I started humming them a melody, and that melody is what is now today the 'Can't Hold Us' song. [Then] Ben was like, 'Say this.' And I was reading the words to the melody that I made, and that's just how it happened."

At the time of Dalton's interview with MTV News, most internet sites listed the beginning of the chorus as "Here we go back. This is the moment," Dalton pointed out that he is actually singing "Can we go back..."

When this climbed to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 to become Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' second #1 following "Thrift Shop," the pair became the first ever duo to take its first two singles to the chart's peak position.

This was the most-streamed song globally in 2013 on the music subscription site Spotify. "Thrift Shop" was also placed at #3 for the year, whilst The Heist was the most-streamed album on the service.


This song finds Macklemore, whose real name is Ben Haggerty, detailing the struggles of a gay man throughout his life. Though straight himself, when Haggerty was in the third grade, he'd decided that he must be homosexual as he was artistic, tidy-minded and had an uncle who was in a same-sex relationship. It was his mom who reassured him he was not. Speaking with The Associated Press, Haggerty said the song's popularity affirms the changes in attitude within the notoriously homophobic Hip-Hop world. "I hope we're part of that transformation," said the rapper. "I don't think a song like 'Same Love' would have been received the same way even five years ago. We as a society and a culture have proven throughout time that we evolve, that we become slowly more compassionate and tolerant and accepting. The last couple hundred years in American culture have shown that. Obviously, there's give and take. There's times when we haven't and times that we lose ourselves, but I do think we're evolving as a society and hip-hop is a reflection of that."

Michigan performing arts teacher Susan Johnson found herself in the news after being suspended in November 2012 without pay for a couple of days. Her misdemeanor was allowing one of her eighth-grade students to play this song in her classroom. According to Johnson, the principal was unhappy about the song's use of the words 'faggot' and 'damn' and its pro-gay and anti-church content.

When this song replaced "Thrift Shop" at #1 on the Australian ARIA Charts in January 2013, Macklemore and Lewis became only the third act to replace themselves at the top of the ARIA countdown after Madonna in 1985 and the Black Eyed Peas in 2009.

The "love is patient, love is kind" lyric is a quote from St. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians 13 v4 where the Apostle explains that true love is totally unselfish and directed outwardly to others rather than inward to oneself. It was Lambert who felt moved to include a Biblical reference adding, "My conscience is clear, I'm good with God," and "Not crying on Sundays." "It was in a positive aspect," she told The Seattle Times. "It was me saying, 'I am a gay Christian. I am comfortable.' I don't feel like it's bashing anyone."

The song was inspired by Macklemore's gay uncles and gay godfather, and is an issue that is personal to him. "I was really nervous to play it for them," he told The Independent On Sunday. "It's obviously a very personal song, and I didn't want to cross any boundaries in terms of their privacy. But we actually ended up taking a picture of them and using it as the cover art for the single.
"I wanted the art to reflect how personal the song was, and they are a big reason why I'm so passionate about the issue."

Mary Lambert told MTV News: "I didn't want to say this at the time, because I'm not egotistical, but I felt like this was the song I was meant to write, this is completely my story, my experience in the church, and being a lesbian."

"After we wrote it, I thought of it as Ben [Haggerty] being the brain," she added, "and the pragmatic part of the song, thinking about it intellectually, and I provided the heart and the emotional spark. And that's what makes an anthem, and I think that's why it's taken off."

This won for Best Video With A Social Message at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards. Accepting the award, Macklemore said: "I've been writing songs since I was 15 years old, and out of every single song I have ever written, to me this is the most important record out of all of them. To watch the song in the last year spread across the world is a testament to what is happening right now in America on the forefront of equality. Gay rights are human rights, there is no separation."

Structurally, this song is fairly straightforward: its form is simply three repetitions of verse/chorus (A-B-A-B-A-B) covering a 5:19 running time. What is unusual is how long it takes to reach the first chorus, which doesn't occur until 1:28.

This earned a Grammy nomination for Song Of The Year, but lost to "Royals" by Lorde (they did win for Best New Artist and Best Rap Album, and "Thrift Shop" won for Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song). Macklemore & Ryan Lewis performed the song at the ceremony, where they were joined on stage by Mary Lambert, Trombone Shorty, Queen Latifah and Madonna.

When Macklemore finished his last verse, Latifah presided over a wedding ceremony where 33 couples in the audience - some gay, some straight - exchanged rings. "By the power invested in me by the state of California, I now pronounce you a married couple," she declared. As the couples embraced, Madonna appeared on stage and sang part of her song "Open Your Heart" over the "Same Love" groove.

Ken Ehrlich, who produced the telecast, said that the idea for the mass marriage came from reports of wedding proposals at Macklemore & Ryan Lewis concerts.


Over Ryan Lewis' funky old school beat, Macklemore pays homage to the great hip-hop pioneers. The track features hip-hop legends Grandmaster Caz, Kool Moe Dee, Melle Mel, while singer Eric Nally croons the hook.

Macklmemore told 97.1 Amp Radio morning show host Carson Daly: "It is a record that kind of pays homage to the late 70's, early 80's and what was going on in hip-hop, and what was going simultaneously in rock music, and melding the two worlds together in one record."

After Macklemore & Ryan Lewis embarked on their first world tour in 2012, they each bought mopeds, which allowed them to leave the confines of the venues and see the sights on their travels. This kept the tour experience from becoming the routine of hotel-backstage-show without ever venturing into the local landscape. In this way, the moped became far more than a cheap means of transportation: it was a vessel for freedom.

When Lewis came up with the track, he called it "Moping Around," a work title that Macklemore heard as "Moped Around." That gave him the idea to write a song about mopeds. It started off as jocose song where he was just having fun, but it grew into something much more when they introduced the old-school element and involved the guest vocalists.

Macklemore told MTV News the story of the song. "I was listening to Backspin on XM Radio and hearing these older rappers' cadences and vocal tones and I was like, 'This is so dope, nobody's doing this anymore,'" he said "Ryan was like, 'Yo, you gotta flip something like that for the new album. People aren't doing these old school type cadences.' And so I messed around with that a little bit."

"We were also listening to a lot of Queen and a lot of music from the '70s and it was, 'How could we kind of merge these two worlds, these two very different worlds, in a way that seamlessly worked, that were obviously different, but could live on the same record?'" Macklemore added. "Like, 'Is that even possible?'"

Grandmaster Caz, Kool Moe Dee, Melle Mel and singer Eric Nally join forces with Macklemore and Lewis on the video as they cruise through the streets of Spokane, Washington on their mopeds. With lots of urban dance-fighting, the Jason Koenig-directed visual contains many elements of the film West Side Story.

Macklemore and crew performed this at the 2015 MTV Music Awards, using many elements from the video. The performance went down outside of the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles.

So who is singer Eric Nally, the guy that is crooning the hook? The vocalist was the frontman for the Ohio rock band Foxy Shazam, which formed in 2004 and opened for mainstream acts like The Strokes, Panic! At the Disco, Hole and The Darkness.

Nally also collaborated with Meat Loaf on his Hang Cool Teddy Bear album, co-penning the tracks "Love is Not Real / Next Time You Stab Me in the Back" and "California Isn't Big Enough."

When Eric Nally got an out-of-the-blue call from Macklemore and Lewis to work on the song, it was perfect timing as the vocalist had just started a hiatus from working with Foxy Shazam. "From what I understand Ryan Lewis is a pretty big fan of Foxy Shazam," he explained to MTV News.

In addition, Macklemore and Lewis' trumpet player and collaborator, Josh "Budo" Karp, had played shows alongside Foxy Shazam during the 2012 Warped Tour. "He [Budo] remembered me and I guess we'd exchanged contacts and he and Ryan thought I'd be a good fit for the track," Nally said. "The next thing I know I'm flying out to Seattle and sitting in a circle with them in a studio working on the chorus and then cameo for the video."

Baseball Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr., who played for the Seattle Mariners and is beloved in the city, makes an appearance in the video, catching a fish to punctuate the line, "stop by Pike Place, throw a fish to a player."

