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"I Try" is without doubt the signature song of R&B artist Macy Gray. As with all the songs on her multi-platinum debut album On How Life Is, Gray had a hand in writing it in collaboration with, apparently, her entire production team. As far as the US Billboard Pop charts go, this is her only Top-40 hit; her next-strongest chart is the UK Singles with five charted Top-40 hits.
"I Try" was an international hit, charting #1 on singles' charts in Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand. The album On How Life Is has sold about six million copies worldwide. Meanwhile this song won a Grammy in 2001 for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
When you listen to this delicious, gravely voice, which sounds like it's made of smoke and scotch, it's hard to remember that Macy Gray was just 33 years old when this was recorded. While that voice provided her with a career, she found it troublesome growing up. Said Gray: "I kept real quiet. I had a peculiar voice and I was a bit ashamed of it when I was little. You know how kids are. I would say something at school and kids would start to crack up, so I just back a little bit."
By sheer timing and luck, this song remains for many one of the official songs of the change of the millennium. It's international release was in September of 1999, and official release was January of 2000. So wherever you were in the world, if you attended the biggest New Years' party of anyone's life, chances are good that the DJ played "I Try" at some point in the evening. But at a point where everyone was too blitzed to remember the playlist.
The video is shot in New York, depicting various familiar scenes including the Lexington Avenue subway. It was directed by Mark Romanek, who is most notable for music video direction. Of his feature film work, you probably know One Hour Photo the best. Oh, and did we mention the millennium back there? Romanek says his first inspiration to become a director came when he saw Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.
This was featured in the 2010 episode of the TV show The Office, where it was performed by the show's minstrel, Andy Bernard. We see a montage of his fellow workers singing along as he performs it at the end of the episode to lift spirits.
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