It exemplifies the problem it's protesting. And I went into therapy for a year. As a guest, Juelz will eventually appear in this column. Marconi created the radio. In another, more poignant way, they were an extension of a group that had been around for 20 years. The moment it comes on, people go, “I know that. Sears, Starship bassist. Wolf: I saw them in Costa Mesa, and when they played the beginning of the song, 15,000 people were singing. Notwithstanding this curious beginning, the group went on to a series of hits in the mid-'80s, including the chart-toppers "We Built This City," "Sara," and "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" in a polished, mainstream … That demo ended up in the hands of Peter Wolf (not the one from the J. Geils Band) and Dennis Lambert, two producers who were working with the band Starship. The rest were a load of crap. Kantner also sued the band. Page: Hmm. I called Bernie and said, “My artistic muse won't let me finish the song.” Regrets? That’s a heavy weight for a song to bear. Anyway, I like ’80s techno-pop. But later records didn’t do as well, and the band’s membership changed a bunch of times. A major smash song never stops earning money. Everyone wanted to go more modern, and he didn’t want to… He argued with everybody, and I hated that.”, Wolf and Lambert liked Taupin and Page’s demo for “We Built This City,” but they didn’t think the chorus was big enough, so they wrote a bigger one and gave themselves co-writer credits. (Don’t blame us—blame Starship.) Maybe Bernie meant to say “mambo.” Maybe it means: If you don’t like this music, some really angry snakes are gonna come out of the speakers… At one point, I did start to sing “mambo,” to try and be more grammatically correct, and after a while I thought, “Fuck it,” and went back to “mamba.”, But “We Built This City” is also, at least on some level, a song about ’80s greed and societal collapse. Label: RCA - FB 49929 • Format: Vinyl 7 Starship - We Built This City (1985, Vinyl) | Discogs I Starship guitarist Craig Chaquico, to GQ: “The song says we built this city on live music, let’s bring it back — but the music is computerized. Everyone wanted to go more modern, and he didn't want to. (Cancer, too, develops in stages.) “We Built This City” got dismal reviews, but it was a legit hit, and it made Starship into a real pop-chart presence in ways that the two bands with “Jefferson” in their names had never been. GQ誌はそう思っています。 Producers: Peter Wolf, Jeremy Smith. 4.7 out of 5 stars 48. Today, its creators are ambivalent about what they've wrought. This is the true story of how, The (S)Hit List: A Compendium of Fantastically Terrible Songs, I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution. People said, “You have to carry the mantle of the '60s.” C'mon. Even amidst peers like the Grateful Dead, Big Brother And The Holding Company, and Quicksilver Messenger Service, the Jefferson Airplane stood out. Taupin had, for instance, co-written the 1978 Alice Cooper album From The Inside; its big single, the Elton-esque ballad “How You Gonna See Me Now” peaked at #12. View credits, reviews, tracks and shop for the 1985 Vinyl release of We Built This City on Discogs. GQ may earn a portion of sales from products that are purchased through our site as part of our Affiliate Partnerships with retailers. • Trigger warning: This photograph of Starship can cause unpredictable reactions in people who survived the 1980s. That's how she put it. Sears: In 1987, I quit the band. 1 songs. Thomas: I was upset at first, but the article was written with quite a bit of humor, so after about an hour, I laughed about it. People want to knock it and they want to love it. Working with Starship, they turned “We Built This City” into a big, blaring synth-rock song with an ultra-bouncy beat and a sickly, unpleasant sort of catchiness. We built this city We built this city on rock an' roll Built this city We built this city on rock an' roll. Starship was a band created by the settlement of a lawsuit. But “We Built This City” is also clumsier and more muddled than most of the techno-pop that would follow. Page: Thirty years ago, Grace said, “We love it.” She's a lovely lady. Marconi created the radio. So I was trying to make it up to the band by being a good girl. The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Condé Nast. A year after forming, they recruited Grace Slick, a former model with an icy demeanor and an electric howl of a voice. Anyone who tries to make that case has probably never, for instance, survived prolonged exposure to the works of KK Slider. Thirty years ago, radio stations and MTV put an insidiously catchy song called “We Built This City” into heavy rotation and kept it there. I'm still here; *Blender'*s not. Chaquico, rocking two sweet axes at once. Do you hear any mamba? We Built This City. It was a terrible video—cheap and ugly—and it got incredible play on MTV. Yes, I'm proud of it. She was being staunchly brave. This very uncatchy theme song is not even Smith's best movie-themed sellout. Marconi was the first one to send music across the ocean. I could be totally wrong. Chaquico: Marconi's the guy who invented