Pike Place Market is the shopping hub of Seattle, where the fishmongers will sometimes throw a fish - a bit that goes over well with tourists and for years has been a go-to shot for producers looking to set the Seattle scene in myriad video productions. (Like at the beginning of a Mariners game - "we're here in Seattle..." Every city has certain landmarks that identify it visually, but few have anything as kinetic and eye-catching as the flying fish. Along with shots of the Space Needle, this makes the job of compiling scenics for Seattle a no-brainer. What a lot of tourists don't understand, however, is that at the fish market, they will be happy to accommodate camera crews, but if you want the fish to fly, you have to buy one - they have better things to do than throw fish for onlookers all day).

This scene appears at the 1:43 mark; Griffey shows up again at 4:02 riding a two-wheeler.

In both shots, Griffey is rocking the 1989 look from his rookie year. In the fish scene, he is posed like his Upper Deck baseball card and styled the same way, complete with Mariners hat from the era and gold chain.

Like many Mariners supporters, Macklemore is a huge fan of Griffey - he recounts some of the star's on-field heroics on the 2010 track "My Oh My." Getting Griffey in the video was the idea of director Jason Koenig, who is also a big fan.

This was Kool Moe Dee's first Hot 100 appearance since 1999, when Will Smith's "Wild Wild West" (featuring Dru Hill and Kool Moe Dee) topped the chart for a week.


This is a sequel to "White Privilege," a track that appeared on Macklemore's 2005 solo album The Language of My World. The song finds the rapper rhyming for nine minutes about a variety of issues concerning racial tensions and engaging with the black community. Topics he references include white supremacy and the Black Lives Matter movement.

"This song is the outcome of an ongoing dialogue with musicians, activists, and teachers within our community in Seattle and beyond," Macklemore wrote. "Their work and engagement was essential to the creative process."

When the original "White Privilege" was released in 2005, few people knew who Macklemore was. However, his message has evolved, now he has recognition in mainstream America as a white rapper. "Writing that song in 2004 - that was a different version of me," he told Complex in 2015. "I was an unknown. I was making an observation: Look at what's happened. Pointing - not in a negative way - but making cultural observation."

"Fast-forward ten years, my vantage point isn't pointing the finger at anyone else anymore," Macklemore continued. "It's pointing the finger at myself. It was pointing the finger at myself then, too, questioning things. But it's different when - cultural appropriation and white privilege in regard to hip-hop - you're the example."

Miley Cyrus, Elvis Presley and Iggy Azalea are all namechecked in the lyrics. Macklemore includes them as examples of white artists that have been accused of appropriating African-American music and culture.

Iggy Azalea shared her thoughts on being called out on the track, tweeting. "He shouldn't have spent the last three yrs having friendly convos and taking pictures together at events etc if those were his feelings."

Macklemore told Rolling Stone that his bars weren't intended as a slight to those mentioned. "For me, that second verse is unpacking," he said. "It's an unpacking moment of internalized criticism and self-doubt, and 'What have I done,' and letting the criticism infiltrate who I am. 'Why am I insecure at a protest?' And I think that people get put into boxes, and the conversation around cultural appropriation -- I was at the forefront of that, rightfully so. And that conversation also included Miley Cyrus and Iggy Azalea, and that's why their names are on the record."

The song features the Chicago-based poet and singer Jamila Woods, who is best known for her vocal contributions on the Donnie Trump and The Social Experiment tracks "Sunday Candy" and "Questions."

The track was born from a Seattle protest following the non-indictment of Darren Wilson - the white cop who fatally shot black teenager Mike Brown. It was an unnamed veteran rapper who then inspired Macklemore to create the track. "It was a long night. And that ended up getting news coverage. Then I got on the phone with an O.G., whose name I want to keep off the record. A hip-hop artist I'd never talked to before," recalled the Seattle MC.

"He sent me a DM on Twitter and then he called me, and he said, 'I see you, I see what you're doing.' He was very complimentary about the music we've made, and it led into him saying, 'You have a platform, but silence is an action, and right now, you're being silent," Macklemore continued. "You're not saying anything about what's going on, and because you're a white rapper you have perspective and an insight onto these issues that you need to be speaking about. It's very important that you engage your audience.'"

The song was co-written by Macklemore's step cousin Tyler "XP" Andrews, one of six This Unruly Mess I've Made tracks he has credits on. He recalled to Genius: "On 'White Privilege II' a lot of people like Jamila Woods, Nikkita, and Hollis had input. Mostly just having conversation. Him and Ryan being like, 'How should we approach this? And is it OK to say some of these things that I want to say?' Once they got into the process of making the song, the one thing I wrote is the chant. 'The blood in the streets, no justice, no peace.' I wrote that for the ladies to sing. We recorded a huge choir—like 10 people, male and female. I helped direct that choir since I have Baptist church experience."

"I was drawing from our conversations," Andrews continued. "I'm sure from the rallies I've been to, too. If anything, it's a war cry, and it's more spiritual than anything. Probably something I channel—the s--t is in my blood. People before me. My whole family is growing through this s--t. This ain't anything new under the sun. It was almost 500 years old. It's a part of right now. It's a part of the past. That's what we felt and what was happening at the time."


Ben "Macklemore" Haggerty became a father for the first time when his fiancée Tricia Davis gave birth to Sloane Ava Simone Haggerty on May 29, 2015. This reflective ode finds the Seattle rapper dispensing life advice to his baby daughter in the verses.

Ed Sheeran croons the chorus, which captures Macklemore's sentiments of uncertainty about his new role as a father.

Macklemore the story behind the song in a letter to his fans on his website: "I wish that I could say that I was in a 'better place" when I found out the news. It would make for a far more polished and respectable story. But I think back to that night: praying on the floor at 2 am as Tricia went to the bathroom to take a pregnancy test I'd just purchased from Walgreens. I was scared. Scared to start working on new music. Scared of trying again and failing. Scared of the process of staring at myself through a page and seeing something that I wasn't proud of. Someone that I didn't like. Someone that wasn't ready to be a dad."

"I've always had some make-believe image in my head of who I would be as a father. I held on to clear expectations of where I wanted to be in my career, my age, my level of self-care, and my maturity. I basically assumed that I'd have it all together. But in actuality the hypothetical 'dad' version of me looked completely different than the man whose heart was beating out of his chest on the carpet, praying to a god or spirit I hadn't talked to in months. When Tricia walked out of the bathroom, I knew. And I knew I had to change."

"5 months later we were recording in a remote cabin away from the density that is Seattle. I was finally having fun in the studio for the first time in years. Songs were getting made, finally. I was going back to the city once a week to attend birthing class with Tricia. When I got back to the cabin the next day, Ryan (Lewis) had made a new beat that would eventually become the song that you're listening to. Half of it is advice about growing up. The other half is trying to figure out how to grow up myself."

Writing the lyrics was an emotional experience for Macklemore. "I wrote the words, 'They say boys don't cry, but your dad has shed a lot of tears,'" he recalled to MTV News, referencing the song's opening lines, "and immediately just welled up, and it just kind of came."

Macklemore originally approached Adele to appear on the song. When she passed, he turned to Ed Sheeran, who recorded the vocals instead.

Asked by The Sun how he felt about being turned down by the superstar, Macklemore replied: "Adele's management said she had to focus on putting out her record as 'Hello' was about to drop any minute and Adele hadn't done any collaborations. They were very sweet and said that she was a fan of the music and just the timing wasn't right so maybe another time we will."

He added: "Ed is a great dude, he is one of my favorite people. He is just a brilliant songwriter and a great friend. Before we'd ever met, I'd heard he was covering my song 'Same Love' off The Heist. Then we were both in Buffalo, New York, and he came to the show and we brought him out and he did various parts on Same Love. Then we went to a casino and stayed up super-late and had a great time."

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Pride Month: Elton John Song Facts


Space exploration was big in 1972; the song came out around the time of the Apollo 16 mission, which sent men to the moon for the fifth time.

The inspiration for Bernie Taupin's lyrics, however, was the short story The Rocket Man, written by Ray Bradbury. The sci-fi author's tale is told from the perspective of a child, whose astronaut father has mixed feelings at leaving his family in order to do his job. It was published as part of the anthology The Illustrated Man in 1951.

Bradbury's story was the basis for another song called "Rocket Man," which was released by the folk group Pearls Before Swine (fronted by Tom Rapp) in 1970. Taupin says that this gave him the idea for his own "Rocket Man" ("It's common knowledge that songwriters are great thieves, and this is a perfect example," he says). In the Pearls Before Swine song, a child can no longer look at the stars after his astronaut father perishes in space.

