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  1. #1
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    Why did these singles hit but Touch didn't?

    For many years I've been reading on the discussion boards analyses of why Touch by the Supremes wasn't a hit. A common argument is that it wasn't a hit because it was a sexy love song with a shared lead between Mary and Jean and might have done better if either Mary or Jean had been sole lead.

    But in the mid 90s, two female groups each had a big hit with a sexy ballad with shared lead vocals.

    TLC with Red Light Special [[leads by T-Boz and Chilli)

    Spice Girls with 2 Become 1 [[leads by Mel C., Emma, Mel B. and Victoria).

    Besides changing times and tastes, what is it about these songs that made them hits while Touch didn't hit? I'm going to paste the videos for all three starting with Touch in this one and the next two posts Red Light special and 2 Become 1 so anyone interested can play them and compare and hopefully comment.


  2. #2
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  4. #4
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    That's easy: The latter two had promotion muscle behind them, whereas Motown had dropped the ball with The Supremes by this time.

  5. #5
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    First, it was a different era, second the mass public was used to only one soprano lead with a backup concerning the Supremes and third the public was used to shared vocals with TLC and Spice Girls, it was also more common in general. Motown may have had David and Eddie sing lead on the Tempts with the others singing a line here and there.That wasn't the case for the Supremes-the biggest songs from them in the 70's were more upbeat and danceable-Stoned Love, Up The Ladder To The Roof,Nathan Jones, Floy Joy[[where Mary & Jean shared the lead). I think the soul ballad featuring both just threw the mass public off. I like Touch, but it may not have been the best choice for a single. Maybe if Mary had sung it alone, they could have released Here Comes the Sunrise and then Touch third like they did with the 3 songs released from Floy Joy. As a duet, it sounds like they are singing to the same man while on Floy Joy they might have been singing about the same guy but it was upbeat and the lyrics sort of supported a duet more. Just an opinion. I would have loved Touch to have been more successful but at that time the song and the duet just didn't seem to catch on. Of course, I never heard it on the radio while I did hear Nathan Jones, Floy Joy and Automatically Sunshine, so maybe the DJ's weren't too keen on it, as well.Plus, Motown really wasn't interested in promoting the group anymore as they eyed films.

  6. #6
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    I think Touch falls into the same category as the songs Bad Weather and I Guess I'll Miss the Man, none of them were memorable or catchy songs. Motown put out soul ballads in the early 70's: Just My Imagination, Got to Be There, I'll Be There, Touch Me In The Morning... The difference is those songs were memorable and you could sing a long with them and the lyrics were easy to follow and remember. None of those elements are in Touch or Bad Weather or I Guess I'll Miss the Man. They were not songs that you would hear or play at a high school dance or at a family cook out.

  7. #7
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    I may be crucified for saying this but I remember extreme disappointment with the entire Touch album. It did nothing for me and I have probably not played it or any songs from it in years. It just did not measure up to the Supremes quality for me.

  8. #8
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    The lyrics sucked.

    "Darling just relax, you melt me like hot candle wax".

    Has to be the worst line of a Supremes song, except maybe for:

    "Came the telegram, Mama passed away while making homemade jam".

  9. #9
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    Personally I don't think the song would have done better with Mary or Jean as a solo. The song just did not feel, sound or pulled you in as a single. When Nathan Jones was released I could not tell at the time if all the ladies were singing together or if Jean was singing over the top of her own vocals. Later I found out there was a voice I did not know. Touch was also the name of the album and I just thought it was probably the weakest song on the album next to Johnny Raven.

  10. #10
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    I always loved Touch but it was a very poor choice of single. To be perfectly honest the album was not laden with potential hits. I don't think Motown UK even bothered releasing a 2nd single from the album. Time and love is much derided on here, but i think it would have been a good choice for the UK due to the original not being well known over here, but as regards the US i would probably have gone for Here comes the sunrise.

  11. #11
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    Touch is a nice song but not single material. I think Jean and Mary's voices were not complimenting each other on the song. Jean's voice changed slightly, in my opinion, from the first album to by the time the Touch LP was released. Her voice and delivery on for example, But I love you more, is far more pleasant to the ear. Her vocals are beautiful on almost all of the songs of Right On. I'm sure I read that they told Jean in the beginning to no over do any vocals which might have been a good thing. She definitely sounds less appealing on a lot of the promises kept songs. Also not much is going during the first part of Touch and near the end it is if they said "do your own thing now girls!" it seems a bit of a mess.

    Back to the other 2 songs. I think a chart hit is all a matter of taste with the masses. I don't like the TLC song at all nor her vocals, just my opinion. It would be nice to know what the outcome would have been if all 3 songs were released around the same time. I love 2 become 1 despite that I didn't want to like the Spice Girls during the 90's lol. Their voices blend well and the instrumental intro is beautiful, also just my personal taste.
    Last edited by TYK1986; 06-03-2021 at 04:50 AM.

  12. #12
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    my thoughts on the failure of Touch:

    1. the eerie creepy intro - are we walking into a haunted house? is that solo snare drum signaling our walk to the guillotine?

    2. extremely poor single version. the sound quality on the 45 sucks. the edits are not smooth, the mix is terrible.

