Want to play guitar like Brian May of Queen?

Want to play guitar like Brian May of Queen?

We won’t stop you now. With the Brian May Player Study from Fret Zealot, you can learn May’s trademark style, including his use of vibrato, flowing lead, and behind the beat playing. 

Brian May Player Study

Background

May co-founded Queen along with Freddie Mercury and drummer Roger Taylor in 1970. He had previously played with Taylor in a band called “Smile” while they were in college. Queen went on to become one of the biggest rock bands in the world with songs penned by May, including “We Will Rock You”, “I Want It All”, and “Fat-Bottomed Girls”. Following Mercury’s death in 1991, May continued to perform, both with Queen and on solo projects. American Idol finalist Adam Lambert has taken on the mantle of lead singer for the group since 2011.

"File:QueenALAC2.jpg" by Vivien Kozma is marked with CC0 1.0.

 

Style 

Brian May is widely regarded as a guitar virtuoso. He was ranked #26 on Rolling Stone’s 2011 list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. Most of his guitar work, both live and in the studio, is done on a guitar he built with his electronics engineer father at age 16. The guitar, called the “Red Special” was made out of wood from an 18th century fireplace, as well as items like buttons, shelf edging, and motorcycle valve springs. He also prefers to use coins to strum, rather than picks. May creates multi-part harmonies in his guitar compositions and uses styles like sweep picking, tremolo, tapping, and slide guitar. He creates unique sounds on the guitar, imitating an orchestra, trombone, piccola, and chimes. Queen used to use a sleeve note on their early albums to let listeners know that no synthesizers were used – it was all guitar. 

 

Academic career

May is not only a star in the music world – he also is a certified star expert. He earned his Ph.D in astrophysics from Imperial College London in 2007. He held the position of chancellor with Liverpool John Moores University from 2008 to 2013 and was a science team collaborator with NASA’s New Horizons Pluto mission. He’s one of the co-founders of Asteroid Day, and has the asteroid 52665 Brianmay named after him. 

 

When you tap into Brian May’s signature style with the player study course, you can also learn multiple Queen songs with lessons from Fret Zealot.

Don’t Stop Me Now

Don’t Stop Me Now didn’t chart very high when it was released as a single in 1979, but time has been very kind to it. The song has become more popular over the years thanks to consistent airplay, use in TV shows, ads, and movies, and through cover versions.

We Will Rock You 

A favorite song for sporting events, “We Will Rock You” is usually followed by “We Are the Champions”. They were the last two songs Queen performed at Live Aid in 1985. The song is nearly completely a cappella except for a 30 second solo by May toward the end. The “stamping” effects were made by the band overdubbing the noise of themselves stomping and clapping, and adding delay to make it sound like there were many people participating. 

Crazy Little Thing Called Love 

A song written by Freddie Mercury as a tribute to his musical inspirations, Elvis Presley and Sir Cliff Richard, Mercury said he wrote “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” in five to ten minutes. “I did that on the guitar, which I can’t play for nuts, and in one way it was quite a good thing because I was restricted, knowing only a few chords,” he told Melody Maker magazine in 1981. “It’s a good discipline because I simply had to write within a small framework. I couldn’t work through too many chords and because of that restriction I wrote a good song, I think.”

Bohemian Rhapsody

One of Queen’s biggest songs, Bohemian Rhapsody is a six minute “mock opera”, a combination of three songs Mercury wrote. It has no refraining chorus and multiple “sections”, similar to a suite of classical music or a piece of opera. It was recorded at five different studios over August – September 1975, and the recording technology at the time required them to bounce the tracks over eight generations of 24-track tape – they needed almost 200 tracks for overdubs.

Read more: 

REVIEW: Epiphone Slash “AFD” Les Paul Special-II

Songs of the Summer through the years

Songs that became popular – again – through movies and TV

Ten classic sports arena anthems

Sporting events just wouldn’t be as fun without great soundtracks. Whether at the ballpark, a football stadium, a hockey arena, or a basketball game, there are some songs that are guaranteed to get fans out of their seats and cheering along.

Here is a partial list of some of the biggest stadium anthems:

“The Final Countdown” – Europe

Swedish band Europe’s arena anthem “The Final Countdown” was originally supposed to be just a concert opener. Lead singer Joey Tempest wrote the keyboard riff it was based on years before the song was released, and the lyrics were inspired by David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”.

