This Week in Billboard Chart History: 20 Years Ago, Michael Jackson Was ‘Alone’ At The Top

Sources: Billboard -Gary Trust| All Things Michael

Michael Jackson during 1995 MTV Video Music Awards Show at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)

In 1995, ‘You Are Not Alone’ became the first song to debut at No. 1 on the Hot 100. Plus, remembering chart feats by Metallica, the Beatles and Aerosmith.

Your weekly recap celebrating significant milestones from more than seven decades of Billboard chart history.

Aug. 31, 1991
Twenty-four years ago today, the best-selling album since Nielsen Music began tracking sales (in May 1991) debuted atop the Billboard 200: Metallica‘s self-titled set. The album has sold 16.2 million copies in the U.S. since its release. It outranks runner-up Shania Twain’s Come On Over (15.6 million) and the third-best-seller in that span, Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill.

Sept. 1, 1973
Kind of impossible to hear this one without thinking of comic genius Louis C.K. Forty-two years ago today, Stories‘ “Brother Louie,” now the theme to the comedian’s FX series Louie, spent its second week at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

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Sept. 2, 1995
Twenty years ago today: Michael Jackson‘s “You Are Not Alone” becomes the first song ever to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The ballad (the last of Jackson’s 13 No. 1s) was written and produced by R. Kelly.

 

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Essential Musical Acts Of The ’70s

Sources: CNN – By Brandon Griggs | All Things Michael

The Jackson 5

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This Motown family made history by being the first recording act whose initial four singles — “I Want You Back,” “The Love You Save,” “ABC” and “I’ll Be There” — all hit No. 1 on the Billboard pop charts. Powered by the soprano of a little, prepubescent Michael Jackson, the five Jackson brothers became one of the first black acts to achieve huge success with white audiences. With their costumes, youthful looks and synchronized dance moves, the Jacksons also paved the way for such boy bands as the Backstreet Boys, NSYNC and the Jonas Brothers.

Learn more about the music of the 1970s in the season finale of “The Seventies,” which airs Thursday, August 13, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CNN.

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Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall Released 36 Years Ago Today

Sources: Soul Train – By Stephen McMillian (Published June 4, 2012)| All Things Michael

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Before Thriller,  there was Off The Wall.

While at Motown Records, Michael Jackson recorded four solo albums: Got To Be There, Ben, Music & Me, and Forever, Michael. The former two did extremely well; the latter two, however, sold poorly at a time when the Jackson 5’s record sales as a whole were declining. In 1975, the group signed with Epic Records and in 1976 released their first album on the label titled The Jacksons, spawning the hits “Enjoy Yourself” and “Show You The Way to Go.” The following year they released their second Epic album Goin’ Places. Although the LP was a stronger album than their previous one, it did not do well. Both albums were produced by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff who had mega success with artists like The O’Jays and Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes.

However, the Jacksons felt it was time to take charge of producing their own work. Though they wrote and produced four cuts on their first two Epic albums, they wanted to take control of the entire project of their next album. The result was 1978’s Destiny, an absolute smash yielding the hits “Blame It On the Boogie” and the platinum-seller “Shake Your Body Down to the Ground.”

Source: VLroundtree

Source: VLroundtree

It could’ve been destiny at work when Michael Jackson was in New York City during the late months of 1977 filming the motion picture The Wiz. During a rehearsal of the scene in which his character, the Scarecrow, is berated by a bunch of crows, he had mispronounced the name Socrates. Legendary music producer Quincy Jones, who scored The Wiz and was on the set during rehearsal, corrected Michael and told him the proper pronunciation of Socrates. From that moment on, magic (one of Jackson’s favorite terms) was created…… Read the entire article here

Michael Jackson’s First Solo No. 1 Hit Was An Ode To A Rat

Source: A.V. Club – By Gwen Ih | All Things Michael

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In the animal-songs canon, “Ben” may be the only love song about a rat. The song was the title track of the sequel to the 1971 movie Willard, in which a young outsider trains a rat population to attack his enemies. Eventually the rats, led by their leader, Ben, turn on Willard and devour him. In the disaster-horror genre of the era, this film was so successful that Ben returned the following year for his own sequel. He is slightly more benevolent in this version, befriending a young boy named Danny and helping him to defeat his bullies (until the rats turn on everybody again, surprise). For the sequel, Ben also got his own surprisingly sentimental song, written by longtime composer and Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory music director Walter Scharf. It was sung by then-teenaged Michael Jackson over the final credits.

The Jackson Five had been successful for some time by 1972. But Michael Jackson, like Donny Osmond in another brother act, was the the star of the show as the youngest, and had started to break out with hits like “Rockin’ Robin.” Jackson received this song after Osmond turned it down. As only he could do, the young Jackson adds a fervent emotionality as he sings to a pet that’s always running “here and there / You feel you’re not wanted anywhere.” Since Ben is a rat, this is probably true. But when Jackson hits the high notes in “They don’t see you as I do / I wish they would try to,” his vocal instrumentation is unexpectedly moving for a song so rodent propelled.

