The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same
Similar to how Def Leppard’s Slang album ultimately represented the sign of the times for the band, the same can be said about Euphoria.
Grunge had come and mostly gone, and feel-good songs were no longer frowned upon.
Alternative music wasn’t as mainstream as it used to be and once again started living up to its “alternative” label.
So what better way to make the most of a more welcoming musical landscape than for Def Leppard to release an album like Euphoria!
Back In Your Face Like They’ve Never Been Away
It featured the band’s big trademark hooks, vintage harmonies, signature polished production, and even carried on the tradition of a one-word Def Leppard album ending in “ia,” just like Pyromania and Hysteria.
All the more reason to reinforce that Def Leppard was back.
“Promises” Made, “Promises” Kept
Euphoria had all the makings of a big, commercially-pleasing Def Leppard album.
Even without Mutt Lange to lead the production (Pete Woodroffe produced it), Mutt did co-write a few of the album’s songs: “Promises,” “It’s Only Love” and “All Night.”
“Promises” — by far the album’s standout track — was an excellent, radio-ready single that helped reintroduce Def Leppard (and the band’s classic sound) back onto the airwaves.
The song was also originally promoted as a pseudo-follow-up to the band’s classic “Photograph,” which wasn’t quite fair.
Sure, maybe it was in the spirit of Def Leppard’s 1983 classic, but “Photograph” it was not.
“Promises” did serve its purpose. The anthemic track hit all the right notes — figuratively and literally — and re-established the band’s presence on rock radio.
When all was said and done, the track reached #1 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart — a gauge that was better suited for Def Leppard’s brand of music at that time, instead of the typical Hot 100 Singles chart whose top 10 songs that same week was filled with artists such as Jennifer Lopez, TLC, Ricky Martin, Backstreet Boys…and, of course, still being the late ’90s, Pearl Jam.
The music video for “Promises” was mostly straightforward and featured segments from the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles interspersed with clips of the band performing the song.
Nothing groundbreaking, but it allowed the music to do all the talking (and storytelling).
If anything, the most shocking aspect was seeing Joe Elliott donning a short haircut…
An amusing sidenote about the location of the “Promises” music video: if you’ve read this site’s article about the anniversary of the Slang album, the MTV International interview featuring the band took place in Griffith Park…which is also where the observatory in the “Promises” video is located.
The band also ended up releasing a music video for the track “Goodbye.”
As with “Promises,” the “Goodbye” music video was also pretty straightforward (taking place in a subway), yet it didn’t end up getting anywhere near as much video (or radio) airplay.
Def Leppard’s Euphoria: The Songs
Euphoria was, is and remains a solid album.
It features a collection of really good songs, regardless of whether they made it onto the Billboard charts or not.
“Demolition Man” is still an excellent rocker and effective opening track. Its fast pace and “Ballroom Blitz” type of chorus is a whirlwind of fun.
“Back in Your Face” is in the spirit of arena rocker “Rock and Roll Part II” and does a great job showcasing an attitude from the band that harkens back to the Pyromania days.
“21st Century Sha La La La Girl” lives up to its “galactic sugar high” lyric with the frenetic energy it invokes, and its rap-like verses are reminiscent of “Pour Some Sugar on Me.”
These rockers best represent Euphoria.
Here’s Joe Elliott describing how the album “rocked”:
Even More Euphoria
Surprisingly, the album doesn’t include a “signature” power ballad from the band.
While some may feel “Goodbye” fits the bill, its unique song structure and atypical chorus makes it more of an outlier than the type of Def Leppard power ballad some would expect.
“To Be Alive” — also a unique ballad in and of itself — is a wonderful, yet underrated, song that deserved more attention.
Between the two ballads, “To Be Alive” remains more memorable decades later.
Other Euphoria offerings work just fine as album tracks:
“Paper Son” fits right in with other epics like “Gods of War” and “White Lightning,” while “Kings of Oblivion” conjures up an earlier Def Leppard era.
Remaining tracks on the album like “All Night,” “Guilty” and “Day After Day” are best suited as deep cuts. As enjoyable as they may be for some, they lack the longevity of so many other Def Leppard classics.
If you would like to read more about Euphoria‘s individual tracks (rankings and reviews!), check out the Def Leppard Report Song Ranking section.
Def Leppard’s Euphoria: Reception
Euphoria ended up being certified gold, on par with Slang‘s album sales.
Decades after its release, fondness for Euphoria has mostly grown among fans, as it’s recognized for what it is: an album filled with some great, rockin’ Def Leppard tunes.
Some fans also consider Euphoria a farewell to the era of Def Leppard’s big production, glam-inspired albums — all the more reason to celebrate the Euphoria release and reissue it (including on vinyl for the very first time.)
After having to persevere through years of grunge and deal with an unfair backlash to their brand of music, Def Leppard was back…and Euphoria helped solidify that fact.
Not only was Euphoria the type of record most Def Leppard fans were wanting, it was also the type of commercial sounding album the band’s record company had hoped for — so much so that the record company’s marketing strategy actually positioned Euphoria as THE sequel to Pyromania and Hysteria.
Here’s one of the posters (note the first line under the band’s logo):
But as a promotional strategy, it was decided that Euphoria would be the final piece in Def Leppard’s biggest, most polished, commercial sounding albums. (Having an album title ending in “ia” also helped make the case.)
Whether that’s fair to Adrenalize (which far outsold Euphoria) is a whole other story.
As a marketing hook and with the goal of reintroducing (and branding) the band and album to the masses, sure, it made sense at the time.
Here’s Joe Elliott and Phil Collen discussing Euphoria, as well as the record company’s positive reception to it:
Euphoria provided the band with the opportunity to come full circle and return to the signature sound that turned them into a superstar act.
The album also ended up being the proverbial comfort food many Def Leppard fans had been craving for nearly eight years — in the end, it provided them with a satisfying feast that’s still worth snacking on to this day.