Babyface — Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (download)
Jason: Ahhh, Christmas With Babyface. Just what I NEVER ASKED FOR.
Jeff: Sounds like Babyface! Remember when Babyface was cool?
Jason: Somewhat. Ugh!
Jeff: Haaaaaaaaaaaahahahahahahahahahaha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!
Jason: Is this supposed to be funky? Because it’s not.
Jeff: Oh my goodness. All of the other reindeers, yes!
Jason: Ha ha ha ha! Listen to that keyboardist trying to get funky using that digi piano sound!
Jeff: How many Stax musicians do you think are spinning in their graves right now?
Jason: All of them.
Jeff: Oh, Jason.
Jason: Please, Jeff. Call me Babyface. That’s what I call your mom whenever she shaves her beard.
Jeff: I call your mom Rudolph after she’s had a few too many drinks.
Jason: My mom always has that red nose. I’m tellin’ ya, you’ll go down in his-torrrr-yyyy!
Jeff: C’mon and guide my sleigh! Whoo!
Jason: Ahh, there are those trademarked Babyface backing vocals.
Jeff: This is one fucked up version of “Rudolph.”
Jason: I know. I had high hopes. I recall back when we listened to Paul Carrack’s “Rudolph” and how surprised we were. In a good way.
Jeff: It’s wrong for a lot of reasons. First of all, this “funk” is bullshit. Second of all, it takes the song entirely too seriously. Buildup! Hey, it’s a horn solo!
Jason: I kind of liked the buildup, to be honest. But that’s the only thing I’ve liked so far.
Jeff: Well, it didn’t SOUND bad, but…I mean…it’s fucking “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Hey, was that a goose?
Jason: Ha ha ha ha! What year was this released, do you know?
Jeff: I think it came out on 9/11.
Jason: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Looks like 1998. In all fairness, that seems appropriate.
Jeff: Seems about right on the Babyface timeline. He was maybe five years removed from his commercial peak at that point. Time to haul out the ol’ chestnuts.
Jason: In 1998, Babyface was on top of the world, methodically stripping the testicles off of musicians like Phil Collins and Eric Clapton.
Jeff: Oh, I forgot that he produced “Change the World”!
Jason: And you know what, I LIKE “Change the World”!
Jeff: And wrote it too, didn’t he? That was ’96, though. It was on the soundtrack to Phenomenon, the movie that foreshadowed Travolta’s doom.
Jason: That’s right! I had the CD single! When did he do “True Colors” with Collins? 1999, maybe?
Jeff: “True Colors” was on Collins’ first best-of, which I believe came out in ’98. The year after Phil released Dance into the Light and everyone at Atlantic had to sit him down and give him a stern talking-to.
Jeff: I think that’s where Dr. Drew got the idea for Celebrity Intervention, actually. Ahmet Ertegun rubbed Phil Collins’ nose in the sheet music for “You Can Wear My Hat” while sternly repeating “NO.”
Jason: Ha ha ha ha ha! I’ll be honest, I’m not familiar with Babyface’s solo work. But after this, I’m okay with it.
Jeff: I think you’re more familiar with Babyface’s work than you realize. “Whip Appeal”? “It’s No Crime”? “For the Cool in You“? And of course, “Two Occasions”…
Jason: I see those first two in my iTunes. But I don’t know the others.
Jeff: And then he was responsible for After 7, too.
Jason: I barely remember “It’s No Crime.” And I swear I’ve never heard “Whip Appeal” before.
Jeff: Babyface was like the ballad-y R&B version of Everclear, in that he had about a dozen hits with different versions of the same song.
Jason: Statements like that one are why you’re the greatest writer on the planet.
Jeff: I think you might not understand what you’re saying, but I’ll take the compliment.
Jason: Do you realize what you did? You linked Babyface and Everclear. They’re both compound words, too.
Jeff: Ha ha ha ha!
Jason: You linked two compound word artists thematically. I bow down to you.
Jeff: Hey, Everclear is basically washed up now. I wonder if Babyface could produce them doing a cover of “Change the World.” Here’s “Whip Appeal.” I know you’ve heard it.
Jason: I’m not watching that video. You can’t make me. And I put on “Whip Appeal” just a second ago, and didn’t recognize it. I am blissfully unaware of Babyface’s solo oeuvre, and I wish to remain that way.
Jeff: We come from such different worlds.
Jason: I know. You can grow facial hair, for one.
Jeff: You’re so knowledgeable about the Top 40 of that era — I’m astonished that you somehow missed out on Babyface.
Jason: You know, given that “It’s No Crime” was on the Billboard Hot 100 of 1989, I’m surprised too. I know almost all those songs.
Jeff: He was like the Timbaland of ’88-’96, only with a vagina.
Jason: YOU DID IT AGAIN!
Jeff: Timbaland isn’t a compound word. It isn’t a word!
Jason: THIS TIME WITH THREE-SYLLABLE ARTISTS
Jeff: Ha ha ha ha ha!
Jason: “Timba” isn’t a word?
Jeff: Timba is a Disney character, isn’t he?
Jason: Isn’t that what Staten Island lumberjacks say?
Jeff: There are trees on Staten Island?
Jason: There are! I’ve been there twice!
Jeff: I wonder what Babyface is up to now?
Jason: I have no idea.
Jeff: More Wikipedia fun: “It is a common misconception that “Babyface” wrote and recorded the hit R&B song “Nobody Knows”, but the song was actually recorded by R&B artist Tony Rich through his solo act, “The Tony Rich Project” in 1995 and was released as a single in 1996. The actual writers of the song were Joe Rich (Tony’s brother) and Don DuBose. The song is often credited to “Babyface” because of the similarity of the two artists voices, the fact that the song was a “one-hit wonder” for Rich and Babyface has enjoyed a career with more success and longevity, and because so many people believed that it was Babyface that it has become a fact to many people and they will deny any proof suggesting otherwise.”
Jason: Wow. That is so much information that I totally did not need to know.
Jeff: His last album, Playlist, included two James Taylor covers.
Jason: Of course it did.
Jeff: Unsurprisingly, it sold 194,000 copies. The one before that was certified platinum despite selling only 802,000 copies. That was nice of the RIAA. “Aw, Babyface…close enough.”
Jason: Ha! Look, Babyface did some amazing, amazing production work in the ’80s. And ’90s.
Jeff: No doubt.
Jason: But I’m just not interested in him as a solo artist. And I certainly never would have said, “Hey, you know what would be awesome? Christmas With Babyface.”
Jeff: “In 1994, he appeared and performed on an episode of Beverly Hills 90210 titled ‘Mr. Walsh Goes to Washington (Part 2).'”
Jason: Color Me Badd appeared on 90210. I don’t think it’s considered a crowning achievement.
Jeff: Did Babyface play the Peach Pit?
Jason: I don’t know. I don’t want to know. I don’t need to know.
Jeff: Actually, you know what? On this album cover, he looks kind of like Luke Perry in blackface.
Jason: …and there’s our pull-quote for this day of Mellowmas, everybody!
Jeff: Ha ha ha ha ha!