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I Love Rock N' Roll

I Love Rock N' Roll


by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts

I Love Rock N' Roll Introduction

What do Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears and Joan Jett have in common? They have all done covers of "I Love Rock N' Roll," a catchy hard rock title originally written in 1975 by a male group called the Arrows. Joan Jett and the Blackhearts' screaming 1982 single made chart history, remaining at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks. Was Joan Jett's big hit a step forward for women struggling to succeed on equal ground in the rock world? Conversely, was Britney Spears' 2002 cover a big step back? Whether you're a fan or a hater (Joan Jett and Britney Spears seem to inspire both), Shmoop will help you sort out the significance of this groundbreaking song.

About the Song

ArtistJoan Jett and the Blackhearts Musician(s)Joan Jett (vocals, guitar), Gary Ryan (bass, back vocals), Ricky Byrd (guitar, back vocals), Lee Crystal (drums)
AlbumI Love Rock N' Roll
LabelBoardwalk Records
Writer(s)Alan Merrill, Jake Hooker
Producer(s)Richie Cordell, Kenny Laguna
Learn to play: Tablature
Buy this song: Amazon iTunes
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Shmoop Connections

Explore the ways this song connects with the world and with other topics on Shmoop
The common wisdom these days says that rock and roll is not (and never has been) just a man's world. But in the sixty-year history of rock, the accolades received by male musicians still far outweigh the praise dropped on female rockers. And even the most critically acclaimed bands, when they are made up of female musicians, are still pigeon-holed as girl rockers rather than praised for their musical skill on its own. This only highlights the fact that famous women in rock are still the exception, not the rule.

Joan Jett, venerated as a godmother of rock and a leading "woman in rock," is a case in point. In fact, after Jett left her 1970s all-girl get-up, The Runaways, she intentionally sought out male musicians to back her, aware that it might be the only way to succeed. "I Love Rock N' Roll" is a perfect example of Jett beating male rockers at their own game. Did her achievements lead to a more open world for women in rock, or reinforce expectations that were already weighing on women trying to be taken seriously while wielding guitars?

On the Charts

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts' cover of "I Love Rock N' Roll" spent a whopping seven weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in 1982, making it one of Billboard's biggest number one hits ever.

Billboard listed it among fifty of the "hottest rock songs" to appear on the Hot 100 in the first fifty years of the list's existence, and it is #56 on Billboard's list of All-Time Top Songs.

The album containing the song, also called I Love Rock N' Roll, peaked at number two on the U.S. Billboard 200 and has sold over 1,000,000 copies.

The song went up to number one in Canada and the Netherlands, and number four in the U.K.

Joan Jett was named #87 on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time, one of a woeful two women to make the list (the other was Joni Mitchell).

The song also ranked on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time listing in 2004, although it was near the bottom at #484. In 2010, Justin Timberlake's "Cry Me A River" took over the #484 spot. Coldplay's 2002 release "Clocks" took over at #490, and Jett was booted to #491. Ouch?

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