We probably shouldn’t even go here. We should probably listen to the small voice inside that keeps us from playing with matches, drinking and driving, and buying short shorts.
But we will not.
Twenty years ago, Michael Bolton was a superstar. Between 1989 and 1993, the man logged seven Top 10 singles on the Hot 100 (2 #1s) and 14 on the Adult Contemporary chart (8 #1s). In that period he scored four Top-5 albums and two #1s. He sold out concert halls and ran the heartthrob meter up to 11 with his glorious Fabio hair and rugged yet gentle features. I was programming an AC radio station in the early 90s, and Bolton was a sure bet in those days. I expect to have to answer for that on Judgment Day, and I don’t even believe in God.
Bolton had a solid instinct for choosing famous tunes to cover, ones that his target audience would already know. In addition, “Georgia on My Mind,” “When a Man Loves a Woman,” and the Bee Gees’ “To Love Somebody” all give him the chance to do that thing he does. You know the thing I mean: where he sings so hard the veins stand out on his forehead and you start to worry that he’s about to have a stroke.
However, it’s for none of those songs that we are singling him out in this feature. Instead, we honor (dishonor?) a couple of late-period Bolton songs that leave us feeling kinda skeevy. First is the 1995 single “Can I Touch You . . . There?” It’s Michael Bolton retooled for Quiet Storm radio, with a video that’s like Captain Willard’s trip up the river into the Cambodian jungle, but with exotic babes and a wet dude in a hat.
No you may not touch me there or anywhere else goddammit.
In 2000, Bolton went to a place both forbidden and inevitable. He covered Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing.”
Just . . . wow. If you believe we have unjustly trashed Mr. Bolton—or have not trashed him enough—please make your case in the comments. As for me, I’ll be taking a shower.