Save the Best for Last

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"Save the Best for Last"
Vanessa Williams - Save The Best For Last.JPG
Single by Vanessa Williams
from the album The Comfort Zone
B-side
  • "Freedom Dance" (U.S.)
  • "2 of a Kind" (Europe)
ReleasedJanuary 14, 1992 (1992-01-14)
Recorded1990
Genre
Length3:40
Label
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)Keith Thomas
Vanessa Williams singles chronology
"The Comfort Zone"
(1991)
"Save the Best for Last"
(1992)
"Just for Tonight"
(1992)
Music video
"Save the Best for Last" on YouTube

"Save the Best for Last" is the third single from American singer and actress Vanessa Williams' second studio album, The Comfort Zone. The song was written by Phil Galdston, Wendy Waldman, and Jon Lind. It is considered Williams' signature song.

The song is a ballad about a young female admirer of a single man who stands by and watches as the object of her desires goes through years of dating, before he finally unexpectedly decides to initiate a relationship with the singer. The lyrics' redemptive themes resonated with Williams' story, as she had put together a successful music career following her earlier Miss America resignation scandal.[1]

The song was a commercial and critical success. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart for five weeks,[2] and was ranked fourth on Billboard's Top 100 hits of 1992 list, becoming the biggest success of Williams' music career. ASCAP named it Song of the Year in 1992; it was nominated for the Grammy Award for Song of the Year and Record of the Year in 1993.[3]

Composition[edit]

The song is performed in the key of E major with a tempo of 96 beats per minute in common time. Williams' vocals span from F3 to C5 in the song.[4][5]

Critical reception[edit]

Mark Chappelle from Albumism wrote, "In this sweet ditty, Williams observes a parade of bad love choices by a platonic partner before they finally fall in love with each other. Its sound and aesthetic proved perfect for every wedding reception, graduation, prom, and sentimental occasion."[6] AllMusic editor Michael Gallucci deemed the song as a "glorious ballad", adding that when she is "handed torch songs that emphasized her natural slow burn", Williams is a "genuinely sexy and capable performer."[7] Larry Flick from Billboard described it as a "nicely orchestrated pop/soul ballad", noting that it "proves that she is possibly best suited to such soothing fare, as her crystalline voice is caressed by soft and wafting strings. A beautiful offering from the excellent Comfort Zone collection."[8] Randy Clark and Bryan DeVaney from Cashbox stated that it is "beautifully sung by Williams and tastefully produced and arranged by Keith Thomas."[9] Arion Berger from Entertainment Weekly wrote that Williams "closes Act One with the show-stopping happy tears of "Best for Last"".[10]

Dave Sholin from the Gavin Report said that "every artist needs that "career record", and while Vanessa is by now accustomed to chart success, this effort takes her to a whole new level. It deserves to become her biggest hit to-date and it's well on the way with Top Ten status..."[11] Another editor, John Martinucci noted that Williams "gives this beautiful ballad a simple and delicate presentation that'll lift any romantic spirit."[12] Insider declared it as "a gorgeous ballad", stating that "this song has stood the test of time."[13] A reviewer from The Orlando Sentinel described it as "a sophisticated ballad".[14] R. LaMont Jones Jr. from The Pittsburgh Press picked it as the album's "centerpiece", calling it "a real-life, down-to-earth song", that Barbra Streisand "will no doubt wish she had been given. But with Williams' soulful delivery, it's hard to imagine anyone doing it better."[15] Steve Pick from St. Louis Post-Dispatch said that "the first thing to notice is that Williams can really sing. I'm talking phrasing and dynamics that could stand up to fine jazz singers. Then, we realize that this is a nice little tune".[16]

The song was used in the UK in a series of 1990s adverts for Bisto Best gravy granules. The adverts featured slow motion shots of gravy being poured over a roast dinner while the song played in the background.[17]

The track features in the closing credits of the 1994 film The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert, showing a drag queen lip synching to the original recording. It is also on the film's original soundtrack album.

