Superstition (song)

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For other uses, see Superstition (disambiguation).
"Superstition"
Single by Stevie Wonder
from the album Talking Book
B-side "You've Got It Bad Girl"
Released October 24, 1972
Format 7" 45 RPM
Recorded 1972, New York
Genre Funk
Length 4:26 (album version)
4:07 (45 version)
Label Tamla T 54226F
Writer(s) Stevie Wonder
Producer(s) Stevie Wonder
Certification Gold (BPI)
Stevie Wonder singles chronology
"Keep On Running"
(1972)
"Superstition"
(1972)
"You Are the Sunshine of My Life"
(1973)
Music sample

"Superstition" is a popular song produced, arranged, and performed by Stevie Wonder for Motown Records in 1972. It was the lead single for Wonder's Talking Book album,[1] and released in many countries. It reached number one in the U.S.,[2] and number one on the soul singles chart.[3] The song was Wonder's first number-one single since the live version of "Fingertips Pt. 2" topped the Billboard Hot 100 in 1963.[4] Overseas, it peaked at number eleven in the UK during February 1973. In November 2004, Rolling Stone ranked the song at No. 74 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The song's lyrics are chiefly concerned with superstitions,[2] mentioning several popular superstitious fables throughout the song, and deal with the negative effects superstitious beliefs can bring.

Writing and recording[edit]

Jeff Beck was an admirer of Wonder's music, and Wonder was informed of this prior to the Talking Book album sessions. Though at this point he was virtually playing all of the instruments on his songs by himself, Wonder still preferred to let other guitarists play on his records, and thus he liked the idea of a collaboration with Beck, a star guitarist in his own right. An agreement was quickly made for Beck to become involved in the sessions that became the Talking Book album, in return for Wonder writing him a song. Whilst in-between sessions, Beck came up with the opening drum beat, which eventually led to Wonder's creation of "Superstition." In addition to the opening drum beat, Beck, together with Wonder, created the first demo for the song.[5] Originally, the plan was for Beck to release his version of this song first, with his newly-formed power trio Beck, Bogert & Appice. However, due to a combination of the delayed release of that trio's debut album and Motown CEO Berry Gordy's prediction that "Superstition" would be a huge hit (which would subsequently greatly increase the sales of Talking Book), Wonder ended up releasing the song as the lead single off Talking Book ahead of Beck's version.[6]

On Wonder's iconic recording, the song's opening drum beat was performed by Wonder on the kit that Scott Mathews provided at the Record Plant in Hollywood. The funky clavinet riff played on a Hohner Clavinet model C, and the Moog synthesizer bass, were also performed by Wonder. The song also features trumpet and tenor saxophone, played respectively by Steve Madaio and Trevor Laurence.[7]

Other recorded versions[edit]

Stevie Wonder performed a live-in-the-studio version of "Superstition" on Sesame Street in 1973. This version later appeared on the collection, Songs from the Street: 35 Years in Music.[8][9]

Jeff Beck recorded his own version of the song with the power trio Beck, Bogert & Appice, which was released on their eponymous debut album.

Stevie Ray Vaughan recorded a live version in 1986, which was released as a single from his album Live Alive. The accompanying music video features Vaughan and a stage crew setting up for a concert he planned to do on Friday the 13th. Many superstitious acts are featured, most notably a black cat that ultimately gets its revenge on Double Trouble, and Wonder (holding said cat) appears at the end. This version is still played on classic rock radio to this day,[10] and is included on two of Vaughan's greatest hits compilations.[11]

Raven Symone recorded a cover of the song that appeared in the Disney film The Haunted Mansion (film).

In pop culture[edit]

Wonder's recording is heard prominently near the beginning of John Carpenter's classic 1982 horror film The Thing.

Wonder appeared in Bud Light commercials that debuted during the Super Bowl in 2013. As part of the, "It's only weird if it doesn't work," campaign, which showed superstitious fans acting compulsively in an effort to guide their teams to victory, Wonder appeared as a witch doctor in New Orleans (where the 2013 Super Bowl took place). These fans would perform numerous superstitious acts in order to receive good luck charms from him. The song "Superstition," specifically the beginning instrumental portion before Wonder's vocals kick in, plays throughout these commercials.[10]

The songs appears in video games Karaoke Revolution Party, Guitar Hero 5, DJ Hero 2 and Just Dance 4.

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
United Kingdom (BPI)[12] Gold 500,000double-dagger

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Superstition: Stevie Wonder". Rolling Stone. December 9, 2004. Retrieved 2008-01-16. 
  2. ^ a b Dean, Maury (2003). Rock N' Roll Gold Rush. Algora. p. 276. ISBN 0-87586-207-1. 
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 635. 
  4. ^ http://www.musicvf.com/Stevie+Wonder.art
  5. ^ http://somethingelsereviews.com/2014/06/24/gimme-five-jeff-becks-happenings-ten-years-time-ago-people-get-ready-others/
  6. ^ http://ultimateclassicrock.com/stevie-wonder-jeff-beck-superstition/
  7. ^ http://www.allmusic.com/song/superstition-mt0029209492
  8. ^ "Stevie Wonder Visits Sesame Street In 1973". Sunday Cinema. JamBase. 4 August 2013. Retrieved 15 May 2014. 
  9. ^ Hornbach, Jean-Pierre (11 February 2012). Whitney Houston: We Love You Forever. p. 427. ISBN 9781471631795. 
  10. ^ a b http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=63
  11. ^ http://www.allmusic.com/song/superstition-mt0006930090
  12. ^ "British single certifications – Stevie Wonder – Superstition". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Superstition in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Select Gold in the field By Award. Click Search

External links[edit]

Tim Hughes, "Superstition", Groove and Flow: Six Analytical Essays on the Music of Stevie Wonder, University of Washington PhD dissertation (2003), pp. 140–177, which can be downloaded here: http://www.academia.edu/217945/_Groove_and_Flow_Six_Analytical_Essays_on_the_Music_of_Stevie_Wonder_

Preceded by
"You're So Vain" by Carly Simon
Billboard Hot 100 number one single
January 27, 1973 (one week)
Succeeded by
"Crocodile Rock" by Elton John
Preceded by
"Me and Mrs. Jones" by Billy Paul
Billboard's Best Selling Soul Singles number-one single
January 6, 1973 (three weeks)
Succeeded by
"Why Can't We Live Together" by Timmy Thomas