Monday, 15 July 2013

Lionel Richie’s “Stuck on You”: Crossover hit

Lionel Richie's 1983 mega-hit
album "Can't Slow Down"
There are songs that have crossover appeal with success on more than one chart. One of the first ones I recall I heard just the other day: “Stuck on You” by Lionel Richie.

Long before he was just Nicole’s dad, he was a singer and songwriter who occupied the charts for much of the ‘80s. First, he was the lead singer of The Commodores, then went solo and really hit it big with the album “Can’t Slow Down”. The biggest singles off that album were “Hello” and “All Night Long”. However, it was an album that just kept producing single after single, from “Penny Lover” and “Running With the Night”, to “Stuck on You”.

What made “Stuck on You” different was that I did not hear it as much on the pop charts, but instead in a very unlikely spot: CJOC, a country and western radio station broadcasting out of Lethbridge that my parents listened to. They had this old green radio that seemingly only got one station: CJOC.

Normally, as I got ready for school I got washed up then sat in front of this furnace in our kitchen waiting for my hair to dry. I always wrapped a towel over my head, and around my ears, like the sheiks I saw on TV. Usually, I tuned out the country songs until, one day, I heard this song.

“That sounds like Lionel Richie,” I thought. But what was he doing on CJOC (or See-Jock as we pronounced it)?

I hopped on the bus and low and behold that day, I heard it on 1090 CHEC, the top-40 station playing on the radio in the school bus. It was Lionel Richie.

Eventually, I discovered through the magic of “Entertainment Tonight”, my primary source of that kind of news, that “Stuck on You” was climbing up the Hot 100 chart, where it peaked at number three, and the country music chart, where it peaked at number 24.

Richie would find even greater crossover success a four years later when he teamed with country music sensation Alabama for the single "Deep River Woman". It was another song I heard on CJOC and CHEC at the same time. It eventually peaked at number 10 on the country charts, but topped out at 71 on Billboard's Hot 100.

Never would I have imagined that one of pop music’s icons could be a country music sensation. Now, country and western fans are highly critical of songs, complaining many are indistinguishable from pop music. It is interesting how the shoe was on the other foot 30 years ago.

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