Song of the Day, March 19: Bad Blood by Neil Sedaka

SedakaBadBloodToday’s song is Neil Sedaka’s Bad Blood. Sedaka got into music young, displaying an aptitude for piano that landed him in Julliard’s Preparatory Division for Children before he was 10. He trained classically but was drawn to pop music and went straight from high school to the Brill Building. Sedaka and long-time friend Howard Greenfield began a very successful songwriting career while Sedaka began flirting with his own singing career. After a Top 10 hit (Oh! Carol [#9, 1959], inspired by former girlfriend and Brill Building colleague Carole King), he stumbled briefly, then launched a three-year string that included the smash Breaking Up Is Hard to Do [#1, 1962].

The British invasion changed public tastes, and Sedaka found decreasing success in the U.S. He and Greenfield suspended their partnership and he moved to the U.K. where — ironically — he had bigger success. After a decade abroad, he was contemplating returning to the States when he ran into Elton John at a party. John signed Sedaka to his new Rocket Records and they arranged to release a compilation of his best tracks from his British albums. A new song, Laughter In the Rain written with lyricist Phil Cody, became his comeback hit, topping the Hot 100 and the Adult Contemporary charts. Sedaka was white hot again, penning singles for other artists and working up a new album for Rocket.

That album includes his biggest hit. Bad Blood is a classic pop gem. A smart kiss-off to a dangerous woman, it showed off a darker side to Sedaka’s writing while maintaining the bright sheen and hooky smarts. It also had a good dance beat, helping propel it to the top of the charts. A guest vocal from label owner Elton John probably didn’t hurt; his brash harmonies on the chorus work brilliantly with Sedaka’s fun delivery.

Enjoy this delightful pop classic today as well as this charming live performance from Midnight Special.

INTERESTING CHART NOTE: Sedaka’s biggest hit spent three weeks at #1 on the Hot 100, making it one of the biggest hits of 1975. The two tracks that beat him both had Sedaka connections. Bad Blood was dethroned by the three week run of Island Girl, Elton John’s fifth #1 and the year’s #2 smash. The biggest hit of the year was the debut single by the Captain and Tennille, a great pop confection called Love Will Keep Us Together. That song spent four weeks at #1 and was written by Howard Greenfield and Neil Sedaka. (Toni Tennille even ad libbed the celebratory line “Sedaka is back” toward the end of the song.)

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About Robert Hulshof-Schmidt
Freelance writer, researcher, online comic vendor, and project manager. Fan of a wide range of music -- especially folk and 80s pop -- vintage comics, British TV, and LGBT fiction.

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