2 Dec, 2023

December 2 in Music History

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December 2 in Music History

Today's birthdays:

Maria Callas (1923-1977).

Maria Callas was an American-born Greek soprano who was one of the most renowned and influential opera singers of the 20th century. Many critics praised her bel canto technique, wide-ranging voice and dramatic interpretations. Her repertoire ranged from classical opera seria to the bel canto operas of Donizetti, Bellini, and Rossini, and further to the works of Verdi and Puccini, and in her early career to the music dramas of Wagner. Her musical and dramatic talents led to her being hailed as La Divina ("The Divine One").

Born in Manhattan, New York City, to Greek immigrant parents, she was raised by an overbearing mother who had wanted a son. Maria received her musical education in Greece at age 13 and later established her career in Italy. Forced to deal with the exigencies of 1940s wartime poverty and with near-sightedness that left her nearly blind onstage, she endured struggles and scandal over the course of her career. She notably underwent a mid-career weight loss, which might have contributed to her vocal decline and the premature end of her career.

The press exulted in publicizing Callas's temperamental behavior, the alleged Callas-Tebaldi rivalry, and her love affair with Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis. Although her dramatic life and personal tragedy have often overshadowed Callas the artist in the popular press, her artistic achievements were such that Leonard Bernstein called her "the Bible of opera", and her influence so enduring that, in 2006, Opera News wrote of her: "Nearly thirty years after her death, she's still the definition of the diva as artist—and still one of classical music's best-selling vocalists.

Nelly Furtado, 45.

Nelly Kim Furtado is a Canadian singer and songwriter. She has sold over 45 million records, including 35 million in album sales worldwide, making her one of the most successful Canadian artists. Critics have noted Furtado's musical versatility and experimentation with genres.

Furtado first gained fame with her trip hop-inspired debut album, Whoa, Nelly! (2000), which was a critical and commercial success that spawned two top-10 singles on the Billboard Hot 100, "I'm Like a Bird" and "Turn Off the Light". The former won her a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. Furtado's introspective folk-heavy 2003 second album, Folklore, explored her Portuguese roots. Its singles received moderate success in Europe, but the album's underperformance compared to her debut was regarded as a sophomore slump.

Furtado's third album, Loose (2006), was a smash hit and became her bestselling album, with more than 10 million copies sold worldwide, also making it one of the bestselling albums of the 2000s. Considered a radical image reinvention, the album spawned four successful number-one singles worldwide: "Promiscuous" (featuring Timbaland), "Maneater", "Say It Right", and "All Good Things (Come to an End)". Her 2007 feature on Timbaland's "Give It to Me" in the same era also topped the charts in the US and overseas. Furtado's critically acclaimed duet with James Morrison, "Broken Strings", also topped the charts in Europe in 2008.

She released her first Spanish-language album, Mi Plan, in 2009, which won her a Latin Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Album. In 2012, Furtado released her nostalgia-inspired fifth album The Spirit Indestructible. Furtado split with her management and went independent thereafter, releasing her indie-pop sixth album, The Ride, in 2017 under her own label Nelstar Entertainment.

Britney Spears, 42.

Britney Jean Spears is an American singer. Often referred to as the "Princess of Pop", she is credited with influencing the revival of teen pop during the late 1990s and early 2000s. Spears has sold over 150 million records worldwide, making her one of the world's best-selling music artists. She has earned numerous awards and accolades, including a Grammy Award, 15 Guinness world records, six MTV Video Music Awards, seven Billboard Music Awards (including the Millennium Award), the inaugural Radio Disney Icon Award, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Her heavily choreographed videos earned her the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award.

After appearing in stage productions and television series, Spears signed with Jive Records in 1997 at age fifteen. Her first two studio albums, ...Baby One More Time (1999) and Oops!... I Did It Again (2000), are among the best-selling albums of all time and made Spears the best-selling teenage artist of all time. With first-week sales of over 1.3 million copies, Oops!... I Did It Again held the record for the fastest-selling album by a female artist in the United States for fifteen years. Spears adopted a more mature and provocative style for her albums Britney (2001) and In the Zone (2003), and starred in the 2002 film Crossroads. She was executive producer of her fifth studio album, Blackout (2007), often referred to as her best work. Following a series of highly publicized personal problems, promotion for the album was limited, and Spears was involuntarily placed in a conservatorship.

Subsequently, Spears released the chart-topping albums, Circus (2008) and Femme Fatale (2011), the latter of which became her most successful era of singles in the US charts. With "3" in 2009 and "Hold It Against Me" in 2011, Spears became the second artist after Mariah Carey in the Billboard Hot 100's history to debut at number one with two or more songs. She embarked on a four-year concert residency, Britney: Piece of Me, at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas to promote her next two albums Britney Jean (2013) and Glory (2016). In 2019, Spears's legal battle over her conservatorship became more publicized and led to the establishment of the #FreeBritney movement. In 2021, the conservatorship was terminated following her public testimony in which she accused her management team and family of abuse.