This was produced by Gus Dudgeon, who worked with David Bowie on his 1969 song "Space Oddity." Both songs have similar subject matter, and lots of people accused Elton of ripping off Bowie, something both Elton and Bernie Taupin deny.

The opening lyrics came to Bernie Taupin while he was driving near his parents' house in Lincolnshire, England. Taupin has said that he has to write his ideas down as soon as they show up in his head, or they could disappear, so he drove though some back roads as fast as he could to get to the house where he could write down his thought: "She packed my bags last night, pre-flight. Zero hour, 9 a.m., and I'm gonna be high as a kite by then."

From there he came up with the song about a man who is sent to live in space as part of a scientific experiment.

The song can be interpreted as a symbol of how rock stars are isolated from their friends, family and from the real world by those with power in the music industry. Some lyric analysis as part of the rock star isolation theory:

"I'm burning out his fuse up here alone" - Rocketing through space on stage.

"Higher than a kite" - Feeling outside the box called normal.

"Mars" - "The place he is when he's high; don't need to be raising children when you're an addict. It's a "cold" place, being an addict and larger than life when you want to be "Normal" and a "Rocketman" at the same time.

The most commonly misheard lyric in this song is "Rocket Man, burning out his fuse up here alone." This was the centerpiece of a 2011 commercial for the Volkswagen Passat, where folks came up with all kinds of interpretations of the last few words: telephone, cheap cologne, motor home, provolone. A couple in a Passat can correctly interpret the words thanks to the car's premium sound system, and all is well. This wasn't the first time the song was used in a commercial; it was also featured in ads for AT&T.

Elton John named his record company Rocket Records after this song. He started the company in 1973; it was the label that released Neil Sedaka's comeback songs.

There was another song called "Rocket Man" that Bernie and Elton knew about when they wrote this. It was released by a group called Pearls Before Swine and came out in 1970.

When Elton played the Soviet Union in 1979, this was listed on the program as "Cosmonaut."

This was Elton's biggest hit to that point, outcharting his first Top-10 entry, "Your Song." It had a huge impact on his psyche, as it gave him the confidence to know that he could sustain his career in music.

Baseball pitcher Roger Clemens' nickname was "The Rocket," which led to lots of highlight videos of him pitching in slow motion with this song playing in the background. He earned the nickname because of his outstanding fastball, but later came under scrutiny when the league learned that his rocket fuel may have been steroids. Clemens denied the allegations and was never convicted of steroid use.

Kate Bush covered this in 1991 for an Elton John tribute album called Two Rooms (a reference to John and Taupin writing separately). Her version hit #12 in the UK.

William Shatner performed a spoken-word version of this song at the 1978 Science Fiction Film Awards, for which he was the host. Bernie Taupin did the introduction.

At a show in Anaheim, California on August 22, 1998, Jim Carrey joined Elton for a duet of this song. Carey gave a real performance before sitting at the piano and bashing his head into the keys.

On an episode of the television show Family Guy, Stewie does a spoken version of this song.

This was used in a 2017 commercial for Samsung's Gear VR where an ostrich learns to fly after using the flight simulator on the device.


The Yellow Brick Road is an image taken from the movie The Wizard of Oz. In the movie, Dorothy and her friends follow the yellow brick road in search of the magical Wizard of Oz, only to find they had what they were looking for all along. It was rumored that the song was about Judy Garland, who starred in the film. See a photo and learn more in Song Images.

Elton and his songwriting partner Bernie Taupin went to Jamaica to record the album, but the studio was so horrible that the project was abandoned there, with only a rough version of "Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)" actually being recorded. This, and the rest of the album, were recorded in France at Strawberry Studios (The Chateau d'Hierouville).

Bernie Taupin writes the lyrics to Elton's songs. He often seems to write about Elton, but this one appears to be about him. The lyrics are about giving up a life of opulence for one of simplicity in a rural setting. Elton has enjoyed a very extravagant lifestyle, while Taupin prefers to keep it low key.

Speaking about the song, Taupin said: "It's funny, but there are songs that I recall writing as if it was yesterday. And then there are those I have absolutely no recollection of, whatsoever. In fact, I'd have to say that for the most part, if someone was to say that the entire Yellow Brick Road album was actually written by someone else, I might be inclined to believe them. I remember being there, just not physically creating.

There was a period when I was going through that whole "got to get back to my roots" thing, which spawned a lot of like minded songs in the early days, this being one of them. I don't believe I was ever turning my back on success or saying I didn't want it. I just I don't believe I was ever that naïve. I think I was just hoping that maybe there was a happy medium way to exist successfully in a more tranquil setting. My only naiveté, I guess, was believing I could do it so early on. I had to travel a long road and visit the school of hard knocks before I could come even close to achieving that goal. So, thank God I can say quite categorically that I am home."

Bernie's canine imagery, including the part about sniffing around on the ground, is a sly poke at Linda's two little dogs. Linda was a girlfriend of Elton John's.

In 2008, Ben & Jerry's created a flavor of ice cream in honor of Elton John called "Goodbye Yellow Brickle Road." Made of chocolate ice cream, peanut butter cookie dough, butter brickle and white chocolate chunks, it was made to commemorate Elton's first concert in Vermont (home of the ice cream makers) on July 21, 2008 at the Essex Junction fairgrounds. Elton had played every other state before his Vermont show. He had some of the ice cream before the show.

Ben Folds told Rolling Stone magazine for their 100 Greatest Singers Of All Time issue: "He was mixing his falsetto and his chest voice to really fantastic effect in the '70s. There's that point in 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,' where he sings, 'on the grooound' - his voice is all over the shop. It's like jumping off a diving board when he did that."


Elton wrote the music to this song as an homage to glam rock, a style defined by outrageous costumes that was popular in the early '70s, especially in the UK. Artists like David Bowie and Gary Glitter got into the act, but for Elton, it was an extension of his personality - he really was gay and liked to wear feminine clothes on stage. He became known for his wild appearance and collection of gaudy sunglasses.

"Bennie" is a female character who Elton has described as a "sci-fi rock goddess." Bernie Taupin, who wrote the lyrics, told Esquire, "'Bennie And The Jets' was almost Orwellian - it was supposed to be futuristic. They were supposed to be a prototypical female rock 'n' roll band out of science fiction. Automatons."

It was Elton's idea to stutter the vocal: "B-B-B-Bennie..." Bernie Taupin thought this worked very well with the futuristic, robotic theme of his lyrics. Said Taupin: "That's a little quirk of the song which I'm sad to say I had nothing to do with. That and that wonderful big chord at the beginning. I think those two things are what probably made that song so popular. Neither of which I had anything to do with."

Comic books, movies, and the German photographer Helmut Newton were some of the influences Bernie Taupin threw into the pot when writing the lyrics to this song. Said Taupin: "I'd always had this wacky science fiction idea about a futuristic rock and roll band of androids fronted by some androgynous kind of Helmut Newton style beauty, which was depicted to little great effect on the Yellow Brick Road album cover. I'm not sure if it came to me in a dream or was some way the subconscious of effect of watching Kubrick on drugs. Either way, it was definitely something that was totally formed as a concept, and something that could have morphed into any number of populist items. Could have been comic books or movies. In fact, I can't help but believe that that Robert Palmer video with all the identical models somehow paid a little lip service to The Jets."

This was also a hit on the US R&B charts, known at the time as the "Black" charts. Elton was especially proud of this, as he was influenced by many black musicians.

Elton did not think this would be a hit. He was shocked when it went to #1 in America. John claims he rarely knows which of his songs will be hits.

The falsetto vocal is Elton trying to sound like Frankie Valli. He was a fan of Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons growing up, and went to at least one of their concerts when he was young.

Elton's producer Gus Dudgeon wanted a live feel on this recording, so he mixed in crowd noise from a show Elton played in 1972 at Royal Festival Hall. He also included a series of whistles from a live concert in Vancouver B.C., and added hand claps and various shouts.

Elton tried to record the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album in Jamaica, since The Rolling Stones had just recorded their Goats Head Soup album in a studio there and encouraged him to try it. Instead of the relaxing tropical paradise they expected, Elton and his crew encountered hostile locals and faulty equipment. They ended up recording the album at the studio in France (The Chateau) where they recorded their two previous albums.

