Angels' Descend on Pop Charts

Heavenly Trend Pervades Rock & Roll

January 29, 1999 12:00 AM ET

During the Eighties we couldn't move for songs featuring the word "fantasy," and the hoary old "hand/understand" rhyme still crops up with chilling regularity. But as the millennium bears down upon us, there's one lyrical clichT that, after much saber rattling, has begun to saturate the music landscape. The most popular word in pop is "angel."

Despite it being a word with no obvious rhyme, it seems as if every major artist has to give in and cut an "angel" song sooner or later. The Eurythmics' "There Must Be An Angel," George Michael's "Cowboys and Angels" and U2's "Angel of Harlem" spring most readily to mind, but everyone from Madonna to J. Geils Band and from Mariah Carey to Great White have contributed to the heavenly host. And though it has always had its adherents, the outbreak of angelically-inspired ditties seems to have reached epidemic proportions.

In Britain, Robbie Williams' lighter-waving smash, "Angels," has only just dropped off the singles chart after more than six months of airplay, even though another "Angel," by Simply Red, had recently been a hit. But that's nothing. In the U.S. there are currently no fewer than five seraphic songs fluttering around the Hot 100: "I'm Your Angel" by R. Kelly and Celine Dion; "Angel of Mine" by Monica; "Angel" by Sarah McLachlan; "Fly (the Angel Song)" bythe Wilkinsons and "Angel in Disguise" by Brandy, each one a masterpiece of metaphorical originality.

Next up? Maybe a rush of songs about being abducted by aliens. Or perhaps a few about that other constant companion of our age: the cell phone. Heaven only knows.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories


The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

More Song Stories entries »