Jennifer Hudson Where Is Your Moment In Time Song?

This is an open letter to Jennifer Hudson’s management, record label, press and a plea to the singer herself.

It is time for you to have a massive commercial hit!

Jennifer Hudson has been flying below the radar, above the radar and beside the radar for a few years now. I’ve watched her career and growth as a person with increasing interest. I also think JHud – as she’s affectionately known — has led a Job-like life full of career highs [Oscar] and personal lows [the murder of her family]. We all know she can sing rings around practically anyone and have been rooting for her like the ‘underdog’ she is.

I say underdog because I have yet to see her truly break out of the musical landfill her handlers seem to want to keep her stuck in.

Celine had My Heart Will Go On

Donna Summer had She Works Hard For The Money

Kelly Clarkson had Since You’ve Been Gone

Pat Benatar had Love Is A Battlefield

Beyonce had Crazy In Love

Whitney had I Will Always Love You …. and a bunch of other songs!

I think you get the point. Certain recording artists have had a varying slew of hits or misses but they’ve all had one distinctive song that made their careers.

When I think of JHud I think about the things I’ve listened above – not her music.

To this date I have yet to buy one album or song of hers in fact and I think she’s amazing.

Why? Her songs are terrible.

No offense to the songwriters involved…but there is nothing memorable about anything she’s recorded. BORING. CONTRIVED. MEDIOCRE in fact.

Where’s your hit Jennifer Hudson? Where’s your signature song?

P!nk  – of all artists had one of the best ballads released last year, Glitter In The Air. It works so well for her as an artist for a variety of reasons. Pink has built her image on being a bad-a** with slightly snarky songs but she is serious about her vocal delivery and the gravitas is reflected in the maturity of her sound. I’m mentioning her specifically for a reason.

Let’s review Kelly Clarkson’s career. Before she won the first American Idol and became a superstar she mentioned some of the challenges she’d faced when she met with producers in person who had not seen what she looked like beforehand. She’s white and apparently many of them thought she was black because she has a very soulful voice. I still remember her rendition of [You Make Me Feel Like A] Natural Woman during the AI competition and that was 10 years ago!

Mariah wouldn’t touch the song out of respect for Aretha Franklin and she didn’t even write it! Carol King did and has recorded it on her seminal album Tapestry. Yet, Aretha put such a distinctive spin on another person’s song – which is what the best singers do – that she will forever be tied to that song. It’s hers. This is why a few of the top singers recording today demand a royalty percentage from songwriters who submit to them – and get it. Dolly Parton must have cleaned up after Whitney got a hold of her song.

I don’t want to get too far off topic, but Hudson is part of the Clive Davis family, like Whitney. Like Kelly. So far all they’ve given her is crap to sing.

The problem is she’s singing ghetto music. The typical ‘woe is me, my relationship sucks’, ‘he done me wrong’ and ‘I don’t care if you love him he’s mine’ type crap that permeates black music today. It’s all negative and denigrating. Hudson needs a girl power anthem and to get away from the anemic mentalities that permeate R&B today.

She needs to reclaim her soul. Soul music that is.

Which brings me to her competition.

It isn’t Beyonce.

or Rhianna.

or Katy Perry

or Lady Gaga or any of the current crop of manufactured pop stars.

Hudson’s competition originates across the pond in jolly ol’ England.

Hudson’s competition is Adele.

Adele is currently the biggest musical act to emerge from the UK in decades. Her second album is now the biggest selling release of all time there. She is also doing well in the US market which is very difficult for British acts to do unless they come here physically, tour and promote themselves like their lives depend on it.

Adele is cleaning up right now.

Have you seen what Adele looks like?

No, don’t take this is a slam against her for her looks. I think Adele has a distinct look and is attractive, but let’s be clear. She is overweight and I highly doubt she would have secured a record deal had she been an American white girl looking for a record deal.

Here’s the other thing. Adele is and has been referenced as a SOUL singer.

Soul music – which is now apparently distinct from R&B.

Soul music is a specific contribution of and creation by African-Americans.

Jennifer Hudson is AA.

Adele is not.

In yet another example of the ways AAs have thrown away their treasures, we’ve ceded our musical legacy to record crap. It’s not Adele’s fault she can sing and she was smart enough to figure out this was her ideal genre because hey – it suits her voice perfectly. Also, being British and a mere 23 years old she’s removed from fully understanding or caring about the hidden ramifications underlying her career success.

