"Blue Monday" is one of the most influential dance pop records of all time. New Order recorded it just two years after the group had risen out of the ashes of the post punk band Joy Division which fell apart when lead vocalist Ian Curtis. The band incorporated influential elements from seminal dance artists Kraftwerk, Donna Summer and Sylvester. The breakbeat production work of Arthur Baker in New York was also a strong influence. The 12-inch single became the biggest selling 12-inch of all time.
"My Heart Will Go On" had a somewhat rugged path on its way to becoming one of the biggest romantic pop hits of all time. It first was written as an instrumental motif for the film Titanic, and film director James Cameron initially had no interest in it as a vocal song at the end of the movie. Then Celine Dion was not interested in recording it. Ultimately, however, the stars aligned and the song became a worldwide #1 pop smash winning the Academy Award for Best Original Song as well as Grammy Awards for Record and Song Of the Year.
The biggest hit single by the band R.E.M. went to #4 on the pop singles chart. The sound of the song is built around a mandolin hook. The song's title comes from a Southern colloquial phrase meaning to lose one's temper. R.E.M.'s lead vocalist has said the song is about unrequited love and romantic expression. The accompanying video was highly acclaimed. It won a Grammy Award for Best Short Form Video.
Britney Spears' commercial success seemed to be seriously fading when she headed into the studio to record this first single from her album In the Zone. It has a very high pitched hook that is unforgettable. The song has been the subject of cover versions by artists ranging from bluegrass band Nickel Creek to French-Israeli folk-pop artist Yael Naim. The song brought Britney Spears back to the pop top 10 and earned her a Grammy Award for Top Dance Recording.
Stephen Sondheim, one of the most accomplished composers of stage musicals of all time, does not aim to write hit songs. However, the emotional power of "Send In the Clowns" from the musical A Little Night Music attracted the attention of a wide range of performers including the legendary Frank Sinatra. In 1975 Judy Collins turned it into a pop hit and "Send In the Clowns" received the Grammy Award for Song Of the Year.
Vocal group the Association experienced their pop breakthrough with the top 10 hit "Along Comes Mary." They followed it with a love song with what the record label believed was an old-fashioned feel. However, pop fans felt differently and turned the love ballad "Cherish" into a #1 smash.
Jimi Hendrix' only significant pop hit single is a cover of a Bob Dylan song. It was recorded for his album Electric Ladyland and released only 6 months after the Bob Dylan version. The Jimi Hendrix interpretation is widely considered the superior take on "All Along the Watchtower." Bob Dylan has acknowledged that he now performs the song Jimi's way.
Recorded in just two takes, this #2 pop hit is one of Motown's most memorable records and the signature song of vocal trio Martha and the Vandellas. Controversy erupted around the song in the late 1960s when it was adopted as a civil rights anthem by militant protestors. As a result, some radio stations banned the song. "Dancing In the Street was officially added to the National Recording Registry in 2006 by the Library Of Congress.
"Son Of a Preacher Man" is the centerpiece of English singer Dusty Springfield's landmark Dusty In Memphis album. The song was first recorded by Aretha Franklin's sister Erma, and she decided to record it herself after hearing Dusty Springfield's interpretation. "Son Of a Preacher Man" became Dusty Springfield's fourth top 10 hit in the US and her 10th at home in the UK.