“Hooked on a Feeling” by Blue Swede

“Hooked on a Feeling” is a song which many of us in the 21st century became familiar with via its usage in Guardians of Galaxy, as utilized on one of the film’s trailers as well as a very memorable scene within the movie itself. 

The soundtrack of Guardians of Galaxy, which proved to be a major commercial hit, was filled with all types of old-timey songs. But to reiterate, as utilized this particular piece was one that stood out amongst the rest.

The aforementioned scene in which “Hooked on a Feeling” is used is during a montage in which the protagonists of the film are getting locked down in what is referred to as the Kyln, which is an isolated, maximum security prison. And some of the more astute viewers out there may have been asking themselves why James Gunn and co. would decide to use such an upbeat-sounding song during one of the bleakest parts of the film’s narrative? The answer may be because there is an alternative way of interpreting this piece when you delve underneath the surface.

The Lyrics

On the surface, the vocalist is speaking to, most simply put, being in love. The addressee is the “girl” whom he’s smitten by. Or perhaps it can be said, depending on one’s perspective, that this is more of a case of the singer being infatuated or p–sywhipped. And that’s because as relayed by the vocalist, the aspect of this relationship he really relishes is getting physical with the addressee.

And you will notice that the chorus and catchiest part of this piece has the singer proclaiming that he’s “hooked on a feeling”. Said sensation is described as him being “high on believing” that the addressee is likewise in love with him. In other words, he isn’t actually convinced that she too is smitten. And this sentiment is sorta reiterated at the end of the second verse, where the vocalist poetically depicts himself as being the “victim” of Cupid’s arrow, so to speak.

The lyrics of "Hooked on a Feeling"

So all lyrics considered, this can most easily be defined as a love song. But whether the titular sentiment is actually love is a matter of debate. But the two things we do know is this. One is that the vocalist really enjoys making out or making love or whatever it is he and the addressee do ‘when they’re all alone’. And secondly, he wants to believe that this fooling around, if you will, means that the addressee is in love with him also, of which he does not sound absolutely sure is a fact.

Takeaway

So going back to Guardians of the Galaxy, it has been colorfully suggested that “Hooked on a Feeling” is actually meant to allude to the relationship between the main protagonist’s mom and the space alien she fell in love with. (Yes, you read that correctly.) 

It may also theoretically point to the budding romance between two of the main characters, Star Lord and Gamora. Or maybe James Gunn used it because it is in fact a poppin’ song and as a plot device was partially used to highlight Starlord’s affinity for the Walkman and mixtape that were left to him by his mother. 

Indeed it can be said that Starlord himself was hooked on a feeling when he foolishly tried to take his Walkman back from the Kyln’s security guard and rather wound up being electrocuted.

Who wrote “Hooked on a Feeling”?

The author of “Hooked on a Feeling” is Mark James. By the way, James is best known for winning a couple of Grammy Awards in 1983 as the co-writer of “Always on My Mind” (as covered by Willie Nelson in 1982). 

When was “Hooked on a Feeling” released?

The first singer to drop a version of “Hooked on a Feeling” was the late B. J. Thomas (1942-2021) in 1968.

Meanwhile Blue Swede’s version, which has been the most-successful cover thus far, was officially released on 1 October 1974. It served as the title track to their second album, which was put out by EMI. 

More Interesting Facts

As suggested by their moniker, Blue Swede was in fact an act from Sweden, and they managed to stay intact throughout the mid-1970s. “Hooked on a Feeling” was their biggest and some would say only hit. But that said, their version topped both the Billboard Hot 100 and Cashbox Top 100. Furthermore, it went platinum in the UK and gold in the US. The latter accomplishments were achieved post-Guardians of the Galaxy.

With this song topping the Billboard Hot 100, Blue Swede became the first Swedish act to achieve a number one song in America.

It has been noted that Blue Swede’s cover of “Hooked on a Feeling” was inspired by one which another singer, Jonathan King, dropped in 1971. And to note, Blue Swede’s rendition features altered lyrics from the versions which preceded it.

Under its original incarnation, this was one of those types of songs which more directly used drug addiction (i.e. being “hooked”) as an analogy for being in love. But again, Blue Swede altered certain lyrics so that idea doesn’t really come across in their rendition.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe also used this song to promote 2017’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (though it was not used within that film).  And well prior to that, Blue Swede’s rendition was featured in Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs (1992) as well as a 1998 episode of the popular sitcom Ally McBeal (which also led to a revived interest in the tune).  And even David Hasselhoff himself got around to covering this tune in 1999, experiencing some chart success in the process.

“Ooga-Chaka Ooga-Ooga”

This song features some chanting, transcribed as “ooga-chaka ooga-ooga”, which apparently is not featured in Guardians of the Galaxy (though is present in the trailer). And it is said that Blue Swede got that idea from the aforementioned Jonathan King cover. And Jonathan King reportedly got the idea from a hit song dating back to 1959 entitled “Running Bear” by Johnny Preston (1939-2011).

One of the earliest known representations of Native American war chants used in songs started with Preston’s aforementioned “Running Bear”. It was written by J.P. Richardson, famously known as Big Bopper.

However, on King’s official website’s message board, he clarified that his choice to add “Ooga-Chaka” wasn’t inspired by other records.

Blue Swede

Blue Swede was fronted by Björn Skifs, who appears to be a legendary singer in his homeland of Sweden and is still dropping albums into the 2020s. And at the time this song was dropped, he was formally joined by saxophonist Hinke Ekestubbe, trumpeter Tom Berger, guitarist Michael Areklaw, pianist Ladislav Balatz, bassist Bosse Liljedahl and drummer Jan Guldbäch.

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