The 888/88/8 Project: Song #001.
“One in a million” is such an overused phrase. So let’s be a little more realistic. Assuming you already know how to play a guitar and want to write a song, your chance of sitting down sometime soon and writing a song as good as Colin Hay’s “Overkill” is more like one in two million.
Yet, songs like this are what motivate people to sit down and try, and inspiring a few one-in-10,000 songs is not a shabby service to the rest of us.
You don’t need me to go into all the ways the song succeeds with its taut construction of both melody and chord progression. Thanks to Scrubs, it earned a new wave of admirers, and the acoustic version reveals the strong writing that much more, imo, as opposed to the original).
“Overkill’ comes off more human and more musically interesting than its insular contemporary, “Every Breath You Take,” which was released exactly three weeks earlier in June ’83.
Lonesome but not as creepy, “Overkill” offers those gorgeous chords at each turnaround, and yet the song was merely a solid hit as opposed to The Police’s monster all-time hit. I guess the stalker angle and great cheekbones pay off in the end.
This song would have to be on any list of pop songwriting modern standards of the past 40-50 years, and it’s quite comfortable grabbing the first seat in this 888-song ride.