Twenty years ago today — September 23, 2002 — Michelle Branch and Santana released their single “The Game of Love,” which hit the top five and won a Grammy for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals. Michelle tells ABC Audio the song came together “in such a bizarre way that you could only really say it was meant to be.”
Everyone in Michelle’s touring band at the time had been part of The New Radicals, the Gregg Alexander-led group that had one big hit, “You Get What You Give,” and then broke up. Michelle started covering the song in concert, and one night Gregg came to the show and watched them. Turns out Gregg had co-written “The Game of Love” for Santana’s upcoming album and they were looking for a female vocalist to sing it.
“They had called Tina Turner down, they had called Macy Gray down, and for whatever reason, it didn’t feel right to whoever was making that decision,” Michelle explains. So Gregg called her and asked her to sing on it.
“I almost was like, ‘This is going to be a waste of my time,'” she laughs. “Like, ‘Why would I go down there?’ Like, ‘There’s no way I’m gonna beat Tina Turner on this!!'” But she did it anyway.
“I ended up getting a call one day randomly on the road saying, ‘Hey, we chose your version and can you be in Chicago to shoot the music video?’ And I was like, ‘What!?'” Michelle remembers.
“Just a few years prior, I had been in the audience for a Santana show in Phoenix, Arizona, with my mom,” she recalls. “And it was just such a crazy, whirlwind experience to go from being in the audience to shooting a music video and traveling the world with Santana!”
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