20
Apr 09

SURVIVOR – “Eye Of The Tiger”

FT + Popular75 comments • 4,481 views

#507, 4th September 1982

Before I talk about Survivor I’m going to talk about me a little. Skip down a few paragraphs if you don’t care.

There. Now, I was lucky enough to have a happy childhood. And from mid ’82 to late ’84 it was at its happiest. Not dramatically joyful or anything, not eventful even – just the simple, hassle- and hormone-free happiness of the boy of 9 or 10 who knows what he enjoys and has the space and security to get on with it. Simple, nerdy stuff. Books. The BBC Micro. Camping trips. School projects. Youth theatre groups. Doctor Who. Dungeons & Dragons. The radio.

Being happy didn’t mean I liked all the pop music I heard at the time. Far from it. Some of it I hated. (And hating it was something else to make me happy). But the result is that on some level I like almost all of it now. The suffusing marshmallow memory of my happiness has subsumed my judgement, smoothed it out. I feel safe in saying that there is not a single record which charted in 1983 that I couldn’t get some base nostalgic pleasure out of even if my higher brain functions were screaming out against it.

Will this make any difference to how I write Popular entries? I have no idea. But it seemed fair to warn you against it.

And now, let’s talk about Survivor.

On the Irene Cara thread there was some talk about American triumphalism and swagger in pop – in contrast to the more playful tones of British New Pop. Obviously, “Fame” is like Noel Coward compared to “Eye Of The Tiger”, which was specially commissioned to be as pummelling and bombastic as is musically possible. Does it succeed?

Yes, indeed too well. If this was a boxing match, the hero would flatten his opponent within the first fifteen seconds. The taut, macho bassline and punchbag riff that open the track are awesome: the only problem is that Survivor have to follow them with a song, and “Eye Of The Tiger” predictably underwhelms. It’s already said everything it needs to with devastating economy – all this “man and his will to survive” stuff is just labouring the point, and the longer it goes on the more you doubt it.

Perhaps theirs was an impossible task – though when Destiny’s Child got their hands on something very like the “Tiger” bassline for “Bootylicious” they built a killer song on top. On the other hand, there are many bands who strain for years without producing anything as primal as the first fifteen seconds of “Eye”: Survivor’s failure to capitalise – in both a track and career sense – can’t take that away from them.

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Comments

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  1. 61
    peter goodlaws on 22 Apr 2009 #

    #56 – Perhaps the most puzzling of all is Coventry City singing the Eton Boat Song and nothing else. Was this just an illusion of grandeur from that bearded tosser, Hill? Down at Eastbourne Borough, we greet the side to the strains of “Sussex by the Sea” played by a brass band not out of place on a Peter Skellen record. When a home goal goes in, we have to suffer “Tom Hark”, which I loathe.

  2. 62
    intothefireuk on 23 Apr 2009 #

    Big intro followed by a big let down. Horrible.

  3. 63
    DV on 24 Apr 2009 #

    One thing I will always remember about the current Vicarage is how the downstairs neighbours took to playing ‘Eye of the Tiger’ at such volumes that we could hear its dulcet tones quite clearly. Once they were doing this and so we joined in with the chorus, screaming it out at the tops of our voices. The neighbours never played the song again.

    I love this song, people who hate it are enemies of music itself.

  4. 64
    Malice Cooper on 30 Apr 2009 #

    yuk !

    Hateful american rubbish

  5. 65
    burkesworks on 7 May 2009 #

    Peter @ 61; the reason why Cov sing the Eton Boating Song was entirely down to Jimmy Hill and his at-the-time revolutionary ideas of club “radio stations”, non-working electronic scoreboards, all-seater stadia, and decidedly iffy methods of taking set pieces, that he brought into Highfield Road in the late ’60s. Needless to say the record was renamed the “Sky Blue Song” and the chinny one made sure he picked up a writing credit.

  6. 66
    wichitalineman on 8 May 2009 #

    Do Cov still sing “proud posh or cobblers” or did they update it during their lengthy stay in the top division? I remember hearing Jimmy Hill sing this (in its entirety) on the BBC once in the nineties – it took me a while twig what the hell that line meant.

