.After the glorious era of the ’60s and ’70s, soul music found itself in a bit of a rut in the ’80s, and has never recovered from it. Where in the golden age the public standard bearers of soul were the likes of Aretha Franklin and Al Green, in the ’80s it was Whitney Houston and Lionel Richie. I am referring to popular perception, of course. Still, the soul giant of the 1980s was Luther Vandross; rather a step down from Al, Ike, Marvin or Curtis (soul singers are always referred to by their first names). Much of ’80s soul was too smooth to be sexual, even as the lyrics promised total sexual gratification, or your money back. The more the singers sang about makin’ lurve to you awawawawall nighyeet, the more sexless the genre became. Things were called soul that weren’t much soulful. Like Whitney Houston, like Lionel Richie (though both made some excellent soul records).
It is not surprising that ’80s soul has acquired such a bad reputation. And it is unfortunate that the excesses in jheri-curled smoothery have tarnished much great work.
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