BATTLE OF THE BANDS – Valentine’s Edition: I WANT TO KNOW WHAT LOVE IS by Foreigner

Hope you all had a great Valentine’s Day! I’m keeping the Love theme going with today’s Battle of the Bands featuring “I Want to Know What Love Is” by Foreigner. 

A quick refresher because it’s been since (yikes!) November that I had a battle here. I’ll introduce the song and feature two contenders doing cover versions. You give a listen and then vote in the Comments section on which cover version you like better (and if you care to share, let me know why you made that choice). Then I’ll be back in 6 days to post the battle results. Stephen McCarthy pretty much runs the battle hop (although he denies that) so if you’re interested in participating, get in touch with him over at his place.

Now, let’s get started:

This amazing Foreigner power ballad is one of my all-time favorite love songs. The very nature of power ballads are that they are an emotional style of music that often deal with romantic and intimate relationships, and to a lesser extent, war (protest songs), loneliness, death, drug abuse, politics and religion, usually in a poignant but solemn manner. (Example: Wind of Change by the Scorpions and several U2 songs). Ballads are generally melodic enough to get the listener’s attention.

“I Want to Know What Love Is” is plenty melodic. It was one of the several songs I featured in my Monday’s Music Moves Me post of favorite Rock Love Songs. But I didn’t share all that I learned about the song in that post. Here’s another interesting tidbit relayed by Mick Jones, who in 1976 formed Foreigner with Ian McDonald and recruited lead singer Lou Gramm; he also co-produced all of the band’s albums and co-wrote most of their songs with Gramm. And Jones wrote the band’s most successful single, “I Want to Know What Love Is”:

Foreigner recorded for Atlantic Records, and their 1981 album 4 spent more weeks at #1 than any album released by the label. Ahmet Ertegun, who was the head of Atlantic, cried when he first heard this song. Mick Jones explains: “Part of my dream at the beginning was to be on Atlantic Records, because of the heritage: all the R&B stars of the ’50s, people like Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin. It meant so much to me and my growing up in music. So it meant a lot to have Ahmet Ertegun, who had been a part of that magical era and a person who I respected and looked up to, come into the studio. I took him aside and I said, ‘I have a song to play you, Ahmet.’ I took him into the studio, and we just sat there in two chairs, and I put the song on. Halfway through I looked over and indeed, there were tears coming out of his eyes. I thought, Whoa, this is a major moment for me. I’ve been able to impress this man who has heard some of the best, and produced some of the best music in the world. And here he is, and I’ve reached him emotionally. By the end of the song we were both in tears. Wonderful moments like that, they’re just very meaningful.”

Indeed, Foreigner’s song is meaningful. Here is their #1 hit “I Want to Know What Love Is” for your enjoyment only; Don’t vote on this one. The battle contenders are below. Foreigner’s song features backing vocals from the New Jersey Mass Choir affiliated with the Gospel Music Workshop of America, Dreamgirls star Jennifer Holliday, and featured keyboard work by Thompson Twins frontman Tom Bailey. The choir also appears in the song’s music video. You can read more about the choir’s moving involvement in the making of the music video at my Best Rock Love Songs post.

Now, on to today’s battle:

Battle Contenders:

Tina Arena – “I Want to Know What Love Is” was covered by Australian singer Tina Arena and her recording was released as a single in 1998 from her album In Deep. Arena’s version of the song was produced by Foreigner band member Mick Jones, who wrote the song. This version of the song includes a previously unrecorded bridge between the second and third choruses, specifically written for Tina Arena by Mick Jones.

The song peaked at #13 in France and finished 60th on the end-of-year chart of 1999.

This is a magnificent cover:


Another fabulous cover by:

Wynonna Judd – “I Want to Know What Love Is” was covered by American country singer Wynonna Judd and her recording was released in August 24, 2004 from her album What the World Needs Now Is Love as fourth single. Wynonna’s version of the song was produced by Narada Michael Walden, known for his work with Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin and George Michael, and Wynonna. This version of the song was included in a popular Brazilian soap opera, Senhora do Destino.

