Perfect Stranger (Cheap Trick song)

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"Perfect Stranger"
Cheap Trick Perfect Stranger 2006 Single Cover.jpeg
Single by Cheap Trick
from the album Rockford
Released April 3, 2006
Format CD
Genre Rock, power pop
Length 3:41
Label Big3 Records
Cheap Trick Unlimited
Songwriter(s) Linda Perry, Robin Zander, Rick Nielsen, Tom Petersson, Bun E. Carlos
Producer(s) Linda Perry
Cheap Trick singles chronology
"Too Much"
"Perfect Stranger"
"Come On, Come On, Come On"
"Too Much"
"Perfect Stranger"
"Come On, Come On, Come On"

"Perfect Stranger" is a single by American rock band Cheap Trick, released as the lead single from their critically acclaimed 2006 album Rockford. It was the band's first single in three years.


Released as the leading single from Rockford, the promotional single aimed for radio station play only.[1] The song impacted radio on April 3, 2006, although many stations had already begun playing the record, well in advance of the official impact date.[2] The single saw plenty of attention[3] and was a radio hit in America.[4]

The song was written by all four members of the band with American musician, songwriter and producer Linda Perry. Although the entire Rockford album was produced by Cheap Trick, "Perfect Stranger" was produced solely by Perry.[5]

The song was recorded at four studios; Kung Fu Garden, Los Angeles, California, Big3 Studio, St. Petersburg, Florida, Long View Farm Recording Studio, North Brookfield, Massachusetts, and Studio 419, Nashville, Tennessee. Like the Rockford album, the song was mastered by Ted Jensen at Sterling Sound, New York.[6]

For Classic Rock Revisited, Rick Nielsen was interviewed by Martin Popoff at the time of the album's release, with the article title "The Rockford Files". One question asked by Popoff was if the lyric of "Perfect Stranger" was Nielsen or Zanders. Nielsen replied "It's Linda, Rick and Robin. If you listen to the bridge, we all start as strangers. Everybody does. And, to this day, people that you've known for years, they tell you something that you've never heard from them. Or I have people that I know well that don't know what I'm doing, let alone somebody that doesn't know me telling me what I don't know. That's one of my sentiments on it."[7]

In an interview with Rick Nielsen based in a Cheap Trick featured article for The Press of Atlantic City of June 29, 2006, Nielsen stated how the band had played the song live, stating "We did "Perfect Stranger," and that sounded great."[8]

On Rate Your Music, the song is listed at #856 for the top 1000 singles of 2006.[9]


Leading up the album's release, "Perfect Stranger" was made exclusively available via iTunes.[10] The single was soon released in America as a promotional CD-R acetate single through Big3 Records and Cgeap Trick Unlimited. In Germany, the song was issued as a full single release via Steamhammer (SPV GmbH).[11] Steamhammer also released the Rockford album in Germany.[12] The American release featured "Perfect Stranger" as the sole track, whilst the German release added the Rockford album track "Welcome to the World" as the b-side.[13] The b-side was produced and written by Cheap Trick, and was recorded at Big3 Studio.[6] The American release came with a custom printed disc and full colour picture sleeve insert, using a close-up shot of a female, with the song's title covering her eyes. The German release also featured the same artwork.[14]

Following the song's original release as a single and on the Rockford album, the song was included on the 2006 various artists compilation Melodic Rock of the 21st Century. The album was released ZYX Music and highlighted Cheap Trick on the front cover, along with four other artists.[15]


No music video was created for the single, although the song became part of the band's live set around the time of the album's release and onwards.