    Iffy set pieces like this? It was a big hit in our playground!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wjq2xT-tx38

  7. 67
    Kat but logged out innit on 11 May 2009 #

    I can confirm that Eye Of The Tiger is far more enjoyable when played on Guitar Hero! Though my fingers are a bit sore now.

  8. 68
    Erithian on 17 Aug 2009 #

    Channel 4 Top 100 Watch: the 80th best-selling single in the first 50 years of the UK chart.

  9. 69
    thefatgit on 16 Oct 2009 #

    Re: 67
    When playing EOTT on Guitar Hero, do you staple black bin liners to your living room wall for the authentic Survivor video look?

  10. 70
    Erithian on 8 Nov 2011 #

    Since I mentioned him upthread, and it’s in keeping with the boxing theme, Joe Frazier RIP.

    Seems the one fight Ali couldn’t win was the fight to be forgiven by Joe once their boxing days were long over and Ali wanted to apologise for the extremely damaging things he said in the early 70s (calling Frazier an Uncle Tom with little thought for what his family would go through as a result). There was a very touching tribute on Radio 5 this morning from Joe Bugner, who had an epic fight with Frazier in July ’73 and who invited him down to Sydney for Bugner’s 60th birthday party last year. Many of us last saw Bugner on the archive TOTP from 1976 last week.

  11. 71
    hardtogethits on 9 Nov 2011 #

    #41. Those who are well-placed to remember do not recall any use of the song “The Best”.

  12. 72
    Jimmy the Swede on 9 Nov 2011 #

    I must join my buddy (and fellow sports enthusiast) Erithian in paying a loving tribute to Smokin’ Joe, who has passed away. One did not have to be a boxing fan to be caught up in the almost insane excitement engendered by those wonderful heavyweight battles of the 70s. They were true world events and I remember them all clearly – the anticipation on the Wednesday night on “Sportsnight (with Coleman)” as dear old Harry Carpenter set the scene and then watching the delayed telecast at the weekend. Fabulous. Frazier was dignity personified and won the inaugural match with Ali in 1971 by a country mile, decking The Greatest in the final round. Alas, two years later, in a result nobody saw coming, he was destroyed by George Foremen inside two rounds, being sent to the canvas six times (he had never been dropped in his career before). He then came to London and, as Erithian says, outpointed one Joe Bugner in what was beyond any doubt the best performance Bugner ever put up. A further two years on and we had “The Thriller in Manila”. Ali was champion again and he and Frazier punched each other to a standstill before Eddie Futch, Joe’s trainer, pulled him out with only one round left. Ali promptly collapsed in his corner. Neither were the same again. But make no mistake, Frazier was a remarkable champion, active in a golden age for the fight game. And let’s not forget his Olympic gold medal from Tokyo too. After all that, may he rest in peace indeed.

  13. 73
    DanH on 25 Jan 2013 #

    This came out a year after “Edge of Seventeen,” though the guitarist on “Seventeen” later admitted to nicking the guitar line from The Police’s “Bring On the Night,” much to Stevie Nicks’ dismay.

  14. 74
    Duro on 3 Sep 2014 #

    Delurking and making my Populist debut, and this was the logical place to start. I still find minor amusement in the fact that this soundtracked my arrival into the world (probably not in the most literal sense), and a quarter of a century later when hosting a 1982 party I was struck by how many foundation records were released in this particular year. While this is not exactly ‘The Message’, no song associated with Clubber Lang should ever be considered a bad thing.

  15. 75
    hectorthebat on 28 Oct 2014 #

    Critic watch:

    1,001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die, and 10,001 You Must Download (2010) 1002
    Bruce Pollock (USA) – The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000 (2005)
    Giannis Petridis (Greece) – 2004 of the Best Songs of the Century (2003)
    Kerrang! (UK) – Singles of the Year 3
    Sounds (UK) – Singles of the Year 8

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