Radio listeners agreed, making “Ben” the No. 20 song for 1972, and paving the way for Jackson’s future solo career. It was the first of his solo No. 1 hits; he didn’t have another until 1979’s “Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough.” “Ben” won the 1973 Golden Globe and almost won the Academy Award for Best Song, losing to The Poseidon Adventure’s “The Morning After.” Crispin Glover re-recorded the song for Willard’s 2003 remake, a foolish effort that never could have stood up to the gold-standard version of rat love songs.

 

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He Is Here To Change the World (Again): Captain EO Returns to EPCOT

Sources: Disney Insider | All Things Michael

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In the fall of 1986 Michael Jackson came to EPCOT Center in Florida as part of “a small group, struggling to bring freedom to countless worlds of despair.” And now he’s back.

Captain EO, the breakthrough 3D science fiction adventure that starred Jackson, was directed by Francis Ford Coppola and produced by George Lucas, quietly returned to EPCOT earlier this month in all of its breakdancing, stargazing glory. The 17-minute-long attraction is right where it was when it first debuted back in 1986: the Imagination Pavilion in the Futureworld West section of the park.

It’s hard to imagine how huge Captain EO was when it first came to the parks in 1986. This was Michael Jackson at the height of his popularity, five years after Thriller broke every record there was and less than a year before his equally powerful Bad would be unleashed. It was also George Lucas’ first collaboration with the Disney theme parks, three years after Return of the Jedi closed out the original Star Wars trilogy and a year before Star Tours would be joyfully jostling Disneyland attendees. And by 1986 Coppola had cemented himself as a legendary filmmaker, having already helmed the first twoGodfather films, The Conversation, and (more recently) The Outsiders and Rumble Fish. It was almost too good.

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There were a number of technical innovations that also went along with Captain EO; it is largely thought of as the first “4D” film, with in-theater effects like smoke, lasers, and a glittery star field that was draped across the theater ceiling. (In both Florida and CaliforniaCaptain EO replaced Magic Journeys, a gentle 3D fantasy.) Captain EO featured two new songs from Jackson, including one (“Another Part of Me”) that would appear on Bad. (The other, “We Are Here to Change the World,” would only be released, in truncated form, in the 2004 Jackson box set The Ultimate Collection.) Italian cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, who lensed The Conformist and would later shoot Disney’s Dick Tracy, was responsible for the 3D photography. The late, great James Horner (whose Rocketeer score we absolutely adore) provided the score. An in-depth hour-long special called Captain EO Backstage, hosted by Whoopi Goldberg, premiered on The Disney Sunday Movie on ABC and another hour-long special aired from the film’s Disneyland grand opening (it was hosted by Patrick Duffy and Justine Bateman along with musical guests Starship and Robert Palmer). This was it.

And it goes without saying that the film was (and still is) totally awesome. It features dancing and monsters and Anjelica Huston as a witchy, H.R. Giger-esque space princess (when Jackson compliments her appearance, she hisses, “You find meeee beautiful?”) At 17 minutes, it tells a complete story but never feels flabby or overlong; it zigs and zags and boogies with the best of them.

Back when the film opened, the Imagination Pavilion was a much different place. Journey Into Imagination, the flagship ride, was a sprawling ode to the unlimited capabilities of the human mind, and once you finished riding the attraction, you were funneled up to a play area called the Upstairs Image Works. This is where you got to interact with exhibits like a giant, colorful tunnel (that was a favorite of Jackson’s whenever he would visit the park) and a kind of color canon that would allow you to fire paintbrushes (and virtual paint) at blank canvases. When you would complete your play, you would get on an escalator that would bring you into the specially outfitted theater where Captain EO played. Walk around versions of several of the characters would mill around outside the pavilion. It was the kind of sprawling, synchronous experience that defined those heady early days of EPCOT Center.

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In 1994 Captain EO closed and a year later Honey, I Shrunk the Audience premiered. It was aired (once) on MTV in 1996 in a downscaled two-dimensional version. But after Jackson’s tragic passing in 2009, the film returned to the Imagination Pavilion theater (it also reappeared at several other parks, including Disneyland). This new version of the attraction premiered in the summer of 2010 at EPCOT and was labeled a “tribute.” It swapped some of the earlier effects for those installed for Honey, I Shrunk the Audience, including a nifty gag where the floor bounces up and down as the villainess’ dark forces approach, and was digitally projected. When it returned, Captain EO was even more beautiful than when it first premiered. Audiences clapped and sung along and snapped up merchandise, including T-shirts modeled after Michael’s nifty rainbow model and plush versions of the characters.

