Wednesday, August 15, 2018

"To Live and Die in L.A." by Wang Chung

Song#:  2496
Date:  10/12/1985
Debut:  84
Peak:  41
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Synthpop, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Following the success of their second album Points on the Curve, Wang Chung received an unusual offer. Oscar-winning Director William Friedkin (The Exorcist, The French Connection) was a big fan of the band and personally sought them out to see if they would write the score to his upcoming film To Live and Die in L.A. The band was up for the challenge and proceeded to write songs and instrumental tracks for the movie. The soundtrack would then become the band's third album. It consisted of three newly written tracks, a song from the Points album ("Wait"), and four instrumentals. To help promote the soundtrack and film, this title-track song was issued out as a single. It made some inroads at Rock getting to #21. At Pop, the song just missed out on the Top 40 peaking at the dreaded #41. However, it was a long-lasting chart entry spending 18 weeks on the chart, which was unusual for a single that didn't even come close to the Top 10.

ReduxReview:  This is a song that kinda breaks a cardinal rule of pop songwriting. It has an exciting, upbeat verse, but the feel and tone of the bridge and chorus doesn't match or exceed that intensity, which is really should. However, in rare cases this can actually work and I think it does in this song. After the jittery verse, the song opens up into something more mysterious and atmospheric. It's like the bustle of the city during the day followed by the more relaxed evening. I loved this song from first listen and I still incorporate it into several playlists. The writing and production are excellent and still hold up. I was hoping it would do better on the Pop chart, but I knew all along that it wasn't a big, hooky contender.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Originally Friedkin didn't want an actual theme song for the film and rejected the idea of one. However, after the band saw the rough cut of the film they wrote this song and presented to a dismayed Friedkin. Yet after hearing the track, Friedkin change his mind and wanted the song for the film. Although it wasn't a huge success at the box office, the film did well enough to cover the budget twice over.  2) For this song, Wang Chung hooked up with up-n-coming producers Tony Swain and Steve Jolley. The pair were making a name for themselves producing hit albums by artists like Alison Moyet, Spandau Ballet, and Bananarama, who had just reached the US Top 10 with "Cruel Summer."


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