Monday, October 17, 2022

"It Isn't, It Wasn't, It Ain't Never Gonna Be" by Aretha Franklin and Whitney Houston

Song#:  3955
Date:  07/01/1989
Debut:  73
Peak:   41
Weeks:  8
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  Franklin's album Through the Storm got off to somewhat of a slow start when its first single, the title track duet with Elton John, stalled short of the Pop and R&B Top 10s at #16 and #17, respectively. The tune was expected to be another big crossover duet for Franklin after scoring the #1 "I Knew You Were Waiting for Me" with George Michael in '87, but the single fell flat (although it did do well at AC getting to #3). So if at first you don't succeed...try again! And indeed Franklin's label, Arista, did by pushing out this duet with Whitney Houston as the LP's second single. It did perform better at R&B where the tune was able to reach #5, but pop audiences didn't much care for it and the single stalled just shy of the Pop Top 40 at the dreaded #41 spot. It also got to #18 Dance. Undeterred that the duets weren't necessarily working, Arista went ahead and pushed out another duet as the LP's third single. James Brown joined Franklin for "Gimme Your Love," but it flopped only reaching #49 R&B. The results had the album stopping at #21 R&B and #55 Pop, which was Franklin's worst showing on each chart (minus a 1987 gospel album) since 1979's La Diva, her last album for Atlantic before joining up with Clive Davis and Arista. This song didn't do Houston any favors either. It brought to a halt a string of ten consecutive Pop Top 10 hits that began in '85.

ReduxReview:  On paper, this looked like a surefire hit. A song written by Diane Warren and Albert Hammond, production by Narada Michael Walden, and most drool-worth of all, a duet between the Queen of Soul and new superstar Houston. Yet even with Clive Davis and Arista behind it, the single flopped. Why? I think the answer was simple - it just wasn't a good song. The title was messy and unmemorable as was most of the tune itself. Walden's usually tasteful production was overdone here and sounded like he was trying too hard. The old-fashioned theme of battling over a boyfriend wasn't right for the two superstars either. It didn't suit them and it really showed in the song's last section where they weirdly and uncomfortably argue and laugh over their status with the guy. It was cringe-worthy. Usually, singers like Franklin and Houston can overcome weak material with a great performance, but even these two titans of song couldn't save this misfire.

ReduxRating:  2/10

Trivia:  Franklin's next album, 1991's What You See Is What You Sweat, performed even worse. None of its singles made the Pop chart while the best Franklin could do on the R&B chart was the #13 remake of "Everyday People." The LP also spawned another duet single this time with Michael McDonald. The pair sang "Ever Changing Times" and it got to #11 AC/#15 R&B. Franklin would go on to have a couple more good performing singles that would both oddly peak at #5 R&B and #26 Pop. In 1994, "Willing to Forgive" would do the trick while in 1998 "A Rose Is Still a Rose" would perform the same. The latter single was from the album of the same name, which provided a late career boost. It would reach #7 R&B/#30 Pop and go gold. Franklin would supply one more album for Arista in 2003. Her final studio album arrived in 2014 with Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics. The covers LP put out by RCA was warmly received and it got to #3 R&B/#13 Pop. Franklin would pass away in 2017.


No comments:

Post a Comment