Writer(s): Lionel Richie (see lyrics here)
Released: February 13, 1984
First Charted: February 25, 1984
Peak: 12 US, 12 CB, 2 GR, 2 RR, 16 AC, 12 RB, 16 UK, 11 CN, 13 AU, 3 DF (Click for codes to charts.)
Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.96 UK, 2.11 world (includes US + UK)
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 185.4 video, 189.33 streaming
Click on award for more details.
About the Song:
Michael Jackson’s Thriller changed the game for multi-hit singles from one album and Lionel Richie was one of the earliest beneficiaries. His Can’t Slow Down album, released in late 1983, was fueled to major platinum success and an Album of the Year Grammy on the strength of five top-10 singles. The first two were dance-oriented songs (“All Night Long (All Night)” and “Running with the Night”), but the third (“Hello”) was a ballad.
From his days in the Commodores, Richie had learned to bring in ballads for the group because everyone else would supply the uptempo numbers. It led to the group finding #1 success with “Three Times a Lady” and “Still.” Richie went on to write “Lady,” a #1 ballad for Kenny Rogers, and then dueted with Diana Ross on the #1 ballad “Endless Love.”
The release of his first solo album saw him ride three songs into the top ten, including the #1 ballad “Truly.” The song “Hello” was written for that album, but rejected, despite the protests of Richie’s wife, Brenda. When it was nearly left off Can’t Slow Down, Brenda insisted it be included. FB Good thing she said. It gave her husband his fourth #1 solo hit and, surprisingly enough, the first UK million-selling single for Motown. SF
The song was accompanied by a story video in which Richie is a drama teacher and falls for a student. He loves her from afar, unable to approach her, and is surprised at the end that she has carved a sculpture of him, despite being blind. While the video evoked a creepy, teacher-student relationship, the lyrics themselves were a more universal declaration of unrequited love. Viewers of The Box, a TV channel in the UK, voted it the worst video of all time. SF
First posted 11/29/2020; last updated 12/27/2022.