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  • HOME | Savage Content

    Join us at Cincinnati Music Hall on 9.20.23 to experie nce All Without Words LIVE! A father discovers a symphony within his nonverbal autistic so n VIEW THE SITE CONTENT REIMAGINED Savage Content is reimagining the ways in which we present, enjoy, and consume music, educational, informational, and entertainment content 5 Songs That Have Been Covered to Death OUR PROJECTS ALL WITHOUT WORDS LIVE A FATHER DISCOVERS A SYMPHONY WITHIN HIS NONVERBAL AUTISTIC SON LEARN MORE JAZZOLOGY YOUR JAZZ TRIVIA SHOW LEARN MORE CHILDREN OF BRONZEVILLE A STORY ABOUT MUSIC, PASSION & JAZZ SEE MORE NO REGRETS: THE MUSIC & SPIRIT OF BILLIE HOLIDAY LEARN MORE YOUR NEW FAVORITE MUSIC BLOG 5 Songs That Have Been Covered to Death Words of Wisdom from Our Life Logs Story “Let It Be” Sleeper Hits: Songs That Became Popular Years Later READ MORE BLOG ENTRIES SHOP SAVAGE MERCH SHOP NOW

  • ALL WITHOUT WORDS LIVE | Savage Content

    ALL WITHOUT WORDS LIVE Savage Content is proud to produce the upcoming All Without Words Live event at Cincinnati Music Hall on September 20, 2023! Inspired by the struggles, triumphs, and humanity of his non-verbal autistic son, Justin Morell —a guitarist, composer, and music professor—interprets the recordings of his son’s spontaneous vocalizations to create a stunning array of compositions. Through his collaboration with Multiple Grammy Award-winning trumpeter, John Daversa , the orchestral jazz trumpet concerto All Without Words was born. This important project sparked the partnership between Boundless Arts Foundation and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) to create this special live filmed experience. LEARN MORE ABOUT THE STORY GET YOUR COMPLIMENTARY TICKETS The world of All Without Words does not end with the live symphony. Savage Content paired with selected artists on the autism spectrum who were commissioned to create paintings inspired by each song variation from the All Without Words program. Check out the series on our YouTube channel. ALL WITHOUT WORDS MUSIC VIDEOS MEET THE ARTISTS JUSTIN MORELL COMPOSER Justin Morell is a composer, guitarist, and music educator whose work crosses genres between classical and jazz styles. He is an associate professor of music composition and theory at Lebanon Valley College in Pennsylvania. Justin's multimedia work includes notable contributions to Steve n Spielberg's Catch Me If You Can , Lifetime Original Movies, TV sitcom The Naked Truth , and The Lion King-San Francisco production. “What began as a mission to celebrate neurodiversity became an opportunity for me to connect with my son and hear his voice in a way I had not before,” said Morell. “The music is born of intense emotion—sometimes painful and sometimes joyful—and of hope for a compassionate future where all people are loved and respected for their humanity.” John Daversa is a multi-Grammy winning, Emmynominated trumpet player, composer, arranger, producer, bandleader and educator. He is world renowned for his dynamic and emotive style of trumpet and EVI playing, along with imaginative, genre-bending compositions and arrangements. Daversa is Chair of Studio Music and Jazz at Frost School of Music, University of Miami, and an active educator. John Daversa is a Schilke Music Artist and a Burglund Artist. “The mission and music of All Without Words continues to touch us all on deeper and deeper levels. What a gift it is to ‘sing’ this beautiful narrative through the voice of the trumpet, as this is a human story of unconditional love, deep compassion told directly from the heart.” JOHN DAVERSA TRUMPET SOLOIST MILCHO DIRECTOR Milcho is a Miami-based multi–award winning director, video artist, speaker, and mental health advocate. For almost a decade, Milcho sat on the board of directors of the Florida Chapter of the Recording Academy/ Grammys, where she served as Governor, VP & President until terming out in 2022. She is currently the Director & Creative Director for Savage Content. “Having been involved with All Without Words from the recording stages of the album to the different multi-layered chapters of this heartwarming project, it’s a humbling honor to be given the opportunity to create this highly emotional, visually stimulating live concert experience. My goal is for all of us to ‘see’ the music, ‘be’ the music, and take those emotions with us after we leave Music Hall Daniel Wiley has quickly become a notable young conductor on the rise, having made guest appearances with the Denali Chamber Orchestra, Meridian Symphony, Equilibrium Ensemble (Italy), Windsor (Ontario) Symphony Orchestra, London (Ontario) Symphonia, and the University of North Florida Opera. Since the fall of 2022, Wiley has been the Assistant Conductor for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra & Pops, where he is responsible for conducting and covering a wide variety of concerts as well as working with the youth CSO orchestras. DANIEL WILEY CONDUCTOR

  • JAZZOLOGY | Savage Content