“We Will Rock You” – Queen 

“We Will Rock You” is almost fully a cappella, except for Brian May’s guitar solo. The percussive “stomp stomp clap” effect makes it easy for sports fans to join in with the beat. For the studio version of the song, the stamping effects were created by the band’s stomping and clapping, overdubbed and with delay effects added, to make it sound like many people were stomping and clapping along.

“Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne 

Osbourne’s debut solo single features an iconic riff and a call to action “All aboard!” that makes it a popular walk-out song for many sports teams. The lyrics are notably dark for a stadium anthem – they refer to the Cold War and the anxiety about annihilation that was prevalent at the time the song was released.

“Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns ‘n Roses 

With an iconic guitar riff (courtesy of Slash), this song doubles as a stadium anthem and an intimidating message to the opposing team. According to Stephen Davis’s ‘Watch You Bleed: The Saga of Guns N’ Roses’, Axl Rose said the lyrics were inspired from an encounter he had as an 18-year-old hitchhiker coming to New York, during which a man told him “Do you know where you are? You’re in the jungle, baby!”

“Whoomp! (There It Is)” – Tag Team 

‘90s rap duo Tag Team created a stadium smash when they released “Whoomp! (There It Is)” in 1993. A similar song, “Whoot There it Is” was released a month before by Miami’s 95 South – according to a Chicago Tribune article at the time, the phrase “Whoot/Whoomp there it is” was a popular expression among dancers at nightclubs in Miami and Atlanta, where both groups frequented. 

“Thunderstruck” by AC/DC

The instantly recognizable riff that starts “Thunderstruck” is certain to turn up the “high voltage” at sports events. The name “Thunderstruck” comes from a childhood toy of the Young brothers. In the liner notes of The Razor’s Edge 2003 re-release, Angus Young said that they were searching for a name for the song when they came up with the “thunder” motif, based on their childhood toy Thunderstreak. “It seemed to have a good ring to it. AC/DC = Power. That’s the basic idea,” he wrote.

“Song 2” – Blur

According to Blur founding member Graham Coxon, “Song 2” started out as a joke on the band’s record label – but the label executives actually liked it. It was originally called “Song 2” as a working title since it was song two on the tracklist, but the name stuck.

“Seven Nation Army” – White Stripes 

“Seven Nation Army”’s instrumental chorus has made it a favorite sports anthem across the world – from soccer matches in Italy to NFL games in the states. It often appears in audience chants, where the crowd sings the riff on the sound “oh”, or inserts the name of a player. It was the theme song for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

“Enter Sandman” – Metallica

“Enter Sandman” was one of the first songs written for Metallica’s eponymous fifth album (released in 1991), and the last to have lyrics. Mariano Rivera, who played for the New York Yankees for 19 seasons, started using “Enter Sandman” as his walk-up song in 1999. Rivera – who sometimes goes by the nickname “Sandman”, used it for 15 seasons and had a 89.7 save percentage in that time.

“Run the World (Girls)” Beyonce

In 2014, then- 13-year-old Mo’ne Davis made history by tossing a full-game shutout in the Little League World Series’ Mid-Atlantic Regional final, leading the Taney Dragons to victory. She used Beyone’s 2011 song “Run the World” as a walk-out anthem. French skater Maé-Bérénice Méité competed at the 2018 Olympics to a medley of Beyonce’s songs, including “Run the World”. The song was also used as the anthem for Great Britain’s women’s soccer match against Brazil in the 2012 London Olympics.

Are there any songs you think belong on this list? Let us know in the comments! 

Want to play guitar like Angus Young of AC/DC?

Want to play guitar like Angus Young of AC/DC?

You’ll be “thunderstruck” at how you pick up the groove of Young’s signature playing style with our Angus Young player study course, including his vibrato style, bending, and rhythms.

Background

Angus Young was born in Scotland in 1955, the youngest of eight siblings. Music ran in the family, with most of the children playing at least one instrument. Angus picked up the guitar at five or six, with one lesson from his brother Alexander, and then taught himself. The family immigrated to Australia in 1963, and Angus practiced playing “guitar” on a banjo restrung with six strings. He was eighteen when he, along with his brother, Malcolm, and Colin Burgess, Larry Van Kriedt and Dave Evans formed AC/DC in 1973. Young tried a variety of stage costumes, including Zorro and Spiderman, before settling on his signature schoolboy outfit, which his sister suggested. His playing and stage antics helped make AC/DC one of the most successful hard rock bands in the world. He is the sole constant original member of the group. 