Bernie Taupin says that when he saw the Robert Palmer video for "Addicted To Love," it portrayed when he envisioned Bennie And The Jets looking like: a dapper frontman backed by robotic models.

This wasn't released as a single in the UK, where it was released as the B-side of "Candle In The Wind." In the US, "Candle In The Wind" was not released as a single because MCA records thought this was better. Elton protested, but came around when black radio stations started playing it and it became a hit.

Elton performed this on Soul Train, becoming one of the few white performers ever to play the show (David Bowie is another). Elton asked to appear on the show, as he was a big fan. He explained on the program that he and his band would often watch it while they were on tour.

This was featured in the movie My Girl 2. Its played when Vada and Nick are exploring Los Angeles.

On Elton John's "Red Piano" tour (2007-2009), he would open with this song. He had old neon casino signs that spelled out ELTON. During the opening da da dada da notes, the lights would go on with each note.

Elton performed this song when he appeared on The Muppet Show in 1977, with a group of Muppets singing along with him at the piano. Elton's outlandish costumes were a running joke during the episode, and at one point Sam The Eagle was coerced into dressing like Elton.

In 1999, Mary J. Blige reworked this into a song called "Deep Inside." Elton played piano on the track.


Bernie Taupin wrote the lyrics to most of Elton John's songs, but Elton would occasionally suggest titles. Elton requested a song with the title "Philadelphia Freedom" in honor of his friend, the tennis player Billie Jean King. At the time, there was a professional tennis league in America called World Team Tennis, and in 1974 King coached a team called the "Philadelphia Freedoms," becoming one of the first women ever to coach men. Taupin had no obligation to write lyrics about King, and he didn't - the song was inspired by the Philadelphia Soul sound of groups like The O'Jays and Melvin & The Blue Notes, and also the American bicentennial; in 1976 the US celebrated 200 years of independence.

Elton John and Billie Jean King became good friends after meeting at a party. Elton tried to attend as many of her matches as he could, and he promised King a song after she gave him a customized track suit. Elton and Billie Jean King would become icons of the gay and lesbian community, but at the time, they were both still in the closet, since athletes and entertainers faced a backlash if they revealed their homosexuality. Elton was often answering questions about why he hadn't settled down with a girl, and King avoided the subject as best she could, but was forced to come out in 1981 when a former lover sued her for palimony. King was married to a man up until her outing, and Elton was married to a woman from 1984-1988.

On the single, it said this song was dedicated to "B.J.K." (Billie Jean King) and "The Soulful Sounds Of Philadelphia."

This song was a huge hit in America, following up another #1 single from Elton John, his cover of "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds." Elton dominated the charts at this time, but it didn't always make him happy, as he felt he was being overexposed. He told Melody Maker in June 1975: "In America I've got 'Philadelphia Freedom' going up the charts again. I wish the bloody thing would piss off. I can see why people get sick and tired of me. In America I get sick and tired of hearing myself on AM radio. It's embarrassing."

Running 5:21, this was one of the longest dance hits of the '70s. A few months earlier, a national radio programer declared that he would no longer play any Elton John song over 4 minutes long because they were screwing up his playlists (Program directors liked short songs because they could play more of them. Elton's opuses like "Daniel" and "Funeral For A Friend" had a way of screwing up the "14 Hits In A Row" format). Elton knew this would be a hit, and was happy to screw the programmer by making it long, knowing he would have to play it anyway.

Elton said this was "one of the only times I tried to deliberately write a hit single."

Elton often put interesting B-sides on his singles, which made them more valuable. On this, the B-side was a live duet of The Beatles hit "I Saw Her Standing There" that Elton recorded with his friend John Lennon. Elton had previously sung on Lennon's "Whatever Gets You Through The Night" and also released a version of "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds," which was written by Lennon.

In 1975, Elton become one of the first white performers to appear on the TV show Soul Train, which was an honor for him. He performed this song and "Bennie And The Jets."

Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy was the first album to enter the US charts at #1. This was due to advance orders, as the album was widely anticipated.

Depending on where he was performing, Elton would sometimes alter the lyrics of the song, swapping "Philadelphia" for his present location. He would only do it if he could make it fit, so "Cincinatti Freedom" was a go, but Cleveland didn't get customized.


The tag-line for the animated motion picture The Lion King was "Life's greatest adventure is finding your place in the Circle of Life." Lyricist Tim Rice was reportedly stunned by how quickly composer Elton John was able to put Rice's words to music. This effort was rewarded with an Academy Award nomination, but lost to "Can You Feel The Love Tonight" from the same movie, also written by Tim Rice, and composed and sung by Elton John. The movie's version of this song in the opening scene was sung by Carmen Twillie, and Elton John's version is included on the soundtrack.

The Lion King went on to become the best-grossing traditionally animated feature of all time, with the songs playing a key part. The song is also featured frequently in attractions that include The Lion King at Disney theme parks, such as parades.

This is one of Elton's favorite songs in his considerable canon. Working on The Lion King got him out of the cycle of recording and album and then touring, and it led to more work on musicals, as he later contributed to Aida, Billy Elliot and The Vampire Lestat.

Elton prefers "Circle Of Life" to his other Lion King hit contribution, "Can You Feel The Love Tonight?" While he rarely plays the later in concert, "Circle" is often in his setlist, as Elton thinks the lyric is "brilliant."

The song is one of the few hits Elton wrote without his longtime lyricist Bernie Taupin. There were no hard feelings, as Taupin fully supported the effort. It was Tim Rice who approached Elton about putting the music to his words. Rice says that the movie studio didn't think Elton would do it, but when he asked, Elton was very excited to work on the project.

Disney had another hit on their hands the following year with the movie Pocahontas, and once again, they made reference to the circle of life in the movie's theme song, "Colors Of The Wind," as the heroine sings, "we are all connected to each other, in a circle, in a hoop that never ends."

Jennifer Hudson performed this on season three of American Idol during Top 9 week when Elton John was the guest mentor.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Pride Month: Diana Ross/ The Supremes Song Facts


This was written by the Motown husband and wife songwriting duo Ashford & Simpson. Nick Ashford was inspired by an experience when he first moved to New York. He was walking down a Manhattan thoroughfare, determined that New York City would not get the best of him; the words "Ain't no mountain high enough" popped into his head.

She had many hits with The Supremes, but this was Diana Ross' first US #1 solo hit.

Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell recorded the original hit version peaking at #19 in the US in 1967. Uriel Jones of The Funk Brothers, who played the drums on Gaye and Terrell's original version, recalled in Mojo magazine February 2009: "Ashford and Simpson had written the song and they always came to the studio with charts. This time was no exception; they came with the song fully written out. The lyrics were written out too. They were one of the few producers and writers who had full charts and made us work from them. They knew 95 percent what they wanted to hear. Johnny Bristol and Harvey Faqua were the actual producers in charge of the recording. We did the rhythm track first, then they put the horns on second. Then they recorded Tammi Terrell's vocal, then they did Marvin Gaye's next. Each vocal was done separately, the singer in the studio with the producer on their own, and they put it all together at the end. You know, I never heard the finished song until I switched on the radio and it was playing."

Amy Winehouse's 2007 single "Tears Dry On Their Own" is based around the backing instrumentation of this song. Ashford & Simpson were also credited on Jessica Simpson's 2006 transatlantic Top 20 single "A Public Affair," as towards the end of the song, the background vocalists can be heard singing a few lines of "aaah, aaah, aaah" in a clear duplication from "Ain't No Mountain High Enough."

Diana Ross' second husband, Norwegian shipping magnate Arne Næss, Jr., died in a South African mountain climbing accident in 2004.

With a message of overcoming any obstacle, this song is a great fit for politicians seeking office. Hillary Clinton used it a great deal in her 2016 campaign for president, especially when courting male voters who might not connect with her main campaign song: "Fight Song" by Rachel Platten.

The informal contraction "ain't" is frowned upon by strict grammarians, who would also cringe at the double negative that is "ain't no," but "There Isn't Any Mountain High Enough" doesn't quite have the same ring to it.