    3. jean's vocals sound a bit strained. most of her lines are in her upper register so you never get the natural rise and fall of her voice as you do on a song like This Is the Story. meanwhile you have mary's misty vocals next to this more sharp sounding soprano of jean. isn't as successful a vocal pairing as FJ or Auto sun

    4. just not strong enough of a song to follow NJ. I sort of pin the "problems" with the supremes starting with NJ, at least in the US. that song should have done MUCH MUCH better. it was on the charts for 10 weeks which is ok. it rose relatively well through week 4 and then sort of petered out. 88-57-40-27-21-19-16-16-18-27. so it's like it started out pretty hot but ran out of gas. we all count it as a hit but a peak of 16 is not stellar, at least for The Supremes. had it been a massive hit, maybe touch could have charted better. But it's like the public at first was captivated by the unusual and cool NJ but then got distracted and wandered off, forgetting about the girls. Touch was a casualty of this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    my thoughts on the failure of Touch:

    1. the eerie creepy intro - are we walking into a haunted house? is that solo snare drum signaling our walk to the guillotine?

    2. extremely poor single version. the sound quality on the 45 sucks. the edits are not smooth, the mix is terrible.

    3. jean's vocals sound a bit strained. most of her lines are in her upper register so you never get the natural rise and fall of her voice as you do on a song like This Is the Story. meanwhile you have mary's misty vocals next to this more sharp sounding soprano of jean. isn't as successful a vocal pairing as FJ or Auto sun

    4. just not strong enough of a song to follow NJ. I sort of pin the "problems" with the supremes starting with NJ, at least in the US. that song should have done MUCH MUCH better. it was on the charts for 10 weeks which is ok. it rose relatively well through week 4 and then sort of petered out. 88-57-40-27-21-19-16-16-18-27. so it's like it started out pretty hot but ran out of gas. we all count it as a hit but a peak of 16 is not stellar, at least for The Supremes. had it been a massive hit, maybe touch could have charted better. But it's like the public at first was captivated by the unusual and cool NJ but then got distracted and wandered off, forgetting about the girls. Touch was a casualty of this.
    So do you think the intros on Red Light Special and 2 Become 1 are better than Touch?

    And do the voices on those songs complement each other better than Jean and Mary did on Touch?

    I think both songs have better choruses than Touch, which is essentially the word "Touch" which makes them more sing able for anyone who wants to sing along to them for whatever reason. "I want to make love to you baby" certainly resonates than saying "Touch".

  14. #14
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    When 2 become 1 got stuck in my head yesterday after I read this thread!! I think the intro of this song is more to my taste than Touch and Red Light.
    The voices definitely blend better than Touch. Mary and Jean work much better as a duo on for example Automatically sunshine. And yes the chorus of Touch is not something that you can sing along with or hum when walking down the street.

  15. #15
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    2 become 1 has a lot more catchier chorus than Touch so I can easily see why that hit big plus the Spice Girls were at their peak at that point. I'm sure if Touch was put out by DMF in 1965-1967 it would have hit big because they were at their peak at that point

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    not familiar with 2 become 1 and since that wasn't the question posted here for the thread, not too worried about it.

    i get that what they were attempting to do here with Touch was to create a very sensual, moody love song. and i think the later half of the song does that. as the sound and all increase, during verse 2 and from the bridge on, it's really quite lovely. you still have a bit of the shrillness IMO from Jean but you also have this more at the emotional peak of the song, so it doesn't stand out as much.

    my primary point about the "spooky" intro is that it seems so incongruous to the lush ending. I get it that the song has to build and grow but i find the intro off-putting and i think that explains why the single bombed.

    Also it just doesn't fit the mold that was typically applied to the motown songs of a clear story, a clear chorus with catchy lyrics, something you can whistle along to, etc. And there's Berry's approach of "would you spend $1 to buy a sandwich or this 45?"

  17. #17
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    It doesn't make one bit of sense, adds nothing to it : these two sharing the lead. Why?

    The sentiments being wailed about have no hint of authenticity.

    This is probably the song that made Jean decide, I gotta get outta here...

  18. #18
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    I like how in the live version in Japan, with Scherrie, how they sing the first line of the song in unison. I feel Jean needed to sing in a different register and the song needed a slightly better chorus. A little bit more time was needed to make the song a bit more smooth. But too late for that now after 50 years lol. Around 1:38-1:39 the moment of Mary and Jean both singing "Touch" seems off. Is it just me? It is as if they didn't mix it right.

  19. #19
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    Some on here are reading too much into this. But for my opinion, The singles version was a crappy mix plain and simple. The does need some tweaking. Either have Mary do the full lead, or have Jean readjust her vocals.

  20. #20
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    i'll need to go through the different mixes. the 45 mix is different from the album.

    i too like the intro in Japan. i think the duet idea is less fitting here than if all 3 had more lead parts.

    rumor is that both jean and mary recorded leads and then they were edited together. but not sure about that

  21. #21
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    The single mix is a mess.
    Should have just had Mary sing lead

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by daviddh View Post
    The single mix is a mess.
    Should have just had Mary sing lead
    I agree david. Mary’s sultry sounding voice better suits the mood of the song. I find Jean quite shrill on this one, with the combination of the two voices killing the sentiment of the song. Not a duet made in heaven.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ollie9 View Post
    I agree david. Mary’s sultry sounding voice better suits the mood of the song. I find Jean quite shrill on this one, with the combination of the two voices killing the sentiment of the song. Not a duet made in heaven.
    I am not a fan of Mary's voice but i do think she sounded okay on Touch. Maybe it would have worked better as a solo lead for her. I still prefer it to the likes of floy joy, but i concede it was not commercial enough to be a hit.

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