Single Review: The Judds, “I Will Stand By You”

In theory, Wynonna Judd has the gravitas to pull off a feisty inspirational song like “I Will Stand By You,” the kind that builds on momentum and resolve instead of hope and compassion. And the lyrics, though clichéd, aren’t necessarily enough to kill the song’s spirit – because who better than Wynonna to breathe fire and energy into nondescript lyrics?

Only she doesn’t. Her performance misses the mark on all accounts: she blasts her notes with so much splashy aggression that they can barely find their pitch, and her phrasing is painfully affected (what’s with the varying pronunciations of the word “you”?). Gone is her soulful conviction and unshakeable control; in its place is a voice that begs for a recharge. And then there’s Naomi Judd’s harmony vocals, which manage to be both barely there and glaringly off-key.

The vocals are so off-putting that they almost completely mask the semi-cool arrangement, which weaves in a tinge of Celtic flavoring – a little Mary Chapin Carpenter, a little Keith Urban. Some vocal fine-tuning might have allowed this driving production to make a more powerful impact.

Given that this is The Judds’ first single in over a decade –charity single or not– it’s a shame you have to wonder how many times the ladies went through this in the studio. What’s your guess? I know mine.

Written by Steven Lee Olsen, Robert Ellis Orrall & Angelo Petraglia

Grade: D+

Listen: I Will Stand By You



  1. I’m not crazy about this one either. I’m hoping though that if it makes it to radio, PDs will start playing more of the their past hits along with it, like “Why Not Me,” “Grandpa” and “Mama He’s Crazy.” Miss hearing those on the radio!

  2. This song was such a huge disappointment, especially since I was so excited over the idea of a Judds reunion. It’s hard to believe that this is the same Wynonna and Naomi who gave us “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Old Days” and “Rockin’ with the Rhythm of the Rain.” Besides the fact that the song itself is second-rate material, it’s really surprising that one of the biggest problems is the vocals. I’ve loved just about every other Judds song I’ve heard, but I can’t even listen to this one because the off-key harmonies grate on my ears so badly.

  3. I heard this song for the first time on itunes, coincidentally the very next song I listen to was the very same song by High Valley, (a Canadian trio who have been working closely with Paul Brandt. Their version is perhaps more pop, but the vocals are dead on. Link:

  4. While the song isn’t good to begin with, what makes this song the most disappointing is that Wynonna’s voice sounds shot. I’ve noticed signs of wear and tear on her voice over the last decade or so, but it’s never sounded this fried to me. She seems to have lost a lot of her vocal control and nuance. What a shame. She had a Ferrari of voice

  5. WOW! Seriously? Sounds like something that was passed over by one of the many “newly manufactured” acts on Music Row. Oh my goodness…

  6. Peter’s version sounds better vocally…. I would probably give it a higher grade than The Judds’ version. Kinda reminds me of a Keith Urban song.

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