Stevie Wonder’s I Just Called To Say I Love You was number 1 on this day in 1984, so why do so many fans hate it?

It is, as things stand, Stevie Wonder’s biggest selling single, but for many fans, Stevie Wonder’s I Just Called To Say I Love You marks a low point in the outrageously talented star’s career.

It reached number 1 in the UK this week in 1984, staying there for six saccharine weeks. In fact, the song topped charts all over the world.

I Just Called To Say I Love You featured in the film The Woman In Red, starring Kelly LeBrock and Gene Wilder. It went on to win an Oscar for Best Original Song, seeing off the likes of Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now), Footloose, Let's Hear It For The Boy and Ghostbusters. 

So, why is IJCTSILY so reviled? The trite lyrics certainly don’t help - “No chocolate covered candy hearts to give away,” anyone? - but it’s probably the production that really grinds music technologists’ gears.

Throughout the ‘70s, Stevie Wonder was seen as a synth pioneer, producing a run of groundbreaking albums with the help of Malcolm Cecil and Robert Margouleff (AKA Tonto’s Expanding Head Band).

The sounds on IJCTSILY, though, have the strong whiff of ‘80s home keyboard - and this despite Wonder having access to (presumably) pretty much every synth on the market.

The presence of a vocoder - possibly Roland’s VP-330 - adds an air of music tech credibility, but the song has a curiously ‘cheap’ sound that hasn’t aged well.

That said, Wonder has remained loyal to IJCTSILY - a hit record is a hit record, after all - continuing to perform it throughout his career.

For many fans, though, it’s one that would be best left in the past.

Ben Rogerson
Deputy Editor

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it.