Today I’m choosing to have celebrate as my theme. This is for three reasons: firstly, yesterday saw the funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, which was the celebration of a remarkable life. Secondly, as you may have noticed, I celebrated my birthday last Friday, with my post 69. And thirdly, I’m celebrating the birthday today of one of my best blogging friends: Happy Birthday, Jim! Not many of the songs have the actual word celebrate in their title, but they are all about reasons that we have in our lives for joy, happiness and celebration. I’m using a little bit of artistic licence this week!
As celebrate songs go, Kool and the Gang would be a fairly obvious place to start. So of course, being me, I have. Sort of:
I know they say you shouldn’t pick favourites among your kids, but I absolutely adore that bunch from Uganda! I’ve played music from the Playing For Change Foundation before, as I think they’re wonderful. There are a huge number of collaborative videos like this on YouTube, and they all have one thing in common: the joy of people coming together and having fun. They started in 2002, as Playing For Change, and the Foundation began in 2007: it raises funds for music and art schools for children around the world. This one was released in December 2015 to support Universal Children’s Day, and is the perfect showcase for all that they do.
Another band making a return is Faun. They come from Germany and this one is sung in German, so you’ll have to just go with the music and video. Trust me, it’s entertaining!
The festival of Walpurgis Night is named after the English Christian missionary Saint Walpurga (c. 710–777/9). She founded monasteries in Germany, and developed a reputation for healing cures and for promoting culture. Walpurgisnacht, in its German form – Walpurgis Night in English – is celebrated on 30 April and 1 May, and has over time become associated with May Day celebrations, including such things as dancing round maypoles. I’m not sure if these always involve scantily clad maidens, but I’m not complaining. Faun were formed in 1998 and have been very successful in Germany, though they have a worldwide following and tour all over the place: they are playing in the UK later this year for the first time since the pandemic. This was a track on their eighth album, Luna, released in September 2014, which made #4 in the German Albums chart.
This next one is to wish Jim a Happy Birthday, as I know he’s a fan of the movie in which it features:
As a song which celebrates how we can overcome the odds and succeed in life I think this one takes some beating. Survivor released Eye Of The Tiger as a single on 31 May 1982, the day after the movie Rocky III first appeared. The song was a massive hit, topping the charts in both the US and the UK, and in many other countries, and has sold over 10m copies. It was also the title track of the band’s third album, released the following week: this peaked at #2 in the US and #12 in the UK. The movie also fared tolerably well, though from what I’ve seen critics tended to suggest that, as it was the third in the series, the law of diminishing returns was beginning to apply. It is set in Jim’s home territory, Philadelphia, but as I haven’t the slightest interest in boxing and am nowhere near a fan of Sylvester Stallone I’m afraid I can’t tell you much more, as I’ve never watched it. I like this song, though 😉
One of the best things we can have in our lives is places and people we care about, and we should celebrate them. This little song from one of my favourite bands does just that. You may have seen them here before, but it seems they really do have a song for every occasion:
In My Life was a track on The Beatles’ sixth album, Rubber Soul, released in December 1965. It probably goes without saying that the album was a big hit, topping both the US and UK charts for several weeks, and it has sold over 10m copies – 6m in the US alone. This was the second of their albums to feature only their own compositions (after Hard Day’s Night) and was considered influential on their peers in encouraging them to view albums as being at least as valid as singles. A look at the track listing, which includes the likes of Norwegian Wood, Nowhere Man, Michelle, and Run For Your Life, should persuade you of that! Fourteen tracks, in the UK release, and not a hint of filler amongst them. This track wasnt released as a single, either as an A or B side.
