Friday I'm In Love: how The Cure created the perfect pop song
21 April 2022, 12:47 | Updated: 21 April 2022, 17:19
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Robert Smith thinks it's just a "dumb" pop tune, but 30 years on, Friday remains the group's most enduring single.
- The Cure's Wish album was released on Tuesday 21st April 1992
- The Cure's Friday I'm In Love single was released on 15th May 1992
With Friday I'm In Love, Robert Smith achieved the peak of The Cure's pop career. The single, which reached Number 6 in June of 1992, is probably the band's best-known song in the UK, even 30 years later.
The single's parent album Wish is – to date – The Cure’s only No 1 LP in their home country, released on 21st April 1992. The first single to be taken from the album was High, which had been released on 16th March 1992. As the band's first new material in nearly two years, the song broke the Top 10, but it was the follow-up that was going to garner all the attention.
"It's just a very naive, happy type pop song," Smith said of Friday I'm Love in a promotional interview about the album. While The Cure had enjoyed mainstream chart success with classic tunes like In Between Days, The Love Cats and Boys Don't Cry, they still carried a reputation for being dark and difficult.
1989's Disintegration was a huge commercial success, despite being a somewhat bleak selection of songs inspired by Smith turning 30 and realising his time on earth was slipping away. "Turning 30 was something major happening to me," he told the Orange County Register in June 1992. "I thought I was going to get a thunderbolt or something. That helped me change my way of thinking about things. It's quite bizarre really. I'm on the way out so I might as well enjoy it."
In 1991, The Cure retreated to Richard Branson's studio The Manor, just North of Oxford in Shipton-on-Cherwell and down the road from the magnificently-named village of Thrupp. The impact of shoegaze bands like My Bloody Valentine in the UK and grunge acts like Nirvana in the US had led to The Cure turning up the guitars on the new material.
The original backing track to Friday I'm In Love was much slower than the finished single. "It didn't seem to sparkle enough the way we recorded it," Smith told Guitar World, "so [producer] Dave Allen and I thought what if we just ramp the tape up a little with Varispeed? Suddenly everything got brighter and sounded a little more sparkly and poppy."
"It took me about three weeks to work up the courage to sing the words," Smith told the Orange County Register in June of that year. "Once we'd done it we forgot about it. It didn't really fit into what else we were doing. But as we got toward the end, we realised that was the song that was missing."
With an unprecedented three years having elapsed since the release of its predecessor Disintegration, Wish debuted the chart at No 1 in the UK – but the start of the small club tour in support of the album was dogged by unfortunate incidents. Guitarist Porl Thompson dislocated his shoulder the day before the first gig, leaving him performing in plaster and Smith suffered from “severe stomach pains” on 29th April, causing the band to cancel a Top Of The Pops appearance to plug Friday I’m Love. Instead guitarist Perry Bamonte and bassist Simon Gallup showed up in the studio to introduce the video.
Friday I'm In Love was issued as the second single from Wish and released - of course - on Friday, 15th May 1992. As singles were usually issued on Mondays in that period, the song slunk into the bottom end of the Top 40 after just two days of sales - at Number 31, to be precise.
However, the following week, accompanied by a joyous video directed by Tim Pope, Friday jumped up to Number 8 and peaked seven days later at Number 6. The song was a genuine pop classic and has since gone on to be certified platinum in the UK, while taking up residence on radio stations around the world... particularly on Fridays. However, Smith retains a certain ambivalence towards the song.
"Friday, I'm In Love is not a work of genius," he told the NME in October 2008. "It was almost a calculated song. It's a really good chord progression - I couldn't believe no-one else had used it and I asked so many people at the time... 'I must have stolen this from somewhere, I can't possibly have come up with this'.
"On the same album there were songs which I'd slaved over and I thought at the time were infinitely better, but Friday is probably the song off the Wish album that's the song."
Thanks to the indispensable Cure resource site: http://thecure.cz