Save the Best for Last

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"Save the Best for Last"
Single by Vanessa Williams
from the album The Comfort Zone
B-side
  • "Freedom Dance" (US)
  • "2 of a Kind" (Europe)
ReleasedJanuary 14, 1992 (1992-01-14)
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 a song by American singer and actress Vanessa Williams, released in January 1992 as the third single from her second studio album, The Comfort Zone (1991). The song was written by Phil Galdston, Wendy Waldman, and Jon Lind. It 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 her. 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 US 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, Record of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance in 1993.[3] There were produced two different music videos to promote the single.

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]

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 US 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]

Critical reception[edit]

Upon the release, Larry Flick from Billboard complimented the song as a "nicely orchestrated pop/soul ballad", remarking 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."[6] Clark and DeVaney from Cashbox stated that it is "beautifully sung by Williams and tastefully produced and arranged by Keith Thomas."[7] In his album review, Arion Berger from Entertainment Weekly noted that the singer closes Act One "with the show-stopping happy tears" of "Save the Best for Last".[8] Dave Sholin from the Gavin Report constated 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..."[9] Another editor, John Martinucci, felt that Williams "gives this beautiful ballad a simple and delicate presentation that'll lift any romantic spirit."[10]

A reviewer from The Orlando Sentinel described it as "a sophisticated ballad".[11] R. LaMont Jones Jr. from The Pittsburgh Press named it 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."[12] 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".[13] Jonathan Bernstein from Spin wrote, "Most triumphant of all the year's late bloomers, though, was Vanessa Williams. "Sometimes the snow comes down in June, sometimes the sun goes round the moon...." I tasted salt the first time I ever heard her "Save the Best for Last", and even now I still get a lump."[14] Mike Joyce from The Washington Post felt that the "reflective Wendy Waldman love song" is a more likely candidate for radio exposure.[15]

Retrospective response[edit]

In an 2021 retrospective review, 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."[16] AllMusic editor Michael Gallucci declared it 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."[17] Insider featured "Save the Best for Last" in their list of the "Best Songs from the '90s" in 2019, declaring it as "a gorgeous ballad", that "has stood the test of time."[18]

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.[19] 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.

Usage in media[edit]

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.[20]

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.

Track listings[edit]

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[38] Platinum 70,000^
United States (RIAA)[53] Gold 500,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format(s) Label(s) Ref.
United States January 14, 1992
  • 7-inch vinyl
  • CD
  • cassette
[citation needed]
Japan February 26, 1992 Mini-CD Polydor [54]
United Kingdom March 9, 1992
  • 7-inch vinyl
  • 12-inch vinyl
  • CD
  • cassette
[55]

Covers[edit]

Other-language versions[edit]

