Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me” single was officially released 31 years ago today.
Original release date: April 16, 1988
The iconic song was the fourth single off of the band’s Hysteria album.
It’s no surprise that “Pour Some Sugar On Me” is also included on the band’s Vault, Rock of Ages: The Definitive Collection, and The Story So Far: The Best of releases…basically ALL of Def Leppard’s greatest hits albums.
“Pour Some Sugar On Me” Music Video
You can view Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me” music video — U.S. and U.K. versions — here (along with every other official music video from the band).
Each music video version also features the song’s two distinct openings — “Step inside, Walk this Way, You and me, babe. Hey! Hey!” vs. the much more impactful “Love is like a bomb, bomb, bomb…”
Let’s dig deeper into the “Pour Some Sugar On Me” music video (U.S. version)…
Not only did the American version improve on the U.K.’s “building demolition” video (as the band had hoped), it also brought the band’s popularity to stratospheric heights.
The American video added a whole new level of pulse-quickening energy to the song; it effectively captures the anticipation and excitement of Def Leppard’s in-the-round show, starting immediately with shots of massive lighting rigs and a draped off stage (not to mention Rick Savage playing to the camera, to the amusement of viewers)…
The subtle enhancements made to the track for the U.S. video also made a big difference — the sound of an ever-present, massive concert audience buzzing throughout the song; sweetening the shout-out-loud chorus with a mild echo to further drive the video’s arena atmosphere — all worked perfectly to encapsulate the Def Leppard concert experience.
The band took care of the rest, as director Wayne Isham expertly showcased them throughout — from Phil Collen and Steve Clark playing their monster riffs as only they can…
…to Rick Allen living up to his “Thunder God” persona…
…to Joe Elliott’s iconic outfit of shredded denim jeans and a cut-up “Women of Doom” shirt.
The video complemented the song perfectly, and was just as important in making “Pour Some Sugar On Me” — actually, the experience of listening to the song and visualizing it — what it was.
The band knew they captured lightning in a bottle, and so did the band’s record company.
The video ended up earning the top spot on MTV’s show “Dial MTV” several months in a row; it also landed at the top (or near the top, depending on when the network would update their rankings) of MTV’s “Greatest Music Videos of All-Time” list.
Back in the late ’80s, Joe Elliott once humbly — and proudly — commented about the U.S. concert version of the “Pour Some Sugar On Me” music video by simply saying, “It’s good, isn’t it?”
Good doesn’t describe it. Great — maybe even momentous for Def Leppard’s career — would have been a better term.
What A Great Idea…
As documented numerous times in the past, “Pour Some Sugar On Me” originated from Joe Elliott simply messing around on an acoustic guitar during a break in the recording studio while wrapping up the Hysteria album.
Fortunately, Joe’s idea caught the ear of producer Mutt Lange who immediately felt that a gem of a song could be constructed from it.
The rest is history, but here’s Joe discussing the song and how it all came about:
“Pour Some Sugar On Me” perfectly combines metaphors and sexual innuendos with vague, non-sensical lyrics that SOUND great phonetically…but don’t necessarily have any meaning.
The song’s unforgettable opening line? Joe Elliott explained how it came about on the Hysteria episode of the “Classic Albums” documentary series:
“Myself and Mutt Lange had dictaphones and we actually just went to opposite ends of the control room while it was playing and just made noises over the backing track and swapped machines and started translating what we thought the words were, and the first line on Mutt’s tapes, to me, sounded like ‘Love is like a bomb’…and that set the whole tone for the lyric.”
That’s not to say that some of Joe’s childhood musical influences didn’t make their way into the song. After all, “Sugar Sugar” by The Archies (the first record Joe ever bought) does include the line “Pour a little sugar on me, baby…” near the end of the song!
Do You Take Sugar…Mutt Lange?
Have you ever heard the unofficial recording (supposedly a demo from the early recording sessions) of “Pour Some Sugar On Me”? It’s been around the internet for years and supposedly features Mutt Lange on the lead vocals (using rough, temporary lyrics) to lay out the track’s foundation.
It’s amusing, especially knowing what “Pour Some Sugar On Me” ultimately ended up sounding like.
Check it out:
Charts Aren’t Everything
“Love Bites” may officially be considered Def Leppard’s “biggest” hit off of Hysteria because it reached #1 on Billboard‘s Top 100 Singles chart, but “Pour Some Sugar On Me” is arguably the track that had the biggest impact.
It was “Pour Some Sugar On Me” that caught everyone’s attention: radio stations and MTV fell in love with it and endlessly kept it in heavy rotation, and, consequently, record stores could barely keep Hysteria in stock. Just that one song resulted in Hysteria selling several millions of copies over the course of the single’s run.
That’s how impactful “Pour Some Sugar On Me” was.
The song also allowed Def Leppard to finally reclaim — and surpass — the spotlight and success they achieved with Pyromania.
Not only that, but it also set things up perfectly for their follow-up single “Love Bites” to garner further attention and showcase the band’s softer side, making it their first #1 single and successfully keeping the Hysteria album (and tour) momentum going.
Unlike “Love Bites,” “Pour Some Sugar On Me” topped the Billboard charts at #2, but it remains one of Def Leppard’s go-to hits: it’s hard to imagine a Def Leppard concert without the song in the setlist. Its inclusion is just as automatic as the thunderous audience response the moment they begin playing it (sometimes led by Joe Elliott’s “Ohhh, here we go!”)
Def Leppard Will Continue Pouring Sugar
“Pour Some Sugar On Me” was not only one of the biggest songs of the late-’80s (if not the decade), it remains one of the band’s biggest — and most important — songs.
The song has a life of its own, and for better or worse, it’s the song many people will always associate with Def Leppard.
It’s not surprising Joe Elliott was asked during an interview with Good Morning America — again, over 3 decades since its release — to literally pour some sugar into a mug for the interviewer’s amusement.
It’s also no surprise that Joe filmed a humorous video with a whole play on actually pouring sugar on things — fans ate it up (pun intended!).
The band has performed the song literally thousands of times on tour, but they know what their audiences want — and that in itself is why they’ve never gotten tired of playing it.
“Pour Some Sugar On Me” continues to electrify a crowd; it’s an event in itself to hear it performed and to sing along to, and will always be one of the high points in any Def Leppard show.
Ironically, the song’s lyrics feature the line “Sugar Me!” Well, that’s exactly what fans are craving — they want their “Pour Some Sugar On Me” — in the name of love…and Def Leppard.
Def Leppard “Pour Some Sugar On Me” Song Ranking
DefLeppardReport.com ranks “Pour Some Sugar On Me” the #3 track off the Hysteria album, describing it as:
“A bombastic, rock powerhouse. It’s a monster of a song — as in monster drums, monster guitars and monster hooks — all complementing its gruff, rap-infused, sing-along vocals. Blend them all together and you have an outstanding result.”
You can read more about “Pour Some Sugar On Me” and a complete song ranking and review of all 115 songs from the band’s original studio albums here.