Thursday, October 28, 2021

"Look Away" by Chicago

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  3657
Date:  09/24/1988
Debut:  77
Peak:  1 (2 week)
Weeks:  24
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  The legendary band's second album without Peter Cetera, Chicago 19, kicked off in a positive way with the Diane Warren-penned "I Don't Wanna Live Without Your Love" getting to #3 Pop/#5 AC. It was their fifth Pop Top 10 of the 80s. All five of those hits were power ballads, which established a pattern for the band. It also sort of backed them into a corner with them having a tough time getting a hit with an uptempo tune. For Chicago 19's second single, the label didn't take any chances and chose to issue out yet another booming ballad. "Look Away," also written by Warren, was pushed out and it became the apex of their 80s ballad days peaking at #1 Pop and #1 AC. It was the band's third and final #1 on the Pop chart. The single sold well enough to go gold and its lengthy run on the chart that extended through to the next year helped to make it the #1 charting song for 1989. Thanks to the hit, the album rebounded to hit a new peak of #37 and with sales steady it was able to go platinum. It would be Chicago's last regular studio album to achieve that feat.

ReduxReview:  Aaaaand here we go again. Another big monster AC heartbreak ballad from Chicago. Yippee. By this point in time I was just ignoring Chicago. Their power ballad formula had worn thin and I was over it. Was it a bad song? No. Warren was a master at this style of song and she knocked out a pretty good one here. It was memorable and had some interesting chord progressions. My only real quibble with it is that I find it to just be sort of a lyrical rewrite of "Walk on By." That song states "If you see me walking down the street and I start to cry each time we meet, walk on by."  Warren's tune says "But if you see me walkin' by and the tears are in my eyes, look away, baby look away." Hmmm. I dunno. If I was Burt Bacharach or Hal David, I might have had an issue with this. As far as Warren songs go, this one seems a bit lazy to me and doesn't rank among her best. However, it had hit appeal and that's what mattered. It worked out great for Chicago, but it was a meh shrug for me.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) As previously mentioned on another entry, this song was first offered to Cheap Trick. For the band's Lap of Luxury album their label wanted them to record a couple of songs from outside writers to amp up the LP's commercial viability. A VP from their label gave them the choice to record one of two songs that he knew were going to be #1 hits. The choices were "Look Away" and "The Flame." They chose the latter and indeed it went to #1. Chicago then got "Look Away" and as the VP predicted, it also sailed to #1.  2) Over thirty years after this song became a hit, a man in England filed a plagiarism lawsuit against Diane Warren. Brendan Greaves filed suite in Los Angeles in 2017 claiming that he wrote "Look Away" back in '87. According to Greaves, he wrote the song when he was fourteen and submitted it to a national school music competition that had been sponsored by EMI Records. His song made it to the semi-finals, but did not win. He claims that Warren discovered the song via the competition and used it as the basis for her own work. Of course people asked Greaves why file a suit decades later he basically stated that he was from a small town and had not been aware of the song until 2015 (the single only got to #77 in the UK and the album did not chart). While court documents are not readily available, on the docket for the case it seems that the parties were pushed into a settlement phase with the outcome not known. However, the case was then fully dismissed a few months later.


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