"Lately" is a song by American singer Stevie Wonder recorded for his album Hotter than July (1980). The song was covered by R&B group Jodeci and released as a promotional single for the live album Uptown MTV Unplugged in June 1993.
Jason Elias at Allmusic retrospectively praised the song, believing that unlike some of Wonder's similar material, "Lately" in particular hit all the perfect emotional and musical notes. Of the song's emotional power itself Elias stated, "it's enough to make a listener fall prey to an old-fashioned cry."
"Lately" was notably covered by R&B group Jodeci for the Uptown MTV Unplugged release in 1993. The group's version of the song was released as a promotional single, claiming the number one spot on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks charts as the group's fourth R&B number one hit. It was also Jodeci's highest peaking pop hit, reaching number four on the Billboard Hot 100 in August 1993. It sold 900,000 copies and was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America. This version also appears on Back to the Future: The Very Best of Jodeci, a greatest hits album from the group, released by Universal Records in 2005.
The group also recorded an alternate studio version of the song, produced by group leader DeVante Swing. It is slightly longer than the Uptown MTV Unplugged version and features an additional outro. They performed this version on The Arsenio Hall Show, with Stevie Wonder himself making a guest appearance and performing the song with Jodeci.
Jodeci also notably performed the song on Martin during the Season 2 episode "Hollywood Swinging (Part 2)", in which Martin interrupts their performance on the Varnel Hill talk show, much to the dismay of the group members.
Other covers and samples
A jazz version of "Lately" as done by George Benson appeared on his 2000 album, Absolute Benson.
The song was also covered by English pop group S Club 7 and released as a bonus track on their album 7, released in 2000, as well as by Will Martin on his album Inspirations, 2010. South Korean ballad singer Sung Si Kyung has covered "Lately" at several of his concerts. The cover is also featured in his special album "Try to Remember." On American Idol, the song was performed by Season 1's finalist RJ Helton (Semi-finals - Wildcard Round), Season 3's John Stevens (Motown Week), Season 5's Melissa McGhee (Stevie Wonder Week), Season 10's Stefano Langone (Motown Week), Season 11's Colton Dixon (Stevie Wonder/Whitney Houston Week), and by Season 12's Amber Holcomb (Music of Detroit Week).
This song was also sampled in Rick Ross' song "Here I Am"
|U.S. Billboard Hot 100