the radio, and his style of music was the mamba. It’s a 7. I joined the band in ’74, and In The Number Ones, I’m reviewing every single #1 single in the history of the Billboard Hot 100, starting with the chart’s beginning, in 1958, and working my way up into the present. Barry Sadler’s “The Ballad Of The Green Berets.”) “We Built This City” is, however, a very bad song. In fact, one of the two singers of “We Built This City” has gone on record using similar language to describe the track. And punish him. She brings at least some of the forceful intention that she’d had back in her Airplane days, though she can’t really hit those gospel-style ad-libs that she tries out late in the track. We Built This City 2003 (Radio Edit) This song is by Starship. “I don't think anybody can take all the credit,” says Starship guitarist Craig Chaquico, “or all the blame.”. So that we can find him. View credits, reviews, tracks and shop for the 1985 Vinyl release of We Built This City on Discogs. The audience starts throwing the balls, and while Mickey's hitting a note, a ball flies into his mouth. They were stars. Genre Rock Comment by NMW. Tears were running down my eyes. As a publicity stunt, Blender sent writer Russ Heller to listen to “We Built This City” on a loop for 24 hours in a glass booth that had been installed in a Manhattan Best Buy; it broke some kind of record. By the end of their run, the Jefferson Starship were working with Peter Wolf, an Austrian-born arranger who’d previously been a keyboard player for Frank Zappa. That's how I look at the lyric: Things change. Grace Slick (Starship vocalist; ‘Vanity Fair,’ June 2012): I was such an asshole for a while, I was trying to make up for it by being sober, which I was all during the '80s, which is a bizarre decade to be sober in. About a minute in, he hit the pause button and in his Austrian accent started to sing: “Vee built dis seety on vock and VOLL.”. That's awesome!”. Well, even Mark Twain wrote some bad prose. Peter Wolf (producer): There was a lot of hate inside the band. MP3 Music Listen with Music Unlimited. BONUS BEATS: Here’s the Diplomats rapping over producer Just Blaze’s sped-up chipmunk-soul sample of “We Built This City” on their 2002 track “Built This City”: (As a group, the Dipset never had a Hot 100 single, but almost everyone who raps on “Built This City” has hits. There’s police brutality: “It’s just another Sunday in a tired old street/ Police have got the chokehold, oh, and we just lost the beat.” There’s corporate consolidation: “Someone always playing corporation games/ Who cares? Love, Les Garland.”, Chaquico: It marked a new chapter in the band where we couldn't stop making No. Martin Page (co-writer): Bernie was moving away from working with Elton John. The '80s, in my personal life, were a total disaster for me. by Starship. We had three in a year and a half: “We Built This City,” “Sara,” and “Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now.”. Rather than notate every slap, you shouldn't have a problem making them out on your own, as the bass is pretty clear in this song. They offered Mickey the job. Chaquico: The No. What was his name, the gentleman who just died? Cam’ron’s highest-charting single, the 2002 Juelz collab “Hey Ma,” peaked at #3. (It’s an 8.) A producer named Peter Wolf—not the J. Geils Peter Wolf, but a big-time pop guy and Austrian record producer—got ahold of the demo and totally changed it.… If you heard the original demo, you wouldn't even recognize the song. We Built This City. Stephen Holden (critic; ‘The New York Times,’ 1985): A compendium of strutting pop-rock clichés, Knee Deep in the Hoopla represents the '80s equivalent of almost everything the original Jefferson Airplane stood against—conformity, conservatism, and a slavish adherence to formula. The mockery came way later. SoundCloud. I nearly cried. Wolf: Do I have a sense of why people mock the song? Rob Tannenbaum is the co-author of ‘I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution,’ which somehow mentions Starship only once. In the mid-’70s, Paul Kantner was getting more and more into sci-fi imagery, and he pushed the band into a change of direction. Page: About two years ago, I saw an advert in London for the mobile service Three UK with a little girl riding a bicycle and singing the song, and it went viral. All rights reserved. Song: We Built This City Artist: Starship Album: Knee Deep in the Hoopla (1985) Bassist: Pete Sears Tabbed by LoudLon 5-string standard tuning (BEADG) PERFORMANCE NOTE: This song is mostly played slap-style. Taupin loved it. As tone-deaf in form (rap + country = ugh) as it was in content: The laughable lyrics, shockingly, did not solve racism. “We Built This City” isn’t even the worst song ever to hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Say you don't know me, or recognize my face Say you don't care who goes to that kind of place Knee deep in the hoopla, sinking in your fight Too many runaways eating up the night. In some ways, “We Built This City” foreshadows the elegant, mathematical Swedish-style factory-pop that would take over the charts in the years ahead. Les Garland (former head of programming, MTV): This is a great Garland story. It sounded like Peter Gabriel's “Shock the Monkey.” I sent it to Bernie, who said, “Bernie Taupin comes into the future.”