Recycle It!: The Many Spectrums Of "Ain't Nobody"

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"Ain't Nobody" is a great song. We can stop right there at that sentence. Post done. But I won't, cause that's not how I do things. "Ain't Nobody" is also Chaka Khan's signature song next to "I'm Every Woman" and that Prince cover she made all her own. Erroneously this song is usually associated solely with Chaka Khan, when in fact it is the final release she had with band Rufus. The song was initially (or so rumor says) intended for Michael Jackson to place on his Thriller album, but it was declined. Yeah, go on ahead...salivate at the once possibility of MJ putting a falsetto to this tune.

Well it's still a winning situation, as we all know that Chaka really brought the sexy back (sorry, Mr. Social Network Timberlake) and just slayed vocally all up and down to the right and left of the song. Written by Rufus member, David "Hawk" Wolinski, "Ain't Nobody"'s home originally rested as a bonus cut on the 2 LP set of Rufus' live album, Stompin' At The Savoy (a great album if you can get your hands on it). It was later placed on the Breakin' soundtrack, thus becoming a pop-n-lock jam. Even though released in the time of music video experimentation, the song never got a real glossy visual treatment, unless you count this strange and rare vid:

Whoo, that song is good isn't it? A lot of other people think so too, it has been covered numerous times over the course of two decades. The song just doesn't gets old. So with a little free time, I rustled up the best versions I could find (some you may know, some may be new to you) and decided to let you guys pick for funsies which covers of "Ain't Nobody" you like the best. Let's look at the contenders...

Diana King
Off of King's 1995 debut, Tougher Than Love, King put her spin on it, and actually gained a Billboard Hot 100 hit from it. As a big fan of King's voice, I have a bias with her version. If anyone can take on Khan's robust vocals it's Diana King.

KT Tunstall
Tunstall must really love this song as she has many acoustic versions of this song floating around on YouTube. I'm sort of a sucker for a stripped/unplugged version of dance tracks, it just shows how flexible a song can be. KT Tunstall really does a good job with this one.

LL Cool J
For the 1996 Beavis and Butthead Do America movie soundtrack, LL Cool J took the sample of the track and ran with it. Like Diana King, he got a charting hit with this. Actually the video intrigues me more the song (even though it reminds me of simpler hip-hop times). See if you can name who is NOT in this video, as the who's-who in 90's culture is present. I spot Tichina Arnold, Alfonso Riberio, The Waynes Brothers, Ricky Bell, Brian McKnight....Oh, and LL Cool J in soapy water? A big yummy plus.

Kelly Price
Sadly, I still picture Steve Martin dancing hilariously terrible with Queen Latifah every time I hear Miss Price's version as this was featured on the Bringin' Down The House movie soundtrack in 2003. Still Miss Price's vocal pipes are so underrated that I was quite pleased to hear at the time her doing this song.

Daniel & Natasha Bedingfield
Kind of strange that a brother and sister would sing this type of song together...but my, do they sing the mess out of this song during this rare live performance. They almost make the song sound like a James Bond movie anthem with all that orchestration in the background. Nice. The song was originally featured as a B-side to Natasha's "I Bruise Easily" single back in 2005. I'm still waiting for these two to do an album together...hell, I'm still waiting for Daniel to do another album.

George Michael  
George Michael can do no wrong in my eyes so this early 90's performance of him getting his Chaka Khan on is priceless. No further words need to be said...just watch it.

Andreya Triana 
This was brought to my attention by blogging pal SoulUK and since I'm a new found fan of Ms. Triana, I was all over this like syrup on waffles. This version is quite impromptu as Triana works the crowd it, making it a very charming attempt. Like Ms. Tunstall, stripping down "Ain't Nobody" to being just an vocal focus piece is a good you can see here.

Another acoustically stripped one for you. And quite a surprise for me as well, but the Danish group, Alphabeat do know their vintage sounds ("The Spell" was 90's dancefloor heaven) and they do the song justice. A very quick cover of the song (that can be found on the 2009 international release The Beat Is...), but you can get the gist of it.

So who comes out on top? Who needed to keep it in a box? As always, post your opinions in the comments.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Before you comment remember...
1. Don't be rude!
2. Stay on topic of the post. If you don't stay on topic, either state "off-topic" or your comment will be deleted.
3. If you want to ask an off-topic question and don't see the proper post for it, please e-mail me about it.
4. Don't spam or promote your blog or service. Please e-mail me if you'd like an add to my blog list or need for me to update your blog's URL. If your blog is similar in subject to mine, you will be added to the list.
5. If you have any technical problems with the blog, please e-mail me.

When in doubt, e-mail me at

Thank you :)