Wednesday, December 15, 2021

"Silhouette" by Kenny G

Song#:  3702
Date:  10/29/1988
Debut:  70
Peak:  13
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Adult Contemporary, Smooth Jazz

Pop Bits:  To many folks, Kenny Gorelick, aka Kenny G, suddenly burst on the Pop scene with his smooth jazz instrumental "Songbird," which made it to #4 on the Pop chart. However, Kenny G had already developed a jazz and R&B fan base via three albums that included a pair of R&B Top 30 singles. His fourth LP, Duotones, began to gain more fans with its second single making the R&B Top 20. But then "Songbird"was released and it turned Kenny G into an unlikely pop star. Duotones would reach #6 Pop/#8 R&B and eventually sell over five million copies. Typically when an artist from a more specialized genre gets an unexpected pop hit, it is usually one and done. Listeners glom on to one song/album and then quickly lose interest. Yet it seemed that Kenny G was determined to not go that route. He wanted his star to continue to rise and with the guidance of Arista Records head Clive Davis, Kenny G recorded his fifth effort Silhouette. Keeping an eye towards the Pop chart, Kenny G wrote and recorded this title track instrumental that would serve as the LP's first single. It was like a carrot dangling in front of those who loved "Songbird" and a good number of folks followed with the song nearly cracking the Pop Top 10. It would do even better at AC reaching #2 while also getting to #35 R&B. The album would then easily make it to #8 Pop/#10 R&B while making it to top the Contemporary Jazz chart. It would eventually sell over four million copies. Kenny G was able to maintain his mainstream popularity, but in '92 he would put out an album that would skyrocket him to superstar status.

ReduxReview:  Like many folks, I thought Kenny G was a flash in the pan. He got his one big Pop hit and that would pretty much be it. He'd then be able to go on and just be a successful contemporary jazz artist and rely on "Songbird" to pull in folks to his shows. Then this single came along and I think it's success was a surprise to people. It was to me. How could another smooth jazz sax ballad be a hit on the Pop chart? Yet there was something about Kenny G and his tooting soprano sax that appealed to a wide swath of listeners. That age group skewed older than the average pop listener, but they came along in big numbers and were ready for more from Kenny G. They showed up for this single and the album making surprising hits out of both. I'm sure it didn't hurt to have the Clive Davis publicity machine along for the ride as well. While I didn't necessarily mind this tune, it didn't really offer anything new. It was just an extension of "Songbird" and it kind of bored me. "Songbird" is one that I can always remember. This one goes in one ear and out the other, but it's a pleasant listen.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Although Kenny G was maintaining a successful solo career, he still continued to support other artists. From '87 to '89, he would make guest appearances on tracks by Smokey Robinson, Whitney Houston, Kashif, Jennifer Holliday, Aretha Franklin, and Patti LaBelle. While none of those tracks would be issued out as singles, in the early 90s two songs that featured Kenny G would become hits. In '91, he would be a guest on Michael Bolton's "Missing You Now." That single would get to #12 Pop/#1 AC. Then in '92 he would perform on Babyface's "Every Time I Close My Eyes," which got to #6 Pop/#5 R&B/#17 AC. As the years went on, Kenny G would continue to be a featured artist on tracks by stars like Celine Dion, Barbra Streisand, Andrea Bocelli, David Foster, Train, and even Kanye West.


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