Thursday, January 8, 2015

The First Mix Tape of the Year: 15 No. 15 Hits for 2015

Last year I had so much fun compiling a 2014 soundtrack of No. 14 hits I've decided to do it again for 2015, moving down one notch. It was considerably more challenging this time around than it was one year ago. I don't have any data to back-up my theory that No. 15 peakers are relatively rare in comparison to songs that top out at other Top 20 Billboard Hot 100 positions, but aside from the Sylvia hit, which came to mind almost instantly, I had to look up all of the others.

Here's to little 15 -- not the Depeche Mode Music for the Masses single, but the number, the chart peak and the year.

"Alfie" Dionne Warwick (1967) Doesn't this seem like it should have been a much bigger hit?

"Words" Bee Gees (1968) Do you think anyone at the time had any idea what a difference less than 10 years would make?

"Give It Up or Turnit a Loose" James Brown (1968) No, not the original version of the almost identically titled No. 15 En Vogue hit (bonus cut) from 24 years later, but an entirely different song.

"Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine (Part 1)" James Brown (1970) Here's the thing: For the most part, Brown wrote jams rather than songs, and when he found a groove that worked, boy did he stick with it. Classic as this one was, by this point in his career, his song titles were probably more original than the actual songs.

"Hot Pants Pt. 1 (She Got to Use What She Got to Get What She Wants)" (1971) That was three No. 15s for The Godfather of Soul in just four years, but my faith in my theory about the rarity of No. 15 hits remains unwavering. Neither Elton John nor Stevie Wonder nor Aretha Franklin nor Madonna nor Michael Jackson nor Diana Ross (with or without The Supremes) nor Paul McCartney (with or without The Beatles) nor Chicago (a band with three No. 14s), to name a number of random iconic acts with a boatload of Top 40 hits, ever had one that peaked at No. 15 on Billboard's Hot 100.

"I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do" ABBA (1975) A great classic in retrospect, but how unhip this must have sounded at the time.

"SOS" ABBA (1975) With a second consecutive No. 15, ABBA made scoring No. 15 hits look a lot easier than it was, too, but maybe a handful of acts just hogged the number. Five artists are responsible for all but four of the No. 15 hits on this 2015 soundtrack.

"Deja Vu" Dionne Warwick (1979) She's never really been officially known as the Queen of anything, but for a long while there, Dionne was the queen of class.

"Nobody" Sylvia (1982) It's the kind of song I'd probably hate if I were hearing it for the first time in 2015. It's the kind of song that Taylor Swift would have written and sung had she been around back then. It's the kind of song that I couldn't get enough of in 1982.

"Hold On" Santana (1982) I was too young to remember the initial chart runs of The Moody Blues, The Kinks and Santana, so gracias a Dios for the early '80s Top 40 chart revivals of those bands.

"Cuts Like a Knife" Bryan Adams (1983) If Bryan hadn't become so mired in overblown balladry during the latter part of his "star" period, tarnishing his rock & roll legacy, I wonder if maybe he, and not Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, would be getting into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015.

"Dynamite" Jermaine Jackson (1984) Like "Let's Get Serious" and "Let Me Tickle Your Fancy," as good as anything his baby brother was doing that decade.

"One of the Living" Tina Turner (1985) Does anyone other than me remember the second hit single from the film Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, in which Tina costarred as Aunty Entity? Rihanna would probably be laughed out of the industry if she made a movie move like that today, but the music that came out of it was undeniable. I even bought this 45 vinyl single!

"It's Only Love" Bryan Adams and Tina Turner (1986) Another Tina Turner No. 15 from Bryan's career-changing Reckless album. That no one seemed to give a second thought to the 20-year age difference between the two performers (She was 46; he was 26) is a testament to Tina's immense and ageless sex appeal.

"The Best" Tina Turner (1989) Tina's third No. 15 hit and despite its relatively lowly peak, maybe even more of a signature song than "What's Love Got to Do with It," her lone No. 1, from five years earlier.

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