First Hit #1: February 6, 1988
Tiffany’s second big hit is a ballad, in order to demonstrate that she has range. She can do light poppy dance music and she can also do something a bit more serious and mature, at least that’s how the theory goes. Could’ve Been could have been a pretty good song really, the late explosion of guitar is a bit much, but the piano that is consistent through most of the song is quite pleasant and the lyrics – lamenting a breakup – are pretty well done, as manufactured pop products go. That’s all good, but Could’ve Been just plain isn’t great, and most of that comes down to Tiffany herself.
Tiffany was 15 when she recorded this song, and she doesn’t really have the experience or maturity to pull it off. The problem is mainly that neither her nor her producers actually know her limits. She’s brushing against the limits of her range constantly, stepping right over the line of where her voice just can’t convincingly go. She’s not a bad singer really, but she is taking a page from the Whitney Houstons of the world in assuming that a big ballad needs range and power. She doesn’t really have that, and she doesn’t quite know where it’s a good idea to embellish and where it makes sense to reign it in. The song is suddenly a showcase of her flaws as a singer, which is never a good idea.