February 11, 2012
Lionel Richie’s new country duets project, set for a March 27 release, sounds like the kind of thing that could either go very right (Jennifer Nettles, “Hello”) or very wrong (Rascal Flatts “Dancing On the Ceiling,” anyone?). We get a taste of the new project with this re-working of Richie’s classic pop duet with Diana Ross, “Endless Love,” sung this time as a duet with Shania Twain.
First, the bad news: It’s too long. The first three minutes sound lovely, but the song reaches an overdramatic climax that goes on longer than it should. Also, the pop-flavored backbeat sounds a bit gaudy – You get over it after a few listens, but the single would be better without it. Still, the biggest problem is swelling production that attempts to lend drama to the performance, but instead beats the listener over the head with needless distraction. The production problems are mostly confined to the final minute of the song, but they still lessen the song’s impact instead of adding to it.
Now the good news: Though filling the shoes of Diana Ross is certainly no easy task, Twain acquits herself more than adequately. Richie for his part still sounds great, but ultimately the star is Twain. Twain’s performance is colored with a deep sense of longing, recalling the finest love ballads of her own hitmaking heyday, such as “Forever and For Always,” with the two voices melding together beautifully on the harmonies.
The song had so much going in its favor. It’s extremely irritating that it’s bogged down by production that gets so stupidly loud and over-the-top. It would have been better if the production had stayed completely out of the way, and given the two vocalists more room to sell the song with their fanstastic performances. Overall, this is still an enjoyable duet, but considering they spend the latter part of the song just shouting to be heard, it does fall a degree short of reaching its full potential.
Written by Lionel Richie
Listen: Endless Love