In the United States, Spears is the fourth best-selling female album artist of the Nielsen SoundScan era, as well as the best-selling female album artist of the 2000s. She was ranked by Billboard as the eighth-biggest artist of the 2000s. Spears has had six number-one albums on the Billboard 200 and five number-one singles on the US Billboard Hot 100: "...Baby One More Time", "Womanizer", "3", "Hold It Against Me", and "S&M (Remix)". Other hit singles include "Oops!... I Did It Again", "I'm a Slave 4 U", and "Toxic". "...Baby One More Time" was named the greatest debut single of all time by Rolling Stone in 2020. In 2004, Spears launched a perfume brand with Elizabeth Arden, Inc.; sales exceeded $1.5 billion as of 2012. Forbes has reported Spears as the highest-earning female musician of 2001 and 2012. By 2012, she had topped Yahoo!'s list of most searched celebrities seven times in twelve years. Time named Spears one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2021. Spears placed first in the Time reader poll.

Charlie Puth, 32.

Charles Otto Puth Jr. is an American singer, songwriter, and record producer. His initial exposure came through the viral success of his song covers uploaded to YouTube. Puth signed with the record label eleveneleven in 2011 after performing on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, while also songwriting and producing material for other artists.

Puth eventually signed to Atlantic Records and Artist Partner Group to release his debut single, "Marvin Gaye" (featuring Meghan Trainor) in 2015. Later that year, he was featured on the single "See You Again" by Wiz Khalifa, which peaked at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 for 12 non-consecutive weeks, received diamond certification from the RIAA, and earned him a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song nomination, along with three nominations at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards including Song of the Year.

Puth's debut studio album Nine Track Mind was released in 2016 to moderate commercial success and generally negative critical reception; it reached the top 10 in the US and UK. The album's third single, "We Don't Talk Anymore" (featuring Selena Gomez), peaked at number nine on the Billboard Hot 100. His second album, Voicenotes (2018), was met with slightly improved critical reception and similar commercial success. The album spawned the Hot 100 top-five single "Attention", and received a nomination for Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards. In 2021, Puth co-wrote and produced the single "Stay" for Justin Bieber and The Kid Laroi, becoming his first non-performing production to peak the Billboard Hot 100 as it achieved further success internationally. Puth's third studio album, Charlie, was released in 2022. It was preceded by the singles "Light Switch" and "Left and Right" (featuring Jungkook), both of which reached the top thirty on the Hot 100.

On this day today:

1957 - Sam Cooke's "You Send Me" hits #1 for the first of three weeks.
1961 - The Beach Boys earn their first airplay when the Los Angeles radio station KFWB plays their song "Surfin'."
1967 - The Monkees' Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones album hits #1 in America.
1969 - On the way to their fateful Altamont concert of December 6, The Rolling Stones stop at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios in Alabama, where they spend three days recording the songs "Wild Horses," "You Gotta Move" and "Brown Sugar."
1972 - Steely Dan make the Billboard 200 for the first time when their debut album, Can't Buy a Thrill, lands at #197. The title comes from the Bob Dylan song "It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry," where he sings: Well, I ride on a mailtrain, baby Can't buy a thrill.
1972 - The Temptations "Papa Was A Rolling Stone" hits #1 in the US. Running 6:58, it's one of the longest chart-topping singles.
1976 - The British press is in an uproar the day after The Sex Pistols appeared on the Today programme on London regional TV and swore repeatedly. The front page headline of the Daily Mirror reads "THE FILTH AND THE FURY!"
1976 - The Bee Gees play a sold-out show at Madison Square Garden in New York City to benefit the Police Athletic League in the city.
1978 - Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond's "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" hits #1 on the Hot 100 for the first of two weeks.
1981 - The Broadway musical Dreamgirls, which is based on The Supremes, opens on Broadway. It is later made into a hit movie starring Beyonce and Jennifer Hudson.
1983 - Michael Jackson's 14-minute "Thriller" video debuts on MTV. Directed by John Landis, the short film shows Michael Jackson turning into a werewolf and leading a dance routine with various undead creatures.
1991 - Morten Harket accepts a BMI Award in London on behalf of his band a-ha for achieving one million radio plays of their hit "Take On Me" in America.
1995 - "One Sweet Day," Mariah Carey's duet with Boyz II Men, hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and holds the top spot for a record 16 weeks.
2009 - Scottish singer-songwriter Eric Woolfson (of The Alan Parsons Project) dies of kidney cancer at age 64.

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