We Built This City – Starship

THIS DAY IN MUSIC…………………………………on November 18th of 1985 with Grace Slick and Mickey Thomas sharing lead vocals, Starship enjoy their first number one record with “We Built This City”, an honor that previous incarnations of the band, Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship could not accomplish. Despite the song’s success, it has often been the target of music critics, including Blender Magazine, who named it their “worst song ever” in April, 2004. Their readers disagreed with the editors however, choosing “Achy Breaky Heart” by Billy Ray Cyrus as their least favorite by a wide margin. This song came from an assemblage of top-tier songwriting and production talent. Elton John’s songwriting partner Bernie Taupin wrote the lyrics, which he gave to Martin Page, who put music to the words and made a demo. Page, who later had a hit with “In the House of Stone and Light,” garnered attention after the Los Angeles radio station KROQ started playing “Dancing In Heaven (Orbital Be-Bop)” by Martin’s group Q-Feel. Taupin, who needed someone other than Elton John to write music for this lyric, asked Martin to do it. By opening this song with Grace Slick and Mickey Thomas singing the chorus together, Starship’s producers used those two powerful voices (check out Thomas on the song “Fooled Around And Fell In Love”) to create an immediate impression. Few bands have the vocal talent to pull this off, but by getting the chorus (with the title) up front, it allowed for more repetitions, which is a key component when structuring a hit song. When this hit #1, Grace Slick was the oldest woman to sing the lead vocal (shared with Mickey Thomas) on a #1 single. The title had been previously held by Tina Turner for “What’s Love Got To Do With It,” and was later claimed by Cher for “Believe.” The song was a Top 20 hit in the UK topping off at #12.