    THIS IS JAZZOLOGY Jazzology is a jazz trivia series presented by Savage Content where guests compete head-to-head testing their jazz knowledge. ​ Every episode, we invite two guests to compete against each other for a chance to win $100. The winner will return the following episode to compete again with a new contestant. The series allows viewers to not only learn fascinating facts from the world of jazz, but also experience a fun and friendly competition between two seasoned jazz enthusiasts. WATCH NOW ON YOUTUBE FOLLOW US ON INSTAGRAM PROVE YOUR JAZZ KNOWLEDGE AND WIN $100! SIGN UP TODAY Meet the host Jazzology is hosted by the esteemed jazz historian Willard Jenkins Jr., who is recognized and respected in the jazz community under his Open Sky Jazz banner. Jenkins has dedicated his career to the arts and the world of jazz. His many titles include artistic director, arts and music consultant, writer, producer, educator, broadcast journalist and now web series host. WILLARD JENKINS MEET YOUR HOST Willard Jenkins is a journalist, broadcaster, festivals & concerts artistic director, author, and originator of Jazzology, the bi-weekly jazz quiz show produced by Savage Content. He is a contributor to several books, including the highly acclaimed book DC Jazz (Georgetown University Press), and David Baker A Legacy in Music (Indiana University Press). He collaborated with NEA Jazz Master Randy Weston on his as-told-to autobiography African Rhythms (Duke University Press). He is editor of the forthcoming compilation of interviews Ain't But a Few of Us (Duke University Press). As an artistic director/curator he has produced concerts and festivals, including currently for the DC Jazz Festival, Tribeca Performing Arts Center, and formerly Tri-C JazzFest Cleveland among others. Willard Jenkins is the writer for the forthcoming, multi-part audio documentary series "No Regrets". His weekly radio show Ancient/Future Radio can be heard over WPFW in Washington, DC. SHOP JAZZOLOGY MERCH ENJOY FREE SHIPPING ON ALL ORDERS Quick View Jazzology Hat Price $22.00 Quick View Jazzology Tee Price $25.00

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  • 5 Songs That Have Been Covered to Death

    There are songs held up in such high regard that they become legends beyond the artist behind them. No matter who performs it, the feeling is still present, connecting with millions of people. These are music royalty, the tunes that can stand the test of time. There are some songs that cannot be replicated with the same feeling as the original artist. Then, there are others who take a classic song and bring a new shimmer to it. And artists who love the songs cover it. Again. Again. And again. Then one more time for good measure, just in case you forgot about the song in the last 10 minutes. These are songs that are great, but as a society, we’ve seen more than enough covers of them. We’ve covered them to death, and maybe it’s time to let the song lay to rest, or at least let the original speak for itself. These are the 5 that came to mind when I thought “What song needs to stop being covered?” What song comes to your mind? 1. “Wonderwall” – Oasis What would save me is if artists decided to stop covering this song. If someone pulls out an acoustic guitar, everyone in the room is inwardly groaning, hoping with everything they have that the guitarist won’t bust out “Wonderwall.” The cliched nature and basic chords make it popular among novice guitarists, meaning it’s been covered to hell. It’s become such a common song to cover that it’s become a meme with the catchphrase, “Anyway, here’s Wonderwall”, a universally understood phrase on the internet. The phrase became a popular way to caption photos of people with guitars and other string instruments on Tumblr. Even Oasis, the original creators of the song know it’s become something people are sick of. “It’s unclear exactly when ‘Wonderwall’ first became known as a cliché, such notoriety of the song was noted by the band's lead singer-songwriter Noel Gallagher in an interview for the June 2002 issue of the Guitarist magazine, in which he recalled running across a sign in front of a guitar shop in Manchester that forbade people from playing the song.” (Source) It's been covered by over 120 artists, and that’s just including the studio-recorded versions. If you factor in all the novice guitarists, it’s likely in the thousands. There may be some decent B-list artist’s versions out there of the somber track, but I think the original Oasis version is plenty. A few notable covers of “Wonderwall” include… One Direction (because of course I had to include this cover) Ryan Adams (the cover was praised highly by Oasis) Paul Anka (his swing cover was used as figure skater Paul Fentz's backing track during his 2018 Winter Olympics, which sparked the meme in the first place) Mike Flowers Pops (this is a funny take on it that I actually enjoy) Our Last Night (the rock band known for releasing dozens of covers a year) ...and 1 million acoustic guitarists by a campfire 2. “Creep” – Radiohead We get it. You’re a creeeeeeep. You’re a weeeeirdooooo (calm down, Jughead Jones). When “Creep” was released as a single in 1992, it didn’t gain much traction except on alternative rock stations. However, when it was reissued in 1993, it became a worldwide hit, falling into the popular category of alt-rock "slacker anthems" such as ''Smells Like Teen Spirit'' by Nirvana and ''Loser" by Beck. To this day, it's the band’s most successful single. “Creep” was also named one of the greatest debut singles and one of the greatest songs by Rolling Stone. Naturally, a song with that much popularity is going to lead to a lot of covers. You can listen to Radiohead’s original version here if you’d like to compare it to the covers below. (Sidenote: I can’t believe this music video has over 740 million views!) With over 200 noted covers and parodies (and likely more from the everyday person), “Creep” is one song that has been covered to death. This is an example of a song where the original cannot be beat in my opinion. People have tried and will likely continue to try to put their own unique spin on it, but there’s something magical and perfectly melancholy about the original that I don’t think can be perfectly replicated. Some artists that have covered “Creep” include Korn, Anberlin, Brandi Carlile, Ingrid Michaelson, Tears for Fears, and even the Glee Cast. The song itself has also become a meme, mostly