Sidewalk Talk

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"Sidewalk Talk"
Single by Jellybean
from the album Wotupski!?!
B-side "The Mexican"
Released October 21, 1984
Format
Recorded 1984
Genre Synthpop
Length 3:58
Label EMI
Writer(s) Madonna
Producer(s) John "Jellybean" Benitez
Jellybean singles chronology
  • "Sidewalk Talk"
  • (1984)
  • "Who Found Who"
  • (1987)

"Sidewalk Talk" is a song by American record producer John "Jellybean" Benitez from his first extended play, Wotupski!?! (1984). It was released on October 21, 1984, by EMI Records as the first single from the EP. The song was written by Madonna and produced by Benitez. They had initially met in 1983 and Benitez worked as a producer on Madonna's self-titled debut album. When he started work on his debut EP, Wotupski!?!, Madonna wrote "Sidewalk Talk" for him. The song features bass and electric guitars, synthesizers, piano as well drums. Lead vocals are sung by singer Catherine Buchanan, and background vocals by Madonna.

"Sidewalk Talk" received mixed review from critics, with David Nick Ybarra questioning crediting Buchanan as lead vocalist, instead of a more known singer like Madonna. The song was released initially in 12-inch promotional CD in remix formats to the DJs and the clubs, and reached the top of the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart. It was later released commercially in 7-inch and 12-inch formats, and charted on the Billboard Hot 100. The song also had minor chart placements in the Netherlands, New Zealand as well as the United Kingdom.

Background and composition[edit]

In 1983, Madonna met John "Jellybean" Benitez, who worked as a DJ at the Funhouse club in lower Manhattan. Soon after, they started dating each other and worked on Madonna's self-titled debut album, released in 1983.[1][2] When Benitez started work on his debut EP, Wotupski!?!, he asked Madonna to write a song for him.[3] Within two days Madonna wrote "Sidewalk Talk", whose idea she had initially thought of using on her debut album.[4] According to Benitez, Wotupski!?! was a concept album, "It's a street slang in the Bronx. It means 'what's up, what's new'?"[5] The artist credit of the song was simply Jellybean, with lead vocals credited to Catherine Buchanan. Madonna provided background vocals for the track with Audrey Wheeler and Cindy Mizelle. Benitez produced the track as well as arranged and mixed it. Michael Hutchinson assisted on engineering, recording and mixing the track. Producer Stephen Bray also arranged "Sidewalk Talk" with Benitez. Instrumentation featured in the track included bass guitar by Marcus Miller, synthesizer by Boyd Jarvis, Fred Zarr and Bray, electric guitar by Ira Siegel, percussion by Bashiri Johnson and Trevor Gale, and lastly drum programming by Benitez and Bray.[6]

Release and reception[edit]

Marcus Miller played bass guitar on "Sidewalk Talk"

"Sidewalk Talk" was first released as a 12-inch promotional single to US DJs and clubs on October 21, 1984.[7] Rikky Rooksby, author of The Complete Guide to the Music of Madonna, said that the synthpop song "sounded like it was a leftover from [Madonna's] debut album" because of its sonic similarity.[8] Chuck Eddy, author of The Accidental Evolution of Rock'n'roll: A Misguided Tour Through Popular Music, compared the track to the sound of American new wave band, Tom Tom Club.[9] Billboard magazine's dance music reviewer Brian Chin said that the song "touched base" with the Top-40 mainstream radio audience.[10] For author Ira Robins, "Sidewalk Talk" was the "best track" on the EP, because of its "lucidness".[11] In 2011, the EP was re-released by Gold Legion Records, where four remixes of "Sidewalk Talk" was included. The CD booklet consisted of an essay by David Nick Ybarra, editor and founder of Daeida magazine. In the essay, Ybarra noted that "Sidewalk Talk" was never promoted in the press kits for the release of Wotupski!?! Instead another song, "The Mexican", was noted in the album cover's advertising sticker. Nevertheless, Ybarra said that it was the inclusion of "Sidewalk Talk" which became the most critical aspect of the public's interest in the release.[12] In September 2014, Rolling Stone ranked the song at number 71 on their list of the "100 Best Singles of 1984". Maura Johnston from the magazine noted that the song was similar in composition to other production work of Benitez, like Madonna's "Holiday" (1984), and described it as distilling "the essence of New York—full of fast-moving possibility and flash, but to be handled with caution in order to be survived."[13]