. The whole saga of “We Built This City” starts with Bernie Taupin, the longtime Elton John collaborator who was trying to see what he could do without Elton. Banger. 1 record. With the Airplane, Slick really did help build something — not a city per se, but one of the most beloved rock ‘n’ roll scenes in history. We were re-inventing ourselves, so I wanted to re-invent my personal look as well. gradually the music had become vacuous, sterilized, escapist. Blender magazine first crowned it thus in 2004, and the label has stuck, thanks to a series of online polls, thickening into something close to empirical fact. Slick is the only Airplane veteran even involved in “We Built This City.” With “We Built This City,” the 46-year-old Slick broke Tina Turner’s record and became the oldest woman ever to sing a #1 single. Chordally and harmonically it's—this isn't an ego thing—it's incredibly skillful. (Opening with the chorus is a total Max Martin move.) It exemplifies the problem it’s protesting.”. The Jefferson Starship needed a new singer, so Kantner recruited Mickey Thomas, the Georgia-born vocalist who’d sung on blues-rock guitarist Elvin Bishop’s 1976 hit “Fooled Around And Fell In Love.” (“Fooled Around And Fell In Love” peaked at #3. Since 1957, GQ has inspired men to look sharper and live smarter with its unparalleled coverage of style, culture, and beyond. Thomas: The stakes were higher because of the band's past. Or $5.94 to buy MP3. It's unbelievable!”. I didn't think a second thing about it. Thomas: Anybody who says the lyrics are dumb hasn't taken the time to digest the verses. Wolf: I said to Bernie, “I wrote a chorus. I saw “We Built This City” as saying stop the corporations, we need to play music. But listen to the radio now. Starship. It was an embarrassment. For a while, the Jefferson Starship were surprisingly successful. He was pissed. BONUS BONUS BONUS BONUS BEATS: In 2018, the British YouTuber LadBaby scored the UK’s fabled Christmas #1 with “We Built This City… On Sausage Rolls,” a food-themed parody of “We Built This City.” Here’s his video: (A year later, LadBaby landed another Christmas #1 with “I Love Sausage Rolls,” a parody of Joan Jett And The Blackhearts’ “I Love Rock ‘N Roll.” The world eagerly awaits the next time LadBaby substitutes the words “rock ‘n’ roll” with “sausage rolls.”), The Number Ones: Patti LaBelle & Michael McDonald’s “On My Own”, The Number Ones: Billy Ocean’s “There’ll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry)”, Album Of The Week: Paul McCartney McCartney III. … Half a million people paid money to own this. We had band meetings with big arguments. John Kasich played it at campaign events. Oh, hell no. They say the word “bird” 84 times in 143 seconds, compounding a lack of originality: It's a rip-off of a Rivingtons song. Lambert: Grace Slick was the matriarch of the group, and everyone was focused on making her happy. ... We Built This City. It sounds like pop by committee, which is what it is. 1985年に打撃を受けたStarshipの「We Built This City」を思い出してください。急上昇のコーラスで、「私たちはロックンロールでこの街を造りました！」もちろんそうです。しかし、それは本当にすべての時間の最悪のロックソングですか？? I had a family.”—Pete Starship will be in this column again. I love it.” Because people love Mickey. Built this city, we built this city on rock and roll It's just another Sunday in a tired old street Police have got the choke hold, oh, then we just lost the beat View credits, reviews, tracks and shop for the 1985 Vinyl release of We Built This City on Discogs. by Starship. They also brought in Les Garland, a former San Francisco DJ who’d become an MTV exec, to do some DJ patter in the middle of the song — a smart idea for a group trying to get MTV play. Together, they made the song into a product. She gave me very specific marching orders: “I want to make hits.” She told me she wanted to tour, make a lot of money, and then retire. Listening to “We Built This City,” it’s pretty clear that nobody involved in the production has any idea what “We Built This City” is about. Lambert: We licensed the song to ITT for almost a million dollars. I saw that. After all these years, the song went back into the Top 20 in the UK. Chaquico: I do the song with my band—sometimes as a full-on power trio, like if Cream or Jimi Hendrix were to do it, but we also do a reggae version of it, when we're in the mood. 1 song. Thomas: Bernie didn't say “mambo,” he said “mamba,” which is a snake. Garland: That year, they played the MTV New Year's Eve party for us. BONUS BONUS BONUS BONUS BEATS: Here’s the utterly absurd scene from the 2012 film Rock Of Ages where Russell Brand leads a mob of pro-rock ‘n’ roll protesters in a rendition of “We Built This City”: (The song that Catherine Zeta-Jones and the anti-rock ‘n’ roll protesters are singing is Twisted Sister’s 1984 single “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” which peaked at #21 and which is way more of a rock ‘n’ roll song than “We Built This City.” It exemplifies the problem it’s protesting.). "We Built This City" by Aron Wright and Jill Andrews is a cover of Starship's "We Built This City". In 2016, former Blender guy Rob Tannenbaum’s GQ oral history of “We Built This City” used the phrase “worst song of all time” in its headline. He argued with everybody, and I hated that. It's Not Enough Starship It's Not Over ('Til It's Over) Starship Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now Starship You May Also Like. So a lot of people got sick of that song, including me. To revisit this article, visit My Profile, then View saved stories. Wolf: It sounded like nothing else on the radio and had a very in-your-face, hard-edged machine bottom. I don't think there's anything dumb about “looking for America, crawling through your schools.”