Song of the Day #5,193: ‘The Game of Love’ – Gregg Alexander

Today’s song isn’t like most of the others I’m featuring, in that it was never officially released in its original form. It has that in common with ‘If I Were a Boy,’ the song that kicked off this series on ‘Covers You Didn’t Know Were Covers.’

‘The Game of Love’ is best known as a 2002 song by Santana featuring Michelle Branch on vocals. The track reached #5 on the Billboard Hot 100, a great showing, though somewhat in the shadow of Santana’s 1999 #1 singles ‘Smooth‘ and ‘Maria Maria.’

‘The Game of Love’ was co-written by Gregg Alexander (of New Radicals) with Rick Nowels, and Alexander recorded a demo but decided to shelve the song. Later, his manager sent the track to Clive Davis, who was producing the new Santana album, and he grabbed it. If you listen to New Radicals one big hit, ‘You Get What You Give,’ you’ll hear the similarity in songwriting style.

Davis considered using Alexander on lead vocals, but opted to go for a female vocalist instead. His first stop was Tina Turner, who recorded a version of the song but declined to appear in the video. His next choice was Macy Gray, but Davis was reportedly unhappy with the results (sorry, couldn’t find a link to that one).

Finally, Davis and Santana landed on the then 19-year-old Branch, whose blend of MTV appeal and wiser-than-her-years bearing was just the right fit to send the song up the charts.

As for Alexander, he released only one album with New Radicals, but has continued writing songs for others in the two decades since. He served as co-writer of the songs in the 2014 film Begin Again (which I highly recommend). Most recently, he played ‘You Get What You Give’ at Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Tell me
Just what you want me to be
One kiss
And boom you’re the only one for me
So please tell me
Why don’t you come around no more?
Cause right now
Im crying outside the door of your candy store

Chorus:
It just takes a little bit of this, a little bit of that
It started with a kiss
Now were up to bat
A little bit of laughs, a little bit of pain
Im telling you my babe
Its all in the game of…

Love is
Whatever you make it to be
Sunshine
Instead of this cold lonely sea
So pleased baby
Try and use me for what Im good for
It ain’t saying goodbye
Its knocking down the door of your candy store

Chorus:
It just takes a little bit of this, a little bit of that
It started with a kiss
Now were up to bat
A little bit of laughs, a little bit of pain
Im telling you my babe
Its all in the game of love
Its all in the game of love

You roll me
Control me
Console me
Please hold me
You guide me
Divide me
Into me

(wanna make you mine)
So please tell me
Why don’t you come around no more?
Cause right now
Im dying outside the door of your loving store

Chorus:
It just takes a little bit of this, a little bit of that
It started with a kiss
Now were up to bat
A little bit of laughs, a little bit of pain
Im telling you my babe
Its all in the game of love
Its all in the game of love
Its all in the game of love
Lets play the game of love

Roll me
Control me
Console me
Please hold me
In this game of love
Im out here on my own

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #5,193: ‘The Game of Love’ – Gregg Alexander

  1. willedare says:

    Thanks for reminding me about one of my favorite pop songs (“You Get What you Give”) and introducing me to another by Gregg Alexander. Love hearing the different versions this song and getting a glimpse into Clive Davis’s creative/commercial decision-making process…

  2. Dana Gallup says:

    Interesting backstory on this song. I like the Tina Turner version. Odd that she wouldn’t be in the video.

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