Thursday, November 17, 2011

Kenny G - "Songbird"

Songbird - Duotones

(Debuted April 4, 1987, Peaked #4, 22 Weeks on the chart)

The instrumental was a dying format on the pop chart even in 1987. While dozens of hit songs were instrumentals during the 1950s and 60s, the form begin winding down in the 1970s and was nearly crushed by the death of Disco. By the 1980s, the few instrumentals that were hits were theme songs to movies or TV shows.

That didn't mean the format was dead, however. Jazz artists were still performing instrumentals and so were New Age artists, but they just weren't getting much attention with radio stations or music video channels. In fact, Kenny G (real last name Gorelick) had been playing professionally since he was still in high school, playing his saxophone for the Love Unlimited Orchestra, and continued as he worked his way through college. He signed his own record deal in 1982 but worked in collaboration with a number of artists as well.

In 1987, his Duotones LP let the rest of the world that wasn't focused on the jazz world know who Kenny G was. "Songbird" would become the first instrumental track to reach the pop Top 10 that wasn't a theme song in over a decade, and he soon became the biggest-selling instrumental artist in history.

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