The other issue is how audiences today are tired of crap even if they’ll buy it momentarily if it comes in a shiny package, but they flock to artists with some authenticity. It’s why Joss Stone, another white Brit who was actively working with black American artists and producers blew up [and worth $15M???!!!]. Success in that genre was basically handed to her on a silver platter when she was 17. Yet, she didn’t want to the be pigeon-holed. The foolishness of youth I say. She had a guaranteed built-in audience that would’ve followed her anywhere and bought everything, but she wanted to be a pop star — and saw her sales plummet.

Adele – and her management are far more shrewd.

Which brings me back to P!nk. Whose debut album was R&B/Hip-Hop focused. She was being groomed by black male executives and producers to fill slots that later on went to Gwen Stefani and Fergie (notice how similar crappy their solo albums sounded as well). P!nk quickly left that genre behind as fast as she could and hasn’t looked back.

Kelly Clarkson also avoids doing anything that remotely sounds like it could be played on Urban radio and has enjoyed huge career success. Where she fumbled a bit was in wanting to write her own songs – as if – instead of sticking to the manufactured pop star formula foisted upon her. She got with the program after being allowed to have a flop or two and having to book smaller venues to tour in. Personally, I loved the songs she wrote during that period, but they didn’t resonate as well as the others and in today’s market you don’t get to experiment that often. She had also gained a few pounds and you know that’s really not going to be tolerated. Just ask Ann Wilson of Heart.

The music business is nobody’s friend.

Back to Hudson. If someone wants to call it retro then they can call it whatever they want, but she needs a team of seasoned writers and musicians to give her a distinctive sound. To where we know, that’s a “JHud” song. She could be anybody right now and her most valued assets, her voice and her story of triumph over adversity are being underused. In fact, it’s time to shake off the survivor moniker. She’s dropped a significant amount of weight and could give a fashion model a run for her money now. The mistake would be in her handlers trying to sex her up now. No! Keep it simple and let the music speak for itself. It has to say something of value though.

Jennifer needs a killer ballad that is originally recorded and released by her.

If she has to work with an all white team to get her an authentic black sound then so be it. Yes, I shake my head at the irony. But Rick Rubin produced Adele’s album. Some people balked at it yet the audience has spoken. They’re buying it in droves. Nobody’s buying music today, but they’re buying Adele.

Adele who does not do mass promotion.

Adele who stays out of the press.

Adele who wouldn’t have gotten a record deal if the cosmic stars hadn’t aligned a certain way.

Adele is selling millions of albums in an anemic music industry.

It’s the ultimate irony.

This is about competition but it’s also about excellence. There’s plenty of room for both Adele and Hudson. And a slew of other artists for that matter. I wish we had more artists of caliber to choose from, to root for, to see perform live who could actually perform. Sans hype. Just substance.

Have I mentioned that not only have I purchased Adele’s music but I’ve seen her live and she’s amazing?!!! You couldn’t pay me to buy that dreck Jhud records.

Yet oddly enough, my favorite Adele song is not one she’s co-written it’s a cover.

Bob Dylan. To Make You Feel My Love.

Which proves my point. Classic songwriters knew what they were doing in crafting timeless songs that still sound good decades later. There is a skill set to this and quality does stand out. Get Hudson quality and her career will hit the stratosphere and remain there for as long as her ambition and good songs keep churning out. This is why Madonna is still relevant. She has a catalog of great songs that still sound just as good as when they were released two decades ago – and she has never been a strong vocalist.

Jennifer Hudson has the pipes, so let her blow.

21 Replies to “Jennifer Hudson Where Is Your Moment In Time Song?”

  1. I agree with you. JHud does need a signature song. It’s sad to see people with real talent languishing while untalented people gain mass success for merely taking off their clothes. Unfortunately, many of the young people haven’t grown up admiring true talent. So, they don’t realize what they’re missing.

  2. She's worked with Dianne Warren, but that ballad didn't do as well as she expected. Maybe she needs David Foster, I know she has the connections! Heck, even Rick Rubin would be a great pairing; he's even produced for Adele. She obviously doesn't have the right team around her.

    1. The core point I’m encouraging is for everyone to start thinking out the box. There’s a lot of wasted potential. I doubt Rubin and Adele would have been paired had The Dixie Chicks not suggested he work with them and that release been so successful. We all could use a boundary stretch at times.