Michael McDonald covered this for his 2003 Motown covers album, titled Motown. His version reached #111 in the US and got a Grammy nomination for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance (he lost to Justin Timberlake's "Cry Me A River."

This song has popped up in a number of movies and TV series. The Diana Ross version shows up in these:

Good Times ("The Break Up" - 1976)
Designing Women ("The Rowdy Girls" - 1989)
The Wonder Years ("The Pimple" - 1989)
Nip/Tuck ("Joel Gideon" - 2004)

Bridget Jones's Diary (2001)
Chicken Little (2005)

The Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell version appear in these films:

Stepmom (1998)
Remember the Titans (2000)
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) - This was big: It was part of the soundtrack, which went to #1 in America. Chris Pratt's character plays a mixtape given to him by his mom (the Awesome Mix Vol. 1) throughout the film. Near the end, he discovers Vol. 2. When he pops in the tape, this song plays.

Other movie uses of the song include:

The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005), where a Michael McDonald DVD plays the song.
Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993), where the nuns, including Lauryn Hill, sing it over the end credits.

In TV, Nia Peeples and Janet Jackson sang it in a 1985 episode of Fame, and Will Smith did it on a 1992 episode of his series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.


This was the theme song to the 1975 movie Mahogany, staring Ross as Tracy Chambers, a woman from humble beginnings who becomes a glamourous fashion model using the name "Mahogany." The movie was directed by Berry Gordy Jr., who worked with Ross as head of Motown Records.

Mahogany was Ross' second film; in 1972 she played Billie Holiday in Lady Sings the Blues. Both films also star Billy Dee Williams.

Gerry Goffin and Michael Masser wrote this song. Goffin was married to Carole King, and wrote many famous songs with her, including "The Loco-Motion" and "You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman." Masser wrote "Touch Me in the Morning" for Ross in 1973, and wrote several hits for Whitney Houston.

This song was not written for the movie; Goffin and Masser wrote it in 1973 and had Thelma Houston record it, but her version was never released (it did appear on YouTube). When Berry Gordy asked Masser to compose music for Mahogany, he revisited "Do You Know Where You're Going To." The verses were changed a bit to suit the storyline, but the major elements of the song - including the arrangement and chorus - were kept intact.

For Houston, it was another tough break, as she had been recording for years without a hit. She finally came out on top with her 1976 disco hit "Don't Leave Me This Way," which went to #1 in the US.

The song is about evaluating life's journey, asking if what lies ahead is what you really want. It's appropriate for the film, as Ross' character finds that fame and fortune may not be what makes her happy.

This song caused a kerfuffle when it was deemed "qualitatively ineligible" for an Oscar, meaning it wasn't good enough to even be nominated, even though it was one of the most popular songs of the year. The ensuing uproar led to this decision being revoked, and it was nominated for Best Original Song, losing to "I'm Easy" by Keith Carradine (from the movie Nashville).

Diana Ross was on tour in Europe, but performed the song live via telecast, becoming the first singer to do so at the ceremony. She was in Holland and sang it while walking the streets of Amsterdam.

This song makes the bad grammar category because it ends a statement in a preposition. Proper grammar would be "Do you know where you're going?," but that wouldn't scan very well.

Along with Elgar's "Pomp and Circumstance," this was one of the most requested graduation songs.


After this song was recorded, the group's name was changed to Diana Ross and the Supremes, something the other Supremes were not happy about. This was their first song to be released under that name.

This was written by the Motown songwriting team of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Eddie Holland.

Diana Ross loves this song. When the Supremes re-formed in 2000, they used this to open their Return To Love tour. Ross also sang it on her 2004 European tour.

This was the first foray for The Supremes into Psychedelic Pop. The trippy sound effects on this song were created with a custom oscillator designed by one of The Funk Brothers, who were session musicians for most Motown songs of the period.

This was released during The Summer of Love (1967) when the Vietnam War was raging. This made it an appropriate choice for the theme song of the TV series China Beach, which was set in Vietnam during the war. The series ran on ABC from 1988-1991.


This was the Supremes' first number #1 hit not written by the team of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland. They had left Motown.

Motown founder Berry Gordy wrote this with staff songwriters Deke Richards, Pam Sawyer, R Dean Taylor and Frank Wilson. Instead of writing about love, they come up with a much more controversial song about a child born to unmarried parents.

A year after this came out, The Supremes released a sequel song called "I'm Livin' In Shame," which told the story of the child growing up embarrassed by her mother.

Neither founder member Mary Wilson nor more recent addition Cindy Birdsong (replacing Florence Ballard) sang a note on this single. The test run with Motown session group The Andantes as back-up singers was issued as the single. Mary claims that this was a move by Berry Gordy to make clear to her and Cindy that they were expendable and further establish his power over them as well as playing up to his protégé/lover Diana Ross. Mary further says that the miming to the number for the Ed Sullivan Show was particularly difficult in view of this.

When The Supremes performed this on The Ed Sullivan Show, they appeared in sweat shirts and bare feet as opposed to the glamorous gowns and wigs they were known for. This look was more suited to the song.


When Diana Ross left The Supremes in 1970, the group continued with Jean Terrell replacing Ross alongside Mary Wilson and Cindy Birdsong. Motown head Berry Gordy was much more interested in Ross' solo career, and pulled resources away from The Supremes. With Frank Wilson in charge of producing the group, they defied expectations and had a hit with "Up the Ladder to the Roof." They followed it up with "Stoned Love," which Wilson wrote with a 17-year-old songwriter named Kinney Thomas, who he heard on a talent show on the Detroit radio station WJLB. Wilson tracked down Thomas and asked him if he had any songs. Kinney played him "Stoned Love," and Wilson loved it. He recorded the track with an orchestra, and had The Supremes add their vocals in another session, with Terrell singing lead.

The Supremes' biggest hit without Diana Ross; it was a #1 R&B hit. It was also their last US Top 10 hit.

According to Kinney Thomas, who wrote this song, it has nothing to do with drugs. It's really about the social issues of the time, including the Vietnam War, and the need for compassion. "Stones are forever," said Thomas. "They don't break or come apart. Love will be here forever."

Thomas wasn't unique in assigning an alternate meaning to the term "stoned." Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, and the Chi-Lites are some of the acts who have recorded songs with different meanings of the term.

The song's writer Kinney Thomas was credited on this track as "Yennik Samoht" (Thomas's first and last name spelled backwards respectively). This was something Stevie Wonder had done (credited as Eivets Rednow on his recording of "Alfie"), and Thomas also liked how it sounded a bit like the name of one of his favorite singers: Nina Simone.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Pride Month: Katy Perry Song facts


This Dr. Luke produced ballad finds Katy with her sights set on a guy, and she won't take no for an answer. It was selected as a promotional single from Prism after the singer asked fans to choose between this song or the dance club heavy "Walking On Air."

The song features a verse from Juicy J. The Memphis rapper told RapFix Live host Sway Calloway about their collaboration: "Dr. Luke gave me a call and was like, 'Hey man, Katy Perry wants you to feature on one of her songs for her album' and I was like, 'Wow.' I couldn't believe," he said. "He sent me the track over, I did the verse and like a week later he called me again and he was like, 'She wants to meet you she wants you to come to the studio.'"

The recording process was something new for the rapper. "It was a little different. I did a lot of different versions to it. I recorded almost three verses because I wanted to make sure everything fit with the song and that she was satisfied," Juicy J said. "So it was a little challenging to make, but I've been doing this for a long time and I had fun doing it so it wasn't a problem."

Dr. Luke also served as executive producer on Juicy J's Stay Trippy album.

The term "Dark Horse" is used to describe a person whose abilities or possible course of action are unknown, or to a somebody who reveals unsuspected talent. The earliest-known use of the phrase was in novelist and future Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli's 1831 novel The Young Duke: A Moral Tale Through Gay. He described a horse race where, "a dark horse, which had never been thought of... rushed past the grandstand in sweeping triumph."

Uses of the term "Dark Horse" in popular music include a 1974 single, album and tour by George Harrison named after the phrase. The former Beatle also named his record label Dark Horse Records. In addition, Canadian rockers Nickelback gave their 2008 album the moniker of Dark Horse and Alternative rock band Switchfoot titled the first single off their 2011 Vice Verses "Dark Horses."

