SINGAPORE: David Foster has produced some of the biggest songs in the soundtrack of the lives of 30- and 40-somethings around the world. From Chicago’s Hard To Say I’m Sorry and You’re The Inspiration, to Whitney Houston’s The Bodyguard hits I Will Always Love You and I Have Nothing, to Celine Dion’s The Power Of Love and Because You Loved Me.
He even co-produced that all-time favourite sentimental hit that, as time has proven, will never leave our radio airwaves: All-4-One’s I Swear.
You could say the producer-songwriter-composer has had a good career – but that’s not something he’d be content with.
“Paul Anka taught me: ‘Good is the enemy of great.’ That is so true,” said Foster. “For me, being good is so easy. I mean I’m not going to lie – I have 16 Grammys so I know I’m good. But good comes so easy for me that good is not enough … To be great is really difficult, but that’s what I try to do every day. I miss most days, but on the days when you hit greatness, that’s when you win a Grammy or have a great record.
“I learned this from Barbra Streisand: Compromise breeds mediocrity.”
The 68-year-old judge of Asia’s Got Talent sat down with Channel NewsAsia’s Yvonne Chan in a wide-ranging exclusive interview covering his music, passions and charity efforts. He also talked about some of the famous artistes he’s worked with, including Madonna, Celine Dion and Whitney Houston.
Who’s got star power and who couldn’t follow his instructions in the studio? Here’s David Foster in his own words:
ON HIS FAVOURITE HIT
"There is a song that I co-wrote with my friend Carole (Bayer Sager, who also co-wrote classics like That’s What Friends Are For, A Groovy Kind Of Love and Arthur’s Theme) that is sung by Andrea Bocelli and Celine Dion. It wasn’t a radio hit. It’s called The Prayer.
"It's an interesting song because it gets played at weddings and funerals. It sounds like I’m making a joke, but it’s not a joke. Think about it: To write a piece of music that can cover that much territory – people’s happiest and saddest moments – I thought that was a pretty good feat on mine and Carole's part."
ON HIS FRIEND JJ LIN
"He’s not just a singer – he's a businessman, an entrepreneur. He’s an amazing young man. We've talked about doing some collaborations together in 2018 so I hope that comes into fruition."
ON MADONNA’S X-FACTOR
"If I know I’m going to a party that Madonna is going to be at, when you walk in the room, you can feel whether she’s in that room or not – before you see her. Conversely, you can feel that she’s left the room even if you don’t see her leave. That's star power.
"There are millions of great singers out there and Madonna, to name one, she’s not that great a singer, but she's just got that thing: The X-factor."
ON CELINE DION VS WHITNEY HOUSTON
"They are apples and oranges. Celine, she would always do exactly what I'd ask of her. I’d warble into the talk-back and she understood what I meant and she would give it back to me.
"Whitney didn’t understand what I meant. She’d give me something even though she didn’t know what I wanted. Because I didn’t explain myself properly, she would give me something different from what I asked for. Sometimes it’s not as good as what I wanted, but many times it would be more and greater than what I wanted."