Tuesday, May 3, 2016

"Mama" by Genesis

Song#:  1632
Date:  10/01/1983
Debut:  93
Peak:  73
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Genesis' prog-rock sound had been evolving ever since original member Peter Gabriel left the band in 1975. Reduced to a trio in 1978, they began incorporating more commercial pop elements into their prog-rock and it resulted in charting singles like 1980's "Misunderstanding" (#14) and 1981's "No Reply at All" (#29). But many critics agree that they really stepped over into the commercial pop/rock world with their self-titled 1983 album. It paid off quite well for the trio when this first single hit #4 on the UK chart. It was (and remains) their biggest hit in their homeland. The album became their third straight #1 and was their best-selling to-date. In the US, the song did quite well at Rock reaching #5, but despite a frequently played MTV video, it failed at Pop and topped out near the lower quarter of the chart. It was a disappointing start to the album in the US, but they would turn that around with their next single.

ReduxReview:  This is a very dark and brooding song that spins a tale of young guy infatuated with a prostitute who doesn't return the same affection. Perfect for a pop single, yes? Well, the UK seemed to think so and Top 10'd it, but this was just not gonna be a hit in the US. I remember seeing the video for the first time and really liking the song, but thinking "there is no way this is going to be a hit." And besides the support from Rock radio, it definitely was not a hit. I've always been fond of this heavy track and Collins really kills the vocal, but what horribly wrong choice for a lead single.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  During the song, lead vocalist Phil Collins supplies a sinister laugh. He got the idea to do this from Grandmaster Flash's influential 1982 song "The Message." Apparently this song was a favorite at the time of Genesis' producer Hugh Padgham and he played it a lot. Collins zeroed in on the little laugh that rapper Melle Mel did around the chorus section of the rap. He thought it was great and wanted to incorporate something similar in this song.


1 comment:

  1. Yes, not a great choice for a single but man, "Mama" contains one of my favorite moments of the 80s - "ha ha hey, ha ha hey...ooooh..." That weird moment is so creepy and yet so awesome and hard to forget.