Chaka Khan – “Hello Happiness” Album Review

posted February 19, 2019 in Arts & Entertainment, CommRadio by Jade Campos

After 12 years of silence, Chaka Khan has finally emerged with new album titled “Hello Happiness.” Many, however, are unsure of how to feel about it.

Chaka Khan made a name for herself in the 1970s with her soulful voice and empowering songs. She became a symbol for women all over the country, especially with her 1974 hit “I’m Every Woman.”

Year after year, Chaka Khan stunned audiences with her talents and has earned 10 Grammys during her nearly 50-year career. She chose to take a break after her 2007 album “Funk This” and checked herself into a rehab facility in 2016 for an addiction to prescription medication, following the death of legendary pop star Prince.

Her comeback was expected to be just as powerful as her career, but “Hello Happiness” is rather lackluster.

“Like Sugar,” released in June, was the first taste of the 2019 album. It’s a funky song with a blend of 1970s groove and a 21st century flavor about dancing close with someone. “Like Sugar” is a fun song to dance to, but it leaves much to desire. “Hello Happiness” seems to be similar to “Like Sugar” in just about every way.

The album begins very weak. The title track “Hello Happiness” is repetitive and hardly showcases the singer’s greatest ability, her legendary singing voice. The instrumentals are the strongest part of the track, bringing listeners back to Chaka Khan’s roots while staying true to a modern sound. These instrumentals do completely drown out the Khan, making the song difficult to enjoy.

It’s hard to tell when the next song has even begun, because each track is so similar to one another. Every song is fun and danceable, but something to have on in the background rather than actively listening to.

The tracks “Like a Lady” and “Ladylike” are so similar in lyrics and sound, it almost seems like one was created out of the remnants of the other just because they needed a filler for the already short track list.

The production of the album is quite impressive, but it’s not what listeners are necessarily interested in. Chaka Khan impressed the country with her powerful voice, but it isn’t even present on “Hello Happiness.” Each time her voice comes to the foreground it is immediately drowned out by the music.

“Too Hot” is a stand out from the album, and truly sounds like a track that Chaka Khan would have released in her breakout years. It has great production which makes it very danceable, but her voice is much more prominent.

The intro of “Too Hot” features an electronic keyboard that builds up the tension before it finally becomes too much and snaps, slowing down the tempo. Finally, Chaka Khan’s sultry voice comes through alongside the instrumentals. Almost in relief of what has been missing through the entire album, her voice builds up to a peak as she screams and hollers.

It seems as if it can only get better from there, as if the album has finally redeemed itself. Yet, with only seven tracks, it’s really difficult to come back from such a slow, poor beginning.

“Like Sugar” follows afterwards and brings listeners back to the place they were before. It remains the same until the very end: well produced music, but surprisingly poor vocals.

“Hello Happiness” was meant to be Chaka Khan’s big return. While it’s danceable, the album has no substance and is nothing more than background music. With such incredible vocal talent, it’s a disappointment that Chaka Khan couldn’t have created something stronger.


Rating: 4/10

Reviewer’s Favorite Track: “Too Hot”

Reviewer’s Least Favorite Track: “Don’t Cha Know”

 


Jade Campos is a freshman majoring in print journalism. To contact her, email jmc7727@psu.edu.