Regarding the song's credits, Ybarra also found it mysterious that a relatively unknown singer like Buchanan received lead vocal billing, while Madonna was relegated as a backing vocalist. Wheeler, one of the backing vocalists, confirmed to Ybarra that she did not remember Buchanan being present in the recording studio. Ybarra theorized that Benitez might have intended "Sidewalk Talk" for Madonna's first album, but since it was not included, he replaced Madonna's vocals on the track with Buchanan since she was unknown. Thereby Benitez could use the track for his EP and it would not be mistaken as a vehicle for another artist other than Jellybean.[12] In 1986, Alvin and the Chipmunks covered the song for their TV series episode "Chipmunk Vice".[14] "Sidewalk Talk" appeared in the 1999 film Flawless and on its soundtrack album.[15]

Chart performance[edit]

"Sidewalk Talk" debuted at number 36 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart for the issue dated January 5, 1985.[16] After five weeks, it reached the top of the chart, replacing Nuance's song, "Loveride".[17] In an article published in Billboard, Chin noted that "Sidewalk Talk" was an unusual song to reach the top of the dance chart, since it was not released till then in commercially available 7-inch or 12-inch forms. The song was only serviced as remix forms to the clubs. Chin added that the song's "emergence without a hard copy, so to speak, is highly uncharacteristic of a market, in which the 'commercial twelve' is a given for a long-show pop record." The song harkened back to the time when remix forms were not available except for club promotions.[18] "Sidewalk Talk" ranked at number 20 on the year end tabulation of the Top Dance Club Songs for 1985.[19] The song was released in 7-inch and 12-inch formats after eight months and entered the Billboard Hot 100 chart at number 67 on the issue dated November 11, 1985.[20] After twelve weeks, it reached a peak of number 18 on the chart.[21] Its final appearance on the chart was on the week ending March 15, 1986.[22] On the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, "Sidewalk Talk" reached a peak of number 51, and was present for a total of nine weeks.[23]

"Sidewalk Talk" also charted in the United Kingdom, where it was credited as "Jellybean featuring Catherine Buchanan". It reached a peak of number 41 on the UK Singles Chart on the issue dated February 1, 1986, and was present for a total of four weeks.[24] On the Netherlands Single Top 100, it reached a peak of numebr 31, while on the Top 40 comprehensive chart, it peaked inside the top-ten at number six.[25][26] "Sidewalk Talk" also debuted at peaked at number 34 on the Official New Zealand Music Chart.[27]

Track listings and formats[edit]

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits and personnel adapted from US 7-inch single liner notes.[6]

