Saturday, July 16, 2016

"Yah Mo B There" by James Ingram with Michael McDonald

Grammy Alert!
Song#:  1720
Date:  12/10/1983
Debut:  86
Peak:  19
Weeks:  18
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  After having success singing with and for other artists, the time came from Ingram to break out on his own. The first official solo single from his Quincy Jones-produced album, It's Your Night was the upbeat tune "Party Animal." The synthpop-ish jam was certainly different from the AC-leaning ballads he had become known for and audiences were not biting. The song could only get to #21 at R&B while missing the Pop chart completely. Needing a hit, James went back to having a duet partner and issued this collaboration with ex-Doobie Brother Michael McDonald. Co-written by the pair along with Rod Temperton and Quincy Jones, the R&B tune attracted listeners with its smooth groove and odd title. It reached #5 at R&B while hitting #10 at AC and Top 20 at Pop. The single saved the album, which would eventually go gold.

ReduxReview:  I had no idea what the title meant. I figured it was something spiritual based on the lyrics, but I didn't really care. I loved the song and ran out to pick up the single. McDonald is a terrific partner for Ingram and their vocals combined with the groove and the chorus, complete with those "up n' oh we oh's," made this hard to resist. Quincy Jones and Rod Temperton, fresh off of Thriller, gave it a sound and sheen that made it sound like a Michael Jackson outtake. Although it wasn't a huge hit at the time, it has lasted far passed it's chart days and has become a bit of an iconic song - thanks mainly to that title.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) So what's up with that title? Apparently, Ingram and McDonald wanted to write a spiritual-leaning song and thought that using "god" in the lyrics/title might turn some listeners away. Instead, they turned to the Hebrew word for God - Yahweh. They began with the title "Yahweh Be There," which is basically saying "God will be there." It eventually evolved into "Yah Mo B There." The usual title certainly helped the song become an 80s classic and it has been referenced in film (The 40-Year-Old Virgin) and on TV (American Dad).  2) Ingram would grab two Grammy nods for this song. One for Best R&B Song and one for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Duo or Group. He and McDonald would win the latter category. Ingram would also get a nod for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male for the album.


1 comment:

  1. Ha! I always thought the little chants in the middle were "up and over," which kind of made sense in the religious context of the song, maybe getting yourself "up and over" into heaven. I've always wondered what it really is. Online lyric sites are no help, they just skip over it.