Monday, June 22, 1981

Foreigner “Urgent” released

Urgent

Foreigner

Writer(s): Mick Jones (see lyrics here)


Released: June 22, 1981


First Charted: July 3, 1981


Peak: 4 US, 5 CB, 3 HR, 9 RR, 3 CL, 14 AR, 45 UK, 12 UK, 24 AU, 4 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): --


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 36.0 video, -- streaming

About the Song:

Through three albums, Foreigner had established themselves as one of the biggest rock bands in the world. All three releases reached the top five of the Billboard album charts and have been certified for sales of at least five million. They’d landed eight songs in the top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100; half of those reached the top 10. Could they get any bigger?

Yes. With their fourth album, simply titled 4, Foreigner hired producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange, who is no slouch when it comes to blockbuster albums. He’d already done AC/DC’s Back in Black and would go on to do monster albums by Def Leppard (Pyromania, Hysteria) and Shania Twain (Come on Over). The band leapt into the stratosphere with an album that has sold more than 11 million copies worldwide and spent ten weeks atop the Billboard album chart. The album also gave the world one of the greatest power ballads of all time in “Waiting for a Girl Like You,” which spent an astonishing ten weeks at #2.

That, however, was not the album’s first single. “Urgent” was released a few weeks prior to the album and scaled the charts all the way to the #4 slot. Billboard’s Gary Graff rated it Foreigner’s all-time greatest song. WK

Interestingly, the then-unknown Thomas Dolby (who would later have a top-5 new-wave hit with “She Blinded Me with Science”) played synthesizer on the track. A demo of his song “Urges” where he sings “urges, urges…” was incorporated into Foreigner’s song with the lyric “urgent, urgent…” WK

The song also features Motown artist Junior Walker on saxophone. WK The group wanted a sax solo in his style for the R&B-flavorted song. They read that Walker was performing that night just blocks from the recording studio. SF


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First posted 7/9/2022.

Saturday, June 20, 1981

Squeeze charted with “Tempted”

Tempted

Squeeze

Writer(s): Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook (see lyrics here)


Released: July 10, 1981


First Charted: June 20, 1981


Peak: 49 US, 50 CB, 52 HR, 8 AR, 3 CL, 1 CO, 41 UK, 45 CN, 95 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): --


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 5.12 video, 29.09 streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

When I was in college in the mid-‘80s, I developed a habit of raiding people’s music collections. At times, I’d walk out of their dorm rooms with a handful of cassettes (yep – I lived through the days before CDs or mp3s existed) minutes after I’d met them. One of my roommates’s friends got me to finally open up to harder-edged fare like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and Rush that I’d steered away from in high school. However, I also discovered the sound that comes closest to my tastes – college rock.

Before Nirvana and Pearl Jam ushered in the grunge movement and subsequent mainstreaming of alternative rock, the genre was marked by bands like U2, R.E.M., INXS, The Cure, and Depeche Mode when they were still niche bands. My greatest discovery, though, was Squeeze. A friend’s girlfriend had a copy of the band’s 45’s and Under compilation. It made me a lifelong fan of the band.

The song missed the top 40 in the UK and USA. In the UK, the band had landed seven songs in the top 40, including three top-five hits. In the USA, the loftiest heights for the band came with their 1987 album Babylon and On and its top 40 singles “Hourglass” and “853-5937.” However, the band is probably best known for the song “Tempted,” from their 1981 album East Side Story, aided in part by its use in commercials for Burger King and Heineken and its use in the 1994 movie Reality Bites.

Ironically, it isn’t Chris Difford or Glenn Tilbrook – the band’s staples throughout their 40-year history – who take the lead on the song. No, it’s sung by Paul Carrack, a musical journeyman who also sang with Ace (“How Long”) and Mike + the Mechanics (“Silent Running,” “The Living Years”). He served as the keyboardist on East Side Story and served as the lead vocalist on one song – the one that arguably became the band’s signature hit. Tilbrook does, however, trade a few lines in the second verse with Elvis Costello, who co-produced the track. WK

Chris Difford wrote the lyrics while in a cab. As he said, “I just wrote down what I saw and how I felt as we wormed our way through the traffic. I also must have anticipated a good time on tour as the chorus suggests.” SF Glenn Tilbrook said, “It was a sort of breakthrough song for us…It was when we grew up, really, as a band.” SF


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First posted 12/24/2019; last updated 10/30/2022.