jokes about edgy sad people. There’s also a lot of memes out there changing the words. Then there’s a subsection of the internet that makes edits of problematic or misunderstood people with the song (such as The Joker and a character from The Book of Life for some reason). For all these reasons, I think we’ve had enough covers of the song. Now, I know that I said that no cover could measure up to the original, but there are a few notable ones that I wanted to highlight that I think have something special… This old jukebox version of the song is an interesting one. There’s a scene in the Netflix show Lucifer where Lucifer covers “Creep Prince He covered the song in April 2008 at Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Apparently, he didn’t want the cover to be out in the world, however, because he ordered a bootleg recording of the performance to be taken down. It’s available online now, but Radiohead had to fight to get it put back, despite it being their copyright. The quality isn’t great, but you can watch it below. 3. “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” – The Rolling Stones “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” may be about not getting enough, but I think we have had enough of these covers. The Rolling Stones song was released in the US in June 1965 as a single. It was also featured on the American version of the Rolling Stones' fourth studio album, Out of Our Heads. In the UK, the song initially was played only on pirate radio stations, because its lyrics were considered too sexually suggestive, but it went on to later become the Rolling Stones' fourth number-one in the United Kingdom. Today, it’s considered one of the most popular songs. “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” has been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998 and ranked number 31 in the Rolling Stone magazine's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list in 2021. With that kind of notoriety, it’s no surprise it’s been covered so many times. There have been 375 listed covers of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” but as I’ve said in other entries on this list, there are likely many more from the average person. Many have tried over the years to replicate the same energy into the track or reimagine it in different musical genres. Some have succeeded, and others have missed the mark. This is one where I think we’ve seen enough covers over the last 55+ years. Over the years, artists who have covered this song include PJ Harvey and Björk, Jimi Hendrix, Jack White, Vanilla Ice, and most recently, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. While I really like the original, my second favorite version comes from the pop icon Britney Spears. Yes, you read that right. The Oops I Did It Again singer covered this iconic The Rolling Stones song, and it may surprise you, but it’s pretty great. Reimagining it as an R&B, dance-pop song with lyrics to fit Spears and her life at the time works well. But if you can’t bring something new to the track, I think you ought to leave it be. Covers of this song have run their course. Since it’s only fair I highlight some other covers that are notable, here are a few others… The Britney Spears version first because it’s great. Devo’s version because they’re such a unique group so they brought a cool spin to the track. Otis Redding’s version because his blues/soul take on it is a solid, upbeat cover worth nothing. 4. “Hallelujah” – Leonard Cohen Baby, we’ve been here before. Over 500 times, in fact. "Hallelujah" is a song most everyone has heard before. It was written by Canadian singer Leonard Cohen, and originally released on his album Various Positions in 1984. The song didn’t find much initial success but in 1991, John Cale released a new version of the song that found greater acclaim. Cale's version inspired a 1994 recording by Jeff Buckley that in 2004 was ranked number 259 on Rolling Stone's "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time." Even to reach its success, this song has been covered, and covered, and covered again. This is actually a song that I prefer a cover to the original. My personal favorite version of this song comes from Rufus Wainwright, whose version was in Shrek, one of my favorite childhood movies, so I have a personal connection to this one. Still, I think we’ve seen enough of this cover now. Over 500 times!! We’ve seen covers released from the likes of Bono, Justin Timberlake, Willie Nelson, Pentatonix, and Bon Jovi. It’s understandable why everyone would want to get their hands on this song because it is a beautifully written track. But the trouble is that we’ve seen so many covers and with so few bringing anything new to it, it’s getting stale. Let’s allow the great covers to keep being great and stop trying to bring new ones into the mix. Some notable covers I want to highlight… John Cale’s version (because he’s probably why the piano version became so popular) Rufus Wainwright’s version (obviously since it’s my favorite). Jeff Buckley (a version that somehow strips the emotional track down even more, making for an even more emotional time) Bon Jovi (he incorporated violins and backup singers to really elevate the track and feel like Cohen’s original) “Hallelujah” has the highest number of covers on this list so far, but it’s still not the highest… 5. “Yesterday” - The Beatles According to Guinness World Records, “Yesterday” holds the record for the most covered song ever written. There are so many covers, that it’s unclear what the true number is. Some sources say over 2,200 while others say more than 3,000. You find both numbers in the book of their song info here. One thing is absolutely for certain, however, and