Saturday, January 28, 1984

Frankie Goes to Hollywood hit #1 in the UK with “Relax”


Frankie Goes to Hollywood

Writer(s): Peter Gill, Holly Johnson, Brian Nash, Marc O’Toole, Paul Rutherford (see lyrics here)

Released: October 24, 1983

First Charted: November 26, 1983

Peak: 10 US, 13 CB, 22 GR, 10 RR, 15 UK, 11 CN, 5 AU, 9 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 2.15 UK, 3.20 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 41.8 video, 203.99 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“Merseyside-based group Frankie Goes to Hollywood…first premiered this track on pivotal [UK] music show The Tube. It sounded like late-Seventies funk. So they hooked up with producer Trevor Horn” MG who had a smash with the Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star,” which he called “a single that you could dance to.” TC He crafted three versions before they hit on the fourth and final cut which only featured member Holly Johnson, with the exception of the sound of the rest of the band jumping into a swimming pool. MG

With its “heavy breathing and the stuttering musical passages, [‘Relax’] owed a debt to Giorgio Moroder’s singles with Donna Summer” TC with “a more mechanical, disco-based sound.” LW The song had stalled within six weeks of its release after a peak at #55. Then its fortunes reversed. DJ Mike Reid had been playing the song, but abruptly stopped – supposedly on air midway through the song – after reading the lyrics. He considered the “sexually orientated lyrics” MG “overtly obscene,” LW despite Johnson’s unbelievable claim that the song, with its “joyful, tongue-in-cheek lasciviousness,” TC wasn’t about sex. LW The BBC then banned the song from daytime radio airplay. DR

Coupled with the news of Johnson’s open homosexuality, TC the controversy generated curiosity about the song, “ensuring its swift rise from #35 into the [UK] top ten (#6) the following week, and on to #1 two weeks later.” MG The song got another boost, going back to #2, when the follow-up single, “Two Tribes,” soared to #1. “Relax” spent 48 consecutive weeks on the UK chart. After it re-entered and was reissued in 1993, it racked up a total of 59 weeks on the chart. MG

The band will also “be remembered for the record’s unique marketing technique: the t-shirts. Paul Morley, co-director with Horn of ZTT Records, dreamt up the idea, and sold it to the band for £200-300. Soon everybody had snapped up a t-shirt, emblazoned with phrases such as ‘Frankie Says ‘Relax!’” MG


First posted 11/13/2019; last updated 11/25/2022.

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