|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||New York, 1972|
|Length||4:26 (Album version)
4:07 (7" version)
|Label||Tamla T 54226F|
|Stevie Wonder singles chronology|
"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, and released in many countries. It reached number one in the U.S., and number one on the soul singles chart. The song was Wonder's first number-one single since the live version of "Fingertips Pt. 2" topped the Billboard Hot 100 in 1963. 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, mentioning several popular superstitious fables throughout the song, and deal with the negative effects superstitious beliefs can bring.
Writing and recording
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 he liked the idea of a collaboration with Beck, a star guitarist. 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. 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. 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.
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.
Other recorded versions
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, and is included on two of Vaughan's greatest hits compilations. Wonder and Vaughan performed the song together in 1989 on the MTV special Stevie Wonder: Characters.
In popular culture
Wonder's recording is heard prominently near the beginning of John Carpenter's classic 1982 horror film The Thing. It is also prominently played in a scene in the 2004 film iRobot, starring Will Smith and directed by Alex Proyas.
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.
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Gold||500,000|
*sales figures based on certification alone
- "Superstition: Stevie Wonder". Rolling Stone. December 9, 2004. Retrieved 2008-01-16.
- Dean, Maury (2003). Rock N' Roll Gold Rush. Algora. p. 276. ISBN 0-87586-207-1.
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 635.
- "Stevie Wonder Visits Sesame Street In 1973". Sunday Cinema. JamBase. 4 August 2013. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
- Hornbach, Jean-Pierre (11 February 2012). Whitney Houston: We Love You Forever. p. 427. ISBN 9781471631795.
- "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
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_
"You're So Vain" by Carly Simon
|Billboard Hot 100 number one single
January 27, 1973 (one week)
"Crocodile Rock" by Elton John
"Me and Mrs. Jones" by Billy Paul
|Billboard's Best Selling Soul Singles number-one single
January 6, 1973 (three weeks)
"Why Can't We Live Together" by Timmy Thomas