One of the things we do when we are happy and have something to celebrate is to go out and party. In keeping with the birthday elements of my theme, how about this one? Apologies for the age restriction pushing you into watching it on YouTube – odd, really, when you consider what Faun got away with, but over 630m views tell you it is worth it:
An unlikely choice for me? Quite possibly, especially when you consider that I think the self-styled ‘Will.I.Am’ is a twat of the first order. But Fergie is undeniably sexy, and she managed to get through the video without wetting herself, which was nice. I’ll confess to not having bought this record: the purchase in our family was made by my older daughter, but I always liked this song. Black Eyed Peas first released I Gotta Feeling as a single in May 2009, and it also featured on their album The E.N.D. which came out a couple of weeks later. The single was a huge hit, reaching #1 in the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, the Netherlands – around twenty countries in all. It spent fourteen weeks at the top in the US, and has sold more than 10m copies there, in addition to a further 2.6m in the UK, as part of total worldwide sales of well over 15m. Now that’s what I call a hit! The album topped the US charts, and also got to #1 in Canada and several other countries. It peaked at #3 in the UK.
This next one may well be a new one for you. It does, however, provide a perfect fit for my theme, as celebrate is its title and that is exactly what they are all doing in the video:
Ingrid Michaelson is a singer-songwriter usually classified under folk, pop, or indie, or any combination of the three. She is also an actor, having been on both the stage and tv. I’ve played her once before: the beautiful Winter Song, which she wrote and performed with Sara Bareilles. Celebrate is a little different from that: it was originally released on her album It Doesn’t Have To Make Sense, in August 2016, and this reached #19 in the US. The reworked version I played was released in May 2017 as part of a five track EP entitled Alter Egos, which peaked at #96 in the US Albums chart, though it got to #13 in their Indie listings. Ingrid was quoted as saying that she wanted the video to be fun, as there was too much in the world to bring us down. I think she succeeded.
Today’s penultimate tune encapsulates the feeling of being happy and wanting to tell people about it, but cautions that we should take the opportunity before it is too late. There is no particular reason for their celebration other than being in love, but surely that should be plenty of cause to celebrate?
On Top Of The World was a track on the debut album by Imagine Dragons, Night Visions, which was released in September 2012. It got to #2 in both the US and the UK, #3 in Canada and #4 in Australia and has to date sold more than 5m copies. There have been worse debuts! The track was released as a single in March 2013 and while its chart positions weren’t spectacular – #34 in the UK and #79 in the US – it has shifted a lot of downloads, including 2.6m in Denmark for some reason. Total sales are well over 8m. The video is a satire on two widespread conspiracy theories – that the Moon landing was faked and was really a Stanley Kubrick movie, and that Paul McCartney died in 1966 and was replaced by a look alike – and is absolutely stuffed with visual jokes and references. I could go on at length, but I won’t. If you want to follow this up I can recommend this Wikipedia article, which is VERY detailed.
For today’s final song I’m going back to the theme of celebrating the good people in our lives. This is one of the best songs about this that I know:
Great Big Sea were a Canadian folk-rock band, from Newfoundland and Labrador, who enjoyed a successful twenty year career before retiring as a band in 2013. They featured a lot of local colour in their songs, many of which were based on sea shanties, and had a very big hit in their homeland with their cover version of When I’m Up I Can’t Get Down, originally performed by Oysterband – one of my favourites. Good People was a track on their final album, Safe Upon The Shore, which was released in 2010, making #2 in Canada and #189 in the US, though it did also get to #3 in the US Folk Albums chart. It was released as a single but wasn’t a hit, though as you’ll have seen from the video their audience knew it well. In case you are wondering where you might have seen Alan Doyle before this video, he is an actor as well as a musician: I’ve seen him make guest appearances in several Canadian tv shows, including Republic Of Doyle, Murdoch Mysteries, and Hudson And Rex, and he was also in the Russell Crowe movie of Robin Hood.
I think that was a good song with which to close today’s tunes: it fits the theme well, and if we can’t celebrate having good people in our lives we clearly have something lacking! I’ve just had my first mail delivery for more than a week, and now have a bumper bundle of birthday cards to open. It’s rather like the Queen used to do, having an actual birthday and an official one, so I’m counting today as my official birthday. Let’s face it, I’ll never get any closer than that to royalty, will I? Stay safe and well, and I’ll see you again soon 😊