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The Pointer Sisters - Automatic (1984)

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  • 80's Score80's Score 80's score: 1.67
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"Automatic" is a song recorded by American vocal group The Pointer Sisters for their tenth studio album Break Out (1983). The ...

"Automatic" is a song recorded by American vocal group The Pointer Sisters for their tenth studio album Break Out (1983). The song was released by the Planet label on January 13, 1984 as the second single from Break Out.

"Automatic" reached position number five on the US Billboard Hot 100 and became one of their signature songs. Eventually, three other singles from Break Out reached the top-ten on the Hot 100 consecutively. Billboard named the song number 94 on their list of "100 Greatest Girl Group Songs Of All Time".

"Automatic" was the group's first Top 40 hit to feature Ruth Pointer's distinctive contralto on lead.

Background

According to Ruth Pointer, "Automatic" was the final song chosen for Breakout: "We were taking a break from recording in the office of Jim Tract, who was Richard Perry's right-hand man, and Jim mentioned that he had a stash of tapes we might want to listen to [while on] a breather...We all sat up straight when we first heard ['Automatic'] and told Richard we wanted to include it on the album. 'Okay,' he said 'But who would sing the low part?' 'Are you kidding me?' I said, 'I'll do the low part!'"

Although Break Out largely comprised dance tracks, its lead single was the ballad "I Need You", chosen by producer Richard Perry in hopes of reinforcing the Pointer Sisters presence at R&B radio: the dance track "Jump (for My Love)" was intended as the second single but the heavy airplay afforded "Automatic" as an album cut by both dance clubs and radio stations caused the substitution of "Automatic" for "Jump..." as the second single release from Break Out, although "Jump..." would become the most successful US single off Break Out when it became the album's third single. The first Top 40 hit to feature Ruth Pointer's distinctive contralto on lead, "Automatic" reached #5 on the Hot 100 in Billboard in April 1984, also charting on the magazine's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and Hot Dance Club Play rankings, its #2 R&B chart peak making "Automatic" the highest charting R&B hit by the Pointer Sisters as a trio (in their original four-woman format the Pointer Sisters did score an R&B #1 hit with "How Long (Betcha' Got a Chick on the Side)"). Holding "Automatic" out of the top position of the R&B chart (for three weeks) was "Somebody's Watching Me" by Rockwell.

In the United Kingdom, "Automatic" would afford the Pointer Sisters their all-time biggest hit, spending two weeks at #2 on the UK chart in May 1984 while stuck behind The Reflex by Duran Duran when it also reached #1 in Ireland. "Automatic" also afforded the Pointer Sisters Top-Ten success in Belgium (#5 on the Flemish chart), the Netherlands (#9), and New Zealand (#8). In Australia, "Automatic" reached a chart peak of #15. The B-side of "Automatic" was "Nightline" featuring June Pointer on lead. "Nightline" was also originally featured on Break Out but was dropped from later pressings of the album to allow for the inclusion of the remix of "I'm So Excited".

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