Monday, December 23, 2019

"Respect Yourself" by Bruce Willis

Top 10 Alert!
One-Hit Wonder Alert!
Song#:  2990
Date:  01/17/1987
Debut:  55
Peak:  5
Weeks:  14
Genre:  R&B, Rock

Pop Bits:  Willis' acting career kicked into high gear when he got a co-starring role in the ABC series Moonlighting alongside Cybil. Shepherd. The show was a hit and the part won Willis an Emmy. His newfound stardom brought him other opportunities including movie roles. He also got the chance to hawk products. The Seagram company brought him on board to do a series of commercials for the golden wine coolers. In one commercial, Willis sings on a porch with a blues-style acoustic group. He also got the chance to sing on Moonlighting. Someone at Motown was paying attention and thought that they might be able to cash in on Willis' hot-at-the-time celebrity status. Willis was signed to Motown and work began on a debut album. While Willis had some musical talent playing harmonica and being able to sing blue-rock tunes, he wasn't a pro musician by any means, but the opportunity came up and Willis took it. He hooked up with composer/producer Robert Kraft to create an LP that mainly consisted of cover tunes with one Kraft/Willis original and a few other new tracks by other writers. This first single was issued out and with a push from Motown and an HBO special (see below), the song became a surprise hit reaching the Pop Top 10. It also got to #20 at R&B and #22 AC. The album would get to #14 and go gold. But like many actors-turned-singers who got surprise hits, Willis soon discovered that his recording career would be short-lived. Although he would have two more minor charting singles, this lone Top 10 got him tagged as a one-hit wonder (#37 on VH1's list of Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the 80s).

ReduxReview:  When I was looking up information on this album, I saw one person say that Willis probably could have cleaned up at most any karaoke night. I thought that was accurate. Yeah, for Moonlighting, spots on TV specials, and commercials, he could sing and perform entertainingly. Yet as an actual recording artist? Um, no. Frankly, he wasn't even at a Blue Brothers level. However, he wasn't all that bad and it did sound like he was having a blast. In some ways that's what made this song mildly entertaining. I ended up buying the album because I loved Moonlighting and I really liked the album's associated HBO special (see below). I only played the LP a couple of times and filed it away. "Don't quit your day job" seemed to apply here, but at least Willis was able to add this Top 10 musical curiosity to his credits.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) This is a remake of a song originally recorded by The Staple Singers. Their 1971 version would get to #2 at R&B and #12 Pop. Many artists would cover the song but only The Staple Singers and Willis have been able to reach the Pop chart with a version. Singer Robert Palmer covered the tune for a 1995 hits compilation. It was released as a single in the UK and got to #45 on the chart.  2) This song featured an assist from June Pointer as a duet partner along with The Pointer Sisters on background vocals. The Temptations and Booker T. Jones also made appearances on the LP.  3) To help promote the album, a mockumentary titled The Return of Bruno was made. It starred Willis as the character Bruno Radolini. The comedy was about the ups and downs of music star Radolini and his influence on music and other artists. The film featured a myriad of stars including Elton John, Ringo Starr, Joan Baez, Phil Collins, The Bee Gees, and Jon Bon Jovi. Dick Clark also appeared and narrated the mockumentary. It first aired on HBO just after Willis' album was released.


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