So Damn Happy (Aretha Franklin album)

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So Damn Happy
So-damn-happy.jpg
Studio album by Aretha Franklin
Released September 16, 2003
Recorded 2002–03
Genre
Label Arista
Producer
Aretha Franklin chronology
A Rose Is Still a Rose
(1998)A Rose Is Still a Rose1998
So Damn Happy
(2003)
Jewels in the Crown: All-Star Duets with the Queen
(2007)Jewels in the Crown: All-Star Duets with the Queen2007

So Damn Happy is the thirty-fifth studio album by American singer Aretha Franklin. Her first studio album in five years, it included the Grammy Award-winning track, "Wonderful". The album peaked at number 33 on US Billboard 200 and number 11 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, while reaching the top thirty of the Italian Albums Chart. Shortly after its release, Franklin left Arista after a stay of 23 years. She later announced plans to start her own Detroit-based record label, Aretha Records.

Background[edit]

In 1998, Franklin released her thirty-seventh studio album A Rose Is Still a Rose. A breakaway from the adult contemporary sound of her previous releases, it saw her collaborating with many famed hip hop producers and rappers such as Lauryn Hill, Sean "Puffy" Combs, and Jermaine Dupri, and took her work further into the hip hop and modern-day R&B genre.[1] The album went gold in US and was praised by most critics, who called it a return to form for Franklin.[2] Following the departure of Arista Records head and longtime collaborator Clive Davis in 2000, L.A. Reid became instrumental in compiling Franklin's next project with the label.[3] He chose songs to honor Franklin's roots, making no attempt to realize a pop record, instead aiming for a more personal, soulful vibe that would sound like "the old days."[3] Franklin wrote and produced three songs on So Damn Happy, accompanied herself on the piano and was more generally hands-on than she had been on her other recent albums, which she cited as "the missing element."[3] Elaborating on the overall sound of the album, she added: "Some of it is hip-hop, of it is traditional, and it just works."[3]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
Allmusic4/5 stars[4]
Billboardfavorable[5]
MSN Music4/5 stars[6]
Peoplefavorable[7]
Rolling Stone2/5 stars[8]

So Damn Happy received generally mixed to positive reviews from music critics. Allmusic editor Jon Bush called the album "a refreshing (though admittedly sterilized) update of her '70s records [...] composed of earthy, acoustic-driven soul, similar to contemporary records by India.Arie or Jill Scott." He felt that "the songs on So Damn Happy are all the proof her fans need to understand that her talent remains undiminished nearly 50 years after her debut as a secular act."[4] People noted that Franklin "may be worshiped for her oldies, but the Queen of Soul’s new material also deserves respect." The magazine found that the "entire album, refreshingly free of any guest rappers or trendy production, has a warm, classic R&B feel. Even Franklin’s two jazz-kissed collaborations with hip-hop soul diva Mary J. Blige sound as if they could have been recorded in the ’70s."[7]

In his review for MSN Music, Jack Smith wrote that "Aretha's voice is a beautiful instrument that she never stops strengthening and developing and in So Damn Happy her legion of fans have a slick and superior album of depth, vision and soul that's truly one to savour."[6] Billboard found that "Franklin revisits the contemporary production well that she drew from for" previous album A Rose Is Still a Rose, noting that "unlike that album – which had its stellar moments – Happy is a more consistent package [...] striking a believable balance between new-school vibe and down-home soul."[5] Rolling Stone journalist Barry Walters compared the album unfavorably to A Rose Is Still a Rose and wrote that "The queen of soul is still the Queen. But that doesn’t mean the material on Aretha Franklin’s latest album is deserving of her crown." He found that the songs came up "short in the melody, hook and rhythm departments," providing "adult-contemporary slickness that sometimes makes the sixty-one-year-old legend’s voice seem shrill."[8]

Chart performance[edit]

In the Unites States, So Damn Happy debuted and peaked at number 33 on the US Billboard 200 and number 11 on the US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, with first week sales of 28,000 copies.[9] Franklin scored her best career sales frame in the album's third week on the charts, when it shifted 27,000 in the week ending October 5, 2003, though his mark was later surpassed by her 2014 album Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics.[10] As of 2012, So Damn Happy sold 304,000 copies in the US, according to Nielsen SoundScan.[11] Elsewhere, the album failed to chart on most music markets, though it reached number 28 on the Italian Albums Chart, ranking among her highest-charting albums there.[12]

Track listing[edit]

No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."The Only Thing Missin'"
Taylor3:07
2."Wonderful"
  • Aleese Simmons
  • Ron Lawrence
  • Katrina Willis
  • Philip "Silky" White
Amen-Ra4:04
3."Holdin' On"
Taylor4:37
4."No Matter What" (featuring Mary J. Blige)
  • Blige
  • Miller
  • Taylor
Taylor4:33
5."Everybody's Somebody's Fool"4:35
6."So Damn Happy"Aretha FranklinFranklin4:29
7."You Are My Joy"FranklinFranklin2:34
8."Falling Out of Love"Bacharach4:31
9."Ain't No Way"
  • Chambers
  • Barry J. Eastmond
  • Chambers
  • Eastmond
4:37
10."Good News"Norman WestWest4:55
11."You Are My Joy (Reprise)"FranklinFranklin2:33

Samples

  • "Holdin On'" contains excerpts from "The Sponge," written by Earl Klugh.

