…or maybe, he’s done it again! “The truth can hurt you, or the truth can change you. What will truth do to you?” Kirk Franklin asks in his new single “Wanna Be Happy”. Well, here’s a little hard truth for gospel music’s golden guy, not meant to be mean but what’s a little conversation ever hurt? This column also wants to acknowledge the wonderful singers and musicians who bring to life Franklin’s compositions who are held harmless this light spirited article.
Well, what’s new is old again… Franklin’s new single “Wanna Be Happy” is too resemblant of Al Green’s “I’m So Tired of Being Alone” to really make any gospel music fan really happy. “Wanna Be Happy” isn’t necessarily built on the soul classic, but also features some stale Franklin elements he’s employed since his blockbuster album “Hero”. You basically hear the same mixing compression, blah blah blah chant some lyrics in unison content as many of Franklin’s latest radio singles. Why haven’t gospel music listeners demanded more from Franklin’s somewhat predictable offerings? That may be the answer, Franklin’s singles are aimed at non-traditional audiences and not necessarily church goers. His singles are in regular rotation on R&B stations and even chart alongside other R&B singles.
Listen to “Wanna Be Happy” as it premiered on the Yolanda Adams Morning Show
Franklin is this generation’s greatest musical gift, and while there’s no denying that he has single-handedly delivered gospel to mainstream audiences across the world on every continent. Much like the late Pastor Andrae Crouch, his music will never be forgotten. He is to be lauded for being so used of God to give of himself even in spite of his own personal struggles. There is also no denying that Franklin leans more and more on R&B classics to buoy his radio singles in advance of the full album releases.
When “Looking For You” burst onto radio, listeners bemoaned his use of Patrice Rushen’s original music score for the hit. Franklin isn’t only a fan of R&B, he retooled Kenny Loggins’ adult contemporary smash “This Is It” for his “Declaration (This Is It)” on the “The Fight of My Life” album. Many gospel music fans endure this brand of songwriting as they continue to wait in vain for his return to choir music, or a real reunion with “The Family”. No chance, huh?
It would be unfair to call for a moratorium on Franklin’s R&B meshings and even more implausible to suggest that he’d be receptive of such a notion. Think about it, how many other gospel songs have been performed during a halftime show? Franklin is truly one of a kind, problem is it breeds many who want to emulate what only he has been gifted to do.
However, as “Wanna Be Happy” makes the rounds and gospel press heaps praise and adoration on Franklin’s latest “gem”, you make your own decision about the song. Not sure it’s your cup of musical tea, don’t worry…you can be ‘happy’ anyway! Hit or miss, Franklin’s newest album is slated for a Spring 2016 release date.