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Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes Up where we belong (1982)

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  • 80's Score80's Score 80's score: 2.27
  • Find this song on: Music Stack

“Up Where We Belong” is a song written by Jack Nitzsche, Buffy Sainte-Marie and Will Jennings that was recorded ...

“Up Where We Belong” is a song written by Jack Nitzsche, Buffy Sainte-Marie and Will Jennings that was recorded by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes for the 1982 film An Officer and a Gentleman. Warnes was recommended to sing a song from the film because of her previous soundtrack successes, and she had the idea for the song to be a duet that she would perform with Cocker. Jennings selected various sections of the score by Nitzsche and Sainte-Marie in creating the structure of the song and added lyrics about the struggles of life and love and the obstacles in the way that we attempt to dodge. It was released in July of that year to coincide with the release of the film.

The song reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US and topped the charts in several other countries. It also sold more than one million copies in the US and was recognized by the Recording Industry Association of America as one of the Songs of the Century. Cocker and Warnes were awarded the Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals, and Nitzsche, Sainte-Marie, and Jennings won both the Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song.

Reception

Some radio stations refused to play “Up Where We Belong”, even going so far as to send their copies back to Island Records. Cocker said, “I remember going into their offices in New York. I walked in and I said, ‘How’s the single doing?’ And this guy Mike Abrahams, who worked there, he said, ‘This is how well it’s doing’—and the office was piled with returns.” The single may have been recorded to promote the film, but Warnes pointed out that, in a sense, the success of the film was what sold the record.

“Up Where We Belong” debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 in the issue dated August 21 of that year and spent 3 weeks at number one during its 23 weeks there. That same issue also marked its first appearance on the magazine’s list of the 50 most popular Adult Contemporary songs in the US, where it stayed for 25 weeks, six of which were at its peak position at number three. It also reached number seven on the UK Singles Chart in 1983 and received Silver certification from the British Phonographic Industry on February 1 of that year for reaching sales of 250,000 copies. The Recording Industry Association of America awarded the song both Gold and Platinum certification for achieving sales of 500,000 and one million copies, respectively, on January 17, 1989.

Billboard reviewed the single at the time of its release in their July 31 issue. “This unlikely vocal pairing could prove less of a long shot than it sounds, given the recent gains made by other soundtrack associations. Add radio’s ongoing affection for strong duets and a restrained performance by Cocker that matches him more sympathetically with Warnes’s gentler style, and this track should find friends at A/C and mainstream pop stations.” Matthew Greenwald of AllMusic wrote, “A gospel-inspired piece of pop song craftsmanship, the song moves with an underlying grace and subtle beauty. Faith, virtue, and, yes, the power of love is at the lyrical core here, and [the songwriters] convey this with a literate and timeless style. Truly a modern-day pop standard.”

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