Saturday, October 13, 1984

Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You” hit #1

First posted 11/14/2019.

I Just Called to Say I Love You

Stevie Wonder

Writer(s): Stevie Wonder (see lyrics here)


Released: August 1, 1984


First Charted: August 18, 1984


Peak: 13 US, 14 CB, 12 RR, 13 AC, 13 RB, 16 UK, 13 CN, 18 (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales *: 1.0 US, 1.91 UK, 4.54 world (includes US + UK)


Radio Airplay *: --


Video Airplay *: 160.3


Streaming *: --


* in millions

Review:

Singer Dionne Warwick was the song coordinator for the movie The Woman in Red. She suggested Stevie Wonder for the score to the Gene Wilder film. Despite Wonder being blind, he “watched” the film and, according to Warwick, “He saw the film. There’s no way in the world that you can write the pieces of music that he wrote, for the sequences he wrote for, so directly.” BR1

Jay Lasker, who was then the president of Motown Records, wasn’t too excited. He discouraged Wonder from doing the soundtrack because it had already been four years since his last album and he wasn’t sold on the first three songs Wonder had written for the movie. Wonder responded with “I Just Called to Say I Love You.” Lasker’s response was that it “is probably going to be the biggest single in the history of Stevie Wonder. This is the record I picked and said I wanted out as a single.” BR1

Lasker’s hunch was right. The song topped a record 19 charts and remains Wonder’s best-selling single. WK It was his eighth chart-topper on the Billboard Hot 100 and tenth on the R&B chart. It was his only solo trip to the top in the UK, where it also became Motown’s biggest-selling single ever. WK

Songwriters Lloyd Chiate and Lee Garrett, a former writing partner with Wonder, sued him in October 1985. They claimed he stole the title and chorus idea for the song from a song they wrote in September 1976 called “Hello It’s Me/I Just Called to Say.” During the testimony, Wonder said he wrote the chorus on July 16, 1976 when coming home from visiting his mother. He also said he had John Lennon in mind when he worked on the song, imagining the Beatles singing with him. SF Chiate dropped the lawsuit in 1986, but Chiate continued it. In 1990, a jury ruled in favor of Wonder. SF

The fact that Wonder said he’d written much of the song in 1976 put its Oscar win for Best Song in doubt since songs were only eligible in the category which had been written specifically for film. However, no action was taken and Wonder kept the award. SF


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