Every #1 Country Single of the Nineties: Dan Seals, “Love On Arrival”

“Love On Arrival”

Dan Seals

Written by Dan Seals

Billboard

#1 (3 weeks)

April 21 – May 5, 1990

The first dud of the decade has arrived.

The Road From No. 1

Before becoming a major country star, Dan Seals had made a name for himself as the “England Dan” of England Dan & John Ford Coley, a duo that had plenty of success on AM radio in the seventies. They released seven albums before disbanding in 1980, and today are mostly remembered for their gold-selling hit, “I’d Really Love to See You Tonight”.

Seals started over again in Nashville, signing with Capitol Records in 1983 and slowly building a new fanbase. After a handful of top ten hits, he earned his first chart-topper in 1985 with “Meet Me in Montana,” a classic duet with Marie Osmond.   He followed this right away with “Bop,” which won CMA Single of the Year, and another signature hit, “Everything That Glitters (is Not Gold.)”

These were the first three of a run of nine consecutive No. 1 singles, which ran from 1985 to 1989, until “They Rage On” stopped at No 5.   But Seals was soon back on top with the lead single and (almost) title track of his 1990 album, Love On Arrival.

The No. 1

And that lead single and title track is remarkably terrible.

The thoroughly implausible plotline has Seals receiving a letter signed “LOA,” which the backup singers reveal to mean “Love On Arrival.”  See, this lady misses his loving, and has decided to prep him for her homecoming with a series of acronyms that require a phone call from him to decipher.

Oh, but he’s ready for her when she gets home.  He’s a love machine, you see.

I said ooh baby I do love you
And I’m always amazed the way we fit
And I T.G.I.F
Thank God I found you when I did, oh yes I do
Them three letters by your name
I will just give you just the same
When you get home, oh yes I will

He delivers these lines with the juice of a withered prune.  Seals was way better with the playful flirtiness of “Bop” than he was with being seductive, though I don’t think even Conway Twitty could’ve made this ridiculous lyric work.

The Road From No. 1

Dan Seals still has one chart-topper left, and it’s his next single, so he’ll be returning soon.

“Love On Arrival” gets a D.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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7 Comments

  1. I kind of figured this one would get hit pretty rough, and I get it. I don’t hate this by any means, but I agree that it’s beyond corny, and not in a charming way like “Bop”. This is definitely one of his fluffier numbers, and follows the adage of “three minute positive up tempo not too country love song”.

    It’s a shame you can’t cover his better material, as he really did some great stuff. I love “Addicted”, “Everything That Glitters Is Not Gold”, “Meet Me in Montana”, “One Friend”, “Big Wheels in the Moonlight”, and even the song that broke his streak, “They Rage on”. I always respected him for the video he did for the latter song as well. I feel like he gets a tad overlooked due to being more contemporary and due to “Bop”, but he was a really talented artist that wrote/recorded some great soulful material in his prime.

  2. I followed Seals from his England Dan & John Ford Coley days forward, through a couple of albums that failed to hit, on through to his breakthrough as a solo artist. This isn’t one of his better numbers but I would never describe it as a dud.

    After the next single the 42 year old Seals, like many others of his generation literally vanished overnight, although he still had several more very good albums in his future

    I’d call this a C or C+. It is his worst single, but when this is as bad as it gets, you’d have to say that he was a great artist, since so much of his work is B+/A- or better

  3. Yeah, this is definitely the weakest of the 1990 number ones so far, but still, if this was as “bad” as it got on the radio during that time, then it sure was a heck of a good time to be a country fan. I don’t recall hearing this one getting much recurrent play after it’s chart run was finished, until I heard it on an independently owned station nearly ten years later. As others have mentioned, this has never been one of my favorites from Seals, but I don’t actively dislike it, either.

    Also like others here, most of my favorites from Dan come from the 80’s like “Everything That Glitters Is Not Gold,” “Meet Me In Montana,” “You Still Move Me,” “I Will Be There,” “One Friend,” “Three Time Loser,” “Big Wheels In The Moonlight,” “They Rage On,” “Addicted,” and yes, even “Bop.” I also quite like “I’d Really Love To See You Tonight,” which was actually still getting airplay on one of our country stations in late 1990/early 1991.

    What I always found interesting was how Dan still racked up number ones from this album with a more contemporary style, yet on the follow up album (1992’s Walking The Wire) when he went with a more neo-traditional sound, he suddenly couldn’t get arrested. That was a great underrated album too, imo.

  4. Yes, this is not one of his best songs and I agree that it doesn’t deserve to be a Number one single, but it’s more filler than terrible to me. I love a lot of his singles from the eighties, which is saying a lot considering how much eighties country music I dislike.

  5. Dan Seals’ inclination to record songs such as “Love on Arrival” alongside “Addicted” and “They Rage On” confounded me. His discography was polarizing. The promise and hope offered By “Meet Me in Montana” and “Everything That Glitters (Is Not Gold) was negated by “Bop” and “LOA.”

    The unpredictability of his output is what made me pull harder for some of the emerging artists who were more consistently country.

    At the time, I was happy to see Seals chased from the charts. Now, with some perspective, I miss the balance his pop/folk influences brought to country music throughput the 80’s and into the early 90’s.

    “Love on Arrival” was an important part of that balancing act that I didn’t appreciate enough in the moment, even if I am still not a huge fan of the song.

    These kind of last gasps at relevance from fading established acts are so much more interesting, or at least challenging, to dissect than the consensus smash signature songs from the young guns.

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