First Hit #1: November 17, 1979
Lionel Richie knows his way around a ballad.
Still is one of those songs that depends entirely on the singer, the arrangement is largely irrelevant – this version is relatively stripped down, even if there are some strings threatening to get overbearing, like a hovering aunt, though I appreciate how quiet it gets around the word “still” – and the words are heartfelt but easy to trip over, the kind of thing that could be the death of a lesser pop star. Richie, however, knows what he’s doing. It’s actually a trick of pacing, he moves through the song very slowly, taking little snips of lyrics and often not quite singing an entire line before taking a pause or a moment to add some emphasis to a word. Its parcels the song out slowly, but it allows him to play with the emphasis and tease out the meaning, and it makes it so every line, every word of the love song sounds incredibly important and very sincere. Richie is never overbearing, he just wants there to be no confusion about what he’s trying to say. Thanks to his performance, there isn’t.