Um . . . yeah, I can’t tell you where this comes from. I don’t know. All I can say is, I have a theory. Michael Bolton would have gone down in music history as a talented, entertaining singer had he never made a hit out of the single, “Said I loved you, but I lied.”
Look, Michael Bolton ushered in the short-lived era of making throaty, subdued, rock-balladesque covers of Motown classics before Rod Stewart ever saw that ship approaching the harbor. He made a living off it. He also wrote a lot of his own music, including the infamously glorious Saved by the Bell heart-wrencher, “How Am I Supposed to Live without You?” While originally performed by someone else, that song and many other quippy ditties were the intellectual property of the man with the longest locks in the history of baldness.
In his heyday, Bolton was kind of cool as a person. As a musician, he was always stuck in the sappy resin that forms between the top of the adult contemporary charts and the unheralded b-sides of supermarket bodice-ripper soundtracks. Some people hated him. Some people loved him. But I would say that almost everybody found themselves digging them some Michael Bolton at one point or another . . . at least with the windows rolled tightly upward and the volume turned down just loud enough to cover up their own attempts at mimicking his ethereal raspiness.
But in 1993 when Michael Bolton’s song “Said I Loved You, But I Lied,” hit the airwaves and topped the AC charts, America collectively crossed its threshold for buying into the Bolton Baloney. At first, we all chuckled when we heard it, didn’t we? “This is more than love I feel inside. . . . Did he really just sing that?” we chucklingly inquired of ourselves. And then the answer came back, yes, again and again. And we heard the song playing on media outlets of various credibility. We saw the video. We saw it in a Michael Bolton commercial advertising . . . Michael Bolton records. The statement that was too harsh to be in a love song, yet too over-the-top sap-nasty for even the most infatuated, hormone-crazed gag couple, was drumming itself repeatedly into our brains. We thought about it. Seriously, would anyone in their hokiest moment of drunken weakness, ever say something so Velveeta-drenched as the melodic melodrama of this saccharin sentiment: “When I told you I loved you, I lied . . . (smoldering silence pregnant with desire) . . . This is more than love I feel inside.” When it dawned on us what we had aurally digested, We, the People, stared ourselves down in the national mirror and asked without the slightest trace of dismissive glee, “What have we become?”
And that’s when hating Michael Bolton became social law in the United States of America. And Guam. Without that song . . . who knows? Maybe he would be allowed to sit on the couch during talk shows. Maybe he’d be hosting game shows or doing successful artistic collaborations with Kenny Loggins. But alas, he’s an Office Space punchline, now, and there’s no going back.