’90s No. 1s Revisited: “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing”
The one hundred twenty-first No. 1 song of the 1990s was “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” by Aerosmith, from the commercially successful but critically panned film Armageddon, which was about Armageddon. The song, penned by quintessential soundtrack balladeer Diane Warren, was the band’s first (and, as of this writing, only) chart-topper on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was a global smash, hitting No. 1 in countries such as Germany, Italy, Greece, Australia, Norway, Switzerland, Austria and Iceland. Back home in the U.S., it was nominated for Song of the Year at the 41st Annual Grammys, losing to another chart-topping soundtrack single, “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion.
For the 25 years preceding “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing,” Aerosmith had enjoyed a steady drumbeat of acclaim and success, including three Grammys and six Top 10 singles, the highest-peaking of which was “Angel” in 1988. They’re probably most strongly associated with a string of iconic Rock masterpieces in the ’80s and early ’90s, like their rap-infused reinvention of “Walk This Way” with Run-DMC, “Dude (Looks Like A Lady)” “Love In An Elevator” and “Janie’s Got A Gun.” Xennials like us may better remember Aerosmith for introducing us to Alicia Silverstone with their trilogy of videos from songs off the CD Get a Grip, “Cryin’,” “Amazing” and “Crazy” in 1993-94. Following “Thing,” they’d have one last hit, 2001’s “Jaded” (peak: 7).
It’s worth noting, and not taking for granted, how odd it was for a band as seasoned as Aerosmith to top the charts in 1998. Not only had they not had a Top 10 hit in over nine years, but by 1998, most pre-Grunge bands had been abandoned by the public. Also, 1998 was a year when most of the artists who reached No. 1 were doing so for the first time (e.g., Savage Garden, Usher, Will Smith), and a year not particularly hospitable to Rock music. The week the single hit No. 1, you’d have to scroll down all the way to No. 28 to find another rock song, Beastie Boys’ “Intergalactic,” and then down to No. 37 for the next one, Marcy Playground’s “Sex And Candy.” The popular genres of this time — a bit of an awkward dead zone in music history, looking back — were R&B, Country and Pop, although most Pop in 1998 would be obliterated from public consciousness by the pending Teen Pop explosion. But we digress. The point is that nobody was expecting one of the biggest singles of the year to be by Aerosmith, of all bands.
Aerosmith’s reputation at this time was for ambitious, melodic, richly arranged Rock tracks — emotive ballads and fun party anthems all elevated by flamboyant front man Steven Tyler. “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing,” by contrast, is a somewhat sappy song that Aerosmith does their best to inject with energy. Amid Diane Warren’s catalog, “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” stands out as thrilling. Compared to Aerosmith’s, it stands out as dull.
Let’s revisit “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing”:
Aerosmith is amazing! Diane Warren is amazing! This song isn’t. The best thing about the track is the first 30 seconds of lovely, moody orchestration, which turns out to be a misdirect. It’s then replaced by a tiresome, repetitive serenade delivered by someone with serious FOMO, to someone who’s just trying to sleep. It’s a sweet but juvenile sentiment, fitting for a juvenile film, but perhaps would have been more convincingly delivered by someone who was not 50 years old at the time. Oh, did we forget to mention that Armageddon co-starred Steven Tyler’s daughter, actress Liv Tyler? Not sure what may have happened behind the scenes there. Did Steven Tyler help get his daughter cast, or did Liv Tyler help get her dad’s band to do four songs for the soundtrack? Surely it’s not a coincidence.
Anyway, the whole effort is perfectly decent and inoffensive, it’s just a bit unremarkable in retrospect. Not sure who has much interest in hearing this song nowadays. And yet …
Does it hold up? As of this writing, this video has … 323 MILLION VIEWS on YouTube?!? Sheesh. Guess it does hold up. It’s not on any of our playlists, though. It’s not even among our 20 favorite Aerosmith songs.
Dopeness: 2 out of 5 Birkenstocks
“I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing”
4 weeks at No. 1, starting Sept. 5, 1998
Preceded by: “The Boy Is Mine,” Brandy and Monica
Followed by: “The First Night,” Monica
’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?