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Don't Stop Believin' - The Best Rock Song Ever Written?

Posted on Monday, January 10, 2011 at 12:01AM by Registered CommenterAllyson B. Crawford | Comments20 Comments

Everyone and their cousin knows "Don't Stop Believin.'" Journey released the song in 1981 and it is on the album Escape.

I heard the song at least three separate times while I was out and about over the weekend. It dawned on me while eating at O'Charleys (the best rolls ever?) that "Don't Stop Believin'" is probably the world's most perfect rock song.

Not much in life is perfect. But there are pockets of perfection and "Don't Stop Believin'" is one of them. The song features an actual appropriate use of keyboards, there's an awesome chorus, meaningful guitar work - and a theme that touches all listeners. After all, who hasn't felt like a character in "Don't Stop Believin'" at one point or another? (In case you're wondering, I am, of course, the small town girl living in a lonely world).

Perhaps most important is that in "Don't Stop Believin,'"Journey created an approachable rock anthem, right at the dawn of the 80s. Journey is not a Glam band - make no mistake I am not arguing that they are - but they are arena rock and songs like "Don't Stop Believin'" helped make it easier for our Glam faves to hit high positions on the Billboard charts later during the decade of decadence.

I suppose "Don't Stop Believin'" haunts Journey to a degree. While the song made them rich and famous it also created an impossible standard for song writing excellence. "Don't Stop Believin'" is Journey's "November Rain" or "Dream On." You usually only get one of those songs in a career but if you do it right, the song lasts for all time.

And "Don't Stop Believin'" does last. It seems that the tune has gone through some sort of renaissance over the past few years. It was a big finale tune for American Idol when Adam Lambert and Kris Allen battled for the crown. Glee, a popular TV show, recorded the song and therefore introduced the tune to a whole new generation that had possibly never even heard of Journey. The song is, of course, a karaoke staple.

I thought for a long time and I couldn't find an 80s rock song more iconic than "Don't Stop Believin.'" Do you agree?


Reader Comments (20)

Cant argue. GREAT tune.
January 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKenny Ozz
Steel Panther also does a fairly impressive cover of this. It's pretty spot on.
January 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMike
Can't argue... PERFECT 80's theme song !
January 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDamnp78
This song is a classic. Have to say I really love Rock Sugar's version of Don't Stop The Sandman. It's Don't Stop Believing kicked up a big notch and it really get's me going.
Overall, I'd say Journey's tune is way up near the top of the list. Not sure if it's at the very top for me but real close, for sure!
January 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRita
I would agree to this. I've also come to the conclusion that Journey may perhaps be the most popular rock band on the planet. This band continues to crossover generation after generation, more radio stations play them than any other band (from classic rock to light rock stations as well as POP markets too), they are considered PO P and Rock, more cover bands play Journey than any other band. They just fit any genre, all ages and continue to stand the test of time. Who doesn't know DSB, Separate Ways or Faithfully??? Journey is everywhere!
January 10, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkari
I have to admit I hate "Don't Stop Believin" as much as I hate anything!
January 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSean
It was released the year I graduated. (That's how God Damned old I am! Lol.) I still remember seeing Journey in like 1983 at an outdoor stadium gig in Philly at now demolished JFK Stadium,and I swear to God 130,00 people sang every word to the song when they did it as an encore. It was actually pretty cool
January 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGary
Interesting fun fact about my university. We have a student night on Thursday were beer is stupid cheap and it packs out. They pump terrible rap and house all night long. However, when they have last call. they pump Don't Stop Believing. This signals everyone to head to the dance floor, remove their pants, and dance their hearts out. Literally. It get crazy and its the one song I enjoy that night.

Steve Smith kills it during the tune!
January 10, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterspence
I love/hate "Don't Stop Believin'".

It's cheez to the max yet it's undeniably infectious.

And as Kari points out, it's ubiquitous. It's everywhere!

It's timeless. It's universal.

It's a pure perfect pop confection.

And no matter how "all about the money" Journey seemed when they hit the scene, there's no denying their genuine emotion, heart and soul came through on "Don't Stop Believin'"

And now it seems it's more popular than ever. The encore that will win you "Top Band In The Area" kudos if you can nail it better than anyone else.

The song both Midwestern kids taking the oath of celibacy and Brooklyn Hipsters alike go apesh*t for.

Whether it's a dive in Peoria or a 100 capacity club on the outskirts of L.A. or The Standard Hotel in South Beach or Foxboro or Wembley Stadium, if a band plays it or the DJ throws it on, the crowd goes nuts.

I think with the world the way it is, particularly this country, the words "Don't Stop Believin'" take on an even larger meaning.

It could be the theme song for "The Homeless Guy With The Golden Voice", Ted Williams. Don't give up hope. Never stop dreamin'.

There's no denying, Journey were killers. even tho these guys unquestionably had "The Worst Outfits In Rock History", something akin to "Member's Only" on steroids with eye shattering bold patterned neon colored spandex and fire engine red, overly-zippered huge collared jumpsuits.

