I don’t know what possessed me the other day but for some reason, I just had to listen to some songs from Amy Grant’s 1991 album Heart In Motion. It was a pleasant enough album but, more importantly, it was the pop crossover smash that Grant had been seemingly angling for since 1985’s Unguarded. It catapulted her from the queen of contemporary Christian music into the mainstream. As you might imagine, the songs are inoffensive and fluffy, but either because of or in spite of that fact, “Baby Baby” – the lead single from the album – was a huge success and a #1 hit.
Lightweight fluff, right? Wouldn’t offend anyone, right? WRONG.
This song and the album from which it was culled caused a good chunk of Grant’s CCM fan base to get their undies in a gigantic wad. “She is abandoning her Christian roots!” they said, selling (out) her soul to the devil for success in the mainstream. You would have thought that she had gotten tattooed, started dressing in black and joined a thrash metal band. It’s pop music people!
The truth is, “Baby Baby” and many of the songs on Heart In Motion were musically not all that far removed from what she had been doing since Unguarded. I listened to a fair amount of Amy Grant back in the day – it was a female voice, after all – and Unguarded was where I was introduced to her. Even then, she had a minor radio hit in “Find A Way” so the nay-sayers should have seen “Baby Baby” coming. True, not until then had she almost completely abandoned Christian references in favor of secular music. Indeed, the last song on the album “Hope Set High” seems to go out of it’s way to mention Jesus in the lyrics.
Even so, I’m certainly glad that she recorded “Baby Baby.” It’s a fun little song that endears itself to me almost entirely due to the fact that it has not just one but TWO key changes. It doesn’t get much better than that, folks. It is eminently singable and in the end, completely inoffensive. I had a friend who lived on the same dorm floor as me the spring that album came out who borrowed the CD from me almost the instant I got it. I never felt like Amy Grant really fit her personality either, but hey, you just never know about people. The album really was chock full of radio friendly singles – “Every Heartbeat” being the very obvious follow up to “Baby Baby.” It also contained the line “you’re not asking for the world/I’m not asking for perfection” which one of my friends at the time (who, oddly enough, became a VERY born again Christian) changed to “I’m not asking for your erection.” My sister had a very serious love/hate relationship with the singles from this album, taking great issue with the last one “I Will Remember You” although they were all played well into the ground by the local radio station so I think that in the end, she soured on the whole thing.
Grant never enjoyed Heart In Motion level of success again. The follow-up album, House of Love, performed below expectations, although Cher took one of the songs, “The Power”, and recorded it for her Believe album at the end of the 90s. And there was greater controversy to follow when Grant split with her long-time husband and married Vince Gill. You just need to go read a few YouTube comments on Vince Gill & Amy Grant videos to realize that some of those Christians missed the “let he without sin cast the first stone” part.
For my money, I still love Unguarded the most – never had religion and pop music blended so effortlessly. Even now as someone not particularly religious, I can still enjoy the album. But “Baby Baby” is just so darn cute.