Thursday, January 10, 2019

"I Engineer" by Animotion

Song#:  2644
Date:  03/08/1986
Debut:  98
Peak:  76
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Synthpop

Pop Bits:  Animotion's 1984 self-titled debut album was a success thanks to two Pop Top 40 hits including the #6 "Obsession." After a couple of personnel changes, the band retreated back to the studio to record their follow-up. All the songs for the LP were co-written by at least one band member except for this first single, which was written by hitmakers Holly Knight, Mike Chapman, and Bernie Taupin. Despite the pedigree, the song just wasn't clicking with listeners and it ended up falling far short of expectations peaking in the bottom quarter of the Pop chart. It did slightly better at Dance getting to #27. The results were a big disappointment on their home turf. However, the news was much better overseas where the song became a hit in several European countries like Germany where the single reached #2. The lack of a bigger hit single in the US caused the album to not sell well and it stopped at a low #71.

ReduxReview:  This song should have worked. It had a cool title, top-notch songwriters, and excellent production from Richie Zito. The chorus wasn't too bad either. Yet for some reason it was unable to capture people's attention. It's definitely not the most fantastic song, but I think it should have done better. My guess is that the band's label didn't hear a hit among the tracks the band wrote and pushed them to record a song by established writers, much in the same way they did on the first album ("Obsession" was by Holly Knight and Micheal Des Barres). Since a Holly Knight tune worked the first time, why not try it again? It didn't work out, but it is kind of an interesting "lost" 80s track.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  The video for this song was film at the abandoned Royal Herbert Hospital in Blackheath, England. The military hospital opened in 1865 and was meant to promote better health care, something which lacked at the time and was brought to the forefront by Crimean War legend Florence Nightengale. In fact, it was Nightengale's nephew by marriage who designed the hospital with input from Nightengale herself. At the time it was considered one of the best hospitals in the world. The building remained active throughout both World Wars and later also became a teaching facility. However, by 1977 the military decided to close the hospital since they had little use for the huge building and the upkeep was becoming ramshackle and too costly. Demolition seemed to be its destiny, but it ended up being part of an historical conservation area and the building was spared from the wrecking ball. While still abandoned, Animotion filmed their video there. Not too long after, Kate Bush filmed parts of the video to her 1986 song "Experiment IV" in the hospital. Two future TV stars, Dawn French and Hugh Laurie, appeared in that video. The hospital was sold to a developer in 1990 who turned the hospital into a luxury condo community that was named the Royal Herbert Pavilions.


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