Why did the first song to top the pop, country, and rhythm & blues charts come from Memphis? Some say it’s because of our cultural fusions. Others point to seminal hitmakers. Those who live here know that it’s because in Memphis we eat, sleep, and breathe music. Not content to be known as the “home of the blues” and “birthplace of rock and roll,” Memphis continues to evolve its sound, grabbing the attention of music lovers—and producers—and refusing to let go.
So don’t let our impressive history quench your curiosity just yet. Memphis continues to be the muse to great musicians—and one of the most desirable places to record in the world. To prove it, here’s a list of 8 hits made right here in Memphis since 2010.
The song by British record producer Mark Ronson, featuring Bruno Mars, was recorded at the legendary Royal Studios, home to Al Green and his guiding force, producer Willie Mitchell. It spent a staggering 14 weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 chart and seven weeks on the top of the UK Singles Chart. Uptown Funk was certified 11 times platinum by the Recording Industry Association and took home the Record of the Year at the 2016 Grammy Awards. The hit earned Willie Mitchell’s son, engineer and producer Lawrence “Boo” Mitchell, his first Grammy and reminded everyone why Memphis remains one of the oldest continually operating music capitals in the world. Other artists to record with Mitchell at Royal over the past few years include Elton John, Robert Plant, and Snoop Dogg.
Featured on William Bell’s 2017 Grammy-winning Best Americana Album, This Is Where I Live. The track was written by Bell and Booker T. Jones and recorded at Stax Studios.
The RIAA Gold Certified song by Charlie Musselwhite and Ben Harper is from their 2014 Grammy-winning Best Blues Album, Get Up. The track was recorded at Stax Studios. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Blues Albums chart.
Rolling Stone compared Easter Eve to “one of Bob Dylan’s talking blues.” The track is from John Mellencamp’s top ten Album No Better Than This and was recorded at Sun Studios. Regarding his recording session, Mellencamp told the Rolling Stone, “[T Bone] and I were laughing. We got five songs here last night. We asked ourselves, ‘What the fuck were we doing in the 70s and 80s, spending days and days on a drum sound, when it was all right here the whole time?'” “Everything was set up exactly as Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley recorded. They had ‘X’ marks made with electrical tape on the floor where Elvis and his musicians stood and where the instruments were placed, because Sam Philips walked around the room and decided where everything sounded best”.
The first single from Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats debut album was recorded at Stax Studio. The song gained exposure after the band performed it on Jimmy Fallon’s The Tonight Show.
Produced by Memphis native Tay Keith. The track by Blockboy JB and Drake debuted at number six and later peaked at number five on the Billboard Hot 100. It was the first top 10 single for BlocBoy JB. The music video was also shot in Memphis and features BlocBoy JB, Drake, rapper Moneybagg Yo, former Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph, and their crew at various locations throughout the city. The video has already racked up more than 313 million views on YouTube.
The lead single from Yo Gotti’s fifth studio album, The Art of Hustle, peaked at number 13 on the US Billboard Hot 100, making it his first top 40 entry.
The Blac Youngsta track has almost 20 million views on Youtube since being released in 2018. Please note – while this video is hilarious, it’s definitely NSFW!
Add these tunes to your playlist when you’re taking out-of-towners out to see the sights. There’s no better soundtrack to our city. For the latest and greatest Memphis Music updates, follow We Are Memphis Music on Instagram!