Muzak Kollection: “You’re the Inspiration” by Chicago
A quick series introduced here, The Muzak Kollection will examine those Muzak hits that surround us everywhere we go.
This is the model for the dregs of Muzak. It aces every criteria: mid-tempo, middle of the road, clean content, and a focus on mids and highs. In this case, it’s Peter Cetera’s voice surfing over a deluge of soapy synths.
Cotton candy has more substance than this song. It’s grandiose clichéd lyrics are so vague and uninspiring (ha) that the song could easily pass as a CCM track. Just remove the few lines of romance, and replace them with some CCM tropes. It’s easy.
Chicago didn’t always peddled in such sweet nothings. An underground mainstay of the 70s, Chicago began to hit it big when partnered with writer/producer David Foster, who pushed for more power ballads for frontman Cetera. In 1984, Chicago XVII debuted and later became their best-selling album, with “You’re the Inspiration” a top 5 hit. It was popular enough that Cetera left the band for his own solo career to spread ever more dreck. Thus “You’re the Inspiration” is not just the symbol of awful Muzak, but an important nexus of all the bad synth power balladry of Peter Cetera. It’s monstrous beast if there ever was one, and one of the all time worst.
Next time, we lighten up a bit with Phil Collins’ cover of “Can’t Hurry Love” by The Supremes.