 

Guitars 

Young bought his first Gibson SG second-hand around 1970, and he’s been playing them in various forms throughout his career. He has used a modified version of the SG called the Jaydee SG, made specifically for him by Jaydee Guitars. At least two of his SGs featured on-board wireless going into the amplifier, with the circuitry in a hole in the back of the guitar body. This practice was stopped due to the possibility of electrical shorts (from sweat). Young designed an Angus Young SG with Gibson, featuring a pickup designed by Young and lightning bolt inlays on the neck. 

Style

"Angus Young, Barcelona Spain, 2009" by Edvill is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Angus Young has said that his musical influences include his brother Malcolm, Chuck Berry, Freddie King, and Muddy Waters. His style is influenced by the blues – major and minor 12-bar blues progressions. AC/DC is often criticized for having songs that are simple, but Young told the Atlanta Gazette in 1979, “It’s just rock and roll. A lot of times we get criticized for it. A lot of music papers come out with: ‘When are they going to stop playing these three chords?’ If you believe you shouldn’t play just three chords it’s pretty silly on their part. To us, the simpler a song is, the better, ’cause it’s more in line with what the person on the street is.”

When you start to channel Young’s signature style with the player study course, there are lots of high-voltage AC/DC song lessons on the Fret Zealot app to learn. 

Back in Black 

With an unmistakable opening riff, “Back in Black” was written in honor of AC/DC’s former singer Bon Scott who died in 1980.

Hells Bells

This song begins with the tolling of a bell – an actual, 2,000 lb. bronze bell made by John Taylor & Co. Bellfounders in England. The bell sound was recorded in a mobile studio inside of the bell foundry after the tracking sessions for “Back in Black” were complete.

Thunderstuck

 

One of AC/DC’s most recognizable songs gets its name from a childhood toy of the Young brothers. In the liner notes of The Razor’s Edge 2003 re-release, Young said that they were searching for a name for the song when they came up with the “thunder” motif, based on their childhood toy Thunderstreak. “It seemed to have a good ring to it. AC/DC = Power. That’s the basic idea,” he wrote.

Highway to Hell

“Highway to Hell” is about the exhausting nature of constant touring, which Angus Young referred to as the “Highway to Hell”. Australia’s Canning Highway also was part of the song’s namesake.

Read more: 

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Songs of the Summer through the years

Songs that became popular – again – through movies and TV

Talking guitar with Jake from At The Helm

Buffalo, NY-based band At The Helm has been making music together for years. Now, they’re teaming up with Fret Zealot to teach their music to you. Jake Hassler, who plays electric guitar for the band, sat down with Fret Zealot to talk about the band, their upcoming new album, and all things guitar. 

 

Q.) Tell me about At The Helm. 

A.) I don’t necessarily like a bunch of labels. It’s rock and roll that everyone can get into. We touch on a lot of genres. Nowadays, that’s the only way to do it. I feel like it’s not really an era to box yourself in anymore. We were working on a song yesterday with a dance type of vibe and then we have some dark stuff. There are a lot of punk aspects to what we do. We have an acoustic guitar and an electric guitar, bass drums, and a great vocalist. Pretty much whatever we can make with all those things is what we stick to. 

Q.) Do you write your own music?

A.) Yeah, mostly. We do covers for fun, and people really love to hear something they know. We do the best we can to get our music in their heads. The goal is to write music and have people listen to it and like it, buy it, come to shows. 

 

Q.) What are your songwriting inspirations? 

A.) Our writing process is very collaborative. Gus is our other guitar player, he plays acoustic. He usually comes up with the main structure of the song, an idea and a rhythm in mind. He’s been doing this for a really long time, he knows what sounds good. Gus comes up with a structure, keeps it kind of loose at first, and then we see where it goes all together. 

 

Rob (drums) wrote the first part of the guitar solo in Broken Words. That was his idea! I took that. 

 

That’s how we work, someone might have an idea of what to do with the drums. 

 

Mike is our vocalist. He has a lot of ideas for guitar harmonies. He came up with the guitar harmonies in “Broken Words”.  We have ideas, mash them all together, answer trying to be in service of the song. Mike hears harmonies, he’ll suggest those things, and  he has a big input on the lyrics. 

