Single Review: Ruben Studdard “Flying Without Wings”

Flying Without Wings
Album: Flying Without Wings/Superstar single
Year: 2003

Ruben Studdard thinks people can find true happiness in those they cherish in the banal, overwrought “Flying Without Wings.”

A sentimental piano opens the single. Studdard says people are searching to fill the void they feel. People find it when they’re not looking or in the last place they thought. For others, their children’s laughter makes life worthwhile. For some, it’s the love they see in their boyfriend’s/girlfriend’s eyes. Once people find they are wanted and loved by others, they enjoy life so much more. (“Everybody’s looking for that something/One thing that makes it all complete/You’ll find it in the strangest places/Places you never knew it could be/Some find it in the faces of their children/Some find it in their lover’s eyes/Who can deny the joy it brings/
When you find that special thing/You’re flying without wings.”)

Soft bass and cloying strings join the piano for the second verse. For some people, it’s waking up beside someone they love. Others are able to find joy within themselves. People can see it as they watch others labor over a home for Habitat for Humanity or help raise funds for a needy cause. A joke or quote may trigger a forgotten childhood memory. Lifelong friendships are important to have and maintain. They provide stability and support. It’s the epitome of life. (“Some find it sharing in every morning/Some in their solitary lives/You’ll find it in the works of others/A simple line can make you laugh or cry/You’ll find it in the deepest friendships/The kind you cherish all your lives/And when you know how much that means/You have found that special thing/You’re flying without wings.”)

A guiding, angelic chorus accompanies Studdard in the bridge. He belts dreams may seem to be unreachable. People have to struggle and strive to make each one come true. If they decide to stop pursuing a dream, it may have been the one to fulfill them. (“So impossible as they may seem/You’ve got to fight for every dream/’Cuz who’s to know which one you let go/Would have made you complete.”)

Studdard’s happiness is being with his girlfriend and knowing she is with him every morning. It’s also being able to say he loves her whenever he wants to. It’s knowing her quirks and habits which makes her his girlfriend. He intends to get married to her and stay with her until death.(“But for me it’s waking up beside you/To watch the sun rise on your face/To know that I can say I love you/At any given time or place/It’s the little things that only I know/Those are the things that make you mine, all mine/And it’s the flying without wings/’Cuz you’re my special thing
I’m flying without wings/You’re the place my life begins/And you’ll be where it ends/I’m flying without wings/And that’s the joy it brings.”)

He sings “I’m flying without wings” acapella to end the single.

The stodgy single cannot get off the ground due to its tedious pacing and dated instrumentation. “Flying Without Wings” sounds like an early 80s song by Dionne Warwick, not a modern ballad. Although Studdard’s vocals are fluid and gracious, he can’t save the single on his voice alone.

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