What magical powers does Journey's '80s anthem Don't Stop Believin' hold over America? A new rendition of the song hit No. 1 Thursday on the iTunes Music Store chart, fueled by Tuesday's airing of the Fox pilot Glee. In the show, a high school Spanish teacher takes over the glee club, recruiting misfits from around the school. The show's finale is the club's performance of Don't Stop Believin', backed by the school's jazz band. Here's a quick look at the song's place in pop culture history:
HOW IT STARTED: Don't Stop Believin' was one of the first writing collaborations of singer Steve Perry, guitarist Neal Schon and keyboardist Jonathan Cain, who had just joined the band. Perry quit the band testily in 1998, but Cain and Schon remain in the lineup today, along with original bassist Ross Valory.
NOT A HUGE HIT THEN: Released on Journey's 1981 Escape album, the song wasn't even the biggest hit on the record, peaking at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100. Who's Crying Now and Open Arms both rose higher on the charts that year. The song does star in the 1982 video game Escape for the Atari home gaming system, in which players have to guide band members past groupies and sleazy promoters to reach their scarab escape vessel.
"BORN AND RAISED IN SOUTH DETROIT": That line early in the song tends to drive people from Michigan crazy, since Detroit really has no south side. (Windsor, Ontario, technically is south of Detroit.) One popular theory is that the band really meant Southfield, Mich., a suburb that's ironically north of Detroit. Of course, it didn't matter when singer Steve Perry performed the song; he often changed "South Detroit" to the city the band was playing in that night.
REBORN IN THE 21st CENTURY: In 2005, the song broke into iTunes' Top 10 list of downloads after it appeared on Fox's Family Guy and MTV's Laguna Beach in the same week. The Chicago White Sox adopted it as their anthem during their World Series championship in 2005, with Perry singing the tune at the victory parade. Other TV shows playing it include The Apprentice, Scrubs, South Park and …
'THE SOPRANOS' FINALE: On June 10, 2007, Don't Stop Believin' became the centerpiece to the final scene from HBO's hit series The Sopranos. Sales of the song on iTunes rose 482 percent over the next few days. Permission to use the song wasn't given until the very last minute and only after Perry — afraid the song would be used in a murderous climax — was told in advance how the show ended.
BUT STILL NO RESPECT: In November 2008, Don't Stop Believin' became the first catalog track in history to achieve online digital sales of more than 2 million units. (On Thursday, it was still a very respectable No. 32 on the iTunes list of downloads.) But despite being eligible for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for almost a decade, Journey has yet to be even named a finalist for induction.
UP NEXT: Will Don't Stop Believin' become a theme song of sorts for Glee? We'll have to wait until the fall to find out. In the meantime, a new movie, Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey — a look at the band and its new singer, Arnel Pineda — is scheduled for a Dec. 1 release. We can't wait for the sound track!
Times news researcher Will Gorham contributed to this report.