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 charts.)
Sales (in millions): --
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 5.12 video, 29.09 streaming
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
First posted 12/24/2019; last updated 12/27/2022.