Sunday, February 5, 2017

"Hold Me" by Teddy Pendergrass and Whitney Houston

Song#:  1932
Date:  06/09/1984
Debut:  89
Peak: 46
Weeks:  18
Genre:  R&B, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Prior to the devastating car accident in 1982 that left him paralyzed, Pendergrass had already recorded several songs for his label Philadelphia International. While he was recovering, the label issued the material over the course of two albums, but neither LP reached the heights of his previous five platinum and gold records. The releases did complete his contract with the label and that allowed Pendergrass to move forward to a new label, Asylum. For his first Asylum LP, Pendergrass worked with producer/songwriter Michael Masser and they came up with Love Language. The album contained eight tracks, seven of which were co-written by Masser (the remaining track was co-written and produced by Luther Vandross). Masser was known for writing hit ballads like Diana Ross' "Touch Me in the Morning" and Peabo Bryson's "If Ever You're in My Arms Again," and this first single was shaping up be another. It got to #5 at R&B and hit #6 at AC. Unfortunately, the tune didn't quite catch on at Pop and it got locked outside of the Top 40. It was a good return to the charts for Pendergrass, but what would make this song historically important was that it served as the introduction to a new vocalist named Whitney Houston.

ReduxReview:  This is a beautiful duet that hooked AC and R&B listeners, but for some reason couldn't get support at Pop. I have a feeling it was just a bit too languid for some folks. If the tempo was increased just a bit it might have flowed better for pop radio. Also, if Houston was able to really belt out the song it might have truly soared, however since this really was a Pendergrass song and she was just a guest, that was not gonna happen. She got a couple good licks in at the end, but when compared to her solo stuff, it was just minor child's play.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The association between Masser and Whitney Houston would continue after this single. Masser's songs would help establish Houston as a superstar. Along with this ballad being included on Houston's self-titled debut LP, Masser would contribute three other songs including the #1 hits "The Greatest Love of All" and "Saving All My Love for You." He'd give her another #1 song for her second album with "Didn't We Almost Have It All."  2) For Houston, this song ended up being a blessing and a curse. After she became a solo star the following year, it was full expected that Houston would cinch a Grammy win as Best New Artist. Unfortunately, due to the "Hold Me" single becoming a hit in the previous year, the Grammy rules for the category left her off the ballot. It was a controversial oversight that plagued the Grammys and that category for years. Rules for eligibility would evolve over the years and even as of this writing, more changes were made for the 2017 awards. Although she would not be crowned Best New Artist, Houston still took home a trophy that year for Best Pop Vocal Performance.


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