 

Mario is an amazing bass player who has been around for a long time. He really helps everything move along and keeps everyone together. He’s definitely the glue. 

Q.) How long have you been together as a band?

A.) We’ve had a bunch of incarnations of the band and lineup changes.  Since Mike came into the picture, we’ve been together for three or four years. Me, Mario, Gus and Rob have been together for a while longer. It took us some time to find Mike and get him in. When he’s playing with us, something happens, it all comes together 

Q.) Have you been on tour as a band?

A.) We have not gone on tour. We all have jobs and families – the easiest thing to do right now with everyone’s situation is to play regionally. 

 

Q.) And you’ve been live streaming some of the tracking for your new album on Twitch?

A.) Gus has been streaming the live tracking of what will be our next album. Gus has all the equipment, the experience, he knows what he’s looking to hear so we’re ready to try it ourselves. 

 

Q.) When is the new album coming out?

A.) There’s no estimated release date for the album. We have most of them pretty much down, there’s a lot of recording/mastering left to be done so we can’t say an actual date. Hopefully by the end of the year. 

 

Q.) What is the feel of the new album?

A.) It’s different, not the same as we did before. There are a lot of new genres of music we touch on this time around that we didn’t so much on the last album. The sounds will be more consistent. We had a bunch of types of music happening on the first album, and now it’s just going to open up wider. Another step into the journey of what we’re doing here. 

 

Q.) How long have you been playing guitar?

A.) I’ve been playing guitar since I was 13. I’m 35 now, so 22 years. 

 

Q.) What got you into it?

A.) When I was younger I was always into it when I saw someone playing. I remember when I was six  years old, my dad bought me this jazz acoustic guitar. My brother got mad at me and smashed it. Then he got into guitar when he was 16 and I was 12, and it got me back into  it. I really think I always knew I liked it, but at that time it was about being like my brother. I was into metal –  Metallica and System of Down, rock and roll. That was the initial thing – metal guitar solos and stuff like that. I had an acoustic for the longest time and my dad bought me an electric like a year later and it’s stuck with me ever since. 

 

Q,) Did you take any guitar lessons?

A.) I took lessons in the back of guitar magazines, looked up tabs online, some online guitar lessons but not interactive – like Truefire stuff – to kind of learn about theory. That’s what I’m working on now.  I never touched on theory my whole life and now I’m learning how valuable it is and what a good tool it can be. 

I did take lessons from a guy here in Buffalo but I just wanted to learn to sweep pick, so I had like ten lessons with him and he showed me each chord throughout the whole scale.

 

You think (learning theory) is going to make guitar seem like work, so I totally understand not wanting to do it, but once you learn enough about it, music theory is just an invaluable thing to know. It’s a great tool. 

 

Q.) What do you think of the Fret Zealot system?

A.) It looks really cool! It’s kind of impressive that it doesn’t hinder your playing at all. 

 

Q.) What made you want to stick with music?

A.) I didn’t really have much else I was good at when I was a kid and this was something I could be good at. I figured out I could be good at it. And that gave me confidence. It also looks really cool. 

 

It’s really satisfying learning anything and getting good at it. I think that’s a huge part of being happy in life. I always wanted it to be my thing, and I was like “I’m going to work at this until it is”.  Luckily, here we are. It’s a great thing if you’re a shy kid like I was – kind of socially awkward, didn’t really play sports. Then you get good at it and someone sees you play and is like “whoa”, and you’re just thinking “it’s really not that hard, man”. It’s something that happened very early. It’s always been around. 

 

I have a real issue with buying gear and guitars. I always tell my wife, some guys are into cars, I’m into guitars. I like gear. I just kind of fell into it but it’s super reading for anyone who gets into it and has the discipline to stick with it. It’s a really rewarding thing to be involved with. Hard work pays off and this is a perfect example.  If you practice practice practice you can do whatever you want with the guitar. 

 

Q.) What advice do you have for someone who wants to learn guitar?

A.) Take a song you really like and learn it – or don’t. You need to be really into the music to stick with it. I wouldn’t pick anything difficult. I think one of the reasons I stuck with it was I thought System of a Down was the coolest thing. The songs are hard enough that they challenge you, but they’re easy enough that it’s not an insurmountable difficulty. When you learn the song and you do it, and you play along – that’s what I used to do, crank up the music and guitar and see if I could get it to lock in – whenever that would happen, I would keep playing it until it happened, and when it did, it’s super rewarding. You’ll stick with it then. 

