Tuesday, February 4, 2020

"I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)" by Aretha Franklin and George Michael

#1 Alert!
Grammy Alert!
Song#:  3033
Date:  02/21/1987
Debut:  59
Peak:  1 (2 weeks)
Weeks:  17
Genre:  R&B, Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:   Franklin's Aretha album wasn't doing quite as well as her previous LP, the platinum selling Who's Zoomin' Who. It's first single, the Stones cover "Jumpin' Jack Flash," stalled at #21 Pop/#20 R&B. The follow-up single, "Jimmy Lee," did well at R&B (#2), but stopped at #28 on the Pop chart. She really needed a bigger crossover hit to help boost album sales. Luckily, she had this duet track in her back pocket. Issued out as the third single, the song took off and became the big hit she needed. It would get to #5 R&B and #2 AC while becoming her first single since 1967's "Respect" to top the Pop chart. Although "Respect" and other hits would be absolute classics in Franklin's catalog, chart-wise, this duet would end up being her biggest Pop hit. It helped album sales and Aretha would eventually be a certified gold seller.

ReduxReview:  I know there were reasons the other two songs from the album got released as singles first, but this one was the obvious hit. In a perfect world, this would have been the first single from the LP. After two lackluster singles, this tune could have gotten ignored. Luckily, it was strong enough to cut its own path and become a hit. The addition of Michael was a good choice. He had just left behind Wham! and folks knew that a successful solo career was around the corner. Plus, he had already been on the R&B chart with a few songs including "Careless Whisper" (#8 R&B). His younger fan base combined with Franklin's fans and star power made this an ideal pairing at the time. The song worked well for them too. It was catchy, modern (of the day), and inspirational and they both sounded good with Michael holding his own and complimenting Franklin's always amazing delivery. In either of their catalogs, is this a classic tune? Not really. Both had or would do far better work. However, it captured a moment in time when Franklin was reveling in her comeback and Michael was just about to embark on a highly successful solo career.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This song won the pair a Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Duo or Group. For Franklin, it was her thirteenth Grammy win. She would win her fourteenth the same evening for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female, for her Aretha album. In her career, Franklin would receive eighteen Grammys. For George Michael, it was his first Grammy win. The following year he would receive his second Grammy in the big category of Album of the Year for his debut LP Faith. Michael would amass nine Grammy nods in his career, but would win only the two.


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