In the US, Wynonna’s version peaked at #14 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. On the Hot Dance Club Songs of Billboard, it debuted at #50 and peaked at #12. It is also her first single to chart in Sweden, where it debuted at #67 and peaked at #15.


TIME TO VOTE! Which version do you like better and why? When you’re done voting, please visit these other BOTB participants and check out their cool battles:

Thanks for your participation and your votes! I’ll be back on the 21st to post the results. Until then, let us know if you know what love is


27 thoughts on “BATTLE OF THE BANDS – Valentine’s Edition: I WANT TO KNOW WHAT LOVE IS by Foreigner

  1. Such a Great song, Michele! This song reminds me of one of the first concerts I ever went to. Can’t say it was the first, but it was one of the first memorable ones 😉

    Listened to these twice… mostly because I was drinking and forgot that I was suppose to listen, and also because I needed to be sure to give my bote to voth of them.

    I really enjoyed both versions, but I think that Judd chick sounded best. What’s er name again? oh yeah… Ashley. No wait. wrong sister. Winonona. The Judd with the juggs. She gets my vote.

    Stop by and have a drink on me!

    Jingle Jangle Jungle

    Liked by 1 person

    • Girl, I want what you were drinkin’ last night!! Lol. How did you feel this morning?? You’re a funny drunk! “The Judd with the juggs” — hahahaha! Hilarious.
      Okay, first vote in for Wynonna.
      Thanks for coming by. Hope you didn’t have a bad hangover this morning…. I hate hangovers.


  2. Great song choice Michele, and I was lucky enough to see Foreigner live when I lived in Sydney.

    I know I’m slightly biased being Australian, but I love Tina’s sultry tones and have always been a big fan of her since before she was famous. As a child she was on an Australian TV show called Young Talent Time.

    Wynona’s version is good as well, but my vote has to go to Tina.

    Have a great day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Pamela! Good to see you here! I didn’t know that Tina Arena started that young, to be on a TV show. Very cool.
      Thanks for coming by and voting for Tina…


        • Thanks Pamela. Wow, she’s really something at such a young age! I love the “MacArthur Park” song. I’ve always been curious about those lyrics about the “cake left out in the rain” — I never understood what the heck that cake had to do with anything! And then I found an interview article online with the songwriter Jimmy Webb. Here’s what he said about the song lyrics:
          “I’ve also tried to tell the truth, which is that it’s just a song about a girlfriend of mine, Susie Horton, and this place on Wilshire Boulevard where we used to have lunch, which is called MacArthur Park. And the truth is that everything in the song was visible. There’s nothing in it that’s fabricated. The old men playing checkers by the trees, the cake that was left out in the rain, all of the things that are talked about in the song are things I actually saw. And so it’s a kind of musical collage of this whole love affair that kind of went down in MacArthur Park.”

          Here’s a link to the whole article (Newsday October 2014):


  3. MICHELE, I just got done telling Mary that I was off to bed. Then I happened to notice that you had posted a Battle, so I moseyed — (Is that how you spell “moseyed”? …Apparently it’s how I spell it.) — on over here, allowing you to make a liar outta me.

    Uhm, no, it’s true that I don’t run ‘Battle Of The Bands’. …And, yes, we have no bananas today.

    I’m not really sure WHO runs ‘Battle Of The Bands’. It might be my first grade teacher, Miss Pinkley. Or… Miss Brown? …Mrs. O’Leary’s cow? (I’m not sure WHO my first grade teacher was, either!)

    Hmmm… I think I’m judgin’ for JUDD in this contest. She seemed more emotionally invested in the song.