 

Check out “Broken Words (Won’t Heal the World)” on Fret Zealot here! 

You can listen to At The Helm on Spotify, and follow them on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

REVIEW: Epiphone Slash “AFD” Les Paul Special-II

Shane tried out the Epiphone Slash “AFD” Les Paul Special-II, available from the Fret Zealot store with the Fret Zealot system installed.

Here’s what he thought:

AFD – that means “appetite for destruction”. Are you hungry?

I am, for this sweet guitar. This is the Slash Signature model from Epiphone.

It stands out. We’ve got some really excellent premium features including the white binding around the body. It’s pretty hard to ignore but we’ve got a really interesting color scheme with this butterscotch, flame maple top. It’s a really high-quality looking piece and then we have a really interesting contrast with the cherry red on the back and you see that on the back of the neck as well.

In terms of the electronics, this guitar has some really nice ceramic pickups and modern humbuckers by Epiphone. For control you have your volume and your three-way selector that gives you treble, rhythm and both. Tone knobs, classic Epiphone bridge, hard tail style, and this one is a bolt-on neck. Really nice tones coming out of this instrument, I find it easy to channel some classic rock and blues sounds, some sounds you’d associate with the man himself (Slash).

It’s got some really cool personalization – the Slash top hat insignia on the neck, rosewood fretboard, and jumbo frets. They definitely feel substantial to play with and they won’t wear down as fast because they’re jumbo.

When I took this guitar out, one thing in particular caught my eye. That’s right, it has a built-in tuner in the pickup. At first, I was confused but then I realized what it was. I’m really interested in this feature, I would like to see more guitars with it. I find it really useful. It’s a nice tuner, it seems to be built right into the pickup. There’s actually a battery compartment in the back, it takes a small watch battery.

Throughout the guitar, you get a lot of Slash personality, a lot of classic rock vibes, but this guitar doesn’t overly saturate you with the artist model. It gives you enough room to kind of bring out your own personality. The pickups are a zebra style, which is a really iconic look and even the knobs are top-hat style.

All around, a super fun guitar, super snappy and responsive to play. I find the tones really clear, the pickups respond great to distortion but also clean up incredibly well. It’s a versatile instrument. I think this would go anywhere from jazz to hard rock. I had fun tuning it to drop D to play some heavier riffs. It’s a great guitar for someone looking for a higher-end Epiphone in the beginner line. This guitar comes in a performance pack with an amp and the outfit pack. They both have the same guitar, but the other items in the pack are different. You can check them out on our website.

When you buy it on the Fret Zealot website, it comes with the Fret Zealot LED system, you can set it up with this guitar and start exploring the Slash songs on the app. That’s how I learned how to play the riff for “Sweet Child of Mine”, I actually didn’t know how to play it before.

You can check out the Fret Zealot Slash player study here! 

Songs of the Summer through the years

Here in the U.S., the warmer months are marked by a “Song of the Summer” – an inescapable hit that’s heard over radio airwaves, on restaurant patios, and at parties and barbecues. 

You can try to escape the Song of the Summer, but it’s likely that you’ll know at least some of the lyrics by the time Labor Day rolls around! 

Here are some of the top Songs of the Summer from years past. Which are your favorites?

2021:  — Olivia Rodrigo “Good 4 U”

This track off of singer/songwriter (and former Disney star) Olivia Rodrigo’s debut album was streamed on Spotify more than 600 million times globally in summer 2021, making it the de facto song of the summer. Hayley Williams and Josh Farro of Paramore were given co-writing credits after the fact due to the song’s similarity to Paramore’s 2007 song “Misery Business”.

 

2019:  Lil Nas X Featuring Billy Ray Cyrus — “Old Town Road

Rapper Lil Nas X’s debut single entered the Billboard charts in March 2019 after going viral on TikTok. A remix with country singer Billy Ray Cyrus was released in April of that year. The song also made it to No. 19 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart before being disqualified, sparking a debate about what country music is. Lil Nas X had purchased the beat from Dutch producer YoungKio for $30, and it sampled Nine Inch Nails “34 Ghosts IV”. NIN’s Trent Reznor granted clearance to use the beat shortly after the song started gaining popularity.