It duzn't mean a damn thing. As artless or unclever as they were, they had the chops and the mutton chops and the hair and Perry had the pipes to spare and Schon the guitar pyrotechnics...

And one thing that will never be taken away from them...

An Anthem for America.

It's a masterpiece!

It's a song for the ages...

"Don't Stop Believin'"

I won't.
January 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
Summer of 69' by Bryan Addams could definitely give it a run for its money.
January 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJohn
p.s. I forgot to mention, I saw Journey in '79 at a huge outdoor festival in Sacramento. Well, I should say I saw half of 'em cuz I left half way through their show, proving I'm the idiot you guys already think I am! Granted, it was before "Don't Stop Believin'" came out. Cheap Trick opened for 'em. Journey just seemed so artless and unclever compared to Cheap Trick, I got bored and split. Just goes to show ya, kids, sometimes it's worth it to make an effort to appreciate something because it's gone in a fleeting moment and you can never get it back.
January 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
Nope. Absolutely not. 'Don't Stop Believin' is a great pop/lite rock song and that's about it.
January 11, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteri'mtheone
I too have a real love-hate relationship with this song. by the late 70s, I was already into hard rock like Ted Nugent: AC-DC, Aerosmith, KISS, Van Halen, etc. In the 70s, Journey was a pretty progressive band -- one of those bands that only existed on FM radio. then, enter Steve Perry and their sound immediately began to change. When Escape came out in 1981 I absolutely hated it. It was so syrupy sweet that it made me want to puke.

Now, (gulp), 30 years later, time and life experience have mellowed my opinion of this song, and the whole Escape album. No, you'll never catch me rocking out to don't Stop Believin', but I now at least understand why other people like it, and it does take me back to a time when the most pressing thing I had to worry about was not liking a certain song. Getting older certainly brings a level of prospective to your life.
January 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBob
Oh, and to my friend Metalboy, Cheap Trick is 20,000 times better than Journey. :)
January 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBob
Bob - The Tricksters rock! Not a big Journey fan, I'd rather listen to later Def Lepard given the choice. Basically saying, when I wanna rock - Journey is never in the mix - Sex Action, One Way to Rock, Wanted Man, Into the Fire, Hells Bells, Ain't Talkin' Bout Love or The Lumberjack come to mind.

Peace out!
January 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMEWIZEMGIC
Boyz, I'm with ya. Cheap Trick (seen 'em 8 times, once in '78 and twice in '79! The last time was last year!) and almost all of the bands you guys have mentioned above rock out more than Journey.

However, like Bob, I realize, believe it or not, that the most pressing thing I have to worry about should not be whether I like a certain song or not.

But that's not gonna stop me from doing so. In my life, this is the one spot where I can debate such things with like minded people.

Also, like Bob, I now actually have come to "respect" Journey when I used to despise 'em.

Unlike, Bob, however, I always regarded this song as a guilty pleasure and now I absolutely love it!

It's the ultimate mood music.

"Don't Stop Believin'" is like the cherry on top of the most incredibly perfect pop confection of a hot fudge sundae ever made.

It is, unquestionably, one of the greatest songs of all time!

And, to me, one of "The Top 10 Power Ballads of All Time"!

Sometimes I like a little syrup on my iTunes!

p.s. I'm pretty much with ya on all of your tunes, Me Wize Magic, xcept maybe, "The Lumberjack". Just can't get into 'em, man and I like Skynyrd, ZZ Top, Allman's, and even tripe like 38 Special. Check out Junkyard and Rock City Angels if you like your Metal and Hard Rock southern fried. Man, I just got this bootleg of The Allman Brothers in '93 with Zakk Wylde sittin' in for Dickie Betts who was "sick" that night. Whoweeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!
January 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
Fun topic, but can't agree with the possibility of Don't Stop Believin' being the best song written. Good song, uplifting lyrics, just the right amount of guitar solo?? Sure. But there are much better-written songs in rock.

What Don't Stop Believin' has going for it is it's seemingly relentless omnipresence - the song is EVERYWHERE. How many songs did any of us "oldsters" like (at least somewhat) in 1981 that are still listened too and enjoyed by kids today? Very few, I would guess. But Don't Stop Belivin' is well-liked by the younger folks, and has even been played at proms the last several years. Must be interesting hearing that song amongst the Beyonce, Jay-Z, assorted rap crap, etc.

And don't forget, it was part of the last scene in the Sopranos finale too!
January 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGator
I hate this song, not only because it is a cheesy rock/happy go lucky song, but because it is way over used. I would like to go one week, just ONE WEEK without hearing it. Journey has A LOT of better songs than that one. So please, play something other than Dont Stop Believing.
January 13, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteraerod24
Gator flags a key point!

I forgot it was the outro song in the final scene of the last episode of The Sopranos.

I think you've just traced the mystery of what sent it over the top, recognition wise, especially with the young people.

I bet if you could track it, you would have seen a spike in the songs popularity the moment after it aired and snowballing ever since.
January 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
So now we know what song Bon Jovi "stole" from to record the greatest song of the 80's - Livin' On A Prayer.
January 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenternirVrana

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