EVERY Billboard #1 hit discussion thread 1958-Present

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by alphanguy, Jan 29, 2016.

  1. alphanguy

    alphanguy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    This has got to be the most annoying #1 hit ever, next to "Disco Duck". I guess children liked it.. #1 for 4 weeks? How did that happen, I'll never know.
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  2. Manapua

    Manapua Forum Resident

    I was a child and I liked it. Music was changing but novelty hits were still able to break through as in the case of The Chipmunks. Add Christmas to the list and a standard is born. I've definitely heard worse. Much worse.
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  3. I Love Music

    I Love Music Forum Resident

    The Chipmunk Song did not need the help of a disc jockey in some far-away locale for it to gain initial radio airplay and achieve sales. From the time of its release in November 1958, the gimmicky Christmas novelty song became an instant fixture on radio across the country and the in-demand 45 of 1958.

    The Chipmunk Song was the most played song on radio during Christmastime 1958. A scan of the ARSA database shows that the song was #1 on radio station music surveys throughout the country, including the three largest markets of New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles:


    Billboard reported on the phenomenal sales of The Chipmunk Song throughout the Christmas holiday season of 1958:

    December 8, 1958 issue

    December 15, 1958 issue

    December 22, 1958 issue

    It turned out that those sales projections were pretty accurate. The Chipmunk Song was the fastest selling record of 1958 with sales of 2.5 million in its first three weeks of release and 4.5 million over the first seven weeks.

    The Chipmunk Song was not only a commercial success. The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences honored it with three Grammy Awards (more than any other recording that year!) at the inaugural ceremony:

    Best Comedy Performance Ross Bagdasarian Sr., artist
    Best Engineered Record – Non-Classical Ted (Theodore) Keep, engineer
    Best Recording for Children Ross Bagdasarian Sr., artist


    As of today this is the only Christmas song to reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 so it’s not likely we’ll have to review any holiday recordings from here on out. Novelty songs . . . well there are a few more of those to come!
  4. george nadara

    george nadara Forum Resident

    It was actually "David Seville's" second number one of 1958, the first being "Witch Doctor," later recut by the Chipmunks. Both are ingrained in my DNA.
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  5. Hey Vinyl Man

    Hey Vinyl Man Another bloody Yank down under...

    My ex-girlfriend could do a perfect Chipmunk impression, which she used with me on an all-too-regular basis, as my name is Dave. (She did a pretty good HAL impression, too, although I didn't get it the first time she pulled that one.)
  6. tim_neely

    tim_neely Forum Hall Of Fame

    Central VA
    As far as I know, the correct mono single mix has never been released on CD unless it's on a public-domain disc from outside the United States. Every stereo mix I've heard has incorrect "chipmunk" vocals on the words "Christmas, Christmas time is near"; they are more staccato on the 45 than on stereo mixes. (The posted YouTube video, though it illustrates the original 45, isn't the 45 version.)
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  7. tim_neely

    tim_neely Forum Hall Of Fame

    Central VA
    Re Christmas hits: Not only has there never been another Christmas song hit #1 on the Hot 100 in the 57-plus years since, but I think there have been only two to make the top 10: "This One's for the Children" by New Kids on the Block (#7 in 1989-90) and "Auld Lang Syne (The Millennium Mix)" by Kenny G in 1999-2000, which was also a novelty.

    In the pre-Hot 100 era, there were several #1 Christmas-related hits: "White Christmas" by Bing Crosby, "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!" by Vaughn Monroe, "(All I Want for Christmas Is) My Two Front Teeth" by Spike Jones & the City Slickers, "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" by Gene Autry, and "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" by Jimny Boyd. All of them are considered perennials today, but, as far as I can tell, the Vaughn Monroe already had faded into such obscurity by 1949 that RCA Victor, the label that invented the 45, never issued his original version on a 45, even in the Gold Standard Series or any other collector's series.
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  8. HGN2001

    HGN2001 Mystery Picture Member

    I remember eating breakfast and not wanting to go to school UNTIL the radio station played "The Chipmunk Song". It was a daily ritual until finally my parents bought the 45 for me. Well-worn, but I still have it.
    xilef regnu, Natural E and Zeki like this.
  9. boyjohn

    boyjohn Forum Resident

    is the LP mono version the same as the 45? just curious

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  10. I Love Music

    I Love Music Forum Resident

    Yes (see below)

    Yes, a good description of the differences in the stereo mix. Here's how I described this many years ago on another website that is now defunct:

    Alright you Chipmunks . . . don’t breathe so much between words . . . Alvin . . . Alvin . . . ALVIN! . . . your voice is cracking . . . Let’s sing it again!

