Tuesday, May 19, 2020

"Moonlighting (Theme)" by Al Jarreau

Song#:  3138
Date:  05/30/1987
Debut:  86
Peak:  23
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  In March of '85 a new comedy/drama series called Moonlighting debuted. The show starred Cybill Shepherd and a then-unknown Bruce Willis. Composer Lee Holdridge was in charge of the music and when it came time to write a theme song, Holdridge worked on one with singer/songwriter Al Jarreau. The tune was recorded and it served as the show's opening theme beginning with the second episode (the first episode was actually presented as a TV movie with the Jarreau song playing over the end credits). Had the show failed, the theme song might have been a lost track or a sought out rarity in Jarreau's catalog, but the show did become a success and music became a key element in several episodes with Shepherd and Willis even showing off their pipes on occasion. When the show reached its peak audience in its third season, producers wanted to capitalize on the moment and decided to toss together a soundtrack album of songs used in the program. The LP consisted of a few songs by Shepherd and Willis along with some classic tracks that were used on the show. And of course, this theme song would be included. It would get a little bit of a makeover courtesy of producer Nile Rodgers and then be released as a single. The tune was a perfect fit for AC and it ended up reaching #1 on that chart. Helped by the popularity of the show, the tune would cross over to the Pop chart and peak just outside of the Top 20. It would also reach #32 at R&B. The album would then sell pretty well getting to #50. This song would end up being Jarreau's last to reach the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  I loved Moonlighting and most anyone who watched the show liked its theme song. It was kind of a no-brainer to get it out as a single during the shows peak, but it was a pretty good call to get a related soundtrack album out as well. It wasn't necessarily a great album, but it was released just at the right time. I ended up buying it due to the show and this hit. It wasn't surprising that this song did well at AC, but even at the time I was surprised it got so far up the Pop chart. I'm pretty sure the show's popularity and single sales boosted it that far as I don't remember ever hearing it on the radio. It's still a good adult-oriented smooth jazz tune and brings back good memories of a TV show I loved.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Another song that was featured in the show's debut episode was Jarreau's interpretation of the standard "Since I Fell for You." Jarreau had recorded the tune with jazz artists Bob James and David Sanborn for their 1986 album Double Vision. That album would win the Grammy for Best Jazz Fusion Performance, Vocal or Instrumental while "Since I Fell for You" would earn Jarreau a nomination for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male. The song would then be included on the Moonlighting soundtrack and would be issued out as its second single. It would miss the Pop chart, but would be a hit at AC getting to #10. Jarreau would get two more Grammy nods with the theme song. It would be nominated for Best Song Specifically Written for a Motion Picture or Television (nods for both Jarreau and Holdridge). Jarreau would get a nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male.  2) Although Jarreau's time on the Pop chart would come to an end with this song, over the next few years he would still grab some entries at R&B and AC. His best effort after this was 1988's "So Good," the lead single from his album Hearts Horizon. It would reach #2 R&B and #27 AC. While it didn't generate any major hits, his 1992 album Heaven and Earth would win Jarreau the Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male. After one more major label album, Jarreau would record for various jazz labels over the years and earn a sixth Grammy in 2007. Just two days after announcing his retirement from performing in 2017, Jarreau passed away from respiratory failure.


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