Over the past few months, the theater has been used for a variety of purposes, mostly to exhibit upcoming Disney features like Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland and Disney•Pixar’s Inside Out. But now Captain EO is back and we couldn’t be more excited. It’s an attraction thatfeels so classically EPCOT, one that has one foot in fantasy and the other in science fiction; that is both futuristic and warmly nostalgic. It’s an attraction shares EPCOT’s view of the future as a place where anything is possible and everything is super fun. Captain EO is the story of “a ragtag band led by the infamous Captain EO,” and almost 30 years later, it’s enough to make you smile … and dance.

 

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Top 20 Essential Boy Band Songs

Sources: Billboard – By Jason Lipshultz | All Things Michael

It’s Boy Band Week on Billboard.com! Let’s kick things off with the 20 boy band songs you need to know and love.

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If you love the warm embrace of pop music, it’s easy to understand the appeal of boy bands — collections of (mostly) young males crooning about love and heartache, all while smoldering and winking in ways that drive audiences wild. Boy bands aren’t all about image, though, and have been responsible for some of the most enduring singles in the history of the genre. From the Motown of the 60’s to the teenybopper 90’s to the U.K. invasion of the 2010’s, boy bands continuously impact our culture — and these 20 songs are a big reason why we keep giving them opportunities to shine.

In celebration of boy bands as part of 2015 Boy Band Week, Billboard is presenting an editorial countdown of the 20 essential boy band songs! (NOTE: this list defines ‘boy band’ as a vocal group in which the majority of members are not playing other instruments, which is why you won’t see artists like the Beatles, the Monkees, Hanson or the Jonas Brothers on this list.)

1. The Jackson 5, “I Want You Back”

The boy band formula was perfected early on by the Jackson 5, who combined smooth moves, soaring harmonies and grinning bubblegum in ways that have been replicated for 45 years. “I Want You Back” is a love song aimed at young females, but it is also universal, including all listeners by hiding the heartache in a lip-smacking funk riff and seamless chord progression. “I Want You Back” is a towering pop treasure, and one that boy bands will always view as a blueprint to success.

 

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Six Moments That Defined Live Aid 1985

Sources: Inside Halton – By Robin Levinson King | All Things Michael

On its 30th anniversary, a look back at the charity concert of epic proportion.

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On July 13, 1985, rock n’ roll’s biggest stars put on a charity concert of epic proportion. Organized by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, Live Aid raised money for Ethiopian famine relief while showcasing rock n’ roll legends and rising stars alike.

Simulcast from both Wembley Stadium in London and JFK stadium in Philadelphia, the show was seen by billions worldwide, raised millions for charity, and more cynically, boosted record sales for many of its performers.

On its 30th anniversary, here are six moments that defined that concert.

1. “We are the World”

This charity song, written in 1985 by Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson, would come to define the spirit of Live Aid. Sung by supergroup USA for Africa, practically anyone who was anyone in the 1980s contributed vocals to the track.

The song closed out the Philadelphia set during Live Aid, although many of its original performers did not make it to the taping, including Michael Jackson and Cyndi Lauper.

Flash forward: In just a year, the song raised $44 million (U.S.) and the song continues to earn money for charity to this day.

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Tito Jackson Remembers The Jackson 5’s Big Break On The Ed Sullivan Show In 1969

Sources: Telegraph – By Tito Jackson | All Things Michael

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This photo was taken in December 1969, when all of us were really too young to understand the impact of what was about to happen. Jackie was 18, I was 16, Jermaine was 15, Marlon was 12 and Michael – who was just magical that day – was 11.

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Ed Sullivan was the big variety host of his day, a TV hero, and all the big entertainers of the time went on his show. Every family in America tuned in on Sunday evenings right after dinner, desperate to see the next big musical sensation. Sonny and Cher had been on, the Temptations, the Rolling Stones… and the first time I saw the Beatles was on The Ed Sullivan Show.

At that point we were all fearless, we were just doing what we did, but Jackie, Jermaine and I knew it was the perfect time to show the public what we could do. We knew it could be our big break and that we needed to do an A1 job. Before the show I remember us all going out and picking our outfits at a fashion store called First Equals, and by the day of the show we’d rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed so although we were nervous, once we hit that stage and loosened up we did our job.

Ed Sullivan came out, talked very briefly to us and then we performed three songs – I Want You Back, ABC and The Love You Save – and there were no glitches; at that time we were so polished that we just knew we had to capture the audience. That was our job and the audience loved it, and although we got a lot of promotion from the show we knew that was only the platform to build upon. We understood that there was a lot more work to be done.

There were many more shows to do, to constantly promote and market ourselves, things like American Bandstand and The Carol Burnett Show. We did all of those shows but none of them ever quite matched the excitement or impact of that night at the Ed Sullivan studio in New York. Our performance helped launch our first two singles and we didn’t look back from there.

It has been nearly six years since Michael’s death, and all of us brothers still see a lot of each other. We started touring again a few years back and right now we’re working on a new record and we’re all doing well. It feels great to still be making music 46 years after the picture was taken, and I’m loving sitting back a bit more and enjoying the fans, the travelling, the recording and the performing. It’s all great fun right now.

Interview by Nick McGrath

 

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