First Hit #1: November 11, 2000
And we get to the first person who had a number 1 hit that I’ve actually talked to, but that’s not really relevant for this conversation, and certainly not relevant for the song itself. Creed is much more firmly in the rock wheelhouse than many of the bands that have hit number one in the past several years – it’s a definite anomaly compared to the dance and R&B that dominates the chart. But, like Matchbox 20 before them, Creed has to go soft to ascend to the top of the chart. With Arms Wide Open isn’t quite as soft as Bent, mostly because Scott Stapp isn’t really a singer with range. He does his big post-grumble vocal style no matter what the song calls for, and even a subdued Stapp has the same core sound. The guitars are less prominent here, but it’s a big power ballad in the vein of the hits of the ’80s, just filtered through a decade of musical movements, most notably grunge and the bands that popped up behind it.
The song itself does at least seem highly personal for Stapp, and it’s a sincere tribute to his (then) unborn child, and it feels like about the most Scott Stapp way to do a tribute to a kid. It’s well trod ground, sure, but it wasn’t well trod for him at the time, and I can respect what he’s trying to do. Even if it’s kind of just what you would expect Creed to do with the subject matter, that’s what they do, and they found a comfortable niche at the time. It’s not a band with range, and this is the softer side of their sound.