that’s that this song is very well-loved. Released in 1965 off their album Help! “Yesterday” features Paul McCartney's vocal and acoustic guitar, together with a string quartet. Different from their other tracks at the time, the song was essentially made for the first solo performance of the band. It took the world by storm, and became instantly popular, reaching number one in the US. The final recording was so different from other works by the Beatles that the band members vetoed the release of the song as a single in the United Kingdom, although other artists were quick to record versions of it for single release. The Beatles recording was issued as a single there in 1976 and peaked at number 8 (Source). In 1997, the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. If you need further evidence of how widely loved this song is, Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI) asserts that it was performed over seven million times in the 20th century (Source). “Yesterday” has been covered by many, many artists including Joan Baez, John Denver, Liberace, Frank Sinatra, En Vogue, Boyz II Men, and the Glee Cast. I mean, with over 2,000 versions out there, do I even need to further explain? This is the song from the list that has been covered not only to death but continues to get covered from its grave. We get it, World. You love The Beatles. You love “Yesterday.” I think we’ve heard enough. The band itself even acknowledged that it’s a simple song they don’t love like their other tracks. So, I think it’s time society hung the song up and pulled from the million other choices. With over 2,000 to choose from, some of the covers are bound to be notable. Here are a few covers that I think are worth shouting out… Elvis Presley’s version because his voice works so well for the song Marvin Gaye’s version because he puts his own spin on it which I really admire Billie Eilish’s version manages to bring new life into a song that’s nearly 60 years old Before I wrap up.. Honorable Mention: “My Way” – Frank Sinatra Composed by Jacques Revaux with lyrics by Gilles Thibaut and Claude Françoi, “My Way” became popularized by Frank Sinatra’s recording of it. With over 500 covers, it’s clear it’s been well-loved. But the reason I wanted to highlight it is that in some parts of the world, it’s taboo to cover the song. At one point, it was so popular to sing “My Way” at karaoke in The Philippines, it’s been said between 2002 and 2012, numerous people were killed for singing this song at karaoke (or commonly called videoke in The Philippines). Whether it’s because people are sick of hearing it or because the lyrics are inherently aggressive, I thought it fit this blog’s theme well. I may be sick of hearing covers of certain songs, but at least I’m not killing people over it. You can read more about the strange phenomena in my blog titled, “The Spooky History Behind Cursed Songs.” These are five/six songs that I think we’ve seen enough covers of. They’ve been covered to death, and maybe it’s time to let them rest. What do you think? Do you think it’s time the covers of these songs stop, or will you always be game for a “Wonderwall” cover? Let me know all your thoughts in the comments! If you’d like to share this with friends who love any of these songs, we’d really appreciate it. Thanks for reading! Written by Kristen Petronio

  • Words of Wisdom from Our Life Logs Story “Let It Be”

    This true-life story is a repost from our sister site, Our Life Logs® Read it on the site: Let It Be My life began in 1967 in Long Island, New York. My dad was always in my peripheral vision, but as a busy musician, he never really stayed long enough for me or my older sister to get to know him well until I was a teenager. I spent the majority of my childhood with my mother, who when I was 10, married my stepdad. I have two images of my stepdad. One is of a gorgeous, snowy day. It is of me spotting a glistening pine cone in a nearby tree, just out of reach right before my stepdad graciously lifted me so that I could grab it. I hear his laugh, and I hear my own. This memory still gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling. The other image is of watching him drunkenly burst through the front door after staying out all night. I see his fists collide with my mother’s cheek, leaving deep cuts and bruises that were sealed even beyond her skin. If my sister or I tried to stop him, he’d beat us too. Me, around 11 years old. Having these contrasting images gave me a confusing idea of what love was and what it felt like. My innocence started to erode and innate happiness began to disintegrate, lost in her screams and the chaos. From it all, I became swallowed by depression. Knowing what was happening at home made me draw into myself and stay in my head. I had a hard time seeing how things could change and get better. My only solace to stop the constant buzzing in my head was music. My biological dad and mom were gifted musicians, so I’m convinced that music has always run through my veins. At home, my mom would sit down to strum on her guitar. I have fond memories of visiting my dad in my uncle’s recording studio. I couldn’t place what it was, but being among the speakers and consoles full of hundreds of buttons, I thought to myself, there’s something really cool about this and I want to be a part of it. By the time I was 13, I was plucking on my own strings and writing songs. There were at least a dozen bands who inspired me, but no other band could hold a candle to the Beatles. My mom had always been a super fan of them and followed them across New York when she was young. I instantly understood why when I first heard their voices blended together under the smooth tunes of their instruments. It gave me