Personnel[edit]

  • Adi Yeshaya – strings, arranger, conductor, horn, keyboards, horn arrangements
  • Alexander Vselensky – violin
  • Alfred Brown – viola
  • Allen Sides – engineer, mixing
  • Andy Stein – violin
  • Anthony Kadleck – trumpet
  • Anthony Posk – violin
  • Aretha Franklinpiano, vocals, backing vocals, producer, engineer, mixing
  • B.J. – handclapping
  • Barbara Wesotski – A&R
  • Barry Eastmond – arranger, keyboards, producer, engineer
  • Belinda Whitney – violin
  • Birch Johnson – trombone
  • Bobby Ross Avila – guitar, keyboards
  • Brenda Corbett – backing vocals
  • Burt Bacharachrhythm, producer, string arrangements
  • Byung Kook Kwak – violin
  • Carl Robinson – engineer, assistant
  • Cenovia Cummins – violin
  • Charles "Prince Cha... – mixing
  • Cindy Mizelle – backing vocals
  • Dan Oniszczak – assistant engineer
  • Darryl Houston – organ
  • David Chase – digital editing
  • David Foster – synthesizer strings
  • Delant "Butta" Murphy – handclapping
  • EMI Ferguson – digital editing
  • Eugene J. Moye – cello
  • George Flynn – trombone
  • Gerald Tarack – violin
  • Gloria Agostini – harp
  • Gordon Chambers – backing vocals, producer, vocal arrangement
  • Greg Phillinganes – digital editing
  • Israel Chorberg – violin
  • Iz – drum programming
  • James "Big Jim" Wright – keyboards, producer
  • Jean-Marie Horvat – mixing
  • Jeff Burns – assistant
  • Jesse Levy – cello, orchestra contractor
  • Jimmy Jam – producer
  • JoAnn Tominaga – production coordination
  • Joe-Mama Nitzberg – creative director
  • Joey Arbagey – A&R
  • Joyce Hammann – violin
  • Karen Karlsrud – violin
  • Keith O'Quinn – trombone
  • Keith Slattery – assistant
  • Kenneth Burward-Hoy – viola
  • Kenya Lucas – handclapping
  • Kermit Moore – cello
  • Kwaku Alston – photography
  • L.A. Reid – executive producer
  • Leo Grinhauz – cello
  • Lew Soloff – trumpet
  • Louis Alfred III – engineer
  • Margeret Th. Hjalte... – viola
  • Mary J. Blige – backing vocals, vocal arrangement, melodie, handclapping
  • Michael Baker – strings, horn
  • Michael Hart Thompson – guitar
  • Michael J. Powell – engineer, mixing
  • Mildred Scott – backing vocals
  • Myiia "Sunny" Davis – backing vocals
  • Nate Neblett – drums
  • Neil Stubenhausbass guitar
  • Norman West – synthesizer, bass guitar, piano, keyboards, producer, engineer, mixing
  • Olivia Koppell – violin, viola
  • Pablo Arraya – assistant
  • Paulinho Da Costapercussion
  • Perry Hughes – guitar
  • Ralphe Armstrong – bass guitar
  • Randy Brecker – trumpet
  • Regine Lambert – handclapping
  • Regis Iandiorio – violin
  • Richard Thomas Jenn... – art direction, design
  • Rick Williams – guitar
  • Ricky Lawson – drums
  • Rob Shrock – synthesizer arrangements
  • Robert Chausow – violin
  • Roger Wendt – French horn
  • Ron "Amen-Ra" Lawrence – keyboards, multi instruments, producer, engineer, drum programming
  • Rowie Nomeri – engineer
  • Sandra Dance – backing vocals
  • Sara Divine – backing vocals
  • Sharon Moe – French horn
  • Sheila Reinhold – violin
  • Shelly Ponder – backing vocals
  • Steve Pageot – engineer
  • Susan Heerema – violin
  • Terry Lewis – producer
  • Tom Coyne – mastering
  • Tom Sweeney – assistant
  • Tommy Morgan – harmonica, soloist
  • Tommy Wilber – assistant
  • Troy Taylor – bass guitar, drums, keyboards, programming, backing vocals, multi instruments, producer, vocal editing
  • Vernon D. Fails – Fender Rhodes
  • William Bush – arranger, keyboards, drum programming
  • Winterton Garvey – violin

Charts[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Queen of Soul". Billboard. October 4, 2003. Retrieved August 19, 2018.
  2. ^ Christgau, Robert (1998). Robert Christgau: CG: Aretha Franklin. Robert Christgau. The Village Voice. Retrieved on 2011-04-08.
  3. ^ a b c d "Aretha, So Damn Happy About Her New Album". New York Times. Retrieved August 20, 2018.
  4. ^ a b Bush, Jon. "So Damn Happy". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved August 20, 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Eessential Reviews". Billboard. Retrieved August 20, 2018.
  6. ^ a b Walters, Barry. "So Damn Happy". Rolling Stone. review. Retrieved August 20, 2018.
  7. ^ a b "Picks and Pans Review: So Damn Happy". People. Retrieved August 20, 2018.
  8. ^ a b Walters, Barry. "So Damn Happy". Rolling Stone. Review. Retrieved August 20, 2018.
  9. ^ "DMX Proves 'Grand Champ' On Album Chart". Billboard. Retrieved August 20, 2018.
  10. ^ Caulfield, Keith. "Aretha Franklin Earns Her Highest-Charting Album Since 1985". Billboard. Retrieved August 20, 2018.
  11. ^ "Ask Billboard: She Loves Me! She Really Loves Me!". Billboard. 2007-05-18. Retrieved 2012-03-16.
  12. ^ a b "Italiancharts.com – Aretha Franklin – So Damn Happy". Hung Medien. Retrieved August 17, 2018.
  13. ^ "Lescharts.com – Aretha Franklin – So Damn Happy". Hung Medien. Retrieved August 17, 2018.
  14. ^ "Aretha Franklin Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved August 17, 2018.
  15. ^ "Aretha Franklin Chart History (Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved August 17, 2018.
  16. ^ "R&B/Hip-Hop Albums: Year End 2003". Billboard. Retrieved August 20, 2018.