Friday, June 5th, 2009

Charlie Wilson – Can’t Live Without You

Apparently capable of more than just muttering in the background on Lil Kim singles…


Michaelangelo Matos: I’ve loved the Gap Band since I was a kid, so I’m predisposed to enjoying Wilson regardless of context. I’m also predisposed to midtempo R&B aimed at adults but still sheeny enough for teen dances, especially when it resembles the better parts of the ’80s. Your mileage may vary, but for me it glides so nice I’m inclined to be generous.

Martin Kavka: This is completely boring and soporific; while Wilson may be giving a wonderful vocal performance, it’s hard to tell through the AutoTune. So there’s not much more to do than put the song on the couch (ahem). Can we please ban songs from having the lyric “wish I could tell you how I feel”? Aren’t you singing the song precisely as a means of telling him/her how you feel (in this case, “can’t live without you, girl”)? Why are you wishing for something you’re already doing? Or is it that “wish I could tell you how I feel” is really code for “I am an uncommunicative asshole, and being passive-aggressive by sharing my feelings with a microphone instead of you”?

Hillary Brown: Not very good but somewhat pleasing nonetheless, perhaps because of its Keith Sweat tones (saying “girl” every other word, the particular vocal glides up and down).

Martin Skidmore: Proper old soulful singing by the former Gap Band singer on a contemporary smooth R&B number, which is very much to my tastes. Thing is, he was a punchy disco singer, but I’m not convinced he’s particularly great at being smooth. There are some very fine moments, but it’s kind of choked or strained or weak a lot of the time. The Underdogs give the production a nice shimmer in places, but the song is routine.

Anthony Miccio: Can we really not find a better singer than Charlie Wilson to be the sexy grandpa of R&B? There’s a reason the Gap Band is known for pop-funk, not ballads.

Matt Cibula: Music to have make-up sex to, so useful, but Charlie Wilson’s supposedly lovely voice doesn’t actually have any depth to it after all, and there is nothing else here for me arrangement-wise either.

Alfred Soto: I like how Wilson swirls vowels around his mouth like his jawbone is held together by rubberbands — he’s always sounded like a human Auto-tune — but the dated production lets him down; he could be guesting on a Roots track circa Things Fall Apart. He dropped a bomb on us, baby.

Anthony Easton: Snaps are like handclaps–there has never been a bad song with them as a feature, plus the water torture drips, and the ponderous piano add darkness to the song’s core emotional blackmail, all fighting against the elegant uplift of his smooth tenor.

Chuck Eddy: “There Goes My Baby” has surprised me by being my favorite big r&b hit so far this year; I’ve heard no more convincing attempt at “old school” (i.e. ’80s, in this case) on mainstream r&b stations lately. This follow-up really isn’t bad, either (feels more lively than the Maxwell or Anthony Hamilton songs we voted on, at least), but it also has nothing half as lovable as the mall scene in “There Goes…” where Charlie rhymes “shoe store” with “food court.” Sorry Gramps, being “on the grind” “at the club” doesn’t cut it. And most of his album is worse, Charlie embarrassing himself by squeezing his middle-aged spread into some ign’ant 22-year-old’s droopy trousers. Is it totally against the rules for him to whomp out something along the lines of “Burn Rubber” or “Early In The Morning” in 2009? If so, the rules are fucked.

2 Responses to “Charlie Wilson – Can’t Live Without You”

  1. The opening sentence edited from my overlong review echoes Miccio’s point above and helps explain why I was surprised to like “There Goes My Baby” so much:

    So where did people get the idea Charlie was a romantic singer? Gap Band were a hard hard hard (and great) funk band; their filler ballads were never the point.

  2. Isn’t “There Goes My Baby” the one where he picks the girl up in the food court at the mall? I kind of like the way that one sort of embraces its skeevy grandpaness instead of trying to ignore it.