“Songbird” by Kenny G

Music meant to be played as half-conscious background music isn’t necessarily always a bad thing…there are plenty of legit acts in Ambient Music and the higher reaches of the New Age Music genre. But there’s a fine line between Ambiance and Muzak, and Kenny G tends to fall on the wrong side of it.

That said, this, his one big hits on the Pop charts, was actually nowhere near as bad as it’s now made out to be. That he can do worse is obvious (anyone who’s heard his butchering of the hook to “My Heart Will Go On” knows that), but the truth is that, at the time this was recorded, he hadn’t yet completely sold out.

At this point, he was essentially a non-vocal version of Barry Manilow. This song is admittedly far less interesting than Manilow’s work (partly because the most interesting thing about Manilow was his gifts as a vocalist), but the melody is pretty and actually rather poignant: if it’s still essentially background music, it’s at least background music that has the decency to sound sad.

And he would continue more or less in this vein for two more albums, Silhouette and Breathless. It wasn’t until his first Christmas album in the mid-Nineties that he gave up even trying to evoke any emotion in his music and became the utterly soulless Muzak purveyor we all know and hate today.

Verdict: This song, and the other material from Kenny G’s early albums, aren’t by any means great, but they’re still a cut above his later work, and at least qualify for the title of “not terrible”.

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