I Melt with You
|"I Melt with You"|
|Single by Modern English|
|from the album After the Snow|
|Released||May 4, 1982|
|Length||3:50 (7" mix)|
4:11 (album version)
|Modern English singles chronology|
"I Melt with You" is a song by the British new wave band Modern English. The song, produced by Hugh Jones, was the second single from their 1982 album After the Snow. It became the band's sole hit single, largely in the United States, where it was featured in the film Valley Girl and on MTV. It reached number seven on Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart in 1983 and a re-release reached number 76 on its Hot 100 chart in 1990 (after reaching number 78 in 1983). The song has been covered by a variety of groups, including Jason Mraz and Nouvelle Vague, and has been featured in numerous commercials and films.
The band's vocalist, Robbie Grey, described England at the time of the song's writing to be a bleak place, due to an ongoing economic downturn: "There was no money. There'd be no power—you'd be at home with candles." These conditions and his fears of a nuclear war inspired "I Melt with You". The song depicts a couple making love while an atomic bomb is dropped. He described the song in an interview as a "love song", but more about the "good and bad in people [...] The last thing we wanted was to write a song where boy meets girl, they go to the cinema and make love, and that's the end of it."
Musically, the song came together in the band's rehearsal space in London while recording their second album, After the Snow. Producer Hugh Jones encouraged Grey to softly sing the vocal track, as opposed to his natural inclination to shout. He subsequently employed a softer vocal technique on the rest of the album.
The song was released in the United Kingdom, in May 1982, by label 4AD. The song was mainly a success in the United States, gaining attention over a long incubation period before becoming Modern English's and 4AD's first chart hit. It first began receiving radio airplay as an import single, and bounced from station to station, gaining momentum. In April 1983, the song peaked at number 7 on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart and number 78 on the main Billboard Hot 100. "I Melt with You" was particularly popular in dance clubs and on MTV, peaking at number 60 on Billboard's Dance/Disco Top 80 in March 1983. The single's success drastically altered the band's experience, according to Grey: "Someone picked up an import from England and started playing it on mainstream radio in America, and it just went like wildfire. We used to play to 200 people in art college; the next thing we knew, we were in Daytona Beach playing to 5,000 people who knew all the words [to the song]."
Modern English re-recorded the song for their 1990 album Pillow Lips, achieving better chart success than the 1982 release; the song re-appeared on the Hot 100, peaking at number 76 in July, and re-appeared on the Dance charts, peaking at number 25 in August. The reformed original line up of the band re-recorded it again in 2010 in a completely reworked style for inclusion in the movie I Melt With You.
The song is among the top 500 songs ever played on U.S. radio. The group received a lifetime achievement award at the BMI Awards in 2017, celebrating 3 million plays of the song. It is ranked #39 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the 80s. As Modern English's only major hit song, they are generally considered one-hit wonders, despite not reaching the Top 40 of the U.S. Hot 100 during either of its runs on that chart. It was ranked #7 on VH1's 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders of the 80s.
A reviewer for Billboard commended the song as "classy", describing it as a "dreamy, acoustic-edged rocker." The re-recorded edition of the song for the band's 1990 album Pillow Lips was received negatively by the Los Angeles Times's Chris Willman, who dubbed it "nearly identical yet markedly inferior."
The song has remained popular over the years; Tom Demalon Allmusic called it "one of the most enduring songs of the new wave era." Los Angeles Times contributor Sara Scriber wrote in 1997 that the song endured because it "struck a chord for its gothic, escapist undercurrent and danceable rhythm." In 2017, Chrissie Dickinson of the Chicago Tribune wrote that "with its irresistible guitar melody, danceable beat and heartfelt call and response vocals, it was a piece of work that fit snugly into the era."
In popular culture and cover versions
"I Melt with You" has been covered by a variety of artists, with several different versions being licensed for film and television worldwide. Modern English's original version was largely popularized by its appearance in the 1983 film Valley Girl, in which it features in both the ending titles and in a "falling in love" montage sequence. It was later licensed for a myriad of TV commercials in the States, including adverts for Burger King, M&M's, Ritz Crackers, and Hershey's TV commercials. A cover by American singer-songwriter Jason Mraz was included on the soundtrack to the 2004 film 50 First Dates. French group Nouvelle Vague's rendition found placement in Mr. and Mrs. Smith (2005), as well as adverts for GMC, T-Mobile, and Vicks Sinex. American rock band Bowling for Soup covered the song as part of the soundtrack to the 2005 Disney film Sky High. It was also featured on Netflix's Stranger Things in 2016.
|US Billboard Hot 100||78|
|US Dance/Disco Top 80 (Billboard)||60|
|US Rock Albums & Top Tracks (Billboard)||7|
|US Billboard Hot 100||76|
|US Hot Dance Music – Club Play||25|
|Canada (Music Canada)||Gold||40,000^|
*sales figures based on certification alone
- Tom, Demalon (2002). All Music Guide to Rock: The Definitive Guide to Rock, Pop, and Soul (3rd ed.). Backbeat Books. p. 749. ISBN 978-0879306533.
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- Bernstein & Majewski 2014, p. 207.
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