Single Review: Faith Hill “Baby You Belong”

Baby You Belong
Album: Cry
Year: 2003

Country music seems to follow its own marketing rules much like hip hop. For example, patriotism is expected (like Toby Keith), faith is worn on the sleeves and remebering where you came from are the selling points. Country music doesn’t thrive on scandal like pop or R&B. Instead it rejects the performer(s) causing the scandal. It’s a genre that likes comfort and humility.

Faith Hill wants to some space from the country genre. She’s found another genre – pop and together, she might think, it could lead a beautiful record sales. In an effort to become ‘pop’ changed her look – clothes came from Paris instead of a local mom-and-pop store in Pigeon Forge, sexed up her image (she is dripping wet in the photos in the ‘Cry’ album) and commissioned songs from Linda Perry (“If You’re Gonna Fly Away”).

Faith Hill is playing both sides — talking about small-town life (while being very Hollywood), releasing an album filled entirely pop songs but still trying to keep the “down home-grilling-burgers-with-crazy-Uncle-Jim, church-going” appeal. Contradictory images fail in the end because of fans gets confused when a candid photo is seen and that’s when fans turn faster than ankles. Faith, just stick to pop. The move has been done gradually. It’s not a shock to anyone. Really.

In “Baby You Belong,” Faith Hill is telling her boyfriend that they are meant to be together. For her boyfriend to by her side is as natural as “the full moon [pulling] in the tide and the waves roll[ing] into a shore that always waits” She tells him in the chorus, “nothing’s ever felt so right to me/every single part of me believes/baby, you belong with me.”

In the second verse, she sings how there was “a voice in my head and I heard it promise me/when you came along I’d know you by heart.” She continues to say that it’s her time to fall in love with the right person. Then it’s back to the chorus and end of the single.

It has Hill in familiar adult contemporary ground that filled “Breathe” but without the country elements. It’s the comfort factor again. It has the thoughtful guitar wailing, the tender bass punctuating each declaration of love and the final guitar strum, lingering just a bit at the end. But like the raggedy old blanket you’ve had since five, it’s time to search for something new to provide safety. For Faith Hill, ballads are like her blankey and it’s time to let go.

Switching to this single from the upbeat “One” was a mistake. While “Baby You Belong” doesn’t require a special pop remix, it’s filler. “If You’re Gonna Fly Away” would’ve been a better choice. Faith Hill sings about an un-Faith Hill like-topic, a friend who is on drugs and trying to recover. It must’ve cost enough to get Linda Perry on the album, why not promote it? Marketing seems to have did the album in (although it sold well). The label didn’t seem to know what to do with it. Three ballads from one album is overkill.

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