Thursday, December 30, 2010

The 10 Top Selling Jazz R & B/Soul Ballads

I am always looking for information about the music buying habits of today's music consumers.  The other day I found an iTunes site that listed all of the music that iTunes currently sells by sub-groups. I first came across a list that was entitled "Adult Music" expecting to find singers and songs from the Great American Songbook but no... the list was for songs with lyrics that might not be appropriate for younger listeners.  I did not know any of the songs so I searched on.   I found two other lists that did contain songs I recognized.  I want to talk about the first list that was titled "R & B/Soul Ballads". I was surprised to discover that the number one selling song was my all time favorite Golden Oldie, "In The Still Of The Night" by the Five Satins. Can you believe that a rock & roll song that was recorded over 50 years ago is the number one R & B/Soul Ballad song sold by iTunes in 2010. I loved it in the sixties and still love it today. Of the top 10 best selling songs, there was only one that I was not familiar with, "Pledging My Love" by Johnny Ace.  It seems that Johnny Ace was a noted R & B singer in the fifties who committed suicide back stage on Christmas Eve in 1954. Mr Ace still commands interest from music fans to this day.  Take a look at the list below and share any comment about the top 10 or other candidates you think should have made this list.

                                TOP 10 BEST SELLING R&B/SOUL BALLADS BY iTUNES











Thursday, December 23, 2010

Top 10 Christmas Songs Sold On iTunes In 2010

I thought it would be interesting see what were the biggest selling Christmas songs on iTunes this year. I was surprised and glad to see that "White Christmas" was still Number One on the list.  This is great news because it means lot of young people have become fans of this wonderful song. It is also telling that the number 10 best selling Christmas Song was "Donde Esta Santa Claus" by Augie Rios. The hispanic music market continues to grow and will continue to pick up market share going forward. 

Top 10 Christmas Songs Sold On iTunes 
    1.  White Christmas By Bing Crosby
            2.  The Chipmunk Song-The Chipmumks
                                3.  Rudolph, The Red Nosed Reindeer-Various Artists
                            4.  I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus-Jimmy Boyd
 5.  Jingle Bell Rock=Bobby Helms
         6.  The Christmas Song-Nat King Cole
                       7.  Snoopy's Christmas-The Royal Guardsman
              8.  Here Comes Santa Claus-Gene Aultry
                              9.  The Little Drummer Boy-Harry Simeone Chorale
          10. Donde Esta Santa Claus-Augie Rios 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Amazon Takes Only A Tiny Bite Out Of Apple

I recently read that the research firm NPD Group reported that iTunes now controls 66.2% of online music sales.  In just a few short years, iTunes has taken over a massive amount of the online market and it is not over yet.  However, they are getting some intense competition from Amazon who is now in second place with 13.3% of the online market.  In an attempt to take market share from iTunes, Amazon has been selling selected CDs below cost in order to attract customers.   Still even with lower prices than iTunes, Amazon sales only grew 2.3% compared to 3.0% for iTunes. Some industry people have been saying that iTunes has been putting pressure on labels to pull back on the deals they have been giving Amazon.  ITunes needs to be very careful with any attempt to limit Amazon's ability to discount prices because it begs for an antitrust action. iTunes should be happy with their huge market piece and let Amazon continue to lose money selling CDs below cost. iTunes in my opinion, needs to be very careful not to do anything to slow or block competition because they already control the keys to the online market with their iTunes program that so far no competitor has been able to match.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Even Christmas Standards Can Get A Little Old

While I still believe that "Standards" are songs that never get old,  I have to admit that hearing the same Christmas song being played 50 times within a 30 day period does make me crazy.  Yes, these are the Christmas songs that we all love but enough is enough.  After hearing the great Nat King Cole sing "The Christmas Song" ten times in two days, that was more than enough for me (or anyone else, I suppose).  In order to escape having to hear the same Christmas songs being sung by the same artists over and over again, I decided to pick some artists singing Christmas songs that are great but don't get as much play.  A sort of personal Christmas playlist.  So here are a few of my current favorite Christmas songs that you might want to add to your collection this year. There are lots more that I have missed, so if you have your own favorites, please share them with me.

1.   I'll Be Home For Christmas                                           B.B. King

2.   Please Come Home For Christmas                               Andrea Bocelli &
                                                                                            Natalie Cole
3.   Silent Night                                                                   Boney James

4.   Ave Maria                                                                     Johnny Mathis

5.   Blue Christmas                                                              Elvis Presley

6.   O Tannenbaum                                                             Andrea Bocelli

7.   We Wish You A Merry Christmas                                  The Drifters

8.   Please Come Home For Christmas                               The Eagles

9.   Silent Night                                                                     Chantieleer

10. Let It Snow                                                                     Diana Krall

11. White Christmas                                                            The Drifters

12. It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas                 Dean Martin

13. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas                         Luther Vandross

14. Jingle Bells                                                                     BzK

15. Baby It's Cold Outside                                                    Ray Charles & Betty Carter

16. Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer                                 Ray Charles

17. Winter Wonderland                                                         Oscar Peterson

18. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town                                    Dave Brubeck

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Coldplay's New Christmas Song, "Christmas Lights"

I really like some of the music being released by the group Coldplay.  So when I recently came across a story on the music blog about their new Christmas single, "Christmas Lights", I  went to iTunes to hear it. The lead singer of Coldplay is Chris Martin and he really is one of the outstanding young singers in the music industry today. I believe Coldplay has the ability to bridge the musical difference today between pop music and the "Great American Songbook".  No easy trick! "Christmas Lights" could have been a contender as a great Christmas song except for a small opening part of the lyric that talks about getting into "Another fight on Christmas night".  I think the rest of the song is wonderful. I would guess that my opinion will not be shared by the millions of Coldplay fans, but for me the group missed the chance for this song to enter my "Christmas Song Hall of Fame" because of what I think was an unnecessary part of the lyric. If anyone has an opinion on this new release, I would love to get some comments.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Marilyn Maye is Magical!

