Monday, July 19, 2021

Musical Monday - I Feel for You by Chaka Khan


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Never.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: The week of December 8, 1984.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: November 10, 1984 through November 24, 1984.

This is another post about Prince. To be clear, Chaka Khan was (and is) an overwhelmingly powerful force in the rhythm and blues world. By 1984 she had carved a career that marked her as not only one of the top female vocalists in the genre, but one of the top female vocalists period. Between 1978 and 1983, she had hit the top of the R&B charts three times, but had not had a top hit overall. Thus, it is notable that it wasn't until she covered a Prince song that she managed to top out not only the Cash Box Top 100, but the U.K. Chart as well. This marked the start of a trend of artists covering Prince songs (or Prince simply writing songs for other artists to record) that turned into big hits. Given his own ability to turn songs into hits during the decade, it is hard to overstate how influential Prince was on the shape of music in the 1980s.

This version of I Feel for You was the first big hit that paired a singer with a rapper, featuring Melle Mel on the recording. So, for anyone who doesn't like this practice, you have Chaka Khan to blame. This arrangement also led to the kind of odd result of Khan not actually singing until almost a minute into the song. As noted before, Khan was a dominant force as a vocalist, and she was acting as a solo artist for this song, which makes sidelining her for the first quarter of the song seem like an odd choice. I guess it was the right choice though, given the result.

All that said, I didn't really like this song all that much when it was released. I was aware of some of Chaka Khan's other output, including I'm Every Woman and her collaboration with Rufus in Tell Me Something Good, and I thought they were far superior to this song. I still do. Just as with Steve Wonder and I Just Called to Say I Love You, Chaka Khan's biggest hit was, in my estimation, far from her best song.

Previous Musical Monday: Purple Rain by Prince
Subsequent Musical Monday: I Should Have Known Better by Jim Diamond

Previous #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go by Wham!
Subsequent #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Wild Boys by Duran Duran

Previous #1 on the U.K. Chart: Freedom by Wham!
Subsequent #1 on the U.K. Chart: I Should Have Known Better by Jim Diamond

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

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