I Want to Know What Love Is
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I Want to Know What Love Is

"I Want to Know What Love Is"
Foreigner-I-Want-To-Know-Wh-297484.jpg
Cover art released in some European territories
Single by Foreigner
from the album Agent Provocateur
"Street Thunder (Marathon Theme)"
Released November 13, 1984 (1984-11-13)
Format
Genre Soft rock[1]
Length
  • 5:04 (album/7" single)
  • 6:23 (12" extended)
  • 4:15 (some radio edits)
Label Atlantic
Mick Jones
Foreigner singles chronology
"Luanne"
(1982)
"I Want to Know What Love Is"
(1984)
"That Was Yesterday"
(1985)
Audio
"I Want to Know What Love Is" on YouTube

"I Want to Know What Love Is" is a power ballad[2] by the British-American rock band Foreigner. It was released in November 1984 as the lead single from their fifth album, Agent Provocateur. The song hit number one in both the United Kingdom and the United States and is the group's biggest hit to date. It remains one of the band's best-known songs and most enduring radio hits, charting in the top 25 in 2000, 2001, and 2002 on the Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Recurrents chart. "I Want to Know What Love Is" has continued to garner critical acclaim, and is listed as one of Rolling Stone Magazine's greatest songs of all time at number 479.[3] The song is also featured in a number of films.

Song information

I always worked late at night, when everybody left and the phone stopped ringing. "I Want To Know What Love Is" came up at three in the morning sometime in 1984. I don't know where it came from. I consider it a gift that was sent through me. I think there was something bigger than me behind it. I'd say it was probably written entirely by a higher force.

Mick Jones[4]

Written and composed by Mick Jones, with an uncredited portion (somewhere between 5% according to Jones and 40% according to Gramm) by Lou Gramm, and produced by Jones and Alex Sadkin, "I Want to Know What Love Is" was the first single released from Foreigner's album Agent Provocateur (1984).[5][6] The song features backing vocals from the New Jersey Mass Choir affiliated with the Gospel Music Workshop of America, Dreamgirls star Jennifer Holliday, and featured keyboard work by Thompson Twins frontman Tom Bailey.[7] The choir also appears in the song's music video.

"I Want to Know What Love Is" reached number one in the UK Singles Chart on January 15, 1985, displacing Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?", staying there for three weeks, and knocked Madonna's long-running "Like a Virgin" out of number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on February 2, 1985. It was Foreigner's first and only pop chart topper in either country, although the band had four number one Mainstream Rock hits and a number one Adult Contemporary radio hit in the US. This was the band's third of four number one singles on the Mainstream Rock chart. The song spent five weeks at number one in Australia and also hit the top of the charts in Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, and Sweden, peaking at number two in Switzerland and South Africa.

We did a few takes, and it was good, but it was still a bit tentative. So then they all got round in a circle, held hands and said The Lord's Prayer. And it seemed to inspire them, because after that they did it in one take. I was in tears, because my mum and dad were in the studio too, and it was so emotional.

-- Mick Jones on recording with the choir.[8]

The song has received positive retrospective reviews from critics, with Bret Adams of AllMusic writing: "It's not hard to see why it became Foreigner's first number one single. Its dreamy, hypnotic feel is due in part to Lou Gramm's soulful lead vocals and the New Jersey Mass Choir's background vocals."[5]

The song was also issued as a 12-inch single with a longer time length of 6:23. This version contains a slightly longer intro and an extended vocal chorus/fadeout ending. The single's B-Side "Street Thunder (Marathon Theme)" is an instrumental track originally appearing on The Official Music of the XXIII Olympiad - Los Angeles 1984 and later on the band's 2-CD compilation Jukebox Heroes: The Foreigner Anthology (2000).

Soon after Foreigner's single topped the charts, the New Jersey Mass Choir released its own similar-sounding version of the song on an album that it also titled I Want to Know What Love Is. The choir's single peaked at number 37 on the Hot Black Singles chart and number 12 on the Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales chart.

The Foreigner song was ranked by Billboard as the number four Billboard Hot 100 single of 1985.[9] It was the band's third Platinum single in the U.S.[10] and their first and only Gold single in the UK.[11]

Originally consisting of three verses, a pre-chorus and a chorus, the song was extended with a bridge written by original songwriter Mick Jones specifically for Tina Arena's cover in 1998.

Chart performance

New Jersey Mass Choir version

In 1985, the New Jersey Mass Choir released the Prelude Records album entitled I Want to Know What Love Is. The album's fifth track, "I Want to Know What Love Is", was released as a single in the gospel music market which garnered several awards within the industry.

