Thursday, March 2, 2023

"If You Asked Me To" by Patti LaBelle

Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  4064
Date:  10/07/1989
Debut:  86
Peak:  79
Weeks:  5
Genre:  R&B, Pop, Adult Contemporary, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  After the #1 success of her 1986 album Winner in You, which spawned the #1 Pop/#1 R&B/#2 AC gold duet single "On My Own," kept busy with tour performances and TV appearances in addition to recording a few songs for movie soundtracks. One of those songs was this single that was included on the soundtrack to the James Bond film License to Kill. It would also server a the first single from her ninth solo album Be Yourself. The tune would do well at R&B becoming her eighth solo Top 10 on that chart (#10). It also got to #11 at AC. However, the tune couldn't find an audience at Pop and it stopped in the bottom quarter of the chart. A second single, the Prince written and produced track "Yo Mister," would be a hit at R&B reaching #6, but it failed to crack the Pop chart. The album would then top out at #14 R&B and #86 Pop. It would fail to reach the gold level mark.

ReduxReview:  This one has pissed me off for years. I'm sure all parties involved with this song were asking - why was this not a huge hit? Seriously. The first time I heard the tune I ran out and got the 45 and played it constantly. Written by hitmaker Diane Warren, it was an excellent pop tune that was well arranged and produced, but what took it over the edge was LaBelle's delivery. She read the song so well. A powerful voice like hers could easily overrun a pop ballad like this, but she tastefully held back and gave an emotional performance that finally exploded near the end. I just love how she held that note at the end of the bridge into the final chorus. And then the fireworks went off after that - and just enough too. She knew exactly the right amount to shoot off. Effortless and stunning. I was so incensed when this single stalled at #79. I thought people were crazy. I mean, this was a certified hit - no question. So what happened? Not enough promotion? Not enough payola? The Bond flick wasn't a huge hit, so maybe that didn't help? LaBelle was coming off a career best album so she had momentum. Whatever it was, it made me mad and sad that folks missed out on this gem. Then a few years later I got practically irate when Celine Dion covered the tune and got it to #4 Pop. Dion's take was nearly a carbon copy of LaBelle's except Dion couldn't match LaBelle's vocals, especially at the end. And yet folks flocked to it for some reason. I just didn't get it. Still don't. There is no other way to put it - LaBelle was utterly and completely robbed of a hit. Shame on pop listeners and radio programmers from back in the day. Shame, shame, shaaaammmme!


Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) LaBelle had three sisters and all died of cancer in their early 40s. Her youngest sister Jackie Holte-Padgett was the final sister to pass away. She succumbed to brain cancer not long before this single was ready to be released. The day after her burial, LaBelle had to shoot the video for this song. Done in a old marble hall, LaBelle is seen wearing black and in some shots you can see her crying. The song certainly took on a different meaning on that day.  2) Unfortunately, LaBelle wouldn't be able to score another big hit at Pop. Only four further singles would make minor impressions on the chart. However, thanks to hits at R&B her next three albums would be winners. Her '91 album Burnin' would go gold thanks to three R&B Top 10 hits. Gems in '94 would also go gold, but then her '97 effort Flame would get her back to platinum status. It got a boost thanks to a pair of Dance Top 10s including the #1 "When You Talk About Love," which was co-written and produced by the Jam & Lewis team. While her hits cooled, her albums still did well and in the 2000's she scored back-to-back gold sellers. Since then her albums have been more themed efforts touching on gospel, jazz, and Christmas. And do I need to mention Miss Patti's sweet potato pie?


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