From the “Do you really think about this stuff?” file…
REO Speedwagon let me down in 1985. How did such a rockin band of the late seventies/early eighties crash in burn in my personal opinion? They had a #1 hit with Can’t Fight This Feeling. They’d had one #1 before with 1981’s Keep on Loving You, so what was the big deal? I’ll explain.
In my formative music taste years of the early ’80’s, Journey and REO Speedwagon were two of the biggest rock bands on the planet. They played good solid rock music, and they both had a strong piano presence in many of their songs. REO even had an album titled You Can Tuna Piano but You Can’t Tuna Fish. Awesome.
Today, their hits are still played on the radio, on television, and even remakes on Glee (OK, who isn’t). Two hits that get played a bunch are Faithfully by Journey and Can’t Fight the Feeling (CFTF) by REO. I still like one of these and despise the other.
So, why do I still listen to Faithfully but cringe and change the station when Can’t Fight This Feeling comes on the radio?
I didn’t know myself, so for the sake of blogging, I decided to get to the bottom of it. Unfortunately, this meant listening to CFTF a couple of times. I think I figured it out, but first, let’s look at some facts.
Faithfully release date: April 1983. Chart peak at #12. Spring of 9th grade for me.
CFTF release date: January 1985. Chart peak #1. Late winter/early spring of my 11th grade.
Song structure: They both start with a piano solo intro followed by vocals with piano only for the first verses. Then, for the chorus and remainder of the songs, the bands come in. I like this format. They both have strong guitar solos in the songs. That is good, too. So, all in all, very similar songs.
So, what is the problem?
Wikipedia describes both songs as power ballads. I’ve decided this is my problem. I disagree with Wikipedia.
Faithfully IS a power ballad. I can feel it in the drums. I can feel it in Neal Schon’s guitar. I can feel it in Steve Perry’s voice. I’m left with a feeling of “Yes!” when the song is over.
I Can’t Fight this Feeling IS NOT a power ballad. I’m left with a feeling of a balloon deflating after you’ve blown it up and released the end without tying. So, REO, I could fight the feeling because I didn’t feel it. I guess this was just a huge letdown from REO after some great rockin tunes. So, I wrote them off.
Or maybe some girl who dumped me in 1985 loved that song, and I have some hidden issues related to that it. I’m sticking with the lack of power ballad option.
Am I wrong? Watch the videos and feel free to comment below.
P.S. Can’t Fight this Feeling is partially redeemed in the movie Rock of Ages. I won’t spoil it here, but it was hilarious.