Song of the Day 10/21

Posted: October 21, 2011 in J.C. Personal
Tags: ,

Today’s song is a karaoke favorite and I shudder to think about how many times I’ve heard this song butchered by a group of drunk women who believed they sound REALLY good. Released in 1981 from the album Escape, Bay area staple Journey brings us “Don’t Stop Believin’”. The song reached number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100. In the UK, despite the song not being re-released, it re-entered the Singles Chart in 2009 because of increased digital downloads making it the 9th longest running song on the UK singles chart, ever. The song is also the top selling catalog track in i-Tunes history with nearly 5 million digital units sold.

Allmusic – a service media guide, calls Journey “one of America’s most loved (and sometimes hated) commercial rock/pop bands” and says of “Don’t Stop Belevin’” that it features one of the best opening keyboard riffs in rock.

Journey originally formed as a back-up band for San Francisco artists. The original line up of Journey, then called the Golden Gate Rhythm Section, included former members of Santana, Fruminous Bandersnatch, and The Tubes. After poor album sales, the band decided on a new direction. They hired Robert Fleischman and the other members took singing lessons in an attempt to add harmonies to Fleischman’s vocals. With Fleischman, the group wrote “Wheel in the Sky” but it was not well received.

Journey is perhaps known for the instantly recognizable vocals of Steve Perry who joined the band in 1977. The addition of Perry moved the group firmly into the pop genre and gave the band their first hits with “Lights” and the recording of the previously mentioned “Wheel in the Sky”.

Journey tried to capitalize on their success by licensing their likeness to Bally/Midway for Journey the arcade game and recording beer commercials. Critics, well… criticized the band’s decisions, but it did not stop Journey from being one of the best-selling bands of the early 80s.

Recent uses of “Don’t Stop Belevin’” have kept the track relevant in popular culture. The song has been featured in Family Guy, Scrubs, the Rock Band video game, the 80s musical show Rock of Ages (which originally featured Chris Hardwick, my pseudo-boss and comedy hero, as Stacee Jaxx in the original LA cast), as well as the controversial use in The Sopranos finale. The song has been covered by The Chipmunks and the cast of Glee. The Glee version charted higher than the original, but it still trails the original by millions in overall sales.

The song is about two young people who want to get away from their current lives. Both are ready to give up, but the singer urges them not to stop believing. It is an anthem for those that feel that they are stuck in the mundane or “living just find emotion”. The song structure is a bit different. Most songs have a chorus that is repeated several times, but “Don’t Stop Belevin’” has its chorus as well as the first mention of the title at the end of the song. The chord structure has a pop-punk progression or I-V-vi-IV structure.

While Steve Perry has left the band, his successors, Steve Augeri and Arnel Pineda, hired from a YouTube video, have maintained that distinctive Journey sound.

Sing it loud, just make sure it’s in your car and not at the bar.

See ya on the “b” side

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