    The different vocals on mono and stereo versions of The Chipmunk Song
    During my time in radio I’ve had many chances during the holiday season to listen to different pressings of The Chipmunk Song on records and CDs (lucky me!) and here are my observations:

    The original mono 45 version (Liberty F-55168) of The Chipmunk Song, released in November 1958, was also used on the mono Let's All Sing With The Chipmunks (released in 1959) and Christmas With The Chipmunks (released in 1962) LPs. Original stereo pressings of the above LPs that I have heard have a rechanneled version of the song with a different vocal take, as does the stereo 45 (Liberty S-77250) of The Chipmunk Song which was released in December 1959.

    The differences in vocals on the mono and “stereo” versions of The Christmas Song are heard during the opening section of the song. In the original mono version, the Chipmunks enunciate each “Christmas” on the opening line making it sound as if the Chipmunks are taking a breath between each “Christmas”, and later Alvin’s voice is heard cracking slightly as he strains to reach the notes on the first “hula hoop”. In the fake stereo versions I have heard, the opening lines are not enunciated as clearly in the opening section (the "breaths" are absent) and Alvin’s voice does not crack on the first “hula hoop”, producing a smoother presentation of those lines. True stereo remixes of The Christmas Song have appeared over the years, before and during the CD era, and all remixes I have heard also feature the smoother vocal take.

    For reference, here’s the original mono 45 version of The Chipmunk Song:

    Until recently, this smoother vocal version described above (which is not the mono single mix) is the one I have also repeatedly found on CD. This includes CDs that have the song in true stereo, electronically rechanneled stereo, and even in mono!

    The Ace CD The London American Label Year by Year – 1958 is the only CD I’m aware of that has a version of The Christmas Song that seems to match the original mono Liberty 45. The booklet notes state that the song was sourced from the 1958 British single master tape.
  11. Slokes

    Slokes Cruel But Fair

    Greenwich, CT USA
    You know you are on an audiophile board when a discussion about the Chipmunks records turns to optimal masterings and vocal quality.
  12. Oatsdad

    Oatsdad Oat, Biscuits and Abbie: Best Dogs Ever

    Alexandria VA
    Funny how some here think we shouldn't talk about modern pop because it's "music for children" - but conversations about the Chipmunks somehow miss that ban! :shh:
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  13. I Love Music

    I Love Music Forum Resident

    Since we’ve reached the last single to hit #1 in 1958, it might be a good time to summarize the mono/stereo breakdown for all the singles that peaked at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1958:

    Poor Little Fool – Ricky Nelson
    Mono (Imperial 5528, June 1958)

    Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu (Volare) – Domenico Modugno
    Mono (Decca 30677, July 1958)

    Little Star – The Elegants
    Mono (Apt 25005, June 1958)

    It’s All In The Game – Tommy Edwards
    Mono (MGM 12688, July 1958)
    Stereo (MGM 50104, November 1958)

    It’s Only Make Believe – Conway Twitty
    Mono (MGM 12677, July 1958)*
    Stereo (MGM 50107, November 1958)

    Tom Dooley – The Kingston Trio
    Mono (Capitol 4049, September 1958)

    To Know Him, Is To Love Him – The Teddy Bears
    Mono (Dore 503, August 1958)

    The Chipmunk Song – The Chipmunks with David Seville
    Mono (Liberty 55168, November 1958)
    Stereo (Liberty 77250, December 1959)

    For 45s released in mono and stereo, the bold lettering indicates the version which was listed on the Billboard Hot 100.

