In The Number Ones, I’m reviewing every single #1 single in the history of the Billboard Hot 100, starting with the chart’s beginning, in 1958, and working my way up into the present.
By the time Elvis Presley got out of the Army, he was who he was. When Presley got back home and returned to recording, the hunger and wildness and desperation of his early years were gone. He was happy to play into the character that he’d built for himself. There’s no urgency in “Stuck On You,” the first single that Presley released after his time in the military. Instead, the Elvis of “Stuck On You” sounds like an Elvis impersonator, leaning hard on his gasps and hiccups and little baritone voice-drops. You can almost hear finger-gun winking.
Presley recorded a few transcendent songs after his time in the Army, mostly by leaning hard into the old-school entertainer side of his persona. “Stuck On You” isn’t one of those transcendent songs. It’s an amiable midtempo blues shuffle, a lazy-afternoon sort of thing. It’s pure autopilot. But even on autopilot, Presley had so much presence and charisma in his voice that he still left an impression.
The vocal tics of “Stuck On You” are pure silliness. But when Presley hits the chorus and kicks things up a couple of notches, you can hear echoes of the dangerous, feverish singer who’d captured and scandalized the world only a few years earlier. Presley wasn’t all that interested in letting that guy off the leash, but he was still in there somewhere.
BONUS BEATS: Here’s the Residents’ dark, sinister art-rock cover of “Stuck On You” from the 1989 album The King & Eye — an album that, I’m just learning now, consists entirely of dark, sinister art-rock covers of Elvis Presley songs: