Monday, September 27, 2021

"When I Fall in Love" by Natalie Cole

Song#:  3626
Date:  08/27/1988
Debut:  95
Peak:  95
Weeks:  1
Genre:  Pop, Standards

Pop Bits:  It took over ten years, but Natalie Cole finally got back into the Pop Top 10 with "Pink Cadillac" (#5) her remake of a Bruce Springsteen track. It was the third single from her album Everlasting. With that song doing so well, Cole's label needed a follow up and chose this cover tune. It wouldn't get anywhere on the Pop chart briefly appearing near the bottom for a week. However, it did a little better at AC (#14) and R&B (#31). By this point in time the album had already peaked at #8 R&B/#49 Pop and had gone gold; her first album to do so since 1979.

ReduxReview:  I'm not 100% sure, but I believe this was the first time that Cole recorded a song that was strongly associated with her father. She would later go all-in on that theme with her Grammy-winning 1991 album Unforgettable...with Love, which used traditional arrangements. This one was an attempt to frame the classic in a more modern way. It definitely had a different feel from Nat King Cole's version, which featured leisurely lush strings. Natalie's attempt tried to put the song in a more structured time and tempo. Knowing earlier versions of the tune, I found this new one quite staid. It was like someone forced a beat to the song and it didn't quite work. Cole's vocals are more relaxed and help to elevate the track, but the arrangement was just so rigid. The song was a good fit for AC, however there was just no way it was going to climb the Pop chart.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a song written by Victor Young and Edward Hayman. It was first recorded by Jeri Southern in 1952 and featured in the romantic war drama One Minute to Zero starring Robert Mitchum and Ann Blyth. That same year, Doris Day recorded the tune and took it to #20 on the pre-rock era Pop chart. After that, many artists recorded the song including Cole's father Nat King Cole. His 1957 take is one of the most popular versions of the song. Recorded for one of his albums, the track was used in the crime noir film Istanbul. Nat King Cole would appear in the film and perform the tune. It would not be released as a single in the US, but it was pushed out in the UK where it reached #2 (a 1987 reissue would get to #4). Four other artists beside Natalie Cole would reach the Pop chart with the song. R&B singer Etta James would get to #65 in 1961. The Lettermen would be the only act to make the Top 10 with the song. Their version reached #7 in 1962. Donny Osmond would reach #53 in 1973. Then in 1993, a duet version between Celine Dion and British singer Clive Griffin would get to #23. Their take on the standard was used in the hit rom-com film Sleepless in Seattle. Over in the UK, pop star Rick Astley would release his version as a single near the end of '87. It would become a #2 hit. Natalie Cole would later record another version of the song. For her 1996 standards LP Stardust, Cole would record a version as a virtual duet with her late father. It was issued out as a single, but did not chart. Despite that, the song went on to win two Grammys; one for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals and one for Best Instrumental Arrangement with Accompanying Vocal(s). The album would be a #20 platinum seller for Cole.


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