Freeze-Frame

Album: Freeze Frame (1981)
Charted: 27 4
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Songfacts®:

  • A freeze frame is a still image taken from a piece of moving video - perhaps the most famous one is Judd Nelson with his fist in the air at the end of The Breakfast Club. In this song, the singer recounts a memorable week with a lovely lady through the use of film production metaphors. Let's take a look:

    It was a rough cut Tuesday - A "rough cut" is an early version of the work, often without details like graphics or music. It's what you look at to get a basic idea of how it's going to turn out.

    Thursday morning was a hot flash factor - Not really a film term, but a "hot flash" could be a burst of light used to capture a still image. It shows that the singer is warming up to the girl.

    Friday night we danced the spotlight grind - We all know what a spotlight is, and we can assume that things worked out well if he did the "spotlight grind."

    Now I'm looking at a flashback Sunday - A flashback is a device where you go back in time to see something that happened earlier. He probably can't stop flashing back to his spotlight grind.

    There are other film terms in the song as well, including "zoom lens" and "proof sheet." It's all a clever way of describing an interesting week.
  • This song was written by J. Geils Band lead singer Peter Wolf and keyboard player Seth Justman, who also produced the album. Wolf brought an energy and swagger to the songs he worked on, while Justman was often the creative engine, specializing in various keyboard sounds.

    Justman joined the band a few years after they formed, adding piano and organ to their mix, and quickly becoming a primary songwriter. The group was one of the first rock bands to emerge from Boston, with a sound that also incorporated blues and soul. Throughout the '70s, they earned widespread acclaim but just modest chart success, with their most successful song the 1974 track "Must Of Got Lost," which made #12 US.

    In the '80s, keyboards came into vogue, which was perfect for Justman. His song "Centerfold" was the first single from the Freeze Frame album, and a monster hit, going to US #1 in February 1982 and staying for six weeks. "Freeze-Frame" was the next single, and it peaked at #4 in April. In March, Peter Wolf was on the cover of Rolling Stone (sharing space with the subhead: "Herpes, The Pill, VD: Why Sex Isn't Fun Anymore"). They went from club gigs to arenas, opening for The Rolling Stones. The fame was sudden, and few outside of Boston knew that the band had been around since 1967.
  • Many bands hate doing videos because they are so tedious, but in the early '80s, they were usually shot quickly with just a loose concept. In this one, the fun the band was having was real. Peter Wolf told Goldmine in 1983: "By the time an album is finished, there's less pressure on you and the video serves as a kind of release. Hence, us throwing paint all over each other in the 'Freeze Frame' video."

    It also helped that they had a sympathetic director: Paul Justman, brother of the band's keyboard player Seth. He also directed the J. Geils videos for "Centerfold" and "Land of 1,000 Dances." Perhaps Paul helped out with the film references in the lyric.
  • Unlike most hit songs, there's not much to the chorus in this one - it's basically Peter Wolf yelling "Freeze Frame" and the band calling it back. Each chorus lasts about 10 seconds. The hook is in the keyboard riff, and the sparse chorus leaves lots of time to develop the story in the verses.
  • The song has a very unusual opening, with the gang yelling "Freeze Frame," and then a series of camera clicks. Around this same time, Duran Duran's "Girls On Film" was big - that song also opened with camera sounds.
  • This was used in the movies Lucky Numbers (2000), Middle Men (2009) and A Few Best Men (2011). It also appeared in two episodes of The Simpsons: "Home Away from Homer" (2005) and "Homerazzi" (2007).

Comments: 3

  • Esskayess from Dallas, TxGreat song and a wonderfully off-the-wall video that I saw many times. Check it out online.
  • Camille from Toronto, OhThis was a great song at the time it came out. Not sure how well it stands the test of time. The only words I ever knew to it were "Freeze Frame! Freeze Frame!" And yes, the keyboarding definitely drives the song in the very best way.
  • Tim from Springfield, MaNo comments?! I guess it IS easy to forget this gem
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