“I’m Not in Love” – 10cc
Although I’m a novice to the art, I once made a perfect Karaoke score singing 10cc’s “I’m Not in Love.” And although it didn’t get me any bonus points, I even inserted the “Be quiet. Big boys don’t cry” bit. In retrospect, this experience revealed two things: (1) I can’t sing and (2) I really love this song. Now, in this crazy divided world of ours, can we all at least agree that this British band’s 1975 hit is a delightfully brilliant perfect Pop song?
Yours truly had fallen hard for 10cc’s eponymous 1973 debut LP, which of course made my previous Top 10 LP list. I was even blessed to see the band play live at a tiny club in New Jersey when they were still under most American music fan’s radar screens. Looking back, I’m still not sure while I was slightly distracted from their fantastic sophomore LP, Sheet Music. However, 10cc’s 1975 follow-up, The Original Soundtrack, was hard for me to ignore, especially after hearing “I’m Not in Love”
The song was composed by the “Pop” half of the 10cc quartet, Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman. But it took input from the other half of the band, the more Art and Techno driven Lol Crème and Kevin Godley to make “I’m Not in Love” the masterpiece it became. Godley flat-out hated what he had heard and creatively suggested that they abandon its original Bossa Nova arrangement and instead use a backing track consisting of their multi-layered vocals. This clever trick worked and took “I’m Not in Love” to the top spot of the UK singles chart and into the Top Ten in the US.
There is an illustration of the process behind Godley’s idea that through studio wizardry, created a “choir” of 48 voices in the BBC Special about 10cc which can be viewed on YouTube. (Here’s a link to that excerpt about the making of this song.) Besides these voices, the song has little other instrumentation in its composition. A truly remarkable creation!
The entire song just sounds gorgeous. Stewart’s lead vocal is completely void of emotion and is a perfect fit to the cynical lyrics in which the song’s narrator denies that certain things are exhibits of the love he claims he is not in. The best by far is the one about his “not-love’s” picture hanging on the wall only to hide a nasty stain.
As was usual back then, the LP version got chopped down from 6:04 to 3:42 to be more suitable for radio play. I of course prefer the full deal.
In addition to being a hit at the time, history has been kind to 10cc’s “I’m Not in Love” with the song appearing in several movie soundtracks. Without a doubt, its most famous appearance is the one on the “Awesome Mixtape” belonging to actor Chris Pratt’s character in Guardians of the Galaxy.
There also have surprisingly been several cover versions of the song, each I’m sure of which Godley said “It’s crap” like he said after hearing the original 10cc version. To me, the sonic wonder of 10cc’s original simply can’t be recreated!