Superstar (Jesus Christ Superstar song)

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"Superstar"
Jcs us cover.png
Single by Murray Head and ensemble
from the album Jesus Christ Superstar
Released November 21, 1969 (UK)
December 1, 1969 (USA)
Format 7"
Recorded 10 October 1969
Olympic Studios, Barnes, London
Genre Symphonic rock, funk rock
Length 4:15
Label Decca/MCA
Writer(s) Andrew Lloyd Webber (music)
Tim Rice (lyrics)
Producer(s) Andrew Lloyd Webber & Tim Rice
Murray Head and ensemble singles chronology
"Superstar"
(1969)
"I Don't Know How to Love Him"
(1971)
Jesus Christ Superstar track listing

(20)
"Superstar"
(21)
"The Crucifixion"
(22)

"Superstar" is the title song from the 1970 rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice.

Content[edit]

The song is sung by the spirit of Judas Iscariot (who had committed suicide earlier in the show). Judas asks Jesus a series of questions, such as why Jesus chose to come to Israel in 4 BC when it had no "mass communication" as opposed to modern times, whether Jesus had planned his own death, whether Jesus knew beforehand that his death would become famous, and whether Buddha and Muhammad were his equals. It is dominated by Judas repeatedly apologising for asking questions ("Don't you get me wrong", "I only want to know").[1] Jesus does not respond to any of the questions.

Versions[edit]

Original Murray Head Version[edit]

Superstar was released as a single in 1969, before the album was completed. Sung by Murray Head with the Trinidad Singers, it initially debuted on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 singles chart for the week ending 31 January 1970, eventually peaking at No. 74 in late February 1970.[2] Nearly one year later, the single then re-entered the Hot 100 chart for the week ending 2 January 1971, eventually peaking at No. 60 on the chart in early March 1971. The single then fell off the chart three weeks later, but then almost immediately re-entered the Hot 100 chart a third and final time for the week ending 10 April 1971. It then rapidly climbed the Hot 100 chart during its third chart run, eventually spending two consecutive weeks at its peak position of No. 14 in late May and early June 1971.[2] It performed even better in Canada, where it peaked on the Canadian RPM Top Singles chart at No. 6, its highest known position worldwide. A video of the song was released to promote the album, with Murray Head and the Trinidad Singers appearing.[3]

Recording[edit]

In order to get the concept album of Jesus Christ Superstar off the ground, Decca/MCA first gave Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice money to make the single and begin the album. They wanted to release the single first, which caused uproar within the MCA board at the time.

The single was recorded on 8-track equipment at the Olympic Studios in Barnes, London, with Irish 22-year-old Alan O'Duffy as the chief engineer. Lloyd Webber and Rice were backed by MCA and spent a small fortune on the recording, including using a full orchestra and the backing vocals of the Trinidad Singers. The Grease Band, one of the best rhythm sections in the world at that time, were brought in as the foundation of the ensemble.[4]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1969–72) Peak
position
Canadian RPM Top Singles 6
Dutch Top 40 11
UK Singles Chart[5] 47
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[6] 14
U.S. Cashbox Top 100[7] 8

Carl Anderson Version[edit]

When the 1973 film version and its accompanying soundtrack was released, Carl Anderson played Judas. During the scene in the film when the song Superstar is played, Anderson was lowered onto the stage by a crane made to look like a star during the song's intro. Ted Neeley as Jesus is shown during the song being lowered onto a cross.[8]

Other Versions[edit]

Laura Osnes, female winner of Grease: You're the One That I Want!, performed the song during the showtunes week.

Carly Smithson sang the song during the seventh season of American Idol, the week the theme was the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber. Although judge Simon Cowell called it one of his favorite performances of the night, Smithson was eliminated the following results night.

Jodie Prenger and Samantha Barks performed a duet of the song on I'd Do Anything which was highly acclaimed. Prenger went on to win the BBC competition and become Nancy in the West End revival of the musical Oliver!.

Anastacia performed the song at Concert for Diana on 1 July 2007.

In 1992, Jon Stevens released a version a single in Australia.

The 1970s ABC Sports TV show The Superstars used the instrumental version of the song as the show's theme song.

The song was used several times as an entrance theme for various professional wrestlers such as Superstar Billy Graham, Don Muraco, and Stone Cold Steve Austin.

Slovenian industrial/electronic band Laibach included a reinterpreted version of the song on their 1996 album Jesus Christ Superstars.

On the season four episode eight episode of Orphan Black, The Redesign of Natural Objects, the song is sung by Tatiana Maslany, Terra Hazelton, Barbara Johnston, and Anika Johnson. Maslany portrays Alison Hendrix playing the role of Judas, while Hazelton acts as Sarah Stubbs singing a slightly altered verse as Jesus. Johnston and Johnson act as backup singers, singing the part of the Trinidad Singers in the album production. Ryan Blakely, as Reverend Mike, is shown playing the piano. Alison faces a similar dilemma to the one faced by Judas, as she is pressured to betray her sisters to save her husband.[9][10][11][12][13][14][15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ See the lyrics, "Jesus Christ Superstar - Superstar lyrics". Metrolyrics. Retrieved 29 December 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Whitburn, Joel (2003). Top Pop Singles (1955–2002). Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 307. ISBN 0-89820-155-1. 
  3. ^ "Promotional Video for Jesus Christ Superstar album". Retrieved September 17, 2016. 
  4. ^ "Superstar single recorded", 10 October 1969, 2014 tour
  5. ^ Official UK Singles Chart
  6. ^ Billboard Allmusic.com (Retrieved 4 September 2008)
  7. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 Singles, week ending June 5, 1971". Archived from the original on June 2, 2012. Retrieved August 14, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Clip from the 1973 film Jesus Christ Superstar". Retrieved September 17, 2016. 
  9. ^ Derschowitz, Jessica (June 2, 2016). "Orphan Black recap: 'The Redesign of Natural Objects'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved September 17, 2016. 
  10. ^ Cohen, Noam (June 3, 2016). "'Orphan Black' Recap 4×08: Oh, Jesus". The Observer. Retrieved September 17, 2016. 
  11. ^ Maloney, Devon (June 2, 2016). "Orphan Black Recap: Who Are You? What Have You Sacrificed?". Vulture. Retrieved September 17, 2016. 
  12. ^ sunbunny. "Orphan Black: The Redesign of Natural Objects". Doux Reviews. Retrieved September 17, 2016. 
  13. ^ "The Redesign of Natural Objects". Retrieved September 17, 2016. 
  14. ^ "Orphan Black (TV Series) The Redesign of Natural Objects (2016) Full Cast & Crew". IMDb. Retrieved September 17, 2016. 
  15. ^ "The Redesign of Natural Objects". BBC America. Retrieved September 17, 2016.