hope that there was more to life and that things could be okay. A girl’s 13th birthday is supposed to be a happy time, a monumental milestone. Well, what did I get for my birthday, might you ask? Our house burned down! We were pretty sure that my younger half-brother lit the fire because, even as young as age four, he had an attraction to burning flames. Everyone made it out alive, but our home was charred beyond repair, and I was devastated. We couldn’t afford to find a new home right away, so we were forced to temporarily split up. My mom, stepdad, and brother stayed with another family, while my sister and I were sent to my mom’s best friend’s house, whom we affectionately called “Aunt Tiny.” And, to no one’s surprise, Aunt Tiny was tiny—but so was the spare room she bunked us in. We had lost most of our belongings in the fire (yes—even my beloved Yellow Submarine album was now a pile of ash), so space didn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. It could be worse. At least we were safe. Anyway, Aunt Tiny may have been small, but she had a booming voice that could echo through the house. Each morning she’d yell from her bed, “GET UP!” to get us up for school. This was a routine my sister and I got used to. On the morning of December 9, 1980, another comment followed her usual greeting. “GET UP,” she said. “GUESS WHO’S DEAD? JOHN LENNON!” I bolted upright and stared at my sister. She was carrying the same look as me, and in it, it said, how much worse can our lives get? That day on the bus ride to school, I watched the houses and strip malls drift by. The phrase “shot him in the head” played over and over in my head, a sickening rhythm. I pictured his head lolling back and his body colliding with the pavement while his wife Yoko Ono cried out. The images haunted me. I feared for the state of the world. His views on spirituality and unity changed everything for me. I noticed strewn copies of the morning paper along my path to school. Ghastly headlines rolled past me like tumbleweeds. Could life get any shittier? I decided to ditch school that day, and I went to one of the few places I could go: the library. At least there I could read the paper in peace and have time to process this loss. All the Beatles records had already been placed in the main display cabinet. Inside was a Beatles album I’d never seen in my mom’s collection. Let It Be, it read. My stomach flipped as I took it from the shelf and headed for the listening room. Amongst the microfilm machines and 70s A/V accouterments, several record players sat with giant headphones tethered to them. I placed the record on the turntable and put the headphones on. I took a deep breath and gently lowered the needle. I heard the guitar first, then the steady drums that bled into a soothing blend of John Lennon’s and Paul McCartney’s voices, and I was hypnotized. When the album finished I started it again, and again and again. And then, just the title track, over and over. When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me. As I listened each time, the clouds of despair parted a bit more and a glimmer of hope shone through. John Lennon may be gone, but his music was still alive, and in a way, that made him immortal. Things were going to be okay as long as I had music. The librarians must have seen me slip the record under my jacket, but they didn’t say a word. Perhaps they saw my deep grief and shabby clothing and thought it best to let it be. Back in my teenage years. We got a new house in Vermont and I stayed there until 10th grade. That’s when I began to feel suffocated by my “ordinary” life. I didn’t want to be in a classroom. I wanted to play music. It was all I cared about. I dropped out of school and bounced around New York, playing on the streets or in clubs when I could find a gig. I lived as a free-floating young adult with no direction or interest in getting her life together. But as it goes, I was falling into bad patterns, thinking love was getting treated like trash. I started seeing a drug dealer who didn’t respect me. I had no intentions of doing anything but music, like the Beatles lyric, I thought, nothing’s going to change my world—that is, until I got pregnant at 19. Receiving the news was like an electric shock to my heart. I couldn’t understand why this had to happen to me. Why it all had to happen to me. There will be an answer Let it be The song “Let It Be” began to replace the harsh pounding of my thoughts. Let it be I had been so reckless. And now, I was going to be responsible for someone else. Gone were the days of figuring it out later. Sitting with my stepdad sometime during my pregnancy. The day my son was born, his father was snorting cocaine in the parking lot. Call it primal instincts or call it common sense, I knew that I was going to have to do this alone. Having my son gave me the kick in the butt I needed. Within the first years of his life, I got my GED. It was my job to educate my son and raise him right, and to do that, I needed to be someone he could count on. Life as a single mom was tough, no doubt about that. Most of the time, we were broke because my only skills were music related which didn’t make me much money, but we got by. With my son. On the toughest days, I thought back to the day in the library, and then to the day I found out I was pregnant. There will be an answer Let It Be Life was hard, but it had been hard before. I was reminded that when I find myself in times of trouble, I have to let it be, and have faith that things would work out. And they did. When my son started first grade, I started working toward my bachelor’s degree. After I got my degree, I started a career as an advertising executive for a radio station, and I made good enough money for us