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Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Platters - Unchained Melody

Video of The Platters singing the song Unchained Melody

"Unchained Melody" is a popular song with music by Alex North and lyrics by Hy Zaret. It is one of the most recorded songs of the 20th century, by some counts having spawned over 500 versions in hundreds of different languages.[1]
In 1955, North used the music as a theme for the obscure prison film Unchained. Todd Duncan, the baritone who performed in the original Porgy and Bess, sang the vocals for the film soundtrack.[2] Les Baxter (Capitol Records catalog number 3055), released an instrumental version which reached #2. Al Hibbler followed close behind with a vocal version (Decca Records catalog number 29441) that reached #3 on the Billboard charts. He was followed soon after by Jimmy Young whose version hit #1 on the British charts. Roy Hamilton's version (Epic Records catalog number 9102) reached #6, while June Valli (recorded March 15, 1955, released by RCA Victor Records as catalog number 20-6078, with the flip side "Tomorrow"[3]) took it to #29.[4] Rockabilly legend Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps recorded it for their second album in 1956 — Vincent's version is played at mid-tempo and features a tremolo picking guitar part. It is also probably the most unusual cover version, as the chorus was omitted. Harry Belafonte sang it at the 1956 Academy Awards where it was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song of 1955. (Belafonte had also made a recording of the song for RCA Victor Records, which was released as catalog number 20-6784, with the flip side "A-Roving"[5].) In 1963, an uptempo, doo-wop version hit the regional charts (eastern U.S.) by Vito & the Salutations, eventually becoming part of the soundtrack for Goodfellas in 1990.
The song regained popularity when another version was produced by Phil Spector in 1965, credited to the Righteous Brothers, but performed as a solo by Bobby Hatfield, who later recorded versions credited solely to him. It climbed to #4.
"Unchained Melody" reappeared on the Billboard charts in 1990 after The Righteous Brothers' recording was used in the box office blockbuster film Ghost. Two versions charted in the US that year. There was the reissue of the 1965 original Righteous Brothers single which received a lot of airplay, but sales were minimal since it was only available as a 45 RPM single. This version peaked at #13. There was also a 1990 re-recording of the song which was available only as a cassette single. The re-recorded version saw minimal airplay, but excellent sales. It peaked at #19. For eight weeks, both versions were on the Hot 100 simultaneously. This re-release of the song topped the U.S. adult contemporary chart for two weeks in 1990. It reached #1 in the UK, becoming the UK's top selling single of 1990; it also later reached #1 in Australia, staying at number-one for seven weeks through November 1990 and into January 1991.
On June 21, 1977, just six weeks before his death, Elvis Presley performed "Unchained Melody" for what would be his last television appearance, "Elvis In Concert." However, the recording that was ultimately released as a single and included on the "Moody Blue" album (the last released while he was alive) was from an earlier appearance at Ann Arbor, Michigan, featuring him on piano, as it was invariably the case when Presley sang the song in concert.
In 1995, the song was performed by Robson Green and Jerome Flynn in the UK drama series Soldier Soldier. This version was subsequently released as a single and quickly reached #1 in the UK, becoming one of the country's all time biggest selling records.
The song has become a favorite among auditioners for TV singing contests. It has often been said by Simon Cowell to be his favorite song, leading it to be a favourite among those hoping to impress him in auditions for Pop Idol, American Idol, and The X Factor. It was performed on the original series of Pop Idol by runner-up Gareth Gates, who later released it as a single. It was also sung on Australian Idol by finalist Dan England and 2006's winner Damien Leith, and on American Idol by George Trice in Season 2, Clay Aiken during the Season 2 Top 3 finals, after which he advanced to the Top 2 (finals), as well as Kellie Pickler on Season 5 Top 6 Love Songs Week, for which she was eliminated.
The song appeared in a Ford Fiesta commercial featuring two German engineers moulding a car together, in a parody of Ghost.
In 2004 Rolling Stone placed the song at #365 on their list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
Cyndi Lauper was nominated for a 2005 Grammy award for "Best Instrumental Composition Accompanying a Vocal" for her interpretation of the song, which appears on the At Last album. In 2006, singer Barry Manilow covered the song on his album Greatest Songs of the Fifties, and it reached #20.
The song has been #1 on lists of love songs featured on Channel 4 and Five, and also is said to be a favorite of Kevin Jafarey (RCG)[who?].
The song is on the game Karaoke Revolution Volume 3.
The song was featured in the animated film "Happy Feet" (2006).

Source: Wikipedia

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