Battle of the Bands (BOTB) – “What a Fool Believes”


It’s the first of the month so that means another Battle of the Bands. Today I’m featuring “What a Fool Believes,” a song written by Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins. The best-known version was recorded by The Doobie Brothers (with McDonald singing lead vocals) for their 1978 album Minute by Minute. Bowing at #73 on 20 January 1979, the single reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on 14 April 1979 for one week. The song received Grammy Awards in 1980 for both Song of the Year and Record of the Year.

“What a Fool Believes” was one of the few non-disco No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 during 1979. The song lyrics tell a story of a man who is reunited with an old love interest and attempts to rekindle a romantic relationship with her before discovering that one never really existed.

Here is some trivia about the song, found on Wikipedia:

Michael McDonald reputedly fired the whole band along with the stage manager after a 1979 Chicago show in which a backup singer hit a flat note on the second chorus for this hit. In an interview later in the year with Rolling Stone, McDonald revealed he “couldn’t abide such mistakes. I was running a band, not a circus.”

Michael Jackson contributed at least one backing track to the original Doobie Brothers recording, but was not credited for having done so.

Here is the Doobie Brothers version, with lyrics, for your listening pleasure. This version is NOT a contender in the contest however:

Now for the contest: Here are two really nice versions of the song. Please vote for your favorite and tell us why you liked it better.

Matt Bianco – is a band, not a person! From Wikipedia: “Matt Bianco is a UK band that was formed in 1983. They are mainly known for their success in the mid-1980s and their jazz, Latin-flavoured music.

Popular during the mid-1980s in continental Europe, Matt Bianco was part of the new jazz pop genre… The name suggests that Matt Bianco is a person, often assumed to be an alias for the main constant member and frontman, Mark Reilly, but Matt is in fact “a made up spy, a secret agent; we loved spy TV themes and film scores.” Here is their version of What a Fool Believes:

The M People – M People is an English dance music band which formed in 1990 and achieved success throughout most of the 1990s. The name M People is from the initials of Mike Pickering, who formed the group. During the summer of 1998, the band prepared for their fifth album, a compilation entitled The Best of M People which also contained three new tracks: “Testify”, “Dreaming” and a cover of the Doobie Brothers classic: “What a Fool Believes”. The album went on to sell 1.75 million, peaked at number 2 and was certified 3x platinum. Here is their version of the song:

Time to vote! Which do you like better and why?

And when you’re done voting, please visit these other BOTB participants and check out their cool battles:

35 thoughts on “Battle of the Bands (BOTB) – “What a Fool Believes”

  1. M People … whoa! Such an unusual lead vocal. Great harmony. Definitely comes off with a disco sound.

    OH, Michele, this is a good battle! Having listened to both versions three times – yep – that’s what it took for me – I have my choice in mind. I really am impressed with the Matt Bianco Latin beat. That slight, quirky upslide on the octave and back down… nice trick! I could imagine a samba night… little drinks with umbrellas, (smile). Oh and yes – all those horns – I’m in love.

    My votes goes to Matt Bianco. Thank you, Michele.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey DC, thanks for stopping by. Yeah, I can hear a Samba night in Matt Bianco’s version too! Love that Latin twist on it. I loved that you listened to both three times! Thanks for that! I’ve got you down for Matt.


  2. This choice is difficult because I like the Doobie Brothers so much. Nothing lives up to them. I choose Matt Bianco. I simply like the sound better. The M People seem too techno. I’m glad you explained what the song is about. All these years I’ve enjoyed it but didn’t know most of the lyrics and the meaning.


    Liked by 1 person

    • I do that all the time Janie. I rarely know what a song is about yet I’m singing all the lyrics (or singing what I THINK are the lyrics!). I’m one who is moved by the music and the lyrics have always been secondary to me.
      I agree with you: Love the Doobie Brothers so much. I can listen to them day and night!
      Thanks for stopping by…


  3. MIchele, I’m a Doobie Brothers fan. At first I thought this would be a difficult job to pick a band, but it didn’t take me too long for me to settle on a choice. Both groups are new-to-me, so there’s no prior emotional connection to either, but because Matt Bianco kept true to the Doobie Brothers version, so I’m giving them my vote! Nice pair up!!

    #BOTB Star Spangled Banner Showdown ~ Spirit VS #MadisonRising

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Boy, this is really TOUGH. I’m a fan of the original, but I’m trying to listen with neutral ears.

