Jeopardy

Album: Kihnspiracy (1983)
Charted: 63 2

Songfacts®:

  • This was the biggest hit for Greg Kihn Band, and it was a slow build: The group released nine albums between 1978 and 1986, and didn't have a hit until "The Breakup Song (They Don't Write 'Em)," which appeared on album number six. "Jeopardy" came on their eighth album.

    As for Kihn, he went on to write several novels and became the morning DJ at K-Fox FM in San Jose, California. He continued to perform live at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in California well into the '00s.
  • Don't look for hidden meanings and opaque references in this or any other Greg Kihn Band Song. Kihn explained to Creem magazine in 1984 that he sticks to simple themes and tends to write about relationships and his girlfriend. "Jeopardy" was a bit of an anomaly for the band, as it had more of a pop sound and was kind of quirky - qualities that made it a hit, but not typical of the rock sound that band stuck with even when Van Halen was breaking out keyboards in the '80s.

    Kihn's record company, of course, was hoping for a series of similar hits, which never happened. Their next album contained the followup single "Reunited," which went nowhere. Kihn explained: "The record company said give us a followup that'll sell as many copies and I came back with something that was closer to heavy metal. I couldn't even come up with another 'Breakup Song.' Oh, well. I'm kind of proud that I followed up 'Jeopardy' with something that was straight ahead rock 'n' roll. A lot of people who picked up on the band when that song was a hit didn't even know that we'd been around for all those years or that we were a rock 'n' roll band to begin with. But that's good because when we play a show to them we have to really work hard. It's not like playing to a Beserkley cult audience when you're opening for Journey, which we did. And it's more fun for me to entertain under those conditions. I like to keep the shows loose and when we play you can hear anything; there's a real wide variety of music."
  • On the surface, "Jeopardy" is an unassuming little '80s pop number, not very distinguishable from the peerage at the time. Then you see that video! Kihn plays a man about to marry. He gets an extreme case of cold feet, then he falls asleep and dreams that his bride and all the guests turn into monsters. He decides to run out on the wedding, only to find out his bride has also run out - so they drive off together.

    With layers of dreams-within-dreams and reversed and inverted meanings to rival the 2010 film Inception, it starts out as a sweet little wedding story and veers through a gruesome horror flick rivaling David Cronenberg at his creepiest, before landing on the teeth of a David Lynch ending. And then it's over, as it drives off leaving you scratching your scalp. So, he didn't like her? He loved somebody else instead? She's a monster? The whole family is a zombie conspiracy? He's a necrophiliac? He's paranoid and projecting his fears onto her? We understand that the corpses are the future bride and groom, but why are they also smoking? And the priest was asking for the ring in that hand gesture, but didn't it look like he was signing something else?
  • Weird Al Yankovic wrote a popular parody called "I Lost On Jeopardy," which is about a contestant on the game show. Kihn appears in the video along with original Jeopardy host Art Fleming. Catch the categories at the start of the game: the last one is "Famous Accordion Players" - Yankovic plays an accordion! The questions get more and more ridiculous.

    Al's only nod to the original song's video is when he gets pitched into the convertible at the end, driving away with the star-crossed bride and groom from the original video. Kihn's song has nothing to do with the TV game show, parodies notwithstanding.

    Yankovic's song made #81 in the US on July 7, 1984. This was a few months before the new version of the TV show Jeopardy (hosted by Alex Trebek) launched. To most of Yankovic's listeners, Jeopardy was a show their parents used to watch (the original run was from 1964-1975).
  • David Hasselhoff wasn't the first guy to overuse puns based on his last name ("That was Hoff the charts!"). Here's a sampling of album titles from Greg Kihn Band: Next Of Kihn, Rockihnroll, Kihntinued, Kihnspiracy, Kihntagious.
  • Kihn's next video - for "Reunited" - was a sequel to this one. The bride and groom from the "Jeopardy" video are swept away to the land of Oz, complete with witches and munchkihns. If you have about five minutes to spare, check out the video and try to imagine the weeping record executive who approved the budget, thinking it would be the next hit.

