Nope, Not a 1-Hit Wonder: Survivor
Survivor is one band that has it doubly rough. Not only is it regarded as a one-hit wonder by much of the public, more people know them as the Eye Of The Tiger band than by actual name. Mention Survivor to most people and the reality show is the first thing to come to mind.
But is “Eye Of The Tiger” Survivor’s only hit? Not quite. In fact, they had several other hits.
Survivor formed in 1979. The Chicago based rock band released its first album (self titled) that same year. That first album was followed by Premonition in 1981. Neither album was a smash. But Premonition spun off the minor (it made it to 33) hit “Poor Man’s Son”.
Sylvester Stallone heard “Poor Man’s Son” as he was about to make Rocky III. He’d wanted to get Queen;s “Another One Bites The Dust” for use in his movie. But he couldn’t get the rights. So he contacted Survivor and asked them to write a song for it. The resulting song was “Eye Of The Tiger”.
“Eye Of The Tiger” made it to number one in the summer of 82. In addition to Rocky IIII it was also used as the title theme to a relatively forgotten 1986 vigilante film of the same name starring Gary Busey
As I pointed out elsewhere on this site, it was later spoofed by Weird Al and was recently used in a Starbucks commercial.
Later on that same year, Survivor made it to 17 with “American Heartbeat”.
So that was 2 hits in 1982 for Survivor. But they wouldn’t stop there. No, not even a personnel change would derail this train.
In 1983, lead vocalist Dave Bickler left citing voice problems. Jimi Jamison took his place. Jamison had a voice that was well-suited for ballads, which was appropriate as that was the direction Survivor would take.
In 1984 Survivor would do another movie theme with “THe Moment Of Truth” from the original Karate Kid. This only made it to 63. But no need to panic, for hits would soon come.
First up was the power ballad “I Can’t Hold Back” which made it to 13 in December 1984.
This was followed a few months later by “High On You” another power ballad which made it all the way to 8, despite drug allusions in the title.
Going even higher than that was the next one, a ballad with no power just a plain old one. That being “The Search Is Over” which made it to number 4 and is still a staple on soft rock and adult contemporary radio stations.
Having scored a number one with a Rocky theme, Survivor tried to see if lightning would strike twice. In 1985, they contributed the song “Burning Heart” to the Rocky IV soundtrack.
“Burning Heart” made it all the way to number 2. But it hasn’t aged nearly as well as “Eye Of The Tiger” mainly on account of the over the top and very dated lyrics, with their references to the Cold War.
Survivor would score one more big hit in 1986. “Is This Love” (not the Whitesnake song which became a big hit not long after) went all the way to number 9.
But that was their last big hit. They would score a few more minor hits for the rest of the 80s. But by the end of the decade they were pretty much forgotten, banished to the nostalgia circuit.
So yes, as shown above, Survivor had several big hits. But the only song people really identify with them nowadays is “Eye Of The Tiger”. Hence their being erroneously pegged as one-hit wonders. The most likely reason for this is that their moment in the spotlight was so brief and their sound didn’t really have a whole lot to distinguish it amidst the corporate rock of the era. Unlike many of their 80s contemporaries (Journey, Bon Jovi, Hall And Oates even Asia to an extent) they haven’t managed to keep themselves relevant or pick up new followers in successive generations. So that’s why when people say Survivor nowadays, the first response is: “Who should be voted off the island”?
Posted on April 13, 2014, in Music, Nope, Not a 1-Hit Wonder and tagged Burning Heart, Eye Of The Tiger, Moment Of Truth, Rocky Music, Survivor, Sylvester Stallone, The Search Is Over. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.