On June 7, 2006, the band appeared on Rockline, a nationally syndicated radio interview program hosted by Bob Coburn, where the band performed the song live, along with the third and final Rockford single "If It Takes a Lifetime" and the band's two classic hits "I Want You to Want Me" and "Surrender".[16] On June 29, 2006, the band were guests on "Late Night With Conan O'Brien," during which the band performed "Perfect Stranger" live.[10]

Track listing[edit]

CD Single (DRPO 36788-2 - American promo)
  1. "Perfect Stranger" - 3:41
CDr Single (SPV 97653 CDS - German release)
  1. "Perfect Stranger" - 3:41
  2. "Welcome to the World" - 2:06

Critical reception[edit]

In the Billboard Magazine of April 8, 2006, the song was positively reviewed under the "Reviews: Singles" section. The review stated "Coming up on the band's 30th anniversary as America's greatest purveyors of power pop, Cheap Trick's latest single displays all the ingredients long associated with the band. The rhythm section propels the song from the get-go, while yet another quintessential melody is embellished with a Beatlesesque coda to every verse. Rick Nielsen cranks out a riff to kick the song into high gear and then doubles back to sprinkle his falsetto fairy dust over the top of vocals by Robin Zander, who effortlessly proves yet again why he is one of rock's great voices. Cheap Trick delivers the goods time and again, but it has been nearly two decades since radio noticed."[17]

Although not released in the UK, Wales Online author Andy Johnston reviewed the single on May 2, 2006, giving a rating of three out of five stars, and stating "OK, hands up this single isn't even released in the UK - nor is it likely to be for a while yet - but if you're longing for something sunny to melt away Spring's seemingly interminable arctic blast, it most definitely does the er, trick. Miraculously still intact after the strife of the past decade - bankrupt record companies, veritable financial meltdown - Perfect Stranger is a convincing return to form after 2003's patchy Special One. Rick Nielsen's frenetic guitar drives the song to its infectious, harmony-coated hook anchored by the impeccable rhythm section of Bun E Carlos and Tom Petersson. They may play it straighter than in their schizophrenic '70s' prime but it's such a joy to have them back that even the presence of Satan's little helper - in the form of James Blunt co-writer Linda Perry - can't spoil the power pop party."[18]

In the Spin Magazine issue of June 2006, a review of the Rockford album noted the two essential songs recommended to be downloaded, which were "Perfect Stranger" and "O Claire".[19]

Now Toronto reviewed the Rockford album on June 8, 2006, where author Jason Keller stated "If only Cheap Trick had done the sensible thing and disappeared for at least 10 to 15 years. They could have basked in the admiration of all the hip 90s bands they influenced, and then made a sizable comeback with Rockford. But, no, they had to release 18 albums; never lose a member; never once call it quits in their 33-year history. People need to make a living, but it’s tough to get pumped for new material when a band works this hard - even if Linda Perry pens and produces one song, Perfect Stranger, the album's best track. Everything else sounds exactly as you’d expect. Maybe Japan will dig this, but something tells me even they’re burnt out on the Trick by now."[20]

In the Rome News-Tribune issue of June 7, 2006, as well as the Ludington Daily News issue of June 8, author Wayne Parry wrote "The first single, "Perfect Stranger," instantly bores its way into your brain and won't let go, with Robin Zander's plaintive vocals supported by bassist Tom Petersson and drummer Bun E Carlos' urgent underpinnings."[21] On, reviewer Andrew J McNeice reviewed Rockford, and wrote "Melodic rock anthems appear in the form of "Perfect Stranger" and the very Lap Of Luxury-ish pop/rock of "If It Takes a Lifetime" and "This Time You Got It."[22]

On June 16, 2006, Boston Herald recommended downloading the song whilst stating "Ignored by radio for years, America's favorite power-pop quartet has enlisted the help of songwriter-for-hire Linda Perry (Pink, Jewel, Gwen Stefani). Their collaboration, "Perfect Stranger," the first single from these Rockford, Ill., rockers' umpteenth album, is terrific. Robin Zander is in especially fine voice, and Rick Nielsen's show-offy guitar squeals remain a pleasure. Sadly, with only a couple of exceptions, the rest sounds like the generic pop rock Cheap Trick rebelled against with its 1977 debut."[23]

