Whenever there is some retrospective on the 80’s, this is always played off as a joke. You get Hollywood D-listers mocking how bad the music is and how bad Don Johnson is at singing. They don’t know what they are talking about, because in the world of actors turned singers this is nowhere near the worst of the list.
I like to think of listening to Don Johnson the same as listening to say Kenny Loggins. We can all mock him for Playin’ with the Boys and laugh at the cheesy music but at the end of the day we love him for his music on Top Gun Footloose, and Caddyshack. As I was listening to the first half of the album, I kept thinking I was expecting this music to accompany some montage from some cheesy 80’s movie. You can’t help but chuckle at the repetitive nature of Don’s songs. After all, we are “looking for a heartbeat”, but we also learn “the last sound love makes is a heartbreak” and also “when looking for love, it is a heartache away”. It is like filling out a MadLibs but replacing all nouns with either “love”, “heartache” or “heartbreak”.
Again, for all the complaining people have about Johnson’s singing, he’s not that bad. True at times he tries for high notes that don’t work but most of the time he does alright. He has a folksy kind of voice which works for the right songs. Like I mentioned with Scarlett, it is not so much the voice but how you use it.
Now I said before, I was loving the first half of the album. It is fast paced cheesy 80’s goodness but we get around to the second half and things start to wear down. There are a few ballads which are just not interesting at all and are easily skippable. The last few tracks he tries to pep things back up again but they don’t have the same spark as the earlier tracks.
Overall I did like this album. This certainly isn’t for everyone. I enjoyed it in a nostalgic cornball 80’s flashback kind of sense so whether that applies to you I don’t know. Would I listen to more Don Johnson based on this? Ehhhhh the jury is still out on that. I actually think he would have a pleasant country voice but he clearly has no songwriting ability. But Heartbeat is a fun album for me overall.