Saturday, February 25, 2017

"Simple" by Johnny Mathis

Song#:  1952
Date:  06/23/1984
Debut:  88
Peak:  81
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Mathis had been a highly successful singer and entertainer since signing with Columbia Records in 1956. With several Top 10's to his credit, he remained active on the charts until the mid-60s when rock music started to take hold. The hits dried up and save for a few Top 10's on the AC chart, it seemed that his heydays were done. That changed when he paired up with Deniece Williams for the 1978 duet "Too Much, Too Little, Too Late." That song reignited his career when it hit #1 at Pop, R&B, and AC. Unfortunately, the comeback was short-lived and Mathis was unable to capitalize on the success. He continued making albums that featured duets with a few songs getting a little attention at AC. He was able to grab one more Pop Top 40 appearance with "Friends in Love," a #38 duet with Dionne Warwick (#5 AC, #22 R&B). After that minor hit, Mathis moved on to make a solo album that would mainly consist of all new original material. The lone cover tune was "Love Won't Let Me Wait," a duet with Deniece Williams. It was the album's first single and it got to #16 AC and #32 R&B. It failed to chart at Pop, but this second solo single would roam around the bottom of the chart for a couple of months. It would go to #6 at AC and #43 R&B. The song would be Mathis' final one to reach the Pop chart. He would continue to record albums over the years and along the way four of them would grab Grammy nods in the Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album category.

ReduxReview:  Mathis breaks out of crooner ballad mode with this song. Unfortunately, it kind of treads on territory already occupied by Al Jarreau. That's not too surprising since the song's co-writer Keith Stegall also co-wrote Jarreau's hit "We're in This Love Together" (#15 Pop/#6 R&B/#6 AC). The tune fits Mathis pretty well, but when you consider that this could have been read by Jarreau, it kind of lacks by comparison. It's a nice, breezy tune that is probably just a year or two too late for the Pop chart.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) In 1958, Mathis released the LP Johnny's Greatest Hits. The album would reach #1, but what made it unique was its run on the Album chart. It would spend an unprecedented 490 consecutive weeks on the chart, which is about nine and a half years. It was a record at the time and was even recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records. The record would stand until 1983 when Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon broke it. Dark Side would continue on to spend 927 weeks on the chart, a record that will most likely stand the test of time. Mathis' original 490 weeks still ranks at #2 on the longevity list.  2) This song was included on Mathis' album A Special Part of Me. Also included on that LP was the song "Love Never Felt So Good." The song was written by Paul Anka and Michael Jackson during a 1983 collaboration session. Jackson ended up not using the tune, so Anka passed it on to Mathis. The Mathis version was not issued as a single. Years later when the posthumous 2014 Michael Jackson album Xscape was being assembled, Jackson's original demo of the song was spruced up and added to the LP. For the deluxe edition, a duet version with Justin Timberlake was added. That version was issued as the LP's first single and it would reach #9 Pop, #5 R&B, #7 AC, and #8 Dance.


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