Sunday, July 13, 2008

40 Years Ago Today: Steppenwolf charted with “Born to Be Wild” (7/13/1968)

Updated 1/27/2019.

image from amazon.com

Born to Be Wild

Steppenwolf

Writer(s): Mars Bonfire (see lyrics here)


First Charted: 7/13/1968


Peak: 2 US, 2 CB, 2 HR, 18 UK, 11 CN, 20 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


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


Radio Airplay *: 2.0


Video Airplay *: 97.0


Streaming *: --


* in millions

Review:

An entire genre of music owes its name to this song RS500 – even though “Born to Be Wild” wasn’t heavy metal (it is too fast and complex) CR-763 and the phrase wasn’t original to Steppenwolf. In his 1962 novel The Soft Machine, William Burroughs used the phrase “Heavy Metal Kid” to describe his character Uranian Willy, explaining to The Paris Review that it was “sort of the ultimate expression of addiction…that the final stage reached is not so much vegetable as mineral.” SF

Dennis Edmonton, who was a former member of Sparrow and the brother of Steppenwolf drummer Jerry Edmonton wrote the song under the pseudonym Mars Bonfire. AMG Inspired by a motorcycle poster with the slogan “Born to Ride,” he crafted this classic with the phrase “heavy metal” describing the roar of a motorcycle. TB-104

The song achieved iconic status when Dennis Hopper used it for the film Easy Rider. RS500 Originally Peter Fonda asked Crosby, Stills & Nash to soundtrack the film, RS500 but “Born to Be Wild” perfectly captured the movie’s “spirit of rebelliousness and freedom.” CR-763

Driven by “John Kay’s growling vocals” AMG and that “chugging guitar and swirling organ” CR-763 the song which started life as a ballad AMG not only has “one of the great, greasy riffs in rock” CR-763 but has become “a slice of ‘60s revolt” AMG which come to be “associated with motorcycle clubs in particular and outlaw behavior in general.” CR-764 Now it is a song “that practically screamed to be blasted out of car radios while driving at radar-triggering speeds.” AMG


Resources and Related Links:

Note: Footnotes (raised letter codes) refer to sources frequently cited on the blog. Numbers following the letter code indicate page numbers. If the raised letter code is a link, it will go directly to the correct page instead of the home page of a website. You can find the sources and corresponding footnotes on the “Lists” page in the “Song Resources” section.

Awards:


Saturday, July 5, 2008

Katy Perry hit #1 with “I Kissed a Girl”

Updated 1/19/2019.

image from genius.com

I Kissed a Girl

Katy Perry

Writer(s): Katy Perry, Lukasz "Dr. Luke" Gottwald, Max Martin, Cathy Dennis (see lyrics here)


Released: 4/28/2008


First Charted: 5/18/2008


Peak: 17 US, 27 MR, 15 UK, 19 CN, 16 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales *: 5.0 US, 0.71 UK, 8.4 world (includes US + UK)


Radio Airplay *: 0.3


Video Airplay *: 169.1


Streaming *: --


* in millions

Review:

Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” marked a clear break from her earlier days as a Christian artist. The song’s homosexual theme whipped the prudish into a frenzy and guaranteed an audience looking for controversy. Of course, none of that would have mattered if “I Kissed a Girl” wasn’t “an extremely catchy pure pop hit.” AB’00

The “pop rock song with elements of new wave” WK was assembled by a hit-making machine. Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald helped write Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone,” which helped her jettison her own overly clean cut image. Max Martin penned “Baby…One More Time” and co-penned “Oops!...I Did It Again” for Britney Spears. Writer Cathy Dennis helped Spears and Kylie Minogue return to the spotlight with “Toxic” and “Can’t Get You Out of My Head,” respectively.

Perry has given conflicting accounts that the song was about a female friend she kissed as a teen and that it was a fantasy and she’d never actually kissed a girl. WK Miley Cyrus has said the song was about her; Perry has also said it was inspired by Scarlet Johansson. WK

According to Perry, the chorus popped into her head one night, but she didn’t do anything with it for a year-and-a-half. When she was working in the studio with Dr. Luke on her album, they decided they had to finish it since “it’s so catchy because it won’t get out of our heads.” WK

Dennis Reese, a VP at Capitol, saw the song’s potential and pushed it to radio despite the record company’s initial resistance to release it. It became the Billboard Hot 100’s 1000th number one song of the rock era, marking Perry’s breakthrough. It also topped the charts in 18 other countries. WK

Critics weren’t completely sold on the song. The online All Music Guide said “the problem is not with Katy’s gender-bending, it’s that her heart isn’t in it.” WK Slant criticized the song “because its appropriation of the gay lifetstyle exists for the sole purpose of garnering attention.” WK


Resources and Related Links:

Note: Footnotes (raised letter codes) refer to sources frequently cited on the blog. Numbers following the letter code indicate page numbers. If the raised letter code is a link, it will go directly to the correct page instead of the home page of a website. You can find the sources and corresponding footnotes on the “Lists” page in the “Song Resources” section.

Awards: