Friday I'm In Love: how The Cure created the perfect pop song

21 April 2022, 12:47 | Updated: 21 April 2022, 17:19

Robert Smith in 1992, with the sleeve to the single Friday I'm In Love
Robert Smith in 1992, with the sleeve to the single Friday I'm In Love. Picture: Johnny Greig / Alamy Stock Photo

By Martin O'Gorman

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Robert Smith thinks it's just a "dumb" pop tune, but 30 years on, Friday remains the group's most enduring single.

Friday I'm In Love is a dumb pop song, but it's quite excellent actually, just because it's so absurd. It's so out of character - very optimistic and really out there in happy land. People think we're supposed to be leaders of some sort of 'gloom movement'. I could sit and write gloomy songs all day long, but I just don't see the point.

- Robert Smith to Spin, June 1992
  • 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.

Robert Smith performing with The Cure in California, 5th July 1992.
Robert Smith performing with The Cure in California, 5th July 1992. Picture: Paul Harris/Getty Images

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."

The Cure line-up that recorded Wish: Perry Bamonte, Robert Smith, Porl Thompson, Boris Williams and Simon Gallup.
The Cure line-up that recorded Wish: Perry Bamonte, Robert Smith, Porl Thompson, Boris Williams and Simon Gallup. Picture: Andre Csillag/Shutterstock

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.

I remember driving home one Friday afternoon to have the weekend off. I started to think of this really great chord sequence. So I turned around and went back. We actually recorded it that Friday night. So from then on it was always just called 'Friday'. Then, when I came to do the words for it, I thought, why don't I do a song about that Friday feeling? It's a thing you have at school, and lots of people work at jobs they don't really enjoy. So that Friday afternoon feeling is something you look forward to.

- Robert Smith to Guitar World, November 2004
Robert Smith on The Cure's tour bus in the US in the summer of 1992. Note the Friday I'm In Love t-shirt!
Robert Smith on The Cure's tour bus in the US in the summer of 1992. Note the Friday I'm In Love t-shirt! Picture: Paul Harris/Getty Images

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."

The Cure's Wish album was released on Tuesday 21st April 1992
The Cure's Wish album was released on Tuesday 21st April 1992. Picture: Press

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 released on Friday 15th May 1992
Friday I'm In Love was released on Friday 15th May 1992. Picture: Press

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.

Robert Smith from The Cure performs live on stage at Ahoy in Rotterdam, Netherlands on 1st October 1992
Robert Smith from The Cure performs live on stage at Ahoy in Rotterdam, Netherlands on 1st October 1992. Picture: Rob Verhorst/Redferns/Getty

"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

Robert Smith in 1985 and the reissue of Boys Don't Cry

The Cure’s Boys Don’t Cry: why this classic song wasn’t a hit first time

Robert Smith of The Cure in 1985

The Cure's Close To Me has a harrowing back-story

The Cure and Bananarama on TV in 1985

The Cure drunk dancing with Bananarama on TV is brilliant

The Cure in 1987

Where did The Cure get their name from?

Robert Smith of The Cure in 1989

How a wedding gift gave The Cure their biggest US hit

TRENDING ON RADIO X

The bonfires start at Woodstock '99

Woodstock '99 lineup: Who played the festival that features in the Netflix docuseries?

An aerial view of the huge Oasis shows at Knebworth House, August 1996

10 of the biggest gigs in history

Listen to Radio X on Global Player: Podcasts, Live Playlists and more!

The 12 albums shortlisted for the 2022 Mercury Prize

2022 Mercury Prize: Ceremony date, nominees, hosts, performances and more

Best Manchester Albums

25 classic albums from Manchester