The Story Behind the One-Hit Wonder “Hooked on a Feeling” by Blue Swede

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

One-hit wonders. They’re the boogeymen of the music world, and they aren’t as fictional as we would like them to be. Every now and then, an artist will have a hit song that is so popular, that the rest of their career is overshadowed by its success.

Here, we’re discussing one such one-hit wonder: “Hooked on a Feeling” by Blue Swede. Read below as we examine where the song came from and the band behind it.

Origins

“Hooked on a Feeling” by Blue Swede is a song that we all know and love. But that version of the song, released in the U.S. by the Swedish band in 1974, is actually a cover song.

Several years before, in 1968, country and pop singer B.J. Thomas released the original version of the song, which was written by Mark James. In addition to collaborations with Thomas, James also worked with none other than The King, Elvis Presley. (James wrote Presley’s hit “Suspicious Minds.”) 

For “Hooked on a Feeling,” James pulled inspiration from his childhood sweetheart and penned lyrics revolving around young, and often unrequited, love. The ’68 version also featured the electric sitar played by Reggie Young and produced by Chips Moman. The song peaked at number five on the Billboard Hot 100. 

Ooga-Chaka Ooga-Ooga

The famous ooga-chaka ooga-oogas that you hear at the opening of Blue Swede’s version was a result of a separate cover version of “Hooked on a Feeling.” In 1971, English singer/songwriter Jonathan King recorded his own version of the track and added the famous chant. King was inspired to add the oogas and chakas after listening to Johnny Preston’s 1959 song “Running Bear.” 

Blue Swede version and different lyrics

Blue Swede’s version of “Hooked on a Feeling” in ’74, was the most successful version of the song, hands down. This version—ooga-chakas included—brought international success to the band from Stockholm, Sweden. The band, fronted by Björn Skifs, had also added their own spin to the track.

On their cover, Blue Swede eliminated any references or allusions to drug use. The rock band changed the original lyrics, 

I got it bad for you girl but I don’t need a cure 
I’ll just stay addicted if I can endure 

to 

Got a bug from you girl
But I don’t need no cure
I just stay a victim
If I can for sure.

And voilà, “Hooked on a Feeling” was cemented into popular culture. The song would go on to be featured in the 1992 film Reservoir Dogs and the 2014 Marvel film Guardians of the Galaxy.

A one-hit wonder 

“Hooked on a Feeling” was Blue Swede’s first and only song that reached number one in the United States, where the song saw the most success. The tune remained on the Billboard chart for an impressive 18 weeks. The band, however, didn’t have the same longevity. In fact, Blue Swede was only active as Blue Swede from 1973 to 1975 before frontman Skifs left to pursue a solo career.

In those few years, the band released two albums of cover songs, but was never able to duplicate the success of “Hooked on a Feeling.”

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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  1. Except Blue Swede was a two-hit wonder—they covered the Association’s “Never My Love” in 1974 and it climbed to No. 7 on Billboard’s pop chart!

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