On Saturday, December 4 my wife and I attended the Marilyn Maye show at NJPAC titled: "Mercer...The Maye Way".  As we were leaving the theatre, I knew writing a review would be very difficult.  It is hard to find words to express and capture the talents of such a polished and talented performer. It's not just her voice that captures everyone in the audience. It's her stage presence and understanding of the meaning of the music and lyrics she sang. Sinatra once say that there were three qualities a singer must possess in order to become a major star.  One of the three was that a singer needed to project a personality to the audience that would make them wish they could hang out with the singer. Let me just get it out... I wish I could hang out with Marilyn Maye and gain insight about her life and how she has chooses her music.  She needs to write a  book, and I would offer a possible title: "The Maye Way".

Marilyn's program on Saturday evening was all Johnny Mercer with the exception of the first two songs.  Marilyn hit the ground running with an up tempo version of the great Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II song "The Song is You".  She followed with "Love Being Here With You". Lyrics written by Peggy Lee and music by Bill Schluger. From this point on it was all Johnny Mercer and Marilyn Maye.  Marilyn sang an unbelievable 30 Johnny Mercer songs in an  hour and 15 minutes without coming up for air. I think most of us have an appreciation for the songs and lyrics of Johnny Mercer but once you hear someone as talented as Marilyn Maye sing his songs one after another, you can't help but be in awe of this man's ability to write lyrics that tell stories we can all relate to.  Marilyn spoke of her admiration and love of Mercer's Music and the effort it had on her.  She then added that she never got the chance to meet him but if she did, she most likely would have married him. My take is a little different, if Johnny Mercer ever heard Marilyn Maye sing his songs, he would have wanted to married her!
I would like to list just a few of my personal favorite Johnny Mercer songs that Marilyn sang:
1.   Satin Doll
2.   Summer Wind
3.   Moon River
4.   Come Rain or Come Shine
5.   The Days of Wine & Roses
6.   That Old Black Magic
7.   Goody Goody
8.   I'm Old Fashioned
9.   Day In, Day Out
10. Too Marvelous For Words
11. Emily
12  Drinking Again
13. Laura
No one who loves songs and lyrics from the greatest American composers should miss the chance to hear Marilyn Maye sing live.  Don't take my word for it, listen to Ella Fitzgerald who called Marilyn "The greatest white female singer in the world".
If it was within my power, I would make it a requirement for all young singers to see and listen to Marilyn Maye before they ever perform.  She sets the mark for all American singers both young and old.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

iTunes Top 10 Best Selling Beatles' Songs

Just about everyone in the world knows that iTunes was the winner in the hot contest to get the rights to sell Beatles' songs. I just read an article in Entertainment Weekly ( that reported that iTunes sold over 2,000,000 Beatles' songs and 450,000 albums in its first week of sales. It has been several decades since these songs were released and I can only say it is truly amazing that, "The Beatles' Song Book" is still so popular.  I don't consider myself an expert in Beatle music but I am interested in any current list of their most popular songs.  So I have listed below the "Top Ten Best Beatles' Songs Sold On iTunes During Their First Week".  Personally, I am in agreement with all of the selections on the list except for one, "Dear Prudence".  I would like to get some comments from anyone who thinks they know why "Dear Prudence" would be on the Top Ten list because I don't have a clue.  Also, is there any Beatle fan out there that would have guessed that "Here Comes The Sun" would be the most popular selling Beatles' song this first week of sales?  All other comments about these Top Ten Selections are welcome.

1.  "Here Comes The Sun"

2.  "Come Together"

3.   "Let It Be"

4.   "In My Life"

5.   "Blackbird"

6.   "Something"

7.   "With A Little Help From My Friends"

8.   "Yesterday"

9.   "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds"

10. "Dear Prudence"

I want to mention that I did read a few blogs that thought the iTunes Beatles sales numbers were not good.  They came to this conclusion because the top selling Beatles song for the week did not come close to the sales numbers for the best selling songs on the week. I think these writers missed the point very badly.  Consider the fact that most of the millions of current Beatles fans already have all of the old Beatles albums.  And even if they didn't, considering these albums/CDs have been available for years, I believe these sales numbers are remarkable. Who bought 2,000,000 songs and 450,000 albums?  I believe the answer is the younger generation that is the heart and soul of iTunes who are just discovering the Beatles. Just the other day, I was talking to an 11 year old who had just recently become a Beatles fan and was buying their songs for his iPod.  I am sure this is what is happening all over this country. It will be interesting to see if iTunes sales of Beatles songs continues over the next year. My guess would be that they will.

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