Released: 11th August 2003
Writers: Kevin Kadish / Stacie Orrico
Peak position: #9
Chart run: 11-9-15-18-32-45-54-71
Billboard Hot 100 chart run: 65-61-60-56-52-52-60-85-90-91-100
With the halcyon bubblegum pop days of the ‘90s a rapidly fading memory by 2003, Stacie Orrico’s arrival heralded a welcome resurgence. Perhaps all was not lost, after all.
Stacie Orrico’s story actually starts a little earlier, because as it turns out, she was part of the motley crew of teen pop females who invaded the charts at the turn of the century. It’s just that she’d instead chosen to focus on the Christian contemporary market with her debut album Genuine in 2000, to great success, it must be said. Sure, 13,000 first week sales compared to the 121,000 racked up by Britney Spears with her debut puts the scale of Stacie’s success into context somewhat, but it was nonetheless enough to earn her a follow-up and attract the attention of a major label. During the creation of that second album, the intention was again to target the Christian contemporary market. That is until Virgin Records stepped in. Sensing Stacie Orrico had mainstream appeal, the album was significantly reworked; several tracks were ditched and replaced with new material (all four of the eventual singles, funnily enough) while others were re-recorded. Now, having essentially thrown out most traces of Stacie Orrico: the Christian contemporary artist, the plan was to launch her as Stacie Orrico: the pop star. And Stuck was the song they chose to do it with.
What was smart about this song is that it was very much an evolution of the pop music that came before it; with its pseudo-R&B beat, it’s not a million miles away from Christina Aguilera’s What A Girl Wants. But it’s fused with electric guitar riffs much akin to those being wielded by Michelle Branch. In that sense, Stuck felt reassuringly familiar without just being a watered-down copy of what had come before. Moreover, 2003 was a bit of an awkward transition time for pop music as it wrestled with ways to reinvent itself and stay commercially viable without becoming another genre altogether. Stacie Orrico showed that it could be done with relative ease, although she didn’t necessarily have the same weight of expectation upon her shoulders as her pop peers who were caught up in the struggle. Importantly, Stuck is never defined by Stacie Orrico’s background as a Christian contemporary artist. Even though it was the product of Virgin Records’ involvement in her second album and she was heavily involved in co-writing it, religious persuasion doesn’t come into it at all. It’s just an extremely relatable teen pop track, albeit one that doesn’t compromise Stacie Orrico’s values, either.
And Stuck is incredibly well written, with verses that go on for days. Well, slight exaggeration, but by pop music standards, they are quite long. Even better though is the way they repeatedly tease that a chorus is about to arrive with the: “I ain’t trippin’, I’m just missin’ you” refrain, before reverting to another few stanzas of the verse, with Stacie Orrico cramming in lyrics with increasing urgency. Indeed, it’s more the build-up to the chorus that causes it to go off, rather than the chorus itself. Instead of an attention-grabbing, balls to the wall affair, Stuck opts to take a slightly more scenic route as it burrows its way into your brain. There is a degree of immediacy to the chorus, but it’s only after repeated plays that you start to appreciate how deceptively tight some of those melodies are; particularly the: “I hate you, but I love you, I can’t stop thinkin’ of you, it’s true, I’m stuck on you” hook. The song is also a great showcase of Stacie Orrico’s voice, which has a distinctively quirky edge to it, but never to the point where it feels forced or distracting. It might not be for everyone, but it’s certainly recognisable and perhaps one of the reasons that Stacie Orrico was able to build a bit of momentum with the album campaign.
Every now and then
When I’m all alone
I’ve been wishing you would call me on the telephone
Say you want me back
But you never do
I feel like such a fool
There’s nothing I can do
I’m such a fool for you
In the middle of Stuck – right after the second chorus – is a brilliant moment of ‘00s pop music where Stacie Orrico starts tunefully wailing alongside a funky electric guitar breakdown. It’s easily the best bit of the song and still feels uniquely refreshing and brimming with energy.
We’ve already touched a little on the video for Stuck since I Could Be The One was presented as the second part of the concept introduced here, which is essentially Stacie Orrico in high school dealing with her troublesome beau. There are some key differences though, and the first is that Stuck has a much cleaner aesthetic unlike the dull, washed-out veneer of the sequel. Here, the visuals have the crisp clarity of a teen movie, which is much more appealing. There’s a bit less focus on characterisation though. Where I Could Be The One went out of its way to craft some the supporting cast with personalities (well, as much as one can in the space of a four-minute music video), Stuck is all about Stacie Orrico. Once again, she gives an excellent performance, almost to the point where it’s hard to believe this isn’t the soundtrack to a teen movie. We genuinely can’t think of many pop stars who can carry a look of disdain in quite the same way! The styling in the video is also great; whether Stacie Orrico is sitting next to the sports field or dressed up for the school dance, none of the looks are wildly outlandish or extravagant. There’s a look of authenticity about the video that imbues Stacie Orrico with a sense of realness more commonly associated with the singer-songwriter demographic than mainstream pop stars.
For all the plaudits Stuck deservedly garnered, perhaps one of its greatest triumphs was in the charts. We should put this into context a bit though: 2003 was a long way from the days when our pop faves were casually topping the charts and shifting millions. R&B and rock were in vogue and thus we had to adjust our expectations for what a song like Stuck could realistically achieve. The track debuted at #11 in the UK; so near and yet so far, it seemed. However, most people would have agreed that the song was minimally deserving of a spot in the top ten. Cheers all around then when the following week, the single jumped two spots and peaked at #9. It was a rare feat, but one quite befitting of the comparatively low-key approach taken to the launch of Stacie Orrico. In America, Stuck peaked at #52 on the Billboard Hot 100. Again, a fairly impressive debut considering the benchmark for success was much lower now that the charts were such a hostile place for pop acts. Taking all that into account, it’s hard to imagine that Stacie Orrico’s mainstream launch could have fared any better.