2017: Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, featuring Justin Bieber – “Despacito (Remix)”

The remixed version of Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito” was the first primarily-Spanish song to be at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 since “Macarena” in 1996. The song has been credited by music journalists for helping bring Spanish-language pop music back to the mainstream market. English musician Ed Sheeran told Billboard Argentina in June 2017 that he wanted to do a remix of the song, but lost out to Justin Bieber.



2016: Drake Featuring WizKid & Kyla – “One Dance”

Drake’s dancehall anthem, a style departure for the rapper, spent a whopping nine weeks in the number one spot. It was the first song to ever reach over one billion streams on Spotify, and was the platform’s most-streamed song until Ed Sheeran’s “The Shape of You” in Sept. 2017. Drake tapped English artist Kyla and Nigerian musician WizKid to appear on the song. It was produced in just one week and quickly released in April 2016 – since another dancehall-inspired Drake song, “Controlla (ft. Popcaan)” was leaked earlier that year.



2012: Carly Rae Jepsen – “Call Me Maybe”

“Call Me Maybe” introduced the world to Canadian singer-songwriter Carly Rae Jepsen – and it was brought into the mainstream thanks to a tweet from fellow Canadian Justin Bieber. Jepsen, who won third place on the fifth season of “Canadian Idol”, told AOL Music in 2012 that she saw almost overnight stardom when the pop star and his then-girlfriend Selena Gomez tweeted their appreciation of the song after hearing it on a Canadian radio station. Jepsen was signed to Bieber’s record label shortly after. “Call Me Maybe” was on the top of the charts for nine weeks that summer. 



2009 :  Black Eyed Peas – “I Gotta Feeling”

The Black Eyed Peas dominated summer 2009. Their track “Boom Boom Pow” spent five weeks in the top spot, followed by “I Gotta Feeling”. The David Guetta-produced song was a staple at parties, clubs, and airwaves all summer, spending nine weeks on top of the charts. Group leader will.i.am told Marie Claire in May of that year, “It’s dedicated to all the party people out there in the world that want to go out and party. Mostly every song on the Black Eyed Peas record is painting a picture of our party life.”

 



2007: Rihanna Featuring Jay-Z – “Umbrella”

One of Rihanna’s biggest songs ever, “Umbrella” could have been a Britney Spears song. The songwriters had the pop princess in mind when they wrote the track, but her label rejected it. They also pitched it to English singer-songwriter Taio Cruz and American R&B legend Mary J. Blige. The track was a huge hit for Rihanna and spent seven weeks in the top spot. It also had the biggest debut on iTunes at the time, breaking the record held by “Hips Don’t Lie”.



2006: Nelly Furtado Featuring Timbaland- “Promiscuous”

“Promiscuous”, which included a “back and forth” feature from rapper/record producer Timbaland, was Nelly Furtado’s first number one hit in the U.S. Furtado and co writer Timothy “Attitude” Clayton nicknamed the track “The BlackBerry song” since the lyrics were all phrases that could be text messages. “Promiscuous” spent six weeks at the top spot on the charts starting in July 2006.

2003: Beyoncé Featuring Jay-Z – “Crazy In Love”

Producer/songwriter Rich Harrison penned the lyrics for this huge smash off of Beyonce’s debut album in just two hours (while dealing with a hangover). Beyonce wrote the bridge (also the title of the song), and her future husband, Jay-Z, improvised his rap verse in about ten minutes. The song spent eight weeks at the top spot that summer.

2001: Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mya & Pink – “Lady Marmalade”

These four performers teamed up on a revamped version of Labelle’s 1974 song for the Moulin Rouge soundtrack. It held the No. 1 spot for five weeks and was the third airplay-only song in the chart’s history to hit No. 1 without being released in a major, commercially available format.



1998: Brandy & Monica – “The Boy Is Mine”

R&B singers Brandy and Monica teamed up for this chart-smashing track, which was inspired by Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney’s 1982 song “The Girl is Mine”. It was the top-selling song in the U.S. in 1998 and became only the second song in the chart’s history to jump straight to No. 1 from below the Top 20. The Beatles were the only other artists to do this, when “Can’t Buy Me Love” jumped to No. 1 from No. 27.



1994: All-4-One – “I Swear”

Country singer John Michael Montgomery had a country hit with this song in 1993 – and when R&B boy band All-4-One put their spin on it, it became a certified smash, staying 11 total weeks in the number one spot.



