Song Lyric Sunday – Automatic

I didn’t think too hard about this week’s prompts for Song Lyric Sunday. Our host Jim Adams said ‘it might be challenging to find something to fit”. He suggested we just go with anything if we’re stuck. So after reading the prompts, Automated, Mechanical, Modern and Robotic, suggested by Melanie B Cee of Sparks From A Combustible Mind, I just went with the first thing the came into my head. “Automatic” by The Pointer Sisters. Close enough, right? 

The Song

“Automatic” is a song recorded by American vocal group The Pointer Sisters for their tenth studio album Break Out (1983). The song was released by the Planet label on January 13, 1984 as the second single from the album

Written by Brock Walsh and Mark Goldenberg, this song is an amusing take on the way technology was becoming an increasingly dominant part of music in the 1980s. The singer is no more than a controlled automaton in the hands of her lover.

The eldest Pointer Sister Ruth sang lead on this song. Her deep vocals played a prominent part in the success of this track.

It won the 1984 Grammy Award for Best Arrangement for Two or More Voices.

“Automatic” reached position number five on the US Billboard Hot 100 and became one of their signature songs. Eventually, three other singles from Break Out reached the top-ten on the Hot 100 consecutively. Billboard named the song number 94 on their list of “100 Greatest Girl Group Songs Of All Time”.[1]

“Automatic” was the group’s first Top 40 hit to feature Ruth Pointer’s distinctive contralto on lead.

According to Ruth Pointer, “Automatic” was the final song chosen for Breakout: “We were taking a break from recording in the office of Jim Tract, who was Richard Perry’s right-hand man, and Jim mentioned that he had a stash of tapes we might want to listen to [while on] a breather…We all sat up straight when we first heard [‘Automatic’] and told Richard we wanted to include it on the album. ‘Okay,’ he said ‘But who would sing the low part?’ ‘Are you kidding me?’ I said, ‘I’ll do the low part!’

Although Break Out largely comprised dance tracks, its lead single was the ballad “I Need You”, chosen by producer Richard Perry in hopes of reinforcing the Pointer Sisters presence at R&B radio: the dance track “Jump (for My Love)” was intended as the second single but the heavy airplay afforded “Automatic” as an album cut by both dance clubs and radio stations caused the substitution of “Automatic” for “Jump…” as the second single release from Break Out, although “Jump…” would become the most successful US single off Break Out when it became the album’s third single.[3] The first Top 40 hit to feature Ruth Pointer’s distinctive contralto on lead, “Automatic” reached #5 on the Hot 100 in Billboard in April 1984, also charting on the magazine’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and Hot Dance Club Play rankings, its #2 R&B chart peak making “Automatic” the highest charting R&B hit by the Pointer Sisters as a trio (in their original four-woman format the Pointer Sisters did score an R&B #1 hit with “How Long (Betcha’ Got a Chick on the Side)”). Holding “Automatic” out of the top position of the R&B chart (for three weeks) was “Somebody’s Watching Me” by Rockwell.

In the United Kingdom, “Automatic” would afford the Pointer Sisters their all-time biggest hit, spending two weeks at #2 on the UK chart in May 1984 while stuck behind The Reflex by Duran Duran when it also reached #1 in Ireland. “Automatic” also afforded the Pointer Sisters Top-Ten success in Belgium (#5 on the Flemish chart), the Netherlands (#9), and New Zealand (#8). In Australia, “Automatic” reached a chart peak of #15. The B-side of “Automatic” was “Nightline” featuring June Pointer on lead. “Nightline” was also originally featured on Break Out but was dropped from later pressings of the album to allow for the inclusion of the remix of “I’m So Excited”.

Courtesy of Wiki

The Lyrics

Look what you're doing to me
I'm utterly at your whim
All of my defenses down

Your camera looks through me
With its X-ray vision
And all systems run aground

All I can manage to push from my lips
Is a stream of absurdities
Every word I intended to speak
Winds up locked in the circuitry

No way to control it
It's totally automatic
Whenever you're around
I'm walking blindfolded
Completely automatic
All of my systems are down
Down, down, down
Automatic (automatic)
Automatic (automatic)

What is this madness
That makes my motor run
And my legs too weak to stand

I go from sadness
To exhilaration
Like a robot at your command

My hands perspire and shake like a leaf
Up and down goes my temperature
I summon doctors to get some relief
But they tell me there is no cure
They tell me

No way to control it
It's totally automatic
Whenever you're around
I'm walking blindfolded
Completely automatic
All of my systems are down
Down, down, down
Automatic (automatic)
Automatic (automatic)

Automatic
Automatic
Automatic
Automatic

Look what you're doing to me
I'm utterly at your whim
All of my defenses down

Your camera looks through me
With its X-ray vision
And all systems run aground

All I can manage to push from my lips
Is a stream of absurdities
Every word I intended to speak
Winds up locked in the circuitry

No way to control it
It's totally automatic
Whenever you're around
I'm walking blindfolded
Completely automatic
All of my systems are down
Down, down

No way to control it
It's totally automatic
Whenever you're around
I'm walking blindfolded
Completely automatic
All of my systems are down
Down, down, down

No way to control it
It's totally automatic
Whenever you're around
I'm walking blindfolded
Completely automatic
All of my systems are down
Writer/s: Brock Patrick Walsh, Mark Goldenberg 
Publisher: BMG Rights Management, Capitol CMG Publishing, Songtrust Ave, Universal Music Publishing Group
Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

  12 comments for “Song Lyric Sunday – Automatic

  1. aisasami
    March 6, 2022 at 11:01 am

    I was going to choose this song because I love this song, it is my favorite off that album. I recently purchased a concert tour booklet when The Pointer Sisters came to Japan in the mid-70s. The group is almost 50 years old and they are still going. (Did you see one of the member on The Masked Singer last year?)

    • Christine Bolton
      March 6, 2022 at 12:25 pm

      Hi Amy. I’m happy you liked it. No I haven’t seen the Masked Singer. I should make a point of seeing it. Sounds fun! You must collect music memorabilia – great hobby to have ☺️💕

  2. February 20, 2022 at 3:55 pm

    Automatic is fine. I think I’d have chosen that too.

    • Christine Bolton
      February 20, 2022 at 11:46 pm

      That was the only one I could think of and I’ve always loved it. Good to hear it again ☺️💕

  3. February 20, 2022 at 11:29 am

    I personal favorite! Love this.

    • Christine Bolton
      February 20, 2022 at 12:27 pm

      Thanks Susan ☺️

  4. February 20, 2022 at 11:14 am

    Brilliant choice Christine!

    • Christine Bolton
      February 20, 2022 at 12:28 pm

      Thanks Di. I always liked it ☺️💕

  5. February 20, 2022 at 8:20 am

    Nice music Christine. I remember hearing this back in the day.

    • Christine Bolton
      February 20, 2022 at 12:29 pm

      Thanks Jim. I liked it too! ☺️

  6. February 20, 2022 at 1:34 am

    I enjoyed your song choice!

    • Christine Bolton
      February 20, 2022 at 12:29 pm

      Thank Fan. ☺️

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