Friday, December 17, 2021

"The Lover in Me" by Sheena Easton

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3704
Date:  11/5/1988
Debut:  99
Peak:  2
Weeks:  25
Genre:  Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  Late in '86, Sheena Easton began a collaborative relationship with Prince that first resulted in the duet "U Got the Look," a track for Prince's Sign 'O' the Times album. Released as a single, it would be a big #2 Pop hit. Prince then provided a song for Easton's '87 LP No Sound But a Heart titled "Eternity." Around the time that Easton was finishing up the LP, her label EMI America was going through changes and the new folks in charge didn't seem all that vested in Easton's career. "Eternity" was released as a single, but without much support it failed to chart. Then after a couple of scheduled release dates came and went, the LP was essentially shelved and not released in the US (it did see release in a few other territories, but failed to chart anywhere). After the shakeup, Easton took off from EMI and moved over to MCA. The label gave Easton a fresh start and she took advantage of that by collaborating with hot songwriters/producers like L.A. Reid and Babyface. Setting aside her typical pop/AC-leaning sound for a more dance-pop/R&B flavor, Easton recorded her ninth studio album The Lover in Me. The Reid/Babyface title track would be pushed out as the first single and it got off to a slow start debuting almost at the very bottom of the Pop chart. That is usually not a good sign, but the song slowly caught on and eventually it would become Easton's second biggest single following her #1 1981 single "Morning Train (Nine to Five)." It also reached #2 Dance/#5 R&B/#43 AC. The hit was large enough to propel her album to #44 Pop/#29 R&B and it would eventually become a gold seller. It might have inched towards platinum status had the next two singles made the Pop chart, but follow-ups "Days Like This" and the Prince-penned "101" would only get to #35 R&B and #2 Dance, respectively.

ReduxReview:  Easton's career was on the fence due to label issues and she needed something current and hip to return her to the chart. She found the right song/sound with this Reid/Babyface track. The dance-pop tune placed her right smack dab in the late 80s and in the company of new hit makers like Pebbles, Paula Abdul, Jody Watley, and Karyn White, who showed up to supply backing vocals on this track. It paid off well with a big #2 hit and gold album. Her liaison with Prince boosted the R&B side of her voice as well with Easton sounding quite comfortable on the tune. The track had a bunch of hooks including the chorus, the repetitive synth line, and the "shoo-doo-wop" background vocals. It took a while to find an audience, but once it did the tune took off and deservedly made it to #2. Unfortunately, I think they chose the wrong second single and the album's progress came to a screeching halt. It was too bad because The Lover in Me was one of Easton's best albums. Regardless, enough folks showed up to make it a gold album - her last to reach that sales level.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  With No Sound But a Heart getting no release in the US and other countries, it seems that the writers/publishers who contributed songs to the LP went ahead and re-shopped their songs and made them available to other artists. If the tunes would good enough to make a Sheena Easton album, then they should be good enough for another artist. Three songs would get picked up and recorded by other artists following Easton's album. In 1989, Patti LaBelle would record a version of "Still in Love," which Easton had recorded with Steve Perry. It was for LaBelle's album Be Yourself. It was not issued as a single. Also in '89, singer/actress Pia Zadora would record "Floating Hearts" for her album Pia Z. It was not released as a single. Then in '90, Celine Dion would record the tune "The Last to Know" for her first English language album Unison. It would serve as the LP's fourth single and get to #22 on the US AC chart. Around the same time Easton was recording her LP, Country stars Crystal Gayle and Gary Morris would also record two tracks that would end up on Easton's album as well. "Wanna Give My Love" and "What If We Fall in Love" were included on their 1986 duets album What If We Fall in Love? Neither were released as singles. No Sound But a Heart would finally see released in the US in 1999.


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