Monday, June 21, 2021

"Wishing I Was Lucky" by Wet Wet Wet

Song#:  3531
Date:  05/28/1988
Debut:  92
Peak:  58
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Sophisti-Pop, Blue-Eyed Soul

Pop Bits:  This Scottish band made up of high school friends first began to form in '82. They initially played covers, but then spent a couple of years creating their own songs and refining their sound. They would sign on with PolyGram Records in '85, but mainly due to management issues, they wouldn't get to release this debut single in the UK until the spring of '87. It became a hit reaching #6. As they worked up an album, a second single, "Sweet Little Mystery," would get to #5. Their debut LP, Popped Out in Soul, would appear in the fall while a third single also made the Top 10. The album would become a huge hit reaching #1 and going 5x platinum. The success led to a distribution deal in the US and the band got launched with their initial hit "Wishing I Was Lucky." Unfortunately, it seems that the band's style of music didn't connect with US listeners with the song remaining in the bottom half of the US Pop chart for a couple of months. With little to promote it, the LP stalled at a minor #123. Save for a '94 soundtrack single (see below), the band wouldn't chart again in the US and remained virtually unknown. However, at home in the UK they became major stars.

ReduxReview:  The style of music now known as sophisti-pop (which didn't exist back in the day - it came about many years later) was certainly popular in the UK and most of the artists who get that tag now were from the UK such as ABC, Spandau Ballet, The Style Council, Swing Out Sister, and Wet Wet Wet. Those artists would remain popular in the UK and Europe after their initial hit, but in the US it was mostly a one-and-done affair (except for ABC who fared better). An artist might have that one really catchy track that got them a hit, but for some reason that was enough for US pop radio listeners. I'm not sure why. Maybe that sophisti-pop sound was fun once in a while and not something folks wanted to hear consistently. Other genres like reggae and blues are like that as well. Wet Wet Wet pretty much had the same thing happen to them in the US as the others, but to a lesser extent as they weren't able to grab a major hit. It was too bad because the band was quite good and lead singer Marti Pellow had a lovely voice. This single did have a little early ABC-ish style to it, but the song wasn't a copy or an imitation. It was a good soul-pop track that was performed and produced quite well. It should have done much better in the US, but I guess it wasn't what listeners here wanted. It probably didn't help that there was another "lucky' titled song climbing the chart at the same time with Kylie Minogue's "I Should Be So Lucky." The band really hit their stride on the next two albums, but they were completely ignored in the US. It happens. Something wildly popular in one place doesn't translate the same elsewhere. They were major stars at home, yet couldn't even obtain cult status in the US.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) So, what is up with the name? Early on when they were playing covers, the band called themselves Vortex Motion. When they moved into creating their own songs, the band decided to change their name and chose Wet Wet Wet. Apparently, the name stems from a 1982 song by the British synthpop/new wave band Scritti Politti. On their full-length debut album Songs to Remember was a track titled "Gettin' Havin' & Holdin'." It featured the line "It's tired of joking - wet, wet with tears." For some reason, that line became memorable for the band and they added and extra "wet" to create their band name.  2) The band would have tremendous success in the UK. Prior to their initial breakup in '97, they would release five studio albums. Three would get to #1 while the other two got to #2. A compilation album would also get to #1. Those albums would yield twelve UK Top 10 hits including three #1s. Their most successful single in the UK and internationally would not be one of their original tunes, but a remake. In '94, the band recorded "Love Is All Around," a song originally recorded by the British band The Troggs. Their 1967 single would get to #5 in the UK and #7 in the US. The Wet Wet Wet version would be featured on the soundtrack to the hit comedy film Four Weddings and a Funeral. The single would go Top 10 in many countries. In the UK it would reach #1 and stay there for a record-setting fifteen weeks. It would later lose that record to Bryan Adams' "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You," which stayed at #1 for sixteen weeks in '91. In the US, the single would stop at the dreaded #41 on the Pop chart, but would get to #8 on the AC chart.


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