“Fortunate” by Maxwell (1999)

“Fortunate” is as straightforward a pop song as Maxwell has ever done. Quite possibly, this is because “Fortunate” is one of the only Maxwell songs that doesn’t boast a writing credit from the artist. “Fortunate” comes from the pen of R. Kelly, was recorded for the soundtrack to the movie Life (co-starring Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence) and still stands as Maxwell’s only top 10 hit on the Billboard pop charts.

As icky as it now is to acknowledge anything with R. Kelly’s handprint on it as good, I can’t front: “Fortunate” is an amazing song. It’s got a great hook. And Maxwell sings the ever-loving shit out of it. From that sustained falsetto note that enters it to the husky testifying that closes it, Maxwell gives the listener a master class in seductive soul singing.

Maxwell’s performance is not only good enough to make the listener (at least temporarily) disassociate himself from the fact that it’s an R. Kelly song, but it’s good enough to cut through the fact that “Fortunate”‘s composition and release most likely was a very calculated effort to get Max’s fan base back, considering quite a few of them were a bit stymied by the release of his obtuse (but so fucking good) sophomore album, Embrya, a year prior. If you play a song for a cynic like me, and can cut through all of that, you’ve done quite a good job. Hats off, Maxwell.

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