    We'll leave you with Kihn explaining why he didn't go with video vixens, which certainly would have been more cost effective. Said Kihn: "The video parodies The Wizard Of Oz, and I'll bet you it's the only G-rated video out. There's no T&A in here at all; in fact, I've never made a sexist video. There's nothing like that in here; it's just fun, which may be a first. I wanted to make a video that kids would like. I'll tell you, when I watch a Duran Duran video I get so horny I have to leave the room! Jeez, man, I don't even know the bands in half the videos I see, just the girls. It's like burlesque is coming back through video or something."
  • The follow-up single, "Love Never Fails," topped out at #59 in the US. Kihn's record company asked for some "Jeopardy" sound-a-likes for his next album, Kihntagious, but he failed to deliver: the lead single "Reunited" was a rocker that topped out at #101 in 1984. "The record company said give us a followup that'll sell as many copies and I came back with something that was closer to Heavy Metal," Kihn told Creem. "I'm kind of proud that I followed up 'Jeopardy' with something that was straightahead rock 'n' roll. A lot of people who picked up on the band when that song was a hit didn't even know that we'd been around for all those years or that we were a rock 'n' roll band to begin with."

Comments: 14

  • George from Vancouver, CanadaWeird Al did a parody of this called, "I Lost on Jeopardy" (a show he had actually been a contestant on -- &, yes, he lost!)
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn February 12th 1983, the Greg Kihn Band performed "Jeopardy" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    At the time the song was at #56 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; and twelve weeks later on May 1st, 1983 it peaked at #2* {for 1 week}...
    And in April 3rd, 1983 it reached #1 {for 2 weeks} on Billboard's Hot Dance Club Play chart...
    Between 1981 and 1986 the quintet had six Top 100 records; their next biggest hit was "The Breakup Song (They Don't Write 'Em)", which peaked at #15 {for 2 weeks} on August 30th, 1981...
    * The week "Jeopardy" peaked at #2; the #1 record for that week was "Beat It" by Michael Jackson.
  • Joe from Chicago, IlAt the end of the video, he didn't leave with his bride. He left with the bride of another wedding. Apparently, she got cold feet too. You can see in the very beginning that there are 2 churches, 2 limos, and 2 brides.
  • Ken from Pittsburgh, PaI like the girl with the Joan Jett mullet at the end of the video.
  • Esskayess from Dallas, TxJust one big hit for Greg. Did a kihnspiracy keep him from having more?
  • Mike from Matawan, NjDon Pardo was also on Zappa's "Illinois Enema Bandit". Yeah, I know...all of a sudden it's 'Pop-up Video'.
  • Rick from Amarillo, TxWeird Al's version also had the famous announcer talent Don Pardo, who was the telling Al, "what you didn't win". Don worked for NBC for years and was the original announcer for Saturday Night Live. Most recently he has retired, but also was the voice of the original announcer Jeopardy.
  • Ken from Louisville, KyKihn appeared on Weird Al's music video, in a cameo at the end.
  • Charles from Glenside, PaGreg, please come back. I long to hear how many more ways you can incorporate your surname into your disc titles.
  • Michael from San Diego, CaGreat "early MTV" video! If I'm not mistaken, some footage from his real wedding was included as well.
  • Liquid Len from Ottawa, Canada(1) Weird Al's version was better than the original
    (2) The riff sounds very similar to 'Another Man's Woman' by Supertramp (off Crisis What Crisis)
  • Liquid Len from Ottawa, CanadaAnd yes I realize 'better than the original' is just a subjective comment, listen to the two songs yourself and make up your own mind.
  • Keith from San Francisco, CaGreg Kihn is Morning DJ on KFOX 98.5, San Jose California (San Francisco Bay Area), and is still rocking with his Greg Kihn Band. Try www.kfox.com

    Keith, San Francisco
  • Pete from Nowra, AustraliaGreg Kihn now works as a DJ on some American radio station
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