"Superstition" is a song by American singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder. It was released on October 24, 1972, as the lead single from his fifteenth studio album, Talking Book (1972), by Tamla.[5] The lyrics describe popular superstitions[6] and their negative effects.

Single by Stevie Wonder
from the album Talking Book
B-side"You've Got It Bad Girl"
ReleasedOctober 24, 1972
StudioElectric Lady, New York City
  • 4:26 (album version)
  • 4:07 (7" version)
Songwriter(s)Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder singles chronology
"Keep on Running"
"You Are the Sunshine of My Life"
Music video
"Superstition" (Official Audio) on YouTube

"Superstition" reached number one in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in January 1973 [7][6] and on the soul singles chart.[8] It was Wonder's first number-one single since "Fingertips, Pt. 2" in 1963.[9] It peaked at number eleven in the UK Singles Chart in February 1973. In November 2004, Rolling Stone ranked the song number 74 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. It was re-ranked number 73 on its 2010 list,[10] and number 12 on its 2021 list.[11] At the 16th Grammy Awards, the song earned Wonder two Grammys: "Best Rhythm & Blues Song") and "Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male".

Writing and recording Edit

Jeff Beck was an admirer of Wonder's music, and Wonder was informed of this prior to the Talking Book album sessions. Although at this point he was playing virtually all of the instruments on his songs by himself, Wonder preferred to let other guitarists play on his records, and he liked the idea of a collaboration with Beck. An agreement was quickly made for Beck to become involved in the sessions that became the Talking Book album, in return for Wonder writing him a song.

Between the album sessions, Beck came up with the opening drum beat. Wonder told Beck to keep playing while he improvised over the top of it. He improvised most of the song, including the riff, on the spot. Beck and Wonder created a rough demo for the song that day.[12][13]

After finishing the song, Wonder decided that he would allow Beck to record "Superstition" as part of their agreement. Originally, the plan was for Beck to release his version of the song first, with his newly formed power trio Beck, Bogert & Appice. However, due to the combination of the trio's debut album getting delayed and Motown CEO Berry Gordy's prediction that "Superstition" would be a huge hit and greatly increase the sales of Talking Book, Wonder released the song as the Talking Book lead single months ahead of Beck's version, the latter being issued in March 1973 on the Beck, Bogert & Appice album.[14]

The funky clavinet riff played on a Hohner Clavinet model C, the Moog synthesizer bass and the vocals were also performed by Wonder. In addition, the song features trumpet and tenor saxophone, played respectively by Steve Madaio and Trevor Lawrence.[15]

Reception Edit

Cash Box described it as a "one of [Wonder's] most impressive releases to date" with an "accent...on funk."[16]

Personnel Edit

Chart performance Edit

Certifications Edit

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Denmark (IFPI Danmark)[22] Gold 45,000
Italy (FIMI)[23] Platinum 50,000
United Kingdom (BPI)[24] 3× Platinum 1,800,000

Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Other recorded versions Edit

The supergroup Beck, Bogert & Appice recorded Jeff Beck’s version of “Superstition” on their self titled 1973 album “Beck, Bogert & Appice”. The song had originated out of a jam session between Jeff Beck and Stevie Wonder, with Beck introducing Wonder to the song's iconic opening drum part. In return for Beck's work on Talking Book, Wonder had given the song to Beck to record and release as his own single, however delays in the release of the Beck, Bogert & Appice album meant that Wonder's version was released first.

  • Stevie Wonder performed a live-in-the-studio version of "Superstition" on Sesame Street in 1973, episode 514. This version later appeared on the collection Songs from the Street: 35 Years in Music.[25][26]
  • Stevie Ray Vaughan recorded a live version in 1986, which was released as a single from his album Live Alive. The accompanying music video features Vaughan and a stage crew setting up for a concert he planned to perform on Friday the 13th. Many superstitious acts and objects are featured, most notably an angry black cat intent on doing harm to Double Trouble, and Wonder appears at the end, holding the cat. This version is still[when?] played on classic rock radio,[13] and is included on two of Vaughan's greatest hits compilations.[27]

