’90s No. 1s Revisited: “All For Love”
The seventy-sixth No. 1 song of the 1990s was “All For Love” by Bryan Adams, Rod Stewart & Sting. This track, a global smash from the film The Three Musketeers, was the first single to climb to No. 1 in the United States in 1994, and a notable achievement for all three of these fellas:
- Before “All For Love”: Stewart had hit No. 1 three times in the 1970s, dating back to 1971’s “Maggie May.” He hadn’t topped the Hot 100 since 1979, although he racked up an astounding 18 Top 20 hits in the interim, the best (in our opinion) being “My Heart Can’t Tell You No” (peak: 4) from 1988
- After “All For Love”: Stewart was 49 when “Love” hit No. 1, so in Pop music terms he was in his twilight years. He landed on the Hot 100 four more times in the ’90s, never higher than No. 36. Then after a 17-year absence he got to No. 92 in 2015 as a featured artist on ASAP Rocky’s “Everyday” (because it samples Stewart’s song “In A Broken Dream“)
- Before “All For Love”: Sting hadn’t gone to No. 1 as a solo artist, but had done so as the front man of The Police, in 1983 with “Every Breath You Take“
- After “All For Love”: Sting logged several more Hot 100 appearances, including:
- Before “All For Love”: The youngest of the trio, Adams had reached No. 1 in the U.S. twice before, including in 1991 with “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You,” the most successful song of the year
- After “All For Love”: He would reach No. 1 once more, in the summer of 1995 with “Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman?” (He was the King of ’90s Soundtracks to Historical Films, we’ve decided.) He last charted in 1996, when he teamed up with Barbra Streisand on the wedding staple “I Finally Found Someone” (peak: 8)
“All For Love” is peculiar for sharing equal billing among three solo acts. This was done to align with the Three Musketeers‘ “3” theme. Appropriately, it also spent three weeks at No. 1. The song’s title and lyrics (as explained below) are transparent plugs for the movie, which was profitable but not well-liked by critics.
Let’s take a moment to listen again to “All For Love”:
The music on “All For Love” is decent if a bit dull, and the lyrics in the verses are fine, basically expressing devotional support for one’s lover. The chorus’ lyrics don’t live up to the music’s buildup, though, thanks to somebody’s insistence on shoving the “All for one, one for all” motto into the mix, to confusing effect. Here’s the chorus:
Let’s make it all for one and all for love
Let the one you hold be the one you want
The one you need
‘Cause when it’s all for one it’s one for all
When there’s someone that you know
Then just let your feelings show
And make it all for one and all for love
Huh? Who’s “you”? Who’s “all”? So I should just let my feelings show when there’s someone that I know? That sounds like a ticket to a slap in the face, or jail.
After this was a hit, the public said, “That’s enough of this type of music, please.” A Soft Rock song by white men would not reach the summit again until Hanson in 1997 or Aerosmith in 1998, depending on your opinion about whether Hanson and/or Aerosmith are Soft Rock groups. In the mid-’90s, the public was all about R&B, Hip-Hop, Grunge and post-Grunge Alternative. And Celine Dion.
Does it hold up? There’s no way anyone in the world is listening to this song right now, except you, and probably not even you. Its strong tie to The Three Musketeers makes it seem woefully irrelevant in other contexts, and each of these three artists stepped out of the mainstream spotlight shortly after this song hit big. So, no.
Dopeness: 2 out of 5 Birkenstocks
’90s No. 1s Revisited is a regular feature on “Was It Dope?” where we walk through every No. 1 song of the 1990s on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in order, give it another listen, and answer two critical questions: Was it dope? And does it hold up?