Huey Lewis and the News kicked off a decade of U.S. pop chart dominance with their first Top Ten hit, 1982’s “Do You Believe in Love.”
“Do You Believe in Love” was written by Robert John “Mutt” Lange, the Midas-touch producer behind all-time blockbusters including AC/DC’s Back in Black, Def Leppard’s Hysteria and former wife Shania Twain’s Come On Over. Lange penned the song, originally titled “We Both Believe in Love,” for the English rock band Supercharge’s 1979 album Body Rhythm, and ultimately handled lead vocals on the completed track.
Lange first met Lewis (born Hugh Anthony Cregg III) and future News keyboardist Sean Hopper when their Bay Area jazz-funk band Clover relocated to Great Britain and signed to the Vertigo label to record 1977’s Lange-produced Unavailable. After Clover dissolved in 1978, its former members returned to the U.S., with Lewis and Hopper forming Huey Lewis and the American Express with saxophonist/rhythm guitarist Johnny Colla, drummer Bill Gibson and bassist Mario Cipollina. With the 1979 addition of lead guitarist Chris Hayes, the group signed to Chrysalis Records; fearing trademark infringement claims from the credit card company, label execs urged them to drop the American Express moniker, and in 1980, the renamed Huey Lewis and the News issued their self-titled debut LP to little attention from radio.
Chrysalis is also responsible for convincing Lewis and the News to record “We Both Believe in Love” for their second LP, Picture This. The group initially resisted, but manager Bob Brown encouraged Lewis to toss out Lange’s original chorus (“We both believe in love/We both believe its ours/You really feel the love/Oh you really make me see the stars”) in favor of recasting the lyric in the form of a question: “Do you believe in love?/Do you believe it’s true?/Do you believe in love?/And you’re making me believe it too.”
“Do You Believe in Love” was the first single from Picture This, released in January 1982. Lewis later recalled that when he discovered San Francisco radio station KFRC planned to play the song on air, the whole band gathered in anticipation. “Two things struck me,” Lewis told longtime fishing buddy (and late-night talk show host) Jimmy Kimmel in 2020 during a career retrospective interview at Los Angeles’ Grammy Museum. The first was that the audio was so compressed, “it sounded like someone else.” The second thing? “It sounded like a hit.”
Lewis’ instincts were correct: the breezy, effervescent “Do You Believe in Love” rose to number seven on the Billboard Hot 100, bolstered by heavy MTV airplay. The cable network launched roughly five months prior to the release of Picture This, and its early programming slate was dominated by New Wave acts from across the Atlantic; MTV executives were desperate to balance the scales with fare from emerging American artists, and Chrysalis was more than happy to oblige.
“The label wanted to do this really serious video, so they hired an advertising guy who was a fashion guy, who dressed the set up in pastel colors and dressed us up in matching pastels with lots of make-up and shot the video all day long — hard,” Lewis told Songfacts in 2023. “Two weeks later, we went to see the rough cut, and everybody was there: the record company, us, and the video company. Probably about 30 people. The director stands up and says ‘It’s not colorized yet. It’s going to look much better when it’s colorized. This is just the rough cut.’ He turns off the lights and plays the video… and my heart sank. It was just horrible. There was no direction, there was no reason for this guy to be singing off into the distance. This is the video where we are all in bed singing to the girl for some reason. And when the video ended, everybody stood up and gave us a standing ovation! I thought to myself ‘Well, clearly there’s no art to this. Nobody knows anything about this. We’re already writing our own songs and producing our own records. We need to be making our own videos.’”
Huey Lewis and the News remained a staple of MTV airwaves for years to follow, scoring 12 Billboard Top Ten singles between 1982 and 1987, virtually all of them accompanied by tongue-in-cheek, low-stakes videos that cemented the group’s image as everyday guys — as amiable and approachable as your neighborhood bar band. Lewis credited their sustained MTV success to keeping their videos so simple: “Avoid the literal translation of the song at all costs. Zig when the song zags, as it were,” he told Songfacts. “And just have fun. Be funny.”
Picture This went on to generate two additional radio and MTV hits, “Hope You Love Me Like You Say You Do” and “Workin’ for a Livin’,” the latter inspired by Lewis’ pre-fame experiences driving a delivery truck for Natural Food Express, the whole foods distribution company he co-founded in the early 1970s. With the 1983 release of Huey Lewis and the News’ third LP Sports, the group achieved mega-stardom: the album spawned four Top Ten singles and spent 160 weeks on the Billboard charts, reaching number one on June 30, 1984.
“Those videos when we were teenagers all watching MTV at all times were just so appealing. The songs were great to sing along to, and the guys seemed to be having fun,” Jimmy Kimmel told Esquire in 2020. “I just think Huey brings to mind a better time.”