This song was co-penned by Sarah Hudson, who is a singer-songwriter and a member of the pop group Ultraviolet Sound. She isn't related to Katy (whose real name is Katy Hudson), however Sarah is the first cousin of another famous person with the same name: the actress Kate Hudson.

Other writers listed on the track are Perry, Dr. Luke, Max Martin, Juicy J, and Cirkut.

Perry revealed at a special album release party with iHeartRadio that the song was inspired by the 1996 movie The Craft, which is, "about warning a guy that if you're going to fall in love with me, make sure you're sure because if not, it's gonna be your last." The singer added that it reminded her of the moment she heard the Teenage Dream single "E.T.."

The song finds Perry playing seductress and putting a potential lover under her spell. She described the lyrics to MTV News as "kind of witchy and dark, as if I was a witch warning this man not to fall in love with me, and if you do know I'm going to be your last." Perry went on to describe the tune as having a "witchy, spell-y kind of black magic-y idea."

Along with Juicy J, Perry performed this song at the Grammy awards in 2014. She went with a witchcraft/enchanted forest theme, staging an elaborate spectacle where she emerged from a giant crystal ball and sang to an anthropomorphic horse. Those who believe in Illuminati found lots of evidence of Perry's involvement with the group in her performance.

The song hit the top of the Hot 100 after Perry performed it on the Grammy Awards on the previous Sunday. "This #1 is the most unexpected one I've ever had," said the singer. "'Dark Horse' has been a dark horse of a song, since August when the KatyCats voted to release it early on iTunes, before PRISM even came out."

Perry enlisted Matthew Cullen to helm the video in which she plays a mystic queen in ancient Egypt. The pair previously worked together before, on her "California Gurls" clip. Juicy J also appears in the visual, emerging from a mummy's sarcophagus.

Members of the Muslim community criticized the video, citing the part around the 1:15 mark when Perry kills a a male subject, who is wearing a pendant that forms the word "Allah," the Arabic word for God. The jewelry is also destroyed.

Following a petition, which was signed by more than 65,000 people, the pendant was digitally removed from the scene.

Perry and the other songwriters were taken to court by Christian hip hoppers Flame, Lecrae and John Reilly for allegedly stealing the beat from their 2008 single "Joyful Noise" for this tune.

The lawsuit claimed that the songwriters stole the track and presented it as their own. It was also alleged that Perry ruined the faith-based message of the song by creating a blasphemous video containing uses of witchcraft, idols and black magic. "The devoutly religious message of 'Joyful Nose' has been irreparably tarnished by its association with the witchcraft, paganism, black magic and Illuminati imagery evoked by the same music in 'Dark Horse,'" read the suit. "Indeed, the music video of 'Dark Horse' generated widespread accusations of blasphemy and an online petition signed by more than 60,000 demanding removal of an offensive religious image from the video."

Flame took home a Gospel Music Association Dove Award for "Joyful Noise" while the LP it's from, Our World: Redeemed, won the Grammy for best rock or rap gospel album.

A YouTube video showing how this song stopped a baby crying went viral in August 2014 and renewed interest in the tune.

This won Best Single at the 2014 American Music Awards. Perry also claimed the gongs for Favorite Pop/Rock Female Solo Artist and Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist at the same ceremony.

The song's video was the most popular music clip on YouTube in 2014, with 715 million views. It was also the most-streamed song of the year if YouTube views are factored in.

Sans Juicy J, Perry performed this song at the Super Bowl in 2015 when she was the halftime entertainment. For this part of the show, the stage was transformed into a giant chessboard, with Perry singing among an array of dancers in a postmodern, equine motif.

The pooch that has a star turn in the video is Jiff, a Pomeranian from Los Angeles, California. Jiff once held two Guinness World Records: for the fastest 10-meter run on hind legs (6.56 seconds) and the fastest five-meter run on front paws at (7.76 seconds).


This kiss-off to a former boyfriend was written and co-produced by Greg Wells (Mika, Natasha Bedingfield). He also performed similar duties for "Fingerprints" on the same album.

In an interview for her London Live! concert special, Perry said that this song was about the "emo, indie-rocker boys that borrow your makeup and wear your outfits." Said Perry, "I'm still making out with you, and it's kind of an interesting situation that you like me, but you in another life were probably not on my team."

Prefix Magazine asked Perry if she felt this song enforced a negative stereotype. The Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter replied: "Every time I play that song, everybody has come back laughing. I'm not the type of person who walks around calling everything gay. That song is about a specific guy that I used to date and specific issues that he had. The song is about my ex wearing guyliner and taking emo pictures of himself in the bathroom mirror. The listeners have to read the context of the song and decide for themselves."

This originally was the title track of an EP released in 2007. It got an unsolicited critical boost from Madonna, who referred to the tune as her current ipod favorite. Perry said "I'm still floored by that. It's like, you're Madonna - you don't have time to be listening to my songs!" The EP also featured a club remix of the song by DJ/producer Junior Sanchez (Madonna, Shakira).

Perry told the Santa Barbara Independent June 24, 2008 about the first time she heard this song on the radio: "I was on my way, running an errand in Hollywood, and I turn on my radio and I heard them play the Catch of the Day on (LA based station) KROQ. And it was a song from my EP [called] 'UR So Gay.' I literally almost ran into the center divider. I was like, 'Not only am I hearing my song for the first time, but I'm hearing my song on KROQ,' which is so cool. And I just heard that KJEE added the song, too, and I'm like, 'Yeah, hometown hero, let's go!'"

The video starred a crew of plastic Barbie and Ken knockoffs and clever, low-budget miniature props. On her MySpace page Perry blogged about the creation of the video: "My friend Walter and I were chatting about wanting to do a little video for it a few weeks ago and I said let's use BARBIES! (they're not official barbies, thank the law!) Walter and team spray painted, wall papered and even LEATHERED the miniature set… I hope you guys pick up on the funny little details… like totally awesome rocker dude. hee hee. We had fun making this."

Years after releasing this song, Perry became an activist for LGBTQ rights, and in 2017 she was given the National Equality Award from the Human Rights Campaign.

Said Perry: "There's no other community that has done more to shape who I am today, and there is no other community that I believe in more than you. You don't get to choose your family, but you can choose your tribe. Many of the people I work with, trust and admire belong to the LGBTQ community, and without them I'd be half of the person I am today. My life is rich in every capacity because of them. They are trusted allies that provide a safe space to fall and to make mistakes. These are the people I hold dear."


This tale of a neurotic ex-boyfriend was produced and co-written by Dr. Luke (Avril Lavigne, Kelly Clarkson). The musician, songwriter and producer also performed the same duties on "I Kissed a Girl."

Perry says the song is about a real guy - an ex-boyfriend who she could never get a read on. Said Perry, "One day this person would send me a text and I would be so thrilled about it because I had been waiting for some kind of sign - a smoke signal. He would be all interested and then I would just lose him, or one day he would want to see me and then one day he wouldn't. I didn't know what was wrong with him, if he was bipolar, or if he was wearing a mood ring. I took the theme and the song kind of spilled out of me."

Perry recorded a version of this song in Simlish for the computer game The Sims: Apartment: Life.

This topped the charts in many countries including Germany, where it stayed at #1 for 8 weeks, Canada, Holland, Russia and Turkey. It was what the music media calls a "Halo Hit," meaning it was released by a new artist soon after an initial hit, in this case "I Kissed a Girl." Digital distribution makes it possible to follow up a hit song very quickly, which the audience is looking for more material from an artist.

This ascended to the top 10 of the Adult Contemporary chart in its 34th week, marking the longest climb to the top 10 by a female artist. The only song to take longer was "Drops of Jupiter" by Train, which reached the Adult Contemporary top 10 in its 49th week in June 2002.

Perry recorded a segment for Sesame Street where she sang a modified version of this song to a very fickle Elmo. PBS decided not to air it when they determined that the gold bustier top Perry wore was too revealing.


In this song Perry dips her toes into the experimental sea when she kisses a girl after a night of clubbing (drinks are involved). She admits to liking it, but it isn't anything meaningful, and besides, she has a boyfriend - just another crazy club night. The Californian has drawn criticism from some quarters for targeting a young audience with a song about bisexual experimentation.

