Monday, May 23, 2016

"I Am Love" by Jennifer Holliday

Song#:  1662
Date:  10/22/1983
Debut:  89
Peak:  49
Weeks:  11
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  Success hit fast and hard for Broadway diva Jennifer Holliday. Along with her Tony-winning performance in the musical Dreamgirls, she grabbed an R&B #1 with a song from the show "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" (#22 Pop). With her popularity soaring, the time was ripe for her to try for a legit career as a recording artist. Signing with Geffen Records, the label that issued the Dreamgirls soundtrack, Holliday began work her debut solo album with Maurice White (of Earth, Wind & Fire fame) producing. Featuring songs by top-notch writers like White, David Foster, and Ashford & Simpson, hopes were high for the album to do well. Indeed it started off pretty good with this first single, which got to #2 at R&B. Unfortunately, it didn't get the traction it needed to climb the Pop chart and it slipped up just inside the Top 50. The album did fairly well (#6 R&B/#31 Pop) based on the hype and this single, but it wasn't the major hit that was expected. A second, more upbeat single titled "Just Let Me Wait" didn't do much to help the album when it stalled at #24 R&B.

ReduxReview:  Like a lot of people, I absolutely loved "And I Am Telling You" and when Holliday's debut album came out, I bought it without question. I have to say that it was quite disappointing. It was kind of all over the place. There was pop/dance, R&B grooves, AC, gospel, and, of course, this big theatrical ballad, which was clearly meant to mimic "And I Am Telling You," (which was oddly missing from the LP). I like this song, but I'm not so sure it was the right move to release another big diva ballad as her first official solo single. It kind of painted her into a corner. She needed a breakout tune that could really be a multi-format hit. A roaring upbeat dance song might have been better. Unfortunately, there was nothing on the album that was going to hit big, despite all the A-listers involved. It was mediocre material at best. It's a shame as Holliday deserved better. Regardless, this remains a nice tune that Holliday elevates to a higher level.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  In addition to Holliday's Grammy win for Best R&B Vocal Performance on "And I Am Telling You," she also got a nomination for Best New Artist. That year, she was the only solo performer nominated. The balance of the nods went to band - Stray Cats, Men at Work, Human League, and Asia. Thanks to their double #1 singles and #1 album, Men at Work took home the trophy.


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