In popular culture Edit

Wonder appeared in Bud Light commercials that debuted during the Super Bowl in 2013. As part of the "It's only weird if it doesn't work" campaign, which showed superstitious fans acting compulsively in an effort to guide their teams to victory, Wonder appeared as a witch doctor in New Orleans (where the 2013 Super Bowl took place). These fans would perform numerous superstitious acts in order to receive good luck charms from him. The song "Superstition," specifically the beginning instrumental portion before Wonder's vocals kick in, plays throughout these commercials.[13]

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. ^ Huey, Steve. "Stevie Wonder | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved February 24, 2021.
  2. ^ McFerrin, John. "Stevie Wonder- Talking Book". Retrieved September 22, 2018.
  3. ^ Pitchfork Staff (August 22, 2016). "The 200 Best Songs of the 1970s". Pitchfork. Retrieved October 13, 2022. The drums came first: one of pop's most instantly recognizable intros tapped out on one of the tightest-ever snares leading into an indelible funk groove of swung 16th notes.
  4. ^ Breihan, Tom (March 20, 2019). "The Number Ones: Stevie Wonder's "Superstition"". Stereogum. Retrieved June 17, 2023. And yet "Superstition" is still a soul song, with its perfectly timed horn stabs...
  5. ^ "Superstition: Stevie Wonder". Rolling Stone. December 9, 2004. Archived from the original on October 23, 2007. Retrieved January 16, 2008.
  6. ^ a b Dean, Maury (2003). Rock N' Roll Gold Rush. Algora. p. 276. ISBN 0-87586-207-1.
  7. ^ "This Week in Billboard Chart History: In 1973, Stevie Wonder's 'Superstition' Soared to No. 1 on the Hot 100". Billboard.
  8. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 635.
  9. ^ "Stevie Wonder Top Songs". MusicVF.com. Music VF, US & UK hits charts. Retrieved August 23, 2016.
  10. ^ "Superstition ranked #73 on Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Songs List in 2010". Rolling Stone. December 11, 2003. Retrieved September 16, 2021.
  11. ^ "Superstition ranked #12 on Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Songs List". Rolling Stone. September 15, 2021. Retrieved September 16, 2021.
  12. ^ "Jeff Beck's 'Happenings Ten Years Time Ago,' 'People Get Ready,' others". Something Else! Reviews. June 24, 2014.
  13. ^ a b c "Superstition by Stevie Wonder". Songfacts.com.
  14. ^ "The History of 'Superstition,' the No. 1 Song Stevie Wonder Stole From Jeff Beck". Ultimate Classic Rock. January 27, 2016.
  15. ^ "AllMusic page on Superstition". AllMusic.
  16. ^ "CashBox Record Reviews" (PDF). Cash Box. November 11, 1972. p. 20. Retrieved December 11, 2021.
  17. ^ "Steve Madaio, trumpeter for Stevie Wonder, Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan, remembered in song".
  18. ^ "Steve Madaio, Trumpeter for Wonder, Stones, Dies". April 5, 2015.
  19. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (in Spanish) (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
  20. ^ Canada, Library and Archives (December 26, 2017). "Image : RPM Weekly". Library and Archives Canada.
  21. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1973/Top 100 Songs of 1973". Music Outfitters.
  22. ^ "Danish single certifications – Stevie Wonder – Superstition". IFPI Danmark. Retrieved September 23, 2019.
  23. ^ "Italian single certifications – Stevie Wonder – Superstition" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved December 27, 2017. Select "2017" in the "Anno" drop-down menu. Select "Superstition" in the "Filtra" field. Select "Singoli" under "Sezione".
  24. ^ "British single certifications – Stevie Wonder – Superstition". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved February 10, 2023.
  25. ^ "Stevie Wonder Visits Sesame Street In 1973". JamBase. August 4, 2013. Retrieved May 15, 2014.
  26. ^ Hornbach, Jean-Pierre (February 11, 2012). Whitney Houston: We Love You Forever. p. 427. ISBN 9781471631795.
  27. ^ "Stevie Ray Vaughan/Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble Superstition". AllMusic.

External links Edit