Baauer, “Harlem Shake”

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Harlem Shake (Jeffree’s, 2013)

Recorded by American DJ and producer Baauer, Harlem Shake was his debut single in May 2012. The song at first was not a breakaway hit…until February 2013 when a YouTube video set to it was released to start an Internet meme of the same name. The meme is what led to single sales and pushed the single into the Top 5 around the world. (More on that soon.) The success of Harlem Shake made Billboard count video streams as part of the component for chart success. Baauer did not make that much money off the single as he failed to properly obtain clearance for the samples he used. In fact, clearance was obtained by someone else after the song became a success.

Okay, so how successful was Harlem Shake? It went to #1 in Brazil, Greece, Luxembourg, New Zealand, the UK’s dance chart and the U.S. (on both their pop and dance charts). It further went top 5 in Belgium (on both their charts), Denmark, the Euro singles chart, France, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal, Scotland, South Korea, Switzerland and the UK (on their pop and indie charts). It went top 10 in Austria, Canada, Germany, Italy and Norway. That’s a lot of success to not have capitalized on. Word to the wise kids: Clear your samples first!!! (The country not enamored with Harlem Shake? Finland (#19), Poland (#21), Spain (#24) and Sweden (#17). Yet still were top 25 finishes.) Clear your samples!!

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Big Mama Thornton

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Big Mama Thornton (December 11, 1926 – July 25, 1984)

Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton was born in Alabama. Different sources contend that it was either Ariton or Montgomery. Nonetheless, her mother died young and “Mama” left school early to help out her family of six siblings and father. She left home in 1940 to pursue music. In 1948, she moved to Houston and her career really began to take off. Her first recording deal was landed in 1951 with Peacock Records. The very next year she performed at the Apollo Theater. In fact, the manager of the Apollo Theater, Frank Schiffman was responsible for giving Thornton her nickname “Big Mama.” Her strong voice, size and big personality make her a standout performer her whole life. Thornton did not need to use a microphone, her voice was loud and strong enough on its own. Her own personal experiences influenced her work and her song writing, as that is what her mentors did. Plus, Thornton never once had any kind of formal musical training. Everything learned was self-taught. In turn, Thornton was a lone African-American female voice that stood out and commanded its own attention in a sea of white male domination.

Thornton’s biggest hit was 1952’s Leiber and Stoller’s Hound Dog. It spent seven weeks atop Billboard’s R&B chart. Three years later, Elvis Presley covered the song and his rendition became the more popular recording of the song. History would repeat itself. Ball’n’Chain made a bigger impact when Janis Joplin’s re-recorded it in 1967. Though both Presley and Joplin
had much respect for Thornton and tried to leave in vocal stylings and delivery so they still sounded like something Thornton could have done. Another tough part for Thornton regarding Ball’n’Chain was that Peacock didn’t immediately release her version of the song she originally recorded in 1960. They retained the rights though. Joplin’s version came out in 1967 and finally Thornton’s was released in 1968. Therefore, Thornton missed out publishing royalties. As the blues era of music died out, so did Mama’s career.

The 1970s ushered in a spate of health problems due to years of heavy drinking. At age 57, in 1984, Mama was found dead by Los Angeles medical personnel in a boarding house. She had died of heart and liver disorders due to her alcohol abuse. She had also dropped 255 pounds and only weighed a frightening 95 pounds at the time of her death due to her health problems. She was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame that very same year. There was never any ill will between Joplin or Thornton over the Ball’n’Chain debacle. Both singers praised the other. Critics argue that Thornton didn’t receive the recognition of the music industry that she did due to the racial segregation happening in the United States at the time. Another reason why Thornton loved Europe and was always happy to catch a plane to perform there. In 2004, a non profit named for Thornton, the Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls, was founded to offer music education for girls from 8 to 18. Big Mama Thornton was truly a talent ahead of her time.

“Peter Spit a Seed at Sue”

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Peter Spit a Seed at Sue (Viking Books for Young Readers, 2008)

This rhyming story for children recounts the fun four friends have after turning a boring summer day into a watermelon seed spitting adventure that grows to include the whole town. Then the mayor shows up. Will the fun be spoiled?

