Friday, April 19, 2024

Jennifer Hudson: 3 New Alicia Keys Songs Almost Didn’t Make New Album


I’ve been listening to Jennifer Hudson‘s sensational new album, “I Remember Me,” all weekend. With the hit single, “Where You At,” the album hits stores a week from tomorrow with not one but three new songs composed by Alicia Keys. One of them, a tribute sort of to Aretha Franklin‘s “Angel,” sets the tone of the CD with it’s “shooby dooby doo” intro.

But listen, it wasn’t so easy to get these Alicia Keys songs onto this recording. Indeed, Larry Jackson–who co-produced the album with Clive Davis–wound up leaving Sony/BMG/J Records when Barry Weiss, then the head of the division, didn’t want to pay for them. I’m told Weiss balked at the price Keys and husband Swizz Beatz wanted– in the range of $100,000.

Luckily, cooler heads prevailed, and the Keys tracks stayed on “I Remember Me.” The Keys tracks are great– “Everybody Needs Love” and “Don’t Look Down” are her other catchy contributions. (They were worth the money, Barry! Live audiences and dance clubs are going to crazy for “Don’t Look Down.” ) But “I Remember Me” has a lot of other singles including “I Got This,” produced by Stargate, a great Diane Warren anthem called  “Still Here,” and the gospel tinged “Believe.” But one thing: it’s Hudson’s remarkable voice–genuine, authentic, organic, full of soul–that makes this collection a must have. In a time of Auto Tune and artifice, Jennifer Hudson is the real thing.

Weiss left for Universal Music Group right after Jackson walked out; now, ironically they’re both at UMG, where Jackson is a rising star. Weiss is running the New York operations for UMG under Lucien Grange.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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