Commercial performance[edit]

The single was Williams's third number-one on the Soul singles chart and topped the US Billboard Hot 100 for five weeks in 1992.[2] "Save the Best for Last" was ranked fourth in the Billboard Top 100 hits of 1992, becoming the biggest success of Williams's music career. The song also went to number one on the U.S. Adult Contemporary and R&B charts; it remained atop these charts for three weeks apiece. Internationally, the single reached number one in Australia and Canada, number two in Ireland, and number three in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

ASCAP named it as its Song of the Year, meaning it was performed more than any other song in 1992; it was nominated for the Grammy Award for Song of the Year and Record of the Year in 1993, losing to Eric Clapton's "Tears in Heaven" in both categories.[3]

Music videos[edit]

There were produced two versions of the music video to promote the single. The original version of the music video, which primarily aired on MTV, was directed by Ralph Ziman.[18] It begins with Williams walking around in a winter landscape for the first few seconds, then intercuts between black-and-white footage of Williams singing in front of a dark curtain, an orchestra playing along to the blue-tinted footage as it is being projected on a screen, and Williams singing in a living room with candles, a fireplace and a sofa. A "behind the scenes" cut was also later made of the video, which primarily aired on VH1, predominantly zooming on the orchestra scenes and the blue-tinted footage of Williams as well as showcasing footage from the making of the video.

Track listings[edit]

  • UK vinyl, 7-inch
A: "Save the Best for Last" - 3:39
B: "2 of a Kind" - 5:15
  • Netherlands 12-inch, promo
A: "Save the Best for Last" - 3:39
B1: "2 of a Kind" - 5:15
B2: "Dreamin'" - 5:25
  • Europe single
  1. "Save the Best for Last" - 3:39
  2. "2 of a Kind" - 5:15
  3. "Dreamin'" - 5:25
  • US maxi-CD
  1. "Save the Best for Last" - 3:39
  2. "Freedom Dance (Get Free!)" (LP Version) - 4:13
  3. "Freedom Dance (Get Free!)" (Free Your Body Club Mix) - 6:59
  4. "Freedom Dance (Get Free!)" (Vanessa's Sweat Mix) - 5:21
  5. "The Right Stuff" (UK Mix) - 6:18

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[36] Platinum 70,000^
United States (RIAA)[51] Gold 500,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

Covers[edit]

Other-language versions[edit]

The tune is the basis of Märchenland Gefühl (German: Fairy Tale Feeling) and Iets Heeft je Zachtjes Aangeraakt (Flemish/Dutch: Something you softly touched), both by Belgian artiste Dana Winner. Hong Kong cantopop singer Shirley Kwan also has a Cantonese cover version entitled "Why Us" (為何是我們).