to get everything we needed. I continued playing music whenever I could, but I focused on providing for my son. There’s still a light that shines on me After my son grew up and moved out, I quit my job and dove headfirst back into music and my aspirations. I realized that music has helped me draw from experiences my whole life. I started playing music full time until I went for a Master’s in Liberal Arts and created a CD of my own music as my thesis (along with a very long paper about it!). Maybe if I hadn’t had my son when I did, I’d live a different life, but there’s no use pondering because at the end of the day, we have to take the cards we’re handed, be grateful for the life we had, and just let it be. This is the story of Deena Chappell Deena now lives in Vermont and continues to play music. After seeing her mother get abused by her stepdad, Deena had a warped idea of love and her only solace was music. After her house burned down and John Lennon died, she fell deeper into depression until she listened to The Beatles album, Let It Be for the first time. From that moment on, she constantly looked back to that album and the title track to give her hope to keep moving forward and let things be as they are. Deena has been a musician/songwriter for 35 years and plays guitar, bass, mandolin, fiddle, and some piano. Her biggest inspirations (other than The Beatles) include The Rolling Stones and Billie Holiday. She has also pulled inspiration from genres like jazz, bluegrass, and rock. In her 40s, she went back for a second master’s in psychology after finding an interest in how people operate because of the emotional pull music has showed her. With her master’s in psychology, she is hoping to open up her own practice in the future. She is also looking forward to a mastery class she’s taking in New York soon for womanly arts, a class to teach the importance of women using pleasure to regain their power. In her darkest moments, she remembers to let it be and hope for the best. Deena, 2018. Writers: Kristen Petronio | Editor: Colleen Walker

  • Sleeper Hits: Songs That Became Popular Years Later

    When something in the entertainment industry, be it film, music, TV, or some other form of entertainment doesn’t fit success upon its initial release but becomes a success later in life, we call it a "sleeper hit." This is not to be confused with entertainment that develops a cult following years later. They sometimes overlap, but the media can be a sleeper hit without having a cult following. Sleeper hits are usually met with respect when they reach popularity years later because they often have a low budget and little to no marketing upon initial release. Yet despite this, they become vastly popular seemingly out of nowhere once the media finds its audience and their place on the charts years later. It’s so interesting to me when this happens because my first question is always, what changed? While there are plenty of sleeper hits to dig into when looking at film, since our blog is music-based, I’ll be focusing on music, of course! Looking at songs that gained traction years later, there isn’t one sole reason why it happens. Sometimes, as I said earlier, it finally reaches the audience it was meant for. Sometimes, it’s just one radio station, TV show, or movie using the song, turning others onto it when they may not have known the song before. Other times, it’s just luck. Or because of a meme. Because we are in a time now where if a song is used for a meme or a Tik Tok trend, it can be thrown back into the spotlight after falling into obscurity. Gary Trust, the senior director of charts at Billboard has said about songs hitting the charts years later, "In the digital era, it's much easier than ever before for music fans to be exposed to older songs that might've been overlooked the first time around” (Source). I’ve put together a list of songs that fall into the category of sleeper hits, but you’ll see that the reasons why they got popular (for the first time or again) can vary. Let’s take a look at these sleeper hits and go over what helped boost their popularity. “Running Up That Hill” – Kate Bush If you’re into the Netflix show Stranger Things, you know I had to include this one. When we’re talking sleeper hits, how did this song sleep for a long time?? 37 years to be exact. Released in 1985, there are few people today who haven’t heard “Running Up That Hill” at least once. This is thanks to Stranger Things. The show not only used Bush’s song but used it for one of the most pivotal scenes in the fourth season, making “Running Up That Hill” the show’s character Max’s favorite song that helps keep her grounded. Its use in the show was very powerful and fit the show’s setting, which is the 1980s. It’s thanks to the show’s usage of it that it found popularity nearly 40 years later, reaching number one, a feat it never reached upon its release. It made it to #3 in the UK, but never the #1 spot. It last appeared on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US, in January 1986, and originally peaked at #30. In 2022, it charted at #4, making it Bush’s first top 10 hit in the US. It has reached number one in other countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, and Switzerland, and made it to #1 on the Billboard Global 200. “Running Up That Hill” now holds the title in the UK for longest-running sleeper hit, a title formerly held in 2021 by Wham! for their Christmas song “Last Christmas” which hit number one 36 years after its release. Kate Bush (62) has also become the oldest female artist ever to score a UK number one. When interviewed, Bush said she’s been “overwhelmed by the scale of affection and support” for the song as she thanked fans for making the track number