Tuesday, June 27, 2017

"The Medicine Song" by Stephanie Mills

Song#:  2083
Date:  10/13/1984
Debut:  84
Peak:  65
Weeks:  6
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  Mills was last on the Pop chart in 1981 when she and duet partner Teddy Pendergrass took "Two Hearts" to #40. Since that time, she released two albums that sold okay, but failed to produce any significant crossover hits. Each album featured two Top 20 R&B entries, but nothing clicked at Pop. Her eighth album, I've Got the Cure, had better results when this lead-off single became her fourth R&B Top 10 (#8) and her first (and only) #1 on the Dance chart. The song was popular enough to cross over to Pop for a few weeks. The hit helped the album reach #10 on the R&B chart.

ReduxReview:  This rolling jam has some beefy 80s production and an outstanding vocal performance by Mills. She really elevates this song, especially on the outro where her improv call-outs are often quite thrilling. While she had a good career at R&B, it's too bad she didn't do better at Pop. I think some of the material she did just wasn't on the same level as her talent. She needed songs that could support that voice and I don't think she got them a good chunk of the time. This one was not a bad match, but it still wasn't quite up to par for Mills. Had most any other artist done the song, it would have been far less interesting. Mills took it to another level and made it her own. That's talent.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Mills' previous charting R&B single was "How Come U Don't Call Me Anymore?," a track from her album Merciless. That song was written and originally performed by Prince. He issued the tune as the b-side to his hit "1999." Mills would take the tune to #12 on the R&B chart. Her performance on the album would earn her a Grammy nomination for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. Later in 2002, Alicia Keys would cover the song (as "How Come You Don't Call Me") and issue it as a single. It would reach #30 R&B and #59 Pop.


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