Tina Arena version

"I Want to Know What Love Is"
Tina Arena - I Want to Know What Love Is.jpg
Single by Tina Arena
from the album In Deep
Released
  • August 6, 1998 (1998-08-06) (Australia)
  • January 29, 1999 (France)
Length
  • 6:21 (album version)
  • 5:34 (Australian album edit)
  • 4:55 (single edit)
Label Columbia
Mick Jones
Mick Jones
Tina Arena singles chronology
"Whistle Down the Wind"
(1998)
"I Want to Know What Love Is"
(1998)
"I Want to Spend My Lifetime Loving You"
(1998)
Audio
"I Want to Know What Love is" on YouTube
Music video
"I Want to Know What Love is" on YouTube

"I Want to Know What Love Is" was covered by Australian singer Tina Arena and her recording was released as a single in 1998 from her album In Deep. Arena's version of the song was produced by Foreigner band member Mick Jones, who wrote the song. This version of the song includes a previously unrecorded bridge between the second and third choruses, specifically written for Tina Arena by Mick Jones.

Track listings

European Maxi Single
  1. "I Want to Know What Love Is" (Single Edit)
  2. "I Want to Know What Love Is" (R & B Mix)
  3. "I Want to Spend My Lifetime Loving You" (G-Vo Extended Mix)
  4. "Not For Sale"
Australian CD1 Maxi Single
  1. "I Want To Know What Love Is" (Single Edit)
  2. "Now I Can Dance" (Spanglish Version)
  3. "Now I Can Dance" (Live)
  4. "If I Didn't Love You" (Remix)
Australian CD2 Maxi Single - The Remixes
  1. "I Want to Know What Love Is" (R'n'B Mix)
  2. "I Want to Know What Love Is" (Urban Mix)
  3. "I Want to Know What Love Is" (Extended Urban Mix)
  4. "I Want to Know What Love Is" (Single Edit)

Charts

The song peaked at number 13 in France and finished 60th on the end-of-year chart of 1999.[52]

Wynonna Judd version

"I Want to Know What Love Is"
I Want to Know What Love Is - Wynonna.jpg
Single by Wynonna Judd
from the album What the World Needs Now Is Love
Released August 24, 2004 (2004-08-24)
Length 5:41 (album version)
Label
Mick Jones
Wynonna Judd singles chronology
"Flies on the Butter"
(2004)
"I Want to Know What Love Is"
(2004)
"Rescue Me"
(2005)
Audio
"I Want to Know What Love Is" on YouTube

"I Want to Know What Love Is" was covered by American country singer Wynonna Judd and her recording was released on August 24, 2004 from her album What the World Needs Now Is Love as fourth single. Wynonna's version of the song was produced by Narada Michael Walden, known for his work with Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin and George Michael, and Wynonna. This version of the song was included in a popular Brazilian soap opera, Senhora do Destino.

Personnel

Track listings

Digital download

  1. "I Want to Know What Love Is" -- 5:41

Remixes

  1. "I Want to Know What Love Is" (Piper Remix) -- 4:05
  2. "I Want to Know What Love Is" (Piper Club Mix) -- 7:42

Charts

In the US, the song peaked at number 14 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. On the Hot Dance Club Songs of Billboard, it debuted at number 50 and peaked at number 12. It is also her first single to chart in Sweden, where it debuted at number 67 and peaked at number 15.

Chart (2004/2005) Peak
position
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[60] 15
US Billboard Adult Contemporary[61] 14
US Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs[62] 12

Release history

Country Date Format Label
United States August 24, 2004[63] Digital download, CD single Asylum
United States Remixes Curb Records
Sweden February 20, 2005 Digital download, CD single Curb Records

Mariah Carey version

"I Want to Know What Love Is"
Mariah Carey - I Want to Know What Love Is.jpg
Single by Mariah Carey
from the album Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel
Released September 22, 2009 (2009-09-22)
Format
Recorded 2009
Length
  • 3:27 (album version)
  • 3:38 (radio/video version)
Label Island
Mick Jones
Mariah Carey singles chronology
"Obsessed"
(2009)
"I Want to Know What Love Is"
(2009)
"H.A.T.E.U."
(2009)
Music video
"I Want to Know What Love Is" on YouTube

"I Want to Know What Love Is" was covered by American singer Mariah Carey and released as the second single from her twelfth studio album, Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel (2009).[64] The single, produced by Carey, C. "Tricky" Stewart and James "Big Jim" Wright, was sent to European radio stations on August 28[65] and first impacted U.S. radio on September 14, 2009.[65] Mick Jones said of her version: "I think she's actually retained the integrity of the song. You know, the arrangement is very similar to the original. They haven't tampered with the song too much. She's captured a certain emotional thing, a feeling."

