Saturday, September 18, 2021

"Love Bites" by Def Leppard

#1 Alert!
Song#:  3617
Date:  08/13/1988
Debut:  52
Peak:   1 (1 week)
Weeks:  23
Genre:  Hard Rock, Glam Metal

Pop Bits:  It would take eight years, but Def Leppard would finally crack the Pop Top 10 (#10) with "Hysteria," the third single and title track to their fourth album. Then they surpassed that hit with an even bigger one, the #2 "Pour Some Sugar on Me." Since that single did so well, it was decided that a fifth one would be pushed out. This power ballad was selected for release and it would go on to become the band's first and only #1 on the Pop chart. It would also reach #3 at Rock. The hit would really boost album sales. In late September it would go 6x platinum (six million copies) and two months later it would add another million to that total.

ReduxReview:  Def Leppard were at the apex of their career with this song. They had a long climb to the summit, but finally made it; and just in time too. Their next LP wouldn't come out until 1992 and by that point glam metal was in rapid decline in favor of grunge thanks mainly to Nirvana's 1991 LP Nevermind breaking through. Def Leppard would still capture a couple Pop Top 20s, but their popularity would never be as high or as strong as when this song hit #1. The power ballad had all the right elements in place to become a mainstream hit and I think the timing of its release, coming after the #2 "Pour Some Sugar on Me," was absolutely perfect. It was like a first punch that landed, and then the second one came for the knock out. It was definitely one of the best power ballads of the decade.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  The album's producer, Robert John "Mutt" Lange, helped compose all the songs on Hysteria with the band, however this was one song that Lange had previously started to write and chose to bring it in to the band. Apparently in its original form, the song was more of a country-style ballad. Lange sang the song for the band while playing acoustic guitar. It seems the band dug the tune and wanted to flesh it out into something that would fit their sound. Their reworking of the song earned four members of the band a writing credit along with Lange, who would do most of the background vocals for the track. Lange would also contribute a little part at the very end that caused a bit of controversy. In the song's outro, the line "if you got love in your sights, watch out, love bites" is spoken. Then faintly in the background after that is a sort of retort that was done by Lange with his voice going through a vocoder. For some reason, folks thought they heard him say "Jesus of Nazareth, go to hell," which obviously didn't sit right with some folks, especially the religious folks who already hated rock music. However, that was a misinterpretation. According to lead singer Joe Elliott, the line that Lange actually said was "Yes it does, it does...bloody hell." Most likely, those looking to stir up things heard the "hell" part, thought it was something evil and subliminal, and applied what they thought they heard.


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