At heart "Take On Me" is just a simple synth pop song. However, in the course of the song the singer ranges nearly 2 1/2 octaves soaring to high notes that are exhilarating to the listener. It became a #1 pop smash around the world and featured a highly memorable video using pencil sketch animation. The video took home six awards from the MTV Video Music Awards.
Tricky Stewart and The-Dream wrote "Umbrella" with Britney Spears in mind. Her record label rejected it claiming they had enough songs for her upcoming collection Blackout. The song then caught the attention of L.A. Reid at Island Def Jam, and after he sent it to Rihanna she immediately wanted to record it. Upon release the song quickly became the biggest hit of Rihanna's career reaching #1 around the world. "Umbrella" remained at the top of the chart in the UK for 10 weeks, the longest of any song in the decade. It was nominated for Grammy Awards for Song and Record of the Year while winning a Grammy for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration.
Gnarls Barkley is a collaborative project between producer Danger Mouse and vocalist Cee Lo Green. Their debut single "Crazy" became one of the most acclaimed pop hits of the decade. It became the first song to spend nine weeks at #1 in the UK in over 10 years and reached #2 in the US. Musically, "Crazy" was inspired by the spaghetti western film scores of Ennio Morricone. Lyrically, the song emerged out of a conversation between Cee Lo and Danger Mouse.
"Light My Fire's" organ introduction was influenced by the work of Johann Sebastian Bach. It gave the mainstream pop world their first introduction to the groundbreaking pop and rock work of The Doors. Although the original seven minute album version of the song was provided to pop radio in a heavil edited three minute cut, the full length song was often requested by listeners."Light My Fire" was a three week #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100.
Pop songwriter Jimmy Webb wrote "Wichita Lineman" after driving in Oklahoma noticing a seemingly endless line of telephone poles broken only by the silhouette of a lone lineman atop a pole in the distance. He imagined the loneliness of the solitary worker and turned it into a song. Glen Campbell's recording of "Wichita Lineman" became a #3 pop smash and turned him into a star. It also topped both the country and adult contemporary charts.
This song featured in the film The Graduate also speaks about American culture memorably in the form of Joe DiMaggio. "Mrs. Robinson" details the hidden lives of upper middle class families in the late 1960's. It was a #1 hit single for Simon & Garfunkel. The song itself is almost hushed in tone until the chorus breaks through referencing a nation looking for a hero.
"Fame" was recorded during a one day recording session in which John Lennon took part. He contributed the song title to a tune based around guitarist Carlos Alomar's riff. The result was the first #1 pop hit of David Bowie's career. John Lennon's backing vocals can be heard on the record.
Frank Sinatra, one of the top pop artist of all time, had not had a #1 pop single since 1955 when he recorded this song. It won three Grammy Awards including Record of the Year. One of the most distinctively remembered components of the recording is the scatted "doo-be-doo-be-doo" as the song fades.
"Dreams" was written in the midst of the emotional and personal upheaval for the members of the Fleetwood Mac that ultimately resulted in the legendary album Rumours. Stevie Nicks says she wrote "Dreams" in the studio in about 10 minutes. Christine McVie found the song a bit dull until Lindsey Buckingham put together a three section arrangement that pulled everything together. "Dreams" became the group's first #1 pop hit in the US and one of the group's most distinctive hits.