    Matt Bianco’s version is sweet, but M People’s version adds a little sumpthin-sumpthin….

    I gotta go with M People.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Both are quite good but I go with Matt Bianco because they were closer to the original version which I prefer. the second one was a combo of disco and 80’s techno which is less favourable to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Too bad they’re not in the running. No one can compare really. I just love the Doobie Brothers… thanks for stopping by Jemima!


  6. Oh, this was a piece of cake. (Actually, make it pie. I prefer pie to cake. Pecan pie, please.)

    I always dug the original (still have it on CD), and I thought the Matt Bianco cover was really good. Similar to The Doobies but with that great Latin flair and the horns. An excellent cover of a fine original.

    But that synthesizer mess… I kept thinking: Take some Pepto-Bismol for that churning stomach!

    ~ D-FensDogG
    ‘Loyal American Underground’

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love the horns in Matt Bianco’s version! Such a nice Latin sound. I’ve got you down for Matt, Stephen. Thanks for stopping by. And so glad to see that Joe Cocker won your last battle! I’ve had that song in my head for the last two weeks! 🙂


  7. M People have an excellent disco/dance beat to them. They are talented, and I’d likely listen to more of their music.

    Matt Bianco has a great sound, and I think they rival Doobie’s for musical sound. I liked the little musical twists to the version.

    Both were excellent. I think I like Matt Bianco just a tad better though.


  8. Hey there!! What a fun battle here. Matt sounds more closer to the original Doobie version and its a good one but I like to dance. M People have the beat and wanted me to get up and dance in my hotel room. ( I am traveling on business this week). My vote goes to M people.


    • Got it! Matt it is. Isn’t it odd that Matt Bianco is the band name and not the name of an individual? Can you think of any other bands who have done that? I’m drawing a blank…But of course I know you’ll know! You are a music encyclopedia!


  9. I’ve always liked the Doobies’ version of this song. These covers are okay, but still don’t replace the original.
    It’s almost a draw for me, but I’d give the edge to Matt Bianco. The M People sounds a little prefabricated to me while Bianco sounds like an actual band performance.

    A vote for Matt Bianco.

    Tossing It Out


    • Thanks Lee. gotcha down for Matt. So far the M People have only received one vote… Everyone seems to like that Latin flair, and that’s what drew me to it as well. Hope you’re having fun on your cross-country trek…


  10. OK, first let me say; I’ve never been a real big fan of the Doobies, BUT, I love this song. I don’t know why, but somehow it really speaks to me. Music, lyrics, vocals the whole ball of wax. I heard it the other day in the supermarket and I was literally dancing down the aisle. Yeah, I'[m like that. Nobody does it better than The Doobie Bros. Alas, you won’t let me vote that way.

    Matt Bianco did a fine job (not quite The Doobies). It was an acceptable alternative and I did enjoy listening to it. So give him my wholehearted vote.

    Those M People on the other hand…get the hook.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I loved hearing about you dancing down the aisle! And there’s no better way to be: feel the music Baby! No matter where. 🙂
      Thanks for your vote Fae. Gotcha down for Matt. They are clearly kicking ass in this contest…


  11. Whoa… Looks like I’m in the very small minority here, haha. My vote is for the M People, for a kind of quirky reason. The Doobie Brothers original is a GREAT song, one of my favorites in fact–and Matt Bianco did a good job of sticking to it. But, like many have pointed out above, it wasn’t quite it. And that’s what it came down to for me. The M People… well, let me put it this way, I’d never buy a CD 😀 But their version was original enough to be… well, original, while the Matt Bianco one sounded (to me, I insist) a bit like a rip-off. Too close, but not close enough. Does that make sense?

    Thanks for the visit over at Quiet Laughter and for the vote 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • It makes perfect sense Guilie! And a very good rationale for a vote. I’ll put you down for the M People! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂


  12. I’m a fan of Matt Bianco (actually more of Basia), but even if I hadn’t been, they would have gotten my vote here. M People, eh, didn’t care for their arrangement.


    • Thanks John. You’re the first one to have reported being familiar with one of these bands! Thanks for your vote. I’ve got ya down for Matt


  13. Matt Bianco gets my vote, but I would have voted for The Doobie Brothers if given the chance. The other versions are modern versions which isn’t necessarily bad just not the right sound.


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