|First posted 6/20/2008; updated 11/6/2020.|
Hotter Than July
Released: September 29, 1980
Peak: 3 US, 113 RB, 2 UK, 18 CN, 3 AU
Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.3 UK, 9.0 world (includes US and UK)
Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.
Songs by Wonder unless noted otherwise.
Total Running Time: 45:52
3.946 out of 5.00 (average of 12 ratings)
About the Album:
1979’s Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants had been a strange album which was considered a commercial and critical failure, despite the top-5 success of single “Send One Your Love.” Wonder thought Motown hadn’t promoted the album well, WK but it would have been an uphill battle because of the album’s largely experimental instrumentals.
By contrast, Hotter Than July,, Wonder’s first platinum album, WK is full of huge hooks and gorgeous melodies (Did I Hear You Say You Love Me, the ballad Lately, As If You Read My Mind with Syreeta). Hotter Than July returned to the street-dancing spirit of earlier periods (updated in contemporary idioms such as reggae and rap).” WK
Regarding the latter genre, Wonder was “inspired by the growing popularity of Bob Marley’s music and its clear message against war.” WK Wonder was also “inspired by his love for reggae music from meeting Bob Marley.” WK He integrated that in the first track he wrote for the album, the irresistible reggae number Master Blaster (Jammin’).
Hotter Than July also showed how popular Wonder had become in the UK where “Master Blaster,” I Ain’t Gonna Stand for It, “Lately,” and Happy Birthday were all top 10 hits. The latter was the standout track from the album and the theme song for the campaign to make Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday a national holiday. In 1984, his efforts culminated in success when President Ronald Reagan announced that the third Monday of each January was to be officially known as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
The song All I Do had an interesting history. As a teenager, Wonder co-wrote the song in 1966. That year, another Motown artist, Tammi Terrell, recorded the song, but it wasn’t released in her lifetime. For Wonder’s version, he brought in Michael Jackson, Eddie Levert and Walter Williams of the O’Jays, and Betty Wright to sing backing vocals. WK
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