Keke Wyatt: Saturday Love (feat. Ruben Studdard)
KeKe Wyatt’s take on a R&B classic is another case of “play the original”
“Saturday Love,” originally recorded in 1985 by Cherrelle and Alexander O’ Neal, is a Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis timeless artifact. The song isn’t just a special selection highlighting the kind of progression spearheading urban R&B in the mid-’80’s, but it clearly identified R&B radio with the trend that would define much of the pair’s output for years to come, thanks to their work with Janet Jackson. With inspirations from Zapp & Roger’s synth formulas, Yarbrough & Peoples’ “Don’t Stop the Music” and, of course, Prince’s funky fingerprints, Jam & Lewis made the music for the Saturday party stretch well beyond the weekend. “Saturday Love” was that glorious example.
If you enjoyed that foreward, you may not like this post’s epiologue. R&B singer KeKe Wyatt has been struggling to win back the hearts of R&B listeners who first heard her on the 2000 remake of Rene’ & Angela’s “My First Love,” featuring Avant. Her label dropped her and drama ensued – including jailtime after stabbing her ex-husband and manager during a very domestic abuse attack. But she’s picked up some ground since then, signing with small record label Shanachie, recovering the trust with her loyal fans and recording a total of two albums since. But her remake of “Saturday Love,” possibly a desperate attempt at repeating familiar successes by finding something old school to fall back on, is an unexpected trainwreck of a disaster.
To sum things up: The beats sound like they’ve been extracted from creative commons liscensed dub beats. The chemistry between Wyatt and guest star Ruben Studdard feels as if both sung their parts from two different corners of the Earth, hoping that the blessing of email and the magic of GarageBand will pretty things up. The soulfulness of the original is definitely choked to an early death on this rendition, as the two resort to cute karaoke-esque, too-safe-for-pop performances.
For those who don’t remember the original, TVOne plans to air an episode of “Unsung” detailing the lives, musical journeys of Cherrelle and Alexander O’ Neal. Watch it. You’ll probably get to hear how the original was made. I’m pretty sure Cherrelle and O’Neal used their tingling sensual powers on one another while performing their parts in the same recording booth.
I’d rather not say one peep on the music video. Let’s just end the book right here.
J MATTHEW COBB