Sunday, April 18, 2021

"I Still Believe" by Brenda K. Starr

Song#:  3467
Date:  04/02/1988
Debut:  80
Peak:  13
Weeks:  26
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  This NYC-born singer started to discover her voice as a young child. She had aspirations to do something with her talent and before she even became a teen started to try out for TV ads and theater work. It was during one of her auditions that she was spotted by entertainer Harry Belafonte. He ended up casting her in a small role in an upcoming film he was producing called Beat Street. Starr basically played herself in an audition scene where she sang "Vicious Beat." The song didn't make it on to the soundtrack album, but her performance in the 1984 film got some attention. She got signed to Mirage Records and released the debut album I Want Your Love in 1985. It didn't chart, but it did contain the freestyle club hit "Pickin' Up the Pieces" (#9 Dance). After a move over to MCA Records, Starr then recorded a self-titled second album. Its first single, "What You See Is What You Get," became her second Dance hit getting to #6. It was followed by "Breakfast in Bed," which got to #18. Neither made the Pop chart. That changed when this third single was released. The ballad took a little time to catch on, but it eventually peaked near the Top 10. The hit then helped her album reach #58.

ReduxReview:  It seems that both labels Starr had signed with were trying to make her a dance-pop diva. Although she scored a couple of Dance Top 10s, her tunes were just not resonating at Pop. MCA finally released this ballad and it did the trick. I think it did better because it was a well-written song that gave Starr a decent platform to showcase her voice. It was a perfect fit for her and she ended up with a well-deserved hit. Had she been supplied with at least one more pop-leaning radio-friendly track, she might have had a bigger career. It just seems she wasn't necessarily matched up with the right hit-making material, save for this lovely tune.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Music ran in Starr's family. Her dad, Harvey Kaye, was a member of the late 60's band Spiral Staircase. Kaye played organ for the group. The California band got signed to Columbia Records and in 1968 released a self-titled debut album. The LP's main single, "More Today Than Yesterday," became a #12 hit. It was written by the band's lead singer Pat Upton. Although the song missed the Top 10, it became an enduring hit that was covered by many artists. It should have been the start of something great for the band, but a little over a year after the song became a hit, the band split due to financial disputes and other internal issues. Two follow-up singles were low charters and because of that, Spiral Staircase became tagged as a one-hit wonder of the 60s. Kaye would later revive the name and form a new band that would tour the US for many years. Kaye would die in 2008.  2) Mariah Carey recorded this song for her 1999 compilation album #1's. Her version became a significant hit getting to #4 Pop, #3 R&B, and #8 AC. A dance remix of the ballad would get to #1 on the Dance chart. Carey not only loved the song, but recorded it as a sort of tribute to Starr with whom she had a history. When Starr's career was kicking off, she hired a young Mariah Carey to be one of her backup singers. Carey was a teenager and it was her first professional job. In addition to performing with Starr in concert, Carey also sang backup on Starr's self-titled album, including the track "I Still Believe." Starr kind of took Carey under her wing. She recognized Carey's talent and at an industry party managed to hand over Carey's demo tape to the head of CBS Records, Tommy Mottola. He ended up signing Carey (and later married her) and the rest, as they say, is history.


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