Monday, May 9, 2022

"Rocket" by Def Leppard

Song#:  3826
Date:  03/04/1989
Debut:  61
Peak:  12
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Hard Rock, Glam Metal

Pop Bits:  By this point in time, Def Leppard had released six singles from their album Hysteria. The last four were all Pop Top 10 hits, which included the band's first and only #1, "Love Bites." That song had been the sixth single from the LP so since it topped the Pop chart, it was logical for the label to try for a follow up. "Rocket" was selected for release and it would do surprisingly well. The tune would reach #5 at Rock while getting close to the Pop Top 10. Prior to its release, the album had been certified for sales of over 9 million. Over the next decade it would continue to sell and in 1998 it reached the 12 million mark. The LP would spend 96 weeks in the Top 40. That would be a record run for the 80s, but Def Leppard had to share that title with another album, Bruce Springsteen's Born in the U.S.A., which had already established a 96-week run a few years earlier. The band would be left with the task of following up their massive hit, but before they could release it, a new rock genre would come along and bring an end to glam metal's reign.

ReduxReview:  This tune with its Burundi-style beat was a good follow up. It had hooks all over the place and was certainly arena-ready. Robert John "Mutt' Lange's production was buff and beefy and loaded with effects. It all may have been a little heavy-handed as half time time I can't make out what Joe Elliott is singing and it all sounds a bit muddy. Yet the track and its multi-layers still captures my attention, especially the album version with the extended mid-section.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1)  The lyrics of this song contain a dozen references to other music albums and songs. These are ones by artists that the band has cited as influences including the Beatles, Elton John, Queen, T. Rex, Lou Reed, and the Rolling Stones. Three works by David Bowie are mentioned by the shout-outs to "Ziggy," "Jean Genie," and "Major Tom." In addition to those influences, the band also included references to their own songs from Hysteria, but they are less obvious. Producer Robert John "Mutt" Lange did some backmasking at the beginning and in the mid-section of the song that included vocals from other tracks on the album. Audio from the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing is also heard at the beginning of the track.  2) The band wouldn't release their next album, Adrenalize, until March of 1992. By that point, Nirvana's Nevermind had already reached #1 and the sounds of Seattle grunge were suddenly taking over MTV and radio airwaves. Glam metal took a direct hit from the surge of grunge and that left some artists struggling to find and/or maintain their audience. Def Leppard would be affected, but perhaps initially not as bad as others in the genre. Adrenalize would spawn two Pop Top 20 hits including "Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad" (#12 Pop/#1 Rock) and spend five weeks at #1. It would go triple-platinum, but that was a far cry from what Hysteria had sold. In the long run, it would be seen as a good result coming in the midst of a rock music shift. However, by the time they would release 1996's Slang, their audience had moved on to new acts and sounds and the best the LP could do was to go gold. They would eke out one more gold album before the end of the decade. Despite the demise of 80s glam metal, Def Leppard soldiered on and continued to record and have solid success on tour. In 2019, the band would be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.


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