The Cars’ fourth studio album, Shake It Up, continued to rev things up for the Boston band, giving them their first Top 10 hit with the killer title track. But the album's second single, which missed the Top 40 entirely, might be the real MVP of the record.
Hitting stores only a few days after the album with which it shares its title, “Shake It Up” was more dance-pop than pop-rock, but it’s a combination that worked well for the band’s fans: not only did it climb to No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, but oddly enough, it was an even bigger hit in the Netherlands, climbing to No. 3 on the Tipparade chart.
Which brings us to “Since You’re Gone,” written by Ric Ocasek, which – in addition to its status as the second single from Shake It Up – also served as the album’s opening track.
Ocasek actually recorded his vocal for “Since You’re Gone” in a single take, which is impressive when you listen to his unique, Dylan-esque phrasing when singing the lyrics. In his review on AllMusic, critic Donald Guarisco posited that one reason it holds up is because it stands out in the crowd, describing it as “a solid showcase for [a strong balance between forward-thinking sounds and classic pop songwriting], using a high-tech arrangement and new wave irony to breathe new life into the power ballad.” As if that wasn’t enough, he also summed up the song by call it “a solid fusion of rock ballad bombast and new wave futurism.” (Needless to say, the guy’s a big fan.)
Despite the fact that it stalled just outside the top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 – and we do mean that literally: it hit No. 41 before beginning its descent – “Since You’re Gone” still remains one of the most beloved tracks in the Cars catalogue and continues to get considerable airplay even 40 years after its initial release.