. I'm still here and *Blender'*s not. Or $0.99 to buy MP3. Wolf: Journey was recording in the studio next door, and every time I opened the door, their band members were standing outside with their mouths open. We had band meetings with big arguments. It refuses to die. Conventional wisdom dictates that Starship’s “We Built This City” is the absolute nadir of recorded music, the shittiest piece of shit that any musician has ever shitted out. Martin Page’s muse would let him finish the song. From award-winning writing and photography to binge-ready videos to electric live events, GQ meets millions of modern men where they live, creating the moments that create conversations. Chaquico: The song says we built this city on live music, let's bring it back—but the music is computerized. It's iconic, like Mickey's ears. Among the people who now say they hate it are two band members and the guy who wrote the lyrics. Wolf and Dennis Lambert, a pop-industry veteran who’d co-produced Glen Campbell’s “Rhinestone Cowboy” and Player’s “Baby Come Back,” became Starship’s new producers. It’s probably not fair to look at “We Built This City” through that lens. I felt it didn't do the song justice. … BONUS BONUS BEATS: Here’s the bit from the 2011 movie The Muppets where the Muppets sing “We Built This City”: (Kermit The Frog’s highest-charting single, 1979’s “Rainbow Connection,” peaked at #25.). I said to him, “We're a few minutes away from a huge hit.”. It has made them wealthy, but years of ridicule have taken a toll. It's 1985. Everyone was drinking $100 snifters of brandy. Label: Grunt (3) - FB-14170,RCA Records - FB-14170 • Format: Vinyl 7 Starship - We Built This City (1985, Indianapolis Pressing , Vinyl) | Discogs In a 2012 Vanity Fair interview, Grace Slick, the longest-tenured member of Starship, had this to say: “Oh, you’re shitting me, that’s the worst song ever.” (In 2002, she also said, “Our big hit single ‘We Built This City’ was awful… I felt like I’d throw up on the front row, but I smiled and did it anyway. Russell Brand has sung it, Fergie and the Muppets have performed it. We Built This City: 2nd pressing variant with black label blanks crediting manufacturing to … Thomas: At one point I did start to sing “mambo,” to try and be more grammatically correct, and after a while I thought, “Fuck it,” and went back to “mamba.”. 4.7 out of 5 stars 48. I sent a telex to the Starship: “Thank you so much for backing me up on my No. When I wrote it, it still had that feeling to me like something's wrong here. There are some sharp little melodic turns in there. It complains about techno pop, but it's a techno-pop song. There were always different members coming and going, so the band was constantly evolving. In 1965, Marty Balin and Paul Kantner, two San Francisco folk-scene types, had their minds blown by the Beatles, and they started up a rock ‘n’ roll band of their own called the Jefferson Airplane. From left, Thomas, former Starship drummer Donny Baldwin, Slick, and Sears. MP3 Music Listen with Music Unlimited. "We Built This City" is a 1985 song written by Bernie Taupin, Martin Page, Dennis Lambert and Peter Wolf, and originally recorded by US rock group Starship and released as their debut single on their album Knee Deep in the Hoopla. Sure. When we spoke with Martin Page in 2014, he explained: "To me, 'We Built This City' is live music's been pulled away from the streets of LA. We would also like to know who let the dogs out. I wanted to impress Bernie: I did a demo of the song on a Fostex deck in my living room. Thomas: People seem to have convinced her that it's a blot on her legacy. “That album, for me, was musical hell. Is that okay with you?” He said, “Yeah, but I don't want to write any more lyrics.”, Craig Chaquico (Starship guitarist): Peter came to my recording studio in Mill Valley and played the demo for me. Was sampled in 6 songs see all. This a very good collection of Starship,there are 17 tracks on the CD and all are mostly recorded in the 1980's when the band were at there best.The well known tracks on the Album are : We built this city,Jane,Sara,& Nothing's gonna stop us now,but the rest of the … During the late-1980s peak of junk bonds on Wall Street, Michael Milken changed the lyrics to We built this city on high-yield bonds to celebrate his law-breaking firm, Drexel Burnham Lambert. In a band, either you're in or you're out. Main genre: Rock / Pop. 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