Tuesday, July 5, 2022

"Through the Storm" by Aretha Franklin & Elton John

Song#:  3869
Date:  04/15/1989
Debut:  56
Peak:  16
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary, R&B

Pop Bits:  Franklin began the 80s by leaving her long time label Atlantic for Clive Davis' Arista Records. By 1982 she had earned her first gold album since 1972 and then she got the first platinum album of her career with 1985's Who's Zoomin' Who? That LP and its #3 Grammy-winning hit "Freeway of Love" introduced Franklin to a whole new generation of fans. Her next LP, '86's Aretha would go gold and feature her Grammy-winning #1 duet with George Michael "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)." In '87, Franklin would shift gears and record the live gospel album One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism (#106 Pop/#25 R&B). She would then return to pop/R&B music with the LP Through the Storm. It would feature a new Franklin original composition, an update of her 1968 classic "Think," and three duet tracks including this first single performed with Elton John. On paper, this was going to be another smash for Franklin. The song was written by Albert Hammond and Diane Warren, produced by Narada Michael Walden, and featured Elton John who had recently been to #2 with "I Don't Wanna Go on with You Like That." All of that plus debuting high on the Pop chart at #56 indicated a major hit was about to happen. But then it didn't. The song stalled at #16 Pop and #17 R&B. It did better at AC where the tune reached #3. With that result, the album would fall short of expectations peaking at #55 Pop/#21 R&B and missing out on gold status.

ReduxReview:  Since it worked well the last time around, it seems Clive Davis thought another superstar duet was in order for Aretha. This time around they secured Elton John who was having a bit of a career resurgence at the time. I actually don't think John was the best choice. Besides being a good tune, one of the reasons "I Knew You Were Waiting" worked was because of George Michael. He was young, current, and on a massive hot streak. Although John had a recent hit, he was still not a hot, young artist at a career peak so the Aretha/John pairing kind of seemed like the old guard trying to keep up with the kids. Overall, the effort was not all that bad. It was a nice, yet forgettable pop tune with polite vocals from Aretha and John. With all the hit making names involved in the track I think many folks including myself expected something better. Aretha's next single would feature a newly minted superstar, but sadly the duet would be and fare worse that this one.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  While this song was the official first single from Through the Storm, another track had already been released the year before. Franklin recorded the song "If Ever a Love There Was" with The Four Tops and it first appeared on their 1988 album Indestructible. It would be released as the LP's second single in the fall of '88. The song, which also featured Kenny G, would be a modest chart entry at R&B (#31) and AC (#26). It was unable to make the Pop chart. Despite the result, Franklin then include the tune as one of the tracks on her upcoming Through the Storm album. It would be the first of four singles in a row that were all duets for Aretha. She wouldn't release a fully solo single again until 1991.


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