Peter Spit a Seed at Sue was written by American author Jackie French Koller and illustrated by American John Manders.

Taco Bell’s Bell Beefer

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Taco Bell’s Bell Beefer (1960s)

One of Taco Bell’s original (1962) menu items was the Bell Beefer, their version of a Sloppy Joe. Instead of a burger patty, Taco Bell used ground beef, lettuce, tomato and shredded cheese. The Bell Beefer disappeared in the 90s when the chain asked consumers to “think outside the bun.”

“Party Down”

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Party Down (Starz, 2009-2010)

Party Down followed a group of actors that moved to Los Angeles with the hope of making it in Hollywood but, instead, end up having to make ends meet by working as caterers for the company Party Down. The American comedy series starred Adam Scott, Ken Marino, Jane Lynch, Ryan Hansen, Martin Starr, Lizzy Caplan and Jennifer Coolidge. Megan Mulally joined the series for the second season. The series ran for two seasons and a total of 20 episodes. In 2012, the first rumors sprang up about a possible film adaptation. In 2015, Scott shot down the idea saying that, if anything, there would be new episodes of the show but that a film would be extremely unlikely.

Party Down was cancelled on June 30, 2010. Critics loved the show, but the public did not — enough. (Though it did have a cult following.) Party Down lost actress Jane Lynch to Glee so she was mostly able to participate in season 2. Then actor Scott had to leave for his commitment to Parks and Recreation. Unfortunately, these two character losses were also believed to be nails in the coffin for Party Down.

Technotronic featuring Ya Kid K, “Move This”

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Move This Technotronic featuring Ya Kid K (ARS Entertainment Belgium, 1992)

Move This was Ya Kid K’s first ever single release. Move This peaked at #6 in the U.S. It appeared on Technotronic’s debut album Pump Up the Jam: The Album, released in 1989. The original version runs for almost 5 and 1/2 minutes. The radio version was shortened to just under 4 minutes with updated synths. The single CD version is the original album version faded out at just under 5 minutes. The single version was released on Ya Kid K’s debut album One World Nation. Move This was featured on the soundtrack to Let’s Go to Prison (2006).

“My Little Pony: The Movie”

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My Little Pony: The Movie (Sunbow Productions/Marvel Productions, 1986)

This animated American musical fantasy film was based on the Hasbro toy line, My Little Pony. Released in June 1986, the film featured the voice work of Danny DeVito, Madeline Kahn, Cloris Leachman, Rhea Perlman and Tony Randall. My Little Pony: The Movie brought in $6 million. The plot centered on Hydia, the wicked witch who sends her two daughters to try to ruin the ponies’ festival.

“Ophelia”

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Ophelia (Elektra, 1998)

Ophelia was singer Natalie Merchant’s sophomore album. It peaked at #8 in the U.S. (and #26 in New Zealand and #56 in Australia). The most successful single off Ophelia was Kind & Generous. It reached the top 20 in the U.S. The song King of May was a tribute to poet Allen Ginsberg.

Dive Sticks

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Dive Sticks

While this toy was supposed to be helpful in aiding children in learning how to dive, as happens at times, this toy got it wrong. Dive Sticks were brightly hued cylinders of hard plastic. They were four to eight inches long and an inch in diameter. They were weighted on one end to stand upright when placed in water. Children were to dive in order to retrieve them. Things went swimmingly until kids started swimming up to the surface with eye injuries or bruised heads.

The Five Bite Diet

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The Five Bite Diet

The Five Bite Diet lets you eat whatever you want — but only five bites of it. You are also not allowed breakfast nor snacks. Just five bites for lunch and dinner. Obviously, on this
diet you will not even be consuming enough calories so you will constantly be hungry. While the small portions are an excellent way to lose weight, you would need to round out the diet with nutrient-dense foods to fuel your body. It’s probably much easier and more satisfying to just consume smaller portions of a real meal instead of five bites.