“I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing”
Written by Diane Warren
#1 (2 weeks)
February 20 – February 27, 1999
Radio & Records
#1 (4 weeks)
February 5 – February 26, 1999
Mark Chesnutt’s final No. 1 single to date is an Aerosmith cover.
The Road to No. 1
Mark Chesnutt topped the chart with “Thank God For Believers,” the title track and lead single from his 1997 album. The album also produced the top forty hit “It’s Not Over” and the top twenty hit “I Might Even Quit Lovin’ You.” Chesnutt’s seventh studio album for MCA/Decca returned him to the top, his most recent visit to date.
The No. 1
The problem with “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” isn’t the song itself, or the fact that it has a traditionalist singer performing a slightly countrified pop ballad.
Chesnutt can sing over strings well, as he demonstrated on the soaring “Almost Goodbye.” Aerosmith’s original recording has an enthusiastic performance from Steven Tyler that makes it an engaging record to listen to.
The problem with Chesnutt’s version is he sounds uncomfortable with what he’s performing, which makes it feel like he’s doing this against his better instincts. At the very least, he sounds unsure of himself, almost like he’s singing in a foreign language and is trying to get his pronunciations right.
I’d lay the blame for this on his producer, who should’ve flagged that this wasn’t Chesnutt at his best. Like Reba’s “Forever Love,” the live performances of this song are much stronger. He’s too good of a singer for his performance of it not to have improved over time.
The Road From No. 1
Mark Chesnutt followed “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” with the top twenty hit “This Heartache Never Sleeps.” Chesnutt released one more album for MCA in 2000, Lost in the Feeling, which didn’t produce a top forty hit. Chesnutt still remained a presence on the radio throughout the 2000s. His only album for Columbia produced the top fifteen hit “She Was.” His critically acclaimed independent album, Savin’ the Honky Tonks, produced two top forty hits: “The Lord Loves the Drinkin’ Man” and “A Hard Secret to Keep.” Chesnutt’s final radio hit to date is “Rollin’ With the Flow,” which went top thirty in 2007.
Chesnutt remains a very popular live performer, often as part of package deals featuring other nineties country legends. As this feature has demonstrated, he’s a significant artist who is quite worthy of induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
“I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” gets a C.
Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties
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If I remember correctly, Mark Chesnutt did an interview where he said that he recorded “I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing” just to appease his label, and they assured him it was a one-time thing. Then when it came time to record the follow up, they handed him a list of pop songs to cover, which he refused and then got dropped from the label.
That’s interesting. His last MCA album didn’t produce a top forty hit, and I wonder if it was just sent out to die by the label. He was able to hit #11 with his first single for Sony shortly afterward.
It’s a terrible song by both Mark and by Aerosmith. Pass.
For the record, this isn’t by any means the first time a country cover of a pop song has been released so soon after the original version; this has been done a lot over the decades. But it is also by no means anywhere close to being a good example.
One can argue the merits of anyone on the country side of the fence recording anything written by Diane Warren (a lot of times her material does evoke a Pavlovian reaction). That, however, isn’t what I think is wrong with it. Whoever thought it was a good idea for a traditionalist country artist like Mark to cover a song originally done by Aerosmith (one band that I just can’t stomach, and I’m a classic rock fan), and that was on the soundtrack of a godawful film like Armageddon, probably ought to be drawn and quartered.
That may seem a fairly vicious thing for me to say, but I don’t make any apologies for it.
I’d heard some rumblings back in the day that Chesnutt recorded it against his will. However, I will note that he uses the song as his encore when he headlines, so if he wasn’t on board back then, he’s embraced it as part of his considerable legacy now.
It reminds me of a similar career moment for Toby Keith when he was pressured by his label to record “I’m So Happy I Can’t Stop Crying” with Sting. I think it’s telling both Chesnutt and Keith would soon take their careers into their own hands, freeing them from having to make future recordings against their will (which was still no protection against recording some clunkers).Kevin’s point is well received. I have heard the old adage that an artist shouldn’t record a song if they can’t imagine having to perform it at every live performance for the rest of their career.