Tuesday, February 18, 2020

"Looking for a New Love" by Jody Watley

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3047
Date:  03/07/1987
Debut:  82
Peak:  2
Weeks:  19
Genre:  R&B, Dance

Pop Bits:  Watley was an original member of the R&B vocal trio Shalamar. But after scoring several hits including the 1979 #1 R&B/#8 Pop hit "The Second Time Around, Watley left the trio in 1983. She took off for London and while there got hooked up with Mercury Records. She co-wrote and recorded a couple of singles for the label and released them in the UK under the single name of Jody in '84 and '85. Nothing much happened with the songs, so Watley headed back to the US. Still wanting to make a go of it as a solo artist, she secured a deal with MCA Records. She began recording songs for a self-titled debut album including five tracks that she co-wrote with producer AndrĂ© Cymone. One of those songs, "Looking for a New Love," would serve as the LP's first single. It first took off at R&B where the tune reached #1. It then got to #1 on the Dance chart. That momentum allowed it to cross over to the Pop chart and eventually it would just miss out on the top spot peaking at #2 for an extended four-week period. The album would be a #1 R&B/#10 Pop platinum seller. The song would earn Watley a Grammy nod for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female. She would also be nominated for Best New Artist, an award she would end up winning.

ReduxReview:  Watley only got to co-write a few minor songs for Shalamar, so her taking control and co-writing the majority of this album established her as a lot more than just a voice in a vocal trio. This track was really quite defiant and it made a statement. The groove set by AndrĂ© Cymone was fierce as was the production. Watley's voice was solid, but it wasn't real strong or unique. Yet she made you pay attention with a confident and sassy delivery. This was super groovy ear candy that was hard to resist. It can definitely be counted as one of the best dance tracks of the decade.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Watley's win for Best New Artist was a tad controversial at the time. The category had already seen its share of issues over the years (and still does), so it didn't seem unusual that some folks balked at both her nomination and win. There were a couple of reasons for this. First, she was already an established artist who had accumulated hits with Shalamar. That alone probably should have taken her out of contention considering that many former group/band members later hit it big as solo artists but were not nominated (Paul Simon, Don Henley, etc.). Second, she had already released two solo recordings in previous years. That was a stickler that took Whitney Houston out of contention a couple years before. But apparently because those singles were not issued in the US and they were not released as by Jody Watley (just "Jody"), those didn't seem to count. Both were minor, but fair points that probably would have been forgotten had she not won. She ended up winning over Breakfast Club, Cutting Crew, Swing Out Sister, and Terence Trent D'Arby, who everyone thought would take the trophy. Granted, it was a very weak year of candidates since three of them pretty much had one hit and disappeared, so sneaking Watley in was probably a way to boost up the category. In the end, the win was the right choice as she outlasted all the others on the charts scoring six Pop Top 10s.


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