Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Foreigner - I Want to Know What Love Is (1984)

 I Want to Know What Love Is
b/w Street Thunder (Marathon Theme)

Released: November 1984 (Atlantic)
Written by: Mick Jones
Produced by: Mick Jones, Alex Sadkin
Album: Agent Provocateur

 U. S. Billboard Charts:
 Hot 100 1
 Adult Contemporary 3
 Mainstream Rock 1
 R&B 85

While I count 1976-85 as my favorite decade, that doesn't mean I like everything produced during that time.  Case in point: this song which will make me run to a radio to change the station ASAP.  I can't stand this song.  It just plods along with a too heavy synth in a minor key.  Even the background gospel choir is singing a poor vocal arrangement with a flat, bored sound that says to me, "We're just doing this for the money."  Even though I was a Foreigner fan and, for three years, looked forward to a follow-up to 4, I couldn't bring myself to even try this album (the poorly titled Agent Provocateur).  It may be a good album, but I'll never know; this single ruined it for me.  I disliked it from the get-go.  It's just plain boring.  This band should rock.

I hear this called a power balled, but I'm not hearing that.  I realize that it was a huge hit and the band's only #1 song, but that only means it still gets played on the oldies stations with regularity.  When it does, I've changed the station before the DJ finishes talking over the intro.

If you must.


  1. No, really, give us your thoughts on this one. Let it all out.

    Clever use of the single art as rating.

    I don't hear the music, I hear the vocals. Impassioned and pleading, so emotional without being overwrought - it is one of the few songs I can sing all the way through without some sort of musical backing. Saw the band live on this tour and they bussed in local gospel choir to handle the duties and it was alll very churchy in a very good way.

    Heck, I even bought a 12" single of the New Jersey Mass Choir perfroming this song. Closest anyone has ever come to ruining this song for me is when that hot mess of a trainwreck Mariah Carey put a click track behind it a few years back but I see there are a lot of covers I've yet to hear. Will leave it like that. If I can sing it, I'm sure every Idol Voice Factor contestant is belting the crap out of it.

    Despite your best efforts, the original still does it for me. Thanks for reminding me how much.

    1. I felt like I was writing an entry for The A.V.Club's Hatesong series.

    2. Writing negative reviews of older stuff just seems like a cathartic exercise, good only for the writer. (Maybe some entertainment value for the reader if it is written well.) We like what we like and we can't be swayed to all of a sudden not like it. A positive reveiw of an older release can be a wonderful thing: alerting you to a forgotten favorite or turning you on to something new or reminding you why you like what you like.

      I am just not that negative a person I guess nor do I like everything - I just choose to accentuate the positives and eliminate the negatives. Scrolling through the Hatesongs list I only saw two songs I don't ever need to hear again. How many of those songs do you dislike?