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, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)
Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.2 UK, 1.25 world (includes US + UK)
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 36.4 video, 260.47 streaming
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. FB 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.” BB
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” FB but lead singer Peter Wolf said, “We were always a rock ‘n’ roll band. We just had blues and R&B roots.” FB 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.” FB
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.
First posted 1/26/2021; last updated 10/27/2022.