one. She also praised the creators of the popular horror drama for “bringing the song into so many people’s lives.” (Source). Thanks to the resurgence of “Running Up That Hill”, Kate Bush has also seen her other songs make it back onto the charts. While Bush had some popularity in the 80s, it was never to the scale that the use of her song in Stranger Things has brought to her. “Running Up That Hill” shows that a song is never too old to reach number one. "Africa"- Toto Okay, now before you come for me, I know this song was a big hit in its own right in the 1980s. I decided to cheat a little bit by putting it on this list because of the recent resurgence it had thanks to the 2019 Weezer cover album, which included a cover of Toto’s “Africa.” This song has always been a part of society, appearing for years in TV shows and movies, but the 2019 cover introduced a whole new generation to the song. Between 1982 and 1983, “Africa” was huge. In the US, it topped the main Billboard chart, and it reached number 3 in the UK. It has sold over 6 million copies in the US. The Weezer cover peaked at number 51 on the Billboard Hot 100 and this helped others return or discover the original. Since the resurgence, “Africa” has been certified eight times platinum. In 2021, it was listed at No. 452 on Rolling Stone's "Top 500 Best Songs of All Time," and for good reason! Interesting fact: In January 2019, a sound installation was set up in an undisclosed location in the Namib Desert to play the song on a constant loop. The installation is powered by solar batteries, allowing the song to be played indefinitely (Source). Two years later, the song reached 1 billion plays on Spotify. Thanks to covers, memes, and TV shows using the song, it remains a timeless classic. "Master of Puppets" – Metallica This one may seem surprising given how respected and loved this album is today, but believe it or not, it took a bit for their 1986 song “Master of Puppets” off the album of the same name to gain the massive popularity it has now. When Master of Puppets came out in July 1986, it only debuted at No. 128 on the Billboard album chart. That may sound lackluster, but it wasn’t like they weren’t selling records. In fact, it sold 300,000 copies in its first three weeks – according to Billboard. It wasn’t until they opened for Ozzy Osbourne on his tour that the album peaked at No. 29 thanks in part to tremendous exposure from it. Master of Puppets remained on the Billboard album chart for 72 weeks and by November 4, 1986, Metallica had their first gold record (Source). While this is one of the shorter sleeper hits, it’s still fascinating to think it didn’t find popularity in the charts until months later despite Metallica being very popular at the time among metalheads. The album was certified platinum in 1988 and it has maintained popularity over the years even as the band’s sound evolves. In 2003, the album went sextuple platinum. Most recently, it regained attention and popularity with the younger generation thanks to – once again! – Stranger Things. “Master of Puppets” was featured in the final episode of the fourth season where the character Eddie Munson plays the song as a distraction in the Upside Down. The song being featured in the finale helped it return to the charts in the US and UK for the first time since the song's original 1986 release. It reached #40 on the Billboard Hot 100 the same month the finale aired, and it even recently peaked at number four in the Netherlands. Metallica was thrilled with the show’s usage of the song and called the scene epic. The power of a popular TV show. “Truth Hurts” – Lizzo My mind was blown when I learned that Lizzo’s hit “Truth Hurts” was not a recent release. Despite making it big on the charts in 2019, the song actually came out in September 2017. At that time, it didn’t chart well. It wasn’t until the song was featured in the 2019 romantic comedy film Someone Great that it made waves. The song was released in 2019 and debuted at the number 50 position on the Billboard Hot 100. What also helped propel the song into the spotlight was the music video going viral. The video featured Lizzo in a "wedding-gone-wild" concept. “Truth Hurts” also became popular on Tik Tok, specifically for the lyric, “I just took a DNA test, turns out, I'm 100 percent that bitch” which was lip-synced or referenced in a number of Tik Toks. Thanks to all these things, by September 2019, the single had reached number one on the chart. The music video has been viewed over 290 million times as of August 2022. While it’s a combination of all these things, it could also be the time. Even though it was only a matter of two years, society has evolved and continues to evolve. According to Paper magazine's Michael Love Michael, Lizzo's sleeper hit can also be explained by a more inclusive pop culture since the song's original release: "Black women are more visible than ever on magazine covers; fashion is having broader conversations about size, racial, and ethnic diversity. Lizzo's presence in these spaces signals a future of greater inclusion” (Source). “Mr. Brightside” – The Killers This song has had people singing at the top of their lungs for the last 20 years. It’s one of those songs from the 2000s that has remained on the charts long after its release. You might be surprised to hear that when it was first released on September 29, 2003, it didn’t really chart. It didn’t hit any sort of popularity until it was re-released in 2004. That year, “Mr. Brightside” peaked at number 10 in both the United States and the United Kingdom and sold over 3.5 million copies, their best-selling song in the US. It is the longest-charting single on the UK Singles Chart Top 100, with 307 weeks (5 years, 10 months) on