Tuesday, March 17, 2020

"Se La" by Lionel Richie

Song#:  3075
Date:  03/28/1987
Debut:  72
Peak:  20
Weeks:  13
Genre:  R&B, Pop, Reggae

Pop Bits:  Richie's album Dancing on the Ceiling had already generated four Top 10 hits by this point. A fifth song, "Deep River Woman," was a b-side that ended up making the Pop chart at #71 and ended Richie's streak of thirteen consecutive Top 10s. Since that tune wasn't officially meant to be a Pop chart contender, the label then went ahead with releasing another single to wrap up the run of the album. This track was selected and it did fairly well getting to #5 AC and #12 R&B while just barely cracking the Pop Top 20. Not only would it be the last single released from the album, but it would be Richie's final one to reach the charts in the 80s.

ReduxReview:  I always thought Dancing on the Ceiling was just a mishmash of styles (Pop, AC, R&B, Country, etc.), which made it odd and inconsistent. For this song, Richie attempted to write a reggae tune. It didn't work for me. It sounded like a straight-laced artist imitating a genre/style that wasn't in their wheelhouse. Richie even affects some kind of accent too, which is bizarre. Not only was I surprised that this was released as a single, I was also a little shocked that it did as well as it did on the charts. I'm sure his popularity at the time was a big factor and got him some extra airplay. This is certainly one of his hits that has been long forgotten. And for good reason as it wasn't even close to being in the same league as his top-notch hits.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  After wrapping up the tour and promotional stuff for the Dancing on the Ceiling album, Richie decided to take a break. He had been constantly working for years as a solo artist and as a member of The Commodores and the rigors of his superstar schedule finally took a toll. In addition to needing some time away, Richie's father was in failing health and Richie wanted to help take care of him. During this time his marriage was on the verge of imploding due to his affair with another woman (whom he would eventually marry in 1996). All of that along with the changes in musical tastes at the time played into Richie's decision to step away from the music biz. He wouldn't return with any new material until 1992 when his first hits compilation, Back to Front, was released. It featured three new songs including "Do It to Me," which was pushed out as a single. It got to #1 at R&B and #3 AC, but stalled at #21 on the Pop chart. He fully returned with a new album, Louder than Words, in 1996. It contained his last Pop Top 40 entry "Don't Wanna Lose You" (#39 Pop/#17 R&B/#5 AC). Since then his recording career has been up and down. One of the major highlights came in 2012 when he released the album Tuskegee. The LP had Richie remaking several of his hits in duet form with country artists like Shania Twain, Rascal Flats, and Darius Rucker. It was an unexpected hit reaching #1 on the Pop and Country charts. It would also be his first platinum studio LP since Dancing on the Ceiling.


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