The tune is the basis of the German-language song "Märchenland Gefühl" (literal translation: fairy tale-land feeling) and the Dutch-language song "Iets Heeft je Zachtjes Aangeraakt" (literal translation: something touched you softly), both by Belgian artist Dana Winner. Hong Kong cantopop singer Shirley Kwan also has a Cantonese cover version entitled "Why Us" (為何是我們).[57][58]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Vanessa Williams becomes first black Miss America". History Channel. 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. ^ Flick, Larry (January 18, 1992). "Single Reviews" (PDF). Billboard. p. 77. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  7. ^ Clark, Randy; DeVaney, Bryan (February 8, 1992). "Music Reviews: Singles" (PDF). Cashbox. p. 5. Retrieved November 1, 2020.
  8. ^ Berger, Arion (September 6, 1991). "The Comfort Zone". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 26, 2020.
  9. ^ Sholin, Dave (January 24, 1992). "Gavin Picks > Singles" (PDF). Gavin Report. No. 1889. p. 56. Retrieved April 16, 2018.
  10. ^ Martinucci, John (January 10, 1992). "Urban: New Releases" (PDF). Gavin Report. p. 21. Retrieved October 17, 2020.
  11. ^ "Williams Wins Chart Tiara". The Orlando Sentinel. March 20, 1992.
  12. ^ Jones Jr., R. LaMont (September 26, 1991). "Recordings: "The Comfort Zone" Vanessa Williams". The Pittsburgh Press. p. 12. Retrieved March 11, 2020.
  13. ^ Pick, Steve. (December 10, 1993). "An Update On The MTV Singles Scene". St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
  14. ^ Bernstein, Jonathan (December 1992). "The Year In Pop". Spin. p. 42. Retrieved January 25, 2023.
  15. ^ Joyce, Mike (September 22, 1991). "The Second Time Around: Carey, Williams and White". The Washington Post. p. G02.
  16. ^ Chappelle, Mark (August 15, 2021). "Vanessa Williams' 'The Comfort Zone' Turns 30 — Anniversary Retrospective". Albumism. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
  17. ^ Gallucci, Michael. "Vanessa Williams - Greatest Hits: The First Ten Years". AllMusic. Retrieved March 21, 2020.
  18. ^ "Best songs from the '90s". Insider. Retrieved March 21, 2020.[permanent dead link]
  19. ^ "Vanessa Williams: Save the Best For Last". IMDb. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
  20. ^ Ngcobo, Ndumiso (June 28, 2020). "Save the best for first, that's my motto". Sunday Times. South Africa. Retrieved June 30, 2021.
  21. ^ "Vanessa Williams – Save the Best for Last". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  22. ^ "Vanessa Williams – Save the Best for Last" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  23. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 2116." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  24. ^ "Top RPM Adult Contemporary: Issue 2097." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  25. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100 Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 9, no. 19. May 9, 1992. p. 33. Retrieved January 31, 2020.
  26. ^ "European Dance Radio" (PDF). Music & Media. May 23, 1992. p. 40. Retrieved October 31, 2021.
  27. ^ "Vanessa Williams – Save the Best for Last" (in German). GfK Entertainment charts. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  28. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Save the Best for Last". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  29. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 19, 1992" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  30. ^ "Vanessa Williams – Save the Best for Last" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  31. ^ "Vanessa Williams – Save the Best for Last". Top 40 Singles.
  32. ^ "Vanessa Williams – Save the Best for Last". Singles Top 100.
  33. ^ "Vanessa Williams – Save the Best for Last". Swiss Singles Chart.
  34. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  35. ^ "Vanessa Williams Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved March 29, 2018.
  36. ^ "Vanessa Williams Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard. Retrieved March 29, 2018.
  37. ^ "Vanessa Williams Chart History (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved March 29, 2018.
  38. ^ a b "ARIA Top 50 Singles for 1992". ARIA. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  39. ^ "Jaaroverzichten 1992" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  40. ^ "The RPM Top 100 Hit Tracks of 1992" (PDF). RPM. Vol. 56, no. 25. December 19, 1992. p. 8. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  41. ^ "The RPM Top 100 Adult Contemporary tracks of 1992". RPM. Retrieved April 14, 2019 – via Library and Archives Canada.
  42. ^ "1992 Year-End Sales Charts" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 9, no. 51/52. December 19, 1992. p. 17. Retrieved January 31, 2020.
  43. ^ "Top 100 Singles–Jahrescharts 1992" (in German). GfK Entertainment. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  44. ^ "Top 100–Jaaroverzicht van 1992". Dutch Top 40. Retrieved March 7, 2020.
  45. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Single 1992" (in Dutch). MegaCharts. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  46. ^ "Schweizer Jahreshitparade 1992" (in German). Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  47. ^ "Year End Charts: Top Singles". Music Week. January 16, 1993. p. 8.
  48. ^ "Billboard Top 100 – 1992". Archived from the original on July 8, 2009. Retrieved September 15, 2009.
  49. ^ "The Year in Music: Hot Adult Contemporary Singles & Tracks" (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.
  50. ^ "The Year in Music: Hot R&B Singles" (PDF). Billboard. Vol. 104, no. 52. December 26, 1992. p. YE-28. Archived (PDF) from the original on June 28, 2021. Retrieved February 13, 2024.
  51. ^ Lwin, Nanda. "Top 100 Singles of the 1990s". Jam!. Archived from the original on August 29, 2000. Retrieved March 26, 2022.
  52. ^ "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. Vol. 111, no. 52. December 25, 1999. p. YE-20. Retrieved August 30, 2022.
  53. ^ "American single certifications – Vanessa Williams – Save the Best for Last". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  54. ^ "セイブ・ザ・ベスト・フォー・ラスト | ヴァネッサ・ウィリアムス" [Save the Best for Last | Vanessa Williams] (in Japanese). Oricon. Archived from the original on October 18, 2023. Retrieved September 12, 2023.
  55. ^ "New Releases: Singles". Music Week. March 7, 1992. p. 17.
  56. ^ "5 Reasons Why Lifetime's Rubbish Biopic Failed to do Aaliyah Justice". NME. November 18, 2014.
  57. ^ "關淑怡 - 戀一世的愛 - Love Is Forever - Releases". Discogs. Retrieved November 18, 2023. Year - 1991 - 為何是我們 - 3:36
  58. ^ 為何是我們 (in Cantonese (Traditional Han script)). Universal Music Group. 1991. Retrieved November 18, 2023.

External links[edit]