[Saturday Night Song Focus] Peter Gabriel – Sledgehammer

Greetings!

It’s Saturday and it’s time for my weekly scheduled publication dedicated to a particular song. Once again, I would like to say that the choice is primarily based on my personal preferences and decisions. I was wondering which song to talk about today and suddenly the playlist on my phone decided to play this one so I thought it would be nice to tell you something about this iconic song by Peter Gabriel. Actually, it also happens to me one of my favorite songs of the 80, even though I’m not such a huge fan of Peter Gabriel. Don’t get me wrong, he is indeed one of the greatest “blue-eyed” soul singers, along with others such as Phil Collins, Steve Winwood and Robert Palmer. However, to me Peter Gabriel was always too eccentric and a little bit weird, wild and careless. I mean, we all remember those grotesque Genesis live performances in which he was dressed as a frog and a flower… He is though one of the most iconic figures of the 80s and I give him all the credit for that. He is not only famous for his distinctive vocal delivery, but he was also an activist and also made a protest song for Steve Biko – a noted black South African anti-apartheid activist who died in a prison.

Now let’s talk a little bit more about the song (somehow I always get carried away for which I’m sorry…). “Sledgehammer” was written, produced, composed, performed and pretty much all done by Peter Gabriel himself. The song was released back in 1986 from one of his most famous albums – “So”. It quickly became a huge hit – it topped Billboard Hot 100 in the USA, became #1 in Canada, #4 in UK, etc. Everyone simply fell in love with this catchy upbeat song with such distinctive and unique lyrics. Peter Gabriel’s music has always been influenced by 1960s soul musicians and we can also clearly see it in “Sledgehammer”. In particular, in this song, we can see the influence of Memphis label – Stax Records. Furthermore, the song has numerous distinctive elements, including a horn section and a synthesizer flute with which the song begins. I have to say the flute at the beginning is probably the most memorable part of the song! The reason why I love this song so much is because it has very interesting lyrics – I’m not saying they have special quality, I’m saying to me they are funny and catchy. Also, I love the drums, bass and sax in the song – the whole composition is just perfect! In term of genre, I would say most certainly a mixture between classical “blue-eyed” soul and commercial rock. However I think it has a lot of elements of funk music – The incredibly well-crafted mixture of genres is what made this song so legendary…

The music video is also one of the greatest music videos of all time – that’s just my personal opinion. Maybe now to many of you guys it may seem like nothing, however back in the days the MV was revolutionary! Say whatever you wish to say but facts are facts – up to date, the music video of “Sledgehammer” is the MOST PLAYED music video in the history of MTV!!! This speaks volumes! In addition, Peter Gabriel won the impressive nine MTV awards at the 1987 MTV Music Video Awards – the most awards a music video has ever won. He also got best British video award during 1987 Brit Awards. He also got nominated for Grammys – record of the year, song of the year and best vocal performance. Unbelievable, right…? The song and its music video were just making history and everyone loved it! The music video includes “claymation, pixilation, and stop motion animation that gave life to images in the song” done by Aardman Animations and Brothers Quay. The whole thing looks extremely unique and I can’t believe back in the 80s people could make things like that…revolutionary! There’s of course an irony in all this… Peter Gabriel absolutely hated the idea of music videos. To him, the emergence of MTV and the trend to produce music videos for every song was meaningless and was declining the value of the artist. I guess he also thought that “video killed the radio star”. Finally after so many years of pulling away and resisting the new trend and demand, he decided to produce a music video – and what a video that was. I guess he just said to himself – if I have to do it, I may as well just make something people have never seen before…and he did!

With no further due – enjoy the song and the memorable music video!

Velina

xoxox

Single / Album Cover


 

Music Video


 

Lyrics

You could have a steam train
If you’d just lay down your tracks
You could have an aeroplane flying
If you bring your blue sky back

All you do is call me
I’ll be anything you need

You could have a big dipper
Going up and down, all around the bends
You could have a bumper car, bumping
This amusement never ends

I want to be your sledgehammer
Why don’t you call my name
Oh let me be your sledgehammer
This will be my testimony
Show me round your fruit cakes
‘Cause I will be your honey bee
Open up your fruit cakes
Where the fruit is as sweet as can be

I want to be your sledgehammer
Why don’t you call my name
You’d better call the sledgehammer
Put your mind at rest
I’m going to be-the sledgehammer
This can be my testimony
I’m your sledgehammer
Let there be no doubt about it

Sledge sledge sledgehammer

I kicked the habit (I kicked the habit)
Shed my skin (Shed my skin)
This is the new stuff (This is the new stuff)
I go dancing in, (We could go dancing in)
Oh won’t you show for me (Show for me)
I will show for you (Show for you)
Show for me (Show for me), I will show for you

Yea, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, I do mean you
Only you, you’ve been coming through
Going to build that power
Build, build up that power, hey
I’ve been feeding the rhythm
I’ve been feeding the rhythm
Going to feel that power, build in you

Come on, come on, help me do
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, you
I’ve been feeding the rhythm
I’ve been feeding the rhythm
It’s what we’re doing, doing
All day and night, come on and help me do, come on and help me do


Credits:

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