Song: “Can’t Fight This Feeling” by REO Speedwagon
Reached #1: March 9, 1985 (their second, 3 weeks)
This song has become a go-to power ballad for TV and movie makers who want to evoke an ‘80s feeling (that one can’t fight).
Yes, the ‘80s power ballad – when a rock band slows down and does a love song with massive instrumentation and a bit of showiness. From Van Halen to Poison to Warrant to Foreigner to Styx to… well, this list goes on and on, doesn’t it? And ‘80s radio listeners loved all of them… to the point that 25 years later, the Speedwagon and Styx continue to do package nostalgia tours based largely on the strength of their ballads.
What I didn’t know until I researched for the blog is that REO Speedwagon spent almost 15 years working very hard to become the seeming overnight success they became with their first #1 in 1981 (“Keep On Loving You”, another power ballad). Their heyday lasted only until the late ‘80s – but they’ve done well to cash in on Boomers’ love of all things ‘80s with continuing tours and the occasional new album over the last 20 years.
The other thing I didn’t know is that it almost didn’t happen. Kevin Cronin left the band in 1973 – meaning Cronin isn’t heard on “Ridin’ The Storm Out”, the first album that got any mainstream success for the Speedwagon. Cronin replaced his replacement in 1976. Since Cronin wrote both of REO’s #1 singles, it would have been a different band entirely if Cronin didn’t come back. Since we can’t peer into alternate universes, we’ll never know…
Tomorrow, a ‘60s one-hit wonder that introduced us to Delbert McClinton (but it wasn’t his hit).
Other songs that hit #1 on March 9:
1959 – “Venus” by Frankie Avalon (his first, 5 weeks)
1991 – “Someday” by Mariah Carey (his third, 2 weeks)
2002 – “Ain’t It Funny” by Jennifer Lopez feat. Ja Rule (her third, 6 weeks)