  3. I love Pink and that performance is so beautiful. Thanks so much for your insightful post about Jennifer and that Ghetto music they have her singing. She has so much more potential than that.

    1. Thanks for your reply. It’s Jennifer’s career ultimately. She may not have an issue w/the songs, but it all comes down to perspective.

  4. I've been so happy for Jennifer, but I agree with you: her music does not measure up to her singing potential. The last song I really like her singing was "feeling good," probably be/c she looked so darn great. Where's the fierce music to match the fierce voice/talent?

    1. Yes many AI contestants have covered the song popularized by Nina Simone. Muse's cover is the best one. She needs a great ORIGINAL song as I've indicated. Thanks.

  5. Thank you for writing this-- I cringe every time I see a facebook friend post a JHud song as their status.
    The song material she was given was simply…sub-par, I agree wholeheartedly.
    I mean…"Where You At"? Really? Complete with two stiff, overacting background dancers whenever she performs it live? (GMA performance I happened to catch one morning was snooze-worthy.)
    It all just feels like she's staying far, far below what she's capable of.

    It feels odd writing this, as I'm a black chick who won't touch "ethnic" music with a 10-foot pole-- my iTunes is plastered with the likes of My Chemical Romance and Avenged Sevenfold. But I know good music and good talent when I hear it, and JHud should seriously consider some new management. Her current head honcho, whoever he may be, seems intent on letting her wallow in the mire and continue to be hair salon background music fodder.

    (And while I'm at it, Faith, let me just say I love your blog! Been lurking for at least a year now :3 )

  6. I'm not sure how well JHud's current CD is doing on the charts but she does need her own distinctive style which would lead to her "moment in time" song (similar to Sade with "Smooth Opeator"). Sade releases one CD per decade but she still manages to sell out concerts. I think it might take some more time for JHud considering everything that's happened in her life -- the tragedy of death (her family) and the triumph of life (her son). I think she might be going through the motions right now musically as she contines to deal with and sort out her personal matters. She certainly has the talent, having been awarded a Grammy and an Acadeny Award too!!

    On another note, thanks for the information about Adele. I had heard bits and pieces of "Chasing Pavements" awhile ago but I could not remember the name of the artist. Since reading this blog earlier today, I have listened to every song on her CDs -- "19" & "21" and I plan to purchase them this weekend!!

  7. Music mostly caters to the teen to early 20 crowd. Back in the day Chaka Khan, Angela Bofill, Deniece Williams and The Jones Sisters were singing to grown folks. Also so much of what is now done is trying to emulate the sound & texture of rap. Rap is not emotional…or at least now in a constructive adult way. When you are getting bogged down by mannish norms and desires something will lack. Few Black singers sing love songs anymore. Most songs are either threats, diss tracks disguised as seduction or crass come ons. What is happening to Jennifer is also happening to Fantasia and Ruben Studdard, who was born 20 years to late to have the kind of career Luther Vandross had.

    1. The labels are responsible for promoting ‘music’ that mostly caters to no one. They allowed the RIAA to sue the few interested buyers. They let a company like Apple cannibalize the way users listen to and purchase music. Reality tv winners now abound where talent is questionable at best. Vandross could not only sing, he wrote many his own songs. There’s too many derivative acts who are knock-offs of the copycats.

  8. i completely completely agree with everything written here! that girl needs to be put front and center and allowed to thrive. the crap she sings is just so played out, she needs something that makes you go WOW and that showcases that fabulous voice of hers. Kelly Rowland too, but JHud especially. She just seems to be so confused about it all and not know that she could be thriving in a whole different way.

  9. you are so right! even Whoopi has a signature song

    see the Sister Act movies for even more memorable songs from Whoopi

    I really want J-Hud to stick around a while.I like her a lot.
    Spotlight was definitely my fave from her though

  10. I hope somebody in the J-Hud camp happens upon this. You are quite right in your assessment of the going ons in the music world.

  11. YESSSSSS!!!! OMG YESS! remeber R&B in the 90 's well now R&B is dead .. .The Brits Love soul music have you ever watched European movies . they will always put old songs on there soul, jazz, they eat it up. you are so right ! JHUD could have a different carreers. But there is also a problem. To see what great artist can do with songs go listen to Beth Ditto are you that somebody's cover !!

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