I Melt with You

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"I Melt with You"
IMeltWithYou.jpg
Single by Modern English
from the album After the Snow
ReleasedMay 4, 1982
Format
Recorded1982
Genre
Length
  • 3:50 (7-inch mix)
  • 4:11 (album version)
Label
Songwriter(s)
  • Robbie Grey
  • Gary McDowell
  • Richard Brown
  • Michael Conroy
  • Stephen Walker[3]
Producer(s)Hugh Jones
Modern English singles chronology
"Life in the Gladhouse"
(1982)
"I Melt with You"
(1982)
"Someone's Calling"
(1983)
Music video
"I Melt with You" on YouTube

"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.

Background[edit]

Modern English formed in 1979 in Colchester, Essex, England.[2] The group signed with 4AD, a British independent record label, in 1980.

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."[4] 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.[5][6] 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."[7]

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.[7]

Commercial performance[edit]

The song was released in the United Kingdom, in May 1982, by label 4AD. The song was mainly a success in the United States,[7] gaining attention over a long incubation period before becoming Modern English's and 4AD's first chart hit.[8] It first began receiving radio airplay as an import single, and bounced from station to station, gaining momentum.[9] In April 1983, the song peaked at number 7 on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart[10] and number 78 on the main Billboard Hot 100.[11] "I Melt with You" was particularly popular in dance clubs and on MTV,[6][12] peaking at number 60 on Billboard's Dance/Disco Top 80 in March 1983.[13] 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]."[7]

The original 4:11 album version features no call-and-response vocals in the second verse, and features a synthesizer break after the second verse of the song, while the most commonly known version of the song is the 3:50 single mix, which features the synthesizer riff earlier in the first chorus, along with contrasting background vocals in the second verse - "You should know better" sung before "Dream of better lives..." etc. The latter version was mixed down to mono from its original stereo recording. While both versions have circulated on radio, the true stereo mix of the single version has rarely been available since; it was offered recently on Eric Records' Volume 16: More 80s Essentials & Beyond CD compilation in 2016.

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,[14] and re-appeared on the Dance charts, peaking at number 25 in August.[15] 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.[8] The group received a lifetime achievement award at the BMI Awards in 2017, celebrating 3 million plays of the song.[16] It is ranked #39 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the 80s.[17] 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.[2][6] It was ranked #7 on VH1's 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders of the 80s.[18]

Reception[edit]

A reviewer for Billboard commended the song as "classy", describing it as a "dreamy, acoustic-edged rocker."[12] 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."[19]

The song has remained popular over the years; Tom Demalon AllMusic called it "one of the most enduring songs of the new wave era."[1] 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."[6] 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."[20]

In popular culture and cover versions[edit]

"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.[20] It was later licensed for a myriad of TV commercials in the States, including adverts for Burger King,[21] M&M's, Ritz Crackers,[22] Taco Bell, and Hershey's TV commercials.[9] A cover by American singer-songwriter Jason Mraz was included on the soundtrack to the 2004 film 50 First Dates.[23] 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.[24] 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.

Charts[edit]

Chart (1983) Peak
position
US Billboard Hot 100[11] 78
US Dance/Disco Top 80 (Billboard)[13] 60
US Rock Albums & Top Tracks (Billboard)[10] 7
Chart (1990) Peak
position
US Billboard Hot 100[14] 76
US Hot Dance Music – Club Play[15] 25

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[25] Gold 40,000double-dagger

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

References[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b 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.
  2. ^ a b c Murphy, Tom (July 24, 2017). "Modern English Is Getting Even Wilder". Westword. Retrieved January 7, 2018.
  3. ^ "BMI Repertoire Search". BMI. Archived from the original on September 21, 2015. Retrieved July 27, 2015.
  4. ^ Bernstein & Majewski 2014, p. 206.
  5. ^ Interview with vocalist Robbie Grey on Valley Girl 20th anniversary DVD special features, MGM Home Entertainment, 2003.
  6. ^ a b c d Scribner, Sara (November 13, 1997). "A One-Hit Legacy : Robbie Grey wants to take his reassembled Modern English group beyond its 'Melt' anthem". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 7, 2018.
  7. ^ a b c d Bernstein & Majewski 2014, p. 207.
  8. ^ a b King, Richard (2012). How Soon is Now?. Faber & Faber. p. 95. ISBN 978-0571243907.
  9. ^ a b Castillo, Arielle (September 26, 2012). "Modern English's Robbie Grey on "I Melt With You" Fame: "It Was Literally Thrust Upon Us"". Miami New Times. Retrieved January 7, 2018.
  10. ^ a b "Mainstream Rock Songs – The week of April 2, 1983". Billboard. Retrieved October 14, 2018.
  11. ^ a b "The Hot 100 – The week of April 16, 1983". Billboard. Retrieved October 14, 2018.
  12. ^ a b "Billboard's Top Album Picks". Billboard. 95 (10). Nielsen Business Media, Inc. March 12, 1983. p. 65. ISSN 0006-2510.
  13. ^ a b "Dance Club Songs – The week of March 12, 1983". Billboard. Retrieved October 14, 2018.
  14. ^ a b "The Hot 100 – The week of July 28, 1990", Billboard, retrieved October 14, 2018
  15. ^ a b "Dance Club Songs – The week of August 11, 1990", Billboard, retrieved October 14, 2018
  16. ^ "Jay Kay and Top Songwriters Honored at 2017 BMI London Awards". BMI. October 9, 2017. Retrieved January 7, 2018.
  17. ^ "VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the 80s". Retrieved October 21, 2017.
  18. ^ "VH1's 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders of the 80s". VH1. Retrieved October 21, 2017.
  19. ^ Willman, Chris (August 9, 1990). "POP MUSIC REVIEW : Modern English Melts Down". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 7, 2018.
  20. ^ a b Dickinson, Chrissie (November 2, 2017). "Modern English has found its somewhat nostalgic happy place". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 7, 2018.
  21. ^ Bernstein & Majewski 2014, p. 208.
  22. ^ Brodeur, Nicole (September 10, 2010). "At The Triple Door, Modern English is back — and so is 'I Melt With You'". Seattle Times. Retrieved January 7, 2018.
  23. ^ Leszczak, Bob. Who Did It First?: Great Rock and Roll Cover Songs and Their Original Artists. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 95. ISBN 978-1442233218.
  24. ^ Rabinowitz, Josh (March 15, 2008). "Selling In". Billboard. 120 (11). Nielsen Business Media, Inc. p. 13. ISSN 0006-2510.
  25. ^ "Canadian single certifications – Modern English – I Melt With You". Music Canada. Retrieved April 28, 2017.

Sources[edit]

  • Bernstein, Jonathan; Majewski, Lori (2014). Mad World: An Oral History of New Wave Artists and Songs That Defined the 1980s. Harry N. Abrams. ISBN 978-1419710971.

External links[edit]