Saturday, March 10, 2018

"Animal Instinct" by Commodores

Song#:  2338
Date:  05/25/1985
Debut:  69
Peak:  43
Weeks:  9
Genre:  R&B, Synthpop, Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  The post-Lionel Richie Commodores scored their first major Pop hit with the #3 "Nightshift." The song reached #1 at R&B as did the associated album of the same name (#12 Pop). For a follow-up, this upbeat album opener was chosen. Although it got to #9 at Dance, tt ended up being a moderate entry at R&B (#22) while missing the Pop Top 40 mark. It would be the last time the band would crack the top half of the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  After their first post-Richie album, which the band produced, pretty much tanked, my guess is that their label got involved. Significant changes took place for Nightshift. They got assigned a producer (Dennis Lambert), pro songwriters were brought in (see below), and there was a definite change in sound as exemplified by this single. Their trademark R&B/funk with a slice of AC was nearly abandoned in favor of slick 80s synthpop. I'm sure someone at Motown thought it was a good idea to do this in order to make the band seem relevant and viable without Richie. It didn't really work. "Nightshift" was a hit, but it was a dedication song with a throwback sound. It was not a synthed-up, faceless pop tune like this one. These guys were super talented, but let's get real - Richie was the face/voice of the Commodores and his tunes kept the band in platinum territory. Minus him, they floundered with identity and direction. It's unfortunate, but rarely does a band survive and remain just as popular without its most well-known member and contributor.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Up until the time Lionel Richie left, the Commodores albums mainly contained songs written by the band with a sprinkle of ones by outside writers. Richie contributed quite a bit to the albums so after he left the remaining members were in charge of songwriting. They had a hand in all song on their first LP after Richie left, but for Nightshift it seemed either they or their label sought some outside help. Four of the nine tracks on the album were brought in for the album and some outside writers helped with the band's compositions. This included popular songwriters like Franne Gold, Dennis Lambert, Keith Stegall, Diane Warren, and Jeff Lorber. "Animal Instinct" was a composition by Martin Page, who was just beginning to have some solid success as a songwriter. He would later co-write the infamous #1 hit "We Built This City" for Starship and have a #14 hit of his own in 1994 called "The House of Stone and Light."


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