Last week for #RomanticTuesday, I chose the song “If This World Were Mine” and featured two different duet versions of the song: one by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell, and one by Cheryl Lynn & Luther Vandross. This week, I’m going to use the same device: take one song; this time it’s “Endless Love,” and feature two different duet versions.
The first of the duet pairings features the original singers: Lionel Richie and Diana Ross. At the time, Richie had not officially left the Commodores (though by the next year, he would be gone), while Ross was in her second decade as a solo artist after leaving the Supremes. Written by Richie, it was another in a long line of classic ballads written by the singer, but the second (after Kenny Rogers’ “Lady”) to be a hit outside of the Commodores. The song was used as the theme for the 1981 film Endless Love, and reached #1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and the R&B charts (for nine and seven weeks, respectively). For Ross, it was her last #1 on the Hot 100, and for Richie, it was the beginning of a string solo hits in the 1980’s.
The second version was recorded by Luther Vandross & Mariah Carey and was contained on his album Songs. Songs was conceived as an album of covers; Vandross had usually contained one or two covers on all of his previous albums. I often say that I could use a Luther Vandross song for #RomanticTuesday every week; now I have done it for two weeks in a row. This version also was a success, although not as big as the original; it got as high as #2 on the Hot 100 and #7 on the R&B charts in 1994. While the original was nominated for an Oscar, this version was nominated for a Grammy for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals.
If you ask me which one I like better, I’ll go with the original. As much a fan I am of Vandross, and having an at-the-time hot vocalist like Carey on that track, I just think the original is flat-out better. Feel free to voice your choice on this pairing in the comments. As an aside, Richie would re-record “Endless Love” as part of his Tuskegee duets album in 2012, this time with Shania Twain. You can hear that version here:
As always, thanks for reading and listening.