    The asterisk (*) indicates that this version is not available in digital format (subject to change if someone here knows of a digital release).
    sgb likes this.
  14. profholt82

    profholt82 Resident Blowhard

    West Michigan
    Novelty songs were still common on the charts when I was growing up during the 80s and 90s. Ray Stevens was still relevant, not as much as in his "Streak" days, but as a kid, I still knew who he was. Then Weird Al came along and became a cultural phenomenon who built his career on novelty songs. And off the top of my head, songs like "Pac-Man Fever" and "Fish Heads" were pretty popular for a time. Some of Jimmy Buffet's hits like "Cheeseburger in Paradise" and "Why Don't We Get Drunk and Screw?" certainly fit the bill.

    By the 90s, both The Simpsons and Adam Sandler had several songs receive a fair amount of pop radio play, most notably "Do the Bartman" and "The Hanukkah Song." Then there were some popular songs in the 90s that may not have been intended as novelty songs per se, but in retrospect they basically were. I'm thinking of "The Macarena," "Whoomp There It Is," "Three Little Pigs" and that song by the Benedictine Monks. Of course, I don't believe any of these songs hit number 1, but they were all popular on pop radio at some point.
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  15. EdogawaRampo

    EdogawaRampo Forum Resident

    Not only 4 weeks at the N0. 1 spot on the radio, but countless tens of thousands of replays throughout the 1960s on TV reruns.
  16. EdogawaRampo

    EdogawaRampo Forum Resident

    For me it's a toss-up between Ricky Nelson's Poor Little Fool and The Elegants Little Star, both fantastic examples of two very different genres. I love the oddball, out-of-left-field nonsense syllables used in the vocal on Little Star. When I first started investigating this stuff for myself starting in around 1971 or so, late 50s doo-wop sounded like it came from another planet or something. It was only 12-13 years old but it sounded so weird, so incomprehesibly different to what I was used to hearing being played all around me, it completely fascinated me.
  17. Synthfreek

    Synthfreek Drum machines are not inherently evil.

    Austin, TX
    You don't think "Macarena" hit number 1? It's #7 on Billboard's all time Top 100 list. #1 for 14 weeks straight.
    drasil likes this.
  18. JozefK

    JozefK Forum Resident

    I believe "The Chipmunk Song" is what kept Ritchie Valens' "Donna" out of the top spot.
    sgb likes this.
  19. Randu

    Randu Forum Resident

    Seal Beach
    Awesome one to kick it off
  20. alphanguy

    alphanguy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Yes, it seems like it's been the last 10 years or so that Novelty songs have completely dropped off the map, except for the occasional entry by Weird Al, who just might be there at the end of the world standing next to Cher. Some have opined that "Macarena" was the last big novelty song. There were many I remember from high school days besides Weird Al's songs... , such as "Homecoming Queen's Got A Gun", and "Cow Patty".
  21. alphanguy

    alphanguy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    What's interesting is when songs walk that line between novelty and well... not novelty. Some songs you just don't know if it is serious or done in jest, and I argue "Macarena" is one of those. "I Know What Boys Like", and "Groove Is In the Heart" is another that I put into that category.
  22. profholt82

    profholt82 Resident Blowhard

    West Michigan
    I wasn't sure off the top of my head. I remember what a phenomenon it was, with grandmas doing the dance and everything. I guess I sort of tried my best to avoid it at the time.

    That's a good point, and basically why I prefaced "Macarena" and "Whoomp There It Is" with the caveat that they may not be considered novelty songs in the traditional sense.

    Regardless, how many people still listen to "Macarena?" I never hear about it anymore, whereas Alvin and the Chipmunks have been rehashed generation after generation with more songs, television shows and movies. So, in their case, what began as a novelty act became much bigger than I'm sure David Seville could ever have imagined.
  23. Bob J

    Bob J Forum Resident

    This was a really nice follow-up single to "Little Star" and both sides were quality. But, as stated above, it was not to be.
  24. alphanguy

    alphanguy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Next is "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" by the Platters, #1 from January 19 - February 8, 1959.

  25. Steve Carras

    Steve Carras Forum Resident

    Whittier,CA USA
    Gwen Stefani, Katy Perry and Meghan Trainor don't make ya laugh? ;)
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