Critical reception

The single was generally well received by critics; Australian magazine Rhyme & Reason stated that "[While Carey stayed] [...] true to the original, this piano-led remake is less an overhaul of the classic '80s hit than it is a modest but impressive update."[66] The UK Daily Star gave it a 5 out of 5 rating: "[The song is] given the Carey treatment and [is] complete with choir and karaoke climax. It's a great rework."[67] Bill Lamb from About.com said that "Mariah Carey's new version could leave you speechless. The diversity of vocal coloring expressed in this recording is stunning. While the single Obsessed remains disappointing, this single is a reminder of just how formidable Carey's talents are given a strong production and arrangement".[65]

Writing in a Los Angeles Times music blog, Todd Martens said, "[T]ackling a well-known power ballad seems like a safe choice. It's a comfortable fall-back plan after "Obsessed" performed well, but did far from blockbuster numbers. It will undoubtedly be a hit, but it's giving me more reason to fear Imperfect Angel. The sort-of-real/sort-of-not feud with Eminem seemed largely a ploy to keep Carey in the headlines, and covering Foreigner seems just as calculated to steer Carey back onto familiar ground."[68]

Performances and promotion

  • Carey debuted "I Want to Know What Love Is" at her Live At The Pearl concerts in the Pearl Arena at The Palms Casino & Resort, Las Vegas, on September 11 and 12, 2009.[69]
  • Carey performed the song live on The Oprah Winfrey Show on September 18.[70]
  • A New York radio station contest featured as its prize a mini concert by Carey at the P.C. Richard Theater in TriBeCa, New York on October 5, where she sang the song as well as "Obsessed" and "H.A.T.E.U.", also from the album.[71]
  • Carey performed the single on Italy's X factor on November 11, and in France where she did various radio interviews.[72]

Music video

Carey filmed a music video for "I Want to Know What Love Is" in September 2009 in New York City, directed by Hype Williams.[73] The video premiered on Mariah's official website on November 13, 2009.[74] The video features Carey singing in Yankee Stadium, intercut with shots of audience members, often accompanied by loved ones, and some glimpses into the tough times in their past, as they grow emotional from the song's performance. A gospel choir joins Carey at the center of the stadium at the video's end. Carey wears the signature curly hairstyle from the initial stages of her career ca. 1990-1993, maintaining the Memoirs theme of the album.

Formats and track listings

Digital download

  1. "I Want to Know What Love Is" (album version) -- 3:26

UK digital single[75]

  1. "I Want to Know What Love Is" (album version) -- 3:26
  2. "I Want to Know What Love Is" (Moto Blanco Club Edit) -- 3:25
  3. "I Want to Know What Love Is" (Chew Fu Radio Fix) -- 3:51

European CD single[76]

  1. "I Want to Know What Love Is" -- 3:39
  2. "Obsessed" (Cahill club edit) -- 6:21

Chart performance

The song peaked on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart at number 10 bringing Carey's total number of Top Ten hits on that chart to 20, one short of Celine Dion's record. She has since surpassed this and is now tied with Celine Dion after her single "Oh Santa!" reached number one in 2010.[77] However, it peaked at #60 on the US Hot 100. On the UK Singles Chart, the song debuted at number 19 on the week ending November 29, 2009, becoming her highest debuting and peaking song since 2008's "Touch My Body", which peaked at number five.[78]

The song debuted at number six in France, selling 1,910 CDs in its first week and 39,720 copies in all formats as of late 2009,[79][80] becoming the best charting version of this song there. It placed 93rd on the Year-End Chart.

In Brazil, the song stayed at number one for a record 27 weeks. One of the reasons for the song's radio success there was its frequent inclusion in a popular new soap opera, Viver a Vida. According to Crowley Broadcast Analysis, Carey's version has broken the record for longest Brazilian Hot 100 Airplay Chart run at 27 consecutive weeks.[81]

Charts

Chart (2009-10) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[82] 45
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[83] 40
Belgium (Ultratip Wallonia)[84] 14
Brazil (Hot 100 Airplay)[85] 1
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[86] 57
Denmark (Tracklisten)[87] 14
Europe (European Hot 100 Singles)[88] 16
France (SNEP)[89] 6
Germany (Official German Charts)[90] 37
Hungary (Mahasz)[91] 6
Ireland (IRMA)[92] 41
Italy (FIMI)[93] 41
Japan (Japan Hot 100)[94] 3
Portugal (Billboard)[95] 5
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[96] 30
Slovakia (Rádio Top 100)[97] 84
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[98] 41
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[99] 20
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[100] 25
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[101] 19
UK R&B (Official Charts Company)[102] 7
US Billboard Hot 100[103] 60
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[104] 10
US Adult Top 40 (Billboard)[105] 39
US Dance Club Songs (Billboard)[106] 2
US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard)[107] 40
US Mainstream Top 40 (Billboard)[108] 28
US Rhythmic (Billboard)[109] 29

Release history

Country Date Format Label
United States September 22, 2009[110] Digital download Island
Norway October 20, 2009 The remixes (digital)[111] Universal Music
Korea CD single[112]
United Kingdom November 22, 2009[75][113] Digital download Mercury
France November 30, 2009[114] CD single Universal Music
Germany December 4, 2009[115]

Other covers

See also

References

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