Foreigner – 10 Reasons To Love Foreigner
Foreigner is a British-American classic rock band from New York, United States of America which was formed in 1976. Since then, Foreigner has more than 70 million albums and has experienced multi-platinum success around the world. That’s not including the thousands of tickets they sell at their live shows around the world. The interesting thing about Foreigner is this; ‘The brand is the song titles’.
The reason for this statement is the fact that market research has established that Foreigner’s potential audience recognizes the song titles more so than the name of the band. Of course, this is by no means to be seen as a negative thing. If anything, it has helped Foreigner receive continuous worldwide radio airplay which in turns helps them maintain a growing fanbase. With a European tour in the summer of 2016 (which includes a night at the famous Palladium Theatre in London, United Kingdom) we thought it was time for a JLTT rundown of some of Foreigner’s tracks from their extensive back catalogue (In no particular order):
Cold As Ice
I first heard this track as a child when I was watching television. I remember hearing it on an advert for a new toothpaste. Of course that is not what the song is about at all but it is clever from a marketing point of view. Whenever I walk past the toothpaste section in a store that song always jumps into my head!
It was the first song Mick Jones wrote for the band in 1977 and it was then recorded on a piano.
‘Urgent’ was the band’s first single to be taken from the ‘4’ album which was released in 1981. It was written by the songwriting partnership of Mick Jones (Guitar) and Lou Gramm. Although this album was a commercial success (it was one of the best-selling albums of the 80’s) it was definitely a different sound for the band who went for a rhythm and blues approach. The band made it clear that they wanted a ‘Junior Walker-style’ sax solo for the cut.
As luck would have it, Walker himself was performing the same evening near the recording studio and after one of the band read about it in The Village Voice newspaper they were able to get him to lay down the saxophone solo, It is definitely up there with Hall & Oates’s ‘Man Eater’, Gerry Rafferty’s ‘Baker Street’ and Billy Joel’s ‘Scenes From An Italian Restaurant’ as one of the best sax solos of all time.
Waiting For A Girl Like You
An anthemic arena classic rock song that showcases not only the band’s songwriting ability but also their ability to think outside the musical box as it were. One component which helped propel the song to an astonishing ten weeks at #2 in the Billboard Hot 100 chart was Thomas Dolby’s synthesizer. Although it was held off the number one spot by Olivia Newton-John’s ‘Physical’ it did prove to be a radio hit as the top 40 radio stations at the time began playing the track which increased their exposure.
One of the best driving songs ever written and is a favourite on those classic rock and Father’s Day CD compilations. It was released as a single in June 1978 and reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart that September. It has been used in television shows such as Bones and The Simpsons as well as television adverts for companies such as Nestlé.
Dirty White Boy
At the time ‘Dirty White Boy’ was seen as a controversial because the subject matter of race wasn’t a popular topic in pop music at the time. However, the album ‘Head Games’ still generated sales of over 5 million copies.
This was inspired by a hockey game which was attended by Mick Jones and Lou Gramm. At a New York Rangers game, a goalie known as John Davidson ended up with concussion which in turn led to double vision. Having heard this on the venue PA they were inspired to pen the song. The single is certified RIAA gold, selling one million copies.
I Want To Know What Love Is
”I Wanna Know What Love Is’ a beautifully written song which was a hit in both America and United Kingdom in 1985 and was released in November the previous year. It features the rich backing vocals from New Jersey Mass Choir (their first performance in a recording studio) which blends well with Lou Gramm’s lead vocals. At the time of the recording Mick Jones’s mother and father were present.
Notable covers have included Mariah Carey, The New Jersey Mass Choir and Australian singer Tina Arena whose version was produced by Jones. In addition, he added a previously unrecorded bridge specifically for Arena’s version.
‘Spellbinder’ the closing track on the Keith Olsen produced album ‘Double Vision’ and Jones’s electric guitar is fluid and is essentially him channeling Steely Dan. He was trying to encapsulate the sexy sound of (Steely) Dan’s overall style. Its jazz tones aren’t usual associated with Foreigner’s AOR (Album-oriented rock) but part of the band’s charm and lasting musical legacy is their abilities to a) not be pigeonholed in terms of genre and b) increasing their fanbase by stepping out of their comfort zone.
Can’t Slow Down
The title track from their ninth studio album, ‘Can’t Slow Down’ is an energetic rock tune that is one of the band’s hidden gems. Also, it was the first studio release with lead singer Kelly Hansen. The drums on this are superb and are fast paced which is appropriate as it was a tribute to NASCAR. It celebrated Foreigner’s appearance Samsung 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway earlier in the year. This proved that Foreigner are still capable of radio-friendly, catchy numbers.
I Don’t Want To Live Without You
A single from the 1987 album ‘Inside Information’, this heartfelt ballad features electronic drumming and twinkly keyboards which gives the song that real eighties sound. The lead vocals were strong but at the same time well-paced. It spent one week at atop of the Billboard adult contemporary chart in the week of 14th May 1988.
Foreigner will be embarking on a European Tour in 2016 which commences at Palladium Theatre, London, United Kingdom on Tuesday 7th June 2016. For tickets to this show visit the following website: http://bit.ly/1VmmPMf
For the other European tour dates and more information visit Foreigner’s offiical website here: http://bit.ly/1AlpRUO
(Photo Credit: Bill Bernstein. Many thanks to Peter and Dom for all of their help)