the chart as of March 2022. It’s also the most streamed track released prior to 2010. Some other fun facts/stats about the song: "Mr. Brightside" entered the Billboard Hot 100 at #40 on February 12, 2005, and peaked at No. 10 on June 11. In 2005, "Mr. Brightside" was the sixth most downloaded song on iTunes. It is one of the top fifteen most downloaded rock tracks ever in the United Kingdom. The Killers really blew up after “Mr. Brightside” and are now considered one of the essential bands when talking about indie rock/emo from the 2000s. Like with Lizzo, it seems that if at first, it doesn’t chart, try again with a re-release and it may hit the second go around. “Never Gonna Give You Up” – Rick Astley When Rick Astley released “Never Gonna Give You Up” in 1987, I’m sure he never dreamed that his song would someday be turned into a verb. Anyone who keeps up with internet trends and memes knows that this song has become its own meme. The term “rickrolled” is a term used in the world of memes to describe when a link is posted pretending to be something else, and when the person clicks on it, it redirects you to Astley’s music video for “Never Gonna Give You Up.” It was the ultimate prank in the 2000s. Much like “Africa”, Astley’s song “Never Gonna Give You Up” was pretty popular in the 80s. It was a worldwide number-one hit, initially in the United Kingdom in 1987, where it stayed at the top of the chart for five weeks and was the best-selling single of that year. It eventually topped the charts in 25 countries, including the United States and West Germany. The reason I wanted to include it here is because of how much the internet propelled it back into the spotlight. The music video saw a huge spike in views on YouTube thanks to the “rickroll” trend. Since being formally uploaded to YouTube (it’s assumed prior to that was fan-made creations for the initial redirects in the mid-2000s) on 24 October 2009, the video has received over 1.2 billion views and 14 million likes; it surpassed the 1 billion views milestone on 28 July 2021, 34 years and 1 day after the song was released (Source). Astley has taken the song’s rise to memedom with stride, usually playing into it. He appeared in the 2008 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, interrupting a song performed by those on a float promoting the Cartoon Network TV show Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends with a lipsynched performance of "Never Gonna Give You Up.” He also more recently remade part of his music video for a CSAA Insurance Group commercial in August 2022. He’s fortunate that so many people love the song, even if it’s to laugh at it. What’s not fortunate is that Rick Astley hasn’t received much money for the billion views his video has given YouTube. Give the man his money! For as long as the internet and meme culture breathe, they are never gonna give Astley up either. “Straight Outta Compton” – N.W.A. This N.W.A. song came onto the scene in 1988 with lots of love in the hip-hop scene, but little to none in the radio scene and charts. Much of their music saw little airplay since N.W.A was banned from many radio stations in the 1980s. Because of this, the song never made it to any top 40 charts. Until 2015, that is. In 2015, "Straight Outta Compton" debuted at number 38 on the Billboard Hot 100, and it was because of the recent release of the Straight Outta Compton movie created by the group. That week, it was the highest debut on the charts. 27 years later, N.W.A got their first top 40 hit song. This also happened 24 years after the group originally disbanded. Due to the radio restrictions at the time, this song never got to chart as it should have, so it’s great that they were finally able to achieve that thanks to their film. Media can make a huge difference when it comes to the popularity of songs. “What a Wonderful World” – Louis Armstrong We think of Louis Armstrong as a classic and legendary artist now, but Armstrong didn’t have that level of popularity at first. This is mostly because of his record company ABC Records. “What a Wonderful World” didn’t originally get much airplay in the US because Larry Newton, the owner of ABC Records, tried to intervene in its recording and refused to promote it upon release in 1968 (Source). It was a minor hit in smaller circles, reaching only #116 on the US chart in 1968. Despite this, in other countries, it saw great success, reaching #1 in the UK and parts of Europe. It took almost 20 years before Armstrong saw traction for the song in the US. In 1988, “What a Wonderful World” was used in the Robin Williams film Good Morning Vietnam, and it was from that usage that it became a classic. In 1988, “What a Wonderful World” hit number 32, and over time it became an essential staple in radio formats. Since its 1980s resurgence, it has been rerecorded by many artists. Sadly, Louis Armstrong didn’t live to experience the success of his song because he died in 1971. The US might have taken a while to find merit in “What a Wonderful World” but today, it’s considered a classic, and it may never have gotten there if not for its inclusion in Good Morning Vietnam. What’s so interesting about this topic is that there are so many songs that can fit into this category. There are so many songs that found their audience and popularity beyond their initial release. If you’d like to see part 2 of this post, let me know! There are absolutely enough examples out there to create one. Keep an eye out for a post in the future on songs made popular thanks to memes because that’s definitely a listicle I want to put together. Thanks for reading, and I hope you liked this list. Until next time! Written by Kristen Petronio

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