Saturday, February 27, 1982

Journey hit #2 for 1st of 6 weeks with “Open Arms”

First posted 2/13/2020.

Open Arms

Journey

Writer(s): Steve Perry/Jonathan Cain (see lyrics here)


First Charted: January 15, 1982


Peak: 2 US, 11 CB, 11 HR, 17 RR, 7 AC, 1 CL, 35 AR, 2 CN, 43 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 3.0 radio, 4.07 video, -- streaming

Awards:

Review:

Journey’s keyboardist, Jonathan Cain, wrote the melody for “Open Arms” when he was with The Babys. John Waite, that group’s lead singer, considered the song “too syrupy” and passed on it. SF Cain tried again when he was in Journey, showing it to singer Steve Perry. He was sold, but the rest of the band wasn’t so sure about a ballad. Perry and Cain ended up writing a song about a couple drifting apart and finding each other again when they realize how much they love each other.

“Open Arms” was the third single from Journey’s chart-topping Escape album following “Don’t Stop Believin’” (#9) and “Who’s Crying Now” (#4). It not only bested them both, but became the band’s biggest hit ever. It held on to the runner-up spot for six weeks, held out from the top spot by two huge #1 songs – J. Geils Band’s “Centerfold” (6 weeks) and Joan Jett & the Blackheart’s “I Love Rock and Roll” (7 weeks). Songfacts.com said the song “pioneered the entire concept of the power ballad” while Perry said, “Now everybody’s got to have one.” SF All Music Guide’s Mike DeGagne’s echoed that idea saying the song “broke down the flood gates and paved the way for…the power ballad.” AMG

However, “Open Arms” was definitely not the first power ballad. In the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, a genre known as “arena rock” emerged, led by groups like Journey, Styx, REO Speedwagon, and Foreigner. Each garnered wide rock and pop audiences and landed #1 albums. All four had their biggest hits with power ballads – but the other three groups did so before Journey. Styx topped the charts with “Babe” in 1979 and REO Speedwagon pulled of the same feat with 1980’s “Keep on Loving You.” Foreigner arguably pulled off the biggest hit of the four groups with 1981’s “Waiting for a Girl Like You.” While it didn’t hit #1, it held the #2 spot for 10 weeks. In 1984, they hit the top with “I Want to Know What Love Is.”

While “Open Arms” wasn’t the first power ballad as claimed, it is “one of rock’s most beautiful ballads,” A2 according to DeGagne. He said the song “gleams with an honesty and feel only Steve Perry could muster” A2 as it puts his “voice on a pedestal for all to hear.” A1 “The accompanying piano riffs that floated and then wisped away the song’s delicate lyrics had a lot to do with the song’s prosperity as well.” A1 The song has been covered by Boyz II Men, Celine Dion, Barry Manilow, and Mariah Carey, who reached #4 with the song in the UK in 1996.


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Saturday, February 6, 1982

J. Geils Band hit #1 with “Centerfold”

First posted 1/26/2021.

Centerfold

J. Geils Band

Writer(s): Seth Justman (see lyrics here)


Released: September 13, 1981


First Charted: November 6, 1981


Peak: 16 US, 16 CB, 15 HR, 2 RR, 1 AR, 3 UK, 14 CN, 11 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.2 UK, 1.2 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 29.0 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

The J. Geils Band had been around since 1967. They’d even been invited to perform at Woodstock in 1969, but turned it down. BR1 The group landed six songs on the Billboard Hot 100 from 1971 to 1977 before switching to EMI-America and charting five more singles, although none reached the top 30. They finally broke through with “Centerfold” in 1982, an “uptempo rock tune – no dobut aided in popularity by its schoolgirls-in-lingerie music video.” BB100

Joe Viglione of All Music Guide described the song as an “amalgam of rock, pop, blues and tongue-in-cheek humor.” AMG The more new wave leanings of “Centerfold” was considered a departure for a band who had established themselves as “a great live act with a blues-based sound.” SF The band’s keyboardist, Seth Justman, said they hadn’t used synthesizers much before simply because they couldn’t afford them. SF

Critics accused the band of selling out by abandoning their “traditional boogie sound and…pandering to the rock crowd” BR1 but lead singer Peter Wolf said, “We were always a rock ‘n’ roll band. We just had blues and R&B roots.” BR1 Wolf also said it was never the group’s goal to have a #1. They just wanted “to make a good rock ‘n’ roll record and have some excitement.” BR1

The song, written by Justman, is about a guy who discovers his high school crush posing in a men’s magazine. He is torn between “the disappointment due to her loss of innocence and his lust.” WK It was “commercial, cool, and a pop record that could stand up to repeated listenings.” AMG Seth’s brother, Paul, directed the video.


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