’90s No. 1s Revisited: “Truly Madly Deeply”
The one hundred thirteenth No. 1 song of the 1990s was “Truly Madly Deeply” by Savage Garden, the only Australian act to have a U.S. No. 1 hit in the ’90s. The duo first garnered attention in America with their debut release, “I Want You,” which peaked at No. 4 in May 1997. At the outset, they were marketed as an Alternative band, perhaps akin to a modern Depeche Mode or New Order. This framing was supported by their video for “I Want You,” which had edgy elements that distinguished them from contemporaries like Backstreet Boys.
But with the release of the very mainstream-sounding “Truly Madly Deeply,” their second hit in the U.S., it became evident that Savage Garden was far from Alternative. They would follow this smash with four more hits, most memorably their other chart-topper, the very beautiful 2000 ballad “I Knew I Loved You.” They last landed on the Billboard Hot 100 as Savage Garden with “Crash And Burn” (peak: 24) a few months later, and then disbanded. Singer Darren Hayes subsequently had a minor hit under his own name, with 2002’s “Insatiable” (peak: 77). He continued putting titles on non-U.S. tallies throughout the ’00s, but “Insatiable” is his last Hot 100 appearance to date. In recent years, he studied improv comedy and got into podcasting. The other half of Savage Garden, Daniel Jones, pivoted from performing to doing behind-the-scenes work in the music industry before shifting gears to raise a family and work in Las Vegas real estate, the internet tells us.
“Truly Madly Deeply” was the first new No. 1 hit of 1998, a year with the highest turnover rate (i.e., the greatest number of No. 1 hits) since 1991. Most of 1998’s chart-toppers were R&B songs, or at least R&B influenced, by mononymous artists such as Usher, Brandy and Monica. Savage Garden was an outlier in that sense, but benefited from some growing interest in Pop. For context, MTV’s viewer-request countdown show Total Request Live (or TRL), an afternoon staple for more than a decade, debuted later in 1998 to support what would turn out to be feverish demand for bubblegum Pop music, as well as some hybrid genres popular around the turn of the millennium such as Pop-influenced Punk and Hip-Hop-influenced Hard Rock.
“Truly Madly Deeply” is a slow electronic serenade with a very simple I-V-IV-V chord progression and somewhat saccharine lyrics.
Let’s revisit “Truly Madly Deeply”:
Pretty. We preferred their other No. 1 hit, “I Knew I Loved You,” but “Truly Madly Deeply” is a perfectly pleasant, thoughtfully written, well-crafted, nicely performed Pop song. Not exactly groundbreaking, but good nevertheless.
Does it hold up? Not for kids these days. On a recent installment of Do They Know It, the song was recognized by nobody, although we’ve seen enough of those videos by now that we blame poor scores on the kids, not the songs. Youngsters these days just don’t have enough curiosity about recent music history! They should visit this blog. Anyway, outside that narrow sample size, the song apparently does hold up pretty well. The video has 162 million views as of this writing, which is tremendous for a 20-year-old tune. Also, as an illustrative anecdote of the song’s longevity, yesterday I (John) happened to be taking a spin class at the gym, and the instructor, who lately has been playing Ed Sheeran’s recent No. 1 hit “Perfect” during the cool-down, instead played “Truly Madly Deeply.” After 45 minutes of sweating profusely, hearing this song signal the end of the class was like hearing a chorus of angels bestowing untold blessings on my soul.
Dopeness: 3 out of 5 Birkenstocks
“Truly Madly Deeply”
2 weeks at No. 1, starting Jan. 17, 1998
Preceded by: “Something About The Way You Look Tonight” / “Candle In The Wind 1997,” Elton John
Followed by: “Together Again,” Janet Jackson
’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?