First Hit #1: July 27, 1991
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was a huge hit, the second highest grossing film of 1991. Yet, the film is mostly remembered for Kevin Costner’s inability to hold an accent. Bryan Adams had one of the biggest hits of the year with his song from the film, (Everything I Do) I Do It For You, which probably scored the first dance of every wedding in 1991-1992 – certainly, every wedding I attended during that time, I can’t hear it without picturing some woman in a white dress with puffy sleeves dancing with a man with a bad haircut. But even in Canada, where Bryan Adams was born and there are laws promoting playing any remotely Canadian act, the Adams song you hear is inevitably Summer of ’69.
So why didn’t these two huge hits sustain their highs for decades to come? It might be because they’re just not that good. Which isn’t to say (Everything I Do) I Do It For You is bad, it’s a decent power ballad delivered with the utmost sincerity. It even features Adams’ slightly scratchy voice to good effect, though I admit I sort hate it after years of listening to Canadian radio. It’s a great song for a wedding, all about love and devotion, the right tempo for a good slow dance with the happy couple. It’s not openly repulsive, in other words, but it’s kind of bland. You don’t regret it years later, watching the wedding video won’t elicit gasps of “what were we thinking?” It’s nice, but it’s not actually great. It’s the kind of song you can forget about, and then have just enough of a positive association to not hate it when it pops up on the radio again. It’s nice, it was connected to a popular film, and if you’re getting married it’s appropriate. That, apparently, was the low bar it needed to clear to become one of the biggest hits of the year.
Or maybe I’m a grumpy gus because I was forced to hear the actively risible The Only Thing That Looks Good On Me Is You repeatedly as a youth, and now I can’t be impartial about Adams any more.