Boston Globe writer Marc Hirsh reviewed the Rockford album in the June 23, 2006 issue, stating "With the exception of the ploddingly up-tempo "Perfect Stranger," co-written and produced by Linda Perry (Pink, Christina Aguilera) in a not-too-strenuous attempt to wring out a hit, the songs on "Rockford" sound as though Cheap Trick was thumbing through some old record guides, ran across the entries for its late-'70s albums and said, "Hey, that sounds pretty good."[24]

In a German review of the Rockford album, on the webzine Burn Your Ears, author Rene wrote "For the song "Perfect Stranger", which is also the first single release, they have producer Linda Perry come to the aid of a hit what is almost guaranteed yes. "Perfect Stranger" is rightly the first single and probably will run the radio stations up and down. The composition of the song is really very good and varied."[25]

Another German review of the album was by The-Pit, where author Alexander Müller wrote "A sneak peek regarding unremitting enthusiasm is what the excellent pre-single "Perfect Stranger" represents. The song is a gorgeous summary and light-footed driving rock number. With beautiful classical guitar hooks and inserts, the voice of Robert Zander sounds after all these many years in rock business still as fresh and lubricated convinced at a high level, without ever being melodramatic."[26]

The Salt Lake Tribune reviewed the album on July 10, 2006, stating "O Claire" is a nod to The Beatles, one of Cheap Trick's more obvious influences, while the Linda Perry collaboration, "Perfect Stranger," is an effort at a hit single."[27] Lansing State Journal reviewed the album on July 12, 2006, where the author stated "...pop and party-rock sounds with tunes like "Give It Away" and "Perfect Stranger"."[28]

In the Reading Eagle issue of June 25, 2006, a review of the album by Kenneth Partridge stated "Linda Perry, who has written tunes for Pink and Gwen Stefani, grabs a co-writing credit on "Perfect Stranger," the lead single, but that shouldn't scare away purists."[29]

Toledo Blade reviewed the Rockford album on July 9, 2006, with author Rod Lockwood stating "What makes Rockford most impressive is its leanness and its unapologetic marriage of the Beatles and the Ramones. Tracks like "Perfect Stranger" and "O Claire" could be Beatles outtakes, they're so catchy and perfectly polished."[30]

Upon release, Pop Matters writer Lou Friedman reviewed the Rockford album, stating "The album starts with a two-minute, poppy ditty titled "Welcome to the World" (shades of "Hello There"), where Zander follows Nielsen's sing-songy melody to celebrate the actual birth day of someone somewhere. Then comes "Perfect Stranger", which, in a perfect world, would bring this band back to the forefront of the pop/rock sector of the music industry. You wanna talk about "catchy"? This song has it all, and with it's driving beat it's not a standard ballad like "The Flame"."[31]

Audio Video Revolution reviewed the album upon release, where writer K. L. Poore stated "Perfect Stranger" throbs in a way that'll make the current crop of power pop purveyors turn red with jealousy."[32] author Tony Bonyata reviewed the album upon release, stating "Musically the band is back in fine form once again and firing on all cylinders - from Neilson's buzz-saw guitar ("Deaf") to Zander's commanding pipes (on the hard-rocking "Come On Come On Come On" and catchy first single from the album "Perfect Stranger") to the sugar-buzzed power-pop anthems ("Give It Away," "If It Takes a Lifetime" and the opening track "Welcome to the World")."[33]

Upon release, Jed Gottlieb of The Phoenix reviewed the album which noted the song (track three of first three tracks), stating "Named for the band's Illinois home town, Rockford has all the Cheap Trick gimmicks: power-pop anthems, arena-rock ballads, oddball humor. And the band have recaptured that winning mix of Aerosmith grit, Beatles melodies, and Bay City Rollers whimsy. The first three tracks are irrelevant stabs at anemic Top 40, an even bigger disappointment when you consider the high-priced studio talent (engineers Steve Albini and Jack Douglas as well as producer/song doctor Linda Perry) involved. Cheap Trick haven’t learned any new tricks, but they're as skilled (and enthused) as they were two decades ago."[34]

