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Thursday, June 01, 2006

Speaking of Babyface, he's my other favorite artist behind Brooks. If you're not into R&B/lite soul, this could be your gateway. I would highly recommend 1993's For The Cool In You, which gave us 5 R&B/pop hit singles, including: the title track, "Never Keeping Secrets," and the haunting, "When Can I See You". Frankly, the albums beginning with 1989's Tender Lover, the aforementioned For The Cool In You, and 1996's The Day, make up perhaps the best three-album set released by someone other than Brooks or George Strait. Here is a partial list of the songs written or produced by Babyface in the 1990s for other artists:
"Change The World," (performed by Eric Clapton)
"Take A Bow" (Madonna)
"Breathe Again" (Toni Braxton)
"End of the Road" (Boyz II Men)
"I'll Make Love to You" (Boyz II Men)
"Baby, Baby, Baby" (TLC)
"Pretty Girl" (Jon B)
"These Are The Times" (Dru Hill)
"My Heart Is Calling" (Whitney Houston)
"Never Forget You" (Mariah Carey)
"Water Runs Dry" (Boyz II Men)
"Exhale" (Whitney Houston)

I chose these songs because they are ones I heard and liked before I knew who had written them. I should have guessed! Babyface's strategy is twofold: 1. An addicting chorus; and 2. Set up the opening of the song melodically (usually with a keyboard) in such a way that by the time one hears words, one is already hooked! Babyface's influence extends even into country music, as you will know by the anecdote I am about to relate. CMT was reviewing the videography of a singer named Terri Clark. She's had many mid-level country hits, including a fairly big one called, "Now That I Found You". Terri said in introducing this video that it was a touching love song with a great chorus, and "it reminded us of Babyface." (paraphrase) Check him out. He deserves the label of music legend.
Music fans, we need to have a talk. Perhaps I should have said 'pop music'. More specifically, those people who consider themselves fans of a certain music legend named Garth Brooks. I've heard one thing these many years: "Man, I love Garth, but the Chris Gaines album was horrible." To which I can only reply: YOU'RE ALL INSANE! Honestly, it's one of the best recordings I've ever heard. The story that came along is irrelevant; it was a movie project collaboration with Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds that fell through. (You can hear a testimony to Babyface's pervasive influence on the second track, "Lost in You." Vintage.) I took Brooks' advice: I just listened to the album, willing myself to imagine a new artist that I'd not heard. If that were the case, every music fan in America would say, "Wow, pretty good for a first time." And it was a first time, because it's a pop album. Admit it, the Chris Gaines record is better than the copy of Jennifer Lopez' On the 6 you bought, still hoping your friends will never find.