A release 30 years in the making, Debbie Gibson recently offered her fans – a.k.a., the #DebHeads – her first all-encompassing career-ranging retrospective, with the new box set We Could Be Together.
The 13-disc package culls Gibson’s biggest hits, including her ’80s Billboard Hot 100 No. 1s “Foolish Beat” and “Lost in Your Eyes,” among 200 tracks, including eight full albums, starting with her 1987 debut, Out of the Blue.
Beyond her best-known songs, the collection features more obscure tracks from throughout Gibson’s career. Also part of the release: DVD footage and a coffee table book that serves as a scrapbook of her history, which has ranged from music to acting on Broadway and in film, along with a recent run on ABC’s Dancing With the Stars.
“A lot of stuff came from my storage units,” Gibson says. “It came from my garage. There were even a few items we called die-hard fans for!
“The other exciting thing is the songs that were in my vault. Songs that wouldn’t have had a home, and would never have been heard – but this is such a great way to share them with fans.”
In honor of the box set’s release (further details available here), Gibson shares thoughts with Billboard on 10 of her favorite deep cuts now newly available on We Could Be Together.
1, “Pop Circus.” This is a take on the allure of show biz and that desire for that elusive second act. Fred Coury, who is known primarily as the drummer for the band Cinderella, produced the track. He has gone on to do scoring work and is a close friend. We had such a blast working on this and, in particular, those stacked harmonies. I could always envision a British boy band cutting it!
I always love when people like Fred can surprise their audience by doing things out of their comfort zone.
2, “The Last Word.” I wrote this song with my friend Howard Dorough … aka, Howie D. of Backstreet Boys, in Houston. It was at a time when “Is that your final answer?” was a catchphrase on game shows — and it inspired a melodic, sad love ballad that never found a home … until now!
This is actually just a demo of it that I cut, but we thought it would be fun to include it.
3, “Roman Hiko.” My fave cut from the Ms.Vocalist album that was done exclusively for Sony Japan in 2010. Eric Martin of Mr. Big was “Mr. Vocalist,” having cut No. 1 songs performed by female Japanese artists, but in English, and they wanted to do an opposite version: a female covering songs by male Japanese artists.
I have been a longtime fan of traveling to Asia and hearing their distinct melodies and, to me, this one captures that classic melodic sensibility. The chorus elicits a Brady Bunch-type sing-along feeling, and I’ve always loved those simple feel-good songs.
Gavin MacKillop produced this album, and we had an absolute blast interpreting the lyrics and making these songs my own. It’s funny that this is a “deep” cut, but it’s “deep” in its simplicity.
You can also find me singing “Lost in Your Eyes” in Japanese on this album.
4, “Electric Youth (7th Heaven Remix).” It’s got a little bit of “Funkytown” with that pulsing synth riff in the opening, while keeping the integrity and energy of the original, but freshening it up and allowing space for the vocal. Even I heard nuances I never heard before. Super fun!
5, “Shake Your Love (Luke Mornay Remix).” I love that it sounds like a real ’80s drum machine, the one I had with the circular pads that you hit with an actual stick!
And, I can hear the club kids screaming from here when the intro breaks down to just sustained chords and the track slowly builds to a frenzy. The #DebHeads are loving this, and so am I!
6, “Hopelessly Devoted to You.” I always wished this could have been released as a single. It was in a moment in time where I was Sandy from Grease and, although no one can touch Olivia Newton-John in this role, I put my spin on it and am super proud of this record.
7, “Cougar.” This was a big, “Should we, or shouldn’t we?,” release conversation with my team when I recorded it. But, as someone who walks the walk of “agelessness,” I didn’t feel it fully represented who I was at the time, although now I can see the humor in it.
I love the patter lyrics and took great care in putting them together; DP’s rap is the real deal; and Rudy Hauserman’s authentic European production brings it home.
8, “Another Brick Falls.” I recently rediscovered playing this song live and you can hear the influence of Billy Joel and Elton John – more so, Elton – on this track, originally from 1990’s Anything Is Possible.
I am still not quite sure about why I was writing about adult stress at such a young age, but I now constantly can relate to the idea that just when you have one piece of life’s puzzle figured out, something else goes wrong, and nothing is ever quite all in sync at one time. I really enjoy delivering it live now with way more life experience behind it.
9, “Rise.” This is a ballad that will forever be a magical one for me and a labor of love. It was written for Dr. Rutledge’s documentary 3 Billion and Counting, which is about malaria and the banning of DDT in developing nations. I was constantly saying, “I am the girl who wrote ‘Shake Your Love’ … and now I am in the world of scoring this controversial and profound movie?!”
It’s a song about the enduring energy and light of the spirit which will rise each and every day, just like the sun and the people who can’t be kept down and won’t be counted out.
The “Rise Revolution Mix” done by Albee is also incredibly powerful.
10, “(This So-Called) Miracle” (Live in Tokyo). When I was touring in my early 20s, I travelled with weights: scuba belts, ankle weights, handheld weights. And, I would vocalize with the weights on (I have sciatica to this day from doing this!) to hit notes far above notes I could ever hit by doing normal vocal training. I never was a “natural” singer in the way that some of my contemporaries are, but I was out to be the best that I could be.
When I see this performance, and recall this being the encore, I relive the ambition of that little girl to exceed expectations and leave it all out there on that stage.