First Hit #1: March 20, 1982
The pop charts aren’t often blessed with music that sounds rough and aggressive. There’s a reason for this, mainly that pop music is directed to everyone, and lots of people don’t like music that’s confrontational and aggressive. A wall of angry distorted guitars has its appeal and a ready market, but pop music tends to trend towards nice and friendly. Even Joan Jett’s first trip to the top of the charts, for all it’s loud rough guitars and Jett’s angry-sounding vocals, isn’t that negative, not really.
I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll is actually quite sincere, and for all the aggressive swagger in the production itself it’s an all-around positive track. It’s a tribute to the music Jett and co. love, performed in the style of the subset of that music they love best. They may love it because it’s angry and aggressive, but their love is sincere, so even if they’re trying to punch it up with that attitude they do it out of that love.
Granted, it’s a cover of a track by the Arrows, and it doesn’t deviate too far from the original – though it’s gender swapped and Jett has a better vocal – but the love of the genre comes through in both versions.