1991: Bryan Adams – “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You”

The lead single for the movie Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was Canadian singer-songwriter Bryan Adams’ most successful song. It made the number one spot on charts in at least 19 countries, and spent six weeks at the top of the charts in the U.S.

1990: Mariah Carey – “Vision Of Love”

“Vision of Love” introduced the world to singer-songwriter Mariah Carey – and her iconic “whistle” register. Carey started writing songs in high school. She wrote an early version of “Vision” with drummer/songwriter Ben Margulies, then called ““Here We Go Around Again”, for Carey’s demo tape. The track was revamped and recorded once she signed with Sony, and the result spent four weeks at the top of the charts.



1986: Madonna – “Papa Don’t Preach” 

Madonna is no stranger to controversy, and the second single from her 1986 album True Blue stirred up plenty. The lyrics – inspired by the teenage gossip that songwriter Brian Elliot heard outside of his L.A. recording studio – talk about teenage pregnancy and the tough choices that accompany it. Feminist groups and family planning organizations criticized the singer for encouraging teenage pregnancy, while Tipper Gore from the Parents Music Resource Center, who previously castigated Madonna for her single “Dress You Up”. praised the message of the song. Controversy aside, the song proved to be the singer’s fourth No. 1 hit and spent two weeks in the top spot.

1983: The Police – “Every Breath You Take”

The Police and Sting’s signature song, “Every Breath You Take” swept the summer of 1983, sitting on top of the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart for eight weeks. Sting penned the track in the Caribbean at James Bond author Ian Fleming’s Goldeneye estate. 

He told The Independent in 1993, “I woke up in the middle of the night with that line in my head, sat down at the piano and had written it in half an hour. The tune itself is generic, an aggregate of hundreds of others, but the words are interesting. It sounds like a comforting love song. I didn’t realize at the time how sinister it was. I think I was thinking of Big Brother, surveillance and control.

In May 2019, Broadcast Music, Inc. recognized the song for being the most-played song in radio history.



1982: Survivor – “Eye Of The Tiger”

Survivor’s only chart-topper, “Eye of the Tiger” brought the “thrill of the fight” to MTV and radio stations in summer 1982. The track was the theme song to Rocky III, and was recorded at Sylvester Stallone’s request after Queen denied him the use of “Another One Bites the Dust”. It was No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for six straight weeks and 15 consecutive weeks in the top ten.



1979: Donna Summer – “Bad Girls”

The summer of 1979 belonged to Donna. The disco queen’s album of the same name stayed on the top of the charts for six weeks during the summer, and the singles “Hot Stuff” and “Bad Girls” both were number one hits. According to Stereogum, “Bad Girls”, a sympathetic ode to sex workers, was inspired after Summer’s secretary had been stopped by police on Sunset Boulevard.

1976: Wings – “Silly Love Songs” 

“Silly Love Songs”, from Paul McCartney’s post-Beatles group Wings, was a tongue-in-cheek response to criticism against McCartney for writing airy love songs (including from John Lennon). It held the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for five non-consecutive weeks and was the top pop song in Billboard’s Year-End charts for 1976. The track was McCartney’s 27th “number one” as a songwriter and is the all-time record for most number one hits by a songwriter, according to Billboard Hot 100.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wh15LOppcWQ

1975: Captain & Tennille – “Love Will Keep Us Together”

This song was the title and lead single of husband-and-wife duo Captain and Tenille’s first album, but it wasn’t penned by the pair. It was written by collaborators Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield. Sedaka said that he took the main chord progression from The Beach Boys’ “Do It Again” – both “Captain” Daryl Dragon and Toni Tennille played with The Beach Boys as keyboardists. They acknowledged Sedaka on the outro of the track by including the phrase “Sedaka is back”. Captain and Tennille’s version held the number one spot on the Billboard Charts for four weeks that summer, and was the best-selling single of 1975 in the U.S.



1971: Carole King – “It’s Too Late”/”I Feel The Earth Move”

This double lead single off of singer/songwriter Carole King’s album Tapestry spent five weeks in the number one spot on the charts in midsummer 1971! Although King’s record label chose “I Feel the Earth Move” as the A-side, DJs and listeners both seemed to prefer the slower “It’s Too Late”.