Saturday, June 13, 1981

Air Supply’s The One That You Love hit the U.S. charts

First posted 1/18/2009; updated 9/20/2020.

The One That You Love

Air Supply


Charted: June 13, 1981


Peak: 10 US, -- UK, 21 CN, 10 AU


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 1.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: adult contemporary


Tracks:

Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Don’t Turn Me Away
  2. Here I Am (Just When I Thought I Was Over You) (9/19/81, 5 US, 1 AC, 43 AU, airplay: 1 million)
  3. Keeping the Love Alive
  4. The One That You Love (5/16/81, 1 US, 2 AC, 10 AU, sales: 1 million, airplay: 1 million)
  5. This Heart Belongs to Me
  6. Sweet Dreams (12/12/81, 5 US, 4 AC, airplay: 1 million)
  7. I Want to Give It All
  8. I’ll Never Get Enough of You
  9. Tonite
  10. I’ve Got Your Love


Total Running Time: 39:59


The Players:

  • Russell Hitchcock (vocals)
  • Graham Russell (vocals, rhythm guitar)
  • Rex Goh, David Moyse (guitars)
  • Dave Green (bass)
  • Frank Esler-Smith (keyboards)
  • Ralph Cooper (drums)

Rating:

3.573 out of 5.00 (average of 4 ratings)


Awards:

About the Album:

The One That You Love was Air Supply’s second international release and perhaps their finest all-around studio outing.” AMG Like its predecessor, Lost in Love, the album was produced by future-Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Clive Davis. Both albums also spawned three top-five Billboard Hot 100 hits. the lead single, “the heart-wrenching title track,” AMG became Air Supply’s first and only chart-topper.

“The sheer drama of Here I Am and the swooping orchestration of Sweet Dreams complete this smash-hit trilogy.” AMG The former was “closely related to the style of Barry Manilow, one of the band’s influences” WK while the latter came closer than anything the group had done to a foray into rock. The song also lent itself to a more bombastic, orchestral treatment, as demonstrated in the video below.

“As suggested by their name, a sense of air and space pervades other pop-tastic ballads such as This Heart Belongs to Me and Keeping the Love Alive.” AMG I’ll Never Get Enough of You was the main theme of a Japanese TV novel, leading it to become the group’s first entry on any Asian chart. WK


Notes: --

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Bruce Springsteen's song “The River” charted

The River

Bruce Springsteen

Writer(s): Bruce Springsteen (see lyrics here)


Released: May 1981


First Charted: June 13, 1981


Peak: 19 CL, 35 UK, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 0.5 US, 0.2 UK


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, -- video, 109.28 streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Bruce Springsteen recorded “The River” for an album called The Ties That Bind. When he decided to expand the album to a double, he re-titled it The River. The title cut and six other cuts from Ties emerged on the new album. Springsteen said he considered “The River,” “Point Blank,” “Independence Day,” and “Stolen Car,” to be “the heart and soul” of the album. WK

Lyrically, the song was inspired by Springsteen’s sister Ginny and her husband Mickey. They got married when she was still a teenager and he faced challenges when he lost his construction job, but still worked hard to support his wife and child without complaining. SF Writer Robert Hilburn described the song as “a classic outline of someone who has to re-adjust his dreams quickly.” WK

The song drew inspiration from Hank Williams. It depicts economic difficulties interlaced with local culture with some inspiration in “Long Gone Lonesome Blues” WK and also was influenced by “My Bucket’s Got a Hole in It.” SF The song foreshadowed the more stripped-down style of his next album, 1982’s Nebraska, with its “haunting harmonica part” WK and “a sense of hopelessness.” WK

“The River” was released as a single in Europe, reaching #35 in the UK and was a top 10 hit in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Portugal. It got to #1 in Israel. The song was not released as a single in the United States, but did garner airplay on album-rock radio stations and became one of the best-known songs in Springsteen’s repertoire. During his tour for Born in the U.S.A., Springsteen would often tell a story about his conflict with his father while growing up before playing the song. It was included on the box set Live/1975-85.


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First posted 10/26/2022.