Monday, March 27, 2023

"How Am I Supposed to Live Without You" by Michael Bolton

#1 Alert!
Grammy Alert!
Song#:  4085
Date:  10/28/1989
Debut:  89
Peak:  1 (3 weeks)
Weeks:  23
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Upon release, Bolton's sixth album, Soul Provider, didn't look like it was going to do any better than his previous effort, '87's The Hunger (#48). The title track first single stalled inside the Pop Top 20 (#18) and that left the album initially peaking at #42. Hoping to turn things around, this ballad was released as the next single. It was the right choice as it finally broke Bolton through to the masses. The song would not only become Bolton's first Pop Top 10 hit, but it would be his first to reach #1 where it would remain for three weeks. Thanks to the hit, the album would rebound and start climbing up the chart. It would quickly go gold and then in February of '90 reach the platinum mark. With a third single, "How Can We Be Lovers?," getting to #3 Pop/#3 AC, the album would finally reach a peak of #3. The follow up single "When I'm Back on My Feet Again" would also reach the Pop Top 10 peaking at #7 (#1 AC). By the fall of '90, the LP would reach the triple platinum sales mark. Over time it would double that amount and sell over six million copies. This #1 single would earn Bolton his first Grammy award. He would win for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. The LP's fifth single, a remake of the standard "George on My Mind" (#36 Pop/#6 AC) would earn Bolton a Grammy nod in the same category in the following awards cycle.

ReduxReview:  Nope. Just nope. There was nothing wrong with the song. I am just not a fan of Bolton's vocal delivery. This one was not quite as bad as his excruciating take on "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay," but it still was a painful listen for me. Like many of his other tracks it always sounds to me like someone has Bolton's junk in a vice and in order to access his higher register, he has the person give a good squeeze so he can get up there. It truly sounds like Bolton is mewing in pain. To his credit, Bolton wrote a quality ballad and it was one I enjoyed when recorded by Laura Branigan. She also had a big voice, but she didn't overdo her vocal. She knew when to be expressive and when to be subtle. Bolton is about as subtle as a sledgehammer. Yet there were scads of folks who loved his nut busting delivery and he ended up at #1 with this tune along with a Grammy. It basically kickstarted Bolton mania, which lasted throughout most of the 90s, unfortunately.

ReduxRating:  2/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) If you are going to do a remake, why not cover your own song? That is what Bolton did with this track. Written by Bolton and Doug James, the song was hawked and got picked up by Arista's Clive Davis who wanted to have Air Supply record it. However, Davis wanted changes to the lyrics/title. Bolton said no to Davis' request, which was pretty gutsy for a writer/performer who hadn't had a hit yet. Not surprisingly, Davis sent Bolton and the song packin'. Luckily, Atlantic Records picked up the tune and shuffled it over to Laura Branigan. She recorded it for her second album, '83's Branigan II. It would be issued out as the LP's second single and it would get to #12 Pop/#1 AC. It would be Bolton's first major hit as a songwriter. Six years later, Bolton chose to cover the song that helped him gain traction in the music business and it made him a solo star.  2) Of course, Bolton's career took off in a big way after this hit and Soul Provider. His next three studio albums would all become multi-platinum hits with '91's Time, Love and Tenderness becoming a career best effort that reached #1 and would eventually sell over eight million copies. Along the way he would grab four more Pop Top 10 hits including the Grammy-winning #1 cover "When a Man Loves a Woman." He would also earn seven more AC #1s.


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