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Review: John Legend - "All Of Me"

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

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John Legend - All Of Me

John Legend - "All Of Me"

Courtesy Columbia
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Written by Toby Gad and John Stephens

Produced by Dave Tozer and John Legend

Released August 2013 by Columbia

Pros

  • John Legend's effortless sounding vocals
  • Simple, straightforward love ballad lyrics
  • Stripped down piano accompaniment through much of the record

Cons

  • Addition of strings disrupts a beautiful tension in the song

It has been nearly six years since John Legend last reached the pop top 40 with his collaboration with Andre 3000 on "Green Light."  Now it appears that "All Of Me" will become the biggest pop hit single of his celebrated career.  The song's ascent is a long time coming.  It was first released last August as a third single from the album Love In the Future.  "All Of Me" made a significant impact on the R&B chart, but did not climb high on mainstream pop charts until a powerful performance of the song on this year's Grammy Awards broadcast.  Pop fans at home were captivated, and the love ballad soared in digital sales followed by adoption by mainstream pop radio.

"All Of Me" was co-written by John Legend and veteran pop songwriter Toby Gad.  The words are relatively standard love song content.  They express potential behavior issues in a relationship, but all is irrelevant because, "all of me loves all of you."  Two notable segments of the lyrics are likely to bring smiles and nods of recognition from many listeners as John Legend sings, "Love your curves and all your edges, all your perfect imperfections," and he then follows it later with, "You're my downfall, you're my muse, my worst distraction, my rhythm and blues."

"All Of Me" truly comes to life with John Legend's beautiful vocals.  He injects energy that has helped the celebrated artist earn nine Grammy Awards since the release of his first album 10 years ago.  John Legend pushes into the upper vocal register in effortless fashion.  His performance is simply accompanied by solo piano throughout most of the record.  When strings are injected into the mix in the second half of "All Of Me" it disrupts the delicate balance between voice and piano.  The arrangement is more familiar in mainstream pop, but a pleasing delicate tension in the recording is lost.

"All Of Me" illustrates that good TV can still create a major pop hit.  There were many more strongly hyped performances at this year's Grammy Awards than John Legend.  However, the simple grace of his performance and the joy of discovery by fans at home created a sales rush for "All Of Me."  It is a perfect song for Valentine's Day and is likely to be quickly adopted at many of this year's weddings.  At heart, "All Of Me" is a simple, classic, romantic love ballad.

John Legend is riding a wave of slower ballads that have been rising to the top of the pop charts after a distinctive absence in recent  years.  The bulwark of electronic dance pop leading mainstream pop radio airwaves has been breached.  It's hard to know if there will be a true rush of ballads flooding the charts.  It is also unclear whether John Legend is likely to follow "All Of Me" with a series of hits.  However, for now the song can be easily enjoyed by anyone who is captivated by their partner in a love relationship, on in which, "all of me loves all of you."

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