I mean, I have new material out. It was just because my son ran into Dianne Warren. I was planning on retiring – and then she said come to the studio, I have some songs for you and I can’t say no because they’re so good” – said global pop star Belinda Carlisle in a BBC TV interview televised in mid-February of 2023. Serendipity that revolves around Belinda’s son James appears to be a powerful catalyst that forces her return to the recording studio (where she absolutely belongs!). The last episode of serendipity manifested itself in the form of “Sun” (written and produced by Gabe Lopez along with songwriting input from Jane Wiedlin from the Go-Go’s) – a song Belinda’s son just happened to stumble across for her to record in 2013. The song was a stellar return to form for Belinda. It brimmed with the infectious power-pop sound that propelled her to global ubiquity while also showcasing her trademark vibrato. Oddly enough, it did not end up being a precursor to a full-length album that built on this sound. Instead, Belinda opted for a concept album titled “Wilder Shores” (released in 2017) of chants that were given a pop makeover. She found herself launched back into the limelight following a release of a documentary (released in 2020) on The Go-Gos (the successful all-girl band she was the lead singer for before she embarked on her path to solo stardom) and the induction of The Go-Go’s into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2021. Despite this, the prospects of new material from Belinda were not bright to say the least. Fate intervened in the form of a chance encounter between Belinda’s son James and legendary songwriter Dianne Warren (famous for penning hits such as “I don’t want to miss a thing” by Aerosmith, “Nothing’s gonna stop us now” by Starship, and “Because you love me” by Celine Dion). This led to a reconnection between Diane Warren and Belinda Carlisle and paved the way for Belinda’s return to record new material penned by Diane. Diane Warren is also the songwriting brainchild behind two of Belinda’s big hits from the 80s – namely “I Get Weak” and the insanely addictive “World without you”. Given the shared history between these two pop music heavyweights, the question of consequence here is – have they recreated the magic of these two 80s hits in the 2020s?

On “Big Big Love”, Belinda eschews the power-pop template of her biggest hits in favor of an up-tempo synth-driven sound with a spring in its step. The first song that came to mind when I heard this was “The Drum” by Australian singer-songwriter Josef Salvat – although “The Drum” feels minimalist in its production aesthetic relative to “Big Big Love”. Belinda has often mentioned in interviews that she consciously chooses to limit her newer repertoire to songs that feel age-appropriate. In a sense, Belinda might be deviating a little from that approach as she sings from the perspective of someone that brims with an innocence relatively untainted by life experience as she optimistically conveys her desire to be consumed by a love that overpowers her (“I want it to be so powerful, it brings me to my knees)”. The song is more a manifestation of the hopeless romantic in the song’s legendary songwriter Diane Warren. The optimism (with not even an iota of being jaded about love) in the song seems fitting for Belinda. Unlike that of many of her contemporaries in the spotlight, her love life in the form of her longstanding marriage to her husband Morgan Mason withstood personal struggles as well as a life under the spotlight – common catalysts for a celebrity relationship demise. It is almost as if songwriter Diane Warren wants what Belinda Carlisle (but not many others in her position) has. The songwriting of Diane Warren transcends genre boundaries and works with any sort of treatment and this synth-driven track is yet another reflection of this reality. The duo manages to recreate at least some (“World without you” is a high bar to clear) of the magic of their last creative partnership in the 80s without rehashing it.

Age has not eroded Belinda’s ethereal beauty one bit – which probably has a lot to do with “Big Big Love” being given a proper music video – her first in over 20 years (I think the last one was for the criminally under-rated “I won’t say I’m in love” from the Hercules soundtrack). Many artists from yesteryear reduce their presence in new music videos to a momentary cameo and prefer showcasing a younger cast of characters. In the music video for “Big Big Love” Belinda is front and center looking radiant and beyond stunning. Her magnetic on-screen presence is a visual masterpiece of aging gracefully. Here is the music video for “Big Big Love”.

This is a welcome and long overdue return by Belinda Carlisle. One cannot help but wonder what else she has up her sleeve sonically speaking but we can barely wait for the rest of her upcoming 5-track EP titled “Kismet” (slated for release on May 12, 2023) to see the light of day.

STAR RATING: 3.5 out of 5 stars

RADIO ALERT: We have also added this song to the high-rotation segment of our 24/7 global online broadcast that can be listened to right HERE!


Broadcasting Worldwide

In case you did not pick up on this earlier, the blog you are reading is affiliated with Radio Creme Brulee – an online radio station that features an eclectic mix of current pop and rock music from both sides of the Atlantic alongside hits, forgotten gems, and rarities from the last three decades. Alongside newer artists, we also play plenty of newer music by bands that rose to prominence in the 80s,90s, and the 00s. Noteworthy examples include Simply Red, Wet Wet Wet, Coldplay, Kylie Minogue, Dubstar, Tears For Fears, Duran Duran, Belinda Carlisle, Camouflage, Spandau Ballet, INXS, Depeche Mode, Suede, The Corrs, Jamiroquai, Johnny Hates Jazz, Simple Minds, and Culture Club.

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