First Hit #1: January 27, 1973
Stevie Wonder basically owned the Grammy awards in the ’70s, and that’s really not a surprise. The Grammys have always had a bit of a bias towards jazz, and while they might acknowledge other genres and attempt to stay hip with the kids, they tend to wander back to the jazz well at any opportunity. Wonder, who was a restless innovator and took pop music in all manner of unexpected directions, had a clear jazz influence threaded throughout his recordings, likely starting from when he was a child star. That made the awards and Wonder a perfect match, the Grammys could give awards to something popular and new that still appealed to their sensibilities, and Wonder could collect enough awards to build an entire house.
This isn’t meant to be dismissive at all, Superstition is a brilliant pop recording. It has some clear influences, sure, but it combines them into something that is very distinct and singular. It’s also a very restless song, something that threads through Wonder’s work, as he’s intent on exploring all sorts of other ideas. It doesn’t sound rushed, but it does sound like he’s not going to settle on this sound for very long, and there’s a certain impatience that defines the song and makes it work a bit better. He tries things here, seemingly just to try them, and there’s a feeling that this isn’t going to be a sound that he settles with for very long.