Charts[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Taraborrelli 2008, p. 77
  2. ^ Cross 2007, p. 26
  3. ^ Bush, John. "Jellybean". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved August 27, 2014. 
  4. ^ Jancik 1998, p. 438
  5. ^ Campbell, Mary (March 17, 1988). "Jellybean Builts Reputation as a Hitmaker". The Daily Gazette (John DeAugustine). Retrieved August 26, 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c Sidewalk Talk (US 12-inch Single liner notes). Jellybean. EMI Records. 1984. V-19204. 
  7. ^ a b Sidewalk Talk (US 12-inch Promo Single liner notes). Jellybean. EMI Records. 1984. PSLP 385. 
  8. ^ Rooksby 2004, p. 98
  9. ^ Eddy 1997, p. 182
  10. ^ Chin, Brian (October 20, 1984). "Dance Trax". Billboard 96 (42) (News and Media). p. 56. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved August 27, 2014. 
  11. ^ Robins 1991, p. 348
  12. ^ a b Ybarra, David Nick (2011). "Reissue". Wotupski!?! New York City in the 1980s (CD booklet). John "Jellybean" Benitez. Gold Legion Records, EMI America. p. 12. GL 562222, 509990-71286-2-2. 
  13. ^ Johnston, Maura (September 17, 2014). "Jellbean, 'Sidewalk Talk' – 100 Best Singles of 1984: Pop's Greatest Year". Rolling Stone (Jann Wenner). Retrieved September 17, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Alvin & the Chipmunks: Chipmunk Vice Episode". TV.com. CBS Interactive. Retrieved August 28, 2014. 
  15. ^ Phares, Heather. "Flawless [Original Soundtrack]". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved August 28, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Dance Club Songs: Week of January 5, 1985". Billboard. News and Media. Retrieved August 28, 2014. (subscription required (help)). 
  17. ^ "Dance Club Songs: Week of February 2, 1985". Billboard. News and Media. Retrieved August 28, 2014. (subscription required (help)). 
  18. ^ Chin, Brian (February 2, 1985). "Dance Trax: Notes". Billboard 97 (5) (News and Media). p. 71. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved August 27, 2014. 
  19. ^ a b "Top Dance Club Play Singles/Albums". Billboard 97 (52) (News and Media). December 28, 1985. p. T-23. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved August 28, 2014. 
  20. ^ "The Billboard Hot 100: Week of November 16, 1985". Billboard. News and Media. Retrieved August 28, 2014. (subscription required (help)). 
  21. ^ "The Billboard Hot 100: Week of December 7, 1985". Billboard. News and Media. Retrieved August 28, 2014. (subscription required (help)). 
  22. ^ "The Billboard Hot 100: Week of March 15, 1986". Billboard. News and Media. Retrieved August 28, 2014. (subscription required (help)). 
  23. ^ a b "Jellybean Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs for Jellybean. Retrieved August 28, 2014.
  24. ^ a b "Jellybean featuring Adele Bertei: Artist Chart History" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved August 28, 2014.
  25. ^ a b "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 8, 1986" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40 Retrieved August 28, 2014.
  26. ^ a b "Dutchcharts.nl – Jellybean – Sidewalk Talk" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved August 28, 2014.
  27. ^ a b "Charts.org.nz – Jellybean – Sidewalk Talk". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved August 28, 2014.
  28. ^ Sidewalk Talk (US 7-inch Single liner notes). Jellybean. EMI Records. 1984. B-8297. 
  29. ^ Sidewalk Talk (Netherlands 12-inch Single liner notes). Jellybean. EMI Records. 1984. 1A K060-20 0937 6. 
  30. ^ Sidewalk Talk (European 7-inch Single liner notes). Jellybean. EMI Records. 1984. 1C 006-20 0952 7. 
  31. ^ Sidewalk Talk (UK 12-inch Single liner notes). Jellybean. EMI Records. 1984. 12EA 210. 
  32. ^ Sidewalk Talk (UK 7-inch Single liner notes). Jellybean. EMI Records. 1984. EA 210. 
  33. ^ Sidewalk Talk (Spain 12-inch Single liner notes). Jellybean. EMI Records. 1984. 052 20 1002 6. 
  34. ^ Sidewalk Talk (Germany 12-inch Single liner notes). Jellybean. EMI Records. 1984. 1C K060-20 0952 6. 
  35. ^ "Dance Top 30: Weken 1 January 1986" (in Dutch). Netherlands Dance Top 30. Retrieved August 28, 2014. 
  36. ^ "Jellybean Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot 100 for Jellybean. Retrieved August 28, 2014.
  37. ^ "Jellybean Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs for Jellybean. Retrieved August 28, 2014.

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]