Friday, January 27, 2017

Songoftheday 1/27/17 - Feeling unknown and you’re all alone, flesh and bone by the telephone, lift up the receiver I'll make you a believer...

"Personal Jesus" - Depeche Mode
from the album Violator (1990)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #28 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 6

Today's song of the day comes from the British new wave group Depeche Mode, who were insanely popular in their home country and throughout Europe through the 80s, but aside from their top-20 pop hit "People Are People" in the summer of 1985, they were mostly avoided by mainstream American radio. However their popularity with the youth was growing exponentially, as proven by their sell-out show in the Rose Bowl in L.A. At the time, their Music For The Masses album produced a moderate hit with "Strangelove", which entered the Hot 100 twice. Embraced by the growing power of college/modern rock radio and the goth culture in America, they were poised for more success with their first album of the new decade, Violator. The first single, though, was a striking opening salvo; "Personal Jesus", written by the group's Martin Gore and produced with Flood (Erasure, New Order, U2), for the first time the electric guitar was put front and center, as the vaguely western blues pastiche was fitted onto an ominous bass-synth core, but that guitar and Dave Gahan's growling romantic come-ons are what made this record. The gamble paid off, as the single returned them to American airwaves in a big way, though I admit as a longtime fan at that time, the change in sonics for this single was quite jarring, to say the least...


"Personal Jesus" became Depeche Mode's second American top-40 pop hit in March of 1990. The single was a big hit on Modern Rock/Alternative stations, spending three weeks at #3 on Billboard's Alternative radio chart. The 12" single, which included the "B-Side" "Dangerous", climbed to 12 on their Dance Club Play list. Internationally, the record reached the top-10 in Italy (#3), Germany (#5), Spain (#5), Switzerland (#5), Poland (#5), Ireland (#7), and Finland (#9). It also got to #27 in France, and #13 in their native Britain.

(Click below to see the rest of the post)


The single's "B-Side", "Dangerous", was a dark, brooding slice of synth-goth that I attached to much more readily, and helped "sell" the evolution in their sound. On its own it climbed to #13 on Billboard's Modern Rock radio chart...



Next up, the band in concert behind the album...


...and again in 1993, when Gahan was starting to drift into rockstar-style druggie hell...


In 2002, country music icon Johnny Cash covered the song for his Rick Rubin-produced American IV album...


Goth-metal god Marilyn Manson also released a version of "Personal Jesus", which took on a political tone in the music video that really rings true today. The track made the top 20 on the Alternative Rock (#12) and Mainstream Rock (#20) radio charts in America, and reached the top-20 in Austria (#10), Germany (#11), the UK (#13), and Switzerland (#13)...


 Back to the Mode in 2006 in Italy, where the single went the highest on the charts...


 British R&B/pop singer Jamelia went to #10 in the UK with "Beware Of The Dog", which samples the instrumental...

Jamelia - "Beware Of The Dog" from Ray Kay on Vimeo.

Former teen queen Hilary Duff also sampled the song for her #1 club hit "Reach Out" in 2008...


In 2011, during a flood of reissues from the band, "Personal Jesus" was reworked and remixed, and the result was a minor hit across Europe, almost making the top-40 in Belgium at #43...


 Lastly, here's the band performing live on Letterman in 2013...


Up tomorrow: Dutch dance act arises the chart again this evening.

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