    Happy VD, Michele! (Valentine’s Day, ya know? ;^ )

    ~ D-FensDogG
    STMcC Presents ‘Battle Of The Bands’

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Stephen. Lol. Your post cracked me up. And you last comment on my “Brown” edition post — did I ever respond to that? If I didn’t, I meant to. That was some interesting thought-processing. (I’ll go back over there this weekend and check it out).
      Happy belated VD to you too. 🙂
      And yep, you spelled “moseyed” just fine! And speaking of…I”m going to mosey on into the shower and then to bed real quick like…


  4. Hi, MIchele!

    I have returned from my month long blogging break. The move went smoothly and I got some much needed rest. It is a pleasure to be back with you again, dear friend!

    “It starts with a great song,” as I always say, and ““I Want to Know What Love Is” is a great song. Foreigner’s recording and supporting music video are classic. I am not surprised that Atlantic mogul Ahmet Ertegun cried when first exposed to it. Indeed it brings tears to my eyes as well. The music video was played in heavy rotation at the MTV station where I worked.

    You made the BOTB voting decision extremely difficult again this time. Aussie singer Tina Arena has turned up in other contests and I always like her performances. Her version of “I Want To Know” is fabulous and doesn’t stray far from the original. I was prepared to give Tina my vote. Then came Wynonna Judd with a cover that brings it all – full force – and surpassed that of Tina Arena. Narada Michael Walden is an ace record producer. Wynonna’s recording is a powerful mix of strong, soulful vocals, hers and the backing choir, plus wailing guitar and more. Wynonna’s version transcends country and is in my opinion a classic in its own right. Please give my enthusiastic vote to Wynonna Judd.

    I will be back tomorrow morning with my first new post in a month. As promised I will bring you….. GREAT NEWS! I hope to see you then, dear friend Michele!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey there Tom! Welcome back to the blogosphere! Good to have you here!! Will look forward to your new post tomorrow!
      Thanks for coming by and for your vote for Wynonna…


  5. I absolutely LOVE this song from Journey. Both covers were almost as amazing. I liked Wynonna Judd’s version but for me it was just a little too slow. Tina Arena may have had a little extra help with her song, but it shows. I love her vocals and the song seemed ‘softer’ in a way, more intimate. Which I think works best for this song. I even listened to it a second time. Give my vote to Tina Arena.
    PS – How are things going? I’ve been meaning to stop over and visit for awhile but just getting around to it now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • hey Jeffrey! WHAT AN AWESOME SURPRISE TO SEE YOU HERE!!! How in the heck are you?? It’s been a long while! Are you coming back to BOTB?? We miss you!
      Things have been pretty crazy on my end. I’ll have to catch you up…
      Thanks for coming by. I’ll put ya down for Tina.
      Really so good to hear from you!
      talk soon.


  6. So glad to see you back in the Battle field. It’s more fun to have more music matches to enjoy and vote on. You picked a good song for this round.

    When I saw your combatants I figured I’d go with Wynonna because I like what she does. But Tina Arena really captured the beauty of this tune captivating me from the start. After hearing her version I figured that Wynonna was gonna be playing second fiddle in this match. But no, Wynonna pulled through and rewon my heart. She fills her vocal with such power and emotion.

    For me it’s gotta be Wynonna Judd.

    Tossing It Out

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Lee.
      It’s good to be back in the BOTB seat! Thanks for stopping by. I’ll put you down for Miss Judd…
      It is a good song and I was glad to find two compelling artists to duke this one out…


  7. I love this song as well and thought for sure I would be voting for Tina since i am not a country fan but then I heard Winona sing this and she gets my vote because she seems to feel the words and relate to them more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Brigit,
      It’s fun when you’re surprised by your vote, isn’t it?
      You’ve been in my thoughts. Hope you’re doing better now. Thanks for coming by…


      • That’s very sweet of you. I am doing ok…we have a newish car..2013 Honda Civic and it is a nice car. The bathroom is on hold but thank God we have another bathroom. I miss my mom but I missed her for years…I just miss her


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