Songs in the Key of Life

Stevie Wonder plaque

The world of entertainment celebrates ‘Songs in the Key of Life’ as one of Stevie Wonder‘s most influential albums. This great album was released on 28 September 1976 by Motown Records. Among the best-selling songs in the album include “I Wish” and “Sir Duke”. Quite frankly, the album singled out Wonder as one of the most talented performers in the United States.

The popularity of this album was clear on 8 October 1976 when it debuted at the top on the Billboard Pop Albums Chart. It should be recalled that this was the third album in music history to achieve such a remarkable feat. The same popularity was on full show in Canada, where it also came at the top of the RPM albums chart.


Thirteen Weeks of Dominance.

In a rare proof of popularity, the album maintained an unassailable lead in the U.S for 13 consecutive weeks in 1975. Moreover, it would spend another 11 weeks at the top during the week that followed. No other album had topped the charts for such a length of time in that year. Rival albums such as Silk Degrees and Spirit were simply outperformed for the entire duration.

It was not until January 15, 1977 that the album dropped to the second slot after being overtaken by Eagles’ Hotel California. In the same year, the album was ranked as the second best-selling album in the U.S. In fact, RIAA classified the song as platinum after it hit the 10 million units mark in sales. ‘Songs in the Key of Life’ was the highest selling album on the Billboard Year-End.

Stevie Wonder plaque
A plaque commemorating Stevie Wonder


How the Singles Performed

The vastly popular single “I Wish” topped the chart on Billboard R&B on January 15, 1977 barely two months after its release. Remarkably, it would stay at the top of the chart for five consecutive weeks. The single also topped on Billboard Hot 100 although it stayed up there for a short while. The track continued to grow in popularity around the world, especially in the U.K.

The jazzy track “Sir Duke” hit the airwaves in March 1977. After a short while, it became obvious that this track would eventually surpass “I Wish” in popularity since it performed much better in sales. At that point, it became obvious that Wonder’s reputation as a gifted and versatile performer would remain robust on the music scene for a long time.


About the Last Tracks

After the initial success of the first two singles of the album, it became obvious that the subsequent tracks would not enjoy as much airplay. The release of “Another Star” was followed up quickly by the single “As”, but both tracks did not seem to connect well with the fans at home and away. The singles trailed many others in Pop and R&B charts.

Overall, ‘Songs in the Key of Life’ was an amazing album that revealed Stevie Wonder as an extraordinary performer. It was created in a secure recording studio and the positive critical reception that the album earned can be explained in part by the fact that the artist connected very closely with his vast audience in regard to his warm human themes. The art behind the album was exceptionally brilliant.