It was Perry's first single, but she had to convince her record company to release it, as they didn't even want it on the album at first. Perry explained in 2010, "I was really excited to put that out because it was such a fun song that could be both silly and mean something to someone. It was a subject matter that was on the tip of everyone's tongue at that moment, so it was kind of like a snapshot of things that were happening in 2008."

This was not the first song where Perry had referred to matters of sexual orientation in her lyrics. In the Los Angeles singer-songwriter's previous release "Ur So Gay" she disses an effeminate guy who isn't interested in her:

You need SPF-45 just to stay alive
Ur so gay and you don't even like boys

Interestingly, Perry's debut album, which was released in 2001 under the name of Katy Hudson, was a Christian music album released by a Christian record label. Both her parents are pastors and she grew up listening to gospel music - secular music was banned at home. Some commentators expressed surprise at this turnaround from a Christian singer-songwriter to a hard-drinking party girl who sings about gayness. See one church's reaction in Song Images.

In addition to Katy Perry, Dr. Luke ("Behind These Hazel Eyes," "Since U Been Gone," "Girlfriend"), Max Martin ("Oops... I Did It Again," "Baby One More Time," "I Want It That Way") and Cathy Dennis ("Can't Get You Out Of My Head," "Toxic," "About You Now") have songwriting credits on this song. Dr. Luke also produced the track.

On Thursday June 26, 2008, Billboard announced that this song had officially become the 1,000th #1 US single of the Rock era, which began in 1955 when "Rock Around The Clock" by Bill Haley and the Comets reached #1 on what was then called the Best Sellers chart.

Perry is signed to Capitol Records, which is also the home of Coldplay, who had the previous #1 with "Viva La Vida." This was the first time Capitol had two consecutive #1 hits since 1976 when "Silly Love Songs" followed "Boogie Fever" into the top slot.

In an interview with the Ventura County Star, Perry claimed this song is all about exploration and female bonding. She said: "There's just a magical beauty that women hold that can definitely slay men of all kinds. If Angelina Jolie, Natalie Portman or Gisele Bündchen walked into the room, everybody would watch."

This song shares a name with a Jill Sobule song that was a hit in 1995. Perry told MTV News: "If my song directs traffic to Jill, that's awesome. She's deserving."

This was the first US #1 for co-songwriter Cathy Dennis. In 1991 she'd recorded three American Top 10 hits including "Touch Me (All Night Long)", which peaked at #2. Dennis also co-penned three other Top 10 entries, the previously most successful having been "Can't Get You Out Of My Head," which reached #7.

In July 2008 this became the first song since Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" to simultaneously appear on the Mainstream Top 40, Rhythmic, Adult Top 40 and Alternative charts.

Perry came up with the chorus for this song a year and a half before she recorded it. It went unfinished until a session with Dr. Luke where she decided to complete it.

Perry told the Observer Music Monthly that this song is about drunken curiosity, not as some have interpreted it, a call to change sexual orientation. She explained: "I'm talking about the way girls are really touchy-feely and sisterly. Especially when we're growing up. We're holding hands, we're having sleepovers, we're doing choreographed dance moves in our pajamas, we're painting each other's nails and practicing kissing on our arms - or maybe practicing kissing on one another. It wasn't something that we were doing for the sake of anybody else because we were scared of boys. I know I was scared of boys! My first kiss was with a boy, and he almost swallowed me alive. I wish I had kissed that girl I had the girl-crush on when I was growing up. I would have been much more prepared for my dating life, I think."

This topped the Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks in a row, equaling the record for a song released on Capitol Records in the rock era - The Beatles' "I Want To Hold Your Hand" (also on Capitol) reigned for seven weeks in 1964.

This was also the longest-running #1 by a female artist having her debut hit since Ciara's "Goodies" topped the Hot 100 for seven weeks in September-October 2004.

Kinga Burza, who directed the song's video, told MTV News that originally the promo was set in a hotel room but due to budget concerns and tight time constraints the location was switched. Instead it was filmed in a 1970s castle in the Hollywood Hills that has often been used as the setting "for pornos and horror films."

Burza explained in the same interview why rather than taking a literal approach to the song's lyrics, she used the video to show off Perry's charisma. She said: "I just really wanted to have Katy performing, whilst being surrounded by loads of really sexy girls. Of course, I didn't want to feature them too much, as the video was all about Katy, and for me, it was more about insinuating and being suggestive with sexy body shapes and silhouettes. It was not [about being] obvious or distasteful. The song's lyrics are enough. We don't want female teens all over the world pashing each other because they look up to Katy Perry!"

Katy Perry's boyfriend at the time, Gym Class Heroes frontman Travie McCoy, told MTV News about the time he first heard this song. He recalled: "When she was recording her record she'd send me songs, and when we were making our record I'd send her songs. So she sent me a demo of 'I Kissed a Girl,' and we were on tour, and I was playing it during our changeover, just watching the kids react. So she came out to one of our shows, and the song came out and she flipped out, like, 'What are you doing playing that?' and I took her to the side of the stage so she could watch the crowd react. And now, well, she's huge."

This won the award for Best Pop Song at the 35th People's Choice Awards, held on January 7, 2009. A few days later it won the Virgin Media Music award for Best Track.

Perry revealed to Q magazine March 2009 that the lyrics are about a real life girl. She explained: "The song was inspired by a friendship I had with a girl when I was 15, but I didn't kiss her. I was totally obsessed with her. She was beautiful-porcelain skin, perfect lips - and I still talk to her, but I've never told her the song is about her."

A pre-famous Kesha appears in the song's music video. The "TiK ToK" singer explained to We Are Pop Slags: "We were actually friends from before she was successful. We just knew each other from being out and about and we worked with some of the same people in Los Angeles."

Also in the video: Katy's cat, Kitty Purry.

Perry told Billboard magazine that the song almost didn't make it on the album. She said: "There was some concern at the top, but I just let them sit with the song and they came around. They liked it so much, it became the (first official) single."

Reflecting on this song in 2013, Perry told Entertainment Weekly: "I think it worked because it was a zeitgeist idea. Everyone was talking about bisexuality and experimenting. Than all of a sudden you have a soundtrack."

Perry performed this song with Lenny Kravitz at halftime of the 2015 Super Bowl (the one where the Patriots beat the Seahawks on a late interception). After Perry introduced Kravitz, he began singing the song, which takes on a different meaning when sung from a male perspective. Perry joined in, Kravitz played a guitar solo (although his instrument was unplugged), and then Katy moved on to the next section of her performance.

Anyone sticking around at halftime to see Kravitz was disappointed to see him relegated to a sideman role, without getting to play even one of his own songs (the "surprise guest" Missy Elliott played bits of three of her songs). Having him sing "I Kissed A Girl" seemed like a way to disguise the true meaning of the song for any viewers who might have been offended.

The song was partially inspired by Scarlett Johansson. When the actress was informed of this during an interview with Allure, she responded: "That's flattering, but my lips are kind of taken." (Johansson had just married actor Ryan Reynolds at the time).

She added, "I had no idea. I should get a cut!"

In 2017, Perry was honored by the Human Rights Campaign with the National Equality Award for supporting the LGBTQ community. In her acceptance speech, she said, "I'm just a singer-songwriter, honestly. I speak my truths and I paint my fantasies into these little bite-sized pop songs. For instance, 'I kissed a girl and I liked it.' Truth be told, I did more than that. How was I going to reconcile that with a gospel singing girl raised in youth groups that were pro-conversion camps? What I did know was I was curious, and even then I knew sexuality wasn't as black and white as this dress. And honestly, I haven't always gotten it right, but in 2008 when that song came out I knew that I started a conversation and a lot of the world seemed curious enough to sing along, too."

Speaking on 103.5 KTU's Cubby and Carolina in the Morning in a 2017 interview, Miley Cyrus claimed she was the subject of the song.

"Katy Perry, she's been a friend of mine for a really long time. We were actually just realizing the other day that next year, we'll have been friends for 10 years. I think that's my friend that I've known the longest, which is really, really weird," Cyrus said. "When she came out with 'I Kissed a Girl,' I was doing the Hannah Montana movie, and I heard her on the radio, they said, 'Who'd you write that about?' And she said me."


