Well, we’re over half way through the month of November and I still have only missed one day of posting. Granted, I have yet to deliver on the promise to do two posts in one day to make up for that missed opportunity, but the month is, like me, only middle aged at this point. I figured that for today, I’d do another “vs.” post – where I take two (or more) totally different songs that happen to share the same title and pit them against each other. The “Real Love” and “Angel” entries into this feature can be found here and here respectively. For your consideration today – “Lucky One.”
This post was inspired by the song “The Lucky One” on Taylor Swift’s new album, Red. I bought Red for Anna for her birthday and she is currently subjecting me to it in the car when we drive to the horse barn every day. I think that this is payback for me making her listen to MDNA pretty much all the time on previous drives to the horse barn (she likes it – I’m indoctrinating her well.) I’m shocked and pleased to report that Red is actually pretty solid, and that must mean something coming from someone who is decidedly not the target audience for the album. “The Lucky One” made me think of a couple other songs that it shared its title with, and then, when I searched iTunes, I found another that I couldn’t bear to leave out. And no, Taylor Swift’s song is not one of the three.
The first one is “Lucky One” from Amy Grant’s 1994 album House of Love. Radio had fallen in love with Grant and her Heart In Motion album, sending “Baby Baby” all the way to #1 and the other singles to at least the Billboard Top 20. So expectations were pretty high for her follow up album. “Lucky One” was the first single from the album.
I’ve always been of the opinion that House of Love was a huge disappointment when compared to Heart In Motion, and a lot of it has to do with “Lucky One.” Let’s just say it’s no “Baby Baby.” Musically and lyrically, it’s very listless and lazy and not terribly memorable. This was reflected by the fact that this lead single failed to crack the Top 10. Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate House of Love a bit more than I initially did, but only by taking “Lucky One” out of the track list (as well as the last track “Children of the World” – ugh.) It’s also the last album of Grant’s that I cared too much about, although I do have a soft spot for her latter-day single “Eye To Eye.”
The second song in today’s challenge is Laura Branigan’s 1984 single “The Lucky One.” The follow-up to “Self Control”, it barely cracked the Top 10 on its initial single release, which explains why I had never heard it until 1995 when I bought the compilation CD Best of Branigan. The video is 80s cheesetastic.
I’ll always feel like the record companies didn’t really know how to market Branigan. Was she a disco diva? Was she a power balladeer? Somewhere in between? As a result, I feel like she’s overly defined by her signature hit “Gloria” (a classic song, to be sure.) But “The Lucky One” is a more than worthy addition to her catalog. I really love the Donna Summer-ish “start out slow, then crank the tempo up 10 notches” approach. It also has a killer chorus with fantastically 80s lyrics that I can’t help but love. “Like a wild bird of prey, like a thief in the night/You can take what you want and you don’t think twice/’Cause the world’s in your hands you got all you want/And you won’t change a thing, you’re the lucky one.” May she rest in peace.
I was getting ready to write this post and realized that I couldn’t do it without including “The Lucky One” by Alison Krauss & Union Station.
Despite all my flirtations with country music in my life, I’ve never really been a huge Alison Krauss fan – carefully choosing songs I like of hers over full albums. Revisiting this song this morning makes me want to reevaluate my position on Krauss. I’m not sure how anyone can dislike this simple song with its beautifully crafted lyrics. And I have to admit that, as overplayed and as overused as it is, hearing “When You Say Nothing At All” at weddings still kind of gets me.
So which one is it? Amy Grant, Laura Branigan or Alison Krauss? For me, it’s a photo finish between Branigan and Krauss. Feel free to vote in the poll below and leave any other thoughts in the comments. And naturally, if I missed your favorite “Lucky One”, admonish me in the comments section as well.