Wednesday, October 27, 2021

"Giving You the Best That I Got" by Anita Baker

Top 10 Alert!
Grammy Alert!
Song#:  3656
Date:  09/24/1988
Debut:  85
Peak:  3
Weeks:  22
Genre:  R&B, Adult Contemporary, Quiet Storm

Pop Bits:  After a rough start with her 1983 debut album The Songstress, Baker was finally able to secure a contract with Elektra Records and record her '86 follow-up Rapture. It got off to a slow start, but thing broke wide open for her with the LP's second single "Sweet Love." It would be a #8 Pop/#2 R&B/#3 AC hit that would earn Baker a Grammy. The LP would spawn three more R&B and AC hits, reach #11 Pop/#1 R&B, win Baker a second Grammy, and eventually sell over five million copies. The task then fell to Baker to follow-up such a huge breakthrough. Working again with producer Michael J. Powell, Baker came up with Giving You the Best That I Got. The title track would be issued out as the first single and overall it would end up being the biggest hit of her career reaching #1 at R&B and AC while making to the Pop Top 3. The hit all but assured that the album would do well and indeed it would #1 at both Pop and R&B.

ReduxReview:  Sleek, silky, jazzy, and sophisticated, this song deservedly became a hit. I have to admit that when I first heard this tune I wasn't sure if it was going to be a hit. It seemed a bit too smooth jazz oriented and skewed towards a more mature audience, which was fine for AC, but Pop? Yet the more I heard the tune, the more I hooked into it. There was an alluring, romantic quality to it that wasn't common on radio at the time and that combined with Baker's impeccable performance lured me in. The song's excellent arrangement helped it have a timeless feel and to me it sounds just as good and relevant today as it did back then. Baker stepped things up with this track and it paid off. In a way, she gave us the best that she had because it ended up being her biggest hit and a double Grammy winner. It would end up being the peak moment of her career.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The timing of this single worked out well Grammy-wise. It was released just in time to be considered for '88 cycle of the Grammys. Baker's track record along with the song becoming a major hit played in her favor and the tune would earn Baker four Grammy nominations including ones for Record and Song of the Year. She wouldn't win in those two categories, but she would win the other two for Best Rhythm & Blues Song and Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female. Baker's album got released after the Grammy deadline and so was then up for consideration for the '89 Grammy cycle. That allowed Baker to get another nod for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female, which she would go on to win.  2) This song was initially written by Randy Holland. He wrote it about trying to make a career in music happen after moving to L.A. - giving it the best that he had - but then the song evolved into a sort of paean to his wife. Not yet hooked fully into the music business and trying to catch a break, Holland turned the tune over to Skip Scarborough, who had penned hits for artists like LTD and Bill Withers ("Lovely Day"). Holland asked Scarborough to fluff up the song in any way he could in order to get it shopped around. Scarborough added his touches and took it to Elektra thinking one of their artists, Howard Hewitt, could record it. Apparently, Hewitt and some other artists passed on the tune, but then it fell in the hands of Anita Baker. She wanted the tune, but also wanted to make a few changes to it including adjusting some lyrics. She did and in the end all three were credited as writers and the completed song won them all a Grammy. Oddly, after having the hit and winning a Grammy, Holland basically left the music business. He became a real estate broker and eventually moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where he opened an upscale fitness center called The Delta. He later sold it and went back into real estate with his daughter and together they own Holland & Co., which focuses on commercial and residential investments.


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