This beach-friendly pop tune is the first single from Katy Perry's third studio album, Teenage Dream. Perry co-wrote the song with Lukasz "Dr. Luke" Gottwald and Max Martin, the same team who produced her first hit "I Kissed a Girl." The other credited writers are American pop-rock singer-songwriter Bonnie McKee, who had some success with her debut album in 2004, and the rapper Snoop Dogg, who wrote his verse.

Perry says it's a fun song that is perfect for the summertime. "My serotonin level changes, my personality changes," said the singer. "'California Girls' talks about all those iconic things that you've seen on postcards and on TV. And I wanted to do a homage to the Beach Boys."

Musically, this song bears a strong resemblance to Kesha's "TiK ToK," which is an earlier Dr. Luke production.

According to Perry, this ode to fun in the sun is a answer song to Jay-Z's tribute to New York, "Empire State of Mind." Perry said in a statement that she was inspired to write the song as she watched her friends go crazy at a party listening to the rap icon's salute to his home city: "Everybody was holding their drinks in the air and dancing, and I thought, 'We're not in New York, we're in Los Angeles! What about California? What about all the homies, the gin and juice, the swaying palm trees, the sun-kissed skin 24-7,' I decided that we needed to make a response. I want people to want to book a ticket to California the first time they hear it!"

Perry told Rolling Stone: "It's been a minute since we had a California song and especially from a girl's perspective. We took the references of Prince, which is always a great reference, and some of the '90s, almost house music references."

The song features an assist from Snoop Dogg, who joins in on the guitar-laced hook. "We thought it would sound so cool and give the song another dimension," she explained. "Snoop is as West Coast as it gets."

The unconventional spelling of the song title is a reference to Big Star's "September Gurls." Perry explained to Entertainment Weekly that this is because her manager is a longtime fan of the power pop pioneers, who were fronted by the late Alex Chilton.

Said Perry: "My manager, Bradford, he's from Mississippi, and he's a huge Big Star fan. And with the death of one of their members, I had just written that song, and he's like, 'Katy, just for me, will you please title it 'California Gurls,' with a 'u'? People won't even know!' I don't know the whole catalog of Big Star, but I did it because Bradford is one of my best friends, and I thought it was cool, and you know, the kids like those variations."

The album title is similar to Baltimore, Maryland-based duo Beach House's 2010 album, Teen Dream (more info on their record in the "Take Care" Songfacts). Vocalist Victoria LeGrand tweeted to her fans, "Can't believe this... and not in a good way, guess we have to write a song called 'i kiss a girl' (sic)."

The duo also posted on the Wikipedia page dedicated to Teenage Dream, "Mrs. Perry's album title may or may not be ripping off the brilliant indie duo Beach House and their critically acclaimed record 'Teen Dream'. It will be a challenge for her to achieve the same aural masterpiece." Their comments have since been deleted.

The song reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in its fourth week on the chart, making it the fastest-rising single released by an artist signed to Capitol Records in 43 years. It tied a mark set in 1967 by Capitol artist Bobbie Gentry's "Ode to Billie Joe," which also made it to #1 in four weeks.

The song was Perry's second chart-topper after "I Kissed a Girl."
For Snoop Dogg this was his third #1 hit, following his own "Drop It Like It's Hot," and his guest spot on Akon's "I Wanna Love You," in 2006.

The song's music video was directed by Mathew Cullen, the founder of Los Angeles-based production company Motion Theory. It is a candy-coated sweet affair featuring a whole lot of confectioneries but not so much of California. Perry explained to MTV news the plan was to re-imagine the Golden State as "Candyfornia" with her as the queen trying to save her California Gurls from Snoop Dogg's evil Sugar Daddy. "We named it 'Candyfornia' instead of 'California,' so it's a different world," she said. "It's not just like, 'Oh, let's go to the beach and throw a party and then shoot a music video!' It's more like, 'Let's put us California Gurls in a whole different world!'"

She added: "I like the idea of this being like a board game. It's kind of like Candy Land. That was probably one of my favorite games to play growing up. I like to bring back those pure childhood moments and give them a little bit of a naughty twist, of course!"

The popsicle that meets a sad end was Perry's idea. "I was talking to the director when Snoop was doing his verse, [and] I was like, 'I really want there to be a melting-popsicle guy,' "she revealed. "I just love stuff like that. I think I belong in Japan, in some alternate universe. I think this music video is a little bit my love for all things cute, confectionary and Japanese [and] childhood."

Cullen told MTV News why he didn't want to include anything summery in his treatment for the video: "The lyrics were so literal that when I pitched it, I said, 'Look, I want to so something that's a metaphor for what the song's about,' and I guess it was something different from what the other directors were pitching her," the director said. "It was a concept that really stood out for her. Because I think, automatically, since the song has become this summer anthem, it really invokes strong visuals. And I just wanted to do something a little different."

He added: "What really stood out for me is the idea of California as this sugary sweet paradise, so Candyfornia is this place where desire can always be fulfilled, but where pleasure can turn dark. The kind of place where Gummi Bears aren't your friends," laughed Cullen. "I also tried to inject some California iconography into the landscape: the Hollywood Hills made of ice cream, Sunset Boulevard as Sundae Boulevard, the Capitol Records building as pancakes and the Walk of Fame as a gingerbread path."

Cullen explained that the chest-mounted frosting cannons Perry sports at the end of the video were the singer's idea. "[The cannons] were actually Katy's idea. She wanted to have fun with it, and so we did it," he said. "We got it in two takes. I was surprised. We shot it at the end of the first day, and it had everybody rolling on the floor. She was so great to work with. A total pro, and really into it."

Whilst this was Perry's second UK chart-topper, for Snoop Dog this was his debut UK #1 single, sixteen and a half years after making his singles debut with "What's My Name" in 1993.

Perry used Wikipedia to swot up on the rap world ahead of making a decision which rapper she wanted to collaborate with on this song. She chose Snoop Dogg after reading his entry on the Wikipedia encyclopedia website. The Kissed a Girl singer told Canadian radio station Kiss: "I was Wikipedia-ing all the original West Coast people and I was thinking to myself, who is still relevant, who is like the best, cherry on top for this, and it was obvious that it was Snoop.

He did 'Drop It Like It's Hot ' a couple years ago, he did 'Sexual Seduction ' - he's still Mr. Gin and Juice, I mean he doesn't age. He's the Doggfather."

An alternative version was sent to American AOR radio stations with Snopp Dogg's rap contribution edited out.

Beach Boys co-founder Brian Wilson, who along with Mike Love wrote the original "California Girls," admitted to the Los Angeles Times that he is a fan of Perry's updated homage. "I love her vocal. She sounds very clear and energetic," he said. "The melody is infectious, and I'm flattered that Snoop Dogg used our lyric on the tag. I wish them well with this cut."

Perry told Q magazine how she persuaded Snoop Dogg to contribute to this tune: "I put a lot of what I call 'Snoop Bait' in the song. 'Gin and Juice' was awesome and I mentioned it in a tribute. Then I just approached him through my record company, EMI. Which is the same as his and he said yes. He's proper West Coast rap royalty. When you meet him it's not an act. He really is that cool for real. That man walks around talking in rhymes even when the recording has finished."

The song was ranked #1 on Billboard's Songs of the Summer 2010 survey. The chart summarized the most popular songs based on actual performance on the Billboard Hot 100 from the chart dated June 12, 2010, to the one dated September 18. This was Perry's second Songs of the Summer chart champion song, following, "I Kissed a Girl," in 2008. Only one other artist has achieved two top placements as a lead act since 1985. Mariah Carey topped the summer's poll in 1990 with "Vision of Love," and in 2005 with "We Belong Together."

This won Best Video at the 2010 MTV European Music Awards.

Perry told The Sun how she and her band members became intoxicated by fumes from the weed that Snoop was smoking when they were in the studio together. "It was really cool. He came by the studio, played the song and rolled a 'J'," she recalled. "Everybody was contact high. But he was super-cool and he's been around forever."

Perry performed this song when she was the featured entertainment at the 2015 Super Bowl halftime show. She was joined for this section by several backup dancers in colorful swimwear, as well as dancing palm trees, beach balls, sharks and surfboards.

This toast to summer fun was originally scheduled to hit be sent to radio on May 25, 2010. However, after clips from Teenage Dream were leaked online, her label moved up the radio impact date to May 7, 2010 and also began to stream it on her website.