Sea of Tranquility writer Ken Pierce reviewed the album upon release, writing "Come On, Come On, Come On" is one of those quick typical sing along tracks that the guys excelled at and while radio has not seen a Cheap Trick hit since "The Flame", I found "Perfect Stranger" and "If It Takes A Lifetime" would have been perfect material for the medium. The terrestrial radio world is far different from the time it regularly had Cheap Trick music showcased on it and now as a result perhaps the growing Satellite stations and cable music feeds is the best idea for this band going forward." Another review by Sea of Tranquility writer Pete Pardo stated "There's no shortage of memorable pop and party flavored hard rock here, like the catchy "Dream the Night Away", the hook laden yet rockin' "Give It Away", the pop-metal crunch of "Decaf", and the instantly memorable radio savvy of "Perfect Stranger", the CD's first single."[35]

In a track-by-track review of the album by 80's Metal Server, writer Ben Perry gave the song 10 out of 10, stating "Serving up another song that throwsback to that classic sounding Cheap Trick. Chugging guitars, pounding drums, and a sugary sweet voice with a chorus that infects the mind the world over. Yep, Cheap Trick is back with a vengeance."[36]

In a review of the Rockford album, The Columbia Journal of American Studies (CJAS) writer Tim W. Brown wrote "Nielsen plops down heavy riffs everywhere, chords modulating chromatically upward in key, another Cheap Trick trademark, sounding like the swamp monster climbing stairs. He particularly shows off his gutsy grunge in "Perfect Stranger." This song reminds you that Nielsen practically invented grunge--the style's heavy guitar sound coupled with snappy melodies started with him. Hence, the Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan and others' long-standing interest in the band. Actually, I once saw Corgan get up onstage and play guitar on a couple of tunes with Cheap Trick. He couldn't keep up."[37]

On December 14, 2006, NPR Music, under the show World Cafe, highlighted Cheap Trick and played "I Want You to Want Me", "Perfect Stranger" and the band's 1988 American number one hit "The Flame". The written summary of the show stated "Cheap Trick's first new album in six years, Rockford, finds the group returning to its roots. As catchy and powerful as their many predecessors, songs like "Perfect Stranger" and "Welcome to the World" sound equally suited to old and new fans."[38]


  • Robin Zander - lead vocals, rhythm guitar
  • Rick Nielsen - lead guitar, backing vocals
  • Tom Petersson - bass guitar, backing vocals
  • Bun E. Carlos - drums, percussion

Additional personnel[edit]

Perfect Stranger[edit]

  • Producer - Linda Perry
  • Executive Producer - Bill Edwards
  • Mixer - Steve Thompson
  • Mastering - Ted Jensen
  • Recorded By - Linda Perry, Jim "Pinky" Beeman, Steve Thompson, Roger Moutenot
  • Recording Assistants - Andrew Chavez, Tommy Jamin, Eric Hunter
  • Keyboard - Damon Fox
  • Pro-Tools - Chris Wonger, Andrew Chavez
  • Writers of "Perfect Stranger" - Linda Perry, Robin Zander, Rick Nielsen, Tom Petersson, Bun E. Carlos

Welcome to the World[edit]

  • Producer - Cheap Trick
  • Co-Producer - Jim "Pinky" Beeman
  • Executive Producer - Bill Edwards
  • Mixer - Steve Thompson
  • Mastering - Ted Jensen
  • Recorded By - Jim "Pinky" Beeman, Tom Jamin
  • Recording Assistant - Eric Hunter
  • Writers of "Welcome to the World" - Rick Nielsen, Robin Zander, Tom Petersson, Bun E. Carlos


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External links[edit]