First Hit #1: October 25, 1980
It only makes sense that one of the biggest artists of the 70s – Barbra Streisand – would want to work with one of the other biggest artists of the 70s – the Bee Gees. She’s already collaborated with Donna Summer after all, she isn’t shy about collaborating. And even if tastes are changing, that collaboration does result in a hit, Woman in Love, which sounds exactly like what it is: Barbra Streisand singing a Bee Gees song.
That sounds dismissive but it really isn’t, it’s just the case where the Gibb brothers definitely have certain tricks and it’s not always what Streisand would do herself. The arrangement is complex, you’ve got the Gibbs’ distinct style of vocal harmony in the chorus, and all around it could be a Bee Gees hit, even if the Gibbs are much too hairy to be a woman in love. Streisand seems to take that as a challenge more than anything, and puts in a valiant effort to make it a Barbra Streisand song. It doesn’t sound typical of her at all, but she’s definitely pushing through and putting in her most soaring vocal performance that I’ve heard. And it works, her voice is a twist on what the Gibbs usually do and actually reinforces the themes of the song. She’s a woman in love who will do anything to keep the man in question, and she’s a woman in song who would do anything to keep the listener. It’s not an easy thing to do, but she manages to make a song that has all the markers of another artist into her own.