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Songs that became popular – again – through movies and TV

The most commonly misunderstood song lyrics

“Running Up That Hill”, “Master of Puppets” and other songs that became popular again through movies and TV

WARNING: This post contains mild spoilers for “Stranger Things Part 4”. 

Sometimes, popular movies and TV shows can help resurrect songs that were released decades ago and push them back up to the Top 100 charts.

Over Memorial Day weekend 2022, the premiere of Netflix’s “Stranger Things Part 4” helped propel English singer Kate Bush’s 1985 hit “Running Up That Hill” into the No. 1 spot on iTunes, after the song was heard playing from a main character’s Walkman.

The premiere of “Stranger Things Part 4 Volume II on July 1 helped shoot “Master of Puppets” to the top of iTunes’ Top 100 Rock Songs. According to Billboard.com, streams for the band’s music have shot up 400 percent from June 30 (the day before Volume II was released).

Here are some other songs that received a second shot of fame after being used in popular media:

Ben E. King – “Stand By Me” 

This 1961 song has been covered over 400 times by recording artists including John Lennon, Tracy Chapman, and Florence + the Machine. Although it was a number four pop hit when it was released, the track re-entered the Billboard 100 chart in 1986 when it was featured in the soundtrack of “Stand By Me”, a movie based off of Stephen King’s story “The Body”.

 

Journey – “Don’t Stop Believin’” 

Journey’s 1981 hit “Don’t Stop Believin’’” has never REALLY left the public consciousness – this smash is still a karaoke favorite and a regular feature of classic rock radio stations. But it enjoyed a surge of popularity in 2007 when it was used in the controversial final scene of HBO’s The Sopranos’ series finale. Downloads of the song spiked after the episode aired and prompted Journey to find a new lead singer (former singer Steve Augeri left the band in 2006 due to ongoing vocal problems).

 

Fleetwood Mac – “Dreams”

TikTok has had a hand in making lots of songs reach viral popularity in the past couple of years. “Dreams”, released in 1977, was a huge hit in its own right, topping the Billboard Hot 100 when it was released. In 2020, Idaho resident Nathan Apodaca shared a video of himself longboarding while sipping Ocean Spray and lip syncing along to the track. The clip went viral – and also tripled sales of the song. 

 

Badfinger – “Baby Blue”

“Baby Blue” was Welsh group Badfinger’s last Top 20 single. It was released in the U.S. as a single in 1972. When the song was featured in Breaking Bad’s explosive series finale in 2013, it received a huge dose of popularity. The song was purchased over 5,000 times the night of the broadcast, and it was on the Billboard Digital Songs chart later that month. The song also charted for the first time in England following the finale.

Dick Dale – “Misirlou”

“Misirlou” is an Eastern Mediterranean folk song with a long history of being performed by Greek, Arabic, and Jewish musicians. In 1962, guitarist Dick Dale popularized the song in the West with a surf-rock cover. In 1994, Dale’s version was used in the opening credits of Pulp Fiction. It was featured on the movie’s eclectic soundtrack, which went to #21 on the Billboard 100 that year.

Queen – “Bohemian Rhapsody”

Queen’s 1975 six-minute “mock opera” dominated the charts in England and took the number one spot in a dozen other countries when it was released – but in the U.S., it never made it past #9. When Wayne’s World came out in 1992, the car scene featuring “Bohemian Rhapsody” helped shoot the track to #2 on the Billboard chart. Queen guitarist Brian May told the BBC in 2015 that “there was a time when we completely owned America, and we would tour there every year. It seemed like we couldn’t go wrong. And then we lost America for various reasons, which are now history. … Freddie [Mercury] had a very dark sense of humor. And he used to say, ‘I suppose I’ll have to die before we get America back.’ And, in a sense, that was what happened. And it was Wayne’s World, which came completely out of nowhere, that made it happen.”

That’s not the only assist the song has had from the silver screen – the 2018 band biopic Bohemian Rhapsody helped it to become the most streamed song from the last century.

The Beatles – “Twist and Shout” 

Director John Hughes put this track by the Fab Four back into the charts with his 1986 movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”. The teenage protagonist of the film stirs up the crowd at a parade when he jumps on a float to lip sync the 1964 hit – which spent 16 weeks on the charts when it was released, but jumped back onto the Billboard Hot 100 for another seven weeks in 1986 after the film’s release! The resurgence in popularity made “Twist and Shout” the Beatles’ longest charting Top 40 song.