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Vanessa Williams becomes first black Miss America". HISTORY. Retrieved December 18, 2018.
  2. ^ a b Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 627.
  3. ^ a b "Vanessa Williams". GRAMMY.com. March 17, 2014. Retrieved December 18, 2018.
  4. ^ Galdston, Phil; Lind, Jon; Waldman, Wendy (March 17, 2008). "Vanessa Williams "Save the Best for Last" Sheet Music in Eb Major". Musicnotes. Retrieved May 6, 2020.
  5. ^ "Key & BPM for Save the Best for Last by Vanessa Williams". Tunebat. Retrieved May 6, 2020.
  6. ^ Chappelle, Mark (August 15, 2021). "Vanessa Williams' 'The Comfort Zone' Turns 30 — Anniversary Retrospective". Albumism. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
  7. ^ Gallucci, Michael. "Vanessa Williams - Greatest Hits: The First Ten Years". AllMusic. Retrieved March 21, 2020.
  8. ^ Flick, Larry (January 18, 1992). "Single Reviews" (PDF). Billboard. p. 77. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  9. ^ "Music Reviews: Singles" (PDF). Cashbox. February 8, 1992. p. 5. Retrieved November 1, 2020.
  10. ^ Berger, Arion (September 6, 1991). "The Comfort Zone". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 26, 2020.
  11. ^ Sholin, Dave (January 24, 1992). "Gavin Picks > Singles" (PDF). Gavin Report. No. 1889. p. 56. Retrieved April 16, 2018.
  12. ^ Martinucci, John (January 10, 1992). "Urban: New Releases" (PDF). Gavin Report. p. 21. Retrieved October 17, 2020.
  13. ^ "Best songs from the '90s". Insider. Retrieved March 21, 2020.
  14. ^ "WILLIAMS WINS CHART TIARA". The Orlando Sentinel. March 20, 1992. Retrieved March 25, 2020.
  15. ^ Jones Jr., R. LaMont (September 26, 1991). "RECORDINGS: "The Comfort Zone" Vanessa Williams". The Pittsburgh Press. p. 12. Retrieved March 11, 2020.
  16. ^ Pick, Steve. (December 10, 1993). "AN UPDATE ON THE MTV SINGLES SCENE". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved March 25, 2020.
  17. ^ Ngcobo, Ndumiso (June 28, 2020). "Save the best for first, that's my motto". Sunday Times. South Africa. Retrieved June 30, 2021.
  18. ^ "Vanessa Williams: Save the Best For Last". IMDb. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
  19. ^ "Vanessa Williams – Save the Best for Last". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  20. ^ "Vanessa Williams – Save the Best for Last" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  21. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 2116." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  22. ^ "Top RPM Adult Contemporary: Issue 2097." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  23. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100 Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 9, no. 19. May 9, 1992. p. 33. Retrieved January 31, 2020.
  24. ^ "European Dance Radio" (PDF). Music & Media. May 23, 1992. p. 40. Retrieved October 31, 2021.
  25. ^ "Vanessa Williams – Save the Best for Last" (in German). GfK Entertainment charts. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  26. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Save the Best for Last". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  27. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 19, 1992" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  28. ^ "Vanessa Williams – Save the Best for Last" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  29. ^ "Vanessa Williams – Save the Best for Last". Top 40 Singles.
  30. ^ "Vanessa Williams – Save the Best for Last". Singles Top 100.
  31. ^ "Vanessa Williams – Save the Best for Last". Swiss Singles Chart.
  32. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  33. ^ "Vanessa Williams Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved March 29, 2018.
  34. ^ "Vanessa Williams Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard. Retrieved March 29, 2018.
  35. ^ "Vanessa Williams Chart History (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved March 29, 2018.
  36. ^ a b "1992 ARIA Singles Chart". ARIA. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  37. ^ "Jaaroverzichten 1992" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  38. ^ "The RPM Top 100 Hit Tracks of 1992" (PDF). RPM. Vol. 56, no. 25. December 19, 1992. p. 8. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  39. ^ "The RPM Top 100 Adult Contemporary tracks of 1992". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  40. ^ "1992 Year-End Sales Charts" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 9, no. 51/52. December 19, 1992. p. 17. Retrieved January 31, 2020.
  41. ^ "Top 100 Singles–Jahrescharts 1992" (in German). GfK Entertainment. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  42. ^ "Top 100–Jaaroverzicht van 1992". Dutch Top 40. Retrieved March 7, 2020.
  43. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Single 1992" (in Dutch). MegaCharts. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  44. ^ "Schweizer Jahreshitparade 1992" (in German). Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  45. ^ "Year End Charts: Top Singles". Music Week. January 16, 1993. p. 8.
  46. ^ "Billboard Top 100 – 1992". Retrieved September 15, 2009.
  47. ^ "1992 The Year in Music" (PDF). Billboard. Vol. 104, no. 52. December 26, 1992. p. YE-38. Archived (PDF) from the original on June 28, 2021. Retrieved August 15, 2021.
  48. ^ "Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs – Year-End 1992". Billboard. Retrieved March 29, 2021.
  49. ^ Lwin, Nanda. "Top 100 singles of the 1990s". Jam!. Archived from the original on August 29, 2000. Retrieved March 26, 2022.
  50. ^ Geoff Mayfield (December 25, 1999). 1999 The Year in Music Totally '90s: Diary of a Decade – The listing of Top Pop Albums of the '90s & Hot 100 Singles of the '90s. Billboard. Retrieved October 15, 2010.
  51. ^ "American single certifications – Vanessa Williams – Save the Best for Last". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  52. ^ "5 Reasons Why Lifetime's Rubbish Biopic Failed to do Aaliyah Justice". NME. November 18, 2014.

External links[edit]