60s Music

Righteous Brothers – Unchained Melody – 1965

About the song

If you are a fan of classic love songs, you have probably heard of “Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers. This song is one of the most popular and enduring songs of all time, with over 1,500 recorded versions by various artists. But do you know the history behind this song? How did it become such a hit in 1965 and beyond? In this blog post, we will explore the origins and evolution of “Unchained Melody”, and why it still resonates with listeners today.

“Unchained Melody” was originally composed by Alex North and Hy Zaret for a 1955 prison film called Unchained, hence the title. The song was sung by Todd Duncan in the movie, and it received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song. However, it did not become a major hit until a decade later, when the Righteous Brothers recorded their version for Philles Records.

The Righteous Brothers were a duo of Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield, who were known for their “blue-eyed soul” style of singing. They had already scored some hits with songs like “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” and “(You’re My) Soul and Inspiration”, produced by Phil Spector. However, for “Unchained Melody”, they decided to work with a different producer, Bill Medley himself.

Medley arranged and produced the song as a solo showcase for Hatfield’s soaring tenor voice. He used a simple instrumentation of piano, drums, bass, and strings, creating a contrast with Spector’s famous “wall of sound” technique. The result was a stunning performance that captured the longing and passion of the lyrics.

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The song was released as the B-side of “Hung on You”, another Righteous Brothers song, in July 1965. However, DJs soon flipped the record and started playing “Unchained Melody” instead. The song quickly climbed the charts, reaching number four on the Billboard Hot 100 and number one on the UK Singles Chart. It also received a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.

The Righteous Brothers’ version of “Unchained Melody” became a classic, and it was revived several times over the years. In 1990, it was featured in the blockbuster movie Ghost, starring Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore. The scene where they make pottery while listening to the song became one of the most iconic moments in cinema history. The song was re-released as a single, and it topped the charts again in both the US and the UK.

“Unchained Melody” is more than just a song; it is a timeless expression of love and longing that transcends generations and cultures. It has been covered by artists such as Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, U2, LeAnn Rimes, Il Divo, and many more. It has also been used in TV shows, commercials, video games, and even weddings. It is one of the most beloved songs ever written, and it will continue to touch people’s hearts for years to come.



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